When our niece Susan was here at the beginning of October to help with preparations for the family reunion, she brought with her a quilt top.
Susan is an expert hand quilter, but had decided she would ask our Amish neighbors to do this one for her.
She invited the ladies to choose their own pattern for the stitching.
The Miller girls, Lizzie and Mary, appeared this morning with the quilt, having walked from their home a mile down the dead-end road.
They walk bare-footed, in spite of the fact that our lane is topped with crushed rock.
The girls expressed their pleasure in working on Susan's quilt, enjoying her choice of vivid colors and her precise and tidy piecing.
The Miller sisters and their mother, Mrs. Mary, regularly quilt for a woman who markets finished quilts having paid cottage workers to piece the tops and others to do the hand quilting.
The ones I have seen were Log cabin variations.
I have several times visited their home when a quilt in progress is stretched on the large quilting frame set up in the main room of the farmhouse.
The quilting thread is measured out in yard lengths and secured to the edges of the quilt in neatly counted bundles. Pricing is based on the number of yards of threads used multiplied by 5 cents.
In this case the charge for the hand quilting was $69, as 138 yds of thread was needed.
The batting, which they supplied, was $8.
Susan will be sending a check for $100--we both feel they didn't charge enough for their neat work.
I will be interested to see how Susan binds the sawtooth edges of her quilt.
I spread it on the bed in the downstairs guest room for photos.
The bed was made in Wyoming by our son.
The ladies chose a stitch pattern which avoided working through the multiple seam allowances within each block.
Susan pointed out to me that each block in the quilt has an opposite: the same fabrics used but in reverse order.
The door to the guest room is usually closed.
Bobby Mac was quick to go in with me and 'help' to spread out the quilt.
Bobby Mac was prepared to stay awhile and enjoy the spill of sunshine while posing against the glowing colors.
Mrs. Mary explained when I asked how she taught her girls to quilt, that she set them early on to practice neat stitching by working around the very edges of quilts--the area that would be fully covered by the binding.
When she felt they were proficient they were allowed to stitch on a customer's quilt.
On the day that Susan and I visited to leave her quilt it was raining and dark.
Mrs. Mary and the girls had improvised a light table using their tall gas lamps set beneath a whole cloth top. They have a number of large patterns for such bedspreads which are outlined on heavy clear vinyl sheets.
Somehow they manage to trace the pattern onto the fabric without setting the whole business alight!
Before they left to walk home, having refused a ride back, I showed the Miller girls the very small quilt I hand finished this winter.
They were polite--but I suspect Mrs. Mary would set me to practicing around the edges!