Sunday, March 22, 2015

Building on the Past…


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There is just something about antique quilts that makes my heart beat a little faster. This display of Crazy Quilts can be found at The Suwannee Valley Shoppes in Trenton, FL. I love the warm, rich tones of the velvets in the one hanging on the wall, along with an almost stained-glass look to its tiny and random pieces. It didn’t resemble any Crazy Quilt I’d seen before.

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Neither did this one with its pieced sunflower blocks and fancy stitching in the centers. Lovely!

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The examples shown all date from the late-1800s and contain many unique elements that invite closer inspection. Look at the celluloid photo stitched into this beauty. And those lovely embroidery stitches- oh, my. It’s wonderful to see old quilts preserved and on display like this. Seeing them reminded me to share another part of the Sew Expo quilt exhibit I recently attended. In this case, today’s quilters built upon the past by completing old quilt tops with fancy machine quilting.

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The quilts you see here began as quilt tops in the collection of Brenda Groelz. Sponsored by Handi Quilter, several Handi Quilter instructors each completed a quilt top with the instructions to “quilt in a way the original quiltmaker would never have dreamed.” The quilts became part of an exhibit entitled “Heritage Quilts Made Modern.”

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The longarm quilters were truly masters of their craft as these examples illustrate. An interesting sidebar to these quilt tops is that nearly all of them had some special challenges for the longarmer to deal with- tops out of square, “blousy” fabric pieces within a block.

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It was astonishing to see how they met the challenges, and the creativity each quilter brought to her assigned quilt top.

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This close-up shows the density of the quilting, even inside the applique motifs. Stunning! I applaud the work each of the quilters did to turn the old quilt tops into a collaborative effort and to show them off in a new and exciting way. Some quilters have issues with completing old quilt tops. As for me, I doubt I’ll get all the tops finished in a lifetime, and I’d be happy to know someone might take my project to the finish line someday!

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Here’s my candidate for building on the past. I’d love to hand quilt this vibrant Dresden Plate, maybe using perle cotton thread and The Big Stitch, maybe in a peachy color. There’s a lot of white space around the blocks that would look good quilted and the background fabric is tightly woven. This is a someday project, and it joins many others! What’s your take on completing old quilt tops, or using old quilts in other projects?

3 comments:

Robbie said...

These quilts are wonderful (and I love that shop!!)...the mix of modern and traditional...beautiful..I really love the green quilted leaves...BEAUTIFUL!! You should hand quilt the Dresden Plate...although, I'm not sure about using a color other than white??? Your stitching would still show up in white...but what the heck do I know!!! Look forward to what works best and your progress...great TV work!

Createology said...

I am always in great awe of quilting stitches as they can truly bring a quilt to life and tell a story with the design. These are each an amazing tribute to the talents of quilters with needles and threads. Thank you for sharing these photos. Seeing them in person must be breathtaking.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I can't believe how far behind I've gotten visiting you. Those quilts were amazing. I was taken by the crazy quilt you showed with the small insets. It looked like something we would see on Quilting Arts TV. Gorgeous.

I've seen a bunch of hand stitching in my life, and my Grandmother did a bunch, BUT I've never seen a LOT of those stitches. Some are really, really unique.

I had NO idea that final piece was called a Dresden Plate, but I have an old quilt my Grandmother made that has that pattern on it. Thanks for sharing these with us.

I would never try to quilt anything by hand, and don't have a machine with feed dogs, so that would never work. However, I'm hoping to figure out a way to use part of an old quilt top I bought that my Grandmother refused to quilt. And no, I won't be making a pillow, something everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to make when I dig out fabric!!