Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Preserving History... AKA Other People's Stuff...

I've been the happy recipient of bits and pieces of other people's unfinished sewing projects over the years. Often I'm able to include them in my own work, and I like keeping bits of history alive that way. For instance, my friend Norma passed along lots of small pieced fan units that her mother had made. I love looking at the old fabrics, and estimate they are from the 1950s, take or give a decade. While sorting through these pieces, I found that I could group them roughly by color, join them, and come up with Dresden Plate units. So I'm working on the blocks, and will complete a quilt top with them... some day. It's going to be a lively, happy quilt.

I also received a shoe box full of accurately cut diamonds from which to piece a Tumbling Block quilt top. I admired how the quiltmaker had been so organized in cutting and storing these. They were grouped and carefully wrapped in packages containing multiple diamonds in light-medium-dark values. Aren't they pretty?

However, I also encountered a dilemma. The quilter had pieced two of the three diamonds together already, and even completed some of the Tumbling Block units. But she did not use the sewing technique for creating Y-seams, or set-in seams, to make flat-lying units. That of stopping and starting stitches 1/4" from the fabric edges. See that little pucker? Uh oh.

It looks nice and flat from the pressed wrong side. But peek under the seam. There's that little culprit!

The question now is how will I use these? To use all of them, I'd have to get the seam ripper out and unsew all of her pieced units. I don't even like unsewing my own mistakes! So that's pretty much out of the question.

But I think there are enough cut diamonds to piece some units, and I stitched a few, like the one below, to see how it went. They lie flat. So my current plan is to piece what I can and use them in a much smaller project than what the quilter planned on. I'll re-sort and re-group the usable diamonds and go from there.

But that's not all! A man brought his wheel-chair bound mother's needlework files to our local sewing group after she passed away. This woman was meticulous and I wish I'd met her. She had cross-stitch pieces that looked as good on the back as on the front. And look at her careful notes on quilt patterns. How could we possibly throw them out after all the work she put into them? So you can see why my sewing room needs the occasional overhaul and cleaning.

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