Use a Vintage Tablecloth for a Quilt Backing

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!



Make a Tote Bag with Vintage Doilies

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!

Quilted Vintage Table Runner

My Own Quilts | July 31, 2015 | By

I’ve had a lot of small linen pieces on the long arm recently for an upcoming project. This table runner was an experiment with color and a loose weave linen. I made sure to use something that was NOT sentimental or expensive. I found this piece for a whopping .25! You can find a fabulous linen stash in Wilson, KS, at Granny’s Junktiques, that I wrote about in a previous post.


I used a double batting of 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom on the bottom and Hobbs wool on top. This will give the finished piece a nice loft.


When there is cut work, I like to add a layer of something shiny underneath. I’ve never tried a dark fabric, but this time I used a burgundy piece of satin. I think I saved it from an old bridesmaid dress!




When I start any linen piece, I simply stitch around the outer edge. I usually blend the thread to the color of the background. I used Glide Cream on this one.




Next, I outline stitch around all of the original embroidery. I learned quickly that this weave was too loose! I could barely see the thread I was stitching with. It disappeared into the cloth.


I do, however, love the texture it created in the sunlight!


I love to watch a design take shape! I did a minimal sketch with a blue, water erasable marking pen.








The texture on this piece is fabulous! I’m not crazy about the actual stitching, but I do like the burgundy satin underlay.


To finish, I trimmed the back inside edge.


My stitch line was about 1/4″ inside, so I trimmed to that line and then stitched a satin seam tape over the raw edge.


My dining room table is the final destination for this piece. I really like something that is not quite up to my “giveaway” standards because then I can keep it! I hope you enjoyed the process. Have a fabulous weekend!




A Garden of Society Silk!

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!



Sweetly Gifted by Cindy Needham!

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.

After I’ve stitched around all the embroidery, the fun begins! I knew I wanted to work around a circular middle, so I picked a computer design from my Handi Quilters’ Pro-Stitcher library.




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!!


Paper Pieced Quilting

Customer Quilts | July 1, 2015 | By

I’ve got a beautiful quilt on the frame this week that makes me think I need to go back and try paper piecing AGAIN! I know I’ve pulled it out of my UFO’s at least a dozen times, worked on it an hour, then given up and put it back in the UFO pile! This is part of a special quilt that will be in a great quilters’ 2016 book. Pieces are all I can show now, but next year I’m sure it will be all over my Facebook and blog because it’s spectacular! I use Glide threads exclusively because I love the sheen and my machine likes it too. I also used double batting, Hobbs 80/20 on the bottom and Hobbs wool on top to give it great texture. Enjoy these snippets!







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