Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Old quilt

I have been busy taking the papers out of the old hexagon quilt I was given. For those who don't rememeber, it was found in an attic, and donated to Linus. I realised it was old (probably 19th century) and took it to a Quilter's Guild meeting for advice. Because it had had about a quarter of it eaten by mice, it wasn't an attractive proposition, and I was advised 'it isn't of museum quality'. Fair enough. However, I thought about the quilter who had spent hours and hours making this beautifully planned quilt, and how sad it was that it was in such a poor state, and unwanted by museums and the Guild. I wanted it! So I used some of my reproduction fabrics to complete it, with a view to making it into a quilt.

Now the papers are out, I intend to wash it. I'm going to test the red fabrics for colour-fastness first and use lots of colour catchers in the water. Then I will applique it to a background and make it up. I will scan some of the papers and a photo of the quilt in its original state, and print the images onto fabric to use as the backing. This way, the history of the quilt will go with it.
On inspecting the papers, there is a lot of information about the quilt to be found.

Some of the papers have postmarks (89, or 91) and some have dates (1892). This places the quilt firmly in the Victorian age! ( Apparently the black edges on the paper meant they were death announcements!)

Some have stamps with the portrait of good old Queen Victoria on them. Hurray!

Some have been cut from printed paper - there are clues here to the place where the quilt was made!

There are examples of different papers, different hands, and even some papers with writing going horizontally, the vertically - a method of saving paper when it was very expensive to buy and to send.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the words 'Finsbury' and 'Park' written on a couple of the papers. the postmarks only give us information as to where the letters were posted, but addresses would most likely have been on the envelopes, which were received at the house where the quilt was made! I need to have some time with the papers, a large table and Sherlock Holmes, and maybe I can find out the maker's name! In the meanwhile, I'm off to test the reds for fastness. Keep your fingers crossed!


paula, the quilter said...

I have some old letters on which the letter was penned on one side of the paper and then folded. The address was added to the other side (usually in the middle) and then unfolded so the letter writer knew where to finish writing the letter. No tape in those days, so the letter was folded to form a small pouch that one corner could be tucked into. This eliminated the need of an envelope. The letters from Great grandfather during the American Civil War were written this way.

Barb said...

what a lovely old hexegon quilt. The paper are fascinating!
How nice that you're going to save this beauty!

Susan said...

What a marvelous find. You are so right about finishing the quilt. It would be criminal to let all of that work go to waste. You have the heart of a true quilt friend.

black bear cabin said...

what a wonderful project...and i LOVE the idea of printing copies of the paper onto fabric to add to the quilt! the museum will probably want it then...and too bad for them! :) you will love and cherish it more in your home then they would, so good for you!!!

Mad about Craft said...

I am so glad that you have saved this quilt. In a way it is more special than quilts hanging in a museum as it can be touched and it has other evidence with it.

I hope you get many years of joy from it.

Amo House said...

How fantastic! I find the papers more fascinating than the quilt, but I guess they are almost one and the same. A great way of preserving it. Thanks for sharing.

orchidlover said...

What a fabulous idea on preserving the heritage of the quilt.

Love and hugs Gina xxx

Sew Create It - Jane said...

How exciting!! I know the museum / guild wasn't interested in the quilt, but for the quilter who made the top you are honouring her work in ways she would never have imagined. I hope you keep the papers..they are fascinating in themselves!