aunt jeanie’s quilt: the quilt back saga

aunt jeanie's quilt top

I have the best news: Aunt Jeanie’s quilt is back on my project table! It’s only been about seventeen months since I last mentioned the quilt, but who’s counting?

Just because it hasn’t been mentioned in blogland doesn’t mean it hasn’t been blinking furiously in my sewing radar. I finished piecing together the quilt top soon after that first blog post, and then I began the quest for a backing fabric. After spending all the time to put together the top, the backing needed to be perfect. A vintage feel was required, and I knew the colors would be tricky to match with all the various shades of navy and red in the quilt top. I tried choosing solid navy or solid red, but each fabric would match some of the patterns and clash completely with others.

I even took the quilt, and its batting, with me to school in the spring to continue the quest. I had made so much progress on this quilt – more progress than any other quilt I’ve attempted – and I didn’t want it to get buried in my WIP’s. In March, I visited an antique mall in southern Ohio (home of the yellow salt & pepper shakers… this is becoming a very aunt jeanie post, as she loves S&P shakers!) with Brad’s family and found a wonderful fabric stall, owned by the cutest old lady. I dug through her fabrics, and she encouraged me to make a mess because she knew that was the only way to find the good stuff.

“Where do you find all your fabrics?” I asked, presuming that she, like so many of the other antique dealers, scavenged their finds at estate sales, auctions, or other antiques markets. But she was far more than just an antiques dealer, and her eyes crinkled with her smile as she said, “oh, I’ve been captivated by fabric for as long as I can remember.”

I took this to mean that she has a house full of fabric, and only the rejects make it to the stall. Her house must be a heavenly – and very full – place.

She was clearly an awesome old lady, and I’d love to say one of her fabrics ended up in my quilt. But they didn’t. I bought a few very unique prints from her, along with two hopeful quilt backs with blue, red, and white patterns, but they weren’t right. So I remained patient.

vintage red quilt back fabrics

Brad and I made a thrift store run sometime around then, and again I was searching for a quilt back. I checked all the vintage sheets, hoping one of them would pop out with blue and red quilt-back glory. But no luck.

And again, two months later, we returned to the thrift store. We were nearing graduation, and I had accepted the fact that the quilt clearly wouldn’t gain progress until I returned home. I still did some searching at the thrift store, and ended up buying a few bags of scrap fabric because I don’t have enough scrap fabric they were cute and scrap fabric bags are just too exciting.

I opened them in my dorm like they were the best Christmas presents ever. Have you ever bought 5 fabric grab bags for $3? It was exhilarating.

And in the middle of one, I found a full yard of this white and blue paisley fabric. Another of the bags held an additional 1/2 yard of the same. And a third bag held about 1/2 yard of this red with flowers that screams “aunt jeanie’s quilt”. Finally! Finally, I found it. (and finally i have justified my addiction to fabric grab bags!)

vintage red quilt back - version A

So here it is. The quilt back. I started with the simple strips of red as in the above photo, but that was a little too plain. So I chopped the red strips in half – which was nervewracking since I had used every bit of that red fabric – and inserted a stripe of the paisley.

vintage red quilt back - final version

Ta da!

vintage red quilt - pretty raw edges

Even the raw edges are gorgeous.

After completing the quilt back last week, I assembled my quilt sandwich… and as of today I’m done hand-basting the layers. Next up, machine quilting! And then I have to choose a fabric for the binding…. eep. That again.

vintage red quilt back detail - hand basting

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2 Responses

  1. Aunt Jeanie says: – i can remember almost everything that was made out of those fabrics. My favorite though – the hands with the rings on them – floppy hat, i believe :)

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