photo of excerpt from a letter embroidered into a quilt binding

Letters Home

Jane Ellis
Summer 2020

I often embroider lyrics, poetry and Irish blessings on the inside binding of my quilts. It is a subtle, surprise element for quilt recipients or for overnight guests to discover when they turn back the covers to snuggle in for the night.

photo of quilter jane ellis’ snowball and nine patch quilt with embroidered binding

I saw a photograph of an antique quilt in Edyta Sitar’s book Patches of Blue and decided to make this snowball/nine-patch design using the Union Blues fabric collection by Barbara Brackman for Moda®. 

Letters Home combines quilting with my family genealogy interests. In the course of my research, I was thrilled to discover a small collection of letters my great-great-grandfather, a Union soldier in the American Civil War, had written and sent home to his family. In 1862, there was formality in writing styles, the content is sincere and the loneliness and longing for his family and home are apparent.

photo of quilter jane ellis’ snowball and nine patch quilt with embroidered binding

Selecting text from the letters, I used the handwriting font on my sewing machine to embroider excerpts on the inside edges of all four sides of the binding. It is definitely the lengthiest text project I have undertaken.

The embroidery begins:

Dear beloved wife and children, I now sit down in my tent to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well… Melissa you must do the best you can and so will I…I think of you all every day, keep up good courage. There is a great many homesick fellows here… Tell mother not to mourn for me… We all think here that the war will be settled within 6 or 8 months… Tell me how you get along…

My Letters Home quilt is a very sentimental, family keepsake.

Quilt Canada 2023

Quilt Canada 2023

Quilt Canada 2023, June 8-10, Halifax, NS