Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Postcard from Pasadena

So what we have here is a bed quilt I made maybe in 2010, from a smallish plastic bag crammed with literally hundreds of pieces – hexagons, petals, squares, and shapeless things – acquired a few years earlier at a flea market.  

This was the vintage find of every quilter’s dreams. Stuffed inside were hundreds of cut-out fan petals, as well as other shapes. Even better, there were several templates. The fan template was cut from an old postcard - the part with the postmark! What are the chances?

The postmarked year was 1936; the town, Alhambra, CA, which is right next door to my town.

The pencil writing on the back is still readable:
“I did not get your….
But awfully glad you calle..
Funeral will be…

There were enough fan pieces for me to complete a 'barn raising' setting, plus three of the four small circles --- you can see that the circle on the lower right only goes 3/4 of the way around.  (In the spirit of modern quilting, I decided to leave the asymmetry.)

I am not really sure why I chose the alternating blue and white setting. My reasoning, in no particular order:
  • I felt like gambling.
  • I had two yards of that pastel blue fabric that someone had given me, and I wanted to get it the heck out of my stash.
  • I love vintage quilts with underlying, secondary patterns. 
  • I love vintage quilts that use pastel colors which, if they weren’t antiques, would annoy me.
The underlying checkerboard, the diversity of prints, along with the documentary templates, makes this one of my absolute favorites. I pieced 7 fan pieces together, into quarter circles, then raw-edge appliqued them to the blue and white squares. (I didn't want to fold back any of the design area on these small gems!)

We keep this quilt on our bed, though I do worry that burglars will  pile it with valuables, bundle it up and take it away. (This actually happened to us about five years ago, and I lost a favorite bed quilt as well as jewelry. On the up side, now I have much less jewelry to steal). But it does make me think that a bed isn’t necessarily the safest place for a favorite quilt.  If we all lived our quilt lives with caution, we’d only have ugly quilts on our beds. Hmmm, What do you think?

That scrap bag was full of surprises. Here are scans of the other two templates. First, for round-edged squares: 

Note the 1941 copyright date. And one for hexagons: 
Here's the reverse side:

The hexagon almost certainly came from the same postcard. The light pencil writing says El Monte on one side, and Pasadena on the other. (Alhambra is more or less in-between)
Sometimes I like to entertain the idea that quilters from the Other Side notice earthly quilters, wandering through thrift shops and flea markets, and they steer us to their scraps, so we can finish what they began. 

Note to unknown quilter from Pasadena or El Monte, now probably in heaven:

I hope you like what I did. I'm awfully glad you called. 

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