Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weathered Warriors - Quilts Only a Mother Could Love

You know who you are – the thrift store tootsies, garage sale girlies, moving truck trailers, or dumpster diving divas who can be found carousing the curbs on clean-up days in your local communities – all because you saw a flash of fabric three lanes over in “going home” traffic which you know is a part of a quilt that dates back to the 19th century. You also know when you get there that this quilt you chased the garbage truck three miles on foot to get to is going to be far from perfect, it’s going to be one of those quilts only a mother could love, but there is something in your soul that makes you want to save it or if it is low on the “historical value scale” or “holier than your grandma’s hairnet” harvest the fabric to give your quilt history students the opportunity to touch a textile that “came to life” during the Lincoln administration.

I share this because I am the recent beneficiary, the “new momma” of a 1930s quilt. I like this quilt – it has value -- some dear soul, a quilt history sister or brother, took the time to create a quilt to honor an event that took place in Illinois in the 1930s. She is a beauty “to me,” but she is in “only a mother could love” condition. I also have a few other quilts that have been given to me as the caregiver in this shape that I just can't send on to their great reward. These quilts come to me like my doggies from the Humane Society – one look at these “weathered warriors” and I make room for them at my home.

One is a 1870s-80s signature quilt with "inked" signatures - again "sad" shape, but I can document the history of the quilt. I have to be honest though, I only keep the ones that I can document their history and the others I share with quilt friends who are interested in harvesting the vintage fabric. First thing I do when I get one of these quilts it to bag them up and freeze them, thaw them out and freeze them again. I collect quilts with two types of motifs and I NEVER put these "savers" with my good ones. I also put what documentation I have in a ziplock bag which I wrap the bag in aluminum foil. Then they are stored in a place “far far away” from my antique and vintage quilts.

One time -- I was so fond of the Eagle pattern in one of these “savers” that I made a reproduction of the quilt and kept the original inspiration -- now when I show them, I show both quilts together in a kind of before and after. I’d never seen this eagle pattern before so I am also proud to have saved the pattern for prosperity.

Do any of you have quilts like this tucked away that have seen brighter days, but you can't bring yourself to set them out on the curb? Or is it just me? If you have any savers to share, e-mail Susan Wildemuth at