This blog post is going to be a bit out of the ordinary, but after posting some photos of a particular quilt on Facebook, I got so many nice comments that I decided to tell the history of this quilt because it’s a story I love to tell!
The name of this quilt is “I’m Not from Baltimore, Bakersfield Edition”, and here is its story...
In 2006, I volunteered to be in charge of the making of my quilt guild’s next opportunity quilt (I lived in Bakersfield, California, and our guild was The Cotton Patch Quilters). This pattern by Irma Gail Hatcher was chosen. Irma Gail’s original quilt is called “Conway Album Quilt”, and is now a permanent part of the Quilt Museum in Paducah. Irma graciously granted our guild permission to use her pattern to make our opportunity quilt.
As the person in charge of getting this huge project accomplished, I had to select the people in my guild whom I believed could do the best applique. There are seventeen applique blocks and borders in this quilt. So I went through our membership directory and called each person that I knew who did exceptional applique work. They all accepted my request to complete a block or a border. The center block was the biggest job, and LaVonne T., the best appliquér in our guild (at the time and maybe still to this day) agreed to do that block. And another job to be done was the piecing. If you’ll notice the saw-tooth border around each block; that was a huge task, so I selected a lady that I knew to be an exceptional piecer (Pat M.). And lastly, the quilting would be my job, which I would perform on my BERNINA 440QE.
I selected all the fabrics and made up the kits for the ladies. After about 7 months, the quilt was completed. And it was (and is) breathtaking! Yes, that blue was the perfect choice! It’s called “Cornflower blue” and is a Kona Cotton.
I was in charge of raffle ticket sales, so I worked many long hours getting bundles of tickets together and distributing them to all guild members. I also took the quilt around to many other guilds to sell tickets. And I entered it in several quilt shows in California where it won numerous awards. I was VERY COMMITTED to this quilt, and it was my goal for it to make as much money for our guild as possible.
By the time of our quilt show (January 2008), we had sold approximately 13,000 tickets for this quilt. I had purchased plenty myself, but after all, it would only take one lucky ticket for someone to win.
Alas, I did not win the quilt. I didn’t expect to, but it sure would have been nice! I was most definitely attached to it; it was like one of my children almost!
When I delivered the quilt to the lucky lady who won it, I asked her to PLEASE call me first if she ever decided to sell it. She said she would, and that was that. I drove home, feeling a bit blue. I didn’t think I’d ever see that quilt again.
Well, about 5 years later, I came home one Sunday night around 9:00, and the message machine on my phone was blinking. It was the call I had always hoped to get; it was the quilt winner, and she said she had had some life changes, her husband had passed away, she was moving, and she wanted to know if I’d like to buy the quilt from her! I was beyond happy to think that I might actually be reunited with this quilt! But here was the question: How much would she sell it for?
Since it was late Sunday night, I didn’t want to call her back right then, so I waited until Monday morning. All this time I had butterflies in my stomach, not knowing if we could strike a deal on the price of the quilt. I knew what it had appraised for, and there was no way I could pay that much.
At last by Monday morning I had decided that I could offer her $1200 (I had some quilt award money set aside). So, I called her. After some small talk and condolences about her husband, we got down to business. I was hoping she’d tell me up front how much she wanted for the quilt, but no, she asked me what I was willing to pay for it. And even though I had the price of $1200 set in my head, I cheaped-out at the last second and said I could manage to come up with $1000. In that few seconds it took for her to respond, I held my breath. After those few seconds she said, “I’ll tell you what: you give me $750 and it’s yours!” I let my breath out and could have cried for joy! I was going to own this quilt again!
Within two hours I drove over to meet her and pick up the quilt. I gave her $800, she gave me the quilt, and my beloved quilt was home where it truly belonged.
To this very day the quilt hangs in my house so that I can admire it every single day. I love everything about it; from the exquisite applique done by my friends in Bakersfield, to those perfectly pieced points, and of course, the quilting is nice too! And I still love telling its story, so I’m thankful to all of you for taking an interest in it and allowing me to share its history with you.