Monday, September 04, 2006

Quoting Judy Hopkins...."let's not forget scrapbag quilts...those "use-it-up, make-it-do" quilts where the fabric-on-hand of every color, value, and visual
texture imagionable is combined into a mad, cheerful conglomeration.
The bow tie is a wonderful pattern for doing that". And a personal favorite of mine. Other than 9 patches, I've probably made more bow tie quilts than any other.
I came across this one(again) this morning while looking through a book by Judy Hopkins "Fit To Be Tied". I believe it was published in 1990. The quilt maker was Flora Yingst and is called "Flora's Bows" c. 1940.
I absolutely love it, and would be thrilled to own it...but even as wild as I get with scraps sometimes, I feel I lack the abandonment to use these extreme choices. I love to look at these old quilts and wonder IF I could have done that? Could I have had the desire to make another quilt top so much that ANYTHING I had at hand could be used? Because I think often, that is what it came down to during those hard times. It's NOT what you would like to have, but WHAT you DO have. It's almost like there was a conflict between pride and creativity. "Leave me alone and let me piece this", or "There is no way I can make any more quilt tops since I don't have the supplies". Do you ever wonder what you would choose? Or would have chosen? How deep and desperate is that love of quilting making? Can it be taken from you or surrender due to materials limitation? Can you piece a "bit" onto that scrap to get that needed square? Can you live with the left side bottom bow tie block? It's the only block in the quilt where EACH of the bow ties are each a different fabric.
It's like the question is not "how low can you go(limbo)?" but "how free can you be?". Posted by Picasa

18 comments:

Hedgehog said...

Great post, Finn. I look at those old quilts and wonder the same thing. When I get scrappy, it just doesn't have the same feel as scrappy you know came out of absolute necessity. I'd love to know those women.

quiltpixie said...

great reflection Finn. My grandmother told me, years ago now, that to make a truly scrap quilt one simply used the piece that came to hand from the bin... No putting it back as it didn't "fit". This makes for an overall scrappy beauty that shines through, whereas I think many of us try to "contrive" a beauty by choosing the scraps and controlling the process... For me then the question is really one of control -- can I let go of it and trust that beauty is bigger than my ability to create it...

Patti said...

No question in my mind - I will sew with whatever I can get. I've done that many times before. I used to make myself new clothes by salvaging fabric from old clothes handed down by a wealthy cousin - a wool vest of straight skirt from one of her pleated skirts. When the kids were really little and I wanted to stay home with them, I sewed all our clothes including my husband's slacks and dress shirts. The kids got clothes made from the scraps of our clothes. I had so much fun being creative with them. Those were the days of cotton and poly double knits and t-shirts - Stretch and Sew stuff. I loved the clothes I made for the kids, and so did everyone else. Now I'd do the same - except it would be quilts. I have a large collection of quilt history books and I pour over the pictures of all the quilts. Love of antique quilts got me into quilting. The fact that they were made from whatever was available is what gives them their fabulous charm. I absolutely hate "matched" quilts! Even my Christmas quilt made from Mistletoe Manor fabrics will have a lot of other fabrics from my stash thrown in with them so it doesn't have a "matchy matchy" look. I have that book by Judy Hopkins - it's a great quilt. Would you believe that I've never yet made a bow tie quilt? I guess I should!

jpquilter said...

how free can I be? good question and sounds like it would be fun to challenge myself to make something out of the scrap pile - thanks!

Laurie Ann said...

I love how your rug turned out!

Katie said...

Thanks again for the insite. So interesting to read and ponder about the past and about us now.

dot said...

bow tie is one of my favorite blocks. I do think we put to much thought into matching. Lets go crazy and get real scrappy!!!!!!

sharon b said...

I love this post. So true and questioning how far can we push our scraps. and stash. I need to try to use up more of my stash and less of the stores stash.
Great post.. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful fabrics to collect. Now can we produce wonderful quilts that 50 years from now someone will ask.. How did they do that...back then.

Fiona said...

Sometimes I think we have too much choice these days. Standing in front of an array of fabrics in a quilt store I can get so confused that I can't think what I want to buy. If we had less choice a lot of quilts would be more scrappy. I wholeheartedly agree with Patti's comments, I think that's why I like to use recycled fabric - you get a different and less 'matched' look.

ForestJane said...

It makes me wonder about the clothes she made - that resulted in those leftover scraps. Or do you think they were from feed sacks, and never started as a garment?

cher said...

great topic/quilt to share Finn. I haven't made a bowtie quilt either-however,I enjoy the idea that I would quilt with whatever I had to- to be able to keep on quilting.

Kathie said...

I was thinking about this very thing this past week when I bought a block of stamps showing the Gee's Bend Quilts. Now THERE is the primo example of using what you have, even if it's poly doubleknit and corduroy! And what visual impact!

Gail said...

You raised very good points; I keep trying scrappy and wind up trying to 'contorl'-to conditioned to want things to 'go together'. Perhaps this should be the next challenge we try, absolutely whatever comes to hand from the scrap bin.

susan said...

Love the bow-ties! Thanks for your advice and comments on my blog! I think you are pretty free in your quilt design already, don't change a thing - you come up with the greatest ideas.

Lynn Dykstra said...

I have never made a bow tie--this one is wonderful, and is getting me thinking...

Libby said...

That is one fun quilt. I think I would just keep making quilts no matter the fabric available -- I just enjoy the process so much.
Being fortunate enough to not have to "made-do" is something that works in our favor. I have made tops where I put the pieces in a bag or bowl and use whatever comes out (unless it's the exact same as the previous piece) with good results. I'm going to have to try that again and make a bow tie. It will be fun.

Judy said...

The first quilt we ever owned was made by my MIL and was polyester material stuffed with old panty hose in each square. It weighed a ton and was so warm you couldn't really use it except outside in the cold!! She made with what she had!

I will always do that. If I had to, I would raid the closets and the clothes. Hit the thrift shops! I've gotten so used to having something in my hands that to sit even one night and NOT sew is almost torture! If I don't sew, then I am reading a quilt book!

I have never made a bow tie, but I guess I'll add it to the list of to-do projects! It's something I've always loved, but never got around to! Great post Finn!!

Vicky said...

I love the bowtie block, but haven't made one yet. I say YET because I am going to dig into the scraps and begin making them.

Once again you've got me pondering the necessity quilts versus ours - made for the pleasure of making them and out of beautiful fabric. I'll bet those women didn't worry about how to store their stash! They used it up!

Thanks for a great blog, Finn. I always enjoy our daily visits!

((Hugs))