Monday, May 12, 2014

Antique Inspirations

I'm sure you've had this experience.  You see a fabric you really love in a quilt shop.  It calls you.  You pet it.  You don't really have anything in mind for it.  It's not what you came to the quilt shop for.  You try to forget it, but you can't.  And you end up buying at least some of it.
Flash forward a couple of months.  You're working on a quilt, and it suddenly occurs to you to use the beloved fabric.  You dig it out, and guess what?  You didn't buy enough.  And sadly, when you go back to the quilt shop, they're out, and they can't even order it.
Can you tell this has happened to me more than once?  Articles in quilt magazines used to encourage us to buy 3 yards if we loved the fabric, so we could use it for sashing or borders.  I hate to admit it, but I actually did that for a while.  I ended up with tons of 1990s yardage that I mostly gave away.  With fabric running at least $10.00 per yard now, buying so much is really unrealistic.
This time, I lucked out.  When I went back to the quilt shop, not only did they still have the fabric, it was now on sale for $6.00 a yard!  So I bought 2 more yards.  I had more than enough to put this quilt together.
The fabric in question is the sashing.  It's a sort of butterscotch color.  I had tried to make it work with a couple of block sets that needed finishing, but it just wasn't right.  So I chose the sashing first, and then chose the colors for the blocks.
My special fabric is a reproduction print, based on quilts from the 1870s-1900.  The hottest color in this time period was brown.  And boy did I have great browns.  Some of them were from fat quarters designed by Jo Morton, and some were scraps.
A few of them were reproductions of Centennial prints, which were designed to celebrate the 100th birthday of the United States in 1876.  I had been saving them for a long time.  It was good to use them.
Plaids were also big in this time period (and really, every time period).  I used some plaids my friend Debbie gave me, that were scraps from her son's quilt.
Many fabrics from this time period were dyed with madder root, which can make colors from pink through red, reddish brown, and even black.  I chose this orangy red print with the big spots for the corner stones.  I have enough for the binding also.  And it was on the sale rack, too.

The border is a printed brown plaid.

My inspiration for the pattern came from having seen an antique quilt like this somewhere.  This exact coloration is hard to find in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, but the main number is 1687.  One of the names is Road to California.  The name I like best is Double Hour Glass.
When I was first deciding on which block to make, I looked the pattern up in the Quilt Index online, and here's what I found:

Isn't this a gorgeous quilt?  Lots of those wonderful madder browns I love.  It turns out this is a signature quilt., made in North Carolina, probably between 1890 and 1901. 

The antique quilt has 30 blocks, which finish 9.5 in. x 9.5 in.  Its sashing measures 3.5 in. and the outside border is 4.5 in. wide.

Here's a link to the Quilt Index, in case you'd like to look up an antique quilt for yourself:
The Quilt Index

This is a really easy pattern, and would look good in almost any color scheme, not just the reproduction fabrics I love.

These blocks are 9 in. finished (9.5 in. unfinished). 
For each block, cut:
2 squares, 3.5 in. x 3.5 in., of the dark fabric
2 squares, 3.5 in. x 3.5 in, of the light fabric (I used plain tan muslin for all of my blocks.)
Make 4 half square triangle units that measure 3.5 in. unfinished from the light and dark fabrics.  I do this by cutting triangles from 3.5 in. strips with the Easy Angle ruler, and then sewing the triangles together, light to dark.
Once you have the half square triangle units made, just assemble the squares like a nine patch.

I made 42 blocks, each with a different fabric.  I laid them out on the floor as I worked and looked for the colors I needed to balance the quilt.  The sashing is cut 3.5 in. x 9.5 in, the cornerstones are 3.5 in. square, and the outside border is cut 5.5 in. wide.

As you can see, this quilt is bigger than my usual twin size, measuring approximately 79 in. x 91 in.

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to quilt it!

Stay in stitches!


  1. What a fun project! Maybe utility quilting? It's a quilt that is kind of about the beautiful fabrics. Just a thought.
    Thank you for sharing your work.

  2. Hi, Dawn! I like that idea. Thanks!


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