Billy and I love to ramble about in flea markets and antique shops while traveling or in the Winter when outside activities are less than comfortable. Some of our favorite places are the small out of the way, Mom and Pop junk places and every now and then, we will come across some unique items. Old quilts, new quilts, quilt blocks and quilt tops are often tossed in boxes or draped as display. While many are beyond what I would want to use, I have found a few that were easily repaired or just needed washing to bring them back to usable.
When I was waiting for my quilting machine to come, we ran across a little shop just inside the eastern Alabama line, probably less than 2000 square feet of the ubiquitous metal garage type store with some interesting at a distance metal stuff in the yard. Not really much of interest inside and we thought it was another bust but on the way out: there it was! A quilt top so scrappy that I snatched it up and gladly paid $15 just for the old fabrics. I thought , worst case, it would make a good practice piece for my Sweet Sixteen. In the car, we noticed a bit of odor, not unusual when something comes out of a hot box full of ancient cast offs. By the time we got home, I realized my "find" was just a rag. It was string pieced of hundreds of totally different types, weaves and colors of cotton flour sacks, linen and yeah: double knits!! I washed it and it raveled even more than it did in that antique shop bin. So I stuffed it away, thinking I could use it as a real rag or stuffing in the dog beds I seemed to constantly make.
Time passes and I did clean out some of those rag bag collections in the interest of not being featured an the HOARDERS show. And there it was...I ironed and patched and folded the edges of the totally crooked mismatched squares, put it on backing and cotton batting and set it up on the quilter, There was not a straight line or complete seam in the whole piece. I remembered advice from my longarm quilter regarding how hard it is to quilt some poorly pieced tops and then I went to work.
675,000 stitches later, with the binding applied, I really thought "What a complete waste of time"! I did not buy anything to finish the quilt but used leftover batting and backing. Even the binding was a remnant so I realized my experience with the worst ever top was valuable. I stuffed it in the washer and then dried it on hot and heavy duty. When the dryer buzzed, Billy took it out and I heard a big WOW! The miracle of closely stitched thread in all cotton washed, dried and shrunken turned my pile of scrap into a crinkled rainbow of warmth and comfort. Everytime this process happens, I am surprised and then remember why I am a quilter!