Monday, March 14, 2011

Pressing Matters.....

I spent literally hours pressing quilt tops and backs today.  Tomorrow I plan to layer and baste them for treadle quilting.
I thought I had a backing for the one shown, but I don't, so it won't be one of the ones that gets basted tomorrow.
This quilt top was made by my mom's aunt, Bessie Hyatt of Ozawkie and Dennison, Kansas,  It has a few pieces of fabric scraps from my clothing and that of my mom, and a couple of pieces from my sister's clothing scraps. I think I recognize fabric from a couple of shirts Mom made for my dad and brother.  Aunt Bess and Uncle Ralph had no children, but they did have five nephews and nine nieces.  Most of the nieces sewed their children's clothing and saved their fabric scraps for Aunt Bess. Of all of Aunt Bess's quilts and quilt tops, I think this has the fewest of our scraps.  The latest scraps I can identify are from when I was in upper elementary school. As far as I know, I'm the only grandchild who became a quiltmaker. 
Aunt Bess refused to give me a quilt because I didn't get married. (Shame on me!)  One time when we were visiting her in Dennison in the mid 1980's, I begged her to at least let me have a quilt top. She finally brought out two or three, and I chose this one.  The irony is that once I had it home and looked it over, I realized it just wasn't worthy of weeks or months of hand quilting.  As I was growing up in Central Illinois, Aunt Bess was my inspiration to become a quiltmaker, something I dreamed about from the time I was two and a half.  By the time I realized that her skills were mediocre at best, I had made several quilts. Aunt Bess made quilts for 60 or 70 years, and her skills never improved.  Isn't that sad? I folded it and put it in a box, thinking it was unlikely ever to become a quilt.

Back in the 80's I repaired a quilt top in the French Bouquet pattern that she'd given Aunt Louise and added borders in a fabric that was the closest I could come to a reproduction fabric.
 Instead of the nine-patch block, Aunt Bess had pieced tiny eight-pointed stars with one inch sides.  She probably got the pattern from the Kansas City Star, Capper's Weekly, or another farm paper.
She had given it to my Aunt Louise when she got married around 1945. After I repaired the fraying stars and added the borders, Aunt Louise eventually had it quilted by some ladies near Wichita.

However, memories of those endless hours of piecing to repair Aunt Louise's quilt failed to inspire me to take on my own quilt top from Aunt Bess.  I'd almost forgotten about that quilt until I pulled out the Tulip Top that I quilted for my niece. Then I realized that although it wasn't worthy of hand quilting, I could certainly machine quilt it.

Like many of Aunt Bess's quilts, this one had a plain white sheeting border.  The corners are blocks made from fabric in a green, white, and orange stripe that my mother made for me in sixth grade; I'm sure she thought it would help me not look so fat.  The interesting thing is that one of the corner blocks is pieced from three strips of that fabric.

At one time I thought I'd add a print border, but the top is so big already, that I'm not going to add another border.  I'll bind it in a 30's print, or several different prints.  However, it won't be one of the ones I layer tomorrow because I'm too tired after all those hours of ironing to search for fabrics and piece and prepare a batting.

I have the happy opportunity to have brunch with a dear friend (the recipient of the Soleil d'Hiver quilt) tomorrow, and then will go to the church to layer and baste the quilts.  For those who wondered, Mary was surprised and thrilled with the quilt.....

1 comment:

DragonPoodle said...

I liked the story about your Aunt Bess and don't find it sad that her skills never improved. I think many of us are too competitive and obsessed with perfection. It's nice to think of someone quilting for 60 or 70 years and just not worrying about stuff like that.

My Aunt Bessie was the quilter in our family. She died when I was 10, but I could easily imagine her taking a similar stance on marriage. They wouldn't have a TV because there were liquor ads on it.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...