Are you wowed by vintage quilts? If so, as you read this please be thinking of suggestions as to how I should proceed with this wonderful gift of vintage stars. Here’s the story.
The blogging world never ceases to surprise me. I often browse through the Tag Surfer feature of WordPress and in March I stumbled on this post on Ruth’s “Keep or Pitch?” blog. She already had a photography blog and started this new one as a way to declutter her home in anticipation of downsizing. I commented that her vintage stars were a family treasure and she certainly should not just pitch them, but if that was her decision, she could consider pitching them toward me. Imagine my delight when that is exactly what she did. I was so touched. But I have assured Ruth I will make provisions for this treasure to come back to her family eventually. Meanwhile, I will savor my temporary custody.
Ruth’s grandmother Mary Alta Kerr Hendricks, born in 1892, stitched these stars by hand. Alta married Floyd, a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse (and later a feed salesman) in 1911. Ruth’s dad Roy, the eldest of 3 boys was born in 1912 and is standing on the left in the photo. They lived on a farm in Illinois. Alta lived to see Ruth’s first child who will be 35 in May. Ruth says her grandmother never sat still and worked from dawn to dusk. She was a great cook, had such a beautiful voice she was asked to sing at weddings and funerals and taught four-year old Ruth to knit. Her needlework projects included quilting, knitting, crocheting, tatting and needlepoint. A sample of her work is on the right. Alta’s last job was at a florist where she kept her lunch–a can of spinach and a hard boiled egg–in the flower cooler.
I am working on my fourth hand pieced project and it happens to be 6-pointed stars from diamond pieces. But I need a different plan for these stars which are possibly made from feed sacks. First of all, what additional fabric can I use to join them? New reproduction fabric? Thrift store items–clothing, tablecloths? Aged muslin? And what arrangement? Ruth had posted there were 83 stars but I was pleasantly surprised to find there were actually 112! All the stars have 3 points of the same navy print. There are 18 different alternate point fabrics with the highest group being 15 stars and 4 groups with only two each. My initial idea is to try and group them in several Seven Sisters patterns, maybe using a different connecting print per group. But I would appreciate other thoughts before proceeding so please chime in.
There was one star with a stain which looks to be a number stamp. I decided to experiment with it and appliqued it to a block which I thought I could trim to a hexagon shape. I would also be able to test wash this vintage fabric without getting frayed edges. After looking back at my Seven Sisters picture, this shortcut plan would only work for the center star so not my greatest idea. In addition, the bias edges wanted to curve as I sewed them to the base fabric–frustrating. I’m happy to report, however, that even though I have been unable to remove the stain, the fabric passed the wash test with flying (but no running) colors!