Still Life With Donkeys

Earlier today, my favorite SIL posed the question: What are you working on?

Honestly?  I’ve been having a love affair with 9-patches.  This weekend I put a check mark on a reproduction quilt top begun ten years ago.  I had the field of blocks complete, and the cheddar sashing mostly done, when I began cutting the wholecloth borders.  Then… full stop.

Now there’s this thing about the fabric I used in the border.  It’s kind of ugly.  But I kind of love it for all of its ugliness, and it was a millennium fabric done for Quilt For The Cure, so it was kind of like guilt free spending at the time.

Sort of.

I had long suspected that it was a reproduction fabric, and I’ve since found the likely source – the backing fabric used on a pineapple quilt, supposedly dating to 1876.  The website where I found the quilt listed is called 1stdibs; a site self-described as “the world’s leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth.”  And the price tag for the quilt?  $4,995.00.


lady liberty 1876 1stdibs

Lady Liberty 1876 1stdibs

A little artistic license was used in recreating the Quilt For A Cure fabric.  We still have the beehive, cornucopia, and wheat – all symbols of prosperity and abundance – but the corn has gone AWOL.  Lady Liberty, her shield, and anchor remain, but Anno Domini and MM were added to the anchor… and that leads us right back to where we started: millennium fabric so ugly only I could love it.

Quilt For A Cure Millennium Fabric

Rewind to ten years ago: I botched the border cuts.  Devastated, I folded everything up – toe-tagged it, bagged it, and forgot about it.

Fast forward to early yesterday morning: I was flipping through an old quilt magazine (American Patchwork & Quilting – February 2005), when I stumbled across the pattern for the not-quite-forgotten quilt.  The pattern is called Civil War Soldier Patch, by Julie Bragg.  What originally caught my attention ten years ago, was that the quilt was based on the dimensions for a U.S. Sanitary Commission cot quilt.  During the Civil War, hospital quilts and blankets were made long and narrow to cover the body, but not drag on the floor, and that translates into a perfectly sized quilt for a couch potato like me.

Imagine this: any Saturday night, with something on TV that is probably too violent, too graphic, likely something by Quentin Tarantino.  The floor is littered with candy wrappers, spilled soda and popcorn.  But my nifty new quilt never has to brawl with movie night detritus, it hangs nicely above the muck.

And I remembered why I’d buried the quilt top – those pesky borders – but I gave myself a stern talking to.  “Get over it, it’s a utility quilt, get it done”, I told myself.  So back up on the design wall it went.

I thought that this morning I’d try snapping an interesting photo or six to share, but real life, in the form of my pair of donkeys, got in the way.  Some photos have just noses.  Some photos have just ears.  But most of the set-up shots have a stealth attack involving one or more donkeys.

Still Life With Donkeys

“Oh.  You wanted to take a photograph of that old thing?  Really?”  So I settled for a standard “let’s spread it out on the grass” shot , sans donkeys.  See the cotton field across the road?  A few more weeks and it’s picking time.

The soldier’s quilt finished at 54.5″ x 84″ (app. 138×213 cm).

Soldier's Quilt

Still Life With Donkey

I’ve also been playing with Miss G’s bag of orphan blocks, fifty two of which are 9-patches.  Let me tell you about those blocks – Miss G, being a housekeeper all her life couldn’t gift me with (probably) old and musty fabrics.  She laundered them all.  And yes, they frayed, but her heart was absolutely in the right place.

So after much blocking and pressing, I cut all fifty two blocks down to uneven 9-patches, and that’s when they began to take on a life of their own.  I decided that a riff on the Sister’s Choice block would be a good place to start, and I knew that I wanted to use two different blocks in the quilt.  But the second block eluded me…  time to go stash diving for inspiration.

When I surfaced, I had found four fabrics: a black gingham, plus three more fabrics that had been given to me (again, from my favorite SIL).  One was a red/white check that reminded me of growing up on the road, seeing the Purina logo on storage silos in the rural towns we passed through.  The second was a bit of gorgeousness: an entire vintage feedsack in blue with a ditzy fan and flower motif.  Lastly, a good green.  Love me some green in everything!

The gingham became points for the Sister’s Choice blocks.  The red check, blue feedsack, and that good green became Hens & Chicks.  The blocks finished at 14″, and the entire quilt top is 70″ (177.8 cm) square.

Twelve of Miss G’s orphan 9-patches down.  Forty to go.

Sister's Choice/Hens & Chicks

Sister's Choice & Hens & Chicks

14 thoughts on “Still Life With Donkeys

  1. akagracie

    500 responses, but must wait until tomorrow to get them in order – mostly because I slapped my head so hard a couple of times I feel ill. #1: that pic of #2: that pic of #3: well, there we are.

    (I love being your favorite SiL = hehehehe) (or did someone else also ask?) (no. It was I. I’m going with that, so that’s only 497 responses)


    Liked by 1 person

  2. akagracie

    Never mind the headache mentioned in earlier e-mail: I love, love, love that fabric.

    Was going through older stuff this afternoon and found something I bought in Doylestown PA in 1996. In fact, I remember the conversation with the owner, who had dated Bill Gates (and I will be delighted to share with you one of her comments about that relationship when next we meet; it’s pretty cool).

    Anyhoo, I think I’ll bring the fabric along to Houston because I have no idea what to do with it and think your post today may be of assistance.

    Truth is that I’ve been thinking about blogging again because I want to share things in my life that I think some people will enjoy and –

    Wait –

    I’m just going to do it.

    (But I do miss that meme about words; may have to just restart it for myself) (Hey: I have an idea of how to do it! Even if I am the only person who plays along.)

    Thanks, Jo! My hero!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Susan

      Jo. i thought you fell off the side of the earth. where have you been? You are in for a big surprise, I have that lovely lady of liberty in my stash too! still not in a quilt, but I have had plans….just life got in the way. Love the blog …you always make me laugh.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Jo Post author

        Ha! If only we’d known, we could’ve cornered the Lady Liberty fabric market – or maybe we did. Depends on how much yardage the two of are holding, and not admitting to, right?!

        Sometimes it feels like I’ve fallen off, but last time I checked, I’m still here. I’ve just been quiet lately (nose to the grindstone, er, sewing machine).


    2. Jo Post author

      Blog away, Gracie – I’ve been waiting. And I’ll add Bill Gates and problem fabrics to my discussion list for Houston! {{{squeee! can’t hardly wait!}}}


      1. akagracie

        YIKES! I thought I was responding to your email, not to your blog – that was all public posting! Carol & Susan: Agree re missing Jo’s updates – and wish I’d stashed some of that fabric, too, instead of the strange stuff I seem to have buried deep in my closets.
        Jo: that bit about what’s going on in my life has to do with Bailey’s poodle ancestry and a mouse in my yard and the change in the weather. His butt sticking out of various dead plants in the yard as he roots around following the scent isn’t as cute as donkey faces & quilts, but then – what is?


    1. Jo Post author

      Thanks Judy! The post was a little graphic heavy… that happens when I haven’t posted in a while (so little time, so much to say!).


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