This collaborative work is between me and a quilter from 1958.
The facts are these: years ago, I bought a quilt top in a funny little curated junk shop. Recently I pulled it out of my stash, where it’s been taking up space, and pledged to finish it. The top was foundation pieced, and the newspaper used to do it was dated 1958.
My deductions are as follows: One, the top is a scrapbook of decades of sewing for a family. The strips that make up each square are an incredible array of shirting, checks, stripes, purple paisley cotton, red wool suiting, glazed chintz, floaty rayon, flannel portraying lambs or rocket ships, seersucker, and more. I’m guessing there are prints from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s at least. I have my favorites, but each time I look at the quilt I spy a new design.
And two, the quilter was in a terrible rush. Even accounting for wadding, washing, and the depradations of time, this is a wavy-as-hell quilt top. There are places where seams between strips never touched either fabric. Heavy and gossamer fabrics are slapped next to each other with no particular care for long-term stability.
The result was a top that needed a lot of stabilizing and care. I cleaned up seams, patched frayed places, and took some pretty good-sized tucks in the thing. I surrounded the scrap blocks with a frame of Belgian linen. I wanted to honor all the movement that was still in the quilt (discretion is the better part of valor). So I settled on tying it with red embroidery thread instead of quilting it down. I did quilt the linen frame with diagonal straight lines an inch apart, which stabilized the quilt and subtly echo the diagonal lines of the wildly colored strips of the center. Finally, I echoed all the reds in the quilt with a binding in red linen.
This quilt is nothing like my usual style. I suspect the first friend who admires it in the guest room is going home with it. But I enjoyed the challenge of working with such a differently constructed top. And I like the idea that two sewers sixty years apart could meet in this funny way.
Have you ever finished a sewing project someone else started?