Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:

April 2013 - Posts

Vintage Quilts


I returned to work last week, after three weeks off following surgery. To some, the time off may have sounded nice with extra time for quilting. However, I cannot use my right arm, so my time was spent reading and surfing the internet using my left arm. I spent more time in the QCA forums and reading some of my favorite quilt blogs. Unfortunately, talking about quilts, reading about other quilters' projects, and seeing pictures in the galleries and blogs, just increased my desire to be quilting.

Since I am unable to share any new projects, I thought I might give a look at some of my vintage and antique quilts. Last year, I had a quilt appraiser look over my quilts and give me her verbal appraisal of age and condition of the, as well as, ways to repair and maintain them.

I purchased my first vintage quilt back about 1998, at an Amish quilt auction and flea market. It is a circa 1935 Butterfly quilt. I found it in a booth, but didn't immediately purchase it. You know that feeling you get, when you pass up an item and it nags you until you find it again and buy it. The quilt is faded, probably from being washed. It also has creases from being refolded in the same place. The hand quilting isn't beautiful. In fact, it's rather large, but consistent, which is considered good. The appraiser was not sure if the batting was wool or cotton; and she felt that the outside border may have been from a later date. But, the butterflies are definitely thirties fabrics and the green & pink setting is also typical of the period.

I picked up a summer throw last year at a local antique shop. The appraiser stated it was circa 1900, making it an antique. It is in a scrappy Rail Fence pattern using various fabrics. She suggested that many were dress weight fabrics, some are fine dress fabrics, and some may have been from silk ties. The layout is noted to be made from blocks and stitched to a foundation. The pieces are hand stitched, but the piece may also have some machine stitching. The top is tied and has a knife edge border.

I also picked up a circa 1935 wool throw at the same antique shop a few years back. It is an interesting pattern made of rectangles that have plain squares sewn on point at the intersections. Some of the squares appear to be set-in to the seams, while others appear to be stitched over the top of the intersecting block corners. The top is made of several different fabrics, notably wools, that may have come from a salesman's sample book. There are also silk ties and home dec fabrics. This top is also tied and likely meant as a utilitarian piece. The back is cotton. There are several loose patches, that the appraiser recommended repairing with a few stitches. And patches that had become frayed could be covered with a fine netting of the same color and stitched with a few stitches to hold it in place. These types of repairs do devalue the quilt, as completely removing and replacing patches would do. The top hangs over the back of a chair under the previous rail fence top. 

The last vintage quilt to share today is a circa 1940 Jacob's Ladder. I picked it up at a flea market/antique sale in Ludington, Michigan. It is quite small and likely made for a man or a small bed. The floral fabrics are from the 30's & 40's, but there are also checks and stripes. These may have been leftover shirtings from making men's shirts or cotton pajama pants. The top has hand quilting and the batting is likely cotton. The binding is bias. The quilt has been used and washed with an unknown pink stain on the backing, and she stated that the quilt was in fair condition.

As you can see, the quilts that I have collected are scrappy. I like that this gives a large sampling of the fabric choices during the time period when the quilt was made. The patterns are not elaborate and the quilting is not fancy.  When looking for older quilts to collect, I am looking for what appeals to my quilting tastes. You may surmise from my vintage collection, that I make scrap quilts, and you would be correct. Many of my quilts use an assortment of fabrics from my stash and from dressmaking scraps. I guess I like lots of color and texture.



Posted Sun, Apr 21 2013 3:28 PM by Pamela | 2 comment(s)

A Myriad of Quilt & Textile Books

So, what does one do when one arm is in a sling and you cannot stitch? How about cataloguing all those quilt books. I am able to type with one hand, albeit slowly. So, I began the project a week-and-a-half ago. Each day, I work on 10-12 books, including the author, title, publisher, and publication date; along with a digital image of the book and the price I paid. This last item is sometimes sketchy, if I didn't note it on the back page, which has been a habit of mine.

I have a love of all things books and began purchasing titles back in the early eighties. My interest in quilt history and textiles, led me to look for out of print books at library sales, flea markets and antique shops. My most cherished purchase is a 1929, first edition of Ruth E. Finley's Old Patchwork Quilts and The Women Who Made Them. I made this purchase online at Alibris for $65.00. This is an online photo, that is a bit more ragged than my copy.

Finley was a well-respected quilt historian and writer of her time, along with Marie Webster, Carrie Hall and Rose Kretzinger.

I have catalogued sixty-four books, with more than that to finish. My collection has really expanded over the years, but is still devoid of many fabric and quilt dating books recommended for quilt appraiser resources. Since my goal is to obtain the certification, I need to beef up this area of my collection. Most notably, I am interested in Barbara Brackman's Clues in the Calico and Patsy & Myron Orlofsky's Quilts in America. I recently checked the latter out of my local library to read. I do have other  highly recommended quilt historian texts that I've purchased, not because I was looking for them, but do to my interest in quilt history. I came across Safford & Bishop's 1974 edition of America’s Quilts and Coverlets in a used book store for only $38.00. Later, I discovered that it is often referenced in quilt articles and texts. Quite a find.

Today, I plan to catalog my Gwen Marston books. She is one of my favorite quilt teachers and I have ten of her books. My collection also spans the Elm Creek Quilts novels by Jennifer Chiaverini, and every edition of Great American Quilts, published in the eighties and nineties. I have several texts published by magazine companies like Good Housekeeping and Better Homes & Gardens. Several are block pattern books, that I reference frequently.

I enjoy leafing through the pages of the varied books, just to admire the quilts and provide me with inspiration. I also enjoy reading about the people who made the quilts. When I finish with the books, I may have to document the magazines, patterns and other quilt ephemera that I've collected.

Happy Reading!

Posted Mon, Apr 8 2013 7:45 AM by Pamela | with no comments