I haven’t got very far with my antique quilt, but I have made a start. This is an unfinished quilt which my daughter found when clearing her grandmother’s house. It’s a tumbling blocks pattern and from what we can deduce from the backing papers, it’s from around 1880!
Having taken advice from a nearby museum which specialises in textiles, I am aiming to finish it but also make a record, such as a book, of what I have done and anything I’ve discovered. The main body of the quilt is about 85″ by 58″, there’s also several part-pieced strips, waiting to be added, so I can fairly easily make it a little wider.
I decided to remove the remaining papers before I stitched the pieces together. I realise this isn’t the usual way of doing English paper piecing, but having been stitched down for nearly 150 years, I think the crease will stay there. More importantly, many of the papers won’t survive the handling involved when I try to stitch it, some are just newspaper which is already starting to disintegrate. These papers are the only chance we have of working out who may have made it.
As you can imagine, I kept getting distracted trying to read the snippets from the papers…
“ Henry Charles Butler, of Downland House, Bramshott, in the county of Southampton, Esquire, hereby give notice that I will NOT be RESPONSIBLE for DEBT or DEBTS my wife, ELIZABETH ANNE BUTLER…CONTRACT without my written authority and permission. I further Give Notice that she has no authority in any way to use my credit”
Or how about this …
FOR LADIES ONLY; Things a married woman cannot help thinking;
That she was a very pretty girl at sixteen. That she had, or would have had, a great many good offers. That all her lady friends are five years older than they say they are. That she has a very fine mind. That if her husband had acted on her advice he would be a richer man today. That her mother-in-law is a very trying woman.
As I said, I got waylaid! However, I have found a couple of useful snippets, two dates, one of 1876 and one of 1880, and a piece of a document which mentioned Sheffield. This is important as it suggests which branch of the family made it. Several years ago I looked into their family tree for my daughter and I recall a branch lived in Sheffield at about that time.
It’s been interesting looking more closely at the quilt. The stitches are so tiny, I counted one section to be about 20 stitches to the inch! Many of the diamonds themselves are also pieced and some of the seam allowances are very narrow! Some of the pieces are stained, but as the adjoining ones aren’t, I can only presume either the fabric was already stained, or it was stained as a prepared diamond but used anyway. There’s a huge variety of fabric, some of it feels almost waterproof, as if it has some kind of coating on it. I even found a pin still in the fabric, I’m not sure what it’s made of as it looks black and not particularly rusty.
I’ve counted the spare blocks and I have enough for another two rows which would make it more of a square. I just need to find some vintage creamy white fabric which will blend in for one row of adjoining diamonds.
I love the complete mix of fabrics, especially the occasional pop of red, it’s a true scrappy quilt! Hopefully next time I share this quilt with you I’ll be stitching the blocks 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.