New Orleans House Project

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pieces of the Past: Album Quilt

One of the first books I ever purchased as a budding quilter was Remember Me:  Women & Their Friendship Quilts by Linda Otto Lipsett (Quilt Digest Press, 1985).

I bought the book to learn more about traditional signature quilts, but found the historical stories of the quilters profoundly touching.  One of the most memorable stories is "Till Death Do Us Part", about Lucy Irena Blowers Tolford, whose friendship quilt commemorated friends and family left behind in New York state when she moved to frontier Michigan in 1849.  Lucy used the Chimney Sweep block (also known as Album block) and collected signatures to remind her of those she was leaving behind.

Lucy's quilt inspired me to create my own family memory quilt.  I started making blocks with a set of coordinated fabrics from Keepsake Quilting.  Instead of following the pattern in the book, I came up with my own way to strip-piece the blocks, trimming excess fabric along the edges to create the corner triangles.  

My paternal grandmother

I inked all the "signatures" myself, using a lightbox and an alphabet from The History and Technique of Lettering by Alexander Nesbitt (Dover Publications 1957).

My father

To get the appropriate number of blocks, I even included pets!

Beloved Golden Retriever!

When the blocks were complete, I found a fantastic antique-looking rose print, and used setting squares in a dark red and black print.  I outline quilted all the blocks, then life intervened and my album quilt languished for a couple of years!

My friend Annie came to the rescue and machine quilted the sashing and borders for me.

The simple leaf and vine quilting was the perfect finish and at last the quilt was DONE!

I began working on this quilt some time between 1988-1989.  It was finally finished in 2004.  My antique-inspired quilt is well on its way to actually becoming an antique!

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