Thursday, May 9, 2013

May Tulips

This seems like the perfect time to share an exciting addition to my vintage quilt collection. I was thrilled to find May Tulips, a Marie Webster design, at a flea market in Minnesota last winter. A restless spirit sent me out to the convention center event one snowy, slushy Sunday.  Various dealers had set up tables; everything from tools, to comic books to jewelry. As I paid my entrance fee and  looked around I saw a number of empty tables and vacant areas - I guessed that the weather had kept some of the usual vendors away. I was a bit discouraged and wondered if it was even worth looking around.

But....seen at a distance of several rows of tables, (across a crowded room, you might say!)  folded neatly at the outer corner of one table, was this lovely quilt. I examined it, unfolded it, noted the fine applique work and lovely hand quilting. It was so soft - it had been used and washed and loved. It was a bit faded  from it's original colors but very clean, no holes or rips or even worn binding.

I'm not sure I even want to tell you this - but here's the amazing part of the story. A piece of paper on top of it said, " pink afghan $30".  I thought to myself, "Someone very uneducated about textiles thinks this is an afghan and priced it reflecting that. My lucky day!"
I brought it over to the man running the booth with this paper that was on top of it but he said "Oh, that's for something else".  And I thought, "figures" shoulda known"! It knew it was too good to be true.... but before I could even complete that thought he said, "That one is $10".

Could I make this up?
I was flabbergasted as he continued, " I wouldn't wanna 'take' ya."!
I told him that was definitely worth that and paid him.  I felt like I was stealing it. I walked away slowly, (though I wanted to run for the door) in case he somehow realized he'd made a mistake and wanted to chase me down.

Yes. Sometimes we get the deal of a lifetime. I have had a few other unbelievable buys and this is not the lowest price I've paid for a nice quilt  (see Goodwill Quilt ) but being a Marie Webster design I think it is my best bargain to date! And just so you know, I have paid way more than I should for a few so...maybe it evens out!

According to A Joy Forever, Marie designed the pattern in 1920 and it became one of her most popular offerings.

The May 1931 issue of Needlecraft magazine advertised either a kit ($3.65) or stamped blocks ($.25 each)  in the May Tulips pattern.

This book contains wonderful information about Marie and her company as well as full-color photos and patterns for twelve of her designs.

This full vertical view of the design in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE, shows more clearly the 'art deco' influence of the border applique and the more geometric shape of the scalloped edge.

I guess the deal I got helped me justify this purchase before I got out the door- a sterling silver needle case with the bail on top for wearing with a chain.

What great buys have you made? I'd love to hear your stories!!


  1. What a great story about the purchase of the quilt. My friend just recently purchased some quilts for $20 each at a garage sale. I just don't come across bargains like her purchase or yours.

  2. What a fabulous quilt story! It's fun to know that they still happen and that unappreciated quilts are still finding good homes. My best story is a sad one because I re-sold that bargain and have regretted it ever since. A barrel tape measure with a Stanhope viewer was in a basket of sewing stuff I got at an auction for ... ten dollars. Oh, I wish I had it BACK!


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