How to LONGARM A VINTAGE QUILT TOP!! It’s ready! I said I’d never do this video myself, but I did! It only took me all day to edit and figure out the technology on creating a video. I wish I would have filmed this in landscape, but I sure wasn’t thinking about that! OH MY GOSH, I need a 12 year old!!!
Damaged tops, not a problem! Most everything can be fixed! I am asked SO many questions on the in’s and out’s of quilting a vintage top, so here it is on my YouTube page. https://youtu.be/hRjZxo2fWE0
It’s NOT fancy and it’s very casual, but hopefully you’ll find lots of information and tips on successfully quilting a hand pieced, vintage quilt top, on the longarm. My husband saw a few minutes of it and he says it’s RIVETING! I’m here to tell you, it’s not.
I will say though, the final quilt is gorgeous! From start to finish it took about 6 hours, so the longarm is the reason I can finish so many quilts. I was a hand quilter years ago, but I just don’t have that kind of time to finish my closet of vintage tops. I also feel that longarm quilting makes these more sturdy than they would be with hand quilting. This ‘Glorified Nine Patch’ will soon be usable and washable.
Get your popcorn ready if you’re a longarm quilter and you want to try your hand at quilting a vintage top. It’s 36 minutes long and will give you all the tips and tricks I use to tame those old, hand pieced tops. These tricks will also work with current tops that tend to be a little wavy. Enjoy the show and have a wonderful weekend!
I needed a cutting template that I could find AND was the right size for cutting my pincushions. I had one made! This acrylic ruler in lime green is a great hand size, 4″ x 10″. It’s 1/8″ thick for cutting, not for quilting ruler work like most of my rulers.
I work on a small cutting table and mat next to my machine, so this fits nicely on the cutting mat. Most pincushions are between 3″ and 7″ in size and this manages to cover those cuts. Find it in my online shop for $15. https://kellyclinequilting.bigcartel.com/product/4-x-10-quilting-template
You can see here how I create that little pincushion top. I’ve piece it ‘crazy quilt’ style and then square it to my liking. If you’ve been waiting for my online pincushion class, you can find it here. https://createyourownvintagepincushion.thinkific.com/
Now, let’s talk about scraps, FEEDSACK scraps in particular! I’ve just returned from 4 days on the road, between Kansas and Tennessee, stopping at most antique stores along the way. Did you know that antique shops are probably the safest places to go right now? There are not many folks in them and masked up, I feel very safe. FYI, they are also the best restroom stops along the highway!! Again, no one using them! OK, now you know my secrets.
Anyway, I bought about 30 feedsack bags and was able to buy duplicates of quite a few. Due to requests and popular demand, I’ve cut up loads of scraps and squares and I’m offering ‘feedsack scrap bags’ in my shop as well. They sell out fast, but I load at least 5-10 everyday. Check back if you don’t see them in stock. Each bag is a variety and will change with each posting. https://kellyclinequilting.bigcartel.com/product/feedsack-scrap-bag
Maybe my favorite shop of all time is Artichoke Annie’s Antique Mall, on the east side of Columbia, MO. I find loads of antique linens and feedsacks here on a regular basis, it’s only 2 hours from me and I can get there maybe every 2 months or so. Many of the feedsacks I’m sharing came from this booth! How lovely is this photo!!?
I have also been trying to organize and do some purging in my studio and closets. Collecting linens and quilt tops for years has given me way too much, so every now and then you’ll find treasures I’ve picked up along my journey in the online shop. I am parting with things I know I’ll never use and hopefully some of you will benefit from my travels and collecting (cough, cough…hoarding) adventures. https://kellyclinequilting.bigcartel.com/products
Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you can find some time for sewing or quilting amongst the leaf gathering. I know I’ll be doing some of that task this weekend. Enjoy the beauty of fall if you have it where you live!
I’ve got a really fun project on the longarm this week, compliments of Mary Kerr. This is for an upcoming book of Mary’s, but you’ll have to wait to see the whole quilt until the book is published, so sorry!! These blocks can be shown though! Mary has such a knack with taking old blocks and repurposing them with other parts and pieces. Check out her other books here on her website. https://www.marywkerr.com/ They are all fabulous with loads of ideas on what to do with vintage quilts, embroidered linens, tops, blocks, etc.
This was the beginning of a block. I did a small bit of ditch stitching to stabilize the center and used the Kelly Bean ruler to make the ‘rays’ in the yellow and also to stitch around the center. FYI, that circle center is stitched in, not appliqued!! Whoa, I know!!!
I’ll continue with lots of ditch stitching and ruler work for a few days, then I’ve got an idea for that pink background. We’ll see how that goes, maybe next week I can share that!
I did a quick video this morning with rulers on one of the blocks. Have a great day and I hope you’ll try ruler work, on your domestic or longarm machine, it’s super fun!
I’m so tickled to have found this amazing, super quirky quilt top!! Most sewists might have left this as a dresden plate only top, but the maker added these red and blue circles that make no sense. I LIKE IT!! I am so drawn to the craziest quilts and often think, ‘what was she thinking’? If only we knew! So, I make up lots of good stories! I like to think she might have been a Jayhawk fan (University of KS, located 3 blocks from me) and that possessed her to make those bold circles. HAHAHAHA!
Sadly, the year has ended with no March madness. I’ve slowly worked this out, grieved and I’m back to sewing. Tough for all the basketball fans out there, but worth it to stay safe and healthy.
I’m really excited to get this one on the frame. I have no idea how it will be quilted, but quilts usually start talking to me the minute they are on the long arm. Time will tell!
The fabrics in this one are 1930’s and 40’s and it’s been completely handpieced and embroidered with a buttonhole stitch around all the circles. It was fairly clean when I got it, but I’m giving it a day in the sunshine to brighten and freshen up. Did you know that the chlorophyll from grass mixed with sunshine will actually brighten fabric??!!! It really works!
I’ve often had my neighbors tell me they want to snatch up whatever they see on the yard. So far, no one has, but I do check out the window every now and then.
I give it about half a day on the front and then half a day on the back. The back of a top really tells the story. LOTS of hand stitching on this one!
I’m always on the lookout for a quirky quilt. Where do I find them?? Online, antique stores, thrift stores, estate and garage sales. Right now, online is probably the only way to shop. It can be done 24 hours a day, which can be a little scary when it’s 3 am and I can’t sleep! 😉
Have a great rest of your week! I hope if you are self isolated, there is some sewing in your day. I’m just now headed to my machine, but I really wanted to share what I think is a happy quilt. Since I won’t be teaching or traveling for awhile, I’ll try to do some more show and tell here when I can. QUILT ON everyone!!
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
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!
I am frugal and I rarely buy fabric. I collect vintage, mid-century tablecloths and they have stacked up. A few years ago, I was at a loss for a quick backing, so I thought ‘why not use one of these tablecloths”? I did and it’s now my favorite backing! Last week in that, IT’S AFTER CHRISTMAS AND I GOTTA ORGANIZE SOMETHING mood, I started in on my vintage tablecloths to put some order to the mess. When I saw these beautiful colors, I HAD to create a top to go with it, of course! I set out to quickly cut some appropriate blocks from my stash and thought I’d whip up a simple 4 patch quilt. Well, the top grew, then I had to add borders to the tablecloth, then border the top. Each kept growing and finally I was ready to quilt the whole thing.
I sure didn’t mean for this to be a week long project, but it quickly “asked” for more! I never know what a quilt will be until it goes on the longarm frame. They start talking back once they arrive!
I further complicated my quilting life by adding this flange. Super cute I thought when I was sewing, but a bit of a pain in the you-know-what once I started quilting! This required lots of ditch stitching and ruler work. Thankful for my favorite 9″ Slim Ruler to make this job enjoyable! Honestly, I do love ruler work.
This quilt is a mix and match of a computer digitized motif and free motion quilting. The white blocks are done with the Handi Quilter Pro-Stitcher computer. The 4 patch blocks and outer borders were done with rulers and free motion quilting.
I love this double sided curvy ruler by Jane Hauprich. You can order it on her website.
A quilted top begins to take on a personality, if you can call it that, very quickly. At the end of a day I stand back and take it all in. Something about that texture is just exciting to me!
Probably the best part of the adventure is the end! I flip it over my back rail to get a good look at my stitching. I’ve learned over time to take a moment and study it all. There is nothing worse than taking a whole quilt off the frame and then realizing you missed a spot and have to put it back on, UGGGHHHH!!! Isn’t she a beauty!!!
Much better to see in natural light! I always take my photos in front of my front door, snapping the photo TOWARD the light. You get incredible shadowing over your quilt this way and don’t we want to show that off?!!
Details on this quilt…….55″ square, Hobbs 80/20 batting, and Glide thread. I quilt on a Handi Quilter Forte with Pro-Stitcher, new to me this year. Before that, I quilted on a Handi Quilter Fusion. I love this new machine with all it’s bells and whistles! The digitized design is called Serenity, by Christy Dillon, My Creative Stitches is her website.
The question I keep getting most on my Facebook page page is, “how did you center the back to the front?” The real answer is, I don’t know!! Really, I did a quick eye ball and then winged it! I know, not very helpful, but I figured it would end up as a kids’ quilt and they really aren’t too picky. Where WILL this go, you ask? I’ve added it to my trunk show collection for a great, ‘use a tablecloth’ example. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quilt as much as I have! Enjoy your day folks!
Last month I helped my cousin, Bonnie, make her family heirloom complete. She had given me the top months ago, but traveling and teaching kept me from getting it finished. Her county fair in July made it a priority! All of the bits and pieces of embroidery were done by her mother, Mildred. She used a churn dash block to frame the beautiful work done by her mother over many years. Her mother, my aunt, was a prolific embroiderer and quilter. There is no pattern to this quilt. Maybe these photos will inspire you to gather your family heirlooms into one big beautiful quilt!
Bonnie is the maker on the right and I know her mother is smiling from heaven!
Don’t miss my local quilt guild, the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild annual quilt show, held in Lawrence, KS, April 7 & 8, 2018. I’ll post the flyer so you can see more about it and the location. YES, we have our quilt show at the Toyota dealership. It’s held in the the most fabulous space, their detail shop! Absolutely immaculate, large, and full of great light. We can also fit a large amount of quilts, about 150 will be hanging, along with a wonderful silent auction, vendors, boutique of members stash items, and our featured quilter, Leslie Campbell. I’ll be there all weekend, running the silent auction and selling my notched rulers and regular rulers at a vendor table. Holler if you see me!!!
I will also be traveling to Concord, NC, to speak at the Carolina Longarm Association, April 13-14. We’ve got a full 2 days of events. The 2 page flyer is below that gives the details and contact information.
In May, I travel to Salt Lake City, UT, for the UQSM show. I’ll be teaching May 2-5, 2018. This is a wonderful show in Sandy, UT, at the Mountain America Exposition Center. You can find my list of classes if you look up ‘instructors’ on the website.
The first of June, I’ll be traveling to the Pittsburgh, PA, area for a talk, trunk show, and classes at the Little Foot Quilt Shoppe in Evans City, PA. They have a whole weekend of fun planned, starting with a trunk show and catered dinner on Thursday evening, May 31. I will be bringing along my favorite heirloom quilt for all of these trips.
Alrighty, that’s it for now and should keep me busy enough! Hope to meet you at one of these venues!
I adore old quilt tops. Antique, vintage, ancient, or old, whatever you like to call them! They are cool! A lot of the attraction for me is the fabrics from the early 1900’s. I can spend hours just looking over ever part of an old quilt. The technique also attracts me. Simply cut with scissors, most likely patterned around a piece of cardboard, then often hand stitched piece by tiny piece to create a WHOLE quilt! I’m astounded by it all!
I stopped at an antique store, Fleas An Tiques, in Independence, KS, last week and found this treasure. It was half price! I absolutely had to have it for $12.50! I’m going to take you through the process from found treasure to a usable quilt. I always feel the maker is smiling down on me when the quilt is finished!
I knew right away from the musty smell that it would need a bath! Most of these old tops I can’t even touch or work on the machine until I have soaked them overnight. I have a terrible mold allergy! I first soaked this one in Retro Clean, which can be found on Amazon or sometimes in quilt or antique shops. It will take out age stains, yellowing, and give the fabrics a general brightening. You notice I said SOAK, not wash! Never agitate a top that hasn’t been quilted, you will have massive amount of fraying and you take the chance that the whole top will fall apart.
Retro Clean will only take out stains, not the mold and mildew. This one had a second day soak in an ammonia water bath. I mix 1 part ammonia to 5 parts water. Except for bleach (which you wouldn’t want to use), ammonia is the only thing I know of to actually remove mold spores. I do this soak for another 24 hours at least. There have been times I’ve had to do a 2 or 3 day ammonia soak because a top is so mildewed. My nose never lies!
After a multiple rinse, I gently squish out all the water I can, then take it to the grass. Yes, smack dab on top of the grass! The ozone rays of the sun and the chlorophyll in the grass will brighten and whiten a fabric. I give that about a day in the sunshine.
This top is a mix of feedsacks, shirt cottons, and just your average bits of clothing. You can almost see the worn blouses, pants, baby blankets, and family wardrobes that are mixed together in a quilt like this. That’s the fun! I swear I even see the fabric from my grandpa’s boxer shorts! Can you imagine not having the fabric resources that we have now? This reminds me that life was certainly different 100 years ago! Women were frugal and used every bit of what they already had. I’m sure my closet alone could make a dozen quilts!
You can see from the back that someone worked diligently on the piecing. Would we even begin to piece a quilt top by hand? I find hand stitching to be mesmerizing and intriguing. Hand piecing does cause a few issues in modern day machine quilting, but nothing that can’t be worked out!
I do give these tops as good a press as possible, always from the top. There really is no way to press as we do nowadays, seams pressed a certain direction. I try to get them as flat as possible, always using a good spray starch.
There are also the random holes. Since these are not collectible, heirloom quilt tops, I am usually looking for a quick fix. I use a piece of fusible interfacing and any piece of cotton to make a patch on the underside.
Once I’ve soaked, shined, fixed and pressed, it’s finally time for the quilting. Let’s go!
I load a backing on my longarm, a Handi Quilter Fusion with Pro-Stitcher computer. On these particularly wavy tops, I usually choose a 100% polyester batting, this one is Hobbs brand. The fluff of the polyester tends to fill in the excess fabric, eliminating any stitched in wrinkles.
The next important tool is my Glide foot by Handi Quilter! I couldn’t quilt so many of the things I quilt if I didn’t have this foot! It’s magic for me! On these lumpy, bumpy, uneven tops, this foot glides over everything. It’s easy on, easy off with a quick flip of my allen wrench. I can pop my regular hopping foot on at any time.
I start by basting a horizontal line across the top of the quilt using the channel locks on my machine. This locks the machine in a horizontal position. I manipulate the top with one hand while moving the machine with the other.
After I have a line across the top, then I do a vertical line down both sides. Once again, I use the option on my machine called a vertical lock. I manipulate the fabric as much as possible to the vertical line. Both of these locks will square the quilt as much as possible while it’s on the frame.
I keep a spray bottle of water at my side, using it to spray the top, keeping it pliable and easily manipulated.
Another tip, when choosing a design for these busy tops, choose an all over design. Custom quilting on anything like this is really not even possible and would be lost. I look for a dense and flowing design, something that will secure a lot of seams and give the quilt strength. On these beauties, I’m looking for some great texture. I chose a digital design by Susan Mallett, called “Paisley”.
While I’m working each row, I often run into excess fabric that can actually be flattened with a good can of spray starch and a steam iron. You can see a quick video here on how I do that, but simply, spray your starch over the fabric, then run a steam iron (mine is a cordless Panasonic) over the area. You will see almost an immediate tightening of the fabrics. FYI, this only works on cottons.
The last row definitely tells the true shape of the quilt. Sometimes, you can try as hard as you might, but you can’t make a wonky quilt, square. I get very close though 😉
I did one more soak in ammonia water after the quilting. I realized when I started to put on the binding that I had used an estate sale fabric for the backing, which meant mold and mildew. I couldn’t work with it again until I soaked that fabric! Dang!!
Finally, I stitched on the binding. I usually don’t tell anyone this, but binding may be my favorite part of the quilt. Honestly, I love to hand stitch.
I hope you were inspired by this post to finish an old quilt. If everyone reading this did just one, think how many quilts we would have!!! Have a wonderful day!