Last spring, I bought an old French quilt from one of my textile dealers that was a real doozie - a beautiful floral printed linen which had darkened over the years from dust and dirt. Looking for an afternoon project, my sister, Lisa, an avid sewer and textile collector, and I decided to dig (or rip) a bit further into the quilt. We just had a feeling that there might be something underneath the 1880's floral that could be worth exploring. Dating old fabric and trying to figure out how fabric was printed is something we both enjoy - Saturday afternoon fun!
We started out with a seam ripper, carefully pulling apart the hand-sewn center seam - but eventually moved right to the scissors and simply slid them down the center as the fabric fell to each side.What we found underneath was exciting - even though it was much smellier and dirtier than the top layer: a much older, probably 1780-1800, madder printed quilt - with huge sections completely thread worn or missing altogether - leaving patches of the wool stuffing. We instantly knew why some dear soul had covered it with the floral linen - the original quilt was, literally, falling apart. Instead of recycling the quilt, someone repaired it - what a concept.
We decided to take the top piece off completely - which was a much bigger job than we had anticipated. Two hours later, and Lisa was saying to me - "Why are we doing this?" But once we started, we couldn't stop - the idea of having two pieces of fabric, when I thought I only had one, was just too exciting - almost like a twofer! This doesn't happen very often - but when it does - I feel like I am discovering some unknown source of history - a wisp of something that was once beautiful and functional - colors that were preserved because they had been covered for the past century.
Covered in dust, and who knows what else - we finally had the original quilt and the cover in two pieces. The floral linen will debut as part of our new collection for Moda, Pom Pom de Paris, and the original madder stripe quilt is carefully tucked away waiting for a new life.
My sister Lisa is visiting again this weekend, I'm looking forward to a little more textile trouble.