Sunday, August 10, 2008

Documenting "Her" Vintage Crazy Quilt

I've been meaning to do this for some time... the light was great today and the grass was dry so I laid out "her" quilt and block by block, took photos. I'm hoping that the shots I captured will be clear enough for viewing both on this page and more so when you click them for the larger view.

I bought this quilt on Ebay back in 2005. It was when I first became interested in crazy quilting. ( I love to study and collect before I undertake anything (crazy, I know). I'd looked at several and I was smitten by this, especially at the Buy It Now price of $75. Some of the pieces are in the shattering stages but all in all, still viable as a whole quilt. I always see something new when I look at it. There are 9 -17" squares with a 8" blue velvet border. The total top measures out at 65" x 65".

The seller sent this reply (truthfully ?) to my question about it's origin... and I quote.." I am selling it for a Quaker couple ( from PA) who are downsizing and moving to Michigan. It belonged to the womans aunt so it is about 80 years old. It was stored in a cedar chest so does smell like mothballs. I've aired it out for several days and actually thought it was cleared of the smell. It seems to have alittle residual odor which I think can be dry cleaned out, or continued to be aired some more. If I get more info I will pass that on to you...Kathy".

Now I've never heard of a Quaker couple downsizing, have you? LOL Oh well...The moth ball smell was actually nill and the seller did not trump up the quilt or its condition. When I saw that the Quakers had "moved to Michigan", I thought, how cool is that? Fate!

I don't know how any one can lay claim to "owning" a quilt... especially when it was made by another. Especially a crazy quilt that has had the heart and soul of the maker sewn into it. The time alone is astounding on any CQ work. Hence I call it "her" crazy quilt... I'm just the keeper of it. That's why I want to share does no good to languish in a box while it continues to shatter, fray and disintegrate (tho' I'm doing the best I can storing it). Who am I to keep some one elses joy wrapped up in my closet? Her work needs to be seen and studied by other lovers of CQ. I hope you have fun looking it over!

The maker remains unknown, other than (maybe) the monogram above? Who was this woman who sat hour after hour, needle in hand? What would she think if she knew it ended up on Ebay of all places! Who owned the hand that created these stitches? I'm sure she's moved on by now........but her work hasn't!

The foundation on the back is a pieced mix of homespun and flour sack. One corner wears a stamped hallmark from the Sayles Bleachery in Rhode Island and the patent for the sack itself reads 1869. Now we know thats the sack, not the quilt.... but it does add some fun. It's interesting reading about this company and it's history dating to the1840's.

Of course I'm not capable of dating this quilt exactly... but there is a Kate Greenaway motif of a girl jumping rope, paintings on velvet patches and quite a bit of silk used. Would I be wrong to venture the guess at 1890-1910 ??? Please help me out... all comments are more than welcome on this venture and it'll be fun to talk about it as I go along and post pictures through the next couple weeks.

I cropped the blocks as best I could and took photos of some of the various motifs.

There should be 8 more posts showing blocks and fans....

and several more motifs... if there's anything you'd like to see clearer, just let me know.


I'm working on organizing a few of my own projects and hope to post on some of my progresses soon. I feel like a heel for not having any "Stitch Along" work done but I'm planning how to work it into the whole of things. I've felt a drowning kind of feeling lately as life isn't co-operating with my "me time".... something tells me it never will... on to the next best remedy! Have I heard the word balance around the blogs lately?


Judy S. said...

Looks to me, Kathy, as if you have a real treasure! Don't you wish those blocks could talk? Whoever "her" was seems to have been talented with a needle! Thanks for sharing.

Teresa said...

A very interesting quilt and thank you for sharing it with us. I am always fascinated by all the variety of stitches and expression of self put into the crazy quilts.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow Jane - what a great find, I would love to own a real old quilt like this . cant help with the date but i reckon you'd be close.
btw - like the new layout of your blog - easier to read I think.

Threadspider said...

It's a wonderful privilege to be the custodian of such a treasure.I can't help you date "her" quilt but I am wondering if in the interests of conservation, you are going to do any restoration stitching on it?

Life Scraps and Patches said...

Jane, how lucky this quilt is to be in your keeping. I'm going to ask my sister, who is an historical librarian in Pennsylvania, to look at your photos and see whether she has any thoughts. Connie

sparkle jars said...

Oh, what a gorgeous quilt! By the way, we are a Quaker family...honest to goodness...there aren't a lot of us in Nevada. I should be into downsizing as Simplicity is one of our testimonies...but I just love to embellish quilts. I don't drink, I don't gamble, but I make up for it by embellishing quilts.

Diane said...

Hi Jane
Thanks for the nice message you left in my blog. I decided to visit you. What interesting things you get up! I love all your wildflower photos. We have a little yellow pea-like flower that creeps low to the ground in big patches. I've not been able to find the name for it, would you have it in one of your books?

Candi said...

What a great buy! Thanks so much for sharing the it and the enlarged blocks.

ACey said...

what an extraordinary treasure. I think your documentation efforts are wonderful and it is AWESOME to enlarge the separate images to study the wealth of details.