Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quilt Gift and Memories

Sometimes quilts come from out of the blue. Once I found one stuffed in a garbage bag on my porch with a cryptic note: "Give it a good home" and nothing else. Over the years the back storage room has morphed into a retirement  home for strange and sometimes slightly tatty quilts. But sometimes the orphan quilts are lovely and I cannot understand why but their owners don't have room. On occasion, the exchange is almost a drive-by quilting, as in, the quilt is shoved out the door and the driver waves as she exits the scene. Sometimes guilt is the motivating factor when quilts come to live with me. "I never use this quilt and I feel bad about it," is one such rationalization.

Sarah's 19th century Log Cabin quilt 
This autumn my friend Sarah wanted to share with me a quilt top she'd had in storage for a long time. She explained that she'd bought it at an antique shop in Easton, Maryland many years before and always intended to do something with it and wanted some inspiration and advice as to how to proceed.

Big smile, great glasses!
I photographed the quilt against the fence in back of the studio on a sunny day. Sarah's quilt is a typical late-19th century variation on the Log Cabin pattern. When sewn with opposing light/dark strips, the pattern is called Courthouse Steps. A lot of the fragile fabrics are wool or wool/silk blends and when handled, you could feel and almost hear the fabrics wanting to tear. Other strips had been moth-nibbled. But the colors in the quilt are still amazingly bright for being 125 years old. I explained to her that she had a quilt top, in very tenuous condition, and that it likely couldn't be restored plus I wouldn't advise finishing it because the quilt's condition would continue to deteriorate no matter what she did. Since Sarah lives on a sailboat and must make good use of all her interior living space, she handed the quilt  to me with a big smile. Isn't it great to have friends?

C.1920s Log Cabin quilt from Texas and new wall hanging
Close-up of the only flowered fabric in the quilt 

While on the Courthouse Steps kick, here are some pictures of two others in the collection. The older quilt above is an ebay find from the state of Texas. I don't think it was ever used. Funny how there's only a wee bit of flowered calico in one block. Makes me wonder if the quilt might not have been made for a man (all those plaids) and that little flowerdy part a feminine signature. The little quilt is a wall hanging I made in memory of my father-in-law Peter Magyar who always wore plaid shirts. The plaid fabrics are indeed cut from his shirts.
Close-up of Pete's Plaids