October 29, 2015

Crib-size Crazy Quilt, c 1890

Antique crib quilts don't come around often.  For pretty obvious reasons, they were used hard and washed a lot.

This one came to me for repair and sprucing up.  In addition to being well over 100 years old, it has family history and provenance.  This adds up to a quilt whose significance way outstrips its actual size (22" x 35")!

To make this even more fun, the quilt's owner sent me two old family photos to include here.  Here's the family home in Blue Island, IL.

And here's the family photo taken at the wedding of her great-aunt Sadie.

Here's the story, told by the quilt's current owner:
"My great grandmother, Julia Evans, who made the quilt, is sitting in the front, and Edith Evans, one of my great aunts for whom I believe the little quilt was made, is standing to her right in the front row.

Julia's mother emigrated from Germany and was an expert seamstress, so perhaps Julia learned some of the stitches from her.  Edith Evans was Julia's youngest child and was born in Blue Island in 1892.  My great aunt Edith showed me the little quilt when she was living at the Admiral in Chicago, and I believe that she said that it was made for her or her sister Ruth Evans Golden, who is standing on the far left side of the picture. Ruth was born in Baltimore shortly before the family moved to Blue Island in 1885.  I don't know if that time period makes a difference, but the quilt was made for one of them by Julia.  All of the children in the photo are Julia's children, except, of course, for her husband and the groom standing next to his bride, Sadie.

I love this photo. It reminds me of how much Chicago means to me, and what exceptional great aunts I had.  (My grandmother, Marian Evans Karch, is standing in the center of the photo.)"

Family history and family photos are so wonderful!

After discussion with the quilt's owner, I mended just the most ragged patches and stitched down some dangling threads, leaving smaller wear as is.  This neatened up and saved the shreds of the three worst places, while leaving the rest of the original fabric untouched.  I am feeling more and more that "less is more" is the way to approach crazy quilts.  The quilt will not be handled much, since the goal is to help it survive as an heirloom.

Fabrics include velvets, cordouroy, wools, silks, brocades, a velvet stripe, and a heavier weave, floral print..


The most exciting part of this quilt for me, though, is the back fabric, a large print cotton.  I love it!

Thanks to the great-granddaughter who is loving her heirloom and her family history!

Here's another quilt I repaired with the family story and photos supplied by the owner.

October 26, 2015

A Log Cabin Quilt that Fools the Eye

A few weeks ago, I visited an open house at Harvey Pranian Art & Antiques.  Harvey has decades of experience in the antique/folk art/fine art biz, and finds the most wonderful things.  I highly recommend browsing at his site. 

Here's a small log cabin that really intrigued me.  (Photo by permission.)

From across the room, I thought the quilt was made of log cabin blocks with a pieced black and red vertical sashing.  It's a great visual rhythm.

But actually, the whole quilt is made from square courthouse steps blocks with the same patchwork placement, just rotated 90 degrees in alternate columns.  Brilliant fool-the-eye effect!  Hooray for homespun artists!

You'll note that the black squares are all pieced with their own little logs!  The logs are 1/4-3/8", both wools and cottons, as I recall.  You can kind of get a sense of the scale by looking at the little hang tag on the left edge in the first photo.

October 19, 2015

La Grange Community Quilt

This quilt was made in 1979 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of La Grange, IL, a western suburb of Chicago.  

It hung in the La Grange library for quite a while, and then was in storage during and for a while after the library's move to a new building.  The library is now ready to hang the quilt again, and they contacted me to help spruce it up.

We decided not to risk actually washing it, what with all the varied embroidery threads and trims.  So I gave it a good vacuuming.  It was really dusty!  Lots of times, when I vacuum quilts, I imagine that I can hear the quilt breathing a sigh of joy - but this time, I'm pretty sure I really saw the colors get brighter again!  (Visit this post for instructions for vacuuming quilts.)

I also tacked down some of the appliques that had come loose, and made and applied a new sleeve. 

The quilt was too big for me to photograph at all once - 87" x  106".  Here it is in two photos.

And here are the blocks, with details of some so you can see the creative choices of fabrics and embellishments. (Click on the photos to enlarge.) If you do an image search for La Grange, you'll see photos of some of these buildings, and you can see what a marvelously realistic and detailed job these ladies did.

Check out the creative choices of fabrics and trims and creative embroidery which altogether do an amazing job of recreating the textures and structures of these buildings.  For reference, the oval scenes are about 18" wide.

 The central section is stuffed to round out the turret.

 I love this choice of fabric for the stained glass.  It shows up in other blocks, too.

 The porch railing and sunny flower garden - perfect!

 The little striped awning, and embroidered textures.  The bushes are stuffed.

 The corners of the building are created just with the embroidery.


 Here's another great porch railing.

 This is the former library, the quilt's first home.

 A Frank Lloyd Wright house with great window boxes.


 This is probably my favorite embellishment.  The crenelations are bits of 1/4" double-fold bias, tucked under the appliqué.  How clever!


 Nice chimneys!


And this final block commemorates a long-time La Grange tradition - the annual pet parade.  The librarian who brought the quilt to my house said this summer's was the 65th annual parade.
Now that's a tradition!