Friday, March 23, 2012

A Quilt and then Another....

I found an old quilt at a flea market a couple of weeks ago. And although I will look at ANY old quilt, I didn't think I needed to add this quilt to my collection. It was hand tied and the fabric looked like early 20th century - small madder prints. The back, on the other hand, was a bit more appealing - it looked like a 19th century French floral linen. So then I asked myself - do I really want to purchase this quilt just for the fabric on the back - was it worth the $85 the vendor wanted? Then, somehow, as I was examining it closer, I noticed the second quilt - the quilt underneath the original quilt. At first I thought I was seeing things - was I really looking at a whole cloth turkey red paisley? I had never seen a quilt with a print anything like this - and it looked like it was on both sides! The vendor started coming in closer - not liking the fact that I was carefully lifting up the corner of the top quilt to see what was underneath. I snapped a quick picture and he was right behind me saying - "Delete that picture". I said "I was just trying to get a better look at what was underneath" - he growled "Buy it or delete it". At that point, I was so excited that I had found two quilts in one that I quickly paid him the money, grabbed the quilt and ran home!
Here's the French floral linen and the indigo border:
And here's the indigo border, the French floral linen, and the turkey red paisley peeking out from underneath:
I spent the whole weekend picking apart this quilt - luckily it was tied and not quilted. Picking away, I found four different cloths attached to this quilt: the top patchwork piece, the blue floral linen, an indigo border and the turkey red paisley. When I finally finished, hours later, I realized that someone had decided to save this beautiful quilt by simply adding another over the top. I imagined this stunning turkey red quilt was used till it was thread-worn, it has small patches of brown calico covering the big tears. Finally, the lady of the house said "Enough! - I'll go to the market and purchase some linen to cover the back side", and when that proved not to support the aging quilt, she, or maybe her daughter (?) pieced together a patchwork top and hand-tied it on. Whether it was done out of necessity or to preserve history - I was now the lucky owner of this cloth and I studied it for days!
The turkey red paisley - found on both sides of the quilt underneath the original quilt:
To the best of my knowledge, this turkey red paisley seems to be French and anything similar I found in my textile books dates from 1810-1820. They also manufactured similar prints in England around 1850 - but the detail on this print, and the dye colors make me think it is French. I am not sure about the patchwork top - it looks American to me and quite a bit later. So did this quilt travel from France to America? Who knows...but I have really enjoyed taking it apart piece by piece and trying to put it all back together again...if only quilts could talk!
Here are the four pieces that came off of the quilt:
Any ideas or comments as to what this quilt might be? I would love more information about these fabrics so I can continue to put this quilted story together!

18 comments:

Polly said...

Geez, you have to be the luckiest shopper on the planet. Seems $85 was a steal for such a prize. Will you share where you purchased it? That grouchy sales person would be happy to know that his shop was advertised. Fingers crossed

Sharon B said...

What a GREAT FIND! I am happy for you. Can't wait to see what you decide to do with your treasures.

Meredith said...

What a gem, so glad it was tied. The only time I like tied quilts is when I can take them apart. LOL

Nancy said...

What an absolute treasure! It's worth the price for that linen backing alone. How gorgeous. When I visited a showing of slave quilts (sad) often a new top was placed over a worn quilt for extra warmth. Could that have been done with this one? Whatever it was, you have found an absolute treasure. Wish I had that luck. Absoutely wonderful.

Mimi said...

I wish I could give you more information about the fabrics. I THANK YOU for giving us a beautiful look at some wonderful fabric!!

Jeannette said...

Great find, a few weeks ago I went to a quilt lecture by a Dutch Quilt conservator, sorry cannot remeber her name. These fabrics look similar to some of the fabrics she showed us.

becky up the hill said...

This is an amazing story. I was a little scared in that one part..lol. My goodness. Wonderful score!! Looking forward to hearing more history.

Susan McShannon-Monteith said...

Well is there any batting beneath the beautiful red fabric, is the weave tight or loose, is it cotton or linen... so many questions and such a remarkable puzzle.
Thank you so much for sharing.
Susan

Auntie Bliss said...

Delete it, Ha.

Those fabrics are so awesome...
I'd lay each piece on a copy machine and make some papers!

teena said...

love the soft colors, how lovely!By any strange chance, were you at crystal cove today, march 23?

Anonymous said...

Oh My Stars!!! In true Kaari fashion, there must be another layer, a deeper story ( a darker basement), and again you find a story of necessity and utility.
Rock On Sister!
XO, Hol

Cheryl said...

Lucky you what a great find. Those fabeics inside are gorgeous!

wendi yates said...

This would make a wonderful inspiration piece for a fabric line (hint, hint) :) Wonderful find and a great story too!

JoeyLea said...

You lucky duck. I don't really know anything more than you do, but wow! what a find. Beautiful.

Bertie said...

Wow, how lucky was that!! do you think the quilt tops were added to keep warm?

Miss Jean said...

What a great find!!!! Not sure why the vendor needed to be so rude, but I'm glad you bought it.

Diane McVey said...

Wow, what an amazing find! and you are so smart to investigate it thoroughly!!! I love the end result, the fabrics are stunning! Thank you for sharing this great experience and find with us! :D

Anonymous said...

I just love the big dahlia flowers on the blue background. Specially if it is in linen. The red contour just makes the flowers pop! Great combination with the small geometric indigo border. Besides, I am sold to anything red!
No better inspiration for a new fabric line!
Diane Côté