Vintage Linens Pincushion-Another Pic Tutorial

Another mostly all picture tutorial guiding you step by step through making a vintage linens hexagon (or really any shape you choose) pincushion. Let me know in the Comments section if you have questions. The purple marking pen I’m using-it’s both an air and water erasable by Leonis.

You can find Ground Walnut Shells at a Pet Store such as Petco and/or PetSmart. Look for them in the Reptile section. If you are afraid of the Reptile section, ask an employee to venture into the forbidden zone… 🤣

Happy (and safe) almost Labor Day weekend and of course Happy Stitching!

Blessings, Rhonda

Just a little p.s. We are 2 years post Hurricane Harvey! God is Good!!

Vintage Linens: Piecing Together Hexagons; a Tutorial

What do you do with bits and pieces of vintage linens when you want to make hexagons that are bigger than your really cool little left over embroidery and lace scraps?

Here are about 35 pictures meant to be a tutorial with few words. But you know me by now and sometimes words are necessary.

After looking, if you still have questions, leave them in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Example 1 of 3:

Lay the irregular piece onto a hexagon cut from your background fabric. I’m using bleached muslin.

Example 2 of 3:

Set your machine to stitch a tiny zig-zag and use a light weight (like an 80 weight) thread.

Example 3 of 3:

Like I said earlier, post your questions in the comments section, I’ll answer as soon as possible.

On another positive note, Fall is only a month and 1 day away!

Blessings and happy quilting,


Sunbonnet Sue Take 2…or…How I Saved 30 Little Girls!

Oh the things you can buy on eBay!

$18.00 bought me this Sunbonnet Sue quilt top with a pink ruffle on 3 sides, a total of 30 blocks and sadly in kind of bad shape. Not what I was expecting. And the aroma, oh dear!

Here’s the thing, this quilt top showed signs of being well used considering the stains, rub marks, spots of unknown origin, etc. What could possibly go wrong in the front load washing machine set to a gently cold water wash? Envision all the natural muslin in an awkward shade of light pink at the finish of the wash cycle. 🙁 Having really nothing to lose at that point, I threw the quilt top into the dryer set on low.

I mulled over how to proceed for a few hours and decided to cut the Sue’s out leaving 3/8″ of the now pink muslin around each of the girls.

Here’s how they looked after being cut from the quilt:

And here’s how all 30 of the Sue’s looked after I soaked them overnight in dish wash powder. Interestingly, the dish wash powder did nothing to remove the pink from the muslin.

Look closely at the pic below and you can see the pink muslin.

Seriously though, don’t these cut outs look darling!

I let all the girls dry on the counter top. Using heavy spray starch, the starch container lid, an artist paint brush and my iron I set about to press the 3/8″ pink muslin edge to the back of Sue. I sprayed a good amount of starch into the lid and then “painted” the starch onto the muslin using the brush. By pressing the starched area until dry, I had the perfect set-up to appliqué the Sue into a new background fabric.

From the moment I decided to cut our all the Sue’s, I knew I wanted to appliqué them onto background squares set on point. Right up to the moment when I realized with the 30 12″ finished blocks including smashing and borders would make a quilt much larger than I wanted.

By folding the 12 1/2″ blocks diagonally point to point in both directions and lightly finger pressing, I determined the center of the squares. By laying a ruler at the bottom of the square set at the 2 1/2″ line, I placed each Sue with her shoe resting at the upper ruler edge. This gave me consistency of the bottom border between the shoe and the block edge.

Lots of straight pins held each one in place while I used my sewing machine set to a tiny zig-zag. Bernina parameters: width 1, length 1. In my needle I’m using Gutermann Skala color #800, in the bobbin a prewound 60 weight white poly.

Here’s what the block looks like on the back side.

I’m unsure if I will keep the blocks at 12″ finished, I may trim the sides to form a rectangle. I’ll have a better idea once all 30 of the Sue’s are stitched onto their new fabric. Speaking of the background fabric, I had intended to use a natural muslin. Once I laid out 5 or 6 of the Sue characters on the natural, I realized they needed to be on bleached muslin to “brighten” them up a bit.

I’ll keep you posted as this project develops, just remember, there are many many different ways to save quilts, quilt blocks and even pieces of quilt tops! Be open minded and your opportunities are endless!


Remember the terribly stained napkin from my previous blog post? The one I put the large safely pin in so I could identify it after the dish wash powder soak? Good thing I pinned it! Look at the 2 pics below, the before and after! Wow!!

And finally, this is Memorial Day. Take a minute or two and say a prayer of thanks for all the men and women who gave their lives that you and I could have the freedom to pursue our dreams!

Happy quilting and blessings to all,


How I Clean Vintage Linens…Take Two…

Way back in November, 2016 I did a post about cleaning vintage linens and as I continue to experiment with these treasures, my methods evolve. I’ve gotten very simple and straight forward by cutting my supplies down to 2 ingredients: water and automatic dish powder. (The dish detergent we used to put in our Dishwashers until the handy “tabs” were invented.)

***Warning! Do not use this soak method if your piece has either black or dark grey embroidery floss!! If you have either of these two colors of floss just rely on either Biz or Oxyclean. Follow the instructions on the product container with care!

***Update: recipe is approx. 1 cup automatic dish powder to approx. 2 gallons warm tap water.

In the past I always purchased Cascade powder but one day at Kroger I saw their house brand at less than half the cost. After using the generic powder very successfully, my purchasing habit changed! In the pic below I don’t remember if this is a Kroger or a Walmart generic brand. ***Update: thanks to Stephanie, this automatic dish powder is from Kroger, she just purchased some and is currently soaking some of her vintage linens and in her words: “the water is yucky!”

I spoke to the awesome McKinney (Texas) Quilt Guild in April of this year and yesterday a box of amazing treasures arrived at my door step. Thank you Linda R.!! She crocheted the beautiful piece above! The other pieces, all vintage, were from her neighbor. As with most all linens, these showed the results of being loved and used for the purpose of which they were created.

Oh be still my heart, the things in this box are just wonderful!

Isn’t the above piece simply beautiful!!

So what’s up with the safety pin in the napkin below? I chose the napkin (from the matching set of 8) showing the most staining and by pinning it I can find it again and compare the end results with what the piece looked like at the beginning.

In 2 minutes time can you believe the change in the soak water!

Again, in soak container #2, the 1 minute change from clear to horrible looking water:

Included in the Treasure Box was this wonderful napkin keeper shown above. Laid out flat it it resembles a giant + sign. Can you see the tiny snaps? Once the napkins (or handkerchiefs) are cleaned, they are folded and stacked lying atop the center square. The side flaps are then folded in and snapped accordingly. Finally the top and bottom flaps are folded in and snapped revealing the beautiful monogram in the center:

I am always fascinated by the color of the soak water. The automatic dish powder is removing among other things: laundry soap residue, dust, hand oils, ironing starches and embedded food/beverage residue/stains. Some stains that the laundry powder cannot remove: the dreaded Rust, some lipsticks, nail polish and occasionally some perfume stains. Use caution when attempting to remove rust as it has already penetrated and has begun to destroy the fibers around it. Personally I’ve learned the hard way to just leave rust alone and in a project I will position a “distractor” of some sort over a rust spot.

Here are the 2 soaking bins after about 15 minutes. I will let these pieces stay in the water about 24 hours. Because the soak solution is so concentrated, the pieces will require a great deal of rinsing. When you think you’ve rinsed enough, do it one more time but add 1/2 to 1 cup of clear (distilled) vinegar to the rinse water to remove any remaining soap residue. Your pieces, when dry, may retain the aroma of vinegar for a day or two but this will dissipate.

These beautiful ladies handkerchiefs were also in the Treasure Box. I will soak them at a later date.

I will do an additional blog about how these vintage pieces turned out once they are finished soaking, rinsed, dried and pressed! Stay tuned…

Hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post, let me know if you have questions!

Blessings for a wonderful day!


***someone pointed out to me that my Pinterest address on my business card is wrong 🙁

If you want to find me on Pinterest just type in my first and last name in the search bar. I checked and there’s no other Rhonda Dort listed, an advantage of having an unusual last name 😎

Vintage Linens; Quilting the Mid-Century Christmas Tablecloth

What’s not to love about a mid-century vintage silk screened Christmas tablecloth in near perfect condition? Purchased on eBay about a year ago, I decided it was time, back in February, to get this quilted.

The particulars: backed with 100% cotton bleached muslin, double batted with Hobbs white 80/20 and Tuscany Poly on top, needle thread is Wonderfil Specialty Threads Invisafil color #105 and Gutermann Skala 240 color #111 in the bobbin.

I longarm on a 26″ Innova with Lightening Stitch. As I do not have a computer on the longarm, everything I do is hand guided free-motion with an occasional ruler when necessary.

The marking pens are: blue by EZ International company and purple by Leonis.

The finished bound size is: 51 x 70 and it took 23 hours and 15 minutes to complete the quilting.

Let’s start with a picture of the finished quilt and then we will walk through the process step by step:

Here’s what the tablecloth looked like right before I loaded it onto the longarm.

I bought this large stencil years ago from The Stencil Co. To the best of my knowledge they still stock this item. It’s a fantastic stencil because it can be used in so many different ways! For this tablecloth project I relied on the marked circles as registration lines to determine the size of my various Feather Wreaths.

The stencil is 1 quarter of the final design.

You might have noticed I’ve marked the horizontal and vertical center lines with a purple pen. It’s a Leonis air and water erasable marker. I determined the marked lines by folding the tablecloth in half lengthwise, mirror image matching the motif placements as best I could. I pinned the tablecloth once the above and below motifs were lined up and using a steam iron I hard pressed a fold. I then repeated these steps to press a fold line horizontally. After the cloth had cooled and using a straight ruler I marked over these hard pressed fold lines with the purple Leonis pen.

Are you freaked out just a little bit about these hard pressed fold lines? Scroll back up to the first pic and see if you can find the pressed folds.

It’s always a challenge for me to quilt what essentially is a Whole Cloth Quilt. I’m a firm believer in Stitch In The Ditch (SID) but for this project there are no seams (ditches). I take the approach of treating the printed designs as appliqué and carefully quilt around these when possible. Below you can see I am outlining both the inside and outside red edge of the undulating ribbon.

Fast forward (also known as: I forgot to take progression pictures…). Once I feel comfortable that the tablecloth quilt top is stabilized it’s time to tackle the large Feather Wreaths in the center of the project. I used the blue registration lines to guide me as to the parameters of each wreath and the small spaces between the blue lines guided the size of my quilted 1/4″ Pearls and/or Pebbles in the wreath feather stems.

The picture above shows that I’ve quilted the feather wreaths and outlined most of the printed border motifs.

After marking a diagonal grid in the negative spaces left by the Feathered Wreaths I set about lulling myself into a quilting stupor by doing a small Orange Peel design… oh I was such a happy quilted when this step was finished!

In both the pictures above and below you can see what a difference the micro quilting made when stitched in the space between the large wreaths. It took forever but I think it was well worth the effort.

I used 2 different techniques in the micro stippling, one area has scribbling and the other has very tiny overlapping ribbon candy. I think I like the ribbon candy best and I also think it went faster.

If you’ve read any number of my past blog posts you already know I love love love an undulating quilted feather border. This quilting project is no exception!

How to handle all the negative spaces in the printed borders? Lots and lots of little elementary swags and arches.

The center of the tablecloth gets 1/4″ spaced curved crosshatching.

Below you’ll find more close up pics:

Have you noticed? Does it bother you? The tablecloth has a very large double holly elongated oval printed in the center. I quilted a very large circle in the center. I felt as though it would be an unexpected surprise. Apologies right now to all my OCD friends.

Thanks for reading this far! Hope you enjoyed this blog and next time you see all those beautiful mid-century tablecloths in second hand/antique shops think about buying one in decent condition and quilting it! I can either hang this on a wall or use it as a tablecloth, after all, it’s been laundered on many occasions and still looks great!

Blessings and Happy Quilting,


The Saving of the Blue and Pink Vintage Tablecloth and its Quick Transformation into a Whole Cloth Quilt!

Here’s how it all began:

How I came to own this vintage 44×46.5″ luncheon tablecloth is a mystery to me. I’m guessing it was in a box of vintage pieces I bought sight unseen but no matter, I love it, holes and all. But how to save it?

Generally I shy away from mixing fusible products and vintage linens but this time I knew this great product by Heat-n-Bond would be perfect. It’s remarkably light weight so the added bulk to the tablecloth fabric was minimal

I assessed the size of the damaged area, cut a piece of the fusible about 1/2″ larger and using a Teflon pressing sheet I ironed the patch to the back of the cloth. You’ll notice I did not cut away the frayed edges. The raveled hole edges serve a couple of important functions: 1st, they provide a padding if you will so there’s not a sharp cut edge of where they would have been cut away and 2nd, they provide, in most cases, continuity of color.

Here’s a picture below of all the holes with the iron on fusible in place.

With the holes stabilized it’s time to decide on a general quilting plan and begin marking registration lines. If you’re familiar with my work you already know I believe almost anything looks better with feathers quilted EVERYWHERE!

Where to start: fold your tablecloth in half horizontally. Do your best to match up the printed designs. Adjust your fold if necessary and when you think you can’t get it anymore perfect, lay it carefully on your ironing board and press the fold. You want a firm crease pressed into your cloth.

Now fold your cloth in the opposite direction, again carefully matching the already pressed crease this time and the printed design and press once more. Now there’s no question about the center of your tablecloth and the center of each of the 4 sides. Remember, you MUST do this step before you introduce any sort of marking pen to your fabric! After you’ve begun marking, don’t even consider getting your piece close to an iron, or any other heat source.

The tool I’m using is a modified Dasco Pro Compass. I removed the pencil it came with and taped a blue marking pen in its place. I can’t remember where I purchased this great tool but google the name and you’ll generally find them for less than $12.00. The great thing is that you can also buy a 36 inch 1/2″ wooden dowel and make circles anywhere from tiny to 72″! I love the idea of quilting using hardware items to make our lives easier!

Introducing my idea about covering the holes: small white crocheted doilies. Now do you see why I chose to not cut away the frayed edges? They actually help with the look from the front through the crochet.

So now that I’ve decided on the little crocheted doilies, I’m moving to the printed ruffled border. Again, undulating feathers are a very quick and filling technique. I first mark a solid blue line halfway between the right and left edge of the printed ruffle design. Next, using a clear acrylic longarm template I mark the curves of my intended feather stem.

But…how do I know the curves will match with the corners? I don’t. If you begin your border marking by starting at each of the 4 corners and slowly and mark towards that pressed center crease, you’ll find yourself somewhere near the hard pressed center crease. Both the left and the right borders should be marked as mirror images of each other and then the same for the top and bottom borders. As you approach the center pressed crease from each direction, you now have a “make it work” moment.

See the picture below. Can you see where the curve is slightly different at the point where I’ve kind of got a mess with the blue marking pen? The up curve is quite a bit smaller than all the others. Once the feathering is complete and the blue pen is erased I would challenge you to find the aberration. It’s one of those “make it work” moments that give you a great feeling because rather than freak out, you’ve met the challenge.

I’ve got a wonderful stencil that marks this nice grid that I will use to quilt the Orange Peel design. And on the 4 corners of the body of the printed design I decided to mark quarter circles to quilt abbreviated feather wreaths.

I did have a bit of a dilemma in deciding whether or not to quilt directly over the crocheted doilies. Because I wanted continuity of design on the back of the quilt, I threw all caution to the wind and quilted as thought the doilies weren’t even there. Yes it caused me to ask a few friends their opinion first, and finally I realized, if it looks bad, just get a seam ripper and take it all out. Whew! No Frog Quilting required.

Back to the doilies. I chose them for a couple of reasons. First, because I had them in my stash, second because they mimicked the center feather wreaths and 3rd because they offered contrast to all the horizontal and vertical lines of the quilt.

Can I just say here that I’m so happy this piece is not bigger! I grew weary of quilting Orange Peel!

Can I also say that it’s taken me 2 times of crazy frustration to finally learn not to use 3/4″ high loft poly batting. Hold me to it, never again! At least this time I knew to start quilting at the top and slowly work my way down the quilt. This 3/4″ high loft creates big problems with fabric puckering. I’ve got a few small pieces of this batt left and Tuesday is trash day. Wednesday I will not have any more in my house. Yes the dimension it creates is fantastic, I’ll just go back to my favored double batting of Hobbs 80/20 topped with their Tuscany PolyDown.

So what’s that red cord running right to left on my longarm? It’s a wonderful invention my 2 amazing Innova users, Donna Estes and Cindy Allen. What you can’t see are a bunch of white plastic garment toggles on the red cord. It’s a wonderful way to keep your quilt top centered and straight while quilting. Wonderful!

I always love to study the back of a quilt, this one’s no exception. This piece was finished with 8.75 hours of longarm quilting.

Here are the particulars: the top is a damaged vintage luncheon cloth measuring 44×46.5″. The (dreaded) batting is 3/4″ high loft poly, the back is white Moda Classic Muslin.

The thread, both needle and bobbin is from Wonderfil Specialty Threads, Deco Bob (weight 80) color 104.

My machine in a 26″ Innova with Lightening Stitch. All the work is hand guided free motion.

And thank you to Betty for her comments/question about the marking pen, I forgot to mention I use 2 different pens. First I mostly use an EZ International water erasable pen but sometimes when the blue is not dark enough I use a Leonis air/water erasable.

And again, the front. I will trim to size tomorrow but before I do, I found an area I forgot to quilt! I’ll load it back on the longarm, do the 10 to 15 minutes of stitching. After trimming I will serge the 4 edges, fold it up and soak it in room temp tap water for at least a few hours. I used so much blue pen that the crazy batt seems to soak it up and re-deposit it elsewhere… after a good soak, I’ll spin the water out in my front load washing machine and block the wet quilt on my design wall laid out on my dining room table. The binding will be from a vintage solid blue fabric I have in my stash.

So where will this piece end up? Maybe in your home! I have plans to donate this quilt to the Livingston, Texas quilt guild for their quilt show auction in April. Here’s a link to their web site for additional information:

I just hope there’s someone out there that loves this piece as much as I do!

***update 03/11/19

Remember I said I was going to do the binding in a blue, well I decided against that and used white instead. Can I just say I really love this piece!

It work of mine is being donated to the Livingston (Texas) Piecemakers Quilt Guild, as an Auction Quilt. Contact the guild via the web site in the previous sentence if you have questions. I can tell you the show is April 6&7, 2019.

***update #2: Thank you to LaDonyce Hamilton, owner of the Red Barn Retreat in Coldspring, Texas! She won the auction and took this piece home!



Until later, blessings to everyone and Happy Quilting,


Quilting; How I Add a Frame Around a Hexagon, a Visual Tutorial

I’ve never published a tutorial blog with no words but here goes! I’ve been getting questions about how I add a frame around my vintage hexagons as shown in the picture below so I decided to do a Visual Tutorial by uploading 43 pics. Of course, if you have questions, please email me or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Ok, did this work for you? Please let me know!

Blessings and Happy Quilting to all,