Here is part of a quilt top made by another of my great-grandmothers, Edith Mane Colby, who was born in 1877 in Maine.
Quilt top made circa early 1900's
She died in 1910.
It is a crazy quilt, made from scraps of fabric, many of which are so old and worn they are very ragged and holey now. The fabric pieces had a seam allowance of about 1/2 inch, and were stitched together with rather thick embroidery thread in a feather stitch. There was a backing, but it is mostly shredded as you can see in this photo.
Reverse side, with remnants of shredded backing on top
irregular pieces are sewn into square blocks, then sewn together
a separate, smaller piece
The fabric pieces for this quilt were likely remnants and scraps from cotton dresses and shirts worn by the family members during the years 1880 through 1910. Can you see it in your mind’s eye? [The Sherlock Holmes
stories were written by A. Conan Doyle during 1880 and 1914, to give you a bit of a time line reference].
My mom, who was named for her grandmother, decided to use some of the quilt to make art quilts for family members for Christmas presents this past year. This one was given to me.
Mom's art quilt
close-up of the patchwork
She pieced together some fabrics she had in her stash with old pieces of her grandmother’s quilt and other interesting items of note. Some of the fabrics, especially old, worn, and fray-prone ones, were overlaid with netting to protect them and to add some texture. On the left side of the full pic, I see three white-embroidered cutwork flower-shapes; these once adorned my Aunt Jeanne’s wedding dress (made by Gran.) I also see some crocheted edging that has been couched over the top of the mini-quilt, adding color and texture.
To Grayzie, an art quilt is still a quilt, and highly sought-after
Here is my poor shortcut to a quilt, lacking the handiwork, but useful and practical in that it is made with modern-day remnants (so, please don’t hate, ancestors!)
I started with an adorable boy-baby cotton flannel fabric remnant. These pre-pieced baby-quilt fabrics can be pretty pricey, unless you settle for a remnant. But they are too tiny to stand alone, so you must pair them with other fabrics to made a worthwhile project. For mine, I happened to have 2 yards of Minky Cuddle Lamb in baby blue in the stash, that I’d bought online at fabric.com
during one of their sales, and I probably used a code to get a percentage off, too. I trimmed about an 8″ strip off the Minky so it would line up with the remnant, once they’d been matched together and an allowance for a “cuff” at either end was turned down. I sewed the flannel remnant to the Minky, wrong sides together, on both long edges, forming a big tube. Then I turned the tube right-side out. I wanted to machine-embroider the baby’s name on the top cuff, which I did, using Tear-Easy stabilizer in the hoop, spray-gluing the Minky to the Tear-Easy, and then spray-gluing a water-soluable stabilizer piece to the top of the Minky. Then I basted the layers of stabilizer and fabric together in the hoop, using the machine’s Fix function. Even with glue and stitching, I was paranoid about the works moving around during embroidery because the layers are so heavy and bulky, they’re liable to shift and then…disaster. However, the embroidery went well. I stitched through all layers, in the ditch at the junction of the Minky and flannel seams, having lined them up so that the flannel panel was (theoretically) exactly in the middle, leaving Minky borders on both long sides. Then I folded the top and bottom edges under, turned under an inch or less, and hand-basted the layers all together to make sure that the flannel top edges were securely covered by the Minky “cuff” at top and bottom. Then I machine sewed all the layers across the top and bottom seams of the “cuffs.” To machine sew, I used a roller foot. That Minky can sure slide around and get warped and distorted, as I can attest from having tried to machine seam it first without the benefit of basting the layers together. Once basted, and sewn with the roller foot, it was good going. I added another seam about an inch away from all the edges of the blanket. With lots of seams, and no batting inside to shift around, I reasoned that I didn’t need to further quilt the blanket, but I thought it would look so cute with a little tie-quilting. And so it was quickly done, with a few strands of cotton yarn.
Modern-day shortcut quilt
A quickie quilt, with remnants
In 1890, or 2012, who wouldn’t want a warm quilt to sleep with, and to dream with? 🙂