Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Joyce T found this ancient quilt made from the most delicate fabrics -- cotton so thin and silky that you would think it was chiffon -- and she wanted to have it quilted for her sister.  There were some spots on it, most of which disappeared with gentle washing, and even though more than half of the squares were hand pieced, the seams did not come apart with the bath, so all in all it seemed to be worth preserving.  I gather a relative had made it originally.

Here are some of the fabrics in it.  In the middle of this grouping you can see that sometimes even the individual squares were pieced, speaking to an early era, perhaps the 30's or 40's?, when every tiny scrap had to count.  The squares are not square, and the blocks are not all the same size, but perhaps they were made up of someone's dresses or the like.  For whatever reason, Joyce brought the quilt to me to finish by quilting.

Now, ordinarily, if the quilt is hand pieced, I think it should be hand quilted.  However, I convinced myself that that guide need not be followed for this quilt since it was irregular, filled with bits and pieces and still stained in one area, so it didn't seem to warrant the extra time and expense of hand quilting.  In addition, Joyce wanted it more for a summery throw, draped across her sister's sofa, rather than hanging on the wall, entered in a contest, or displayed on a bed.

The back of the quilt is pastel blue dotted Swiss on the sides and a thin lawn or batiste sort of fabric down the middle.  Although they had been stored for decades in a trunk in Joyce's attic, these two fabrics were healthy and whole and utterly charming.  I used my whitest and lightest poly blend for the batting and chose a Baptist Fan pattern to offset the angularity of the blocks.  You can see the pattern much better on the back, above.

Joyce was delighted with the results.  Now she is contemplating her options for the binding.  Wouldn't it be lovely if she could use a pastel purple velvet ribbon or perhaps satin in a narrow binding?  It's very difficult to work with velvet.  Velvet doesn't like to stay where it's put and wants to slide out from under your sewing machine needle.  So I vote for the satin.  Or it might be that she has enough  blue dotted Swiss from the sides of the quilt backing to make binding, too.  We'll see.

Either way, this summery quilt is light and delicate and has a heavenly feel to it.  Her sister is very lucky to be receiving it.

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