Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Mystery of the Quilt Top
As a quilter, you can imagine that I run into many a quilt, and I do meet great people and great quilts. Sometimes, both have great stories to tell. And then, sometimes, I just have to extrapolate on the information I have and imagine the story they have to tell.
Take this old blue quilt for example - it is one of three quilt tops that were delivered to my little quilting bee by an anonymous person. A guy showed up at the senior center one day and said he had found them in an old shed “out back” and wondered if anyone could use them. The director brought them to my quilting group asking if they were worth saving.
They made a smelly pile. There were water stains and all were badly dirt stained. All were “pieced” by hand and with varied stitch quality. Of the three, I thought this one had the best chance of being servicable, so I volunteered to see if I could tack it together and quilt it with my longarm.
I felt I had to quilt it before I washed it just to keep it together. Then I would do what repair work it needed. My machine was not happy, as the quilter had not squared the blocks and there was a bit of excess fabric to sew through. It was puffy and rough where she had eased the pattern along, but surprisingly, her corners met fairly well and the darn thing was almost square.
So here is what I think about this quilt. First, I know the person who made it was elderly. It was hand pieced and the stitches at one end were much better than the other end. She was probably in declining health. Second, I know it took a long time to quilt it. The fabrics on the better half of the quilt were not the same as the other. She had run out of fabic and had to “make do.” And Third, I bet she (or her family) thought it wasn’t worth saving or couldn’t afford to have it quilted.
You might ask, did it turn out well enough to use after I quilted it? Well, I think it did. The machine quilting tightened it up considerably and then I went back and hand quilted many of the corners to tighten the connections. It is still puffy, there wasn’t anything I could do about that. But all the stains except one little brown spot the size of a pea did wash out. All in all, it looks like a quilt your grandma would have made for you and I think there are lots of young kids out there that could use a grandma quilt.
The thing that bugs me is that I don’t know what the pattern is. At first I thought it was an “Xs and Os” but then realized it was a flower pattern. I’ve been through my books and just can’t locate it. If I could, it would help date the quilt.
If I ever get any further information on the quilt, it will just have to be for my own peace of mind. I will deliver it to my quilt group this week and we will probably donate it to Carpenter House, a local residence school for girls. I will also make a pretty doll quilt and wrap a soft plush toy to go with it. Somehow, I just know that’s what Grandma would have done.