They weren't quilted, they were tied with crochet cotton, and the backings were sheets. The quilts were lightweight and washed like a dream. This was beneficial, as they were utility quilts in every sense of the word. We used them on picnics, we brought them to the beach, we watched fireworks lying on them. We used them to wrap my Mother's artwork when we had to deliver it to various galleries. On our beds, we put them on top of the bed's flat sheet, and under the blanket so they were rarely seen. On hot summer nights, they were perfect to sleep under, just enough to keep out the draft, but light enough not to be too hot.
My Mémère never bought new fabric to make the quilts. She always used what she had. Later, when she had Macular Degenerative Disease, and couldn't see, I asked her how she made them, because I couldn't figure out how she put them together. They weren't made in traditional blocks.
|This is one of the last quilts Memere made. This was made in the 1980's.|
"If one piece was too big, I'd just cut it off. If I didn't like the pieces I sewed together, I'd just use them someplace else." Mémère even chain-pieced them.
I asked how she got the pieces square. "Oh I cut them with a pair of scissors."
"So after I sew those, and pressed the seams, I did it again using the pieces I had."
"I kept sewing until I got a big chunk and then I put it aside until I had a lot of big pieces and then I sewed them together until it got to be the right size for the bed."
Did she measure? No, she'd lay the big sections on the bed and move them around until they were the way she liked. She'd cut things off if they were too big, and add the pieces to other sections that were too small. She wanted to use every scrap.
It should. I've heard the same process described by Tonya Ricucci, Gwen Marston, and in several "tutes" for "made fabric" and many other places.
Was my Mémère the first true "Liberated Quiltmaker?" Of course not, she was just trying to make do with what she had.
My Mémère died in 2001, well before I took up quiltmaking again (after a 22 year break), so I never had a chance to tell her that she was a quilt maverick.
She would have laughed and told me I was silly, but every time I make one of these color blocks (using the technique she taught me) I think of her.