Thursday, August 4, 2016

Throwback Thursday Quilt Edition: Contrary Wives

Oh, goodie, it's Throwback Thursday time again. The only thing I don't like about these is that they come around so fast! Anyway. It's a special day. Congrats to Jenn at Quarter Inch from the Edge, who has been hosting this monthly event for a whole year! And congrats to all of us as we've been celebrating our quilts from the past. I love this linky party!

For my part today, I'm sharing a group of four little quilts I made back in November 1987. They were inspired by a workshop Pepper Cory did on scrap quilts for our quilt guild in September that year. (I think she was still living locally at that time--lucky us!) But I decided to go really small--those were the kinds of quilts I was making back then. 

The block is Contrary Wife (basically a 9-patch with Half-Square Triangles--HSTs). I looked it up online, and it seems to have come from the Kansas City Star in 1941, but I haven't verified that. (There was also a Contrary Husband block somewhere along the way.) There are lots of images online with a variety of color placements that really change the look of the block. I decided to focus on the diagonal slash for my color arrangement. I really wanted to challenge myself to use tiny scraps, knowing I'd have to sort them into the tiniest prints so the prints wouldn't get lost in the design. Luckily, at that time there were lots of tiny prints available--and I had quite a stash of them since my focus was on bitty quilts. 

I don't think I was using a rotary cutter yet, and because these were scrap quilts, there was lots of cutting to do--I couldn't do strip piecing for the squares, although I did chain piece them. To get my pieces straight and square, I drew grids on graph paper, put my bits of fabric on top and drew lines with a ruler to line up with the lines on the grid showing around the edges of the fabric. Then I cut them with scissors. But I think I did mass-produce the HST pairs using a grid again and sewing on each side of the diagonal lines. Then I distributed them across all the quilts so that I wouldn't repeat pairs too often. Just guessing at this. If I studied the photos, I could figure out for sure if that's what I did. I used 1/8 inch seams (the width of my presser foot) to reduce bulk. 

So here they are. I don't really have a story to go with them. I sold them all to a client for probably less than I should have. (Don't we all?) I used a light poly batting, cotton thread to hand quilt, and muslin for the backing. I think the blocks are 2 1/4 inches (3/4 inch squares).

Contrary Wife I: Vines (named for the quilting) 12 by 14 1/2 inches. (Pardon the poor placement in the old photo-there was binding on the right.) I used 11 1/2 yards of thread for the quilting--one of the ways I calculated the cost.

And the back--not exciting, but just to make sure I document it here.

Contrary Wife II: O's (14 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches: 12 1/2 yards of thread for quilting)

The back:

Contrary Wife III: X's (14 3/8 by 14 3/8 inches; 11 1/2 yards of thread for quilting)
And the back:

Contrary Wife IV: Sashes (12 3/4 by 13 inches; 10 2/3 yards of thread for quilting)
 And one more back:


The colors of these quilts are a little strong for my tastes now, but I really like how I was able to use "low volume" prints for the background. I think that still holds up pretty well today.

Be sure to link up with Jenn's linky party, and if you have some old quilt photos (or quilts) from your pre-blogging days, think about joining in. (If you'd like to see more of my old quilts, click on the throwback thursday label below or on the list on the sidebar.)

11 comments:

Bernie Kringel said...

I really enjoy reading your TBT posts Janine. It always amazes me how many quilts you have made over the years. Also fun to see the hand stitching - you are so precise.
These patterns are nice and would look great with bigger blocks for a lap size quilt. Thanks for sharing these!

Lena Pugacheva said...

That's a lovely collection! Always interesting to see how the same block looks in different layouts.

Valerie Reynolds said...

How fun to be able to share these made so long ago. Funny to think of NOT using a rotary cutter these days. I too always enjoy your TBT posts.

Lisa J. said...

What a lot of fun seeing all these different versions of the same block pattern.

DianeLoves2Quilt said...

I love seeing these. These mini's are the epitome of what quilts represent to me. I guess the modern stuff is progressive but I like pre-planned color selection- with prints, not just solids- with attention to value. You did an excellent job with that. Funny to realize these are a throwback to before I started quilting. I have always used a rotary cutter! And thanks for the block names. I keep telling myself I am going to learn them and you have renewed my efforts in that vein.

Jenn @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge said...

You were on the mini quilt trend before it was a trend! When I think about the work that went into quilting without rotary cutters and quick techniques.... ack! Thanks for linking up with Throwback Thursday @ A Quarter Inch from the Edge. Mark your calendar - Thursday, September 1st! It's gonna sneak up on you!

Paige said...

I know I have heard of the contrary wife, but wasn't familiar with what it looked like. It's nice to see the different layouts and settings. What a great classic and would look great in today's low volume prints for the background. Thanks for sharing your mini quilts! I like that like vine quilting too!

Linda said...

Super-cute! I love that you kept track of the thread amounts that you used. I would never think to do that. Maybe I will now!

KaHolly said...

They are all very sweet!

Lin said...

What a lovely collection and great that you kept pictures of them. Thanks for sharing. xx

Sandra Walker said...

I love these beauties. 1987. Your work-woman-ship never fails to WOW me Janine! 11-12 1/2 yards of thread in these tiny quilts, aka today's minis?!! And I immediately noticed the 'low volume' background! What was old is new, huh? And what a versatile block that is. Fascinating. I sadly missed TBT, two months now. Had a post for last month but the linkup didn't go live until quite late that day, so I missed it with forgetting to go back and check...erk.