I found the top on eBay and was charmed by the 1930s fabrics and the visual complexity of the string piecing. It was not expensive and I thought I would just quilt it up quickly and enjoy it. When it arrived, however, the picture was very different.
Although the color and graphics were still good, the completed top was narrow and very long; not a very functional piece. The strings had been hand stitched to a variety of foundation fabrics. Blocks were also sewn together by hand with seam allowances that measured from ¼” to 1” in width. I debated for a while whether it was really worth finishing. I considered several options, questioned “should I, or shouldn’t I? What would the quilt world think was OK for me to do with it?” In the end, it was my most dramatic rescue and I love it.
The scariest part was taking a rotary cutter to the piece. I cut blocks apart and then cut them to the same size. Then one more time, with the cutter, I cut them into triangles. The string triangles were set with another triangle of muslin and the blocks were set together on point to make basket shapes.
Then the question of quilting it…Quilt by hand or machine? Traditional natural-colored thread or something different? I decided I had already taken the quilt so far from its original roots, that I should keep going in that direction. I loaded it onto my Statler Stitcher and used a bright, variegated King Tut thread to put flowers into the baskets. A red binding finished it, because I love red, and because it brought out so much great color in the old fabrics.
I hope you love this quilt rescue as much as I do. A finished quilt is always better than an old top in a drawer, or closet, or in the trash. I am happy to have given this one a new life.