Last fall a co-worker asked me if I would be willing to help her finish a quilt made by Mary Anne Lanagan Harrison, her great, great grandmother as a surprise to her mother, Jean Barbara Marson Hayes. She brought it to work and we unfolded it across a large conference room table to look at. I could see it had been hand pieced and hand quilting had been started but never finished. She wanted to know if I would be willing to finish the hand quilting and bind it. I could see there were some repairs that needed to be made due to a hole in the top of the quilt as well as some of the fabric looked to be tearing. I told her I would take it home and work on it over the winter. Well, winter came and I ended up having to have knee surgery so that delayed me for quite a while as I healed.
On Easter weekend, I finally was able to lay the quilt out and take another good look at it. The quilt top had more tears than I realized and once I really got it in my hands, I realized there was no way the quilting could be finished. Certain prints were very brittle and if you weren't careful, they would continue to tear. I talked to her and she agreed we would leave it as is, but I would just add the binding to it. I carefully brought it with me to the quilt store on a slow day and as luck would have it, my husband and I were the only customers in the store. The clerk, Kim, was wonderful and helped me find reproduction fabric to match the quilt. I ended up having to replace four strips due to the damage and they were also in the same square so the strength of that particular square was at risk of literally ripping out. The strips I replaced were then cleaned up and used to repair four more strips of the same fabric. I found some light brown reproduction fabric at the same quilt store to use for covering the hole in the quilt top. I also made a label for the back that traced the lineage of the quilt from the maker to it's current owner. I managed to have enough original material left over from the front border, after it was trimmed, to bind the label with. I also tucked several good sized of the border and backing under the label for future repairs should they be needed.
I love the colors she used and especially the pops of bright green and orange fabrics she added. Overall, I would have to say this was an amazing opportunity to work on such an old quilt. I can't help but wonder how long it took Mary Anne to hand piece the quilt. I envision her stitching on the front porch in a rocker during the warm summer months and huddled around the fireplace during a cool fall/winter evening. The love and time that went into stitching this quilt is amazing. I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this quilt. The date it was started is unknown as well as when she stopped working on it and tucked it away. It's been handed down through the family for generations.
Lineage of the quilt:
Hand pieced and quilted by
Mary Anne Lanagan Harrison
July 14, 1838 - December 31, 1920
Passed to her daughters
Rose Jane Harrison Marson
Passed to her grandson
Brian Roberts Marson
Passed to her great granddaughter
Jean Barbara Marson Hayes