Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vintage and Unfinished Quilt Tops

Hi there!  I'm AnneMarie from Gen X Quilters and I'm glad to be back here at Sew We Quilt!  Today I am bringing some food for thought to those of us that have some unfinished quilt tops piled somewhere in the corners of our sewing rooms.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Cincinnati International Quilt Festival a few weeks ago, and wandered aisle after aisle, all filled with every quilting item you can possibly imagine.  I was mostly fabric shopping and looking for some great deals.  Although I only stopped momentarily at a booth carrying vintage quilt tops, for some reason the works I saw there stayed with me and something in my subconscious was nagging me, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.


I started to think about my own path into quilting.  My very first quilt was made when pregnant with my first child.  I wanted to make something special for him from my own two hands that we would keep and remember.  I had never stitched a single stitch on a sewing machine, but for some reason I was compelled to make a quilt.


One of the things that draws me to quilting is the legacy of it.  Someday I would love to have a stack of quilts a mile high to pass on to my children and grandchildren.  Hoping they know the care that was taken in selecting the fabric and sewing each stitch with love.  But that doesn't mean I've completed every quilt I've started....



What about those rejected projects?  Those cast aside for one reason or another and left unfinished.  Maybe it was forgotten because of some more urgent project, maybe the colors/fabrics chosen didn't mesh as desired once they were put together, maybe there was no money left for a backing....  what will become of those quilt tops now?  I am sure we all have some of these UFOs buried somewhere.  What is their fate?



Here is one possible answer:  My mother-in-law is an antique collector.  Her finds range anywhere from unique furniture pieces (pie safes and chests) to vintage kitchen notions to an old barber pole to quilt tops.  Yes, quilt tops!  She showed me her collection last year sometime after I really started churning out the quilts.  All of the pictures included in this post are her finds.  Quilt tops sold at antique shops and estate sales - and although she is not a quilter (yet!), she intends to finish the work that was started.  They are fascinating to look at.  Some are very obviously made with the leftover scraps for men's shirts, others, like the crazy quilt above, include velvets, ribbon, flannels, etc.  They all demonstrate the time, patience and skill of an unnamed quilter.  Will your quilt tops end up in antique shops 30+ years from now?



Another possible answer:  There are some charities that accept unfinished quilt tops.  Is there one in your area?  This is a wonderful way to have something great become of a lonely and forgotten quilt top.  Many charities donate the finished quilts to children in need, women's shelters, and areas affected by natural disasters.  Wouldn't this be a wonderful way to contribute?  


One example accessible online is Margaret's Hope Chest.  They accept quilt tops all year long-- volunteers finish them off--and then the finished quilts are shared with people all over the country who can use an extra dose of HOPE and comfort.  MHC is actually having a quilt top drive this month!




I hope you have enjoyed seeing these vintage quilt tops and that you'll consider what will become of your UFOs in the future....  after all, if you find homes for them, there will be room for more fabric!!  But also, how interesting it is that today we are picking up these old unfinished quilt tops, be it at a Festival or antique shop, and finally finishing up projects whose stories are unknown and making them our own.



By the way, I am hosting a giveaway with Fabricworm for a Robot Farm Custom FQ bundle this week.  Be sure to hop on over to GXQ if you'd like to enter!

18 comments:

  1. Thank you for all the photos, just love it. Our charity group gets unfinished vintage quilts and we complete them, how lucky are we.

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  2. Great "food for thought" on this snowy Wednesday morning here in MN. Thanks.

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  3. Hi AnneMarie!!! What a fun post :) It really got me thinking about what will happen to my quilts down the road :) Thanks :)

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  4. Good Morning Anne Marie....YOUR vintage certainly has stories to tell and brings along a warmth to chase away the coolness of this morning. Bravo for you to bring these back to life!

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  5. My mother and grandmother passed away in the past 3 months. They were both avid and very talented quilters. I've taken the unfinished quilt tops of my mother's and am quilting them to give to the grandchildren. My grandmother had just a couple unfinished and my brothers took those to have them finished for their families. As for all those extra blocks and trial blocks they had left over....I framed them and gave to family members. They loved having a little something for ladies they loved.

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  6. Thanks for a great post, Anne Marie! Our quilt ministry also accepts UFOs no matter what stage they're at - we find good homes for them with people who are undergoing challenging times in their lives. It's a great way to put something to use that otherwise might not see the light of day for a long long time!!

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  7. good morning to Anne Marie....from Annie Marie. =0)

    I really enjoyed seeing these wonderful vintage quilts! Taking a look back at the "roots" of quilting...can give vision to the future. There are designs that are "forever" designs, lasting thru the tests of time.

    hugZ,
    annie
    rubyslipperz106.blogspot.com

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  8. Thanks so much for the lovely pictures of vintage tops. I think it is wonderful to be able to work on a project from years past. Kind of the feeling that I get when I pick a book off our shelf of old books, and think of who may have read and enjoyed it one hundred years ago.
    Jacque in SC
    quiltnsrep(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  9. I have way too many quilt tops lingering on a quilt rack in my sewing room. For a while it was because I can no longer hand piece and had to wait until I could afford the long arm quilter. Now that I'm trying to machine quilt all of my own I just haven't caught up but this post is a great reminder that those tops are waiting and I need to get started! blessings, marlene

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  10. Thanks for a really interesting and thought-provoking post, Anne-Marie!

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  11. What a great post! I love seeing vintage quilt tops and quilts. My mother has one given to her by my grandmother when she was a new bride. It obviously has squares made from my granddaddy's cast off shirts. To me, that makes it even more special.

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  12. Thanks for a great post! It is sort of like going to a quilt show when quilt bloggers post about a collectors collection! Beautiful antique quilts! And yes, I have quite a few finished tops that will be going to a charity soon.

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  13. Your MIL did a great job in finding such treasures. Although, some antique tops are best left as is - the threads and quality of the material may not take the stress of trying to 'finish' them. I have no real 'old' UFOs - I try to clean them up year to year- Any donated tops were made for that purpose - the charity only wanted blocks or a flimsy. A great post to make people think about that pile of forgottens.

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  14. How coincidental that I found your blog today. I finished just last week piecing and handquilting some vintage blocks for our church ladies quilting group to use as a fundraiser. Then last night I finished assembling some album blocks into a top last night for a specific person at church. I'm so excited about orphan blocks/tops that I cannot seem to stay focused on my other in progress quilts.

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  15. Enjoyed your post today. I do not collect antique unfinished, yet I like finishing up others work and using orphan blocks. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  16. Thanks AnneMarie for taking time to share my collection of quilts that I have been accumalated over the past 40 years. Yes, someday I plan to finish some of them but most of all I enjoy the old fabric, the patterns and like you said, the love someone put into piecing them together. Mom C.

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  17. Enjoyed your post today. I'm working on UFOs this year. Starting nothing new; finished 3 so far and now working on number 4.

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  18. How nice to see all of those tops. It's a good reminder to label your finished quilts, you never know where they might end up.

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