It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A quilt from the past

For my final quilt post from this year's International Quilt Festival I have to share about the quilt that touched me the most.  One of the exhibits featured the life and works of Betty Alderman who passed away in the last year after a battle with breast cancer.  The exhibit featured many of her quilts that she designed and made.  Reading about each entry was very interesting; she had led a very full and creative life.  She owned the business that marketed and sold the patterns for her quilt and she was an avid collector of antique quilts.

All the quilts were remarkable, perfectly made and enjoyable to look at.  Sunbonnet Sue in various occupations and styles were her trademark, along with a little black cat that made its way into several of her quilts.  I lingered for quite some time in this exhibition, delighting in all the different designs and reading each comment. 

These two quilts captivated me the most. The lower quilt in the picture was made in 1860.  Betty had bought it at an auction, if I remember correctly, in either Ohio or Pennsylvania. Although it is in relatively good shape, it is frail and was displayed carefully on this ramp covered with a dark cloth.  It is frayed in many places and brown around the edges where human hands touched it.  The reds have faded and in spots are very thin or even worn away.  But the stitching is beautiful, perfectly done. 

I knelt down for several minutes, lost in thought about this quilt.  I did the math to calculate that it is 153 years old.  I thought about the hands that made the quilt; were they young or old?  Was it made by a country woman or a city woman?  Was she waiting for her husband or sweetheart to come home from the war?  Who was the creator of this quilt?  In my mind I could feel the soft fabric and imagine how it felt to her to push and pull her needle through it.  I felt so close to the quilt and its past. 

The hanging quilt is a replica carefully copied from the original and made by Betty. To be authentic she even rounded the corners, a big no-no in today's world if you are being judged! And I just noticed that Sunbonnet Sue is showing her style in the quilt next to it!


Here's one of Betty Alderman's fun quilts.  Note the little black cat perched on the middle chair! I have a picture of my black cat perched on top of a wing chair so I'm thinking I need to give this idea a try!

All quilts designed and made by Betty Alderman, photographed at the International Quilt Festival, Houston 2013.

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