I chose my inspiration quilt from the Minnesota Quilts, Creating Connections with Our Past, Voyageur Press, 2005. This particular quilt was beautifully created by Zelda F. Graplar Detert in 1935. I knew the intricate pattern and flowing edges of this piece were going to be a challenge, but I was so drawn to her story and the picture of this master piece that I wanted to give it a try.
“Quilt making experienced resurgence during the Depression. Patterns that made use of small pieces such as Grandmother’s Flower Garden and Wedding Ring, were popular because bits of fabric from unworn old clothing were easy to come by; nothing was wasted. Many patterns were published around this time in newspapers and farm journals. Zelda created this design from the picture of a similar quilt she saw in Farmer magazine.”
Minnesota Quilts p.111
My design is both hand and machine quilted. I did replicate the basket of tulips but chose to apply a different pattern in the connecting squares. This was a labor of love in unfamiliar territory and I told my sister that ‘I felt that I was in a foreign country and didn’t speak the language.’ She told me to go for it, and so I did.
I was excited to learn that the owner of this quilt was one of Zelda’s daughters, Karen Mack of Viroqua, WI. She was so gracious and charming when I spoke with her, that by the time our conversation ended, I felt I knew her and her mother. As she spoke, I found that Zelda and I had a lot in common. Not only did she raise her children, she enjoyed a large garden and loved to bake and cook for her family and friends.
Karen sent me a picture of her mother and to my delight told me some stories. My favorite is Zelda
“…participating in the tradition of bouncing a cat in the middle of the completed quilt; whichever girl the cat jumped nearest as it escaped the silliness would be the next to be married!” Minnesota Quilts p.111
I have great admiration for all the ladies that appliqué and do hand work. My sister makes it all look so easy and I found that it is not. This being my first attempt at hand-appliqué, I can only hope to get better with every stitch and continue the tradition sharing my experience with my children and grandchildren. Who knows, maybe there is a Zelda in my family.