Saving the Double Wedding Ring: How to Block the Quilt.

The embellishments are all added, everything is machine stitched in place and it’s time to deal with the “wavy” edges. This quilt I’m sure has been laundered many many times. In the laundering process it has shrunk. When I serged the edges after it was cut and the red binding was removed, the serging process “stretched” the piece almost back to its original size along only the outside. You can see the uneven/wavy edges in the picture below.

These are my tools, they are on top of my accordion folded design wall. The strange looking red thing is a laser light, it’s a handy tool when a perfectly straight line is needed. As it turns out, I didn’t need this tool for this project.

I’ve got 2 right angle lines permanently drawn with a fine line Sharpie near the design wall edges. These right angle lines are my starting point.

But first, the quilt/throw needs a trip through the washing machine. I selected the Hand Wash cycle, no detergent, cold water wash and rinse, light spin. I did put about 1/4th cup of distilled vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. If you haven’t used distilled vinegar with your vintage linens, try it next time, I think you’ll be pleased.

When the laundry wash cycle is completed, VERY GENTLY remove the wet quilt to the design wall now laying on top of my kitchen island.

Again, VERY GENTLY begin to move the piece to a flat position.

While hard to see, I’ve begun to align one long side of the quilt with the black Sharpie line. When I’m happy with the first Sharpie line alignment, move to the right angle 2nd Sharpie line.

Begin by placing pearl head pins about every 6-8″. Why pearl head? You’re going to be using maybe up to several hundred pins and your index finger and thumb will be thankful for the extra area to grip/push. Once you have the first side properly positioned, go back and pin at minimum every inch. Some people pin every half inch. What you don’t want is “scalloping” to develop in between the pins. If this happens, go back and gently easy the edge to the black line and place pins in between the pins you’ve already set in place.

So what’s going on below with this ruler? I’m using the straight outer edge of my design wall in conjunction with my Omnigrid ruler to mark, with pins, 8″ from the design wall edge. Once I’ve got pins every 8-10″ or so down the length, I will use these pins as my guide for my blue painters tape.

I’ve done the pin marking on both sides that do not have the Sharpie marker lines.

Now I’ve set my other 2 lines for pinning/blocking.

Begin addressing the remaining 2 sides by gently coaxing the quilt corner to meet the established right angle corner inside the blue painters tape. Remember, this can’t be a tug-of-war! You want to ease the quilt into position, no heavy handed pulling that will pop stitches!!

Below shows that I’m ready to address the final side of the piece. You’ll want to gently pull/stretch/manipulate this side to meet up with the painters tape. Start on the middle, pin about every 4-6″ as you work down each side of the start point at the middle.

At this point you can choose to leave the blue tape or remove it. If you decide it has to go, be gently and slow as you pull it away.

Edit 10/13: How long do you leave your quilt pinned to the foam board (in my case my design wall)? For as long as it takes to be 100% dry. Not 80%, not 90%, but 100%!! This is very important! I sometimes leave my quilts pin blocked for 2-3 days. Another question has come up: What if your design wall cannot be laid horizontal? Find something suitable that can. You cannot successfully block a quilt by pinning it on a vertical surface unless you have a miniature sized piece.

Remember when I talked about the back fabric being several grain/feed sacks sewn together and turned “print side in”? Here are a few pictures showing these joined sacks.

What do they say? SAFEWAY FAMILY FLOUR, every sack guaranteed, FOR SAFEWAY STORES, BY THE CRETE MILLS, CRETE, NEBR.

Hope this tutorial on how I block my quilts will help!

Questions? Post them in the comments section and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible!

Blessings and Happy Quilting!

Saving the Double Wedding Ring Quilt: Vintage Linens and Trims to the Rescue!

It was once a beautiful quilt but with use and age, many of the fabrics are either deteriorated or thread-bare. I had a goal for half of this quilt and the following gazillion pictures will take you about 90% of the way to finished for this Double Wedding Ring quilt makeover.

From a distance this looks like a quilt in near perfect condition.

The back fabric is made up of mostly gauze-like Safeway flour sacks, right side turned in. I don’t know a lot about batting but I feel confident this quilt has 100% white cotton inside. Before the quilt was divided into 2 pieces I washed it in warm water, cold water rinse, unscented laundry soap with 1 tablespoon of bleach to sanitize and distilled vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. It came out of the dryer so soft!! After dividing the quilt, I serged the edges to protect the cut edges. The only issue the serger presented was that it stretched the cut edge just a bit. I would deal with that later.

Here’s half of the quilt, measurements are approx. 37×62″ with the worn out red binding removed.

I set out to be very random in my approach to saving this piece. At the onset these were my parameters: 1. Maintain the integrity of the piece, 2. Make “un-obvious” but necessary repairs, 3. Make it durable enough to be used on a daily basis through the winter months (for southeast Texas that translates to 3.5 days…), 4. Ensure that it could be laundered in my front load machine and finally 5. Honor the skilled hands that made it.

From the beginning thoughts of my grandmother were with me on this project. Did she make me a DWR? No. Did she ever make a DWR? I don’t think so, but did I think of her so much as I worked on this project. She was a quilter and throughout my work here I consistently wondered how she would react to see this piece, what she would think about acrylic templates, rotary cutters, longarms, fancy sewing machines and the likes.

I’m just about at the point in my quilting journey where I am convinced that vintage linens and trims can save almost anything! This is the “good end” of a once lovely dresser scarf.

A well placed acrylic template and a Frixion pen are my tools.

I cut out the circle taking care not to cut through the beautiful blue and white variegated hand crocheted trim. It will be used later in the project.

The only salvageable part of this dresser scarf was one end and luckily I was able to get 2 complete circles. But see the embroidery that remains outside the circles? In my sewing room nothing gets discarded and these left over pieces are no exception! They will be used in the near future in making a Crazy Vintage Linens Quilt.

I’ve got my 8 feature circles cut and placed, now I need to sew them to the quilt. I used either a straight or a zigzag stitch on my domestic sewing machine. If I were to make a second quilt/throw like this I would have stitched closer to the edge of the circles.

Once the circles were sewn down, I then auditioned hand crocheted edging and stitched the crochet using a zigzag stitch.

Notice anything unusual about the sweet work above? The embroidery is unfinished. Is that a scowl on her face?

Draped over the end of my ironing board, you can see most of the quilt/throw. I stitched all the crochet down with my sewing machine, both the edge that sits on the circle and the outside edges of the trim. I started out thinking I would do the outside of the crochet by hand but liked the speed and strength of the sewing machine stitches.

Let the embellishing/damage repair begin! The butterfly is a new-ish piece.

A terribly damaged light ivory crocheted doily gets a new chance as a medallion covering the damaged 4 Patch. I’m not concerned that there are some cut edges in the crochet, it might begin to unravel, it might not. It has been used and laundered so much that the crochet thread is almost melded together. If it starts to unravel I will secure the thread by either hand or machine.

New-ish heart appliqué.

See the 2 long streamers hanging on the Throw? I’ve got yards and yards of the one on the right and about 2 yards of the one on the left. The left trim didn’t make the cut. I’ll save it for a future project.

Above you’ll see I’m machine stitching (zigzag) down the trim. The cut ends of the trim? They got zigzag stitched in place. Can you tell I’m using a light ivory thread in my needle? The bobbin thread, well that didn’t go as planned. I wanted to use a matching thread but I was well into the project when I remembered I forgot to change the bobbin. It has a white 60 weight poly but in the long run it turned out fine.

Did I mend all the fragile/damaged pieces? No, I’ll take care of the rest on an as needed basis.

The leaf above on the top right? It almost ended up in the trash a few years ago. It’s part of a seriously damaged table topper I got in a box of purchased “sight unseen”. I just couldn’t imagine what I would ever do with it. I came across it as I was rummaging through my stash. I cut out 4 leaves, one for each corner and I’m thrilled with how they look.

Below you’ll find a 12 picture tutorial about how I machine sew on the vintage buttons. I sewing here on a Bernina, using their #18 foot and have click thru the different stitches to the Buttonhole section. There is a specific stitch choice for traditional holed buttons. Below is my layout. For further instruction I have removed the shank button from the Throw.

Using Scotch Brand tape, I’ve secured the buttons to the piece.

Next step is to choose the correct stitch area on my sewing machine. Here you’ll see I’m working on the last of the 4 buttons. Just as a side note, if your button has 4 holes you must stitch the 2 holes closest to you first. Then with the presser foot up, slide the button forward a bit to expose the remaining 2 holes.

Before I cut the needle and bobbin threads:

Trim away the jump threads between the buttons:

With a bit of care, gently remove the Scotch Brand tape.

A very quick and easy way to firmly secure your vintage buttons onto your project!

Here’s where I am so far. The 8 full and 8 half circles are finished, there are areas of damaged fabric repair, there is trim sewn to many of the pieced arches, there are button clusters randomly across the Throw, leaves in each corner and some sort of decoration on each of the 4 Patches. Remember way up in the beginning I said I was striving for randomness, well I’ve verified what I already knew about myself, I’m basically a very structured person. Everything about this piece is structured. But I really really like it. 🙂

What’s next? I put it to the test this morning and sent it through the front load washing machine, Delicate setting, cold water, low spin-out, distilled vinegar in the rinse.

It came out with flying colors. I’ve blocked the damp Throw and it is drying as we speak. I’ll do a separate blog post in a day or two about blocking a vintage piece.

Once dry, I’ve got 4 or 5 shank style buttons to sew on by hand and then it’s on to the binding. I’m going to match as best I can the original damaged red binding. My last step will be to add a beautiful 3″ wide hand crocheted edging I’ve been wanting to use…if I can figure out how best to attach it.

Want to see this finished piece in person? Come to the 2019 Fall International Quilt Festival in Houston, TX and find Deborah’s Quilts and More, Booth 2426. She will have this piece to show you during the 5 day show. I will be doing demos in her booth on Friday at 10:30 and Saturday at both 10:30 and 2:00. If you can stop, please oh please introduce yourself!

Questions about this project? Wanting to do one of your own? Use the comments section and let me know what’s on your mind, I’m always ready to help! if you’re truly stymied, send me a text message. If I’m not sleeping or driving, I’ll be ready to help!

Blessings and Happy Quilting!

Rhonda

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,

Rhonda

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!

***update***

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,

Rhonda

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!

Rhonda

***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,

Rhonda