“English Rose Variation” made by Olive McClure Cook appeals to me in so many ways. The appliqué, the design, the color, the fabrics, and the originality of her work intrigue me. Her English Rose quilt truly harkens back to quilters of the 19th Century.
When I created my version, I decided to stay true to Olive’s quilt and bring my own esthetic to my work. My first decision was to include all of the design in my study quilt by keeping it a four-block design with borders. One change that I made was to eliminate the scalloped edge. I chose to work within the same color palette that Olive used. Once I began choosing my fabrics, the quilt became my own. Since using toile has become a characteristic of my quilt making, I chose a subdued toile for my background fabric. Another important fabric decision was to use a green fabric with shading and a design for the vines and leaves. As I studied Olive’s colors in her flowers and buds, I enjoyed looking at her combinations and placement. While I used her yellows, oranges and reds I added more shades and a greater number of fabrics than the study quilt. When I put in some small touches of bright orange, purple and another green my quilt glowed.
As I made my quilt, I often thought about Olive. She must have loved to appliqué, as do I. She was an older woman making her quilt in 1939 in the midst of the Depression. She must have certainly made thoughtful fabric choices and played with the placement of her colors, just as I was. I wondered why she made one border design different from the other three. The top border is more delicate with many circles for buds or berries. The other borders are more substantial, and their design echoes that of the middle vines. Did she make that one different border first and decide that it was too delicate or difficult? Or, did she make it last to add a difference in the design? Either way, it adds personality to her quilt.
It’s almost as if Olive gave me a cutting from her own garden that I was able to nurture and foster. Thus, the name for my quilt is “Summer Rose”.