stuff and things

29 June 2010

A Block Keeper for Sue

When my quilting buddies Ruth and Judy showed me the Block Keepers they'd made, I knew I had to make one as a gift for my friend Sue.

First, a definition, for those non-quilters among you. A block keeper is like a big folder, lined in flannel, designed to store hand-applique quilt blocks in-progress. Applique is worked by hand sewing flower or other shapes down onto a piece of fabric. The term applique comes from the French appliquer, to apply. There's machine-applique, too, but that's something you don't need to carry around with you in a folder.

My clumsy definition hardly does justice to the art of applique. Applique quilts can be among the most stunning of quilt styles. The quilt below, made about 1850, shows applique's very different effect compared to pieced quilts (which you've seen elsewhere in my blog). Each of the red and green shapes were hand-cut, then pinned onto the white background fabric. The quiltmaker then appliqued the shape down, patiently turning under the colored fabric using the tip of her (or his) needle just a scant quarter-inch ahead of each stitch, invisibly blind-stitching it down. Of course, this quilt has been hand-quilted, too. (Here, the hand-quilting shows up as those tiny running stitches on the white background, giving the quilt a marvelous textural effect.)
 Acorn Quilt, by Catherine Outwater, c. 1850, 76" x 91", QNM, Issue 97, Dec. '77

Sue, a cool-colors person, loved her block keeper!
Here's a link to Sue's Baltimore Album Quilt; I hope her new block keeper will encourage her to keep up with her beautiful applique skills.
Sue's Baltimore Album Quilt