Friday, September 19, 2014

Quilt Slueths - Please Help!

Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
This double wedding ring quilt passed from my mother to my sister-in-law, Julie, who gave it to me today, as a birthday gift! The trouble is, we don't know much about it. Apparently Mom showed it to Julie about 12 years ago, and told her it was made by Mom's Aunt Dottie. Then some years later, Mom gave it to Julie, claiming again that it was made by her Aunt, who lived in southern California.

Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
Unfortunately, by that time, Mom was a tad confused, and frequently got her stories mixed up a bit. So we don't trust it as a hard fact, that Dottie made the quilt. I have a vague, possible memory of the quilt being placed on Mom's and Dad's bed in the house we lived in from 1951 through 1958. After that, Mom fancied a store-bought, chenille, bed spread. Maybe, as a tribute to it's hand stitched/quilted beauty, she was saving it for one of us. I don't recall ever hearing Mom talk about it.

Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
It's a wedding quilt, probably made by somebody as a wedding gift, right? My mom and biological father married in 1939. The fabric appears to me to be from the 30's which would suggest it was probably made then; that maybe what she said about it being made by her aunt is true.

Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
But on the back side of the quilt, in two corners (top and bottom), the initials "EC" are stamped with permanent ink. My step-dad's initials are EC. Who would have stamped them on the quilt, and why?

Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
My step-dad and Mom married in 1949, two years after my biological father died in an automobile accident. Why would they have used a wedding quilt made for my mom's previous marriage? Why would my step-dad's initials be on it?

Vintage wedding ring quilt, family heirloom of Robin Atkins
If anybody has any ideas about the stamped initials, or thoughts about the age of the quilt, please comment.  Thanks!

9-21-14 Update. There seems to be general agreement that the fabrics used in this quilt are of the 1930s. The general condition of the quilt suggests that it was used (well-used, but also carefully used); and that most likely it was made in the '30s. Still no definitive theory or answer about the initials.

Friday, September 12, 2014

I Spy..... A New Quilt!

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, front
Six whole days and evenings it took me to make this 50" square quilt... Yikes, I'm soooo slow. My neighbor raised her eyebrows in doubt when I told her how long it took, thinking she probably could have done it in 2 days.

Perfectionism is the square root of the time. Ha! Oh well, at least I'm satisfied with it.

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, front, center block
The backstory... This quilt, I Spy a Brown Dog, is for my Goddaughter's two children, primarily for her daughter, who is just a year old now, but also for her son, who is about 5, I think. They live in Copenhagen. The above block (photographed before I sewed the left and bottom borders on it), is at the center of the quilt because the whole family loves dogs. Had I been making it for myself (the child within) the center block would have been birds, flowers, kitties, or bunnies... all of which I adored, and all of which found their way into this quilt.

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, front detail
In case you don't know, an "I Spy" quilt allows adults to play a game with children, saying things like "I spy an orange elephant." Then the child finds and points to the orange elephant on the quilt. My Goddaughter's family is multilingual, so it can also be used to teach vocabulary in a second or third language to the kids when they are very young, in a fun way.

Besides selecting all the fabrics and fussy-cutting the blocks, the most difficult part was arranging the finished blocks. No matter what I did, the yellows seemed to be bunched up together.  Finally I took a photo of one of the arrangements, changed the mode to black & white, and printed it.

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, possible layout showing values in grey scale
This showed me that I had more lights than I thought, and gave me the idea to put the yellow bordered blocks in the corners and in a left to right diagonal. Once I did that, the rest fell easily into place! Here's the photo again, so you can see what I mean...

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, note layout of blocks, particularly yellow

The back also took extra time, because I didn't have any suitable fabric large enough to do the whole back. So, since it had to be pieced anyway, I figured it might as well have another dog block, and a mix of fabrics. Here it is.

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, back
I scanned two of the fabric prints to make a dedication label, and printed it on ink-jet-printable fabric. Here it is.

Robin Atkins, I Spy quilt, back, label

The last part was quilting it, something I've got very little experience doing by machine (and way too much experience doing by hand). You can see the quilting pattern, if you click on the picture of the back to enlarge it.

There y'go... kept me out of trouble for 6 whole days! Hope they like it.