In July I inherited a dresden plate quilt made in 1939. The binding was a mess, there had to be at least five different bindings, widths and repairs. I'd have to re-bind it when I returned home! Dresden plates have never been a personal favorite of mine, yet this quilt was really special. My great grandmother made this quilt for her only granddaughter, Mary Edith, on the occasion of her high school graduation.
Basically it is a hand appliqued pattern in soft green and pink. It is unusual in that the dresden plates were not appliqued onto blocks. They were appliqued onto one large piece of pieced green fabric. She then applied a border of pink, yellow and green. I'm sure she had some church ladies quilt it for her.
My aunt, the recipient of the quilt, took the quilt with her to Purdue and later to Hanover College where she graduated. After the Second World War, she married a navigator and they moved to Georgia to start their life together. There she lived in several homes, and raised 2 children. This special quilt kept her warm during that busy and challenging time in her life. She became a widow at a fairly young age and returned to school to become an RN. She met a doctor at the local hospital who was widowed about the same time. They eventually married, and had an interesting life, traveling across the world together for over 20 years. My aunt found herself a widow again, and moved north of Atlanta to be with her son. Nearing the end of her life, this quilt was still keeping her warm and connected to her family; until her death last summer.
Her son and wife gave me this precious quilt following my aunt's funeral. It is a lightweight quilt, perfect for a southerner to have owned, it was well worn and long loved. As I was making the long 2 day drive home to Wisconsin following the funeral, I planned on removing the tattered and frayed binding and then attach a new pink bias binding in its place.
The most recent repair, a narrow strip whip stitched into place.
A few months have gone by now. I have slept under this quilt many times. I've written and published a booklet on bias binding and how important it is, to have a beautiful bias on the edge of your quilt. But I've changed my mind about my aunt's quilt. I'm leaving the old binding with its many repairs and short replacement strips. All the pieces of binding were repaired and added by the women in my family; my great grandmother, my great aunt, my grandmother and my aunt. I can picture in my mind one or two of these women, sitting on the porch at the family cottage, going around the edges of the quilt, stitching the edges to make it last "just a little longer." My family history is contained in this binding of pink scraps. I will love the quilt and its crazy binding with its many widths and repairs, and it will continue to keep me warm for many years to come.