Patchwork of history restored

Published 10:21 am Saturday, October 6, 2012

Louann Gramm of Quilters N Friends demonstrates how she uses a stitching machine to longarm a quilt. Beginning this past summer, Gramm helped to restore and add backing and a border to a 1927 quilt top belonging to Capron United Methodist Church. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES/TIDEWATER NEWS


CAPRON—A once forgotten piece of church history has been restored at Capron United Methodist Church.

A quilt top dating to 1927 was rediscovered in March when former Southampton County Sheriff Vernie Francis Jr. found it boxed and stored in his shed, said Helen Francis Gillette.

“A light bulb lit up when I saw it. It was so unexpected,” said Gillette, 82, the church historian and records chairwoman. “I had seen this quilt top before in 1964. It was stored in an attic closet in the parsonage, then we moved it to the linen closet.”

Gillette and the late Esther Francis, who was Vernie’s mother, looked for the quilt top a few years later.

“We looked everywhere for it in the parsonage,” Gillette said. “I assumed it was destroyed or thrown out by some parsonage family.”

She now thinks it was somehow moved to Vernie Francis’s place.

One of the 42 panels has an embroidered inscription stating that the square was presented to the preacher and his family on Jan. 5, 1927. The Rev. A.L. Lambdin was then pastor.

The quilt top appeared to be in decent shape. After the church board approved the restoration, $278 was appropriated from the memorial fund.

Louan Gram, owner of Quilters N Friends, did the majority of the work, but she told Gillette how to clean it using a special wash kit. That took out about 90 percent of the yellowing and stains.

“I got it 2½ months before September, and it had quite a few holes,” said Gram, whose shop on Pinopolis Road is a few miles from Capron UMC. “I took corners from the inside of the blocks to fill them in. I added a border to make it bigger.”

She also put on a cotton backing. The quilt now measures about 6½ feet by 7½ feet.

Gram said the work roughly took her six days. A long-arm stitching machine enabled her to sew the quilt top to the batting and cotton backing and border.

“I think it came out real good,” she said.

The quilt now hangs in a Sunday school room at the church.