The allure of antiques and quilts

I think there are times when ITMan rues the day that I discovered antique furniture (okay, let’s be honest, I know there are times!). Lately, probably due to the number of new pieces that have found their way home with me (more on those later), I’ve been thinking about what it is exactly about antiques that speaks to me so strongly. So take a look at this:

Carved medallion on buffet

This is the carving on one of the doors of my buffet in the dining room. This is not a recent addition, but one of the pieces I got in Antwerp when I took a road trip to an antique wholesale warehouse with two carloads of other shoppers a few years back. I bought some other pieces on that trip, but we’ll get to those later. Anyway, I looked at this carving with new eyes some time ago, and thought about translating it into a quilted design. I think it was Kristin’s needle doodles that started me on that track, and I figured at some point I would work on some sort of a practice piece to see if I could duplicate the look and the texture of this design in fabric and thread. That’s as far as the idea went, but it was still floating around in my head when it came time to figure out what to do with the border of The Misery Quilt. The scalloped border was definitely more perfect than the idea that came before, but it still needed something more, and here’s what developed:

Border medallions

Can you see the roots of this design in the carving on the buffet? I loved those little curved edges around the central medallion on the buffet, and they soften the line of the oval, and add a bit more interest. I can hardly wait to get to the quilting part to add to the effect! I’ve planned to put sixteen medallions, eight each of two different sizes, in the outside border of the quilt. The embroidery designs are all just a bit different, since the feathery magnolia and leafy designs are all actually separate embroidery files that you can put together any way you like and stitch them out.

If you look closely at the background of the medallion on the buffet, the wood has been textured in some way, so it almost looks like stippling, in person anyway. I don’t know that “textured” is the proper term, since I know just enough about wood carving and furniture making to appreciate it, and nothing more, but you get the idea. I’m planning to quilt The Misery Quilt in #100 silk thread, and will probably put some insanely small background pattern around the flower in the medallion. The medallions are fused together, by the way, and I’ll do satin stitching with the silk thread on the edges like I’ve done in other places on the quilt.

I’ve come to realize that many of the reasons quilting attracts me the way it does go for antiques as well. Character, individuality, the unmistakable stamp of loving hand craftsmanship, finely wrought details, and the sure ability to stand the test of time; all these things are inherent to both antiques and quilts. Is it any wonder? Even the excitement and satisfaction of the search is similar: when you find the perfect antique that you just love (and can afford, and have a place to put!) you get that warm, fuzzy feeling, just like when you’ve found the perfect fabric for your current project, or you’ve tried some new technique or design solution and it’s given the project new life and made it better than you ever imagined it could be. What’s not to love about antiques and quilts?

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