IOWA, Quilted!

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!


  1. Leave a Reply

    Freda Butler
    June 2, 2016

    I really like the way you used the diamond pattern around the top and sides then switched to the flowers, etc. on the bottom. Beautiful job. I picked up a lovely old piece at an auction one time that had been painted and because of a couple of stains I soaked it. The color ran and it was awful. Be careful of the colored ones.

  2. Leave a Reply

    June 2, 2016

    I think the original embroiderer would be absolutely astonished if she saw this piece today. The quilting is not what would have been anywhere as elaborate as you did it. It’s beautifully done. Thanks for sharing your work.

  3. Leave a Reply

    June 2, 2016

    Oh My Goodness! This is absolutely gorgeous! My MIL was from Iowa. She died last year at the age of 97. She would have loved seeing what you did with this. The pillow top was the kind of thing that her mother would have done. I have some of her embroideries. You inspire me to do some thing with them to get them out of the drawers where they are just sitting. This piece is an absolute work of art. I looked at all of the pictures before reading the text. I was thinking that the corn looked more vibrant in the finished piece but it didn’t occur to me that you would have quilted each kernel. The amount of love you put into these old pieces is surely seen in the finished product!

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      June 2, 2016

      Thanks TerriSue! I always hope these pieces will inspire others to do the same. Yes, get them out of the drawer! I do love every piece I work on, even more so once they are hanging again!

  4. Leave a Reply

    Dayle Gruder
    June 2, 2016

    Beautiful! Love the way you added more flowers in the quilting.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Lesley Morris
    June 2, 2016

    Incredible. Thank you for sharing the process. I really picked up some great tips and inspiration 🙂

  6. Leave a Reply

    Warm Quilts
    June 2, 2016

    I love how you share your step-by-step method with accompanying photos. The back of the piece is a work of art, too. The detail in the corn is amazing. And, the flowers at the bottom add balance and spotlight the work of the embroiderer as well. What a beautiful tribute.

  7. Leave a Reply

    June 2, 2016

    Aww…Kelly…you’ve done it again! Kansas has a new best friend! Love the flowers that you repeated…and the cross hatching…and, and, and…don’t you wish you could show this piece to the maker and to her family? They’d probably want it back!

    • Leave a Reply

      [email protected]
      June 2, 2016

      Thanks Nancy! Kansas DOES have a new best friend! I always think about the maker when I’m quilting. They probably would!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Patty Hecke
    June 2, 2016

    Totally in love with this piece!

  9. Leave a Reply

    June 6, 2016

    Thank you for sharing. It is beautiful.

Leave a Comment toJeannie

You can use these HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Food Blog Theme from Nimbus Themes
Powered by WordPress