Friday, April 22, 2011

Caught by the Civil War bug

Since February, I've been volunteering at the Vermont Historical Society once a week, helping to sew hanging sleeves onto quilts to be exhibited for the first time at this year's Vermont Quilt Festival. These quilts are amazing! When one considers that many of the seams were done by hand, probably in the evenings or late in the day when chores were done, the quilts are indeed labors of love. I can't imagine how they could see to make such small stitches! This week I worked on a very heavy red and black wool quilt that has lots of little rips in it. The VHS curator told me that it will be hung only during show hours because of its fragility and weight. She is hoping a slant board can be used to display it instead. While we have been exploring conservation of the quilts, covering all the holes in this quilt with tulle or silk might detract from its amazing appearance.

Handling these quilts has caused almost everyone in our small group of "Secret Stitchers" (for the stitch some previous quilters used to affix the sleeves to some of the quilts) to try reproducing our favorites. Sandra is testing templates for a Crossed Canoes quilt, while Nancy is making various Uneven Nine Patches in Civil War reproduction prints. Even though my favorite has been a Log Cabin, with 1/2" logs surrounding 2 1/2" red "chimneys," I have been working on a sampler of 9" squares using fabrics from a collection by Barbara Brackman, along with tea-dyed muslin and some other Civil War era reproductions. So far, I've made about a dozen blocks, and here's what's on my design wall today.

The Civil War repros are a little outside my comfort zone since I tend to like working in brighter colors. But there is something very homey about them, too, and they remind me of the women who worked so hard back home to keep their farms, families, and homes together during the war. I'm not sure how big this quilt is going to be yet. Guess I'll keep making 9" blocks until I get tired. I'm also expecting 8 more blocks when my Tuesday night guild's "square robin" bag returns in June. With sashing (tea-dyed muslin? shirting?) or alternating solid blocks, this should be a very nice quilt.


karenfae said...

They are very nice but I agree with you I prefer brighter colors than the those in Civil War era quilts and reproductions. Nice to be able to work with these quilts I bet though.

Pat from FL and MI said...

I love the colors. It's nice to get out of our comfort zone once in a while.