Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chicago 4 - Chips and Whetstones with Oak Leaves - And a Really Cute Border

Okay, I added that last part about the border. This quilt is my particular favorite. I just like the colors, pattern and the novel border (and the poison green fabric).

Here are detail photos of the applique on the borders of this quilt. This is my favorite part...looks to me like little girls jumping rope.

Below is a bigger piece of the border in detail. I bought a small square of that red fabric from Mary Koval when I was there in early March. I'd love to find more of it at a price less than $200 a yard.

Each corner was just a little different. It seems like it was compensating for running out of room, but I am not sure.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

19th C. Folk Art - Chicago 3

Narrative wise, there isn't much I can add to this one. The descriptive sign read: "19th Century Folk Art by Maker Unknown. Hand pieced and appliqued using a huge variety of natural dyed fabrics." There's a tragedy. The maker has disappeared to obscurity and the gorgeous fabrics are simply called 'natural dyed.' This one was at the back of the exhibit as if to say, "you thought we were winding down?" I have been a lover of the American style of patchwork for many, many years. I would say this beauty is English all the way. I will do my best to keep my editorial comments to a minimum and allow you to scroll through the detail pics.

Oh yes, squeezed that American patchwork touch into the corners. And then draw in the hexie lovers! (see below)

Here's a detail of one of the baskets. They had embroidery over the fabric. Some have deteriorated. Looking at that flower, can you resist saying, "loves me, loves me not..."?

Another basket detail. This one embroidered and fussy cut. Don't miss the hexies and stars.

And...another close up of the variety in this quilt.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Star of the East - Chicago Antiques part 2

This is the second of the two magnificent quilts that greeted us as we entered the Chicago quilt show. It is titled "Star of the East" (c. 1870) for the spectacular fabrics from which it is made that are likely from the eastern seaboard of the U.S. The information sheet says that the fabrics are likely from the period 1830-1875.

I was so taken with this collection of antiques I just started snapping pictures immediately and then realized I wasn't taking time to just view the quilts. So, I went through once taking picture after picture and then put my camera away and went through again just to look and look and look. I love old quilts. I am sharing my photos in small bits. If you want a look at both these beauties visit "What a Load a Scrap" blog and if you want a more comprehensive view of the show visit "A Sentimental Quilter" blog. By the way, who let that woman with the coffee near the quilts?

Here's a closer view of the center of the star medallion. It appears this quilter did not quite have enough of every fabric to complete each color round. Notice the cream and yellow in round 6? There are just a few diamonds of yellow and they are in two separate areas. Was this planned out? If so, why not space the yellows out in a more balanced way? There are other rounds with the same differences in fabrics.

I am guessing there may have also be a stash issue with the gorgeous chintz background fabric. See the panel in the lower right corner above?

It is different than the fabric used in the rest of the quilt.

I am going to end this by being a noodge. Given the perfection of the rest of this quilt, including my suspicion that it was either stored or rarely displayed to keep it so pristine, I have to think that the piece I am going to show you was a true boo-boo. See the second from the right green diamond above? It looks like our mystery quilter missed two sides of that piece in her quilting. I love it. You know how you work meticulously on a quilt and think it's all perfect and then the first time you show it to someone they say, "you missed a spot"? Should I be smug or say a silent apology to our unknown quilter for being that person?

The fabrics in these quilts have me longing for the days of the RJR/Smithsonian collaboration. Do you remember those collections based on the Benonie Pearce Album quilt called the Groom's Quilt, the Littler Sister's Quilt and the Rising Sun Quilt? Click on the links for photos of more magnificent 19th century quilts from the Smithsonian Museum. Finally, here is a link to a photo of the fabrics based on the Rising Sun quilt. I am hoarding some of them still, but would love for RJR to reprint them.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chicago Int'l Quilt Festival 2010

I made my second annual trip to the Chicago International Quilt Festival yesterday. It's a treat I give myself as my super busy time at work wraps up on the 15th (no I'm not an accountant). I kiss my family goodbye and turn off my phone and email and head to the quilt mecca of the midwest. Last year I went for the quilts but this year I was going for the vendors. At least that's what I told the women standing in line with me while we waited for the show to open. Then the doors opened and I walked in to see some of the most stunning antique quilts I've ever seen.

The special exhibit this year was "America Collects Quilts: International Quilt Festival's Antique Quilts." On display was a selection of rare, antique quilts from the Festival's private collection. Many are mid-19th century works and "feature incredible hand craftsmanship." Good thing I brought the extra large memory card in the camera. I will post pictures over the next few days so you can see the whole quilt and the detail photos I took.

This one is is called "Star of Stars" and is dated around 1845. I would be amazed if these fabrics ever saw the light of day. The medallion star design has inset panel prints (which are dated 1815) surrounded by pieced diamonds. The fabrics are an outstanding collection of ombre, French and English chintz, Indiennes prints and others.

Below is a close up of one of those amazing inset 1815 panels. Notice, too, the interesting scalloped border that follows the scallop in the blue print.

Check back tomorrow for more pictures of wonderful quilts.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Make it work

Sometimes I go through periods when I buy fabric. Sometimes it is a lot of fabric. I blame the designers. They make pretty fabric. And then those fabrics go out of print. So it makes me worry. What if...I come up with an idea for the world's most amazing pattern? Don't I need to have all of the fabrics just to make sure I have that exact one that will make my pattern into the world's most amazing quilt? So, I have to buy those wonderful fabrics until...shopping guilt. Well, maybe it's not so much shopping guilt as wondering where the heck all that fabric came from that's overflowing every surface in my sewing "studio" and I just bought two new plastic tubs and they're full and...geez, where am I going to put all this stuff? (An aside...are you noticing how close the words "guilt" and "quilt" are? Those two words do not belong together.)

Anyway...when it all gets a little too frantic, I look to the past for a reality check. Above is an old top I bought that just makes me smile. This is one quilter who did not take it all too seriously and just "made it work." Of course, she never finished the top into a quilt, but that's a guilt trip for another post.

I have to say, these are not the prettiest fabrics I've ever seen. But, I love the way the quilter used scraps and created "make do" blocks.

Do you love poison green (I do)? Well, throw it in there with that rust paisley. Was this supposed to be a brown quilt? It is! Except maybe for that poison green corner. Oops! Make the brown alternate squares all the same to tone it down. Or not. Just keep those setting square fabrics out of the 9-patches. Or not.

Love that pink and brown so throw some of that in.

Of course, the alternate squares are all chocolate brown. Like these...chocolate brown and white. Just lightening things up, right?

Did I say the alternate squares were brown? Well, maybe no one will notice a little electric blue if I put those plaid pieces on the bias. Flashy! Whoops, the stripes didn't exactly line up either. Was this deliberate? Do you think she cared?

I would love to know what went on in this quilter's mind when hand piecing this top. Where did all the pieces come from? Was the cheddar the "hot" color that it is now? Did she laugh at the riot of patterns and fabrics in this quilt? I am glad I have it to enjoy now.

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