Sunday, June 10, 2012

Heirloom? Antique? Old?

Now that is the question!  When you look at this picture, what do you see:

IMG_1533Do you see just an old quilt?  Would it be considered an antique?  Is it an heirloom quilt?  I think those of us who aren’t quilt historians or true collectors would have our own opinions.  If I saw this quilt at a “thrift” store, I’d pass it by because it is in pretty bad shape:

IMG_1534The seams are coming apart.  If you look closely, you can see that the batting was probably a flannel.  The blanket stitching securing the Dresden blades is coming apart:

IMG_1535And the fabrics are so faded it’s hard to really tell what the pattern or even the colors of some fabric were:

IMG_1536So, how would you classify this quilt?  Me? Well, this quilt was made for my brother and he was born in January 1952.  My mom used it for me and my sister, who was the ‘baby’ born in 1961.  It has seen countless washings.  The lady who made this quilt was referred to as “Grandma Corey” and she was not related.  But she probably made a baby quilt for every new baby born in our small town in the U.P of Michigan. 

Is this an OLD quilt?  Well, I can’t say yes, because that would make me old Smile

Is this an ANTIQUE quilt?  Well, probably not.  Here is the definition of antique:

A collectible object such as a piece of furniture or work of art that has a high value because of its considerable age.

I doubt this quilt has a “high value”.  So…. is it an HEIRLOOM?  Again, if you look at the ‘definition’ >

A valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations

It isn’t even considered an Heirloom….  But that’s all to the general public.  To me it is an extremely valuable piece of art.  It has a history.  It has wrapped 3 babies in it’s love.  And like me, it has seen better days and is a little tattered and even coming apart at the seams…. so maybe it could be considered old…….  To me this IS a family Heirloom…..

This quilt has both machine and hand work.  The Dresden plates appear to have been hand pieced and as you can see, hand stitched to their squares. But the actual construction of the blocks have been machine stitched.  The quilt has a machine stitch around the entire outside edge.  Then the quilt was tied.  Over time, the ties have either come out or have worked out of the front.  I don’t have a picture, but from the backside of the quilt, there are still tie stitches visible.  I have been acquiring fabrics in hope of producing 3 quilts similar to this.  I can’t say reconstructing or copying as I know I’ll never find the exact fabrics.  I will use similar colors and size of prints.  I know the yellow was probably much brighter that it is now.  Once I get those quilts done my brother, sister and I will each have one.  I plan on having this actual quilt professionally framed and then the decision will be made as to which of us will ‘own’ the original quilt.  I doubt my brother even knows the original quilt actually is still in existence.  My sister?  I don’t know how she would feel about it.  When we came across this quilt when my mom passed, she said, “Oh, here’s my baby quilt.”  I told her it was actually made when my brother was born – it sort of took the wind out of her sails.  Me?  I love the quilt because of all it is.  But whichever one of us ends up with the original, I think I am very fortunate to have been wrapped in the quilt’s love.



A Left-Handed Quilter said...

You asked if this quilt is an heirloom - A valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations ABSOLUTELY!! It is VALUED and LOVED by you - your brother - and your sister!! And - you are a grandmother - so there's your "several generations" - haha. Wish you could figure out a way to split it up somehow so that each of you could "own" a part of the original - ;))

Linda said...

I agree! It is an heirloom!

Sally said...

Definately a Heirloom. This post brought to mind the "Are You a REAL Quilter" article I wrote... THIS is definately a real quilt, the kind I used to make, meant to be used!

Suggestion, if you can bear to think about it! Pillows...cut this apart, using the best blocks or all blocks as front/back of a pillow...OR even better if you can get good blocks out of this, add those to the quilts YOU make, then each of you would have a piece of the original in your new ones. Wallhanging if the pillow idea isn't good, but I would probably take this one apart since it is about all three of you. Yes it's a heirloom, but that doesn't make it any less so if you divide it :)

Anyway you look at it, it's priceless!