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Monday, June 18, 2012

An old {Dresden Plate} ? quilt survived the washing machine.

I thought it was a Dresden Quilt, but no, I've got the wrong name for this pattern. I think it is a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. 

Yes, this Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt fared better despite my impulsive treatment. This one, too, went into the washing machine, but did not come out un-stitched, separated or frazzled. Well, it was already a bit frazzled, simply by age and the rough treatment it had long before it arrived in my hands.

This quilt and its partner Crazy Quilt, which I wrote about in yesterday's blog page, were used as padding for moving furniture. The story I know (but no doubt hardly the beginning of the story) began in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, at a small cottage turned home, in the early nineteen seventies.

My brother-in-law's sister was leaving her home,  and my husband and brother-in-law were helping to pack up her belongings. The two quilts had somehow found their way to her, and in turn now found their way to me.

This one, the Dresden Plate or Grandmother's Flower Garden, was in fairly good shape and pleasantly colored and patterned, and so I used it to cover the clothes dryer in the front entry room of our first home. It was there for a few years until we, too, were moving to a larger home, our 'forever' home, our 'happily ever after' home. This home has a laundry behind doors, and so the quilt and its partner were tucked away in storage, first in an upstairs closet, and later relegated to the shop's office in the barn. There it stayed for several more years.

Recently, after talking with someone who knows old quilts, and knows people who are interested in preserving women's history through the quilts they made, I brought the two orphan quilts back into the house. We were planning to hold a local quilter's exhibition at the town library, and I thought these two might make interesting topics of conversation.

But, as I explained yesterday, the quilts were musty and needed cleaning, and impulsively, without thought for their age, I put them in the washing machine.  This one, at least, came through its ordeal intact.

View of University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lo...
To protect them from any further unintended damage, my plan is to offer them to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. I'm told that the workers and volunteers of the museum have begun a registry for quilts made in Massachusetts. Lowell was a major textile manufacturing center, and women in large numbers made up a considerable portion of the labor force.

The materials in both these quilts are varied and include many patterns that might well be the patterns produced in the Lowell Mills. If the museum will have them, I'll feel that the circle is complete, and these quilts will be appreciated for the art they represent. One is so carefully measured, cut, and symmetrically arranged to create a calm, pleasing pattern; the other is as carefully measured and cut but creates a disjointed, oddly-patterned abstract form of art.

Each one complements the other, showing that not all women think alike. Their quilts are their legacy, finally being told and celebrated in Lowell, and through Lowell, around the world.  Lowell has sent quilts for exhibition in Padukah, Kentucky, and to Japan.

Readers can visit the quilt museum personally or virtually. I'll put a link to the museum at the bottom of this page, and one to the story of the Lowell Mill Girls, and I encourage you to visit them, and consider supporting their efforts.
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  1. I've been to Lowell, MA, gave a four-day seminar there some years back, and somehow I missed this main attraction. Darn.

    1. Hi David,
      What was your seminar on?

      Thanks for stopping and commenting here. Lowell has a great deal to offer ... terrific community organization! I'm only a few towns and one county away!

      Be well, David.

  2. Terry, I enjoyed this entry as my first visit and introduction to your blog. Funny you should mention the NEQM and the mill girls. I visited two friends from Australia and one from your neck of the woods there last month and wrote about the NEQM with photos. If interested, it would be in older posts, and I think it was May 9th I wrote it. Do you know Stella who used to volunteer at the NEQM? She's from Newburyport. Marsha

    1. Hello Marsha,
      Welcome to the blog. This is the first week I've decided to dedicate pages to my quilt activities, so I'm glad you popped in at this time!.
      No, I don't know Stella (at least by name - I am terrible at forgetting names now, due to Multiple Sclerosis's effect on short term memory.)I will look up your blog and read the post you referred to.
      Thanks for checking in here. Be well!


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