Thursday, September 6, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Schoolhouses

Since it is September (already!) I'm celebrating back-to-school for lots of families in my continuing TBT series this year of posts about quilts I quilted during my tiny quilting career in the 1980's and early 90's. For the previous posts, click on the label "my tiny career" on the right sidebar or below this post. Most of these quilts were made by Becky Schaefer from antique fabrics. She hired me to hand quilt them--a dream job. All quilting was done with off-white cotton thread. This month I'm including a few other quilts because they fit the theme.

I love riding by old schoolhouses and am always happy to see ones that have been preserved, even if they have been repurposed. We do have one schoolhouse in our area that is still part of the public school system (since 1879). It is a beautiful two-color brick building that has been lovingly cared for. Last year there were 14 students attending. They have technology (and indoor plumbing), but the teaching is still one-room style with kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. 

So, let's get to these quilts that commemorate historic places of learning. I showed two of these quilts (with red borders) in my first TBT post about my tiny quilting career. I quilted several others of the same color scheme over the years, but let's see some other color schemes. I like this little brown and blue one with "floating" schoolhouses. Notice that one is the reverse of the others. What a fun detail! As usual, I'll include size, date quilted and amount of thread used for quilting, as it is my documentation of the quilts I worked on in my career. So this quilt is 8 by 10 1/2 inches. I quilted it in January 1987 with 2 2/3 yards of thread. 

As was typical with these little quilts, the back is muslin, with diagonal lines quilted in the background.

The next quilt has sashing between the schoolhouses. It is 8 1/4 by 11 inches. Quilted in January 1987 with 3 1/2 yards of thread. I'm really struck by the antique fabrics used in the borders of these tiny quilts and by the variation of patterns in the fabrics even though the colors are similar. I'm guessing at that time green was green and brown was brown--limited range of dye for each particular color. 

Here's the back of this one, again diagonal lines within the sashing strips. I won't show backs of others (don't want you to fall asleep) as my quilting did not change from one quilt to another in these layouts.

Here are some more. Just sit back and enjoy those tiny bits of colors and patterns. They are a fun collection of antique fabrics. 
Notice the subtle variation in the background fabrics of the blocks. 8 1/4 by 11 inches; 3 1/2 yards of quilting thread; quilted in January 1987

I think of lighted windows on this one and the next. This one's slightly bigger. 9 1/4 by 11 3/4 inches; 4 yds 6 inches of quilting thread; March 1987.

8 3/4 by 11 inches; 3 yards of thread; March 1989.
This next quilt includes an alphabet stencil. The picture cuts off some of the border, but the quilt is 10 1/2 inches square. 4 2/3 yards of quilting thread; April 1989.  
Here's the back so you can see the tiny matchstick quilting around the stencil. 

As I worked on Becky's quilts, I became more confident in doing tiny piecing myself, so of course I had to try out some of Becky's patterns from her book Working In Miniature. I made this schoolhouse quilt with my 80's fabrics, and gave it to my sister-in-law. 
8 3/4 by 11 1/2 inches; February 1987. No need to keep track of thread on this one.
Of course, I had to do the binding myself on this one. Here's the back to show how I made hanging strips. I hadn't figured out yet how to do (much neater) triangles--there wasn't the online support to learn such things as there is today.

Right around February 1987, I went to a craft show at a nearby mall. There I met a woman who had a booth with some antiques and perhaps some quilts and antique fabric. I really don't remember the details. We got to talking, and I mentioned that I was a quilter and that I had experience quilting antique quilt tops. She took my information and pretty much arranged with me on the spot to make some quilts for her to sell. She said she would buy any quilts I would make. The first quilts I made for her were schoolhouse quilts. I made one like the one above and one in green in February 1987. (I made another blue/rust one in the spring of 1988.)
These varied slightly in size depending on the width of the borders, but they were all about the same. 

My new client also brought me a box full of antique fabric scraps and yardage and asked if I would use them to make quilts. There were four antique schoolhouse blocks, which she asked me to make into a wallhanging. It was kind of tricky, as the blocks were uneven in size and were to be set together without sashing. It really looks uneven to me now (although the cut-off picture probably makes it look worse.) I'm hoping she blocked it. I'm not sure why I didn't do the binding. Maybe because there was no piece of fabric in the box big enough. I suspect that she planned to bind it with other antique fabric. It is 31 by 32 inches. I finished it in April 1987, with 78 1/2 yards of quilting. 
The back:
The box had some small scraps of the same fabric, so I also made her a mini version--still with wonky houses, but this time with sashing. The back was muslin. I finished it in April 1987 with 5 1/2 yards of quilting. 

Later that year I tried a combination of schoolhouses and log cabin blocks with log cabin ghost quilting. 
Strange glare in this photo. The quilt is 11 3/4 inches square. 9 2/3 yards quilting; July 1987.
Here's the back with those ghost cabins.
Later I tried a scrappy version of schoolhouses using 1930s scraps from the box. For fun, I made this one horizontal with quilted vertical lines in the borders. 
10 1/2 by 13 1/8 inches; 11 yards of quilting; January 1989. That looks like machine quilting, but I don't think I did machine quilting then. I suspect the chalk lines I used for marking were still showing. 
One more schoolhouse to share. This quilt was made by a client of a quilt shop owner in California.The owner of the shop was a friend of Becky, so she asked if I would quilt and bind it. After all those tiny quilts, it was fun to work on something bigger. This one is 38 1/2 by 32 inches. I remember being nervous about binding it, as that is definitely not my strength. I finished the quilt in December 1988. 76 yards of quilting thread. 

The back:

I'm linking all these schoolhouses up with Sandra's Throwback Thursday party on mmm! quilts. Join me there and see what everyone else is reminiscing about. See you next month with another installment of "my tiny career."

Whether or not you are in school (or live on a "school calendar"), I hope you are enjoying this time of year of new beginnings and changes in routine. 

(I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 


Kathleen said...

Online support has made a huge difference hasn’t it! We can find out anything, whenever we need to. I love that you always know the yardage. How did you keep track of that?

KaHolly said...

All those teeny, tiny schoolhouse blocks! Oh, my! Loved seeing them and hearing more of your story!

Louise said...

So fun! I love the border quilting on the ghost log cabin one! Isn't it amazing how much more info we have access to now?

Frédérique said...

Great houses and quilts! How fun to register the amount of thread used! Beautiful gallery, thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

There is a one room school h ouse on the front of our farm that closed its doors 60 years ago the year my husband and I started school/ he was bussed to a bigger school with 2 miles away. I continued to walk to our one room school until after grade 4 then it was closed and we were bussed to bigger schools far
ther away. Oh the joys of living in the country.

Linda said...

Janine I'm always blown away by these posts. They are never boring - I read every word! I love your variations in quilting. The ones you made yourself are especially nice. :)

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

so many tiny quilts and all with the houses - how neat! love hearing all about them

Sandra Walker said...

So much wonder in this post Janine! I so love your TBT posts. The schoolhouse block is my very very close second favourite to star blocks. Those miniature houses must be 2" or less with chimneys of 1/4"??? Holy...moly. I went OMG!! whispered aloud, at your ghost log cabin quilting!! You were decades ahead of your time. Louise and I just had a mini convo about being a maven, I designated her as maven of quilt titles, and I designate you as maven of handquilting. The first paper-piecing class I took back in the mid-late 90s was the schoolhouse block and I'll have to dig it up because it is so similar to these. So glad you are sharing all these darling quilts; each month I wonder where they are now.... Oh, and the back of the 'big' one is stunning! Oh, and the red 'wonky' one isn't so wonky, and reminds me of a Gees Bend style quilt anyhow.