If Quilts Could Talk (My Quilts, My Stories Book 1)
Column Where Quilting Meets Fashion. Column Very Cool. Column Consider the Stash. Column Panic at the Quilt Shop! Column Free Quilt: A Manifesto. Column The Scoop on Selvage! Column Statue of Liberty Banner. Column Tips On Quilt Photography. Column The Iowa Quilt Museum.
Column A Brief History of Scissors. Column Springtime Quilting Tips. Column Quilt Teacher Tips from the Road. Column Quilt Trends. Column A Google Doodle Campaign! Column A Brief History of Irons. Column Quilting into History. Column Humanity in Cloth. Photo: Mary Fons. Last spring, I made a quilt that made me happier than any quilt had in a long time: I made my friend Sophie a quilt for her birthday…and I tied it.
In this age of high-powered, intricate, digitized longarming, in a world where high-definition images can be zoomed in on with the swipe of a finger, the idea that a gal could finish her quilt in such a rudimentary way felt downright scandalous. I thought about keeping it a secret — or at least not admitting it among my quilt-minded friends — but then I realized that doing so would go against my entire belief system when it comes to making quilts.
Case closed, binding turned, finito. Image: Wikipedia. Yes, I have a long way to go, I realize that. How do you date something? It's a combination of those two, plus if they have some idea who made it and when they died, when they were born, it gives us a context. But the fabric print is the one thing that we can be most sure about.
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They didn't have stashes like we had, you know. I bought a batik in and it's still in my stash. They pretty much used things up as they went along. So if there was anything leftover, it was very small pieces. The exception to that might be early on people, women, wore quilted petticoats and you know, they were the petticoats that the dress was open in the front.
It was a sort of a chemise.
Reading Patchwork Quilts
So the petticoat showed. Well, when the rest of the garment would wear out, they'd take that quilted piece and incorporate that or recycle into something else. So there are these petticoat pieces that are in quilts.
So that kind of throws you off. We don't have textiles quite that old out here in South Dakota unless they were brought with them. The earliest one I saw was , I think. Then the next one was like So it's unusual to find the really old ones. When I looked, you know, down at the book and up at my wall and I realized that's the pattern that I'm looking at, I noticed there are definitely differences in how the quilts are interpreted Did they have, like we would today, some kind of kit?
Or a this is how you make this pattern passed down?
Quilt Scout: Mary Seeks the Holy Grail of Patchwork
Would they look at things and interpret them themselves? They didn't have patterns or books or instructions like we have now. I remember reading some time ago a woman was walking down the street and she saw a crochet pattern she liked on another woman's dress. So she followed her and she said she was stealing it with her eyes.
And I think that that is a good way of putting how women found these patterns. I think I have said before, you can give a woman a pattern, but you can't make her follow it. She is going to interpret it her own way. So if they saw this lovely Whig pattern, they'd get home and they will forget what the turn of the stem was or how big the flower was or the exact color.
So it becomes her interpretation. And since there weren't patterns, you stole with your eyes. You interpreted in your own way. What are your hopes for this book? I mean, the project itself, of documenting these quilts is ongoing. The book is something that would sit on a person's shelf and be used and opened and flipped through and shared for generations itself. Did you have an awareness as you did this project that what you were doing was not only capturing all these moments in history but would last for the future and sort of move the narrative forward?
I'm sort of in awe as I look through it. For people who are still, you know, creating fiber arts in this day, it also elevates it to its rightful position. To say that this matters. I agree with you entirely. I think one of the things that I noticed as I was going along there were a lot of pieces of information I recorded and I only researched five at the end of the book.
And compared them, like the number of piece quilts as opposed to applique and so on. But there's a lot of good information in there, and I am going to donate that so that it will be available to anyone who wants to research it. Look at other questions in there. Types of patterns. Whatever they want.
So it will be available for other people. And I think that's important, that we share what we have instead of holding it close to us and lose it. That's exactly what she would say. And she would have people who would give her a recipe and then you would make it and they maybe left an ingredient out and that irritated her.
She was like, "No, share the whole thing. Lessons from my grandmother from all these years ago. Mary, let's close with one more story of an interesting quilt or an interesting experience. Something in the book. And if you're just tuning in, the book is called South Dakota Quilts and Quiltmakers. One more story, Mary, and then I'll tell people about the documentary and some of the book signings.
PDF Aisha Lumumba If Quilts Could Talk (My Quilts, My Stories Book 1) Pre Order
Oh, my. There's so many stories. There's this quilt in there that was made was from muslin cigarette bags. I collected that documentation up at Mobridge. And it was so interesting, because this woman who brought it was bringing the work of her aunt. And all of these little five inch square pieces of muslin bags that are left from loose tobacco is what she made the quilt from. She made at least three quilts like that.
She had her father and her uncles, or her grandfather and her uncles smoked. She said she never saw them without a cigarette in their mouths. So, I don't know how many bags there would have been in these three quilts. But just think about that monumental task, not only of making sure those men gave her those sacks every time.
She took them apart, and put them back together. Cut them and put them back together as quilts. I just think that's amazing. That's remarkable. And maybe it's an unexpected benefit that you might know, but immediately as I was reading this and looking at the quilt, my grandmother's gone, I reached up and I called my aunt and we had a lovely conversation. I thought, "Well, that's another unexpected perk of this book," is those conversations that mostly women, some men, but women are going to have with the folks who came before us.
Read the Excerpt
Mary Fitzgerald. She'll be at the Community Center in Burke. I have always been a devoted scribbler in the margins of books. As a reader, I underline and highlight. I add questions marks and exclamation points. I argue with the author. But where are the margins in a radio program like In the Moment? Welcome to In the Margins. In the Margins by Lori Walsh. When my grandmther died, the quilt that draped over her bed found its way to my house.
I'm taking care of it , I promised. I hadn't thought of that , I confessed. Where would we be without the women who came before us? How would we manage without them? Mary Fitzgerald: Thank you. Lori Walsh: It is a beautiful book. Mary Fitzgerald: Well, that's a long time ago, isn't it? Mary Fitzgerald: I think that history has been one of my passions forever. Lori Walsh: I was reading through the introduction and the front-matter of the book, talking about the documentation process, and how sometimes people would bring a quilt in and not realize that that name was somewhere present on the quilt and discover it through this process.
Mary Fitzgerald: Well, some of them are really obvious. Lori Walsh: My grandmother taught me when you do this kind of work, you must sign it somewhere. Mary Fitzgerald: Bless her heart. She's right on.