Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's not really trash, you know - The Patsy Quilt, Part 1

My oldest sister died a couple years ago. It was a surprise to all of us in the family. She was a very talented seamstress. She did the most beautiful hand embroidery, made quilts, created many things in her lifetime, including Christmas ornaments that were hand embroidered and which leave her memory for all of us - we were all given ornaments at one time or another. They're all beautiful.
Shortly after her death, her husband sent me her sewing machine from Texas to Virginia. He wrapped the machine in what I suspect he thought was a piece of soon-to-be trash - an old quilt she had made. It was looking bad. There were worn spots, torn spots, and to the uninitiated eye, it was indeed worth tossing in the trash. I couldn't do that. I put it in a corner and waited till the right idea came along.
Fast forward to last Christmas, actually December 22, 2007. Her son, Brian, who married after his mom died, announced that he and his wife were expecting. Ah ha! A use for the old quilt.
First, though, I needed to finish the denim Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt for my other nephew, Adam! (I delivered that quilt to his mother, another sister of mine, last Sunday.)
It felt good to get this one done. It was done almost 100% by hand. I did do some machine accenting around the flowers themselves to make them stand out. The back is fleece with strawberries embroidered on it. It's very soft and very sweet. I'm proud of it.
That done, I started the cutting and piecing of the "Patsy Quilt." It was a large quilt made of some very fragile fabrics and I found enough that I could cut into squares and piece together with gingham. First, though, I zigzagged over all the seams. She had embroidered a feather stitch along all seams with black floss. Some of that had come out over time; I left even the not-so-complete embroidery in place and zigzagged over that too. The goal was to reinforce the seaming that was already there.
I have all the rows done and sewn together now. I sashed the rows with the same gingham and purchased a nice baby print of fleece for the back. I have it all pinned and ready to tie. It has been a super satisfying project because I get to give my nephew something from his mother and get to give the baby something from his grandmother. The block on the bottom row, all the way to the right (not pictured yet) has her name embroidered and the date she made the original quilt. 1977.
It wasn't trash after all. It did serve several purposes over the years - a quilt that she made in 1977 and most likely used for the father of the baby when he was a tot, a wrapper for her sewing machine as it winged its way to me, and now as a baby blanket for her grandson.
Fabric tells a story. In this particular quilt, there are many stories told. There is fabric from which she had made me a caftan 30 years ago, placemats who knows how long ago, and I'm sure Brian will recognize some of the fabrics.
Nah, it wasn't trash. It's a third life piece that will be making its way to a new owner soon.
What have you rescued today?


  1. While I have not recently rescued anything lately...with some exception of a couple of shirts from the goodwill to be used as fabric in a quilt, I love that you choose to save and 'rescue' the quilt that your daughter made.
    What a beautiful and memorable gift. I know that my favorite quilt, which needs a little rescuing of it's own, was a patchwork quilt made for me by my grandmother in the early 80's. I love looking through the quilt and being able to recognize the fabrics from other projects. That quilt my granmother made is something I will always cherish.
    I pray that your grandson and greatgrandchild will cherish this quilt as well.

  2. Hi, I randomly stumbled upon your blog, and just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.

  3. Thanks for stumbling across the blog and come back any time.