Friday, April 17, 2015

Schoolhouse Quilt

Doesn't it sometimes seem as if quilts find you?  A quilt came to me a few years ago, seeking a good home. I love when this happens. I was not looking for an antique schoolhouse quilt or even an antique quilt that day. I was looking for a vintage Coach bag at a consignment shop near Chicago where all the rich people dump their unwanted items that are practically unused. Although I've seen some nice bags there before, they didn't have any good ones this time. So, I wandered into the back of the store where I saw some expensive linens piled up on a chair. I picked through them and look what I found:





This old Schoolhouse quilt cried out to me like a stray puppy: "Take me home with you, please!"  This shop clearly was no place for an antique quilt to live - among all the designer bags, shoes and fur coats. It needed a less fancy home. I made an offer, the shop clerk called the owner and 10 minutes later I walked away with it for $45.00.  I'm sure they thought I was nuts. "That old thing???" (I'm sure my husband thought the same thing, although he's used to it by now and just shrugs.)


Now, granted, things like this do not happen every day (especially to me) and after I got home I was glad I hadn't passed up the opportunity. The quilt is NOT in pristine condition. It looks like it may have sat in the back of a truck for years while the owner hauled around who knows what on top of it.

The blocks are hand pieced and the quilt is tied, not quilted. It is definitely well worn and loved, has some fading, a few stains and tears and is really in need of some good care.  But it has such a primitive look and is truly a great piece of folk art. I couldn't just leave it there. I cannot display it unless I fold it so that some parts are well hidden. At one point I thought I might attempt to repair it myself because I actually have some reproduction double pink fabric that is the exact same as the original. But that always seemed like too big a job for a novice quilt collector like me.


I love that one house was patched with a similar brown fabric at one point. Someone must have valued it enough to take the time to do that.

My guess is that it's from around 1900. Schoolhouse quilts were popular in the late 19th century and that trend continued into the 1920s and '30s. According to the International Quilt Study Center in Nebraska,  "For rural women of the late nineteenth century, teaching was both the most prestigious and the highest paying opportunity available to them. The Schoolhouse pattern, which became popular at the same time, may reflect the lives of the many women who helped support their families through teaching positions, prior to their marriage."


           
When I look at the quilt, I often think about the woman who made it and wonder: Where was she from? Did she live on the prairie? Was she a teacher? I know I did the right thing - I rescued it and gave it a home. A home that values schools and teachers. It was the least I could do to honor the quiltmaker, who may have felt the same way.


An 1840 restored schoolhouse not far from my home. Funny thing - instead of taking the expressway, I decided to take a slower route that day and passed it on the way to the shop.






29 comments:

Robin McGuire said...

It was meant to be!

Stitches said...

I'm so glad you rescued that quilt, it is lovely. Don't you wish someone had labeled it one way or another? I must get my quilt labeled too!!

Yvonne said...

I just love the quilt that you found! It must have been your lucky day! Don't you love those days?

Donna K. from N. Texas said...

What a find. Glad it went home with you.

Donna K. from N. Texas said...

What a find. Glad it went home with you.

paulette said...

SCORE!! What a great rescue! What a find!

Karen said...

Congratulations,Kathleen!
It sounds like a love story with a happy ending. You love the quilt and that's all that matters.

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

What a great find and rescue! A treasure. It would be so fun to reproduce (as a quilt-along perhaps?;). On a side note - my oldest daughter carries her late grandmother's Coach purse - vintage" from the 80's! - with a wonderful patina at this point.

Ann in PA said...

Serendipity! It's interesting that you took the path by the old schoolhouse on your way to the shop. A lovely find for someone who can appreciate the history behind each quilt.

Me and My Stitches said...

I would much rather come home with that quilt than any purse! Great find - glad it lives with you now!

Rosa said...

Great and it is absolutely beautiful!

Jennifer M said...

What a find <3 Now you have your own little story for the "Schoolhouse Quilt". As previously mentioned, I must get labels on my quilts. Isn't it something that when we find these treasures, we so want to know who created them, and yet, I myself am so guilty of not putting my labels on my quilts. I know this and I must get better at it. Thanks for the story and a gentle reminder of what's important.

Nina Dias said...

Beautifull!
Nina

YankeeQuilter said...

Great rescue! Think you are right about the dates. Love the fabrics the maker used.

Radka said...

What a find! And a pretty good deal was a bonus. Some people just don't know what they have :-)
xx

Anonymous said...

What a great find! I can never understand how people can discard things like that. The Schoolhouse block is one of my favorites-thank you for sharing it :)

jane nj/wi said...

So you are drafting a 3/4 angle schoolhouse block from your picture to make your own quilt block? I love the steeple /parapet....maybe not correct word but the detail on the roof is lovely.

Your "find". Well you know I believe in serendipity and there really was no other outcome for your day. What a grand find

Jane

Caroline said...

Im glad that there are more quilters like me. I love to repair old quilts, quilt forgotten quilttops or vv turn old blicks into new quilts. I just started my civil war project. Old blocks late 1800s. I love to make stories. And im not an expert i dont know anything about it. I just do it the way that it feels good. Good luck Caro

quiltgrannie said...

Kathy, what a great find!! I love your schoolhouse quilt, even with all the imperfections.

Cathryn in Corvallis said...

Hi Kathy,
iI love the serendipity of your decision to go the road less travelled and enjoy the view of the old schoolhouse, then finding the beautiful old quilt. You were definitely tuned in to appreciation that day, with a lovely outcome :-) !
Cathryn in Corvallis

The Civil War Quilter said...

I'm so glad that School House quilt found you that day. It deserves a good home and found it. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Annemieke said...

So nice to find such an old quilt. I'm glad it ended up with you.
Thanks so much for showing.

rahmi fadhli said...

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suz said...

I love when old quilts find their perfect home - it was serendipitous!

Liz said...

Lovely quilt to be treasured.

Robin said...

Wonderful quilt, I can see why you couldn't resist. One of my first mini quilts was a schoolhouse.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

I'm glad it followed you home.

Teapot820 said...

What are the measurements?

Heirlooms by Ashton House said...

What a find, Kathy! It was definitely your lucky day. The colors are just wonderful--my kind of colors! Love that sweet schoolhouse, too. Must be quite a scenic drive home. Kimber

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