Tuesday, September 9

Twenty-five years in the making!!! Part II

How could it take me that long to make a quilt that only measures 20.5 x 26.5 inches? Well, it started easily enough. All of the calicoes in the little quilt were fabric swatches that I ordered with thoughts of dressing dolls and making miniatures. We were living in Dumont, New Jersey at the time - 1972 to 1974 - and I made lots of furniture for Collette's dollhouse and dressed dolls for her and some for donation to the Salvation Army. I don't recall that I ever actually ordered any of the calicoes because there was a nice fabric shop only blocks from our apartment. But I never throw anything away and decided to take the smallest swatch and use it as the template size and trim all the other swatches to that size. I cut up little squares of solids from my fabrics and planned little nine-patch blocks. I only stitched up a couple of the blocks and then the project was set aside and nearly forgotten.
Fast forward to the early 80's and we had moved to Minnesota and added our son, Devlin. I had made a number of simple patchwork square quilts for the kid's rooms and larger ones for family members and I was still making miniatures and dressing dolls. And the little quilt blocks were still there, not quite forgotten. I stayed focused this time and got all the blocks sewn together. Then again, I set them aside. Devlin got really sick and my sister-in-law passed away in an accident and life just got intense.
Fast forward again, this time to the mid 90's and we're still in Minnesota but the kids are grown and on their own. I was still making miniatures but not dressing dolls anymore. I worked only part-time in the 80's, then full time in the early 90's and then I got laid off in a company "down-sizing". I began volunteering, then working as an interpreter in the role of the village dressmaker at Murphy's Landing, an open-air living history site. Here was my opportunity to really get back to quilting. I had made my first quilt in 1970 for Collette and others since then but they were "just tied" quilts and I wanted to do some "real quilting". So, I got out my quilting books and stuff from the 80's and there was this bag of little blocks. I remember looking at the bag and thinking - "if I had never found this bag, I would never have remembered making the blocks!" I could hardly believe that I had forgotten about them. I got busy and sewed the blocks into rows and when the little quilt top was sewn together, I began hand-quilting it. I took it along to the NHRA nationals that summer (drag races held in Brainerd, MN) and sat in the stands watching the races and stitching on my quilt. I finished the quilting and folded over the border and stitched it in place. I think that was 1997 (I'd have to check old journals to be sure). So, that's how this little quilt was 25 years in the making. It's one of my favorite things and if a big wind was to come blowing, I would grab that quilt and head to the basement!! It's not big enough to actually keep me warm, but it keeps me warm with memories of all those years!
Oh, and what did I name the quilt? Well, I called it "Almost a Charm" because almost every calico swatch is different but not quite. There's a duplicate of one of the red prints and I mixed in the solids so it's not a true charm quilt where no two blocks are alike.
Tomorrow, I'll be off to my friend Pandora's for a day of quilting with our Tuesday Crazies group. Lots of food, fun, show and tell and, hopefully, a bit of stitching.

Can't go off without sharing a photo, though, so here is a block made by my mother that also has a story. My mother taught me to sew and to embroider and she loves Sunbonnet Sue. Tuesday evening I will share the story of this block and another Sunbonnet Sue block that she made. It's time now, though, to turn out the lights for tonight .................


Linda said...

Thank you for sharing! Isn't it wonderful how little squares can map out our lives in so many ways! Love the name you chose - "Almost a Charm". Hope you have a wonderful quilting and spending time with friends!

Nanette Merrill said...

Well I can't wait to hear more about good old Sue. I love Sunbonnet Sue. The colors in that block are lovely.

What a great journey that quilt took you through. It went through time and place and its such a good memory of all that. Its a darling quilt. I don't have the patience for minis. Good story.

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