Monday, April 14, 2014

Great Grandma's Embroidered Lace

This is a picture of my Great Grandma. Her name was Marian Bell Anderson. She was born on January 17, 1864. The eyelet lace pictured at the bottom of the post was made by Great Grandma as part of her trousseau. In 1885 she was 21 years old, living on the frontier of Idaho and preparing to get married to Olaf Anderson in November. Marian and Olaf lived in the area of Rexburg, Idaho for the rest of their lives. I am just amazed at the skill that went into this embroidery and the amount of time it must have taken Grandma. I'm certainly glad some of her talent passed into my own hands.

My grandmother, Irene Anderson Clements was a devoted genealogist and wrote a history of  her own life and the lives of her parents and other ancestors. It is a blessing to me to know so much about my father's family. Grandma wrote this about her mother, Marian and the lace:

"Mother liked all kinds of hand work. It is hard to say what she liked best. She enjoyed making quilts. She made many, from heavy camp quilts, to fancy embroidered and silk quilts. The Relief Society does a lot of quilting and she was anxious to help. She soon became known as one of the most skillful quilters, and was made head of this department on work day at Relief Society. Then as she was particular and liked to have things just right, she became an almost perfect marker especially for the most complicated patterns. Her fame spread all over town and some expensive quilts were brought to her to be marked by well-to-do people, some she scarcely knew. They were glad to have her mark the quilts, even though it was impossible for her to help with the quilting. It would be hard to estimate the number of quilts that she helped quilt and also quilted alone.

She enjoyed knitting very much. She knit hose for her father, brothers and sisters, husband, children and grandchildren. She knit many pairs of gloves and mittens, also a number of sweaters. She especially was good at making knitted lace. Every one who has some of her knitted lace prizes it very highly. In her early married life she knitted a full sized bed spread with no. 8 thread. She did crochet work. She was an expert at dressmaking, etc. Besides the sewing for family and friends that she mentions in her history, she did most of the sewing for her children and helped as long as she could with sewing for her grandchildren.

She enjoyed making fancy pillows, pin cushions, and any other knick knack that she saw. She made a variety of rugs. In fact, she was always interested in new patterns and ideas. She watched for ways to use material she had on hand to make her family more comfortable and her home more attractive.

At the time of her marriage, it was popular to do eyelet embroidery in lingerie, household linens, baby clothes, etc. Her skill with the needle is shown by the petticoat she made to wear when she was married. This petticoat was 37 inches long, 90 inches wide and gathered onto a band at the waist that was 26 inches long. It fastened with a button and button hole. She embroidered a scalloped flounce which was 9 inches wide at the scallop. Then she made five groups of tucks, two in each group, arranged above the flounce. This scallop is one of 18 cut from that petticoat. Mother wore this petticoat until it was worn out."

Because I know what it takes to embroider even the simplest eyelet, I am in awe that Grandma embroidered eighteen of these scallops on a garment that would never even be seen! She is my handwork hero!


  1. Wow! What talent ~ especially impressive in the years without our modern conveniences! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I agree. I've always admired hand work & 'fancy'work. I've been lucky enuf to have saved a few pcs from past family members. With all the time, love & tallent that women from our past have put into so many items I can't stand to see any of it lost or trashed. Even if I find pieces stained or torn (@our local thrift store&yrd sales) I buy all I can get & always find a way to honor the work, either as a piece of framed art or including all usable parts as embellishments in my projects. Crazy quilting's a great way to use even the tiniest saveable bits.
    You are very lucky indeed to have such beauty, made by your great grandma, saved & passed on as the cherished items they are. Thanks for sharing! :D

  3. Absolutely stunning work!! Keeping the pic's, the story, and the handiwork together is priceless.


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