Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the "Start the Car" quilt

applique quilt, c. 1860, found in Sellwood, 74" x 94"
Mom and I enjoy going to antique shops together, and there's always an amusing dialogue. She will say, "There's a lot of it!" and "Hard to believe someone bought it the first time." We always have a good time with antiques.

Yesterday, I learned a new expression from Madge Ziegler, who heard it from Karen Dever.

"Start the car!" 

Karen is a quiltmaker, collector and historian who lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, where my family lived for years. We met through mutual friends in the quilting community, and I have enjoyed our Moorestown connection. According to Madge, Karen's original version of this expression was "Harry, start the car!" I think Harry is her husband.


What a hoot! The reason for learning this wonderful expression yesterday was a quilt I found at an antique shop in the Sellwood district of Portland. Sellwood has some fun antique shops, although there are fewer shops than when I first visited the neighborhood 16 years ago. I get there a few times a year, and usually don't find much. The antiques shops in Portland are mostly vintage, and the selection of available quilts is usually pretty sad.

oh look, a quilted "fylfot"
Yesterday's outing was really just to get out of the house for a few hours. I thought I would look for items with sun motifs, since I am hoping to include something about the motif in my book. The sun is really the central motif in the New York Beauty design. Before I left the house, I found a neat little Civil War snuff box on eBay.

Civil War snuff box found on eBay
I never find quilts in Sellwood, and wasn't even looking for quilts. So, imagine my surprise when I spotted this stunning 1860s appliqué quilt. That's where the "Start the car!" expression comes in.



When I saw the price, I nearly fell over. It was a steal! Without going into too much detail about that, I can say I have spent a lot more money on dinner for two than the quilt. It was really hard to believe. I was flabbergasted!

Trying to contain my excitement, I looked around to make sure I wasn't on Candid Camera, tucked the quilt under my arm, and headed toward the register with a poker face. The clerks were nice to hold up the quilt so I could get a picture of it, but they really had no idea what a remarkable find it was.

I quickly paid and left, and dashed to the car as soon as I was out of view. It was raining, so hopefully I didn't look too out of place running with a package in my arms, but passers by must have wondered why I was beaming. If something like that ever happens to me again, it's good to know there's a suitable expression for it. Thank you, Karen and Madge! When Mom comes to visit this summer, she'll know exactly what I mean if we're looking at antiques and I say "Start the car, Mom!"

More info about the design: Sandra Starley shared a link to a wonderful blog by Barbara Brackman, where you may see several examples of the motif. Click here

14 comments:

  1. I thought it was going to be something to do with wheels or steering wheels :0) What a fabulous quilt and it's gone to a good home! I love the border - it's so cheerful!

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  2. my Mom used to remind us to "browse casually" when we went into an antique store...meaning don't jump up and down with excitement when you find the perfect quilt!!!!

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  3. Fun find for you, enjoy the quilt.

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  4. Gorgeous find! Your lucky day indeed.

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  5. SO AWESOME Bill!!! And I want that neon sign behind the quilt they are holding up.. and now I am going to say "Star the Car Harry"!!!! PRICELESS!

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  6. That is a spectacular quilt. I love the circular quilting motif. Can't wait to see a better picture of the whole thing. The colors are just wonderful.

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  7. Now I see the whole picture.

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  8. Circles are my Achilles. This is gorgeous.

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  9. Well done. My mother in law just taught me how to knit and I now vow to never ask her for any handmade knitted item again. The amount of detail and work that goes into most things homemade, most especially quilts, is mind-blowing.

    Dana @ aremypantstooloud.com

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  10. Beautiful quilting! I'm working on my second quilt ever, and I am always sort of star struck by pieces like this. Thanks so much for sharing your find!

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  11. WOW! I wish Australian antique shops had gems like your beautiful quilt.

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  12. What a beauty and a steal! Love the little sharing of some of your fun dialogues too for a smile this morning

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  13. Wow, wow and wow! You must have been vibrating with excitement!!!

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  14. Stunning quilt and such beautiful colours!

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