Saturday, 8 February 2014

Quilt for January (in February)

This was the first reproduction quilt I ever made, some twenty years ago. I had been quilting for a few years already, trying out all sorts of traditional patterns, reading as many books on the subject that I could find, and, of course, visiting as many places with quilts, old and new, to study them and learn about the process. Tying in with my other interests, I wanted to then move onto reproduction work which coincided with advent of the reproduction lines of museum collections. Up until then, the available prints and solids mostly had a suggestion of  “inspired by,” and the finished quilts certainly did not look like something from the past. A few them can still be found in museum rooms – well intentioned but glaringly, to the expert eye, out of context.

This little quilt is betwixt and between in that it has early random reproduction prints, and not from the same eras. The backing is a modern print. The top prints were purchased at a massive quilt show. One of the vendors had an enormous table just piled high with loose (unfolded) cuts of material. Lots and lots and lots of women were crowded around the table and in the midst of friendly jostling, handling and tossing cuts across the table as well as answering the question, “Has anyone seen more of this (this being waved way up in the air above the heads and shoulders), I found just a few scraps of the four prints in this quilt.  So little, in fact, I could only make a mini-quilt and the knife edge also had to be quite thin. I also wanted a block design which would, in some way, mimic the wings of the birds within the limited amount of materials. I don’t know if this block has a name – I just see it as a star within a star, showcasing the green floral print.

The backing is a modern two-tone green print and the batting/wadding in my pre-needled cotton filler days, is a polyester, peeled thin to create that flat look I had seen in antique quilts.

I have no idea who manufactured these prints but I love the colours in this quilt, especially the greens. I now look back on the experience of purchasing these prints and think how lucky I was to get ones that created a balance. I wish I had taken a photograph of the gold print in its entirety but in those pre-digital camera days, the photograph would have become a piece of paper and possibly, by now, lost. At any rate, this is the quilt that launched so many more of its kind, and led me into another aspect of endlessly fascinating historical textile research. As such, it will always be extra special to me.

The quilt measures roughly 20” square, and is entirely hand pieced and hand quilted.


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