Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Revival of Old-Fashioned Quilting

Reviving patchwork traditions.
      Only a few years ago it was no uncommon sight to see a group of women seated about a large frame working with all their might, tying knots and sewing and chatting with each other. This was the quilting party of other days, and this sewing art is probably the only remaining one of our great-grandmothers. Quilting is now having a revival. Women are again taking it up, and the patch-work quilt will soon be as popular as it ever was. But the quilting revival is no fad. It will last longer than the present fad for the old-fashioned rag carpets. Of course, quilt making of the twentieth century lacks much of the old time pristine romance because of its setting. To the gentle woman of other days the quilting festivities were ranked among the real pleasures in the restful Colonial days of hospitality.
      The quilts of our great-grandmothers, after laying for years in the cedar chests, have been taken out and now rank with the other treasures of the household. In the days when these quilts were made Milady, whether a noblewoman or of lowly degree, was skilled in the art of using the needle. The bed coverings, made as they were indeed works of art, each stitch a masterpiece in itself. In many of the old time quilts no two stitches were ever alike in form or color, and they might well be termed "crazy quilts."
An old log cabin design.
      For some reason the women of now have paused in the rush to take up the bygone art of yesterday, and feminine fingers are again growing nimble at knotting, sewing and threading needles about the quilting frame. Scraps and patches are again being arranged into intricate patterns such as "The California Tree," "The Tulip," "The Log Cabin" and "The Sunrise." Patterns of 75 and 100 years ago are being closely followed, and the same arrangement of the vari-colored patches is being adopted.
      In the olden times, months and even years were taken up in the making of a quilt, especially when such a complicated design as the "Tulip" is followed. The leisure moments, though they be many, are hardly enough to allow such a work to be finished in a short time, and Milady of Today finds she hass too little time to work her quilt when it is once started and the work becomes interesting. Quilting is quite as intricate as the making of blocks and squares. There are few women of today who understand the method of quilting and the elaborate stitches used in the old days, unless she has inherited a liking for the work and has learned it from mother or grandmother. But, on the other hand, if one is energetic and searches hard and long she may find some quaint old colors or patterns.
      Probably the most popular design of quilting is the "Log Cabin." This pattern is quite simple, but not altogether easy to make. The patches are arranged in blocks, the smaller ones at the top, gradually dropping to the longer and larger ones at the bottom. Many of these sets of blocks are found in a single quilt. The origin of the "Log Cabin" quilt is a mystery, swallowed up in the past, but it has been shown that patterns of this variety came over in the Mayflower.
      "The Tree of Paradise" is another favorite pattern, outside of the applique class. It is made of triangle-shaped pieces of green chambray gingham alternating with white, cut uniformly with green. Next comes the "Sunrise" pattern of yellow calico, combined with white. "The Tulip" pattern is such a complicated one that a beginner in the work will hardly undertake it.
      Debutanies, as well as the girls in the colleges, have taken up the fad of quilting. "Fudge parties" have given way to "quilting bees," as they are sometimes called. The girl who has had several seasons in society has found time to copy one or more of these old quilts to add to the linen and lace lingerie in her "treasure chest." But probably the most amazing thing about the quilts is that they are used on the outside of the bed, and they have quite superseded the cover of ruffled Swiss or the counterpane. Where they harmonize with the decorations nothing could be prettier in the home. The snowy pillowcases, not shams, trimmed with heavy crocheted linen lace and showing a tiny raised letter or monogram are indeed a fitting accompaniment to the quilts of our great-grandmothers.
      Fancy stitches tend a great deal toward making the old-time quilt attractive. These stitches are in such numbers that there is no need for the quilter to originate her own. Then, with the different colors of embroidery cotton the effect of the blocks and their borders is unique. Many women prefer to use a different stitch around each block of the quilt. This of course, makes a great deal of extra work, but the result pays for the time taken up. All sorts of zig-zag lines, curves, blocks, triangles, flowers and odd designs form stitches, and the sewing on of these is a feature in itself. Often a stitch is made in two colors, one half in one and the remainder is another color. Then the thread can be blended with the other material.

Sewing a modern 'Crazy Quilt."

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