Finding Hidden Stitches

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I've been lucky enough to see more than my share of antique quilts and once in a while one comes along that just blows me away. Most often it's a quilt that has very little information with it (like the Week by Week Sampler) so my imagination runs wild wondering about the quilter and how she made the quilt.

The Beyond The Cherry Trees quilt which is our first Polka Dot Garden Series project is turning out to be one of those quilts.

I teased you in the last post with this picture that shows a corner of the quilt.





I know, I know, it doesn't give you much of an idea what it looks like. I've had this rag of a quilt (you'll soon see just how torn up it is) for a long time. I can't remember for sure but think I bought it on ebay when I was in some kind of a red and green mood. I doubt I paid very much for it or I'd remember.


This is a large quilt measuring 98.5 x 98.5

Judging from the fabrics I believe it was made in the 1850s or 1860s. The fabrics appear to be mostly solid colors. The only print I've discovered so far is a cheddar and cream fabric used for four pineapples in one of the blocks so
I have a few mysteries I hope to solve. I know the basic rules of color change in antique fabric fading but am puzzled by the center block in the quilt (which probably had the signature we'd all like to see).




The fabric used for the grapes in the block is now a light muddy brown. The vine is light blue. I'm going to get out the magnifying glass and daylight lamp and give it a really close up look.

As I was studying the first block I started to draw I made a intriguing discovery. Do you see anything special in the picture below? Hint: it's not the fuzzy polka dot flower!



Don't feel bad if you aren't finding anything. I've been looking at the quilt for years and I didn't see anything either until I got it right up in my face.

How about in this picture?




Isn't that little flower just darling? Well, let me tell you, there are little treasures quilted in each and every block and the border too. I didn't dare use one of the blue water soluble pens on the old fabric to mark the designs so I haphazardly stitched over them with brown thread. Should I really be worrying about a quilt that's full of holes?

I've decided this quilter was both creative and crazy! We'd probably get along wonderfully. In case you're wondering; there are over 500 polka dots in the quilt so consider yourself warned before you start. We'll have to investigate every known construction method for perfect circles we can find and probably come up with a new one before we're finished.

I've finished drawing the first block.





I'm adding the quilting motifs to the patterns because it wouldn't be the same without them. I'm also working on fabric requirements, especially the background and green. I made a mock-up of the quilt in Electric Quilt 6 and the background fabric requirements seem correct but I find it hard to believe we'll need 7 yards of green fabric so I'm working on that.

That's it for today. I hope you'll want to join me as I travel through the Polka Dot Garden and Beyond the Cherry Trees!

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4 Responses to “Finding Hidden Stitches”

  1. Renea September 17, 2009 at 5:39 am #

    Gayle,
    Looking forward to the pattern! Beautiful quilt…

  2. Stina September 17, 2009 at 5:42 am #

    That is wonderful quilt.. Loved everything about it.. What a treasure!!!

  3. Alice Isenbart September 17, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    Wow Gayle,

    What a great find! It is so cool that the quilt continues to tell a story. I’m not sure I ever would have seen that flower motif had you not pointed it out. Can’t wait to see the first block!

  4. deb September 18, 2009 at 5:22 am #

    Gayle..I am so glad that you are back in action and feeling better to start designing again. These precious old quilts that you bring to us is a great priviledge that you share and I so look forward to your installments.
    I am so happy you are adding the quilting motifs as well this will help in the authenticity of the the reproduction of such a gorgeous quilt.
    I will open a paypal account and donate on the hopes that you will be able to continue posting these wonderful free historical quilts and restoring their design for us to enjoy.

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