I LOVE parts and pieces of vintage linens! Most of us have doilies, embroideries, old quilt parts and various linens from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and maybe just found treasures from long ago. I’ll take you on a “how to” journey so that you might be able to bring those pieces out of their drawers and make them into something usable and memorable. Let’s go!
This particular piece began with an unfinished block of applique. I was given a bag of treasures from a friend, who felt that I would be the best ‘keeper’ of her grandmothers’ linens. I would guess these fabrics to be from the 1930’s or 40’s. Baskets with flowers have long been a popular pattern for quilters. When I find a one block wonder, it makes me think the maker made one and then said, “boy I’ll never do that again!” LOL!!
This block is about 20″ square. It was relatively clean so there was no need to give it a bath. If a piece has stains, I like to give it a soak in Retro Clean. You can see from my work table that I am NOT a tidy girl. I usually have multiple projects going at the same time! Plus, I like to pull out everything that might work with a piece.
The first thing I knew for sure, was that I wanted to use a bag of reproduction fabrics I had picked up at a garage sale. Yes, 5o cents for all this!!
I always like to share the back of a piece because you see the real work of the original maker.
I started by cutting 4 strips that are 1 1/2″ wide. I wanted a simple border using colors from the appliqued flowers. These are not the same fabrics, but they blend nicely.
I also wanted to bring in some of the hundreds of doilies I own. Who has doilies?? I’m guessing LOTS of you! Seems our ancestors loved to crochet, tat, and do all sorts of lace work. I will be the first to admit that I will never use them all in my lifetime, but I do admire them and the hours of work that someone put into making them!
I put them around the perimeter of the block and cut them, yes, I cut them. Trust me, it’s OK! Lightening will not strike you 😉
I sprayed each doily with some 505 temporary baste spray. This way they would stay where I placed them until I could get them sewn onto the block.
With right sides together, I stitched the border to the block, catching in the doilies.
Working around the piece, I stitched each strip to make a frame around the block and envelope the doilies.
I put a total of three small borders to frame this piece. I ditch stitched them on my domestic machine and then put the piece on my longarm to do the quilting. Any of this work can be done on a domestic or longarm machine, but I wanted to try out my new, notched rulers, so I worked on the longarm to finish this piece. These rulers are ONLY for use on the longarm because the hopping foot nestles in the notch of the ruler and gives complete control around the applique shapes.
Before I start to free motion quilt anything, I stabilize the entire piece by outlining each and every applique and embroidered line. This gives definition to the block. Now I’m ready for the fun, quilting!
This photo shows the definition created when the outlining is finished. While I outlined, I also went into a few of the flower centers and leaves. I always to try to work in an area while I’m there, that way there are less starts and stops and I am able to do a continuous stitch line.
Here are a few technical details of this piece. I quilt on a Handi Quilter Fusion, longarm machine. I used a layer of Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting and my thread is Glide, 60 wt, color Cream, by Fil-Tec.
At this point, I changed to the Glide foot. This may be my most used tool! It glides over crochet, applique, anything that is not flat on the surface. A few other machine brands have their version of this foot. Check with your dealer to see if your machine has one! Even on my Bernina, I have a disc type foot that I think they call an echo foot. This can be used with great ease over doilies and embroideries.
I used my favorite pebble, spiral mix and when the entire piece was finished, I added a few pearls and glass beads to pull down the trim edges. I rarely stitch down an edge as I like to save that for embellishing.
When I make the back of a pillow, I also use batting to give the finished pillow a sturdy structure.
I put together a few pieces of fabric, sandwiched with batting and a piece of muslin for the backing, then quilted on my domestic machine with a random wave. I think it makes a great texture and is super simple!
I’ve made an envelope pillow with this one. If you’ve not seen that done, check YouTube for a tutorial. They are super easy and go together almost quicker than a regular pillow. Put the right sides together and then stitch around the perimeter.
Turn inside out and there you have it! A usable, beautiful, heirloom pillow, with possibly a lot of sentimental value if you’ve used your family treasures!
I used a Hobbs pillow form for a very quick fill!
I hope this inspires you to pull some things out of your drawers and closets and create something to use from your parts and pieces of vintage linens. There is a challenge and a thrill that come from these creations. More than anything else, HAVE FUN!
While teaching and traveling in Australia this last February, I was given quite a few lovely pieces of handwork and Aussie fabrics. I have them all hanging in my studio and a few weeks ago I was inspired to create something special with two of the pieces.
On my longarm I have a backing, then Hobbs 80/20 batting, then the super cute, Koala background fabric. At this point, I ran an edge to edge design over the background fabric, THEN, laid the two doilies on top of the fabric.
Let’s start at the beginning and I’ll take you through the process. Under each linen I added a single layer of Hobbs 80/20 batting to give an extra loft. It also hides the print that is under the doily. I cut the batting larger than the doily and trim it away after I have quilted the linen.
I stabilize the piece by “ditch” stitching around the inside edge of the crocheted trim. I leave that scant 1/8″ so that I can trim away the batting later. You’ll see what happens when I finish quilting. I quilt on a Handi Quilter Fusion and here I am using the “Glide” foot. It is almost a necessity when stitching lace and embroideries. You can see it glides right over all the thickness.
At this point I will stitch around ALL the embroidery. I never stitch over the handwork, but around everything! It gives the piece great definition and pops it right out of the linen. Deciding on the design usually comes as I am outlining all of the embroidery. You can see the spine I have created for the eventual feathers. I like to use a blue, water soluble pen for marking. (TIP: to remove blue marks completely and seemingly forever, mix 1 t baking soda to 1 cup of water, place in a spray bottle. This mix must be fresh each day it is used.)
I trimmed the batting to the inside edge of the trim crochet, using a curved pair tiny, sharp scissors. My favorites are a simple pair of cuticle scissors!
After the batting is trimmed, I lay down the crochet and stitch the outside edge to cover any of the batting that might have not been precisely trimmed. It always covers that raw edge of batting.
You can see here how much stitching I put into the embroidery.
The full piece was taken off the frame and split in half, therefore, creating both sides for the tote bag. I made both sides a bit different. I also TEA stained the pieces once I had the quilting done to make the fabric match the age of the linen. This really made the whole thing come together!
Next, I sewed the halves together and also made a lining WITH a pocket for the inside.
Handles were added, also tea stained.
And there you have it! A new tote bag made by repurposing an antique linen. It’s also a fabulous reminder of the great friends I made in Australia! (Special thanks to Lynne for the handwork and Caroline for the fabric!)
I hope this post helped to see the process for some of the bits of handwork we all have hiding in our drawers. Try it, you’ll become a lover of vintage repurposing!
I was thrilled for my first entry EVER to win a 2nd place ribbon over the weekend! What a treat! Entered in the new, VINTAGE category, at UQSM, in Sandy, UT.
The front quilting really created a wholecloth on the back of the quilt. LOVE IT!
And that second green ribbon? Even more super thrilled because it was for, “Teacher of the Year”! Let’s just say I had a great weekend! Thanks to all of you who follow my journey!
“Champagne and Caviar”, is the title I’ve given to this spectacular quilt! It began as a 100 year old, silk embroidered tablecloth, purchased from an estate sale. Unfortunately, I have no information about the maker, who is the major artist on this work!
This tablecloth was incredible when I found it! Exquisite handwork comprised of drawn thread work and a padded satin stitch using silk thread. Seriously incredible because the maker essentially DOUBLE embroidered this piece. First, with a white cotton floss to create a trapunto effect, then she stitched over the first embroidery with silk floss. Of course, pictures don’t do it justice. I will hope you might see it in person someday!
To begin this quilt, which is 75″ square, I stitched around every bit of embroidery and thread work. I backed the entire piece with white satin to give it a subtle sheen. I used the new Glide Cream color, 60 weight thread for the outlining. It’s a great super fine, polyester thread. There is a double batting in this quilt, Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 on the bottom and Hobbs 100% wool on the top. This gives the quilt fabulous loft and a trapunto effect.
I started in the middle, knowing this focal point would be an important part of the quilt. I used Handi Quilters’ Preview Paper, which is a sturdy, clear plastic to audition and play with designs. You can see what I decided on in the next photo. LOVE preview paper!!!
I worked different areas of this quilt depending on each days’ mood! I stayed on this for over a month, maybe 250 hours, which is really impressive if you know me! I get tired of working on the same thing and often hop from project to project. This was actually fun and I could hardly wait to get up every morning and work on something different.
At one point I realized I would need to start doing some embellishing as I quilted, so that I would make a show deadline. Yikes! Thank goodness I use Red Snappers, which made the loading process take just a few minutes each morning. I spent my evenings beading and my days, quilting!
Maybe the most difficult decision I had, was to eliminate some of the makers’ embroidery. It was the only part of this pristine piece that had some wear. I either had to repair the work that was missing or take it out completely. I spent many evenings taking out her work, which made me feel terrible. Once the quilt was finished, I loved that I made that decision!
A few more pictures of my process. This quilt is off to the Utah Quilting and Sewing Marketplace show in Sandy, Utah. It can be seen live and in person from May 4-6 at the South Towne Expo Center. Later this summer, it will hang at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival, held June 15-17, in Overland Park, KS. Finally, it will hang in an exhibit titled, “Gilding the Lily-Embroidery In Quilts Past and Present”, at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. This is the exhibit it was created for. I’m so excited to show her off and particularly the historical value associated with this one of a kind piece. I’ve never seen anything quite like it!
This quilt is something I consider to be my masterpiece, as I wonder if I will ever have the patience to work on something so intricate again. I am beyond thrilled with the final product! I hope you enjoy this quilt in pictures and especially if you are able to view it in person. Yes, it is hard to believe that someone actually did all of this by hand, especially in our modern day world of machines. It was created in a simpler time, where TV and computers did not exist, when women used their spare time to perfect the handwork that they had learned from generations before. I also respect the imperfections and the fact that this piece is not square. I couldn’t bring myself to trim any part of this tablecloth and kept the shape as I found it. Maybe the maker is looking down on me and deciding that my quilting brought her work to another level, I hope so!
Thanks for visiting!
It’s been awhile! Websites are difficult to keep up with! I use Facebook for my daily posts, but for my friends who aren’t on FB, this is a great place to share my work. I also sell my rulers here and have information on my speaking and workshops. What did we do before social media!???
I’ve just finished another hankie, but this time I used the computer for 90% of the piece. It’s for an upcoming class I’m teaching in Australia (yes, I said AUSTRALIA!!!) I am super excited and finishing up so many sample pieces for the variety of classes. This is for a class called, “Prostitcher and Beyond”. The PS (as we call her in the Handi Quilter world) is a fabulous computer that some days does a majority of my work. She is my very loved, personal assistant, that goes by Patty Sue, when we are alone in the studio 😉
The hankie began very simply, stitched onto a piece of white satin, roughly 20″ square. The wonderful “pouf” is created by two layers of Hobbs batting, wool on top of 80/20. I always use Glide thread, this color is Cream.
White on white is tough to see in photos, especially when there is nothing there. Now, add some quilting magic and it starts to take shape! I forgot to take a photo of JUST the motif, but it was an outlined shape, without anything filled in. The digitized motif is by Kim Brunner and can be found here. It is free in my PS library! Over 1000 designs come in that library and rarely do I need to purchase anything.
I used a different fill in each space, bubbles, scribbling and some ruler work.
The tatting on this piece is unbelievable, which is why I chose it! OH, and that sweet butterfly!
The finish! I added a piano key border, also found in my PS library, created by Susan Manry.
I added glass beads to tack down the tatting. The dime gives an idea of the scale.
Each finished piece becomes my favorite! I’ll add this one to the list!
Another quilted hankie! Can you tell I love this combination of a satin backing with a hankie on top? I made this one for a class sample for Melissa, aka, MK Quilts. It all starts with the satin backing as the “frame”, with the hankie quilted right on top. I used a double batting of 80/20 Hobbs on the bottom and 100% wool on top.
If I am using a hankie with LOTS of white space, I use Cindy Needham’s Ultimate Stencils. Her square and circle grids make it a breeze to design almost anything. They come with an enormous e-book of possible designs that will help you through the process. I think I’ll be ordering her ultimate background stencils soon, especially helpful if you are a domestic machine quilter.
So, pair the Ultimate Stencils with my favorite rulers, and you’ve got a great combination!
I’ve found the rounded end of the rulers make for a great scallop! I always look to repeat a shape or design, so I wanted to repeat the scalloped edge of the hankie on the background. The slim ruler is 1 1/2″ wide, so it made the smaller scallop. Then, I used my Palm ruler for the larger scallop echo. The width on the Palm ruler is 2 1/2″, so it was a perfect echo!
As if there weren’t enough scallops, I also made them inside the scallop! I was going for an open and lacy look.
I like to sign my name when I can work it into a piece.
And viola! I just love these pieces. Fun and fasts to design and stitch. I usually design as it’s on the frame. Each section tells me what to do with the next. They always speak to me!
I spent an evening with beads and the TV. I like a bit of sparkle where it can be added.
This little beauty flew off to Florida the next day, ready to share for show and tell at a few guilds. I will be speaking and teaching in the Tampa, Florida, area in November. My sit down, domestic machine workshops will be following this piece and I’ll guide you in the process. It can be accomplished on the longarm or on your domestic machine. Hope to meet you somewhere in my travels!
I have TUBS of linens and embroideries! One of my good friends, Shelley, mailed me this linen she found in an antique store recently. This did not get to the tub! I was compelled to stitch it the day I got it, but oogled over it for a few weeks before loading on the longarm. Originally, this was a 100ish year old pillow cover.
Having found a few of these, they date somewhere between 1900-1920. They were pre-printed/tinted pillow covers and were dyed in the areas where you would stitch. Some ladies chose to embroider the whole area, while others did smaller areas, leaving some of the printed colors showing. A few companies that produced these were Richardson’s, Royal Society and Vogart. I love when the selvage has the name of the maker as it can also give me clues to the date of the embroidery. This one did not have that information.
This treasure had quite a few stains when I received it, but I’m never bothered by smell or stains as I’ve experimented plenty with great results. My favorite cleaner is called Retro Clean. It is a powder that is dissolved in warm water for best results. You can find it in antique shops and quilt stores, also on the internet. I soaked this piece for 24 hours and it sparkled when it dried! The heavy stains were gone and it brightened the linen considerably.
I always begin by basting around the edge of the entire piece. I work like that is my frame. Then I stitch around all of the embroidery, as you would stitch in the ditch around applique. I use my very favorite palm size ruler to use as resistance against the hopping foot to guide the machine.
Once I have all of the outlining done, the fun begins! I did a very small fill in the center and the outside felt like it needed some flowing feathers to move with the stalks of what I think may be milo. I’m pretty sure I created the movement I wanted.
I always begin with what the linen is “telling” me. They don’t all speak the same way, but I definitely get a feeling from each one. The density of the french knots made me start with the pebbles and spirals in the center. YES, those are all french knots! The trapunto effect was caused naturally by using two layers of batting, 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom on the bottom and 100% Hobbs wool on top. This double batting will cause some drag on the machine when starting, but the effects are dramatic!
I made sure to work the feathers into the same direction as the stalks of milo. Beginning with a spine to follow that line, I worked the feathers right up to the original embroidery.
What was I thinking when I made a 1/2″ grid! It was a bit tedious, but the end result is fantastic! This ruler is so great for small areas. For design purposes, I often balance straight lines and circular forms. You don’t want too much of anything!
I can’t decide which is my favorite, the checkerboard or the feathers!
AAAAAAND the almost finish! I can’t ever wait to share these things, so no binding yet. For traveling purposes, I’ll put a tiny binding on so it lays flat in my suitcase! Have a fabulous weekend folks!
I LOVE these unique pieces of handwork! I found this one at D. Palma & Co. Mercantile last weekend and I just had to get it on the frame!
This style of lace is called Teneriffe. I sent a quick note to Mary Corbet, Needle ‘N Thread, who was a doll to identify this for me. I’m always concerned with correctly identifying handwork. I visited YouTube to see how this is done and WOW! Amazing!
The lace piece is about 10″ square. It’s so delicate, which intrigued me when I saw it. I did my best to press and give it a good starch. Those circle laces were rather loose, so they took a bit of moving, stretching and starching, to get them to behave!
My favorite background these days is satin! On this particular piece I used a double batting of Hobbs 80/20 on the bottom and 100% Hobbs Wool on top. You’ll see this gives some great loft to this piece. I stitched around the perimeter of the inside square first.
Next, I stitched around the outside edge, outlining around all of the lace circles. My hand gives you an idea of size.
Once I have all the outlining and edges stitched down, I start the design process.
I added a “piano key” border with my longarm ruler.
Beads and rhinestones add the finishing touch!
One of my most recent favorites! This began as a 100 year old pillow cover. Lovingly embroidered, most likely by a woman from Iowa. Because, only a lover of her state, would spend the time embroidering kernels of corn! OH MY GOSH, I love this piece! It was stunning in it’s original state, but of course, I took it to a whole new level.
These early patterns were color tinted, so the embroiderer could decide what parts they would like to stitch and could choose more or less embroidery. I’ve seen some that are very heavily stitched and some that have only been outline stitched. This is the way I found it, a little wrinkled and a few aging stains. I chose not to soak this one as I really didn’t know what might happen to the floss. I recently had soaked a piece in Retro Clean, which I consider very safe. I had also put Shout, Color Catchers, in the water. I still had bleeding from the brown floss. I sure couldn’t take a chance on this beauty!
When working these old patterns, I also remove this tiny edge with the pattern name and number, then attach it to the back when I’m finished.
Mostly, when I quilt a piece like this, I know what I’m going to do and the designs are free flowing. This one was different and seemed to need a plan. I have a few different methods for auditioning designs. I used Handi Quilter’s Preview Paper. It comes in a roll with a dark black line, so you don’t accidently take your design over the edge and onto your fabric. I use a black sharpie so it’s fast drying, then rubbing alcohol to wipe the slate clean.
I always start a piece like this by outlining the entire design. It stabilizes and sets the boundaries for me to start the background work. I used two layers of batting on this piece, 80/20 Hobbs on the bottom and 100% Hobbs wool on the top. This makes for an easy trapunto look without all the work. I also stitched inside the original embroidery and chose to go around each and every kernel of corn for some fabulous dimension!
And there you have it! Finished piece is 20″ square. All free motion quilted. I always hope the original maker would be thrilled with what I have done with her work. I think she would!
It all began this way. On the left, is a simply printed tea towel from my granddaughter. On the right, is the fabulous print that will create the border. HERE WE GO!
This may have been the most fun I’ve ever had in quilting! Probably because it began as the very simple artwork of my 3 year old granddaughter, Juniper. She printed it using fruit dipped in paint. I always say, I’ll quilt anything, but kid art is the BEST!
Appropriately keeping with the theme, I added this fabulous fruit print border I had picked up from my guilds’ “share pile” the night before. I made it 6″ wide, really not knowing where I might go with this project.
I wasted no time and got it on the frame as fast as I could. I didn’t mean to work on it for so long, but it did consume about 3 days. I’m guessing it might have been 15 hours of quilting. I had no pre-plan and designed as I worked. Thread color is always difficult for me. It scares the BA-G-BEES out of me to use a contrasting color, always afraid I will make a mistake and it will JUMP out of the quilt! Thankfully, I had a couple of longarm friends who encouraged me to GO GREEN, so I dove right in!!! (the color is Kiwi, by Glide)
I used a double batting of 100% wool because I wanted some big fluff! This was all stitched free motion, so I used round templates and eyeballed a lot of the circles. I wasn’t terribly concerned about perfection on this piece. I wanted to keep some of the child and whimsy that it was screaming!
Before going any further, I wanted to make sure to get a signature in. Since it is a collaborated piece, it deserved both our names AND a date!! Label and date your quilts! I like using my own handwriting. Try it, you’ll be surprised that writing with your longarm will look a lot like your regular handwriting!
Then there were the lines! I’m a little particular about lines, maybe OCD about them!!! I like them straight and I use my ruler, moving it along and beside the entire time. These are 1/8″-1/16″ over the entire piece. Eeeek!!!!
It’s hard to see, but I continued the line work into the border, adding a line of pearls at random spots.
After getting the circles where I wanted, lines where they needed to go, I went inside the painted circles and organically stitched where the paint had landed. I like the juxtaposition of the inside and outside circles.
Then there were the rhinestones!! OMG!! I have waited for the right quilt to do some intense embellishing and this was the one! Once again, hard to see in photos, but I placed about 150 stones throughout. This was the icing on the cake!
At this point, I was so thrilled I had put our names in before I even started. I got a little carried away and before I knew it I had filled in all the space! I let a few circles and ghosted shapes flow over into the border. I love asymmetry and use it whenever I can.
Here is the finished piece before I stretched it onto an artists’ canvas, next step! I wanted it to hang and be self framing, so the hubs helped and we stretched it over a canvas, stapling to the inside as we stretched. The hardest part was making sure we kept it centered and equal on all sides. I had also quilted it to the edge, so I had plenty of excess fabric to use for stretching.
And who doesn’t love a back!!! Oh my gosh, I may love it even more!
I always believe the back of a quilt tells the real story. You can see things you will never notice on the front. I was sad that by choosing to stretch on the canvas, I lost the back view! Ah, well, “C’est la vie!”
Before I let Juniper have it back, I hung it on my wall for a few days. I decided if it were me, I might hang it sideways. Pieces like this are so great, they can go a few different ways and you can have a new piece of artwork each direction! I hope you enjoyed this piece and are inspired to re-purpose a special fabric from a child. I guarantee fun!!!