Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Beautiful Vintage Circa 1920

Don't know how YOU'RE doing, but not too much sewing going on in my house right now.  We're getting ready for basement waterproofing, and doing lots of sorting, getting rid of, and packing up.  I 'm really happy if I can get my two Splendid Sampler blocks done each week!

During this process, I was looking at this old quilt I have---too young to be 'antique', so it's 'collectible' or 'vintage'.  It's the very FIRST one I ever bought, not that I have many.   Maybe 6 or 8, and most are close to being what people would call a 'cutter quilt'.  The kind people used in their attics as dust covers, or their trucks for moving things.  Really, really worn.

This one I bought in Shipshewana, Indiana, I think it was the early 1990's.  It was one of my FIRST girl-road-trips, which were a total revelation to me!  Who knew that the point wasn't just getting from point A to point B in record time?  Who knew you could stop & browse an antique store if you wanted to?  I had no idea!  I still remember a later trip, going to Quilt Festival in Chicago---it took us 6 hours to gt across the state! (It's a 3-hour drive).  LIFE's a journey, my friend, and it's allllll about the ride!  Wait---a minute ago, when I said 3-hour drive, did you, in your head, start humming "a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour'?  Or was that just me???  If you didn't get that, you're too young.

A group of friends in my neighborhood did an annual trip to Shipshewana in November, when things were decorated for Christmas, which then led to a summer trip to Shipshewana for the huge Flea Market they have there.  My first flea market ever!  It was hot, so hot.  We had coolers in the car with water bottles on ice, and parked as close as we could.  It was really fun!  Foot sore, hot, but fun.  And I found...... THIS!

It was cheap----maybe $35 or 40.  Wish I had written that down, and the date, but I didn't.  It's not a fine quilt.  It's not hand quilted.  It's machine-quilted.  It had been used, lived a life. It spoke to me---the colors, the simplicity, the fact that it WAS done by machine!  The striped fabric seems to be dish cloth, kind of waffley, if you look at the close up. That dark stitching thru the yellow sashing is a zig-zag stitch.   It's navy (not black),  with the pink and yellow, and some white. Wonky!  Weird!  I loved it!  I was so thrilled to take it home, my FIRST vintage quilt!!  The back is white, and brought to the front, turned down & stitched to bind it.

Some years after that, maybe 5,  we became aware of the Michigan Quilt Index project.  We had an amazing quilt collector & historian living in the area, and she was a member of our guild, Mary Silber.  A friend of mine, also a Mary, had made a beautiful Lone Star Quilt, I think it was all hand-quilted, and she wanted to have it appraised & registered in the project.  We were being urged to register all of our quilts, so that their history would not be forgotten.  So I went with Mary, and took my funny little quilt along for Mary Silber to take a look at for me & tell me anything she could figure out about it.  I recently looked it up on the quilt index, as I couldn't remember when it was from, or the name of the pattern.  THEN, while cleaning the basement, I found notes I had written from that day!  Tucked safely into a folder of "QUILTY STUFF" (**important note here---'a safe place' isn't ALWAYS throwing something into the abyss of the great unknown--sometimes you can actually find it again!!!)

So here's what Mary had to say about it:  This quilt was probably made in Pennsylvania, around 1920 (between 1901 & 1929). It is a Monkey Wrench Variation.  It was hand-pieced, and machine quilted on a treadle machine!  How cool is that???!!  Mary said its value at that time was $375, and replacement value would be $750.  She also said I could wash it in a tub, or by machine, on delicate, with a delicate soap.  Air-dry, or dryer on cool.  Important to note that is a quilt that was USED, not tucked away in a trunk.  So it had been washed before.

I still love it.  When I look at it, it makes me happy.  It tells me important things about myself from the perspective of twenty-some years later.  Some of those things should have been clear, but maybe weren't altogether.  First, I love using my machine (OK--clear to me, never lost sight of that, no fuzziness there!).  Machine quilting is awesome!  (never lost sight of that either).  I guess the only thing I lost sight of for awhile, in my brown, muddy phase, was that I LOVE COLOR!  I love simple patterns, simple shapes.  I can look at an intricately pieced quilt, a Baltimore Album, an incredible landscape or art quilt and admire & appreciate the skill & beauty of those quilts.  But they do not speak to my heart.  They do not GRAB me by my soul.  They just don't.

Beautiful fabrics.  Simple designs.  Those things speak to me.  Those are what I want to make, and need to make.


  1. It's so great that you realized then how you would evolve as a quilter and knew then what called to you. I'm still listening for that calling because I love it ALL.

  2. It's so great that you realized then how you would evolve as a quilter and knew then what called to you. I'm still listening for that calling because I love it ALL.

  3. These are my favorite kind! I love it!! Thanks for sharing the story :)