Occasionally a project comes along that is more of a nod to my quilting abilities than my artistry. I don't actually make "quilts" all that often anymore. Most of my friends and family already have a bed-covering of my making and besides, my head and heart are generally elsewhere.
That said, Katherine has been hinting (in anvil, Katherine-like style) that she needs a bigger quilt for her bed, so I may have to regress at some point and make her one.
But I'm digressing. Again. I seem prone to that.
The quilt below was made in the early 1800s and is a form of redwork. It's in pretty hard shape, having been used by several generations, and I was contacted by its owner to help keep it from deteriorating any further and tidy it up a bit. They're not concerned with its monetary value, rather they want to keep it alive and in the family for generations to come (and apparently another generation is due to come this summer).
So my job is to change as little as possible of the front, reinforce (from inside) the panels that are tearing and attach a new binding and border over the old. They were also interested in whatever information I could give them about the quilt and its probable historical context.
It's not a big job, but it's one that I feel somewhat hesitant in doing, simply by virtue of the quilt being so old. Needless to say, I won't be using any fusibles or anything but cotton fabrics and threads. I managed to find a fairly good match to the original pink fabric. The quilt has faded variably and it's not realistic to try to match all of the different pinks. The owner knows this and is happy with the binding being the original colour, which you can see below.
The individual panels are of different animals. Below are a giraffe, sheep, elephant, cow camel and (possibly) a duck. The embroidery is in rough shape, but repairing it would be time consuming and destroy the story of the wear of the quilt. Making a replica of the piece might be an interesting project, should any of the family ever be interested.
The text in the centre panel reads:
then we kiss our baby
And hug it very tight,
And put it in its
And leave it for the
4 Comments Add yours
It must be rewarding to get you hands on and help preserve a piece of family history for future generations — especially a piece with such sentimental value.
I always admire the time and effort past generations seem to have invested in their projects. All too often we seem to let attention to detail, and the personal toches fall to the ways side.
It is rewarding, but also daunting. Weirdly enough, I felt acutely aware of the fact that I was not of the family that made the quilt while I worked on it. In something like that, whatever is changed or done to it contributes to the story of the piece, but I continuously had the feeling that I was an intruder. My basic premise therefore was to do as little as possible to change that story while making sure it’d still be around to be told.
It was a truly strange feeling. Almost voyeurism, truth to tell, as I saw aspects of that quilt that I’d guess its owner never looked at. Very odd.
And you’re right about attention to detail and personal investment. I think it has to do with too much societal emphasis attached to the monetary value of things. Some things simply *are* priceless….
What a thrill to see and touch something that has been in use by a family for so many years. All the best with restoring it for the new baby, i’m sure it won’t be easy.