Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just Sharing A few of My Quilts

When I promised to share some of my quilts on this blog, I was not sure just where to begin. I decided to start with this red work quilt because it reflects my early beginnings , before I knew about quilting, let alone applique. I grew up the oldest of ten children and in the days when i could go to the dime store and buy a kit for making baby clothes, aprons, and needlework, all of which required some or a lot of embroidery. I was my mother's right hand girl. From standing on an orange crate to do dishes to cradling a small baby brother or sister, I was schooled in home arts and everyday responsibility. I miss her sitting beside me, teaching me to do lazy daisy stitches, feather stitches and so much more. I remember as if it were yesterday, the day her new Kenmore sewing machine was delivered. it was in a beautiful cabinet, and it had cams! Cams meant we could embellish Easter dresses for myself and my three sisters, quickly patch the knees in all the pants we were constantly sliding on to make second base. We made countless dresses, shirts and aprons on that machine, but early days were always with me and I am still embellishing with the embroidery I learned from my mother, her sister and anyone who would sit down for five minutes and show me how to do a Palestrina knot.

This image of a handful of pansies was a pretty common image during the red work faze in embroidery history. from the 1860's through the depression, a person, often a little girl could go to a store and purchase a small square of muslin with a printed design for a penny. So.... these became known as penny squares. There was a lot of interest in this because it was pretty affordable as well as manageable. It was also a learning project with simple stitches.

This young girl shows up over and over in vintage red work patterns. So, of course I needed to have my own curly haired young lady in my quilt.

I suspect that the vast numbers of sunflower's showed up, not only in the red work quilts, but in crazy quilts because of the huge popularity of Oscar Wilde who often lectured on the the effects of art and culture in a families surroundings. Did I mention that he was very handsome and often wore one of these sun flowers in his lapel. Some things never change, do they?

I love my redwork quilt for many reasons. The embroidery, of course. The slam dunk ease of making these blocks. Your supplies being design transferred to a square, an embroidery needle, thread, scissors, and a hoop. I could not be easier. Most of all, however, I love this quilt for the memories it evokes for me. This month, twelve years ago i flew from CA to spend a few weeks with my daughter who was in the last weeks of her pregnancy. We had so much fun. The baby shower, shopping for baby clothes, ( we knew it was a girl with a tiny turned up nose). The check-up where I finally got to hear that heart-beat! CA was a long way away. Then the day we found out the baby was going to be induced the next day, my daughter drove through the McDonald's on the way home. When the bag of fries came through the window, the baby began kicking like crazy. Kelly was convinced that he little girl was responding to the smell of french fries. Miss Libby does not like potatoes, let alone french fies. Go figure. In any case, back to business, almost all of these blocks were made during that special time. Ahhhh....

Moving on to "The Way We Were" I chose this name because I grew up in the time when women had particular days set aside for doing chores. Mom and I actually washed on Monday, sprinkled the starched clothing and stored in the fridge, ironed on Tuesday, etc. With our large family it was necessary to have order. So this quilt was designed with the thirties and forties days of the week dishtowels. of course there are only seven days in the week so I had to design two extra squares and even these have roots in the same time period.

It was so much fun to combine my love of embroidery and applique in this quilt. I started this in a retreat in Asilomar CA. Great place. A run on the beach, early in the morning and after breakfast a full day and into the evening working on any project you wanted. Mostly quilters.

The embroidery on this quilt is all done with one strand of DMC floss. I love one-strand embroidery.

Remember that baby girl I referred to earlier in this post? Well, this is the quilt I carried onto the plane to gift to my daughter at her baby shower. I would like to point out that the squares are each three inches in size. This detail is pretty sweet.

This is another detail. I saw the original quilt in the Shelburne museum in Vermont. You could not take pictures and my drawing skills, well let's not even go there. What I did know was that the quilt was made by Florence Peto, a great patron of the museum.

A few years later, Celia Oliver, one of the museum curators came to The San Jose Quilt Museum in CA to give a lecture about the Shelburne's quilt collection.. It was so interesting and she introduced a new book called Enduring Grace. I bought my copy and thumbed through right away to see if my favorite quilt was there. yes!!! In addition it was one of a few that was patterned. Never mind that I still had to enlarge those very small squares. Then I waited. When I was told I would be a grandmother, I was ready. The original was appliqued with fabrics that were vintage in the fifties by Florence. Since I was making a baby quilt, I decided to use those sweet thirties fabrics. Florence' quilt is called Calico garden.

My version is called "For love of Libby" her given name is Elizabeth Evelyn. (Libby) Elizabeth is a name that goes back four generations in my family and my middle name. Evelyn was her other grandma's name.

I believe this quilt, perhaps more than others I have made makes a point I have subscribed to for as long as I have been a quilter. Quilts are personal. I often say with conviction that I always feel the connection with the quilters who came before me. I hope you do too.


Kelly said...

I love them all, Mom. If you think about it, Libby must have been protesting the certainly would fit her personality. Ha! The baby quilt is well loved, but my favorite is the redwork. ~Kelly

unDeniably Domestic said...

How beautiful to see your work again. I, too, grew up using a sewing machine with 'cams'. It was considered very fancy and quick. But, you and I know, it could never replace hand work.

We saw the sun today :-)


PatchworkRose said...

kyou so much for sharing your work.
Just love them all. I have the Florence Peto pattern for one day. Yours looks wonderful in Thirties fabrics and your redwork is out of the box.

Anonymous said...

I remember you showing us applique girls "The Way We Were" at the quilt shop in Pleasanton. I believe I have your pattern.
Beautiful projects, as always.
Nancy E.

Purple Pam said...

I remember those quilts. I still love the little Sunbonnet Sue quilt. All your quilts are beautiful, still.