Saturday, December 19, 2009

First things first

When I looked at the quilt at the sale I thought I saw a red stain on the back, nothing that stopped me from buying it, but something worth checking. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the “red” wasn’t a stain. Rather, it was a shadow of something underneath -- not a shadow from the quilt top, but from something in between the top and the backing. Could it be? Could this be that magical item we quilt collectors are always looking for? A quilt within a quilt? I held the quilt up to the window and, yes! There it was -- the backlighting revealed the subtle but undeniable shapes of another quilt! Oh my, now what?
But, first things first. One thing you should always do when you bring a new quilt into your fold is document. Whether it is a quilt that you made, received as a gift, or purchased, you must document it. Take photographs of the quilt, both whole-quilt and details, and put in writing everything you know about the quilt. Easily done if you are the quiltmaker; not so easy when it’s a found object rescued from a sale or thrift shop. This particular quilt has no name or date on it, nothing to offer any information about the quilt. So, first, the photographs. Next, the dimensions. Then, when and where I purchased the quilt. It was an estate sale so I have the address and can find the name of the last person to live at that address. I know the sale also included other quilts and a sewing machine so it is possible this person was the quilt maker. Look at the pattern -- is it representative of a particular period in time? Look at the fabrics contained in the quilt. Do they reveal when the quilt was made. Barbara Brackman’s Clues in the Calico and Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (plus her new Encyclopedia of Appliqué) are good resources for researching fabrics and patterns so I’m off to the library for a bit of research.

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