When I was five years old, my mother copied some simple kitten designs onto lightweight white fabric and taught me the rudiments of hand embroidery. In Mother’s mind these were probably just practice pieces, but then as now, I needed to feel I was actually making something. So I asked what I was making.
“Oh, we could make a quilt,” she said, probably not giving it much thought.
So I finished the five designs and that was that. Nothing happened for some months. “What about the quilt I was making,” I asked.
So Mother found a pretty piece of fabric in her stash – pink with rosebuds – which she cut into squares the size of the embroidered pieces. We laid them out and I sewed them together by hand. Mother then began to prepare the backing from the rest of the rosebud fabric. And somehow that was that.
Several years later, I asked, “What about that little quilt I was making?”
“I don’t know what to do with it,” she said. Obviously, for whatever reason, she had lost interest. And that was that for about 60 years. But I loved the idea of the little quilt, so I kept it.
A couple of months ago I ran across the little quilt top again. “Well, I know what to do with it,” I muttered to myself. I can tell you everything that’s wrong with it, none of which seemed to affect the basic charm of the piece.
First, I unpinned the quilt top from the backing fabric and gently hand washed and pressed it. Next, I squared up the little piece as best I could. Then I cut a piece of batting – nothing special for this project. Somewhere along the line I decided not to use the rosebuds for the backing, thinking that such a nice vintage piece should really be used for doll clothes. Instead, I used a piece of light-weight white fabric.
Due to the age of the fabric, I had already decided to tie rather than quilt it. I stretched it into my portable quilting frame and tied the layers together with red and green embroidery floss.
I was going to cut strips of pink fabric for the binding, but it occurred to me I could just as well use store-bought for all the difference it would make.
And here it is – one doll quilt, 62 years in the making. It's not perfect, but it's rather charming anyway, I think. KW