French Chic & Slim
|| 19 February 2017
The Century Quilt — page 2
A Dresden Quilt Begun By An Oklahoma Homesteader And Passed On To My Grandmother And Then To My Mother Is Finally Finished Almost 100 Years Later By An Oklahoma Artist
When my grandmother died in the early 1980s, the quilt top was still not finished. It passed to my mother. It was my mother, I think, who chose the pink flowered fabric to use as the background fabric. If you do a Google Images search for Dresden Quilt, you will see that most Dresden quilts use a solid color for the background. I suspect that my mother saw the idea in a magazine or at a quilt show. Several of those quilt shows were held locally about that time. But my mother did not find a match for the green fabric either.
Photo: My grandmother and mother who worked on the century quilt project.
The Artist Takes Over
Packing up my mother’s house when she went to a nursing home in 2004, I found the quilt top on her sewing shelf. I knew I would never finish it. I sent the paratially completed top and the other materials to an artist friend who had made a lovely baby quilt for my son. With her artist’s eye for color, I thought Joyce would be able to find a matching green fabric for the borders. Somewhere.
But when I sent my friend the unfinished quilt top, Joyce was still teaching full time. Until she retired, she did not have time to devote to completing the quilt. As she describes the project as she received it:
The quilt was 12 blocks that were all finished. The Dresden pieces were all attached to the pink flower print. There were four separate, finished blocks that needed sashing with green fabric and the small pieces of off-white and a border for the entire quilt. After I found the green, it could be finished. The off-white came from my collection of pieces of whites and pale yellows.
Where did Joyce locate the long-elusive matching green? While on a field trip with her quilting club, in a quilting store in Boise City in the Oklahoma panhandle. You can imagine my excitement the day I received an email from Joyce telling me that she had found the matching green. (Look at the photo of the quilt at the top of the page. Can you spot which was the original green fabric and which is the new fabric? I can’t.)
The next question: Would the quilt be traditionally hand-quilted or machine quilted? My vote was for machine quilting. A sewing machine had been used to sew together the original quilt pieces — though all the work contributed by my grandmother was done by hand. But my grandmother always championed technology that cut work time. I was sure Grandmother would have voted for machine quilting. The professional quilter pointed out that because the fabrics making up the quilt were of such different ages, machine quilting would better prevent possible tearing.
Another exciting day when I received an email from Joyce saying that the quilting was finished. A truly exciting day when the email came saying the binding had been added.
Finally, after almost a century, the quilt was finished.
Anne Barone | annebarone.com