Monday, September 14, 2009

A Neat Quilt Story -- Part 1

It will hopefully have a happy ending...but it will be up to me. How's that for putting a little pressure on myself?

Last Friday morning, the 11th, I headed to a garage sale that had advertised "quilt and cross stitch material." What a gold mine! I was sifting through all the available goods, wondering why someone would be getting rid of the great fabric, and why it wasn't very organized, when a nearby man mentioned that all this stuff belonged to a woman in her 30's who recently passed away from a sudden illness. She was an avid quilter, and her mother, who knew nothing about quilting, had to clean out her house, sell all her things they didn't need, and settle her affairs. Suddenly, this happy moment took on a little sadness.

I picked out all the stuff I was interested in (it was really hard to keep within my budget!), and took it to the woman to pay, asking her if I could pay for part of it now, and I would go to the bank to get more cash and return to pay for the rest. She had no problem with that. While going to the bank, I called my quilting friend who is also into making aprons to sell. On the spot, she postponed her canning of carrots until after a trip to the garage sale.

Some of the fabric was grouped into bags, which looked like partially finished projects. Other fabrics were in piles of flat folds. There were books and notions galore. This is what I got for $40.00.

3 rulers
1 small cutting mat
8 quilting books
a pile of folded fabrics and fat quarters
4 bags of partially finished projects
a small collection of neutrals
a bias tape maker
a value finder
Quilter's Speed Grids
Quilter's Template Kit
and a couple of music CD's

When I was paying for the loot, the woman pointed to the largest project bag of fabrics, mostly purples, with some things sewn together, and she said, "That quilt was going to be mine. My daughter was making it for me. I'd love to see it if you ever finish it." So now you can probably see where I am going with this. I have to finish the quilt and give it to this woman!

When I got home and dug into my new treasures, I discovered that there were some fabrics in the partailly finished projects that didn't seem to match up with anything else, and I remembered seeing fabrics in the piles that should have been put with the partially finished projects. I debated...should I run back to the garage sale? I called my quilting friend to explain the dilemma. She brought her purchases over to my house and we mixed and matched...she had some things that went with my projects, and I gave her some stuff she could use for aprons that I probably wouldn't need! It was a win/win. Together, we tried to make sense of the unfinished quilt projects.

I did find a piece of graph paper with a sketched out pattern in one of the books I bought. I goes right along with one of the bags of unfinished projects. It is made of "Grecian Square" blocks in red, blue, green, black, and cream.

The "purple bag" and one of the other bags seemed to have things sewn together in a similar pattern. I've seen quilts like it at shows, but have never know anyone who made one. The constuction was totally foreign to me; there were strip sets sewn into tubes. My friend suggested I take it to our quilt group which was meeting that evening. Another friend there was not familiar with the "tubes," but knew these kind of quilts were called "Bargello" quilts. We were all confused by the fact that some strips were narrow, and some wide. Without a pattern, I could not see how we could figure this out.
The first friend then recalled that one of the books at the garage sale was about Bargello quilts!
First thing Saturday morning, I was off to the garage sale again, and sure enough by some miracle, a book called "Colorwash Bargello Quilts" was still there! A pattern called "Enchanted Carpet" in the book was marked with a post-it note, and the narrow and wide strips and the tube constuction in that pattern matched those of the first of my two unfinished Bargello quilts! Also, I found an additional bag of numbered fabric strips that matched the fabrics of the first Bargello quilt.

The purple bag, the more important one, does not have nearly as much done as the first one does. And it also may not be complete on having all the needed fabrics. But there are also a lot of large triangles in the bag. So I figure I've got to practice the Bargello technique by getting the first one together, and hopefully come up with something to do with what there is in the purple bag.

Stay tuned for more as the story unfolds, and if you know anything about doing Bargello quilts, please contact me!


Bliss said...

This is SO cool! I wish we could all help you. We'll be with you in spirit!

jenifer said...

ohh... if i passed away would all you sweet quilt angels finish my unfinished projects? How super, super sweet!!

Lexilooo said...

oh wow, what an interesting story! I hope the projects turn out well and I will be back to read updates!

Becky said...

Oh I so hope you can complete this quilt and give it to the young woman's mother. You will one day be rewarded for what you're doing. Aren't quilters just simply the greatest.
One of my greatest accomplishments was finishing a quilt that a dear friend was making and passed away before it was quilted and bound, she actually left instructions to her husband to give it to me to finish. I did as she had asked and gave it back to him upon completetion, he and I both cried.
You will feel wonderful when you complete this quilt and return it to the mother.