Thursday, May 7, 2015

Unfinished Objects of the Past

There is something thrilling about finding an old quilt that speaks to you.  I (Kara) have to restrain myself from jumping up and down with excitement when I find an especially unique one in an antique shop. I have that same feeling when I find old quilt tops or blocks. Through the years I have found quite a few unfinished objects left behind by someone else. It pulls on my heartstrings to look at the time and effort that someone took in starting a quilt and wonder what it was that stopped it from being completed. I can imagine all sorts of tragic scenarios, but if I look at my own UFO (un-finished object) collection, the reasons are not quite as interesting.

Life has a way of stopping our forward progress on some of the quilt projects we start. The reasons are many in my own life.  Many of the UFOs I have are projects I started as a result of a class I had taken, but then soccer games, dance class, and cooking dinner got in the way.  Sometimes it got put on a shelf because of my quilting attention deficit disorder, i.e., some other fabric or pattern caught my eye.  Those are my UFO reasons, but what were some of the reasons someone from the past wasn't able to finish her quilt?

As a life-long thrift store hunter, I am always on the lookout for that great find.  I've never found a vintage finished quilt, but I have found four quilt tops.  They are all so different, as I'm sure the stories behind them are.  The first top I found was this fan quilt.
It's not very square but someone took a lot of time piecing it together.  We actually had this up on our wall for a while early in our marriage.  I had high hopes of quilting it someday but...see paragraph two. 
It is machine-pieced, and I have always thought and hoped that it was pieced with Uncle Joe's worn shirts, sister Lydia's dress and maybe Grandpa's pajamas. Someone with greater expertise than I might be able to give a more accurate story. Regardless of its story, it never made it to the quilting frame.

This Grandma's flower garden was found as is and has been hanging out in my cedar chest for about 10 years.

Because it is in one long piece it appears to be someone's very ambitious project. I don't know if there were more blocks finished and they just never made it to the thrift store, or if someone got tired of piecing all those hexagons and gave up. It is all hand-pieced; (is there even a way to do this pattern on the machine?) My thought was to separate this long piece and re-attach it into a more rectangular shape.

When I found this beauty, I'm pretty sure I squealed out loud in the thrift store. It's hard to appreciate its beauty from my pictures, but it is a lovely hand-pieced Dresden plate. Please excuse the furry model.
It is made of some beautiful feed-sacks in the sweetest prints.

This was a well planned quilt and every bit of it was put together by hand. Was this quilt made for someone in particular, or was it a showcase for some incredible hand-piecing skills?

To me, this quilt needs to be hand quilted to do it justice. I hope that someday I can hand it over to Bellwether Dry Goods to finish this quilt's story.

This last quilt is from a more recent time judging by some of the fabrics but it is no less interesting.

This was also a thrift-store find that caught my eye.  I fell in love with it, and so did my daughter who would like it quilted for her. I hope she's not holding her breath on that one.

The cheery colors and unique prints really make this quilt top special.

 The red and white sashing fabric is fun, and I would like to find something like it to finish this for my daughter. The quilt has some stains, but the brightness of the fabrics hides them. I'm not sure if these fabrics are from pieces of clothing or if they were part of someone's fabric stash, but the maker must have enjoyed color.

So this is my collection of UFOs from the past. In a perfect world, they would already be quilted with labels on each. But until then, I will look on them lovingly and hope that I can finish their stories someday. Have you inherited or purchased someone else's UFOs? We'd love to hear how you received them as well as see pictures.


  1. Love the UFO mysteries as I had my own. A silk pieced top that was apparently divided in two creating 2 twin size tops. Perhaps to be used as a summer coverlet during the hot months? The imagination can certainly create a lovely story for these "pink" tops.

    1. It is great fun to imagine the stories in these silent quilts. Perhaps the "pink" top was so beautiful, she wanted two instead of one!