Monday, July 19, 2010

The Object of My Desire: A Stitch in Time

A while back as I was rummaging through a thrift shop that, sadly, was about to close its doors for good, I stumbled upon this handmade quilt that reminded me of both my grandmothers. Grandma Churchill made useful quilts -- ones functioning more for warmth than they exhibited refined style, but filled with charm and odd colored fabrics. Oh, there was the fabric from an old coat, a scrap from an army blanket or a piece of old upholstery -- all pieced together with charm and whimsy. And then there were the ones Grandma Williams intricately designed in novel shapes and bright hues. Hers were true masterpieces, crafted in beautiful fabrics and stitched to precision.

Even though this quilt still needed its backing, and quilting, for that matter, the overstitching on the butterflies is flawless, and the mix of vintage fabrics remind me of the fanciful feed sacks that people started using for sewing projects during the Great Depression. Since cotton was so scarce at the time, feed makers hired designers to make beautiful feed sacks that end consumers could use to make clothes for their families and gorgeous, yet useful, quilts.

This quilt flutters like springtime and reminds me of those first bright days of childhood after a long, long winter. What fun it was in summertime to toss a quilt under a tree and play board games beneath nature's green, leafy umbrella, or dine on a picnic lunch par terre, even if it meant swatting away the ants and the gnats that dropped in for a visit. Like memories, this quilt is a pieced-together body of work -- one that will endure time and brighten even the gloomiest of days.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter

7 comments:

  1. Love the quilt, I've always loved 1930's fabrics, they are so cheerful and whimsical. I taught quilting classes for 10 years, and even though I don't quilt much anymore, I still love it!!
    Isabel

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  2. quilts are such a wonderful find....especially because they all seem to tell a story. i'm not a sewer by any stretch of the imagination, but i feel like if i ever become a grandmother, it will be my duty as a southerner to learn how to quilt.....ahh a girl can dream! ;) happy monday!

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  3. I love old quilts. There is a quality in the fabric and stitching you just do not find today anywhere.

    I am fortunate to have one of my grandmothers quilts. It was made for her as a wedding present by her mother in law, in 1934. What makes it so spectacular to me is two things. One it's a "dime size quilt" meaning that all the pieces are the size of a dime or no bigger than a nickel. Seriously, tiny little pieces sewn together beautifully. The other is that it is in immaculate condition even though it has been used for many years.

    When I see old quilts I love to think about where they've been, who they kept warm and who made them and why. A lot of history in each one.

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  4. My aunt tried to throw a bunch of my great grandmothers quilts out on the grounds that they were "rags", well I saved and mended said "rags" and they now get Daily use as picnic quilts, and are spread out on the ground for the Drive-in at night.

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  5. I once made an heirloom quality quilt. It was all done on a machine but still quite a task. I ended up giving it away as a gift. Unfortunately, these days, I don't think I could be quite so generous with my time. I really like your post as it took me to a very nice place.
    Au Revoir,
    ♥Danette

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  6. Wonderful post. Brought back wonderful memories. I have a quilt that my Grandmother embroidered the squares and my Aunt lovingly sewed and quilted. A treasure that will be passed on to my daughter.

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  7. This post reminded me of a butterfly applique quilt that my mom made for me in the 70s. I love that quilt and wouldn't trade it for the world!

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