BLACKFOOT — Pieced quilts are as much of a farm tradition as raising crops and livestock.
“I grew up playing under the quilt frames,” said Madge Lindsay, a life-long quilter. “I started quilting as a teenager so that by the time I was married, I was quilting with the older ladies at church because I knew how to quilt.”
Quilts were traditionally filled with a layer of wool or cotton, which are farm crops. Today, many commercial quilt bats use a percentage of natural fibers.
A popular movement in pieced quilting is the farm girl and vintage-style quilts.
Utah designer Lori Holt coined the Farm Girl name for some of her designs.
“I spent my childhood playing in the sunshine on tractors and climbing trees,” she said. “My deep love of all needle art comes from the early influence of my mother and grandmothers, who were my first teachers.”
Holt’s designs frequently feature farm animals and equipment paired with traditional quilt bocks.
Sandra Shelley entered a Farm Girl throw-sized quilt this year.
“It took a lot of time to do,” she said. “The 48 blocks were all made with tiny little pieces. Luckily I was able to use a lot of scraps so I didn’t have to buy much fabric.”
Lindsay was raised near Aberdeen.
“I grew up hoeing and thinning sugar beets,” she said. “I also picked potatoes during harvest.”
Lindsay said she didn’t do many quilts until most of her seven children had left home.
“Eight young mothers got together and we bought a set of quilt frames,” she said. “We shared these frames and made quilts to give as gifts. All of our quilts were hand quilted.”
Lindsay is now the grandmother of 28 and has 20 great-grandchildren.
“I’ve made quilts for each of my children as they were married and for each of my grandchildren as they’ve married,” she said. “I still have about nine grandchildren that aren’t married so I have those quilts to do. However I’ve made baby quilts for all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Plus I’ve made quilts for my seven brothers and sisters.”
Flour was once packaged in cotton sacks. One-hundred percent cotton, which is the preferred quilting fabric, was sometimes hard to find through the 1960s and countless flour sacks found their way into quilts.
Madge said one of her latest projects was taking a quilt her mother had made and remaking it.
“It was a Sun Bonnet Sue,” she said. “The only way to repair it was to take it apart and reposition everything. Naturally, it was hand-quilted.”
Linda Sponenburg said she is fairly new to quilting.
“I’ve only been actively involved about the past six years with serious quilting,” she said. “My mother didn’t quilt so I’ve done more of it with friends.”
Sponenburg is known for her meticulous ability with a sewing machine so quilting seemed to be a natural progression.
“I was raised in Blackfoot,” she said. “My love is farm stuff and vintage styles. Living here I have always loved the farming industry.”
Lindsay and Sponenburg both entered several quilts at the Eastern Idaho State Fair this year. Their work is a demonstration of eastern Idaho heritage.
“I have one quilt that is a lot of fun because it’s made entirely of orphan blocks,” said Lindsay. “I took quilt blocks that were left over from other projects and put them together to make this quilt.”