Quilting a Bow Tie, Vintage Quilt Top

Beautiful, bow tie quilt top, 3′ x 7′

I’ve had this top for awhile, maybe 2-3 years, but the mood to quilt it finally hit me early this week and it went on the frame! The appeal is the 2″ bow ties. Can you even imagine piecing this one, by hand?!!

YES, the back of a hand pieced top can be overwhelming. How would you ever press this? Well, I don’t do it from the back, that’s for sure. However, this one has been precisely pieced and was done well. Each one of those little pieces is about 1″ in size, finished. Honestly, I can’t imagine!!

I never press these from the back. I gave this a good press from the top, not concerning myself about direction of seams because there really is no way to properly press those from the backside. I do give it some starch and try to make it as flat as possible.

I ‘float’ all my quilts, which means I don’t attach them to the bar that is sitting on the top. Many times, people will pin their top to that leader and bar, but I like the ability to manipulate my tops, especially the hand pieced ones. I am constantly tugging gently, spraying some starch and steaming here and there to shrink the excess fabric. I find I can get the best results by keeping the top free. You can see the starch and steam trick on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/In79vxH-IyY

Fabrics are mostly 1930’s and 1940’s

I’ve chosen to put a swirl in the white spaces and simply ditch stitch around the bow ties, hoping to pop those shapes and fabrics without interruption. Small stitching will create the best curves, so I am stitching at 14 stitches per inch. This is also a continuous line of stitching. No need to break thread if you don’t need to. I try to get through most quilts without cutting threads, unless of course, there is a color change. It saves LOTS of time and thread burying, which I do with all thread tails.

I did a quick video on how I travel through these pieces. It’s all about looking ahead, getting a quilt path figured out. This always reminds me of the puzzle mazes on paper that I loved as a kid!

The rulers (for domestic OR long arm) can be found in my shop online. I use different lengths and shapes, depending on the work I’m doing. https://kellyclinequilting.bigcartel.com/products

I decided to only ditch stitch the blue and white squares, hoping they would create a frame around the bow tie blocks. I really want those bow ties to pop out and be the stars. I think they are!

You may ask what those red things are in the top of the photo. I use Red Snappers (https://quiltsonthecorner.com/red-snapper-12/ ) from Renae Haddidin. I actually ordered them way before I even had my long arm set up, 8 years ago. I knew I would never be a pin girl, so snappers are a clamp type set up. I can pull a quilt off and put it back on in a matter of minutes.

This is the look of a finished row. Walking away from the quilt at night really has a great look. I only have a few squares left to finish and then I can do the big TA DA!!! I always look forward to that!

Feel free to ask questions. I post daily on my Facebook page, so follow me there for progress. Have a wonderful day everyone!


  1. Leave a Reply

    February 20, 2020

    Great Save! Looks amazing. Hard to figure out how original bowtie block was done!

    • Leave a Reply

      February 20, 2020

      Thanks Lesley! Yes, seems complicated to me!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Kathy Pitts
    February 20, 2020

    Loved this video, wish you would post more on your blog.

    • Leave a Reply

      February 21, 2020

      Hi Kathy, thanks! I do too! Website posting takes an incredible amount of time. I am so addicted to quilting that I find it difficult to spend that much time on a computer. I enjoy the ease and daily posting ability on Facebook, so I spend more time there. I will try to get more added here in the future!

  3. Leave a Reply

    February 20, 2020

    OMG – Always extraordinary Kelly! Love the moving swirls and the emphasis on the bows…simply beautiful.

  4. Leave a Reply

    February 21, 2020

    Oh!! Kelly you did a very nice job on this old vintage quilt, so nice to finish what someone obviously spent a lot of time making.

    • Leave a Reply

      February 24, 2020

      Thanks Red, I love it too!!

  5. Leave a Reply

    June 8, 2020

    Are you using a ruler table around your throat plate? Or are your rulers small enough you don’t need one?

    • Leave a Reply

      June 8, 2020

      Hi Annie, yes, always have a ruler base on. The rulers are very small, but I don’t chance using them without one. Thanks for asking!

  6. Leave a Reply

    Nancy Sloboda
    January 16, 2021

    I really enjoyed viewing this vintage bow tie quilt because I have a beautiful old one that my Grandmother made… I think it’s late 1930’s in McKeesport , Pa . She only finished the top so I did the sandwiching and quilting. I actually see a few of the fabrics in your pictures. I’d send you a picture but I don’t know how…. I’m not very clever about using these websites, etc.

    • Leave a Reply

      February 1, 2021

      Very cool! Yes, they only had so many choices back then, so we see lots of the same fabrics and patterns!

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