Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I think they are ties

A friend brought this quilt top to sewing last week and it knocked our socks off! The top was in Lawrence briefly with another fellow quilter, who had offered to bind it. It belongs to her sister-in-law Kay in California. Kay believes it was made by a cousin of her mother, Mary Ann Black, who lived from 1852-1930. The family reports she was never married, was known to make quilts, and is buried in a cemetary a few miles south of Girard, Kansas.

We are lucky that Kay does the family genealogy - she plans to see if there was a tie factory in Crawford County, Kansas that might have generated the fabric.

Here's a detail of a few blocks. They do seem to be pieced with strings of silk. The corners are velvet embellished with some embroidery. It's in perfect condition.

It is pieced on a fabric foundation, and being able to see that really helped date the quilt. It seems to match the years when Mary would have been quilting....

It is good to know a wonderful top like this has a good, appreciative home.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A First

I don't dress up to go to the grocery store. I am usually on the run, grabbing a few things I need. I don't often see people I know. But today, for the first time, someone recognized me from my BLOG.

I had checked out and was bagging my groceries. The next shopper caught my eye and said, "Mary?"
"Nope," I said. "You must be thinking of someone else."
She persisted, kind of talking to herself a little. "Mary? I could have sworn it was you." And then she said something I couldn't totally hear, but I heard quilts and blog.
"I do have a blog," I admitted. And she looked at me and said, "Thrift Shop Quilts."
I was stunned! She did recognize me from the blog.
"Do you quilt?" I asked.
"No," she said. "Maybe I will someday......"

Her name was Lydia (I hope I remembered correctly). She was younger and engaging. In the parking lot, she waved as she drove away in a groovy car.

This blog continues to surprise me. I've written for publication before. I felt pretty anonymous, really, even though my name was on my stories and I had a desk, in an office, with coworkers and everything.

Now I work and write at home. My coworkers have four legs (my dog and 2 cats). I try to stay somewhat on topic (quilts of a thrifty nature). But I continue to be a little surprised at how PERSONAL blogging is.

I'll try to get over that.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Here's the quilt top

Here's the entire Oklahoma top, thanks to Martie. We've got lots to examine.
Obviously, this top is a mishmash of blocks and techniques. There are a few sweet little 9-patches near the upper right. The blocks below them are a variation of the Cracker block (Women's World 1931 per Barbara's Encyclopedia). One immediately notices several nice Dresden plate blocks on the left and the ubiquitous Sunbonnet Sue blocks on the right (note one Sue is surrounded by a blanket stitch, the other is only partly finished). A string of diamonds runs along the right side. there are several blocks of squares and several string pieced blocks.

Note the tiny wierd bunny in the
purple strip, and the feedsack at the top
The quilt measures 75" x 82". It's all hand pieced, mostly with string. It is thrift at it's best. Besides cotton, the quiltmaker used dress fabrics, a few lineny fabrics and a little flannel, plus a few feedsacks. Rectangular fabric samples are used too. And it was likely never used, as there is still a great deal of newspaper foundation attached to the back.

I've included a few of the quilt details I love. I'll do a separate post about the back, it reveals plenty of information about how this quilt was put together.

We'll explore the back next.

My sharp-eyed sewing buddy Kathe noticed that the plaid is perfectly matched in this patch.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oklahoma treat

We are all in for a treat now, courtesy of Martie in New Mexico, with a story that might be familiar to many of us who rescue quilts. Martie wrote me this note:

About 10 years ago, I worked part time in a little mercantile store near my home outside Taos, New Mexico.  The owner is from Norman, Oklahoma, and purchased a lot of the inventory from estate sales.  Sadly, quilts, blocks, and tops came into the store and no one had much interest.  I bought what I could, when I could, out of respect and love for the women who did so much work.  Many of those items were hand pieced.  


 One top I purchased held a surprise for me when I got it home...it was hand pieced on newspaper from the Daily Oklahoman, in 1942.  You can still read little snippets about Roosevelt sending submarines into the Atlantic, advertisements, etc .  The top has never been put to a back.  Each block is different, like a sampler...all hand pieced.  It makes me want to weep for whoever did this work, because the fabrics are so very worn, I’m afraid it wouldn’t have had a very long life if it had even made it to a backing and gotten used.  I can envision its maker, doing her hand work at night, listening to the radio for news of a loved one...using whatever she had on hand just to keep herself busy.

Last summer I wrote to the museum textile curator in OK City, thinking it should go home, and they had no interest.  I just want to see it get into the hands of someone who will love it and perhaps, as you do with your students and blog readers, share it, teach from it, or learn from it...... I know that it is deteriorating more each year and if I die, my kids will probably just toss it or, at best, donate it to another thrift store.  I would be honored to see it join your collection.

Of course I said yes, the quilt top just arrived! Let's enjoy Martie's treat and examine this very original quilt.

Here are a few sections that were paper pieced and their backs. I think about what it must have been like then. Pearl Harbor had just happened and the nation was mobilizing for war, after struggling through the Great Depression......more to come.