Friday, January 28, 2011

Around the Homestead

Snow! And the temperature is 65°. So ok, it's not snow, it's insulation. We had twelve inches blown in the attic. It's white and it looks like tv snow when it drifts down every time we pull down the attic stairs.

And with this nice weather, Hubby tilled part of the garden and we planted a row of onions.

My New Year's goals, or resolutions, are not going well.

I went to Walmart in my search for blue and tan border fabric, and came home with these

What can I say? They jumped in the basket and I didn't have the heart to make them leave.

The diet is going, if not going well. We ate at I-Hop last night, and one meal alone destroyed my calorie count.

Until next time, may you have blessings and self-control,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Design Wall Monday

I'm joining Judy at Patchwork Times today, showing what is in the works on my design wall, or design floor in my case.

One of my resolutions, decisions, goals, whatever you want to call it, is to use up my stash. I boxed it up over a year ago when we needed the bedroom to be a bedroom again, and it never came down. Now it's down and there is no where to put it, so along with my regular too-much-stuff, I have five totes of fabric!

While making this quilt, I've decided I am a lot like my great grandmother, Mother S. Some of the scraps for this quilt are twenty years old; scraps from dresses and shorts I made for the girls. My mother never kept scraps. I don't know why I started keeping them, maybe for patching those dresses and shorts, but probably because I thought they would be useful some day. That's the hoarder in me.

Since nearly every scrap brought back a memory, I'm calling this quilt Trip Around the Past. This photo was taken yesterday afternoon, and I've got this part together now. Now all I have to do is figure out a border. That's always the hard part for me.

Until next time, may you have blessings and scraps of memories,

Another Antique Quilt

This is another quilt I'm trying to identify. I'm 99.5% sure it wasn't made by Mother S for a couple of reasons. First, the direction of the pattern with the block facing the sides instead of the top. Second, the stitches and thread. There are a few knots showing on both the back and the front. I thought there were more, but most were tufts of the wool backing. Third, the blocks don't seem finished. It's a pieced flower basket, but there is no handle or flowers in the top of the block. And fourth, the corners are rounded, something Mother S didn't do when a quilt block had squared edges.

There are a couple of things that make me wonder if it could be hers though. Both are in this block. The plaid fabric square is pieced, which is something she did often, and I think it could be the same fabric as another quilt she made. But also, that could be a very common fabric.

The fabric on the quilt top is in good condition. There are a few of those brown stains common to old quilts. But the backing is terrible. The fabric is brittle and disintegrates at a touch. I took the quilt to the local quilt store because I thought I would make another backing and slipstitch it over this one. The ladies there didn't think I should do that, but I think the wool batting will start coming out if I don't. I don't plan on taking out any stitches, or fabrics, just putting another backing on top of the old, stitching it around the edges and putting a few stitches in the block seams to hold it on.

The ladies at the quilt shop were intrigued with the pink chocolate and blue chocolate fabrics. That gives me an idea of the age of those fabrics, but not when the quilt was made, or who could have made it. So the search is on.

Some of the fabrics in the quilt:

If you recognize any of these fabrics, either by date or location, please let me know.

Until next time, may you have blessings and mysteries,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Late 19th Century Quilt Fabrics

Or early 20th Century quilt fabrics. That's still all I know about this quilt, and that's mainly because it has shirting in it, although the shirting has not held up well.

This is the same quilt I showed in my last post, and I'm still trying to identify who made it.

After studying it, and all the other quilts that have been left to us, Mom and I are pretty sure it wasn't made by Mother S. because of the combination of machine stitching, which she didn't have until she had been married quite a while, and the dark threads used to stitch white fabric, which she wouldn't have done. So we have concluded it was probably made by Mama H and her sisters because of the varying degree of skills in each block. It could have been a project where their mother taught them to quilt, or the older sisters taught the younger. Or it could have been a project their mother required of them. Mama H's mother passed on before Mom was born and she knows very little about her, except that she was very strict and very religious. She must have quilted, like most women of that time, but either it was never mentioned, or Mom didn't pay attention when the adults talked about it. What kid pays attention when their parents and grandparents are talking - unless it's about them? I didn't. Wish I did though. There are some genealogy puzzles I bet I could solve if I had just paid attention at some of those boring family gatherings.

Some of the blocks are well made, with straight, even stitches, and other blocks are a bit sloppy, both in stitches and in the inconsistency of the color of thread. A few blocks are machine stitched, but most are hand stitched, and it is hand quilted. Even the quilting is done in several different colors - suggesting that it was done by different people.

I've spent the better part of a day trying to identify even one fabric in it, and I haven't been able to, so I am going to post each of the fabrics here, in the hope that someone stumbles across this blog someday and knows something about one or more of them.

The first is a black on white lightweight cotton.

The next one is also a black and white lightweight cotton though it looks like a heavy loose weave. That's part of the pattern, with tiny dashes of black that look like shadow.

This is a black and white plaid on lightweight cotton that looks a bit like houndstooth, and has white dots scattered on it. In the picture, it looks like brown because it has faded a bit, but it is or was a black.

This is a black and white plaid lightweight cotton, with a flower petal design in each corner where the white dotted lines intersect.

This is a gingham plaid lightweight cotton or shirting. It was the common fabric in each block and the fabric that has not held up well. Either it was well worn when it was put into the quilt, or it was a poor quality fabric. Most of it has washed out and several blocks are missing large pieces of this fabric.

This is another blue and white fabric, a light blue stripe on white cotton shirting. It is faded, but no rips in any of it.

White shirting fabric with tiny circle of red roses

White shirting fabric with alternating dotted lines and dotted zig zags

White shirting fabric with alternating stripes and dotted lines

This is now a brown on tan lightweight cotton, but it might originally have been black on tan or even black on white. It looks like a loose weave, but again, that's just the printed pattern.

This is a lightweight fabric of a tan stripe on a tan background.

This is a brown and white plaid, a heavier fabric than the lightweight cottons in the blocks, and a looser weave. It is the quilt back.

This is a dark blue fabric with white designs that look a bit like smiley faces or a planet and it's circling moons. It is a heavier fabric than the blocks and is used as sashing.

Brown plaid

This is a light gray striped fabric. I don't know what fabric it is, it has kind of a slick feel to it.

This is a pretty light gray plaid on lightweight fabric or shirting. The plaid is made of a boxed design.

Pink and gray plaid

And last is a medium blue fabric with a white flower. It is a heavier fabric than the other block fabrics also.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a memory of the past,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Identifying Quilts

A few months ago, my mother received some quilts that had belonged to her mother. Since her mother didn't quilt, Mom thought they were made by her two grandmothers. Mom said her mother used the quilts when Mom was very young, but when they could afford it, her mother bought blankets for the beds and Mom never saw the quilts again. Unfortunately, the quilts aren't marked in any way, so Mom brought them to me so we could try to identify which grandmother made which quilt, and when they were made. I know a woman who is a quilt historian, so I took them to her. She really couldn't say definitively which quilt was made by which of my great grandmothers, but she gave me enough information to narrow down a few of them.

Here's the first quilt, which was at my great-uncle's house at the time of his death. Since he had lived with my great grandmother S for the last years of her life, and he never married afterward, we were 99.9% sure that this quilt was made by his mother, who we called Mother S.

This quilt looks a great deal like the quilt Mother S made for mom's wedding gift in 1951.

The pink double wedding ring quilt has smaller rings, and the binding is bias and follows the scallops of the block. The red one also has bias binding but the scallops have been filled so the quilt is square. Of all the quilts we have that we know were made by Mother S, none of them have binding with mitered corners, and this one does, or three of the four are mitered. The fourth corner is straight binding, probably because that is what she was used to doing and that is where the two ends came together. It was actually a relief to see that so I could compare it to her older quilts. The only other difference is the quilting design. The pink quilt, being smaller just has a boxed X in the center of the ring, and the red one has a cross hatch in the center.

The pink one was made when Mother S was 63 years old and had been quilting at least 46 years. With it, her stitches are small, straight, and closely quilted. The red one was probably the last one she made around 1975 soon before going into a nursing home, and the stitches are longer, though still straight and closely quilted. I'm guessing it was her last because it was never washed and still has the blue pattern marks drawn on it.

But the real proof were the fabrics that were in both quilts.

These are sections from the red one: (remember the fabrics are brighter because this quilt has never been washed)

And sections from the pink quilt with matching fabrics:

Bless Mother S's little frugal heart.

The next quilt that we needed to identify is this Grandmother's Flower Garden.

It looks very much like this Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt. When mom got married in December 1950, Mother S told her she would make a quilt and asked what mom wanted. Double wedding ring of course. Mother S didn't have one of those made, and gave mom a Grandmother's Flower Garden to put on her bed until she could get a Double Wedding Ring made. It was this Grandmother's Flower Garden, made in 1950. When I was a little girl, this was my quilt though I didn't appreciate it at the time. I wanted a ruffled bedspread like all my friends. Little did I know that this quilt would outlast all my other bedspreads.

Mother S was a woman whose hard work and frugality helped the whole family make it through the depression with comfort. She saved every scrap of fabric that was worth saving, and most of her quilts, even the last one, have some of the older scraps in it. That makes it hard to date this quilt, even though I found some of the same fabrics in each one. Since my grandmother quit using the quilts around 1940, I'm guessing this well worn quilt was made in the early 1930's.

Again, Mother S's scraps tell us that it is she who made both quilts.

Sections from the 1950 quilt:

Remember that fabric from the Double Wedding Ring quilts?

Now sections from the 1930 quilt:

Now the next quilt is a puzzle. My expert said the fabrics are late 19th century, based on the shirting fabrics in it and the dark patterns in the blocks.

But that doesn't mean the quilt was made then. Both my great grandmothers were about 12-15 years old at the turn of the century, and it's doubtful either of them made this quilt at that time. Either one of them made it at a later time or one of their mothers or possibly even one of their mothers-in-law made it.

We really don't know anything about the quilting skills of any of my great great grandmothers. Mother S's mother became a widow when Mother S was about seven years old, and she had to go to work in the fields. Mother S was the oldest child, and she had to leave school and take care of the house and her younger siblings. It is doubtful that her mother had time to do any quilting of this quality then. My other great grandmother, who we called Mama H, didn't really like quilting. Her interests were in embroidery and crochet. Mom remembers a beautiful Crazy Quilt that Mama H made, but said that her pieced quilts were of simple design and her stitches larger than Mother S. While her mother surely made quilts for the family, and taught her daughters their sewing skills, we don't have any quilts that have been identified as hers. It's even a possibility that the blocks of this quilt were put together by the daughters and quilted by Mama H's mother. Some of the blocks appear to be well made with small stitches in white thread, and others seem fairly sloppy with a combination of thread colors, and even some machine stitching. The quilting design is stitched with small, straight, and even stitches. The binding is the quilt backing folded over to the front, something that we have seen before on Mother S's quilts and on some of the quilts we know are not Mother S's.

So now the hunt is on to see if we can identify any of these fabrics or find any other clues that will tell us who made this quilt, and when.

One other thing, if you dear readers have gotten this far. All of these quilts were stored for awhile at a nephew's house and they smell of a musty house and cigarette smoke. I've had them in my house for a couple of days and I am very sensitive to cigarette smoke. I've aired one of them today and it is better, but still intolerable for me. If any of you know how to get out that smell, other than washing, please let me know. I don't think any of them would make it through a washing.

Update: Thanks to the comment by Cheyenne, I just had an epiphany. I was thinking about using, or not using, Febreeze, a dryer sheet, or fresh air, and I thought about my air filter with the ionizer. I never use the ionizer, but thought if I shut the door to a bedroom, it would be safe enough.

Until next time, may you have blessings and soft reminders of your heritage,