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!
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 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!
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!
Hop on over to the tab Quilting Rulers! I’ve got a new, sweet little ruler! It’s only 5″ x 1 1/2″!! Tiny and mighty! Use either on a longarm or domestic machine. I think domestic machine quilters will love it. Super for tight spaces on a longarm and small throat areas on a domestic.
You can also get the full, 4 ruler set, for $55 and FREE shipping in the US. International customers, please choose the second option on the drop down menu, $65. Quilting Rulers
I’ve created these rulers for small hands, with curved ends to help movement over seams. No corners to slow you down! I have rave reviews for these and ladies with arthritis tell me they can ruler work all day without pain. Give them a try. I know you’ll love them like I do! Have a wonderful week everyone 🙂
I was thrilled for my first entry EVER to win a 2nd place ribbon over the weekend! What a treat! Entered in the new, VINTAGE category, at UQSM, in Sandy, UT.
The front quilting really created a wholecloth on the back of the quilt. LOVE IT!
And that second green ribbon? Even more super thrilled because it was for, “Teacher of the Year”! Let’s just say I had a great weekend! Thanks to all of you who follow my journey!
This is a recent finish by my customer, Leanne. I love the colors and the mix of fabrics! Jewel tones in cotton, linen. wool and silk. The design is by Lynn Schmitt Gallagher, A Different Box of Crayons. Definitely one of those quilts that needed to be touched in every special piece. Details…..2 layers of batting, 80/20 on the bottom and 100% wool on top, Glide thread in multiple colors to match each fabric. Enjoy the pictures!
I’m often asked if I have videos to show how I’m doing a technique. I keep saying I’ll get a GoPro, but for now, my phone is quick and easy. Thanks to Leanne, whose quilt I am using to share some ruler work. Here are a couple of new clips on using my rulers.
YES, I’ve added a new ruler to my collection this week! I never know I need a new one, until I try to do a design and start thinking about how it could be easier. This time, I wanted to create a curve that was equally convex AND concave, so I don’t have to contort my body to do a design like the orange peel. You can watch my quick YouTube video to see how I use this ruler on my domestic machine. I’ll get one up shortly for a demonstration on the longarm.
Here is the order page for the Kelly Bean and my other rulers. I will try to get some tutorials made on how I use these very soon! Have a great quilting day!