Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two New Old Quilts for the Collection

It's been yonks (translation: a v-e-r-y long time) since I purposefully added any quilts to my collection but last weekend I bought a quilt and it's a beaut. And then re-remembered I'd found another old quilt at a local flea market some months back that merited some pictures too. The flea market find is first and it's a mystery.

The quilt was hanging from the rafters of a pole barn at the flea market. Dusty, dirty, crumbling--all of the above. But it was still worth the $10 being asked and already I've had many times over the enjoyment of the piece. The pattern is a Mariner's Compass variation, in shredding pre-1860 chintzes, on a formerly white ground. The quilting is magnificent--about 14-16 stitches per inch. The quilt is huge--about 90" by 88". The large size is a tip-off from antebellum quilts and this one was made as a show piece by a show-off seamstress.

For some reason, 19th century North Carolina quiltmakers were fond of piecing, rather than using an applique technique, for large circular patterns. It must have been a bugger to draft. No short-cut applique here--the whole thing is pieced!

I carefully looked the quilt over and found that the maker had signed it! In one corner, in tiny stitches:
(first line)  Isabella Wadsworth (second line) LO___N followed by March 16  18_9. It's a mystery with a few clues. What we know: Isabella must have been wealthy enough to afford nice fabrics. The quilt is large, as in made for a wedding gift. The stitches are superb--this was NOT Isabella's first quilt. She was proud enough to sign the quilt--a rather rare gesture unless the occasion was worth remembering (see wedding quilt above). Is it a North Carolina quilt? Or perhaps Virginia? I monkeyed with the picture to try and bring up the lettering with only limited success. My apologies.

The second quilt is definitely a North Carolina quilt and will be a repair/restore project. Bought in Smithfield, NC, the quilt was likely made around 1900. The pattern is some sort of eight-pointed star. The cheddar-teal green-marine blue-oxblood brown combo, plus its triple-strip sashing, is almost a trade-mark of late 19th-early 20th century North Carolina  quilts. A few patterned shirtings could be 1890-1910. The quilt is incredibly white and bright. Evidently the quiltmaker finished the quilting (whew!), took it off the frame, and stored it away unbound. A mouse got into it and did some damage over the years and likely the oils in raw lumber helped make the darker stains.

I don't care--I love this quilt. It will be worth the time and/or money to get it restored. And yes, I will bind it and finally, a century later, finish the quilt.