Speculations Abound

Every time I make a Time Span quilt I speculate about my co-creator. That is, my unknown co-creator. For a reason, unknown to me, she was not able to finish the blocks, the embroidery or the quilt top. How did this particular thing that I find valuable end up in a thrift shop?

This question first occurred to me while roaming through thrift shops and vintage clothes shops in the early 1970s when I lived in Kansas City, MO. I found those outings to be adventures and educational. I learned about antique furniture, vintage textiles, discovered folk art, and generally had a good time shopping within my budget. Often the quality of goods I encountered was superior to what was available at local retail shops. One of my best friends, Kate K. published a guide to local thrift stores emphasizing the myriad reasons for how an attitude of “reduce, reuse and recycle” would benefit us personally and be to the benefit of the planet to sustain human life. We shopped together seeking fantastic finds!

The original creator seemed to have worked from her “scrap bag”. I encountered: seersucker, dotted swiss, ticking, striped flannel, organdy, two sizes of gingham, dots, plaids, strips, solids, shirtings, pajama prints, rayon, bandana print, calico, multiple florals, pique, and a feedsack fabric. These Bear’s Paw blocks were set together with garish, bright polyester double knits popular in the late 1960s and early 1970’s. This fact leads me to believe that the older, duller blocks were pieced earlier, then set together in that time period or later.

In fact, the blocks may have been pieced by one woman and someone else chose what fabrics to use to set them together. Or they may have been found at a thrift store. I’ll never know! But I am sure that whoever made this top would appreciate that an avid quilter found herself attracted enough to her flimsy quilt top to transform it into a sturdy quilt! I’ve named it “Inventive Bear’s Paw”.

Here is a brief accounting of how much time I’ve devoted to sewing “Inventive Bear’s Paw”. Selecting and sewing the fabric for the pieced backing, sleeve, and label: five hours. Selecting, cutting and preparing the bias binding: five hours. Ironing, then spreading out all three layers to pin baste: six hours (it’s a big quilt). Machine quilting on my vintage 1980 Bernina #930: twenty-one hours. Applying the binding using my trusty Singer #221 or “Featherweight”: four hours. Grand total: forty-one hours.

Why would I spend all this time on a quilt of unknown origins and dubious value (in some eyes) when I have lots of other ideas of my own to work on? Here is my list. I was attracted to the enormous energy I saw in the top. I felt a strong respect for the woman who sewed these blocks. I valued her carefree attitude! It made me smile! I found it a challenge to transform the unfinished piece into a whole. I knew I would learn something from working/playing on this project. Or, as I wrote on the label, “Improvisational piecing highlighted by a jumble of fabrics gives this TimeSpan quilt its unique personality.” I always love a quilt with personality! Don’t you?

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