|featuring Charlotte Croft of Vermont,
and the history of her quilt
Introduction by Patricia Cummings
When Jim and I last visited the Billings Farm and Museum in 2006, with the idea of writing an article for the March 2007
issue of The Quilter magazine, I was not prepared for all of the lovely quilts that we would see. Among the eye candy, I
spotted a quilt, made by Charlotte Croft, for her husband who is a retired forester. I love leaves, and I remember having seen
a wonderful antique quilt with leaves of every kind. To see a newly-made leaf quilt was a thrill!
Recently, after a friend had alerted Charlotte that her quilt is featured in the magazine, Charlotte sent me an e-mail. She
provided more information about "A Journey of Leaves" quilt, and I asked if I could share her words with you. She also sent
along a lovely photo of herself, standing next to her lovely quilt. Here's her story.
Charlotte Croft of E. Barnard, Vermont stands next to the quilt, "A Journey of Leaves" made for her husband Bert in this
2006 photo. Photo credit: David Cogen, West Brookfield, Vermont.
In Her Own Words
Bert had received his degree in Forestry from the University of Montana in Missoula, when Uncle Sam said, "I want
you,"...for a couple of years! We met while he was in the Army, stationed in Aberdeen, MD. I firmly believe that God had a
lot to do with our first meeting. How else would an Illinois country girl meet a Vermont forester, in Maryland? And, after our
wedding, we lived in El Paso, Texas!!! Bert was there for 18 months, and I joined him for the last nine months.
"A Journey of Leaves"
I was asked to give a small quilt class to a bus load of ladies from California in October 2000. I prepared a dryer sheet
appliqué class using an Oak leaf from the tree we planted in 1992 when our grandson, Andrew, was born. As I looked at the
finished block, an idea took shape.
I married Bert, my forester husband, in June 1963. Naturally, trees have been a big part of his life. I decided to make a leaf
quilt for his 65th birthday, but I did not plan to have it finished by then, as we were planning to take a car trip to the west
coast in September 2001. I wanted to collect leaves along the way, for his quilt. And so, our journey began.
Appliqués Based on Actual Leaves
I used actual leaves for all of my appliqué work. The brown Sycamore leaf in the center really was that big! It's brown
because I picked it up in the spring, after it had over-wintered in Beall's Woods State Park in southern Illinois. The big-leafed
Maple in the top row came from Mt. St. Helen's. The leaf was a little larger than I was able to show, as the lobes overlapped.
I couldn't get it to lay totally flat.
We were with a friend in Scappoose, Oregon on September 11, 2001. I made a large Horse Chestnut leaf appliqué template,
and a tiny Maple leaf shape, from leaves from trees that grew on her lawn.
Sashing A Tribute to September 11
One of the questions I am asked most frequently is why I used the red, white and blue stars and stripes fabric on either side
of that block. Even though the colors make that block stand out and look different than the rest of the quilt, it is just like
September 11, 2001, a day that will continue to stand out in the memories of those of us who lived through its horror. As we
drove back east, it was amazing to see how many flags were displayed everywhere.
When we arrived in Illinois to spend some time with my family, I found the patriotic fabric in my sister-in-law's scrap bag,
and I knew that was what I had to use it to sash that block.
On September 17, Bert's 65th birthday, we visited the Redwoods for the first time. They were awesome!!! That is the one
tree that is not represented in his quilt.
Leaves from "the Family Tree"
There is a sprig of the Cedar tree that grows over my mother's grave, a Ginkgo leaf, a Kentucky Coffee leaf, and Bald
Cypress and Buckeye leaves from my brother Leonard. From trees at my Dad's place, I have a Black Walnut tree leaf and a
Charlotte Croft based on of her quilt blocks on a sprig from the Cedar tree, shown in this picture taken near a loved one's
grave in Illinois.
There's a Cottonwood from along the Yellowstone River at Pompey's Pillar where William Clark carved his name in the
sandstone. There is an Ash leaf from a tree grant in North Dakota. If homesteaders would agree to plant ten acres in trees,
then they would be given a parcel of land to farm. There is a rest area that has a plaque sharing this bit of our country's
The tiny brown leaf to the right of the Purple Ash leaf is actually a Bay Leaf that I found in my sauerkraut and sausage at
Zehnder's in Frankenmuth, MI. Since it was whole, I tucked it into my purse, and the image of it ended up on the quilt!
There is a Magnolia leaf from Swan Quarter, North Carolina. I picked it up on a visit with our friends David and Mary Ann
O'Neal. The large tree stood in the corner of their lawn. David hated it because it dropped leaves all year. However, he could
not bring himself to cut it down because he could remember his Mom planting it from just a little shoot. When Hurricane
Floyd spawned a tornado that went right over their property, it brought this giant down. It fell towards the house but only
the very topmost branches brushed the side of the house.
There is a Peach leaf from an Amish farm in Ohio. I could go on and on because every leaf has a story. There is a sprig of
Balsam from near the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, the highest mountain in New England. On top of the
mountain, very little grows in the rocky soil and cold temperatures there.
I still have a couple of leaves to add but since Bert celebrated his 70th birthday in September 2006, I decided to display it that
year in the Billings Farm and Museum's annual quilt show. The quilt has generated far more interest than expected. Everyone
who visits the show can vote for their favorite quilt. It was very heartwarming to have people tell me, "I voted for your quilt."
Background Information About Charlotte - In Her Own Words
I began quilting with a pattern from a lady in Southern Indiana and a bag of scraps from my Aunt Pearl in Ohio. My first
finished quilt was for our first child, Eric, born on March 15, 1965. Two quilts that I started as a teenager don't count. They
have not yet been finished!
I do make quilts for sale on a custom order basis. I learned, early on, that if I had a finished quilt for sale it was just what the
persons wanted, EXCEPT, it was the wrong color, wrong size, or wrong pattern. I love traditional patterns but am
sometimes asked to do special designs. One of my clients has challenged my skills by asking for quilts with a Japanese
theme, an Egyptian theme, or an arctic Eskimo theme, as well as for one a village in Switzerland, where he lives part-time.
The quilts I've most loved making have been the ones for my grandchildren. We have five of them, and they range in age
from three years old to twenty-three.
Thank you, Charlotte!
©Copyright, April 3, 2007. Patricia L. Cummings, Quilter's Muse Publications, Concord, NH. Copyright of their own photos
and intellectual property remain with individual contributors to this article. All rights reserved.