Applique’ From the Past

My mom often cleans out some part of her house or storage and tries to give me things. I have a lot of things. Probably too many, so I try and refuse. She got me in a weak moment over the holidays and I ended up with a plastic bag containing something that was a very odd shade of green. She said it was Aunt Grace’s Holiday tablecloth.

I have a holiday tablecloth and during one of the massive cleanups during this holiday season, the plastic-bag-with-green-who-knows-what got shoved in a closet downstairs. As luck would have it, or perhaps some goddess of table linens was smiling on my dead Aunt Grace, The Child spilled chocolate milk on my holiday tablecloth right before a party, so I went in search of the green thing to see what it was and if I could stand looking at it.

Oh Me of little faith!

Holiday Tablecloth

Holiday Tablecloth

Well, I have to say I do like this tablecloth. My mom said that Aunt Grace had one of the first zigzag sewing machines in the 1950s and made this tablecloth with her own drawings. I have no idea if that is true (when were zigzag machines available to home sewists??) or just family lore. I can relate, however, as I did a wild and complicated machine applique’ project when I first got the 9K because I was so excited about having zigzag capability.

Dancing Santa

Dancing Santa

We had a big discussion in my house about the meaning of the Happy Dancing Santa and his red face. Too much dancing?

Santa has long and luxurious hand embroidered eyelashes!

The satin stitch  on all the pieces is really thick, so we have had discussions about that as well. I can’t tell if she used thick thread or if the fabric bunched up under the zigzag. I guess there could also be some stabilizer in there, but I didn’t see any when I looked at the back.

Candles

Candles

One thing I noticed is that there is a lot of movement in these designs. The slanted top of the candles is an example of this. The shape of the candles echoes the shape of the holly, wreath and other motifs.

Reindeer

Reindeer

We all agreed that this reindeer looks very Seussian. I would love it if Aunt Grace had a journal or blog where she talked about her inspiration. Was she reading Dr. Seuss at the time? It gives me renewed resolve in continuing to post about my projects and quiltmaking encounters!

Bells

Bells

As you may be able to see (click to enlarge the picture), Aunt Grace has used French knots for the edge (lip??) of the bell. Notice how she used one towards the bottom to highlight the shape. Very subtle, IMO.

Snowman

Snowman

The very un-PC snowman with his prominent pipe! She used some hand embroidery stitching for the eyes, which she also used on the reindeer. I also like the way the stitching around the sections of the motifs do not match the fabric.

Tablecloth detail

Tablecloth detail

I love the detail in the designs and also the variety of thread used. I also like it that everything is not perfect. I don’t mean that she put in fake mistakes. She just did what she could do. It looks real to me.

About Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.
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4 Responses to Applique’ From the Past

  1. Sherri D says:

    hmmm, your Aunt Grace isn’t THE Aunt Grace though, is she??? Also, I did NOT know that a snowman with a pipe is not PC? REALLY? I am so tired of wondering if I am PC or not. You should see me trying to talk to those of other skin colors than mine. I worry constantly about offending! Shoot, it isn’t just skin colors either if you throw in …… um….. other minorities that are not based on skin color. Is this even a safe PC commentary? sighhhhhhh

  2. RuthG says:

    I can back your mom up about zigzag machines become available for home use in the 1950′s. It was regarded as a big advance and they became popular very quickly.

  3. Jaye says:

    No, my Aunt Grace is not THE Aunt Grace. I believe that Aunt Grace is Judy Rothermel’s Aunt Grace. TFQ could say for sure. Perhaps she will comment.

    I think the pipe thing is about smoking being bad for you. It would be great if there were rules, but who would create them and would we all agree with them?

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