Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rose of Sharon, Circa 1850

I left town and got busy, leaving one more quilt to share from my visit to New Paltz, NY for when I returned home ---it was just too many blog posts to try to write ahead before leaving.

I wanted to post things “in the now” while in Illinois and Ohio --- and I knew this spectacular quilt would be waiting for me when I got back home and could post about it.

When I arrived in New Paltz, this was the first building I visited ----it was the WRONG building, I needed to find the building where Susan worked, but I needed to ask someone so I could get my bearings on where I was --- and also find a restroom!

It was a bit of a jaunt from my hotel in Connecticut to New Paltz in the rain.

I love this time of the year because there are always school field trips going on ---- and when I entered the building, they had a school field trip doing activities inside the big meeting room. FUN! I found the facilities, and found where I needed to go and headed over to meet Susan.

After our tour, and before I headed out of town she said there was ONE MORE QUILT that I needed to see, and it was in that room where the field trip had been congregating, so we had to wait until they were done ---- they were just finishing up by the time we got back to this building.

The quilt? A magnificent Rose of Sharon!

The quilt was made by Rebecca LeFevre and given as a gift to her son Peter.

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The border was the first thing to catch my eye…and then I was drawn to the 12 lovely blocks. I adore asymmetrical applique blocks. In these, the applique fully filled each block, but it’s not a wreath or an even 4 or 8 armed spray, it starts with that one chunky stem in the bottom left corner of each block and just goes! I love the little sprigs on the buds in the upper right hand of each block. And do you see the top row only is “upside down”?

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Not only is the applique very fine, but the attention to detail in the hand quilting is so precice, you’d think it was machine unless you get really close to check it out. Luckily this quilt was hung full out on a wall so I COULD get close. I love that the red of the buds resemble “heart tops” SO folksy!

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Can you see the miniscule hand quilting stitches? Double rows of most everything ---Triple, if you count the quilting IN the applique shapes, and then the double rows of echoing around them in the background area.

This brings me to a funny that happened to me this past trip. A lady asked during my lecture if I worried that the “muslin” in some of my quilts was not as good as quilt shop quality fabric, and didn’t I worry that they would fall apart over time?

First off – Right off – I thought of these quilts made with every day ordinary muslin that I had documented and shared with you just the few days before leaving for Illinois. And second ---I just love the look of hand quilting on muslin. Why do we think we are any better now, or know better – than what these expert quilters did in their day?

I would love my work to be this fine ---and yes, with a good quality “plain” muslin just as they did. I am so not a fabric snob. My response to her was that we “praise” quilts made with feed sacks from the depression years of the 1930s. Feed sacks were not high quality quilting fabric. Any good quality muslin that is made now is far better than any muslin that was made in the 1800s through the 1930s and beyond…I don’t buy the cheap stuff, but that she should use whatever makes her happy in her quilts, and I would use what makes me happy.

I have to chuckle as I realize the quilt police are still out there, doing their brain-washing on unsuspecting quilters!

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Close up of adorable blossom and the cute circular flowers in the background area!

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I love the beautiful leafy vine that acts as sashing between the blocks --- there is no sashing, the vine is just quilted over the seams to give a sashing kind of look.

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I LOVE the very thick center vine! It has that “Jack in the bean stalk” feel to it! And can you see the double circle quilted at the top right?

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Center blossom --- so pretty!

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close up of those “commas” at the top of the top bud….and more quilting detail.

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More hand quilting detail..I just love those circle flowers, I wonder what she traced?

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A section of bottom border ----

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I wish I could have seen Rebecca LeFevre working on her quilt --- sitting at her applique, and then watching her hand quilt. Wouldn’t that be something? Show me how they got such fine stitches in the “early” days without ott lights and special needles and all of the other goodies we have now. Did she quilt on a full sized floor frame? Did she quilt it herself or have help? What did she think about when she stitched?

Happy Memorial Day weekend to those of us in the states! I hope you have some special times planned with your loved ones and family members. I hope you make some memories, and maybe get a bit of time to stitch in between. As for me, I’m staying home – nothing big planned, but just being home and enjoying time with family in my own surroundings is just what I need. There will be grilling! And napping! And some stitching --- I’d like to get the binding on Floribunda if at all possible, it hasn’t even been trimmed yet – there has just been too much else going on.

But I am starting this morning off right --- with a massage appointment! LOL! I’m using my Mother’s Day gift card -----just what this girl needs!


  1. Thank you for sharing this lovely quilt. The workmanship is amazing. I have enjoyed all of the quilts you have shared from New Palz. Thank you.

  2. My oh my...no words to express the beauty in this! I only hope when I grow up my works is 100th as good as this! Thanks, Bonnie, for sharing!

  3. My gram did this type of quilting in the mid 1900's. Some of her techniques, she would "pull" the batting until it was very thin and fine and of course only used cotton. She also used a very short and small needle and loaded several stitches at a time by rocking the needle. She had an assortment of templates that she had cut from thin cardboard to trace for quilting designs and would have used a coin or such for round. She used an HB # 2 pencil sharpened to a very fine point for putting the design on the fabric. We would buy supplies for her as she didn't get out much and I remember her instructions. I luckily have 3 of her finished quilts and they are magnificient. Joan

    1. Anonymous11:53 AM EDT

      How fortunate you are to have the quilts and the memories. I only heard stories of my grandmother's sewing ability.

  4. What a legacy. This quilt is so pretty and I love the "commas" on the bud in the corner, they just seem to set it off exactly right. They drew my eye first. Thank you so much for sharing these quilts. Hope you enjoy your weekend home and the time with family, not to mention the massage. Lovely.

  5. I had a Quiltville moment in a restaurant last night. A man sitting at the next table had on a very lovely color blue plaid shirt. I kept wanting to reach over and feel if it was 100% cotton. He was a pretty big guy so I really wanted that shirt.

  6. WHOLLY COW!!! I WANT! thanks so much for the close ups and all---and describing everything! I am reading Jennifer Chiaverini's series and just finished the runaway quilt and I actually felt I was right there with them as they worked on their quilts!!! I JUST LOVE THAT ERA....thanks for the history!! *~*CAROLE*~*

  7. WOWZERS! This quilt is amazing in every single way. Thank you so much for sharing. I love the whole thing, but the quilting is just over the top. I wish I were that creative when it comes to deciding "what to quilt where"!

  8. Gorgeous quilt...personally I love the feel of muslin in a quilt. It gets so nice and soft after a few washes.

  9. I have always loved the Rose of Sharon pattern. This is a beautiful quilt and you were incredibly lucky to have been given this private quilt showing of such amazing quilts. Thanks for sharing the pictures!

  10. Anonymous11:00 AM EDT

    That is a piece of art. How beautiful and I love how it's kept it's color all these years. It make me want to do a large applique quilt now. Thank you for sharing Bonnie. Have a wonderful weekend with your family.

  11. Your blog is such a resource! Thanks so much for showing us this quilt and all its little details. And for reminding us about the quilt police:)

  12. This is so beautiful. I'm saving it for later so I can continue to look at all the work. It's just amazing, thank you for sharing such a wonder.

  13. Oh, wow! What a magnificent piece! Thanks for the close-ups of all the detailed work. It is amazing. Makes me think about the time spent--how many quilts would such a woman have made in her lifetime?

  14. Anonymous11:34 AM EDT

    Hey, I've seen plenty of old quilts where the muslin was in decent shape, but the 'good' fabrics were disintegrating. You just never know how a quilt is going to age.

  15. Anonymous11:57 AM EDT

    This is amazing work, and how wonderful that it was cherished enough to preserve. Enjoy the column with my morning coffee. Enjoy your family weekend. You all earned it.
    Lynda (from Culvers)

  16. Wow! Wow! The craftsmanship in that quilt is fantastic--from the design, to the colors, the fine stitching, and the commitment that allowed it to be created and completed. Wow! We are so lucky that we have choices and so many resources and clever tools to make quilting easier now, but I am very grateful to see the quilts you have shown us to remind me how little I really NEED to make wonderful quilts. Thanks for sharing these quilts with us.

  17. I've got to go see these quilts for myself!
    thanks for sharing these post about New Paltz
    it is right in my own backyard and I never knew about these quilts!

    Happy Sewing, enjoy your down time at home :0)

  18. Anonymous1:47 PM EDT

    Do you think the "upside down" blocks could have been put that way so that when the quilt was on the bed they looked as tho they were grown "up"?

    I will repeat thanks for all the close up pictures of the fab quilting... quilter did more than just get it quilted!

  19. That is one gorgeous quilt! And it's so nice that they have pictures of the maker and the recipient to go with it.

  20. What a beautiful quilt! Thanks so much for sharing. Your pictures made it feel like I was right there with you. What workmanship. Have a happy holiday weekend. Enjoy!

  21. This quilt is exquisite! Thanks so much for sharing so many photos of it.

  22. Anonymous12:29 AM EDT

    Bonnie, thank you so much for taking me along with you for such a special trip. All of the quilts were gorgeous. Each one special on it's own. Interestingly, my DH has been researching my ancestry and found I am descended from a Huguenaut man. He found this out just before you were invited to the village. So the trip was very special to me. My ancestor ended up living in England, and some of his grandchildren moved to Virginia. Still, I feel like I had a glimpse of their lives. Thank you for all that you do for quilters, and for blogging. I always enjoy reading it, and have learned so much from you. Best wishes, Sara (ohsirius7@hotmail.com)

  23. There is not a lot that can be said other than its magnificent and I wish it was mine.

  24. Anonymous11:03 AM EDT

    A wonderful quilt and beautiful pictures ? Thanks Bonnie from a French huguenot who remebers you from the DJ list long ,long time ago ....

  25. Thank You, Bonnie. I am always interested in the Rose of Sharon Pattern. I shared this link on my FB page~ Rose of Sharon Studio.
    Love the quilt and the history.

  26. I wonder if she traced her thimble for the little circles?

  27. I often use muslin as backing, especially when I am handquilting because I think the quilting shows up so well. If I am going to hand quilt a large quilt I want to be sure future generations say "Look at all that handquilting! She must've been nuts!" (just kidding, I hope they will say "she was so dedicated to her quilting!")


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