Thursday, December 6, 2018

TBT: Commissioned Quilts

I can't believe it's been nearly a month and a half since I did any quilting. (I did manage to baste two quilts, but didn't even get a photo of that.) I kind of knew that might happen this year, but that's a long time for a quilter!! There have been a lot of family things going on,  and now that we are into December--during which I never do much quilting--I doubt much more will be done, at least for the next couple of weeks. I will content myself with looking back at some quilts from the past. (I haven't been totally idle from sewing. I did sew a Christmas stocking for my newest Grand last week and did some fun hand sewing of ornaments for the Grands' stockings.) 

Anyway, as I've been doing the last few months, I'm sharing another post about my tiny quilting career. For more posts about that (if you wish to review them) just click on "my tiny career" in the label list on the right side bar or at the bottom of this post. Most of these posts cover quilts I hand quilted for Becky Schaefer in the 1980s and 90s. She made the tops from antique fabrics and blocks and shipped them to me for the quilting. I thought I had shared all of them, but just as I was finishing my last TBT post, I came across just a few more. So I'll quickly show them and then get on to the quilts I meant to share for this post. I don't have any details recorded for these last quilts--just loose photos. So without further ado, here they are. Let's start with a pretty one for the holidays--a feathered star. I'm guessing that this one was 20-some inches square based on the size of those clothes pins. I never tired of quilting feathered circles. 

Here's the back--a bit wrinkled, but we jammed these into mailers for the least postage possible, so there you have it.

Next, this little group of Lone Star blocks. I think it's about the same size as the quilt above. So much to love here: the soft colors, the shirting in the background, the diagonal striped inner border. Again, feather circles, but also a feather heart in the center. What fun! 
And the back in all it's wrinkled glory. If I were to quilt these kinds of quilts today, I would definitely make the quilting more consistent in density over the surface. But at that time, it was important to keep costs down--so less quilting--and I avoided doing too much quilting in the fragile old printed fabrics.

I like this brown and cream quilt with just a hint of lavendar--not colors I'd use much today, but they are really striking. I like the pattern, too, and think it could fit well into a modern quilt. This quilt appears to be about the same size as the others.
The quilting does not show up much in these photos on the front or the back, but when I look closely, I see outlining in the white triangles, partial feather circles in the larger ones, and some outlining in the brown areas to create a square with points in the middles of each side. (Not quite sure how to describe that.)

Okay, one more of Becky's quilts. It's similar to others I showed a couple of months ago, but rectangular instead of square. I'm guessing it's about 20 by 24 inches. 


The quilting shows pretty well on the back.

So, as far as I can tell, that is the end of my documentation of the quilts I quilted for Becky. As I've said so many times, I loved this tiny career. But here's an unexpected bonus: my quilting for her led to quilting for others. Some of these projects came through Becky, who gave my name to people who needed to have a quilt finished. But others came through my confidence because of the work I was doing for Becky. I approached a quilt store owner and offered to finish tops for her clients. And word got around in my community, too, which led to commissions from others. So the remainder of this post is a collection of those quilts. I'm not sure "commissions" is the right word, but I'm not sure how else to describe them. 

Let's start with one I'm not crazy about. And truthfully, I never would have worn a vest like this even in the 1980's. But a local quilt store owner needed a sample for a pattern. When she asked me to make it and mentioned some trick for making ocean wave blocks I vaguely nodded as if I knew exactly what she was talking about. Eek. I had never done this before. I think I constructed the block and appliqued it on the background. I'm pretty sure the outer edge was on the bias, which might have been what the quilt shop owner was trying to help me avoid. The most fun was the crosshatch quilting. My eyes were better then, and quilting with black thread on black fabric was still doable. I made most of my own clothing in the 80's, so the vest construction was not a problem for me. I made this vest in November 1985. According to my notes, it took me 14 hours, and I used 31 yards of thread. I have no idea how we negotiated my fee. But I never made another clothing sample again. It was not my thing.
The back:

My next project--for the same quilt shop owner--was much more to my liking. In fact, it was exactly what I wanted to do. A scrap variation of Irish Chain. The top was dated January 1, 1940 and signed by the maker. As so often is the case with old tops, it was rather ripply so somewhat challenging to quilt. We knew this would be the case, but overall, it quilted out pretty well. The quilt is 38 by 55 inches. I quilted it with 82 1/3 yards of thread (paid by the yard). In addition, I was paid for the time it took to baste and mark it (4 hours, according to my records). I quilted stylized flowers in the solid squares, outlined the solid parts and quilted diagonal lines in the prints. I did not have to do the binding. (Yea!)

Here's the back--plain muslin. It looks stained here, but that is just poor quality lighting. At least it shows the quilting.

This next quilt was for a woman that went to my church. I think she had taken a sampler class and then put the top together for a twin bed. It measures 66 by 84. I think we discussed the quilting a bit, but she pretty much let me just do whatever. So I let the blocks tell me what they wanted and then surrounded them with scallops in the border. The quilt was constructed sometime around 1980. I quilted it in September/October 1987. My records indicate that there are 224 yards of quilting. It looks to me like the binding is actually a fold over from the back--pretty wide.


The shadows are terrible in this photo of the back, but it does show the quilting. I haven't looked at it for a long time and am noticing details I had forgotten about. I like those vines in the wide sashes. Do you see those tulips above the scallops? I guess those were a nod to the Dutch heritage of both the maker of the top and myself. Given the puffiness, I'm guessing the batting is polyester.

Here's another Irish Chain that I believe came in a roundabout way through Becky but was actually made by a woman who lived not far from me. The top was made by K in 1987, I quilted it in the summer of 1988. It is 74 by 92 inches. I used 314 1/3 yards of thread. the quilting is pretty straight-forward, quilted in a similar way to the Irish Chain quilt above, but with a cable design in the border. I think the binding was a fold over. I wonder if that was common back then. How about those little quilt holder helpers showing on the edge? Such cuties. (Well, I know you can't see much of them. I cropped them, but believe me, they are cute!)
 Here's the back--same green print as on the front.
 And a close-up.

This next quilt was a commission from a quilt shop owner in San Anselmo California--a referral arranged by Becky. I think it's my favorite of this batch--an antique Nosegay top, 61 1/2 by 82 inches. I finished it in March 1989 with 318 1/2 yards of thread. I also did the binding. Aren't those fabrics delicious? Even with the sketchy lighting.

Here's the back. I love how the quilting makes its own pattern

And a close up:

How about one more?

Okay, one more quilt--also a commission from the quilt store owner in San Anselmo. The top was made by a client in 1989. I quilted it in May of that year. It is 39 inches square. I used 202 yards of thread. I also bound it. I don't remember if it was marked for me, if I was given the stencils for the quilt motifs, or if I used my own.

Here's the back:

Oh, and then I have to show this last item even though it's not a quilt and I can't remember how it came to me. But it was a commission and a fun little diversion from quilting. Counted cross stitch! Before quilting, I had a long love affair with embroidery and cross stitch. So I just had to share this, because it is somehow related to those days when projects just came along through my tiny career, and I got paid for my pastime.

As much as I loved working on Becky's tiny quilts, I found these much, much larger quilts to be very satisfying. They gave me an opportunity to quilt more complex designs. I used a 15-inch lap hoop (I still use the same one) for quilting. At one point I bought a set of used rails because I thought I might like quilting on a larger frame, but I could not get used to it. I was so used to quilting toward myself and could not get the hang of going in other directions or twisting myself around on the large frame. (Also, it took up too much room that I really did not have in my living room.) It was a little scary at first to take someone else's lovingly done work and add my quilting to it. What if I messed it up?! But the joy of quilting soon took over. And I was very fortunate to get to work on such well-made tops, so they all (except that one antique quilt) came out flat and square.

I thought my TBT posts would be finished by the end of this year, but it looks like I have enough quilts left for a couple more in the new year. I hope you'll stick with me as I try to get these all documented. In the meantime, I need to get going on some new work. 

I'm linking up today with Andrée of Quilting and Learning, What a Combo for Throwback Thursday. She is subbing in for Sandra of mmm! quilts while Sandra takes a little break. Thanks, Andrée! And Sandra, I hope you are relaxing.

I wish you all a beautiful holiday season. I hope you get to do a little quilting or sewing at odd moments when you aren't celebrating or doing other things. My next project is a little soft book for a certain little grandbaby, and then I need to get going on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt finishes so that I can think about what to do for RSC in 2019!


3 comments:

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi JanineMarie, doesn't it feel like another lifetime ago? I really love the nosegay quilt. I don't think I've ever seen one. It looks like a lot of work. The quilting from the back looks great.
Thanks so much for linking up to TBT. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your posts.

Louise said...

The Nosegay is so pretty! It really is constructed like bouquets, too, with the floral fabrics. Always fun to see your beautiful hand stitching from the past. That vest, though. Hello mid-80s fashion! And a hearty GOOD BYE to mid-80s fashion, not sorry to see that era of clothing in the rear view mirror :)

Linda said...

Your feathered circles are so, so pretty. I am just bowled over by the amount of quilting you did on those quilts. I hope you got paid prettily for it. In today's world, you could pretty much write your own check for it. I've never seen such pretty quilting. I much prefer it to to the machine quilting I see on some quilts today. I am just not a fan of the pantograph and programmed quilting done these days. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your quilts next year!
Sounds like you have been really busy with family stuff, but at least you got some stocking and ornaments done. I have been working on quilts for my kids and not getting any Christmasy stuff done. I guess I'll have to do it in the new year - lol1