Monday, March 29, 2010

Nana's Quilt

Many moons ago, when I first started quilting, my uncle gave me a flimsy that had apparently been pieced by my great-aunt, whom we called Nana. She lived with her sister, my Grandma (they were both widowed before I was born), and we'd visit with her when we went to Detroit to visit Grandma.

The blocks are Dresden Fans placed in an interesting way to make a large bow-tie pattern. Would you believe that until tonight, I hadn't realized there was an actual pattern to her block placement? I was going to have one of my Workshop in Progress questions be, "should I take this top apart and re-sew it in a more 'typical' setting to facilitate quilting?" Scratch that. I don't plan to take the blocks apart but have a look at these (terrible indoor nighttime) photos.
I added that border myself a couple years ago. Mainly because I thought the quilt looked a little odd without one, and also to stabilize it somewhat. Did I mention it's entirely hand-pieced? The stitches aren't holding together all that well. But now that I look at it, I don't think I like it anymore. I think it's because it's not authentic even though the fabric is 30s-reproduction/style. Should I keep the border or remove it?

And my other question would you quilt this baby? A design of some kind (feathers?) in the negative spaces around/between the bowties? Or perhaps some simple quilting of lines radiating from the fan - i.e. continuing the fan "blades" into the negative space? I'll definitely be doing it by hand.

Such lovely questions to ponder - I haven't looked at this flimsy in a long time. It was nice to be reminded how much I like it!


  1. My vote is to either remove the border or trim it down to be an accent piece and add another white border as close to the white on the top. The green just seems so in contrast to the delicate nature of the quilt.

    As for quilting... I like the idea of emphasizing circular designs. So, instead of extending the fan blades, maybe try extending the circles into the negative space. Does that make sense?

  2. I kind of like that border...but keep it only if you like it. Any simple quilting design will work look great. It's a lovely quilt!

  3. I think the out side fans need the same white space around them that the inside ones do. Maybe try a white border and then a narrow green or just use it as the binding. How fabulous that you have something made by your Nana.

  4. Wow. That's one special quilt. I like the idea of continuing the fan lines into the negative space. And I like the border.

  5. What a wonderful treasure you have. When I looked at the setting, it reminded me of a Drunkard's Path quilt I saw at a quilt show last summer. That quilt had half circles echoing out into the blank space of the block like Cheryl's suggestion
    I agree with Sherry's suggestion of having white for the first border so that the outer fans will also have white around them. The current border offers too much competition.

  6. Green is good, but maybe too much. So making it narrower and adding white is a good idea. The quilting pattern could maybe help stabalize some of the handstitching.

  7. Flimsy-haven't heard that used in a quilt context-is it because it lightweight or a general term for what U.S. quilters call tops?
    The pattern is Japanese Fans in a Spanish Fleet setting (from Brackman pattern encyclopedia).


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