Monday, December 5, 2011

Red and Green

Back in 1994, I had a major obsession with red and green quilts.  It started when the Quilt World December '88 magazine ran a 1860's design of the Princess Feather in its traditional four block design.  The front cover had an older woman in a moppet hat sitting and quilting this beauty with a hoop in her lap. 

I had admired the quilt for six years before I finally started the applique.  I was quick to finish one block, then, years went by without  the ambition to complete the remaining three blocks. 

A few years ago I decided the last three blocks just weren't going to happen.  That is when I had a brainstorm to just put the one feather star block on point and fill in the outer corners with half square triangles.

While I enjoy this quilt, especially during the holidays when red and green fills the house, I still think about the original quilt design.

This past fall, while I was browsing through Etsy, I came across a red and green quilt from southwestern Ohio.  I think I only looked at it for two seconds before I "clicked" the purchase tab.  The classic four blocks of the Princess Feather in red and green could still make my heart skip a beat.  

Isn't it beautiful!   Do you notice something else just wonderful about this quilt?  It is an early machine quilted quilt.  The "feathers" are masterfully appliqued onto the white background by hand and then each block section is quilted independently of each other.  When finished they are joined together and then the seam is covered over with binding.  The borders are then attached and the seams are again concealed on the back.

Barbara Brackman discusses the history of sewing machines in American Patterns of Progress: Quilts in the Machine Age.   Woman who were fortunate enough to have a sewing machine wanted to display their skills and machine quilted their quilts.  This quilt was sure to have been a family treasure. 

 The applique was finely executed.  The background was quilted in a grid work pattern while the feathers have only diagonal line quilting.

Look closely at the binding.  It was also applied by machine!

I admire this early quilter.  She was skilled with her machine and she didn't hesitate to put her beautiful applique workmanship under the needle.

A Christmas treasure for our family for many years to come!

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