Old Friends

I think that every quilter was attracted to a traditional quilt at one time or another. Whether you were fortunate enough to have one passed down through your family that you snuggled under at night, or a quilt caught your eye as you perused the merchandise at an antique store, old quilts often are what got us quilting in the first place.

But just because we loved or were intrigued by an old quilt, doesn't mean that's the kind of quilt we want to make. My initial interest in piecing came not from a family quilt, but from patchwork-y things I made in the 1970s, like the purple and brown floor-length patchwork skirt I stitched in high school. In recent years, it's contemporary fabrics that make me want to sew and I'm an unabashed color whore color hound (but I am pretty promiscuous in my love of color).

So I was surprised to find myself bringing home an antique quilt. Every year there's a show in Kalona and the displayed quilts are a combination of antique and contemporary. I'd gone to see a quilt made by quilter extraordinaire Erick Wolfmeyer  and was sucked in by the antique quilts. There were three that I was drawn to and when Marilyn Woodin (original owner of Woodin Wheel antiques and founder of the Kalona Quilt show and the textile museum there) told me I'd made good choices, I couldn't help but buy one. (When I got home with it, Paul said, "You've been with an enabler." Indeed I was. Marilyn complimented my choices and told me this quilt was the perfect start to my collection. Which doesn't exist. Yet.)

According to Marilyn, this quilt is from the 1880s and the cheddar fabric is likely from the 1860s (it's not just my friend Mary Lou who believes every quilt needs some cheddar). And Marilyn said this is a T-square block, popular with the followers of the temperance movement.

I think it's got a lot in common with contemporary quilts—it's graphic and there are certainly some unexpected colors and fabrics in there. Everything old is new again. I've got it atop the spare bed in my study, where I can see it every day, and see something new in it every day, as well.