Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Show Must Go On

Or rather my own internet "Mom's Quilted Treasures" quilt show must. (and hey, I've managed a post title that combines a cliche AND a song lyric/cultural reference -- cool) Thanks to everyone who has been saying such nice things about my great-great-grandmother's quilt. But it's not the only quilted treasure hanging out at Mom's house. This next one actually belongs to me, but I decided that it needed to be in "Mom protective custody" for the time being. My housekeeping skills and the quick hands of a toddler mean this one just doesn't have a spot to be cared for properly in my home right now.


This quilt also comes from Mom's side of the family. One of my aunts received it when my great grandmother died and passed it on to me almost two years ago because she knows how much I love quilts and quilting. According to my aunt, it's not from my great grandmother's side of the family, but rather from my great grandfather's. According to my aunt, my great grandmother said it was "old." (and given that SHE was born in 1896, that says something) And that's about the extent of the sure information I have about its history.


The quilt itself is a largish lap/smallish twin size. The blocks are log cabin blocks that have been foundation pieced (more on how I know that in a minute) and set in the barn raising pattern. The center blocks are not the "traditional" red or yellow -- the are a variety of fabrics that match the light logs in the blocks. All of the dark logs are solid black fabrics with the lights being composed of various solids and prints. Since that side of the family is from Kentucky near the Ohio river/border -- there may be some Amish influence (ya think?) but this is NOT an Amish quilt. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not. Why do I say that? While solids are more traditional, I have heard of Amish pieces that use patterned prints. Yep -- but, I've never heard of an Amish quilt that uses silk. Yep -- unlike the last quilt -- this one is not pieced from calicoes (though there are some used as foundations). All of the logs are silk and/or silk crepe, and that includes the plaids and the red binding.


I'd give a detail shot of the quilting but, well, there isn't any. Nor is there any batting. It appears the foundation pieces were joined and then it was backed and bound which probably means this was not meant for use as a bed covering. Well, heck, given the materials used, I'd doubt it was meant as a bed covering as well. Maybe a table covering? Anyway, because of the materials used this one also has some pretty extensive damage in areas. You can see here where the blue silk is these logs is simply desintigrating due to time. There are several spots on the front where this is happening. (and also partially how I know about the foundation piecing :0) )


Also interesting is the way the logs are put together. they are not simply sewn to the foundation and folded back like we do modern paper piecing. they are sewn down and then a knife pleat is created so that all of the logs are actually "pleats" on the front. Hopefully this picture explains better than my words are doing. It's kind of neat though.


The backing is made of one piece of silk crepe material in a brown and white pattern. There is one corner where there is a rip in the backing (it goes all the way through to the front) but it shows the stitches on the foundation really well and it shows where a plaid was used as a foundation. The stitches here also look like they are hand stitched. So, if pressed, I'd say this one was at least partially hand pieced. If I HAD to put a date to this one, I would guesstimate that it's roughly the same age as the one my great-great-grandmother made. Though, I will give it a bit more leeway in the "earlier" department. I'm going to say anywhere from 1870-1890. I can't go any earlier because of the log cabin blocks and I don't want to go much later because of my great grandmother's comments about its age.


Also, while the blacks appear to all be one type of fabric -- they aren't. The one photo I took with a flash really shows the number of different black silks that went into this piece.


One thing that I'm not sure I've been able to show with the photos are the colors in this one. Yes, the black stands out, but really, what I noticed about it this time were all of the colors in the light side of the blocks. Look at that purple, and the green. Just yummy. I so could see myself wearing those colors. Heck, I could see myself wearing most of the colors in this quilt. Not so sure about the plaids though. :0)


The thing about this quilt for me is that it invites dreams and speculation. Let's face it, there is a LOT of black silk in this one. Why would someone have that much black silk? Was this a memorial quilt and when the maker had put aside mourning dress did they use the fabrics to make it? Were they bits and pieces left over from dresses? Were the light blocks from dresses from happier times and possibly some from half mourning (lavender) with the blacks of full mourning combined? Were these bits of white silk (which is tissue thin and delicate -- I tried touching it, then thought better of it when I realized how thin it acutally was) the remnants from a wedding gown lovingly preserved? All of those questions are ones that spin through my mind, and because I have so little information about it -- I can dream over. I know it makes bad history. I know its what leads to over romantacized notions of quilting. I know. I also can't say for sure that is what this quilt is. But I can have fun dreaming :0).


I have two more quilts as part of my mini-show to share tomorrow and I will finally be able to get to the retail therapy and other progress on projects. Thanks for indulging my trips through my family's quilting history. I'm off to do some more digging out cleaning and to dream about my long ago relative who decided to make log cabins out of silk.

16 comments:

Dawn said...

WOW! What a treasure! That is an awesome quilt to own and remember your family by!

Felicia said...

A beautiful reminder of things past :)

trishia said...

This is a wonderful post! I love hearing stories about family quilts and heirlooms.
And to imagine where someone would have gotten that much silk in those days- wow! Thanks for sharing, I am looking forward to reading of your other quilts.

katelnorth said...

thanks for showing that - I do love a log cabin and that one is amazing. your imagined history is great - probably more interesting than the real story, though you never know...

Morah said...

Man! I don't know which is more magnificent! The other one was absolutely exquisite. BUt the log cabin is my alltime fav! You are very lucky indeed! Thanks so much for sharing!

Greenmare said...

what a wonderful treasure!

corry said...

Thanks for showing this one! Log cabin is one of my favorites patterns, and yours is beautiful..a real treasure!

Clare said...

That is one amazing log cabin. I hope you are writing down the history of these quilts for Miss Tinkerbell.

Tanya said...

That is a beautiful quilt and you've done a fantastic job of commenting on in and delving into the possible history. I was riveted to the computer screen!

mamaspark said...

This quilt is absolutely gorgeous! I think it was good to let "mom" guard it for now. It is kind of fragile. Stunning piece!

cher said...

treasures indeed-what a rich family history of quilting you come from! glad your mom is ok and you had a chance to help her out-love how your daughter knows it's people that make the difference in our lives-

Elaine Adair said...

Interesting post, and even better, are the photos. The quilt is still lovely, enen though it is damaged.

Thanks for the numerous photos. What fun to ponder about it's past.

Mar said...

that is a treasure, love seeing these quilts. There are no quilts in my family.

Sue in western Washington, USA said...

I like your speculation about the black silks coming from mourning clothes. I think that's a definite possibility. The silk Victorian crazy quilts were made for show rather than for utility; I wonder if this log cabin was made for a similar reason? Again, your idea that it was a memorial piece makes sense. Do you know (or would your mother remember) whether there was a piano in the house where the quilt was likely made? Silk quilts were often used as decorative throws on the top of a piano.

The pink and white quilt in a previous post is a real treasure too. Lucky you! I'm reminded that I have some family heirlooms I could share as well... (But not right away!)

andsewitis Holly said...

That's the most interesting log cabin with the knife pleats and all... From reading the Little House books, back then everyone had a good black dress but not sure if they were in silks. You have a real treasure there.

Libby said...

I LOVE the use of directional fabrics in this...what a great effect. This is such a treasure!