French Bouquet

5 04 2011

—–Taking a break from the graduation quilts to travel waaaaaay back into the past—–

French Bouquet, 1989

The following is the story I wrote about this quilt in June, 1991, almost 20 years ago.  Wow, how time flies.  But since I have labeled this blog as the repository for the histories of my work, I guess this story belongs here, too.  It’s long, detailed, and full of all the fun facts that I thought were so extremely important at the time.  And it harkens back to the times when I hand-quilted my work.  I still know how to do this, but don’t use the skill too much these days.  I’ve included these few photos to keep you interested along the way.

“The Story of the Lavender Quilt

In the spring of 1988 I found for $10 a brickwork vintage quilt top at Aardvark’s Odd Ark, a used clothing store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.

About the same time, I found a copy of Sara Nephew’s My Mother’s Quilts:  Designs from the Thirties and began devouring it.  I loved the designs, the descriptions of the women who made the quilts, and the copies of the old patterns from the newspapers in the 30’s.  I had always wanted an old-fashioned quilt, but I couldn’t afford to purchase one.  In addition, I had always wanted to do a purple quilt.  Seeing the pattern for the French Bouquet quilt in this new book, I realized it was one that I could adapt to these scraps I had in the form of the brickwork quilt top.  I thought that these pieces of fabric were the only old fabrics I could possibly find to be able to make my own 30’s quilt, so I began the time-consuming task.

On our summer vacation in Pismo Beach and Carmel Valley in 1988, I took apart the whole quilt top, washed and ironed the rectangles, and discarded the ugly fabrics, saving all the 30’s fabrics that I liked.  From those rectangles I cut diamonds, and saved the scraps, again thinking that these little pieces were the only old fabrics in the world.  I chose the lavender and white for the remaining background of the quilt blocks and for the plain blocks, in order to be consistent with the usual colors of the time period.  For the border I decided to use the sawtooth pattern, a pattern that I had always liked, since the quilt seemed to need a strong border, and the scraps saved from having cut the diamonds from the rectangles were just the right size for that border.  I remember working on cutting the triangles for the border and pinning them together while I was pregnant and sitting on the floor at Head Over Heels, waiting for Patrick’s gymnastics class to finish.

Detail, French Bouquet, 1989

I found the quilting pattern for the plain blocks in Quiltmaker Magazine, SS/85.  I finished hand-quilting the quilt and sewing the binding in July, 1989.  I love the quilt, and found a place for it to hang on the wall in the hall of our Montgomery Street home, so I could see it often, every time I walked up or down the stairs.

In the summer of 1990, I submitted this quilt for judging at the Califormia State Fair in Sacramento.  I was sure it would win a first place and perhaps Best of Show, since this was the most wonderful quilt I had made in my career so far.  Much to my dismay, the quilt took a second place.  I still think that it is a spectacular quilt, and I have learned to live with its second place standing.  This quilt currently has a place on the bedroom wall here at our new house in Piedmont, and it is still a joy for me to look at. ”     6/16/91

Photography by Sibila Savage
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