For those of you who have never been here, the Indians sit on the portal at the old Palace of the Governors and sell their wares. I tried to take some closer pics for you, but they wanted me to buy something for the privilege!
When I decided to make a business out of old quilty things, I was drawn to rescuing old tops, blocks, etc. that were not usable in their present condition and remaking them into something that could be used and enjoyed. Now I know that many of you are choking on your tongues right now, but I have to tell you I'm a bit of a rebel in the "old quilt" mindset. After buying 100s of tops and other items, I have learned that there is usually a reason that these things were not finished. They are either in horrible condition with stains or holes, terribly put together and unquiltable or just plain ugly. You know, if it was too ugly to quilt 100 years ago, it's probably still too ugly today!
I also see absolutely no reason to fold an ugly old thing up and stick it in an acid-free box and put it under the bed! So my answer is do something with it! In fact, I built a whole lecture around this called "What in the Heck Do I Do With This?" Can you actually tell me you've never bought an old thing and then got it home and said that to yourself?
I only have one rule, and that it is that the integrity of the piece must be maintained. That means no Bunnies or Bears or Jackets! I limit my artistic license to Wall or Small Quilts as well as Tablerunners or Table Toppers.
So.... I usually start by taking the thing apart. For many years my friends did not think I knew how to quilt because all I did was take things apart! And you should see the junk that people threw my way to make themselves feel better for not tossing their old ugly purchases! They soothed their consciences by giving it to me. Little did they know!!!
Here's a pic of a fabulous old top that I picked up recently. I guess I thought any of the 100s I already had just weren't as interesting! I believe that whoever made this top used up all her previously started projects and put them together. It's been very interesting to study how she segued from one piece to another. There are even single blocks unlike any others in there. I am in the process of taking them down to the largest possible pieces, mostly blocks. I will have to repiece some blocks to replace fabric that has disappeared as you'll see in the pictures.
Here are a few of the problems. In the pic below, the fabric between the stripes in one block has just evaporated!
That just scratches the surface! The other thing I find so interesting is how she used coping tools to go from one size to another. Obviously they did not have the accurate tools available that we have now, so alot of what I will do is resizing. Notice how she cut the row of squares in the middle to join them to the pinwheels. She must have thought that 1/2" would have made a lot of difference!
Well, I could go on and on. In any case, it's a wonderful piece that deserves to be saved. The fabrics range from the 1850s-1870s and up until about the turn of the century in the double pinks that are in the pic below. I'll keep you posted on it's progress.
I have to say that although I love designing fabric and publishing patterns for my wonderful customers, this is the type of thing that feeds my soul. I seem to really connect with the woman who made these unfinished projects and picture her smiling in approval when I am finally able to make something that others can appreciate. I'll post pics of some of the other things I've done sometime.
Have a wonderful week and stay cool!