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I went to my first estate sale Friday by suggestion of an antique collecting BIL. Not sure of what to expect or how to make deals, I think I did very well. I came across two 22 gallon storage containers overstuffed with fabric! The story from the young (and oblivious) man and woman was that their mother had kept her mothers' projects and fabrics stored for decades. Their grandmother passed in '69, so all of these items were from the 1930-60s. ( I found her newpaper templates that are dated and have 1938 movie review starring Loretta Young). These two heirs saw old rags whereas I saw a gold mine. As I quietly looked through each box, the man repeatedly said that "only people without televisions made quilts". He also mentioned things that translated into 'old was not good' these days. Little did he know.
I understand how people need to 'get through' estate sales to move on to bigger tasks regarding estates. And I also know that families do not sell things that are significant to them. However, this was crazy!

From the Grandmother's stash, I now have 3 hand sewn Qsz tops and enough sewn blocks and cut fabric to make at least 4 more quilts. The heir initially wanted $15 for each top then agreed to 40 for all of it. I am not even including all of the fabric in different sizes and styles. I threw in some rotary blades and appliques scissors to the mix and almost feel guilty for getting such a great deal.

Yesterday, a quilting sister came over to help me go through it again and I gave her the Double Wedding Ring that had 7 rings hand pieced together and all of the many templates and cut fabric pieces. I have 20 sewn Dresden Plates that will make another Qsz top. Fan blocks and other patterns I haven't identified yet make up the rest of this woman's beautiful handiwork.

My thoughts have been mostly about this quilter? Were her quilts being made for her family or friends or a charity group? Are all of her fabrics from clothing she wore. Were calicos her favorite print or just most available? Already having way too many of my own WIPs to complete, the idea of jumping right into her projects is not happening here. The discovery of this woman's creations in varied stages has me thinking about what will happen to my things when I pass on. I, too, have blocks waiting to be joined to form a quilt top. Almost a dozen tops waiting to give warmth one day. More than enough fabric ready for piecing.

Hopefully, my son has learned from me what my thoughts are about quilting as to not box everything away for decades only to have his kids practically give it away at his estate sale.

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Comment by Debbie Snyder/WA on October 20, 2009 at 4:29am
Great post. Loved reading about your adventure. When you have a chance to go thru everything, you'll have to share it with us. Cant wait to see some photos.
Comment by Evelyn on October 19, 2009 at 7:06am
Wow! So many comments in such short time. I see we all feel the same way about continuing what a sister quilter started. I am so tempted to find out more about this woman but do not want to become a stalker for these people. I am so interested about her history.
My son was at first saddened by the way these fabric bins were sold instead of treasured. He has such an old soul for a teen. He felt better knowing I will finish them for her. About all of my own stash and works in progress; he said he was planning to keep all of my quilts for himself! Ha! The mention of a quilt journal came up again so he'd know my intentions. He tells me often enough to write things down NOW!
Comment by Linda Richards/N. Ontario on October 19, 2009 at 4:41am
Evelyn, glad you got such a terrific find. Isn't it wonderful when something like this happens. Our quilting girls are always talking about what would happen to our stash when we are gone. I guess everyone's relatives has the word - call the girls from the quilting group first and let them help themselves. No one else would value the worth. Hope you have a wonderful time sewing Evelyn.
Comment by Ginger Anne Johnson on October 18, 2009 at 2:05pm
I think that God had you in mind when the unknown quilter was working on her quilts. Doing them gave her pleasure and now you're enjoying working with her fabrics. And you will pass them on to someone who appreciates the value of hand sewn quilts! Even if it's not done by a relative (blood), they were all done by a sister in quilting. After all, quilting makes us related!
Comment by Paula/TX on October 18, 2009 at 1:44pm
Merry Christmas!! What a great find. If I knew for certain they would appreciate it, I might be tempted to put together a quilt from some of the stuff for that family. They would probably just sell it in their next garage sale though. Have fun working on the new projects.
Comment by Cat Lady--MO on October 18, 2009 at 12:44pm
Evelyn, estate sales can be"gold mines for quilters. Recently I even picked up a Featherweight from some heirs that only knew their mother had too many machines. I have also received hand stitched blocks from some unknown quilter, as people know I sew. One of the treasures I have is old newspaper patterns that my great-grandmother and grandmother saved. I really do need to take time to sort through them all. In the mean time they are all put away in a box. Hopefully they will not be trash when I move on to quilting in the next realm.
Comment by marlene tarzwell on October 18, 2009 at 12:38pm
Hi there, Congrats on your great find. I went to a flea market here in Greenville and found a gentelman selling some of his mothers ''junk'' and he had a big tub of fabric pieces and a few quilt tops. I was going to pay 5.00 each for a couple of them. You could tell they were very old and I wanted to cut them into smaller ones to donate and he ended up giving it all to me for 20.00. [thats all I had with me] and when we got home I ended up with 12 really big tops and a pile of different blocks. I was in heaven. I delicately washed them[were in an attic] and cut all but 3 up and now I have at least 25 good size lap quilt tops. I added some boarders on to match the backs and all I need to do is the batting etc. So I know what it is like to get a good find. I get soooo excited. I know what you mean about leaving things when we are gone. I have one daughter and she doesnt have time to do anything. You have fun ok? Bye
Comment by Pam/NY on October 18, 2009 at 11:58am
I collect and buy old quilt tops...and I think of who might have sewn them and that they were made from old clothing...when I sign the quilt I always sign hand pieced by unknown quilter...I like to think that angel quilter has a smile to know someone finished their quilt! Enjoy your find...they sound like they didn't care anyways.
Comment by quiltingmama on October 18, 2009 at 11:43am
It's too bad those young heirs didn't realize what they were parting with. I know in my family, everyone scheme and dreams of getting their hands on a quilt (in any stage of progress) that my Grandma had her hands on. However, you got quite the treasure. Congratulations.
Comment by B J Elder/WA on October 18, 2009 at 11:03am
What a treasure you got and are now sharing with others. How fun. I"m glad they included these things in the sale... sometimes when there is stuff like this that no-one appreciates, they just throw it out. Enjoy your treasures.

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