Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Trailing Leaves Kit Quilt

Here's a quilt that's been lost in the shuffle for a while. It's a Trailing Leaves kit quilt, and it was a gift from a friend in Florida several years ago. When I first received the quilt, I did a little research on it and asked my friend a lot of questions. It was a family heirloom, but there was nobody in the family who would have appreciated it, so it came to me. 

Thanks to kit quilt connoisseur Rose Werner, the quilt had been identified as "Trailing Leaf" #9128 by Lee Wards. The pattern was published in the Lee Wards catalog between 1962 and 1968. An earlier version of the pattern was published, #7402, from 1953 to 1958, which was available in greens and grays only. This quilt, the later version, was available in an "Autumn Leaves" color combination that included golden yellow, greens, dark brown, tan, and red. The green/gray color combination was discontinued after 1964.

This quilt was made by Frieda Ruder Moser, born March 19, 1900 in Hugsweier, Germany. She was the mother of Margie Hutinger, the person who gave me the quilt. Moser came to Kidron, Ohio in 1925, sponsored by her Aunt Caroline Tschantz. She worked as a housekeeper for a nearby Swiss farm family. It was important for her to learn English, and she was determined to speak without her German accent. The youngest son in the Swiss family was Hutinger's father, Glenn. They were married on November 2, 1927, and had three children. Margie was the youngest.

Moser made the quilt in her living room in Dalton, Ohio some time in the 1960's. 

"Mom and I lived in a small house, with very little walking room between the couch and a couple of chairs," said Hutinger. "She was a perfectionist, and spent many, many, many hours making all the buttonhole stitches on the leaves and sewing them and the stems unto the main piece.  She did a lot of her sewing while watching her soaps in the afternoon and other programs in the evening. She had her own quilt frame, and it was a real challenge to move around or through the living room when she first set it up.  Crawling under it was the only means of passage in those early days.  I was teaching in another town and only came home occasionally. I always hoped she had made significant progress, so I could walk instead of crawl. I remember her keeping track of the hours she spent piecing the quilt and quilting it.  She figured if she sold it, she would only be making pennies an hour."

Moser died of stomach cancer on November 2, 1977, and is buried in the Salem Mennonite Cemetery in Kidron, Ohio. She had given the quilt as a gift when Margie married her first husband, on October 7, 1966. Margie kept the quilt in a safe place until 2005, when she decided to give it to me. I have cherished the quilt ever since, and vowed to maintain its story. I feel badly for not sharing it sooner, but here it is! It's special in many ways.


  1. Beautiful quilt, and a great history behind it. I love the straight line cross-hatch quilting on the border, and the wonky cross-hatch in the center. It's hard to see in the pic....are there quilted leaves in the center, as well, cuz it gets really crazy in the corners? Are there 3 leaves and a vine?

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Glad you enjoyed! I'm sorry you can't see it in the picture, but the quilting design is printed in blue and is still visible. Frieda did the quilting exactly as it was planned by the kit manufacturer. In the center, there are quilted leaves in groups, two on one vine, and one on a separate stem. These leaf groupings appear in several places. The buttonhole stitch around each applique leaf is a nice touch, and may have been part of the instructions in later editions of this kit. I haven't collected any other kit quilts, but there's something great about this one. Having the family history makes the quilt much more human.

  3. Thanks for the history of this quilt!.....quilts from this kit often show up on eBay and are usualy listed as being from the 40's....I always knew this was wrong but couldnt find any information to prove it....now I know....I didn't think It was Lee Wards which is why I could never find it
    thanks for clearing it up!
    Its a beautiful quilt and quite elegant in its simplicity, just as are the leaves that inspired it....Nature knows what it is doing

  4. I try to keep telling myself that kit quilts are a finite group, and have become more interested in them after seeing the work of Rose Werner. She has a web site where you can subscribe and check out a lot of her extensive research. http://www.quiltkitid.com/

    Rosie's knowledge of kit quilts is encyclopedic, and I've found her to be a good, friendly resource person for identifying kit quilts.

  5. Thanks for the link!
    what a great resource