mandy munroe

stitching, quilting, fabric, projects

This Old Quilt

“This Old Quilt” is the title of a hardback book I bought when the local library was having a sale. It cost me all of $4. There are many contributors as the book is a wonderful collection of stories and photographs, intriguing history and folklore, edited by Margaret Aldrich.


It’s a great book to dip in and out of, lots of pictures of quilts, women quilting, Victorian trading cards advertising thread, songs and poems…………

I love this vintage ad but I can’t imagine quilters letting drinks get anywhere near a double wedding ring quilt and they all look like they’re on the gin anyway!


There is a whole section on the Underground Railroad quilts and a page on the code that helped many slaves escape.


I had heard about historians unpicking the edges of quilts trying to find hidden maps and work out how the quilts were used. I knew about certain quilts being aired to signal a safe house but I didn’t know about this code that was taught by making samplers of the blocks.

There are also excerpts from novels about quilting, some of which I’ve read, lots I haven’t yet.

The book really does celebrate the community of quilting, the bees, the exchange of scraps. From the necessity of making warm bedding, bringing women together, creating a sense of pride and a freedom of expression. It’s a keeper, I’ll be adding this to my shelf ๐Ÿ™‚

This Old Quilt – Voyageur Press


21 comments on “This Old Quilt

  1. morrismalc
    May 13, 2015

    What a fascinating book, Mandy. I’m tempted to ask to borrow it!

    • mandymunroe
      May 13, 2015

      Feel free, there are few little ditties inside that you might enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Teresa
    May 13, 2015

    how really lovely Mandy. hope to see it sometime.. x

  3. I.J. Bull
    May 13, 2015

    I have long been interested in the quilt connection to the Underground Railroad, such a fascinating story. I might try to get that book, Amazon might have it. What a find!

    • mandymunroe
      May 14, 2015

      There is a lot of storytelling in this short version Ilse, there are probably more factual books out there! I love that this book is a collection of snapshots from different communities. Are you coming down to ours this summer? x

  4. It sounds an incredibly interesting book, what a treasure. x

  5. mrsfoxfinery
    May 13, 2015

    Great Ad, big fan of old coca cola adverts x

    • mandymunroe
      May 14, 2015

      Can’t beat a bit of vintage Mrs Fox! I forgot the recipe has changed over the years, so maybe these ladies were on the coke ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. ukcitycrafter
    May 14, 2015

    I’ve just finished reading The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier which has the underground railroad as a theme running through it. Fascinating that quilts were used in this way.

    • mandymunroe
      May 14, 2015

      I might try and find that Chris, thanks. We’ve been reading the Clare O’Donohue series, very light holiday reading. There is an excerpt from The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas included in this book and How Not to Make a Prize-Winning Quilt by Ami Simms, if you’re ready for more!

    • Mary Pat Smith
      May 15, 2015

      Thanks for making this comment. I love Chevalier’s books, but haven’t read this one yet.

  7. rags4bags
    May 14, 2015

    What a great find. Looking forward to seeing it x

  8. KerryCan
    May 14, 2015

    Can I ask what documentation was given to support the argument that quilts were used as a code for the Underground Railroad? I’ve heard these claims being made for years, and they make a lovely, very appealing story, but I’ve never once seen any evidence that it’s true. Maybe this book gives starting place for real research on the subject?

    • mandymunroe
      May 14, 2015

      Jacqueline L.Tobin author of “Hidden in Plain View” and Raymond G.Dobard Ph.D wrote this particular passage. I agree it seems fanciful, this version seems too complicated but they suggest the blocks are metaphors e.g. Monkey Wrench: gather tools. Tumbling blocks: time to escape. Ten or twelve quilts would have been needed and Ozella was the only source quoted here.

      • KerryCan
        May 14, 2015

        Please just take “Hidden in Plain View” with a big grain of salt. The customer reviews on Amazon make the point better than I can:
        I read many slave narratives for my academic work on slave spirituals and never saw a reference to quilts being used as a means of communication. I don’t mean to make such a big deal out of this but this little fiction about the quilts is being taught as fact and has taken on a life of its own.

      • mandymunroe
        May 14, 2015

        Folklore it is then – thanks Kerry! Cheeky Ozella probably made a bit of money from tourists spinning that yarn!

  9. pomegranateandchintz
    May 14, 2015

    What a great book! Lots of fun reading. And yes, I think those ladies have been on the gin too!!

  10. Mary Pat Smith
    May 15, 2015

    What a great find! I’d love to page through it when we’re next together. I love the stuff about the underground railroad – really smart!

    • mandymunroe
      May 15, 2015

      I’m enjoying the Stingray Shuffle by Tim Dorsey you got me onto. It gets more ridiculous by the day but having just been to the Keys, is extending my holiday and giving me a good chuckle! x

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2015 by in Quilts, Vintage and tagged , .
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