Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mom's Crazy Quilt

Sorry, sorry. For those of you who have been checking my blog I apologize for not updating it in some time. Life has been crazy. So here is a cool crazy quilt to go along with life.

This quilt is My Mom’s Crazy Quilt. I first discovered when I was going through some boxes after mom died. I found several quilts that had been made by my aunt and grandmother which as some of my most cherished possessions. But then I found a box of fabric scraps and this unfinished crazy quilt. At the time, I thought this was the ugliest quilt I had ever seen. Not one of those beautiful silk and velvet crazy quilts with all the embroidery, but just a mishmash of cotton fabrics sewn helter skelter on some old cotton sacks. But in twenty years times change and so do tastes. Now, when I’m especially missing my mom, I can take out this quilt and touch the fabric that she touched and give it a hug.

I don’t recognize any of the fabrics as being mom’s dress, or the kitchen curtains, or a sundress that I wore. They are all from “before my time”. I don’t know when she started making the blocks, but the foundation fabric is old sugar and flour sacks; you can still see the printed label on some. Some of the fabric pieces are feed sacks, too. But others are pieces that I’m sure were from dresses because of the quality of the fabric. And some must have been curtains that hung in homes I never knew. I have a letter my mom wrote to her mom in 1934 stating she had just ordered some fabric to make new curtains for the house they were living in on a farm near Herman, Nebraska. That old house still stands, although the roof is gone and there is a tree in the middle of the house now. And perhaps this quilt contains some of the fabric that she was so excited about. What a wonderful thought.

Let’s take a look at some of the prints in this delightful, and not at all ugly, crazy quilt.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When it snows...make snow cats!

Snowing again. Snowing, snowing, snowing. Started this morning; we have 9" on the back deck so far. Our youngest cat loves to run in the snow. We know he's part Bengal. We think the other part is snow leopard.

It's absolutely beautiful out. The snow is wet and sticky so the trees make it a while wonderland. The wet snow is also perfect for making snowmen, or rather snow cats. It keeps getting fuzzier and fuzzier. By this evening it will be a long-haired snow cat.

And speaking of getting fuzzier, the snow is clinging to Murphy's tags, turning them into a snowball.

I could be quilting, but we're having too much fun. Let it snow!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Researching the fabric

The fabric is hard to pin down to an exact year. Let's look at some of the individual fabrics.

First, the pink used in the sashing and flower buds. The sashing is lighter than the flower buds but they are both rose pinks. The floral prints have background colors such as mint green, turquoise or aqua, sky blue, and bright yellow. These prints and colors were popular in the late 20s into the 30s.

However, there is also a print with a burgundy background, and a navy blue with white polka dots. These prints and colors were more popular in the late 30s into the early 40s.

So when was the quilt made? You can never say exactly when a quilt was made unless it is dated (that’s why you ALWAYS label your quilts, right?) but we can say it was made from a pattern published in 1930 using fabrics popular in the 30s so I’m going to put an estimated date on it of 1930s. My guess is that they at least started cutting fabric for the quilt soon after the pattern was published and probably finished it sometime later.
I mentioned earlier that the quilt was hand pieced and hand quilted. The maker was a skilled seamstress and probably experienced quilter. The pieces are accurately cut and stitched -- and still holding together, so they knew how to sew. The quilting isn’t as precise as the stitching, but I believe they used an original design. The flower pieces are shadow quilted, no biggie there. But in between, in the squares, there is a quilted butterfly.

It’s a bit different in each one, as if they drew a basic pattern, cut it out, and then traced it onto the blocks. You can see this best in the blue and white polka dot print. I love it.

Now that I have the pattern I want to make a new quilt using contemporary fabrics. I think it will be interesting to display them together. Still wish I knew who made this one.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The hidden quilt is revealed

These cold, snowy days have been great for uncovering the hidden quilt. Removing the binding and ties has revealed a beautiful pieced quilt -- one that is in remarkably good condition. There is some wear on the binding, but that's it. Why did someone cover up this quilt instead of simply attaching a new binding? We'll never know.

Interestingly, a double layer of flannel had been stitched to the top edge of the quilt. This was always the first to wear out because it was pulled on more than the other edges. I have quilts from my grandmother that have a decorative edge sewn to the top of the quilt when it was made to prevent wear when used. Underneath the decorative edge the quilt is unworn and unfaded. What a great method of preservation.

The now unhidden quilt is made of medium quality fabric and appears to be filled with a thin cotton batting. By all appearances it was "purpose made". In other words, it wasn't pieced together from old clothes or made as a utilitarian quilt. It was made from a pattern to display the maker's sewing skills. The quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted. The maker was obviously skilled as shown by the sharp points and evenly spaced stitching.

Using several resources I've been able to determine that the quilt block pattern is called Sage Bud. This pattern was published in The Kansas City Star on November 29, 1930 (Kansas City Star archive pattern #146). The blocks in the quilt were pieced precisely following the published pattern. A very pretty rose pink was used for all of the buds and a lighter rose pink used for the sashing. The colors in the prints are all still clear with no bleeding and just a little fading. The quilt was obviously used but well taken care of. I still can't believe someone covered it up.

Now that I know the pattern is from 1930 I'll use that date in the next step of researching the fabric. In the mean time, Murphy is testing the the newly exposed quilt.