Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Bit of History

Hand pieced assembly
 In yesterday's post, I referred to a mysterious box of quilt pieces that had been left on my porch.  (The picture is here,) A quick note on Facebook, and posting the picture there, and the "mystery," such as it was, was resolved.

Today I "met" the person who gave it to my friend Holly, who had given it to her son to put on my doorstep. (Can I just say how much I love social media for things like this?) Her name is Linda, and after I took these pictures, I sent her a  link to the ones with writing on them to see if she recognized any of it.
Piecing from the front

She did. While I was taking and uploading pictures, she'd been going through things from her mother's pattern easier family that had handwriting on them. But it turns out, the name on these is actually her father's mother!

She never knew that her grandmother had started this; it was in some of the things her mother had, and so she'd assumed it was from her mother's side of the family.

I think the variety of fabrics is fascinating, and so is the construction.
Juncture of the rings and corners

As I've mentioned (ad nauseam, I'm sure!) I've made a few DWR quilts--a couple of kings, a couple of queens, a 4-ring one for my parents' 50th anniversary, and a couple of shop samples. (I've also taught it as a class.) I still love the pattern, and I've watched a lot of different methods developed to make the pattern easier, or at least less wonky. This one is a pretty standard version.

The pattern pieces are cut out of brown paper, probably traced from a newspaper pattern. I wonder if it was something like the old Kansas City Star patterns?
That little bit of fancy woven fabric--shiny as ribbon!
Judging by the number of pinholes in the pattern pieces, my guess is that she pinned the pattern to a few layers of fabric and cut them out.

Most of the piecing is done by hand, but there's at least one melon that was sewn on the machine. I took quite a few shots of the hand and machine piecing--as always, if you click on the picture, it will pop up bigger.

(You can also go to the Flickr set and look at larger versions of the pictures there.)
This is really stirring up my curiosity about the fabrics, though. The muslin in pretty stiff and is very loosely woven--I can't tell if it is heavily starched, or if it came with that much sizing in it. One of the fascinating things is that there's a chunk of the muslin in the box that has a red binding sewn to it. It looks as if it had been cut from a garment or a bag of some sort.

Somewhere in my "vast" library of quilting books I think I have one that talks about dating fabrics. I think it's time to stop talking about organizing and just do it.
Two rings joined at the corners

I'm going to stop talking now and just make a couple of comments as captions. If you have any input on the possible age of the fabrics, or thoughts about dating them, please do comment!

One last thing: I will probably not try to finish piecing this, at least the way it is now. I'd want to do a wash test on the muslin, for one thing, because I'm afraid that once the sizing is out of it, it will ravel like crazy. I also remember being told (or maybe I read it, much time has passed!) that old unfinished quilts should be left as is, since they are historical "time capsules" and adding modern thread, batting, fabrics, etc., compromises their integrity. Not that I think this one is all that historic--but the thought persists. 

Brown paper pattern

The pattern pieces

This was in the box--looks like instructions for a signature quilt.

A setting corner for the signature block

Another setting piece

Name on the back of the instruction piece, and what looks like calculations for the proposed quilt.

Pieced block that was in the box. Wonder if it was going to be cut up for this quilt?

This fabric is very thin and fine, feels like a Liberty lawn. Pretty sure it isn't Liberty, though!

I'm working with a reproduction that looks a lot like this one!

This plaid fabric has a whole different feel than the other fabrics.

The shape of this shirting piece suggests that it was left over from a sewing project.

The muslin--very coarse and stiff

Muslin scrap with binding on it. Practicing binding, or cut from a garment or bag perhaps?

Some of the piecing stitches are very large and loose.

This looks a lot more like basting than stitching that was meant to last.

And... this melon was sewn on the machine.


mimi said...

A very interesting post! I'm working on repairing a family yo-yo quilt made by my grandmother. It has many, many different fabrics and I thought perhaps I could compare them and see if I found some matches. Then I realized that wouldn't help because I don't know exactly when our quilt was made! Good luck with your quilt!

=Tamar said...

If it's a scrap quilt, as it appears to be, the fabrics may be from widely different eras themselves, some saved for decades, others acquired second-hand, some new, etc. At least by knowing that it was her grandmother's you have a rough estimate of the era it was put together. I have an old quilt my mother got at a yard sale in the 1970s and repaired piecemeal, patch by patch as they wore out, so it's a real mishmash of fabrics and eras.

Lee I said...

An old Dresden Plate top made by my great grandma is what prompted me to learn to quilt in the first place, so I could finish it up. Many of the fabrics in your DWR look to be the same. I believe it was made before or shortly after my birth, so that's a long time ago. I've always thought of it as 30s fabrics.