Provenance (n) the place of origin or earliest known history of something. From the French provenir, “to come from”.
Have you every come across an antique quilt and wondered about the person who made it? Midweek, I am sitting cosy under this lovely.
It is an antique top I purchased last spring from a quilt appraiser who also collects them. It was estimated to be made around 1890, though some of the fabrics are dated back back to the 1850s. It would have probably been for a single bed, being about 60″ x 85″ (152cm x 214cm ). The information from the appraiser included:
It is thought to be made up of scraps of fabric probably swapped between friends. This was commonplace in the 1880s when calico was plentiful and the dyes became fast. The pink gingham became very popular and plentiful in America from the mid 19th century.
The sewing machine had been distributed in the tens of millions by the time the top was made but the maker needed considerable technical skill to keep the work straight. The top itself has not been washed and some of the fabric is new and the sizing (starch or stiffening agent) is still present. Some of the patched pieces date back to the 1850’s.
While the work was purchased in California it probably originated on the East Coast of the US and came west with the great migration.
I was drawn to the sweet pink gingham as much as the unusual layout.
I’m hand quilting it simply, around the perimeter of the pink diamonds, with 28wt Aurifil (N°2310) and I’m thinking of doing Baptist fan in the border. It is so relaxing to sit and stitch for an evening while sitting around with the family. When I’m working on it, my mind wanders about the piecer. Was she a young wife moving to the West of America, being given sweet diamond shapes from her friends to stitch when she had a spare moment? Not that there would have many of those but she obviously had access to a sewing machine so that would’ve made the job faster. Most of the points are intact and well executed and there is no thinning or wearing of the fabric so it must have been stored away after completion.
I love the fact that it’s probably 100 years old and I’m able to connect to the past through thread. There is no urgency to finish it quickly. In fact, the more time I can spend with it, the closer I feel to the original maker.
I’d say, together, we’re making history come alive. 🙂