May 10, 2010

Why it's hard to accurately put a date on a quilt

I have these unfinished projects hanging around, don't you? I hope I am not the only one. Sometimes I get back to a project in a matter of days, or weeks. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. I started this quilt for my son, when he was very small. He's 9. I got it finished this week. Finally done and all of the guilt that went with it for not finishing it, that's gone too. Yippee! He loves it. Even though he's not a baby anymore.
  So the question is, how do you date a Quilt? It seems there are many methods from pattern to fabric to method of construction. It's really hard to go by fabric alone, because what quilter doesn't have a stash and who recycles it all of the time? As for construction, I certainly wouldn't have even attempted to machine quilt this 9 years ago. And I think the pattern has been around a little longer than 9 years. Here is one method to find an approximate date, from And here is a list of a dozen clues to becoming a quilt detective. Good information to have. As for this quilt, I am going with the date finished.
  As always, there's more to the story. This is one I really love. Once upon a time ago, in the early 1880's, a sturdy woman and her family lived in the harsh Midwest plains. They worked hard, played rarely and made do with what they had. They were resourceful and frugal and busy. Can you even imagine how busy a woman of that era would be even without Facebook taking up her valuable time? She had a mending basket., and I am sure, a basket of projects she wanted to finish one day. Time got away from her and she never did get to finish some of those projects she started with great intentions. (I can so relate.) She was also a pack rat. That's a family trait.
   Fast forward more than 100 years and the sewing basket is uncovered again. To the surprise of some of the womenfolk in the family, there are about 15 precious quilt blocks. Hand pieced and hand sewn, in great condition, because they were at the bottom of the basket. \
Seeing as how every one was enamored with them, it was decided that whoever wanted some of them would be allowed 3 pieces. These are the pieces that fell into my possession. I took a framing course just to preserve them. I love them and every time I look that them I feel a pull to the past. And I try not to feel bad that I have projects unfinished. Maybe one of my GGG Granddaughters will finish them up for me. Or just keep them around for inspiration. The estimated date on these blocks is early 1890's.
   The quilt hanging on the rack is from my paternal family. It's what was called a raffle quilt. It is dated on the back 1926. You can see that it was made from flour sacks as well as finer fabrics. It's in rough shape in places, but I love it too. It hangs happily in my living room cheering up the place and making it feel like home.
   So how do you date a quilt? I have no idea, but I do know that once it's done, it's done. I don't make show pieces. I make pieces meant to be well used and well loved.


Annalia said...

You're doing a great job working through your quilt tops! Aren't you glad you didn't chicken out and send them up to me!

Moore Family said...

WOw--what a great post! I love the Adam quilt you finished and the heritage blocks you framed. And thanks for the propective about the projects that got away...

Islandalli said...

Katherine, I still have that quilt top we made in Guam sitting in my closet. Maybe someday I will get to it.