Here's my most recent such acquisition, given to me at a recent quilt study group meeting. It had been found at a sale at closing time, in the discard pile because no one had wanted it. One of the quilt study members had rescued it, and when she spread it out to show everyone, my first thought was that I really, really wanted it but didn't want to jump up and down and blurt out "I want that quilt! Can I have it pleeeease?! Me, me, me!!!!" And then, much to my surprise, I was hearing her say that she really couldn't take anything new into her house and did anyone want it! Well, yes!
So here's my new love. It's truly worn and faded and awkwardly mended.... But oh what a beauty it had been in its heyday! The superb needlework is still quite evident in its miniature stuffed appliqués and lovely feather wreath quilting. And it is signed and dated in the quilting! What's not to love?
I have a question for you! I always appreciate that someone cared enough about a quilt to try to rescue it, so I generally keep old repairs intact and actually enjoy them. But that printed gingham mending fabric has nothing going for it except that it is brown, though it's quite the wrong brown at that. What would you do? Would you leave it on the quilt as part of its history, or would you take it off and try to stabilize those areas with something less visually intrusive?
The borders are a pieced zig-zag made of a faded purple print, a hallmark of purple dyes in the 19th century, and a rose stripe.
Deciphering the signature and date is a bit tricky. From the front, it's really not visible at all. It's quilted in, partly under the gingham patch and partly in the purple triangle. Here it is from the front - totally invisible!
On the back, it's visible, but backwards.
I used different lighting in this photo, and then played with contrast and such on the computer.
Then I flipped the photo, and here it is! I think the first letter is a capital H, then an M, and then perhaps Gay or Jay. The date is fairly certain - 1867. Many of the fabrics in the baskets look a decade or two older than that though.
I love the wonderful stuffed appliqués and the lovely old fabrics. There even is a tiny American flag print. Click to enlarge photos - you'll be glad you did.
I try to imagine how stunning this would've been with a really purple and rose border, an unfaded tan/brown print in the alternate blocks, all fabrics at full color (not just the indigo).... Such a beauty!