(*Warning: Lots of words, and lots of photos in this post!)
Have you ever wanted to have the chance to look through a grandparent’s basement or attic and rifle through things to see if you could discover something really cool? I had the opportunity to do just that in late 2012 with my mother-in-law in her parents’ basement when they needed to clear everything out to do some house repairs.
I found some amazing-to-me treasures, but this is the piece I found in a very worn, very falling apart box inside a cardboard box with a bunch of other boxes. I literally screamed when I opened it to discover this:
A Double Wedding Ring Quilt top. In near-perfect condition. Yes, it was musty and slightly dingy from all the years and years in the basement, but otherwise in excellent condition. This was probably because it was practically untouched.
After my flip-out, we went upstairs to talk to Brian’s grandmother to get the story on the quilt. It was made by her father’s aunt Estella for his wedding day in 1932!
I melted into a puddle of mush when she said I could have it.
We took it home with us to Virginia where I proceeded to do mad research on how to wash the quilt. While it looked mostly okay, it was dingy and musty. With a few practice tries on other vintage fabric, I crossed my fingers and threw it all into our soaker tub in a combination of Oxi-clean, Biz, and later washed it with vinegar:
It worked, and turned out like this:I was pregnant with our second daughter at the time, so Brian helped me baste the pieces together, and I started hand-quilting the piece. I felt compelled to hand-quilt, because this Double Wedding Ring Quilt was hand-pieced:
Check out Estella’s tiny, perfect stitches:
Mine are nowhere near as tiny, or as perfect, but it has a whole lot of love, blood, sweat, and tears.
Well, after starting the project in the beginning of last year, life caught up with us. I gave birth, juggled motherhood of two babies, worked a little bit, and moved across the country to Texas.
Okay, and I also took on other projects because, well, let’s be honest, hand-quilting is not my favorite thing to do. I would much rather do cross-stitch or embroidery pieces.
Plus, I struggled to find the right quilt design to put on it. I didn’t know how to quilt this piece without the right pen. I was worried using a fabric marker would still leave dye behind, so after I discovered the Pilot Frixion pens, I really felt the push to finish the project.
I also decided when I finished I wanted to give the piece to Brian’s grandparents to enjoy.
And so began the journey from working nearly every day during the end of November 2013 right up until the week before last.
To say that I might have went a little crazy on this project would be an understatement.
It is finished. Here they are, taken on a Sunday night, as I was finishing up the curved(!) binding. Pardon the lighting, but I really wanted to have this special moment documented:
The back was pieced from my own vintage reproduction fabrics in blue and yellow to play a nod to the quilt top:I call this quilt my joy, my agony, and my despair. I took on hand-quilting a full size quilt, and tackling curved binding for the first time.
I had hand-quilted two other quilts previously that were lap/throw size. I told my husband to punch me if I ever hand-quilted again…so I am still waiting on that from him!
Here are better photos taken the next day:
I ended up choosing a clover pattern with individual hearts in the center. I thought it perfectly played up the fact that it is a Double Wedding Ring quilt!
Of course, the fabric choices back then still looks so fresh today. Is it because everything that is vintage is cool again? Initially I had bought a blue fabric for the back of the quilt, but I’m so glad that I went back and changed it to the off white and pieced it with similar colors. I then added the story of the quilt, because, it is pretty darn special:
It only took about 82 years to finish the project. Here’s a fun piece of trivia: I initially stitched the year 2013 into the quilt…the 4 is a little wobbly because I think I was sobbing when I realized I wouldn’t finish before the end of the year!
I think one of the most special parts about tackling this project was getting my eldest to put in a few stitches. She liked saying the quilt was for MiMa’s Mommy. (Though she also simultaneously told me she wanted to put the quilt in her bedroom too!) Future crafter at work here:My in-laws came to visit for the weekend and took the quilt back with them. They Skyped with me while they were at Brian’s grandparents’ house to give the quilt to his grandma:
Yep, it was pretty cool.