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Preserving an Heirloom

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a part of Kismet Quilts is the opportunity to bring our customers’ visions to fruition, whether by helping them to choose a pattern, fabric or quilting motif, or actually teaching them the art of quilting.

More rewarding still is having families bring us their treasured heirlooms to preserve for future generations. Often these will come to us as unfinished quilt blocks, pieced tops or the remnants of a favourite quilt that has seen much loving and wear. How moved I am that they would entrust me with such a delicate and precious piece of their family history. Somehow they must know that this is what I love!

Most recently a lady from the mainland came in with a very fragile quilt top that had been hand-pieced by her grandmother and handed down from mother to daughter. “Irene” had seen our work and was hopeful that we could save this piece of her family’s history.

Irene believes that her grandmother last worked on this quilt top in 1945. The block is called “Tree of Life” and many examples of this quilt can be found dating back to the early 1900’s. Prior to that time, the “tree of life” quilt was a whole cloth or appliqué style. Variations of this quilt block are Tree of Paradise and Pine Tree.

Always up to a challenge, I readily agreed to take on this project. The pieced quilt top itself was severely stained and very threadbare with several holes. In addition, the blocks were not square and the outer edges were extremely frayed.

Immediately I went to work removing the dark yellow stains. Then I repaired the holes and reinforced the quilt where it was threadbare. After this it was on to the long arm. I chose to quilt a grid over the pieced blocks in order to stabilize them and quilted two versions of a tree of life in the plain blocks. The inset triangles were quilted using a feather motif which mimics the feather leaves in the tree of life.

Once quilted, we were able to find a red Kona cotton that perfectly matched the colour that the original quilt maker used for the half-square triangles and that is what we used for the binding. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful project. I so loved seeing the transformation of this top into an actual quilt. My only regret is that I didn’t start taking photos earlier in the process.

Thank you Irene for this opportunity, it was my absolute privilege and pleasure!