A Fruitful Small Business Saturday
I talked my husband into going out to some local antique shops on Small Business Saturday, and I made some great purchases!
Let’s start with this top.
Nice, but not too special, you say? After all, it’s just a bunch of rectangles.
I hear you, but let’s take a closer look.
Okay, are you noticing the small-scale indigo prints? The indigo with chrome yellow? The black and white mourning prints? The red with black print? The double pinks?
Look at this one rectangle made up of 9 smaller pieces.
Look at this small piece from the border of squares – an elaborate dark brown floral print with pink and lavender. And look at the woven, not printed, stripes and checks on either side.
Let’s look at the underside and see that it is beautifully hand-pieced.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Of course you are! After consulting Eileen Jahnke Trestain’s Dating Fabrics just to be sure, it looks to me like this was pieced somewhere between 1880 and 1910.
And to reinforce this impression, let’s look at Top Number Two.
Now we’re talking! I am always thrilled to buy something more complicated than I will probably ever make myself. All those triangles!
This is also hand-pieced. The fabrics are also unfaded, and several of them are in both tops! I really think the same person made them in the late 1800s or very early 1900s, and just put them away.
According to Maggie Malone’s 5500 Quilt Block Designs, this block has been known by several names, including Goose and Goslings, Double X, Crosses and Losses, Bow Tie Variation, but I know it as Fox and Geese.
When I bought them, the cashier asked me, “What are you going to do with these?” My immediate reaction was “Keep them away from anybody who would cut them up!” but I didn’t say that out loud. I don’t know what I will do with them. Maybe it would be better to quilt them (and I would hand-quilt them), to protect all the raw edges and seams, but I am afraid my quilting would detract from their perfection. Maybe I will just hem the outside edges and keep them as tops. Either way, I will definitely document anything I do so that when they are passed on, their next caretaker knows their story.
Down the street was another antique mall, and I found the booth of the lady that sold me the little triangle top back in April. And I found another treasure!
None of my other quilts have anything representational, they are all geometric (except for the one my great-grandmother made for my baby quilt). But I thought this one was cheerful so I took it home.
A few minutes of internet research informed me that the designer was Ruby Short McKim. She was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame in 2002. Her descendants have a website with her story and patterns, some free and some for sale in newly-designed books. This fruit basket pattern was designed in 1932, and was released a block a week in some newspapers. There are several examples on the internet — often appliqued, but some, like mine, were colored with crayons, and then outlined with embroidery thread. I learned from this post on Pennsylvania Piecemaker that Crayola was advertising the use of crayons for fabric crafts in 1933!
Whoever made this quilt did a lovely job of color blending with the crayons.
Around the outside are some blocks that show her technique — she drew the fruit shapes and stitched them with a light gray thread. I think on the finished blocks, she then colored in with crayons, and then re-stitched with colored threads.
About half of these setting triangles have the beginnings of the fruit shapes stitched. I wonder if she planned to add fruit around the edges or was just practicing, but either way, I’m glad she left these “phantom fruit” blocks in.
The brown triangles are pieced, and I believe they are silk.
I think this quilt would look so cute hung up in a breakfast nook. Which I don’t have, my house is small and just about every wall is either cabinets or windows. Right now I am just planning to cuddle up with it while I sit and read during Cozy Week, the week between Christmas and New Year’s.