All my ambitious plans for world domination, I mean extreme, productive sewing, this weekend were brought to a screeching halt last (Friday) night when my mother-in-law called to let us know that she and her husband would be arriving in town sometime Saturday. I have to Clean House.*
So instead of making a second coat for a niece (yes, I was planning to interrupt the Springy Coat since it appears we’ll be dashing home over Easter so I may actually have an opportunity to deliver said coats), I’ll be cleaning madly. I wonder if I could convince my MIL to help with the coat sewing… hmm…. Anyway, to spare you a play-by-play of scrubbing toilets, I thought I’d share (quickly) a bit about a quilt.
I didn’t make this quilt. I don’t quilt (even less than I houseclean). Although this quilt almost makes me wish I did. My grandmother (who quilts) didn’t make this quilt either, although she did give it to me a few years back when she was moving from her house on the farm to a senior’s complex in “town” (town in this case not having more than a few hundred people, but at least she’s not alone in the middle of nowhere if something happens). I love my grandmother to bits, but this is not the sort of quilt she would ever make. I’m actually a bit surprised that she allowed this sort of quilt to even stay in her house—my guess is if it ever was used, it was tucked under a much tidier coverlet. My grandmother’s house was always immaculate, tidy, and scrupulously modern (scrupulously updated, too). Her quilts are rather similar; she made the one on the right in the topmost photo for me when I was two or three.
No, this quilt is the product of an entirely different mentality.
The pieces aren’t square. They certainly aren’t even. They appear to have been pieced together into some large, haphazard rectangles, from a variety of sources that have little in common except being made of a variety of light-weight cottons. If there’s an overall rhyme or reason, I haven’t detected it.
This is a hand-made quilt. I don’t mean made on a machine in a home. I mean, I don’t think a sewing machine ever touched this quilt. Every single stitch, from piecing through embroidery, binding, and quilting (or is it quilting and then binding?), it’s all hand-stitched. A couture quilt, if you will.
Once the blocks were made up (quilters will have to forgive me for my imprecise use of their terminology… did I mention I’m not a quilter?), the quilter embroidered a feather-stitch ( think) along the seams between patches.
There’s no batting within the quilt; instead, a couple of layers of loose-woven cotton are sandwiched between quilt top and backing. I suppose this was intended to be a light summer quilt. Or maybe it was just what the quilter had on hand. You can see them because the backing has frayed at the edges and there are a few places where the quilt’s interior is exposed.
The quilt back is made out of this lovely print, pieced together with a seam to make it wide enough for the whole quilt. There even appears to have been an attempt at pattern-matching along the seam, although it’s not overly exact.
There were a lot of hours, love, and crazy creativity poured into this quilt.
I love this quilt, but it lives a hard and wandering life in our house, drifting between the upstairs hall closet and the basement depending on where it’s being called into service. It’s not likely to be called into service as a bedspread (my huband’s tastes being rather akin to my grandmother’s in this regard). It needs a wash badly, but I fear the fate of the fraying edges from callous laundering, and I have nowhere to hang it to dry—at least for a few more months. (It’s snowing again, by the way, although today’s accumulation isn’t expected to be more than a few cm)
I’m tempted to bind over the fraying edges. This treatment wouldn’t work on my grandmother’s neat, patterned quilts, but I think it would go very well with the spirit of this quilt. The only question is whether I have the patience for that much hand-stitching.
*My mother-in-law is the sweetest lady on the face of the planet, and would never say boo about my miserable housekeeping. She might, however, very sweetly and politely and without making any kind of a fuss, set about tidying things up herself, and then I would die of embarrassment.