Tuesday 13 November 2012

#1 Butterfly Quilt - Inspiration Behind the Quilt

Butterfly Scrap Quilt Fabadashery
Butterfly Quilt by Frances Meredith
The inspiration for this scrap quilt came from a picture in a quilting book I took out of our local library, early in my quilting journey, about 2003.  The original picture in the book was no more than a couple of inches big, but it was enough for me to work out a pattern for a block.  I like a scrappy quilt, and this quilt used all sorts of fabrics.  At the time, the only patchworking I knew was English piecing, so I made my own paper pattern, cut out all the pieces, and off I went.

History of the Butterflies Quilt
During the period when I was making the quilt, I went to a JOAnn’s store, during a trip to America, where I saw a pattern of the same quilt being sold on the shelves. I guess it was only then that I realised that the quilt I was making already had a history.  Further research when I returned home to the UK revealed that a pattern, and the history of the quilt was published in a book “The New England Quilt Museum Quilts: Featuring the Story of the Mill Girls -Instructions for 5 Heirloom Quilts” by Jennifer Gilbert (Paperback,1999) [NB: Which I notice you can currently access via Google Books].  I discovered that it was originally made in about 1935, by a lady called Nina Shrock, Harvard County, Indiana, USA, using a design by Laura Wheeler. When we were back in America in the Autumn of 2007, we made a pilgrimage to the New England Quilt Museum, in Lowell, where we able to see the quilt on display, the one I had seen originally in my library book, back in the UK.  It was a nice feeling. I now have a pencil with the same butterflies on it, as a memento!

What fabrics did I use?
My creative journey has included dressmaking and embroidery, and it was only in about 2002 that I inherited a collection of beautiful quilting fabric and I considered doing some quilting. Amongst the collection were packets of fabrics, which I later learnt were called Charm Packs.  There were 5” squares, 4“ squares, and tiny 1.5” squares, mainly from a mail order company, Strawberry Fayre based in Chagford in Devon, UK.  I wanted a project that was going to use these up, and the scrappy nature of the quilt, seemed like the ideal choice. 
However, I did notice in the small picture that there were ‘constants’.  For instance, the body of the butterfly was the same for each.  I did not have anything suitable, so I went to my local quilting and patchwork shop, BusyBees, based in the Craft Units at Tredegar House in Newport, Wales.  There I found a brown batik fabric.  I was recommended to give it a wash before I used it. I think that was a good idea.  Otherwise, I didn’t wash any of the fabric – the bits were too small.

There is a whole mix in there.  Ironically, it was only after I had completed the quilt that it was brought to my attention that there were a lot of 30’s reproduction fabrics in it.  This was not intentional, it was serendipity at work.  At the time I didn’t realise what 30’s reproduction fabrics were.  I also have one or two bits of special fabric in there, including the first piece of fabric I ever bought, at the Marldon Apple Pie Fair in Devon, back in the early 1980’s.  You can see details of Techniques and Construction in this post.

Dimensions: 243cm x 243cm (approx 8ft x 8ft)
Blocks: 64 blocks, 10” x 10”
Piecing Method: English Paper Piecing. Hand Pieced
Quilting Method: Hand Quilted
Dates: 2004 – August 2006

2007 South West Quilters Award for Traditional Quilts, Quilts UK , Malvern
2007 ‘My First Bed Quilt’, Great Northern Quilt Show, Harrogate

#4 Butterfly Quilt - What did I learn from this Quilt?

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