I sometimes get so busy making ‘stuff’, that I forget to either take photos or talk about it. I’m SOOO not a writer, but love my right brain, artistic tendencies! I could make things all day, all night, and really never sleep. Except, I love sleep!! 😉
I recently made this pillow for a class sample, using a random vintage block that I’m sure I picked up in a pile of other things at an antique shop. I did a quick sew on my domestic machine, just to put on an extra border and some rick-rack. The rest was done directly on the longarm.
I’ll take you through my steps and we’ll start from laying it out on the longarm. I’ve used a piece of muslin for the backing since it really won’t be seen when finished.
I used a tatted coaster for the middle. I had recently picked up a set of these and just LOVE the tatted edges. I start by using channel locks to square the piece on the longarm, horizontally and vertically. Makes for a great square ‘canvas’ to work inside. ***If you spritz a bit of regular water on your small piece, it can easily be manipulated and directed where to stretch!***
I like the grid stencils that Dorie Hruska sells and I always use a blue, water soluble pen to make my marks.*** Don’t let these get heat set or “sunshine” set before you remove them. My favorite mix is 1 cup of ice cold water with 1 heaping teaspoon of baking soda. Put this in a spray bottle and remove marks. They shouldn’t reappear.***
Once I had the quilting done on the front, I needed to quilt a backing. I like to use vintage tea towels or tablecloths for backing. Uses them up and they keep the piece in the era.
From this, to that!
I made my life easy and used a digitized computer design for an all over pattern. Stitched up in less than 5 minutes! I have a new, Handi Quilter Forte with Prostitcher computer, an upgrade from my 5 year old Fusion. Loved my Fusion, but maybe love the Forte more!
My favorite type of pillow is an envelope pillow. I’ll pop along the photos for a brief look at the process. Try looking for a YouTube video, I’m sure there are many!
I split the piece in half (it began about 4-5″ wider than my pillow top)
I turned under both edges for a finished edge, machine stitched.
Then overlap these two edges about 2-3″.
At this point you simply lay the right sides together, adjusting your backing to be the same size as your pillow top.
Take this sandwich of pillow top and back, pin the two halves together, and sew around the entire perimeter. You’ll be able to turn the pillow inside out by using the opening in the middle.
I also stitched 1″ inside the perimeter to have a nice flange around the pillow.
Here’s a flat look at the finished product! I usually make a stuffed muslin pillow specifically for the inside, using leftover batting scraps. Each pillow finishes in different sizes, so makes me not conform to specific pillow forms. This pillow is about 20″ square.
Here is the super cute backing!
So there you have it! Let me know if you have any questions, I’m always happy to help or guide you. I just love making things like this from forgotten or tossed out vintage parts and pieces. I always think someone is looking down and smiling over my shoulder. Have a great week folks!
They made it! I had a Facebook post from my good friend, Mary, to say they are hanging and beautiful. Look at that lighting! I’ll be there on Friday and Saturday just to see the 750 quilts hanging. For more information, visit the Common Threads Regional Quilt Show website. Holler if you see me!
I’ve worked my tail off to get to this week and finally I’m finished! My collection of vintage pillow covers from the early 1900’s, will hang at the Common Threads Regional Quilt Show, June 21-23, in Wichita, KS. I have a total of 21 in the collection, with many more to complete in the future. This is only the beginning! My husband asked me the other day how many I had. Really, you think a girl counts a collection!!? LOL!
My dear friend, Marla, helped me stitch tabs on each piece for pinning and hanging at the show. Here are a couple of my recent finishes.
Scroll through my website to see more in progress pieces. These are so dear to me. When I quilt them, I can almost feel the original maker working the original embroidery. Hope to see you in Wichita. Holler if you see me walking the aisles!
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!!
This weekend, Saturday, April 7 and Sunday, April 8, is my guilds quilt show, Kaw Valley Quilters Guild. I’ve finished a fabulous hankie to put in the silent auction. I’ll share a few pictures from the process, beginning to end result. I’ll admit these pieces are hard to give up once they are finished!
This beautiful hankie is bordered with exquisite lace. I couldn’t resist re-purposing this one!
I started with my backing, then 2 layers of Hobbs 80/20 Heirloom, and a piece of satin on top, about 20″ square.
My first order of stitching is to “ditch stitch” on the inside edge of the lace. This gives me a ‘frame’ to work with.
I use this Kelly Bean, notched ruler, to work around any shape or embroidery. Only on a longarm, just nest your hopping foot in the notch. Use one hand on your handle and the other to move around the ruler and hopping foot, magic!!
I love to use Cindy Needham’s Ultimate Stencils for designs in negative spaces. She has a fabulous E-book to go along with the stencils which I highly recommend. You can start to see the design take shape in the following photos.
At this point I have finished all of the inside quilting. I leave the lace loose and will use beads to tack down where needed. Lace lends itself nicely for embellishment!
I usually choose a simple piano key border. It calms your eye and doesn’t take away from the focus of the lace.
I love handwork of any kind and can spend countless evenings, watching TV and stitching. This piece required 3 solid nights of handwork. I used glass beads, pearls from a broken vintage necklace (my preference), and the tiniest of Hotfix Swarovski crystals. I like the glimmer, but I also want it to be subtle.
I love to frame these pieces or make into a pillow. With the heavy amount of beading, I decided a frame was in order!
You can find this on the silent auction block, this weekend, in Lawrence, KS. Here’s the flyer. It doesn’t say Lawrence, but it tells you everything else. Hope you can make it if you live in the area!
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!
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!
Just what you’ve asked for and so many have waited for! Finally, a video that shows you how I approach quilting vintage linens on the longarm. Thanks to Handi Quilter, who recently filmed a 45 minute segment on this process. I hope you enjoy the episode and don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you are interested in my rulers or lectures/workshops, find those tabs for more information. Thanks for visiting!
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!