Friday, April 13, 2012

Not Forgotten

Sometimes there isn't an explanation as to why I have purchased particular quilts over the years.  Often,  the simplicity of the pattern or the colors call to me.  Back in the early 1990's even finding quilts or quilt tops that were reasonably priced was enough of a challenge, but then to like what you could find in your price range was another hurdle. 

This is a utility quilt that I purchased from a home in Marathon, New York in the 90's.   This bow tie variation has all the charm of a turn of the century quilt with the blue/white/red/black coloration.  The backing fabric is a coarse cloth and there is minimal quilting just outlining some of the piecing.  The batting is not well distributed and has shifted - probably due to the minimal quilting.

From the backing the minimal quilting in the grid pattern is visible.

It isn't a spectacular quilt. Why did I take it home?  It spent many years folded, protected and forgotten.  Certainly I had other quilts I felt were more worthy to display and use to decorate during the different seasons.

Several years ago, the quilt was pulled out and studied so I could somehow incorporate this early 20th century pattern into a quilt I was working on at the time.  Suddenly there was a need to use this quilt as inspiration - there was a purpose for it all along!

My husband wanted me to make him a baseball quilt and to incorporate signatures from Negro League players he had collected.  I had a pile of salesman samples of shirting fabrics and some 1930's prints.  I used a black mourning print for the border because it was the closest fabric that I could find that looked like a flannel.   The shirting fabrics were to give a masculine touch, the 30's fabrics to give a look of the era they played ball.  I hand quilted it in a ocean wave pattern; a utility pattern that would give the look of movement in the air.

I changed the bow tie portion enlarging the square inside the block.  I love the reproduction prints I found to go in the quilt.

Here are some of the woven shirting fabrics that found their way into the blocks.

I created baseball blocks to alternate with the bow tie blocks.  I photo transferred the signatures onto muslin.  I went to my machine and added the red feather stitching design.  I cut a circle for the ball and then machine sewed it from the wrong side of the fabric to give it the look of hand applique.  The seams were pressed towards the "ball" to give it a little dimension.

I used a black mourning reproduction print on the last border because it was the closest fabric I could find that gave the look of a flannel without actually using flannel.  The Negro League player's uniforms were made of flannel rather than the wool of the "professional" teams of the day.

My husband really loves the quilt.  He had spent several years collecting signatures from these athletes who were then in their "golden years."  They were grateful they were not forgotten and could retell their stories to a new generation.

Not forgotten; people aren't so different from quilts.


  1. Love this quilt (and this post). The original quilt is a beauty, too - I like the bright red that kind of doesn't belong.

  2. What a wonderful idea for a quilt for your husband -- I really like how you did the baseballs, and the shirting prints were a really good choice. It's such personal and creative gift.