I’m always asked at a trunk show, “Kelly, what do you plan to do with your pillow covers?” The answer is, show them and share them! I’m obsessed by these beauties! I’ve been collecting them since I found my first Kansas pillow cover about 5 years ago. I can’t really tell you how many I have now because honestly, I don’t know! I’m guessing somewhere between 50-100, ready to be quilted.
They will be seen for the first time in their entirety at the Common Threads Quilt Show, in Wichita, KS, June 21-23, 2018. I’m hoping to have 20-25 in the collection. I’m madly working on them until that show, so we’ll see how far into the stash I can get. This is what the banner looks like that I ordered on Vistaprint. I love how it turned out! But………..
Apparently, they are sending this gentleman to hold the sign at the show!! I’m totally excited about that! Isn’t that kind? Unfortunately, he didn’t show up in the banner shipment. Maybe I need to make a call?
Here are a few more I’ve finished this year and I’ll continue to stitch until they need to travel to Wichita. I’ll be there hanging out with friends, so look me up if you attend the show. They will have 750 hanging quilts!!! I can hardly wait to go. It’ll take me 2 days just to get through those quilts. Enjoy!!
I love to find these beautiful, vintage pillow covers. They tend to be about 100 years old and created in the early 1900’s during an era called, Society Silk. 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 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 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!
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 bought this beautiful, framed silk embroidery, last week on a trip to Maine. It was purchased at Liberty Tool, in Liberty, Maine. I was even able to take it to a free appraisal day at an auction house in a neighboring town. The few things I know, the embroidery dates to about 1850, the frame to 1902. Thankfully, framing kept it clean and in great shape. However, the lack of acid free mounting has made it very fragile. This is how I found it.
I plan to re-frame and enjoy it’s beauty. No quilting of this piece! Now, the mystery. I have had it on my Facebook page, out to many foreign friends, and no one can exactly distinguish the word or origin. The appraiser thought it could be Asian stitched, the possible middle word, “dai”, is possibly Japanese detection, says Google. I’ve asked Mary Corbet, who has inquired with other embroidery experts, with no answers. She thought it might be Thai.
We removed it from the frame and now I am enjoying the beauty before I frame it again. My question to you is, what does it say? Is it a surname, a warm welcome, a brand, a first name? The stitching is amazing. The individual who embroidered this would have spent a lot of hours stitching, so maybe it was a gift. Following are some close up pictures in varying light. The last image has been photoshopped in black and white. That may help you distinguish the letters. I’ve looked at it every day for a week and still am not 100% sure!
Thanks in advance if you spend time on this puzzle! The unknown is driving me and a few others, crazy!
***A HUGE thank you to Kathy, a follower here who emailed me last night. After recognizing the origin, she sent a photo to a Greek cousin, who in turn took it to her Greek church festival yesterday! It is Greek and translates to, “this too shall pass”!!! Which, by the way, is my mantra! There could be nothing more perfect than this saying for me. I’ll be framing it soon and enjoy it’s original beauty! Thanks to all of you who attempted the puzzle 🙂
I can’t tell you how mesmerized I was by this next piece! A thoughtful friend from my quilt guild had asked me to come over and go through her linens. I brought home a variety of things, but this one was almost jumping on the frame to be quilted! Here we go with the transformation.
The large society silk was beautiful to begin with, as were its matching coasters. The piece is 18″ in diameter with the smaller rounds at 5″. At first, I thought I might collage them, but then decided that might be color overload. I’m glad I kept them as individuals.
On top of the backing I stack 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom batting, and then on top of that is Hobbs 100% wool. That combination of batting always gives a nice trapunto look to anything! There’s also some excess fabric in the middle of this piece, so the double batting will help fill that space.
Next, I stitch a regular line of stitching on the inside edge of the blanket stitched outer edge. This will really tighten the whole thing and allow me to work the inside.
You can already see the difference in the middle! Now I’m ready to outline. For me, this is the most tedious and lengthy process, especially on this heavily embroidered piece.
OH, let’s talk about thread for a minute! I have SO many shades of “linen” Glide thread. I think each time I order I get 5 new colors! Old linens take on so many different colors over time. I always audition a few before I get started.
And the winner is, Glide, Warm Grey! I almost didn’t get into the grey drawer, but it turned out to best for this linen.
I like to start with my focus design in the middle and then work out. I rarely use marking pens, but will put on a few registration dots with a purple invisible pen. This one began with a circle and then I worked the feathers around it and into the areas of embroidery. Once that’s done, I start to use a small fill design.
This fill is a combination of tiny circles and very fine stippling. I love the density! It makes the embroidery pop even more than the original and I like for the makers work to really stand out.
There you have it! This was about 4 hours on the frame, mostly because of the amount of outlining around so much embroidery.
I was so thankful for the gift and wanted to do something special for Catherine, who sweetly let them go. I decided to quilt one of the coasters. I used the same process, but used some very tiny quilting. I mounted it on acid free mat board with spray baste, matted and then framed.
I took it to my guild meeting yesterday, so now Catherine has a “mini me”! I love the end result of both of these pieces. I will also mat and frame the larger piece when I find the right frame. I always hope the maker would be proud and enjoy the final destination of her beautiful work!
Last month I was gifted a beautiful society silk piece by Cindy Needham. She was letting go of a few linens and asked if I would like one. How could I refuse an offer like that? What a treat! I love this squishy kind of mail!
I was determined to get it quilted and not let it get lost in my mound of linens.
This round is about 18″ in diameter. The handwork is stunning and very precise. I gave it a very light ironing on the back and then on to the long arm.
I like to use a double batting of 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom on the bottom and Hobbs Wool on the top. This gives the piece a really nice loft.
The first task is to stitch down the outer edge. It’s almost like making a frame for the inside stitching. I go really slow with my fingers, usually way to close to the hopping foot!
The beginning is overwhelming with “fluff”. Due to that double batting, the machine tends to drag a bit until more stitching is done. I like to outline the embroidery next to pull down that crazy pouf!
You can see I stitch right up to the edge of the embroidery. I had the hubs video what my hand and ruler placement look like while doing this. Not the clearest video, but you’ll get the idea! I hold a long arm ruler, any straight edge you like, next to the foot with my left hand, while guiding the machine with my right hand. The ruler is only for resistance, don’t use it for pushing. Try to use that right hand to do all the maneuvering.
This particular pattern is called, “Branson”, by Helen Squire. I knew I wanted to wrap some feathers around something. I liked the small swirls, also knowing I might repeat some swirls in my feather frenzy! You might be able to see that I also took my fingernail and made an impression in the fabric. I do very little marking on these vintage pieces, not knowing what might happen to them 50 years from now. I could see 3 definite areas I wanted to work in. You might be able to see that from this view.
I first stitch my spines for the three feather areas. I was on such a roll that I didn’t stop to get a picture of spines only. Sometimes it’s hard to stop the groove!
Then I started to fill with feathers! Feathers flow, once you practice enough to get their rhythm. I used pebbles and swirls for filler. A friend on my Facebook page said it looked like a merry-go-round. I agree!
Once I had the middle where I liked it, I moved on to the outer edge. I like to use repetition to unify any kind of quilting. You can see the outer crosshatch in the original embroidery. I loved it and decided to continue that design element.
This was the most tedious part of this whole piece! Lots of ruler work. My curved template is something the hubs cut for me last year. He had some extra plexiglass and then used a hole saw to add some circles. Not often do I require an exact circle, but when I do I simply lift my hopping foot inside the size circle I need.
OH, and what to do with the edge, you ask? It will depend on the end use, but this one I plan to mat and frame, so I trim to the edge on the back side.
A few hours later you have the finish! I also did some micro stippling for filler. Cindy calls this “sand”. I use Glide thread exclusively because I like the sheen it has. It compliments the silk embroidery nicely.
You can see how nicely the computerized motif in the center works into the free motion quilting work. I enjoy mixing up the computer work and my own quilting.
I hope you have enjoyed the process and will give it a go yourself! I love to encourage and inspire you to use those linens that past generations have lovingly stitched and left behind. Most are hidden away in drawers and attics and I’d like to get them out, one piece at a time! Thanks for visiting and don’t forget to check out Cindy’s free form quilting classes on Craftsy. Click on the banner at the top and search Cindy Needham. She’ll show you how to create free form stitching on a domestic machine if you aren’t a long arm owner. She is AMAZING!!
I am seriously obsessed! I love these vintage society silk embroidered pieces and had the perfect gift in mind when I found this special linen from my favorite KS Ebay seller! I use them right from the package, knowing that once the quilting is finished, the creases will never show.
The next step is basting around the edges. I keep my fingers really close to the hopping foot to get right inside the outer edge of embroidery. I probably wouldn’t suggest this to everyone, it’s tricky!
I use two layers of batting, 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom on the bottom and 100% Hobbs wool on the top. This gives the piece a nice “pouf” and will automatically look like trapunto!
I also do a quick sketch in my notebook. I am not one to sketch on the piece, not knowing what our high tech pens will do in the long run. I do love the purple air pens for a few registration marks, but that’s about it! So yes, it is all free form and free motion quilting!
The finish! These are “squeeze” pieces between large customer quilts and only take a few hours. I never know what they will look like when finished. I have some focus area in my mind and take off from there! I also sewed in my name and did use the purple pen for that. I didn’t trust my free motion on letters. A few close ups are next!
This piece had a few small stains. Probably no one else would see them, but I would always know they are there. I took an afternoon to soak the finished piece in Retro Clean, out on the patio in the super sunlight. It turned out sparkling white and the silk embroidery isn’t affected at all.
The big question now is “how do you finish?” I trim to the back edge, mount on acid free matboard, cut a mat and frame!
My mom followed my progress on Facebook on this piece and loved it! So glad, since she got it for her 75th birthday yesterday 😉 Finished frame size is 18″ x 24″. Hope you enjoyed the journey!
Beautiful on my mom’s wall!
I purchased this pillow cover from an antique dealer in California. What a terrific find! We lived a wonderful 15 years in Oklahoma. I was born there, my children were born there. Sentimentally, it’s fabulous!
As I collect these pieces I find that many are unfinished or minimally embroidered. I always wonder what interrupted the maker. Did they get ill, pass, become disinterested in the project. Nowadays, we might call these UFO’s (unfinished objects)! Nonetheless, they are wonderful examples of handwork history. On a piece like this it doesn’t matter too much. I know I’ll stitch it to eternity and beyond, so you’ll never miss the embroidery!
The first thing I do is baste the pillow around the edges. I’m using a double batting, 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom on the bottom and washable wool on the top. It makes for quite a “pouf”, but the quilting calms the whole. It’s a bit scary in the beginning and can drag the machine slightly.
The fun begins after everything is outlined. I start the design process with things I know I want for sure. Then the piece begins to “talk” and before you know, VIOLA!!
The leaves were very wispy, so I knew I had to do a bit of McTavishing. The greenery of the embroidery made me think of the garden, so I decided it needed a trellis of sorts.
I love how this almost 100 year old pillow was made modern! Enjoy the rest of the show!
Before and after!
I plan to do a very tiny binding in a green satin. My sweet hubs will make me a small wood frame for the backing and it will hang proudly on my wall. Someday I may sell some of my pieces, but not just yet!