I love to find these beautiful, vintage pillow covers. They tend to be about 100 years old and were created in the early 1900’s. Pillows became trendy about 1907, so many began to appear about that time. Many of these use silk floss and came in a kit with a pre-tinted linen, just as our kits come today. What makes these very special to me are the quirky sayings and silk threads that were used. I quilt these on a Handi Quilter Fusion, longarm.
This the the original cover. I removed the backing, which was a depression era, green linen.
I’m pretty sure the maker would be mortified if she knew she missed a spot. The magenta stitch is hers, the satin stitching would have gone over it to give some padding.
When placing designs on cloth, I use a blue, water soluble pen. I only make registration marks and try to do the smallest bit of them. A great tip for removing the blue marks, mix 1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda to one cup of water. Put in a spray bottle and marks disappear, forever! At least I’ve had no reappearing marks since I’ve used this method!
I usually don’t have a big plan for these pieces until I begin them. I let them ‘talk’ to me while I stitch and they usually SCREAM at some point! 😉
I use my rulers for all straight lines. The longer one is great for ditch stitching and long runs and then the smaller, Palm ruler, is super for short lengths.
The maker on this piece did some luscious embroidery!
I use these notched rulers for guiding me around the embroidery.
Viola’! Another great finish! I adore these pieces and hope you’ve enjoyed the beauty and re-purpose also!
I often scroll through Pinterest in the evenings, admiring quilts, embroideries and crafts in general. I came across some ‘name’ pillows and decided that’s exactly what my granddaughter needed for her new bed. I don’t know about you, but when I see something I like or get a new idea, I MUST make it immediately! I love to make a pillow directly on my long arm, so this photo heavy post will cater to the longarmmer, however, you can sure do this on your regular sewing machine. The first thing I did was free hand draw the letters onto freezer paper. With the shiny side down, I ironed the letters onto the fabric.
Next, I added a layer of fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric, then I cut everything at the same time. This way, I can iron my letters to the background fabric and I’m ready for handstitching the edges.
I spent a few evenings, using a buttonhole stitch and pearl cotton to embroider the letters. I love the background fabric! A hand dyed piece I found somewhere on my travels.
The background piece is about 20″ x 30″. I basted around the perimeter of the piece so I have a nice frame and area to do the quilting. I used one layer of Hobbs 80/20 and Glide 40 wt. thread.
I use my notched rulers to outline around the applique before I set off on the free motion quilting. I had a blast doing a whimsical, free flowing design.
Yes! I quilt every tiny space, yikes!
You can see I added a stitch line at the halfway mark. This way I will be able to easily add the fringe and have a cut line to split the pillow.
Can you believe I found this perfectly matching fringe at my local Hobby Lobby! I couldn’t believe the colors were so perfect and who doesn’t love fun fringe!
I used the horizontal channel locks on my long arm to stitch down the fringe. Of course, this could all be done on your regular sewing machine, but I try to do everything I possibly can on the long arm so that when I take it off, it’s just assembly!
Now that the fringe is all stitched, I’m ready to take it off the frame and give it the old, ‘right sides together’!
You can see how easily it split apart.
Right sides together now and I’ll take it over to my sewing machine. I will tell you, it takes a bit of thought. I kept repeating to myself, ‘right sides together, inside out’, things like that.
As I worked on this pillow I thought, how much fun would Junie have if she had a treasure pocket! Juniper is a treasure LOVER and a pretty good treasure hunter. SOOO, I created an envelope with a secret pocket underneath. Hopefully you can follow my photos to see what happened!
I stitched on ready made patches for some fun!
The most special part is this secret pocket under the false envelope that ONLY Juniper will know about! 😉
There you have it! What a fun project that can be completed pretty quickly. I think any child would love this. I hope you’ll give it a try!
What to do with all those scraps? I’ve got loads of fabric scraps and even more embroidered linens that I’ve collected. I will admit it’s hard to cut into perfectly fine handwork, but much of it has been used and tattered over the years. I pulled out a few old dish towels that had seen better days, cut out the handwork, and went to town creating some new placemats. I used reproduction print scraps to give these an authentic era feel, but you can use anything you have laying around. They sew up fast and are super cute when finished.
Really, not much life left in the dish towel! I cut out the corner for a great save.
Another great piece of handwork. I did add a piece of fusible interfacing to the back of each towel for stability.
I had to have this one! An embroidered “K’ on a printed dishtowel.
At this point, I dumped out my scraps and began to randomly stitch them together, creating strips that could easily be sewn to the embroidered pieces.
Once I had these pieced, I trimmed them to the same size, about 14″ x 17″.
I collect old tablecloths to use as backings on many of my quilts. I thought it might be appropriate to use this vintage tablecloth as the backing for the placemats, staying within the kitchen theme.
I used a simple crosshatch design on each placemat and was able to place them side by side on my longarm machine.
I cut them apart, sewed on the binding, and viola!!! A great way to re-purpose handwork. I used a double batting layer of Hobbs 80/20 and Glide 40 wt thread. I hope you’ll give these a try, they are quick and fun! Happy New Year everyone!
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. I also used Cindy Needham’s Ultimate Stencil to plan out the middle. You can see what I decided on in the next photo.
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 knots (called Colonial knots) made me start with the pebbles and spirals in the center. 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!