Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Christmas Quilt #1

Last week we cruised a local antique mall. You know, the type where many dealers set up their booths but all the check-out happens at one desk up front. The sign on the door drew me in:
               All Christmas on Sale! Ornaments-Trees-Quilts. 

Okay, you got me. As Rod and I walked the mall, we saw lots of neat stuff (who knew turkey platters
were such a big thing?) but not until the back room of the mall did we see any quilts. And there was a pile of them. We worked down the stack, unfolding them one at a time. On the bottom was a very flat slightly soiled quilt. As we unfolded it, I got excited. Of all the quilts we'd seen, this was the only one that was certifiably antique. And for its age, in very good shape.

Meet the Christmas Quilt. The pattern is one of those ancient variations of Rose Wreath. The blocks are about 17" square and between the blocks are white sashings 6" wide and the two border 8" wide.

The  visual kicker is what happens where the sashings intersect: neat little eight-point stars in cheddar orange against a green background.

The quilt only has two borders and while you might assume the two other borders had been cut off after some long-ago accident, the border quilting motifs and the neat red binding both look original to the piece. I think this quilt only ever had two borders--evidently the maker was after a particular size and when she achieved that, the construction of the quilt top ceased. I can relate to that.

In addition to all the applique work being accomplished in white thread (almost invisible stitches), the quilter also did a bit of reverse-applique. She cut a tiny hole in the center of her red flowers and pushed a small square of cheddar fabric down the hole and then smoothed it flat. The final step was using a small applique stitch to fold back and fasten the red fabric around the hole thus revealing an orange center for her flowers.

The hand quilting itself is of excellent quality. I measured stitches in several places on the quilt--she quilted consistently at 10-12 stitches per inch. It didn't hurt that the batting was extremely flat.

Much of the background quilting was in the 'hanging diamonds' pattern but others, especially on the borders, seemed to indicate the quilter had templates she traced around and then quilted. Often she used little hearts as filler motifs. Might that indicate the quilt was a wedding present? Being a special quilt might help explain its age and excellent condition since the quilt is about 150+ years old. A loved wedding quilt might have lived for years in a cedar chest and only be taken out for special occasions.

In the next blog posting I'll talk about and show some of the interesting quilting motifs.