Thursday, September 26, 2013

Deb Rowden ( spoke to my quilt guild the other night. Her inspiring presentation, Thrift Shop Quilts, was about improvised quilts and quilting. Not cut and dried, perfect points quilts, but quilts made before we had rotary cutters, specialty rulers, and glow-in-the-dark plastic templates. Quilts made of old clothes or leftover scraps cut using a pair of scissors that probably needed sharpening 2 years ago.

I have some blocks I purchased in Atlanta a few years ago that fit into this category of "improvised" quilts. If I were to define the blocks, I would say they are Log Cabin blocks. But no two are alike. The size of the strips are all different, and they aren't perfect squares or rectangles. A few of the blocks have the same fabric in the center, but strips around the center appear to be whatever was at hand. Some of the "strips" are actually hems -- hems cut off shirt sleeves, perhaps, and still turned under and sewn.

It is hard to tell how old the blocks are and what era the fabrics came from. An expert in textile history could tell, but I can't. I don't see feed sacks but there are wonderfully bright colors and prints. I'm sure they all came from clothing, so the best resource for dating them may be catalogs and fashion magazines.

After listening to Deb and seeing her quilts, I'm inspired to go ahead and put these blocks together, perhaps with a plain muslin sashing so as not to distract from the blocks and the fabrics. And I want to cut the sashing with scissors, not a rotary cutter, just as the original piecer would have done. I wish I knew who made them, and what they intended to do with the blocks. I hope wherever that person is, they will be happy with the finished quilt.


  1. Hi Donna,
    I just came from Deb's blog. I LOVE these blocks. Love the idea of cutting the sashing with scissors and looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  2. Definitely put them together! But if you have some vintage fabric, could you use that instead of plain muslin? It does not look like the original block maker like plain anything, she seems like more of a fabric party girl! Whee!! Everyone welcome!

  3. These blocks are wonderful! I think black or bright sashing would make the colors pop.I definitely like the scissors cut idea!