My quilting bee met last night. There are nine ladies who meet once a month at my house. We take turns providing a sinfully delicious dessert or two. Normally we work on our own projects, but occasionally we will quilt together at a frame to help one of the members finish a project.
Last night we had an abundance of desserts: fudge frosted devil's food torte, crumb topped apple pie, and pumpkin pecan dessert squares. Unfortunately, last night only five of us made it to bee. It was a bit quieter than usual, but we had an enjoyable evening.
One of our members is a certified quilt appraiser. There are only 65 certified appraisers in the United States. The National Quilters Association is the body responsible for certifying quilt appraisers, and those who wish to be certified have to pass an intense course of study, and a grueling final test.
Two weeks ago, when I visited the Antiques Market with my sister, I bought two quilts. I rarely purchase quilts, so it was odd that I bought two on one day. I found a S Trip Around the World quilt that was in fairly good condition. The link shows you the pattern for the quilt. My quilt is a bit gentler in appearance because it is made with Depression era fabrics.
The second quilt I bought is a S quilt that I plan to give to my Mother for her birthday. It's in shades of white, pink and rose, and the design has been created in counted cross stitch. It's a very feminine quilt, in excellent condition, and the hand work is beautiful.
I asked my friend, the quilt appraiser, if she would do her magic for me on these quilts, so she brought her kit and appraised them as we chatted. I was astonished at the outcome. In her opinion, to replace these quilts, I would have to spend four times what I actually paid for them. Dear Husband says that we have our quilts appraised to make us feel better about what we spend on them, and this surely made me feel better!
Like anyone else, I like a bargain. I probably wouldn't have sprung for these quilts at their appraised value. But, I'd like to tell you that the art of making a quilt is generally undervalued. If I were to take the quilt on the back of my couch and add lines of machine embroidery to it to jazz it up, and then describe it as "Fiber Art," the quilt would command twice what it is worth now, or more.
For some reason, quilts are seen as an everyday item of little value, when it takes considerable talent to make a beautiful quilt. Years of practicing stitching, learning endless techniques, and developing color sense are all disregarded because it is just a "quilt." Some people are not even able to tell you what makes a quilt, and will call it a "comforter" or a "blanket."
In case you are not sure.....a "quilt" has three layers, a top, a batting (in the center), and a backing, and it is stitched together through all three layers, either by hand or by machine. This is the most basic of definitions. It's possible to have a quilt that doesn't have batting, but the stitching that goes through all the layers is essential. A quilt top could be "whole cloth," or a pieced design (like the Trip Around The World), or it could be embroidered, or it could have fabric appliquéd to it. When I first started quilting, the backs of the quilts were either sheets, or muslin. Now quilters are doing what they call "Back art." The backs of some quilts are as delightful to see as the fronts.
But, I digress, as I often do. What I want you to keep in mind is that quilts are MUCH more valuable than you may realize. They carry the history of your family in their stitches, and if you have family quilts, I URGE you to be sure that they have a name tag on the back that gives at the very least, the maker's name, the year it was made, and the town where it was made. The simple addition of a name tag increases the value of the quilt immensely by giving it a provenance.
So.....go forth on your Saturday chores thinking about quilts and share what you've just learned!