Friday, May 23, 2008

retro

I love this quilt. It was 1993 and I had just quit the job from hell. I hadn't made a quilt since 1984, but the first thing I did after I left that job was to make this piece. It has polyester batting and it hangs over the bed in my guestroom. I saw an antique quilt with coffee cups - white with blue cups - in Jonathan Holstein's The Pieced Quilt (1971) and it was the most comforting thing I had ever seen. I needed one.

There was no pattern for it, so I drafted one on cardboard (I CANNOT believe I did that myself) added 1/4" around all the pieces, and went to work with scissors. If there were rotary cutters and omnigrids, I hadn't heard about it. The three on the first vertical row and the middle red cup (red striped seersucker) came from a blanket cover my grandmother had made from scraps she had brought home from the dress factory where she worked. I needed to give Nanny's old fabrics a new life. The rest I just filled in with whatever I had hanging around: some chintz, some calico: scraps. Here is a very bad picture of the 1910 quilt in the book that was the inspiration.
While I was looking for this book, I came upon 3 others that I highly recommend. One is Merikay Waldvogel's Soft Covers for Hard Times. Those depression quilts are quirky and wonderful - and if Ruth Clement Bond's quilts aren't ART, I don't know what IS. The book seems appropriate reading for today's nouveau depression, especially considering the amount of redwork and retro fabric I saw at quilt market.

The other two are about fifties fabrics. I seem to remember buying them in Lancaster one year, along with some bark cloth I was going to use but never have. It's in my trunk, along with antique blocks and who-knows what other fabric treasures. You'll see that everything old is new again. These books will make you smile.
Tonight, it's back to the fabric stash to see if I can pull anything out of it and put it together so it makes visual sense. But first, I am going to make a cup of coffee to toast this quilt that was the precursor to where I am today.

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