A couple of years ago my daughter was helping clear her other grandmothers house when she came across an unfinished old patchwork quilt stuffed inside a trunk. She brought it home for me to look at and asked me to finish it, thinking her grandmother had probably started it.
The more I looked at it the older I felt it was. It’s English paper piecing and many of the papers are still in the back, some of them are gorgeous, a glimpse into history. It looks like an old handwriting exercise book has been used, some letters, newspapers, I scanned them for dates to give me a clue who made it.
Whilst I couldn’t see a printing date on a newspaper, the events they were referring to were in the 1870’s. This means we need to look at least three if not four generations further back. I decided I needed some advice!!
I took it to my Embroiderers Guild where one of our members has worked in the textile department of a nearby museum. She felt the fabrics were scraps from a dressmaker, as they didn’t feel worn, like they still had some size in them. She felt my dating was about right, but also felt some of the fabrics were much earlier, like the 1750’s!!! By now I was beginning to wonder whether or not I should touch it!! She gave me contact details for the textile curator at the museum.
I had a long e-mail discussion with the curator, she was very helpful. She encouraged me to finish it, but to make a book detailing what I’ve done. So that’s my project for the next little while…
There’s one big piece and then several bits. The main piece measures 60″ by about 75″, my thought at the moment is to add one more strip. If I want to add more then I would have to find a light fabric that worked as there aren’t anymore light diamonds. Whenever I tried various shades of neutral fabric they just looked too new.
I’m hoping to quilt it on my vintage singer sewing machine. It’s a hand-crank from the 1870’s, so it feels right to use it, I don’t fancy hand-quilting it as, apart from it’s size, the fabric doesn’t feel like it would be easy to sew.
I’m hoping to be able to piece some of the backing papers together to maybe find out who made it, or at least a more accurate date, maybe a suggestion of a place, see if we can discover a bit of the history.
Hopefully in three weeks time when I next share this I’ll have pieced a few together.
Hand Quilt Along Links
This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another. If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.
I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link for more hand-sewing inspiration.