Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Mother's Appliqued Pictures

My mother, Etta Bower Davis (1910-1964), would have been 102 years old today so to make it a special day, I'm sharing some of the appliqued pictures she made between 1962-64. 

Mom had a special stack of magazines hidden on a shelf in the living room closet including a 1950 issue of Ladies Home Journal which featured a quilt depicting characters from Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women. This quilt so inspired her that she went on to make her own quilt blocks which told the stories of different family members and set them in the Civil War time period.


When my husband-to-be was home on a weekend pass from the Army (early 60s), Mom asked him to sketch figures based on those in the magazine. Often she made notes on the drawings referring to something she had seen in a magazine or newspaper that could be used for a pattern; or what color fabrics she intended to use. 

Made for her parents, Etta and Stan Bower, the cutting board on the wall says, "Mom and Dad, Jan. 26 '10" their wedding date. I haven't quite figured out if the main figure is supposed to be MY mother or HER mother. The china cupboard is appliqued in a yellow and red calico print with four plates and two glass bottles on the shelves--one with a philodendron cascading down the bottle. At the time (early 60s) empty Chianti wine bottles were popular decorative items. They came packaged in a type of wicker material and when that was removed it revealed a bottle that looked very much like one that was hand blown with a bulbous base. They were great for rooting plant cuttings.


When I turned sixteen, my birthday present was a canopy bed, so here I am in my bedroom holding a candle. The canopy, bedspread, and dust ruffle all have fabric that was gathered by hand. We always had a kitty or two at home so that's "Muffy" on the rug. 


This is actually my favorite. I love the old lamps displayed in the window. Inspiration for this one came from an article in the November 1960 issue of American Home magazine. In this picture she is holding a letter and crying. I think this may have been her statement when she was battling breast cancer.

Our wedding! My husband got married in his dress blues, so here we are with wedding bells, a pitcher of flowers, a cake, and presents. The banner hanging on the wall is embroidered with the initials of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and the number of years they were married in 1963.

This special one was made for my dad: "To my husband with love, Etta Bower Davis, Oct. '63." Here they are at home--a warm fire, a quilt in progress, dad churning butter, herbs drying on the rafters, and of course, another kitty :)


  1. Wow, Barbara.....
    What special memories.
    They are all beautiful....

  2. Thank you! She made twenty-two pictures and I love them all.

  3. How wonderful to own such family treasures! These are so very special and so evocative of the renewal of interest in Pre-1900 American history as the Bicentennial drew closer.
    Karen / blog-Quilt History Reports

  4. Your mother had a very creative talent in making this style of fabric pictures. I have a copy of the Little Women patterns but have never made the quilt.

  5. Wow..i have never seen anything like these were very lucky to have a mom so thoughtful, creative, to do this and to have a great piece of family history..thank you for sharing these with us!!!!! Would be cool if you passed these tradition to others in your family.

  6. Forgot to click on the noify me on other comment

    1. Thanks for visiting! Years ago I made a few appliqued pictures like the ones my mother made but now I spend my time making quilts :)