Tuesday, December 06, 2005

(More) Recycled Work

Allison (sorry I couldn't get the link to work, but there's a link in the index to the right) posted about finding a 19th century unfinished crazy quilt that she wants to use as a foundation for her own work. I replied about a similar project of my own, a set of Dresden Plates that I washed, mended and appliqued down onto blocks, which I then made into a quilt. Here are some photos of the finished quilt.

This is a shot of the whole quilt. I've had it hanging in my bedroom for a couple of months. I've got to take it down soon, as I've noticed that it's started to get wavy. I didn't use the sleeve, which would probably be a better choice.

My theory about this quilt is that the blocks were made by two quilters. This first photo shows an example of the blocks which were made by the more proficient quilter. The stitches were incredibly regular, the fabric looks like 30s feedsack, and the blocks are uniform in their construction.

The other blocks have looser, less regular stitching. The Plates have random numbers of sections, so the sizes are different than the other blocks. These blocks also have repeated fabrics, (which the others don't) and some of the fabrics are of looser weave. I think perhaps these were cut from clothing, or were made from clothing fabrics. These blocks may have been made later than the first, since they don't adhere strictly to a 30's feedsack palette.

The story I tell myself about these blocks is that the less proficient quilter was the daughter or other relative of the expert quilter, and that she wanted, for sentimental reasons, to finish the unfinished project of the expert quilter. I tell myself that she chose the poorer quality fabrics perhaps not only because she was inexperienced, but also because these fabrics were sentimental--perhaps they were from the clothing of the other woman.

I was so moved by the story I "read" in these blocks that I wanted to put them together. I decided to hand quilt this quilt since the blocks were constructed by hand. Since I was going to hand quilt, I wanted my work to show, so I used embroidery floss in those 30's colors. This was my artistic contribution to this collaboration.

I have an strong attraction to these kinds of projects. I'll post soon about the 1930s quilt kit with one block made that I've got stashed away. Maybe I like the idea that all those UFOs are not destined to some eternal limbo. Someone will come along who understands the investment of love and time that is in these works. These projects speak to those of us who start them, but they can also be understood by others who also appreciate their allure. That's my theory anyway.

Oh, and here's my new haircut. Gosh, but this is a great angle for a photo--absolutely no neck sag or jowls in the picture.


Allison said...

Very cute haircut!!!...the new you looks so sophisticated!

I love what you've done with the Dresden blocks...you've kept the integrity of the era and style, showing great empathy and respect for what was begun. And the quilting! Gorgeous!
I always think of hand-quilting as walking through a landscape instead of driving through it, as when one quilts by machine. You walked a long ways with those women and must have grown to love them.
It is beautiful...

Tonya R said...

Barbara, thanks for visiting me.
I love the story that you told yourself as you put these blocks together.
Your embroidery floss quilting is wonderful and much more interesting than white thread on the white background would have been.
After reading a couple of magazine articles by folks putting together old orphan blocks into new quilts I stopped worrying about any of my unfinished projects. I figure there will be someone out there who will appreciate their "great" find at the yard sale.

Debra Spincic said...

Who is that beautiful woman in your blog? Can you say Fab???

I love your handquilting. I just think handquilting speaks so much louder than machine quilting. Always will. . ..

The Calico Cat said...

Lovely quilt... I own five 30's Caprenter's Wheel blocks that were hand pieced. I have finally decided to buy some muslin and set them on point and finish them similarly to yours.... (Current plan, previous plan had me setting them in a straight set with muslin squares....)