Miss G, who incidentally happens to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 to 96 years young – depending on who’s asking – has long enjoyed going to estate sales and auctions. When it comes to hauling her loot home, Miss G gets it there by way of her Fire Engine Red Dodge Ram pickup truck. She drives it well enough while peeping over the top of the steering wheel (Miss G is five foot nothing, after all), and she does drive it straight as an arrow, if really, really, really slowly.
Coming from a generation that shies away from throwing things out, she sorts through her purchases, then tries to find suitable homes for the items she doesn’t need or can’t use.
Over the last several months, Miss G has decided that I was the candidate mostly likely to use some of the goodies that she’s been saving up from sales: all things quilt related plus sundry items she thought might interest me.
Cereal box templates that were shared between quilters and sent via the US Postal Service. When could a person mail a letter for three pennies? The answer is anytime between 1851 and 1958 – but judging by what was stamped on the envelope above, 1940 would be today’s correct answer.
There’s even a wee treasure, a 2½”x4¼” envelope in beautiful condition that’s chock full of Peter Pan fabric samples – colors that go by the names of Copen, Orchid, Canary, Cameo and Coral Bell.
There also seem to be enough pre-cut fabrics ready to be rocked into a Dresden Plate quilt.
Scads of patterns cut from newspapers and magazines, yards of vintage 1920s fabrics (about 90 years old!), with all of the motifs for an Oriental Poppy quilt cut out and many already basted. You can see in the photo below that even the original pattern has been preserved.
And then there are the orphan blocks. Lots and lots of orphan blocks. I’ve got a stack of Nine-Patch, a veritable tower of Improved Nine-Patch, blocks that I don’t recognize and haven’t identified yet, and so many hours went into making these blocks – they were all hand pieced, the stitches small and even. So how can I ignore them? Can I leave them to languish in bins and boxes? Or should I simply pass them along to another quilter? The answer to all of the above is, I can’t.
Whaddaya Mean You Didn’t Use Templates?
To kick off my latest personal challenge, I’ve made a quilt out of a few of the orphan blocks. The maker of these particular blocks knew how to stitch, but was maybe new-ish to quilting. She or he didn’t bother to use a template, and as a result, few of the circles were actually… um, how will I phrase this nicely? Circular. When assembled, there was only one block that was within miles of being circular.
Not a problem – a few down and dirty stitches embroidered onto the top to give the impression of circularity, and “hey presto!”, a primitive style little quilt. A phrase springs to mind, one I heard while watching White Men Can’t Jump when I was binding the quilt, and when I heard it I barked with shocked delight. “You can throw a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit.” So here’s a photo of my Biscuit Quilt – it’s not symmetrical, it’s not traditional, but it’s a quilt.
The finished size of the Biscuit Quilt is 45″x54″ (114x137cms).
I’m Really Not Changing Horses In Mid-Gallop
Miss G didn’t limit herself to traditional quilting fabrics when she was piling up treasure for me – she also included vintage fabrics from the Key West Hand Print Fabric Shop that began operation about 1960 (think Early Jet Set Chic). For today’s bonus round of fabric trivia, you should know that the Queen of Prep, Lily Pulitzer Rousseau, had many of her fabrics designed and printed at Key West Hand Print Fabrics.
I am completely open to suggestions when it comes to these fabrics – I think that they will be my biggest challenge to date… smiling pink monkeys kind of creep me out.
Thanks Miss G. You are a pip!