Getting Lost in Time

May 26, 2011 · 7 comments

Dresden quilt block

©Coffee and Cotton

I have been hanging onto a stack of these Dresden blocks. I bought them at a vintage goods store. All are made from 1930′s/1940′s fabrics. Originals, not reproductions. Someone lovingly cut and pieced them together…unplugged. I think they were assembled incorrectly because I can’t seem to turn the edges evenly to applique {I think I may need to release part of their seams}. None-the-less they make me daydream.
Who was the woman or man that made the blocks? Was the clothing, that later became quilt material, worn by a farmer’s wife, a beloved child, a husband? Perhaps a more modern family dwelling in an urban area? Was the sewing interrupted by crying babies, cooking for family, heartaches? Why were they never assembled? Why did those related to the quilter not keep them?
See how my mind can go down paths and make up dreamy stories as I go? I did the same thing when I lived in 2 Victorian homes in the SF Bay. My mind’s eye would see women in long dresses walking along the beach or men in their Tweed pulling the horse and buggy up to the wood sided garage… all while I stood at my sink washing dishes.
Am I alone here? Does your mind easily wander go down paths of imagined history?

And what is life? A crazy quilt;
Sorrow and joy, and grace and guilt,
With here and there a square of blue
For some old happiness we knew;
And so the hand of time will take
The fragments of our lives and make,
Out of life’s remnants, as they fall,
A thing of beauty, after all

~ “A Crazy Quilt” by Douglas Malloch

all content copyrighted © 2013 Coffee and Cotton

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Elizabeth McDonald May 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

What a fabulous post! I used to collect antiques for those very reasons, and I have my Mom’s and my grandmother’s long-handled forks to cook with, simply because they remind me of those other cooks.


avatar 2 Linda May 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Oh my goodness! My family teases me mercilessly for the imagined stories! I also lived in a Victorian house and I absolutely loved the scenes I thought up! I guess we’re romantics at heart. I have a box of “real”, not reproduction, scraps from the 30′s and 40′s and I love to look through them and imagine what they were used for. I can see where pieces of clothing were cut out of the fabric. It’s so much fun just looking at them!!!
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avatar 3 maddie May 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Girl you know me.. I love the idea that items had a life before me… to think about it gives me great pleasure!~~

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avatar 4 Rachelle May 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Yes! So totally. I have a grandmother’s flower garden (hexagon) quilt hanging on my wall made by my great-grandma. I will often get sucked into it, standing, looking at each fabric, wondering where it came from, what it used to be, and imagining her making it. I love looking at the stitches her hands made.


avatar 5 Jamye May 28, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Sometimes we seem to think alike! We went thrift-storing a couple weeks ago and I saw quilts and afghans, crocheted and knitted and I wondered about how it got to a thrift store. I rescued a couple of things. If only they could tell us their stories…
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avatar 6 sophie May 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm

I am making a quilt from authentic 1930′s feed sacks and as I work on it, I often find myself channeling a midwestern farmer’s wife in the 1930′s. Fabric selection and design decisions are made through the filter of what would my imagined quilter do.
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avatar 7 joanna June 3, 2011 at 10:33 am

Love the colors of those dresdens! Just perfect. Love your story too.

happy sewing,



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