I’ve been cleaning bookshelves the past couple of weeks. The main reason is to have a blank wall I use as a backdrop when I photograph my quilts. My clearing of shelves is a combination of mindful thank yous of Marie Kondo’s tidying up and a certain ruthlessness baseball umpires “You’re outta here!” when ejecting someone from the game resulting in the of purging of books from graduate school and quilt magazines. Fortunately, I live in a town with an amazing drop off recycling center and the second load of old books and magazines is in my car waiting for the sleety wintry mix to stop.
Over the weekend, the shelf clearing extended to the sewing room and in addition to all the neatly organized magazines now ready for recycling, I organized my pattern collection into a four-inch binder. The discovery was not the number of forgotten patterns I put in the binder, but one pattern in particular.
This pattern called Homespun, along with a partially completed quilt top saw years of closet time. I received it from a friend, who got it from her daughter-in-law, who got it from her mother-in-law, who got it from a great-aunt who started the project sometime in the 1960s. The historian in me wants to know when the date of the pattern printed on the back of a wrapper for a king sized batting. A note on the pattern gives a copyright date as 1932, but the front of the wrapper lists an address to send for more patterns that includes a zip code, a system instituted in 1963.
Some of the blocks of this two-color red and white quilt were hand pieced and other blocks machine pieced. I first thought Sure, I can finish it according to the pattern. After all, several of the blocks were completed and I had the instructions and I still felt a bit overwhelmed by finishing the quilt. Instead of making more blocks and sewing them all together as the direction said, I set the blocks in rows using white sashing and practiced hand quilting. I sent the finished the quilt to an aunt and filed the pattern. Rediscovering the pattern 25 years later was a delightful surprise. Seeing it again brought back the memory of all the closets this quilt saw the inside of, how it came to me, and where it went when I finished it.
Homespun is the ideal quilt to give an atmoshere of pioneer days to the modern bedroom. The pattern is modelled after a very old quilt and is named for its close resemblance to the old home-woven coverlets. (Homespun, Pattern Number 34 of the Mountain Mist Series, 1932, The Sterns & Foster Company)
The one maker penciled the following notes on the pattern to keep her work organized.
4 Large red squares
53 Tiny red
8 Long small red
4 Big whites
4 Extra long white
8 Med. long white
12 small long white
28 sm. tiny white
These notes where not helpful to me.
I will grant the quilter fortitude in cutting 980 red and 850 white 1 1/2 inch squares using a cardboard template and scissors, then hand stitching them into a quilt. I am quite content to cut 1 1/2 inch strips with a rotary cutter, machine stitch the strips together, then sub-cut the strips and use them to make the 4 or 9 patch units in the block. This pattern looks deceptively simple with its chain of squares in two colors, which may be why the original maker chose it and why it ended up in so many closets.