The Courtship, a Small Quilt From a Vintage Linen Pillow Cover.

The Courtship

Using a lot of pictures I’m going to take you through the process of creating this small 24×24” quilt.

I started with this darling pillow cover, white on white hand embroidery and slightly off-white tatted edging. I bought this piece in an antique shop in Chappell Hill, Tx., brought it home and removed the damaged back, laundered and pressed the piece and set about deciding how to use it in a small quilt.

I knew I wanted the finished piece to be square and I’m starting with a rectangle so I had a few design challenges ahead.

With a finished 24” square as my goal I laundered, starched and pressed a 32” piece of bleached muslin. Using a black Frixion pen I marked registration lines dividing the fabric into 8 equal sections, the outermost lines marking the needed square.

My next step was to fold the pillow cover in half both horizontally and vertically and pressed to create a crease. Now back to the bleached muslin. I lined up the horizontal and vertical lines which was easy to do because of the sheerness of the pillow cover fabric.

With all edges and the center secured with straight pins I sewing machine basted the pillow cover to the muslin.

While it’s hard to see because I’m using Deco Bob 80 weight white thread, I did baste at the edge where tatting is attached the pillow cover.

I designed a Swag Template after dividing the width of the finished project by 3. I like the look of odd rather than even numbered motifs. I’ve traced around the template again, using a Black Frixion pen.

Let me say a little bit about Frixion Pens. You either love them or you hate them. I love them. Yes, I’ve had a few times where using them on a dark fabric resulted in ghost lines, yes I know that freezing temperatures will bring them visually back and yes I know that the ink/gel remains in the fabric forever. I still choose to use them in certain situations and accept that nothing in life is guaranteed, including my quilting experiment projects.

Do you utilize these super handy Drafting tools? These plastic(?) templates are made in a variety of great sizes.

So I’ve reached the point where I have both the top and bottom swags drawn, their connecting circles are in place, the side curved lines are partially hidden by the tatting and the general swoop or curve on the anticipated quilted feathers have been sketched in.

If you look closely at the right side of the bottom swags you will see an arrow. I mark in all sorts of “quilting shorthand” notes when I’m working on a piece. It really helps later when I say to myself “hum…what was I thinking about doing here…”

Here’s a better picture where you can also see I’ve indicated on both the bottom and right side that my measurement is for a 24” square piece.

Just a closeup of where I’m intending to quilt feathers. By drawing a loop at the end of a curve I get a visual heads up of where I plan to stop quilting and head back down the curve to feather the other side.

Just a quick picture of the top of the project. Look at the center swag. There are 2 arrows, one at each end. This is a signal to me that the feathers will meet up and stop at the center.

So it’s time to begin the actual quilting…but I have a problem. I cannot see the edge of the white embroidery on the white sheer fabric laying on the white bleached muslin. I tried by quilting around the girl but it was very difficult and I had quite a bit of quilting to pick out and redo. Frixion pen to the rescue. I outlined all the remaining embroidery and having the black line to follow made all the difference in the world.

Once all the outline quilting was complete I began stitching the feathers.

With the feathering complete on both sides it’s time to think about the area between the boy and girl.

While I’m still mulling over the center of the piece I move on to the top and bottom and can you see that I changed my mind about the swag bumps? I revised the swags to have a soft curve instead.

At this point having quilted veins in the feathers on the swags I decide to do the same to the feathers around the boy and girl.

The straight vertical quilted lines are 1/4” apart.

It’s time to tackle the undulating feathers on both the right and left side. Using the blue painters tape I am able to hold the tatting out of the way of the quilting.

With the sides complete it was time to make a decision about the center. A quilted feather heart seem just the thing. By the way, by now you can see the boy is no longer surrounded by the black Frixion pen markings. Using my little Clover wedge wand iron I made the ink disappear. That little wedge iron worked perfectly.

The heart is quilted and next came the crosshatching. Here’s how I feel about crosshatching…love the look, bored to pieces executing it.

And just like that, it’s ready to come off the longarm. The total time spend quilting was 12 hours. I’m just going to show you a bunch of closeup pictures here:

Can you see I’ve beaded just the tip of every vein in the feathers? I’ve used a tiny Celon white size 15 bead.

You know, White is actually very difficult to photograph! These last few pictures look like I’ve used light blue or lavender quilting thread…it’s white.

I used 2 layers of batting: Hobbs 80/20 white and their Tuscany Poly. The needle and bobbin thread is Deco Bob white (color number 104) 80 weight by Wonderfil Specialty Threads. The back fabric is Moda Classic in white. Finished to include the binding the piece measures 24” square and I spend a total of 12 hours doing the quilting.

Once the quilting was finished but before I applied the binding I hand stitched down the outside edges of the tatting.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog! I so much enjoyed the process of creating this piece, let me know if you have questions.

Blessings and of course, Happy Creating!

The Vintage Linens Pillow Challenge

Another vintage linens challenge with Allie Aller and Dawn Ronningen ended yesterday, Aug. 15 and I finished just in the nick of time.

The rules were few, we just needed to use 3-5 vintage pieces, we could use any number of embellishments both old and new and the timeframe to complete the project was 2 weeks.

Here’s the front of my finished 22” vintage linens pillow.

But how did this all start? Where did my inspiration come from? Get ready for a whole bunch of pictures to take you through the process.

Sorting through my stash I came across 4 matching old napkins. I laid them out on the ironing board placing the decoration at each of the corners. I cut 2 edges of each napkin so that when I stitched them together the overall measurement would be 20”.

See how the decorative corner on each napkin makes an excellent base once they’re sewn together.

I sewed the napkins together with a 1/4” seam allowance, pressed the seams open. I left the raw edges knowing this 20” square would be placed atop bleached muslin. No worries about fraying. With this “base” piece completed I search for the perfect white crocheted doily.

Seriously, this looked so pretty I could have stopped here but I knew I needed at least 1 additional vintage piece to meet the challenge requirements. I’ve been toying around with working with melon shapes, I’m a huge fan of the Friendship Dahlia quilt pattern and one thing led to another which led to me on a search for an embroidered piece I’d be comfortable cutting up into pieces.

Can you see all the damage? I don’t mind in the least taking a pair of scissors to this dresser scarf! That hole…about the size of a bobbin.

I have a melon long arm template that did double duty as a guide for marking with a black Frixion pen

These are the types of vintage pieces I don’t mind cutting into at all. They have seen better days, they have stains, holes, ripped decorative edging and missing pieces.

Here’s what I’m left with after I cut out the 6 melon shapes. Will I throw this away? Oh goodness no! There are still areas that will will be part of a future project.

The trial run makes me happy with the melon pieces. I also like that the crocheted doily pattern shadows through the thin dresser scarf fabric.

If you’re a repeat reader of my blog posts you’ll know Elmer’s White School Glue is my friend. I use it on so many quilting/sewing projects and this pillow challenge is no exception. I am not a fan whatsoever of using fusibles with vintage pieces except when using cut damask. (Damask has a mind of its own and if you even look at it wrong it will ravel!) Just a word of warning about my friend Elmer: when dry it is easily stitched thru with the sewing machine. It is awful to stitch thru when doing hand-work.

The Elmer’s along the edge serves several functions. It holds the melon shape in place for future machine stitching and then longarm quilting and it helps to secure the edges so that they don’t ravel or fray while I’m working with them.
*** Update: I put a drop of glue also at each of the crocheted doily outer scalloped edges. Dried with the iron, the glue held the doily in place nicely until I could load and stitch it down on the longarm.

Once the 6 melon shapes are in place, the next step is to decide on the color of thread for the decorative stitching. I auditioned just a few colors but was always leaning towards lavender. I also was positive I did not want to use the traditional machine applique or buttonhole stitch. Using a scrap piece of fabric I adjusted both the width and length of the build-in stitch that resembles a little twinkle star until I was happy with the results. Does this stitch have a name? Who knows!

This is what the pillow top looked like after each of the melons were glued into place. Have I mentioned that once the piece is placed, I dry the glue by pressing with a hot iron, no steam. If you’re gluing remember to press not iron as the back and forth motion of ironing can cause your piece to move. Ask me how I know…

Above you’ll see one melon stitched in place with the lavender machine embroidery thread. Only 5 more to go.

With the pieces decoratively stitched in place the pillow top is ready for the longarm. I’ve used well laundered bleached muslin for both the top and back fabrics and 2 layers of Hobbs white Tuscany Poly for the batting. I have a Wonderful Specialty Threads called Deco Bob (80 weight) in the bobbin and the needle. For this pillow I’m using white thread. My first steps are to baste the pillow top along the upper horizontal edge, vertically through the center, horizontally through the middle And then along the remaining 3 outside edges. I have to be very careful and quilt very slowly because the hopping foot could easily catch on the crochet and rips could happen. I do not use a longarm Cup Foot because I feel it hinders my visibility when free motion detail quilting.

Using a blue water erasable marking pen by EZ International, I marked the center lengthwise on the melon pieces. This will serve as the stem of my free motion feathers. After all the melons were feathered I went back and quilted in feather veins.

Above you’ll find 2 pics showing the quilting on the white crocheted doily. Have you ever quilted over a crocheted piece? Patience and slow quilting are necessary but oh how I like the look of it! I stitched around the edges and the inside design of each corner motif and decided I was finished quilting. I have in mind to do some additional decorative sewing machine stitching but need to do the bead embellishing first.

I wanted to be kind of subtle with the beading so I am using bead sizes 11 and 15 in this picture. In a later picture you’ll see some much larger white beads around the outside points of the crocheted piece.

I’ve sewn tiny lavender beads along the inside part of the 4 corner designs and you can see I’ve added 2 outside rows of machine decorative stitching, one row in lavender and finally if you look closely you can see the outer row stitched in white.

I always like to use an element at least twice if I can so my next decorative stitching is directly on the doily using the same stitch used to attach the melon pieces. See the picture below:

The finished pillow, front view.

But what about the pillow back? While rummaging through my stash looking for pieces for the front I came across lavender luncheon napkins. They were just the perfect size to make my pillow back. I’ll take you quickly through a series of pictures that will visually give you the steps taken.

You know, variety is the spice of life…I decided to make my pillow back in the fashion of the Friendship Dahlia quilt pattern with 8 melons (petals). Again, my trusty longarm template is coming in handy!
I find that both hard and soft quilting gives a piece visual tension and therefore interest. My straight lines serve just that purpose in surrounding what will be soft curvy quilting of the petals.
Remember on the pillow front I was quilting with white thread? I’m still using it here on the back. That’s why I do so love Deco Bob white! This white thread tends to take on the color of the fabric beneath it! I’d call that a “win-win”!
I’ve stuffed with a 22” feather pillow form.

So there you have it, step by step instructions/guidance start to finish. Of course I’m always ready to answer any questions, just type them into the comments section.

Blessings for a great day and of course, Happy Quilting!

Rhonda

“Quilting With Vintage Linens” Narrated PowerPoint Presentation

I have created a narrated 50-ish minute PowerPoint Presentation titled “Quilting With Vintage Linens” now available to your local quilt guild(s) at no cost. Here are the details:

1. While you will not own the presentation, you are free to show/broadcast it as many times as you wish.

2. You may shorten the presentation but you may not add anything whatsoever.

3. It is free so all you have to do is have either your guild president or program chair email me.

4. You or a guild board member must have the app Dropbox so I can share this 127MB file with you.

5. I created this to use Zoom for broadcast but I’m sure there are many other ways it could be viewed.

6. And finally, you may not profit in any manner from the showing of this presentation.

As these times of COVID are hard on us all, this is my “give-back” to Quilters everywhere who are really missing their Guild meetings.
Let me know if I’ve covered all the bases 🙂❤️🙂


RhondaDort@gmail.com

gentle reminder: This is not a virtual or a live presentation that needs to be scheduled. This is a prepared in advance narrated self advancing presentation 67 slides in length.

Blessings to all and Happy Quilting,

Rhonda

Gifts from my Quilting Grandmother aka the story of the Polyester Double Knit Quilts

I grew up in Missouri. In a suburb of Kansas City, Mo. about an hours drive from my maternal grandparents farm. In a small town near their farm a clothing manufacturing operation set up business in maybe the late 60’s or early 70’s. Think back, in garment construction what was all the rage during this time frame? Polyester Double-Knit. This garment manufacturer produced lots of scraps. Lots and lots of scraps. Enough so that when this business took all these scraps to the local dump, the women of the small surrounding towns would gather at the dump to pick through the trash and load their cars up with bags of these free fabric treasures. I remember wearing dresses made from the dump scraps which tells me sometimes grandma would find sizable pieces of the fabrics!

From the left: mom, grandma, me and my daughter, circa 1993?

Why did I tell you about polyester double knit fabric scraps? Because most often these scraps became quilts. Mind you, they because heavy quilts. I used to joke that these quilts could be used as body armor. Oh my goodness were they warm! Missouri could get some really cold winter weather but under a double knit quilt, all was good with the world.

But first let me start with this picture, one of my own very first quilts I ever made, most likely when I was in middle school. Every time I see this quilt today I want to start singing Aquarius by the 5th Dimension. This was my one and only quilting adventure using anything other than cotton. I cut out and assembled the top and my grandmother hand quilted in in the Baptist Fan pattern. She used a lead/graphite pencil to mark her arches and to this day the quilting lines remain. No amount of washing has made them budge. That’s ok, they are faint and if I hadn’t told you about them you might not have even noticed.

This quilt travelled with me from home to my college dorm room to my first apartment after graduation, on to cold and windy Chicago and every other city I’ve lived since. It’s also been a warm bed for my sweet black cat Winston from time to time. Today it visited the DortWorld Day Spa (my washer and dryer) because I couldn’t remember the last time it had been laundered. What I’m saying is basically this 76×88” quilt is indestructible.

You may notice there’s no binding. Grandma simply folded over the outside edges and hand stitched them into place.

So after what seemed like a hundred years after I graduated college, I was planning a wedding and grandma asked me what kind of quilt I wanted as a wedding gift. Red has always been one of my 2 favorite colors and I remembering immediately telling her that I wanted a red and white Drunkard’s Path. Nowadays I laugh out loud at myself, a bride to be requesting a Drunkard’s Path for her wedding, but way back then all I remember is loving red and white and being intrigued by that quilt block pattern.

But here’s the catch about this quilt; I had no idea she was planning to make it out of polyester double knit. You think the quilt that I made out of double knit is heavy, well this one beats that one I’m sure by several pounds. Today I absolutely love this quilt. If you look closely there are a few blocks turned the wrong way but it just adds to the charm and what’s not to love about the borders! This quilt measures 92×101”.

Pieced by machine, hand quilted on a wooden quilting frame, the back fabric is a bed sheet and the batting is polyester. She was an excellent hand quilter considering she suffered from arthritis in both hands.

But the polyester double knit quilts that puts the others to shame in number of pieces and poundage is this one, the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.

This monster measures in at 92×132”!!! Here’s the thing: I’m not sure if grandma or my mom started making this? I’m thinking Grandma, I’m waiting to hear back from my mom.

** Update from mom: grandma made this. Thanks mom!!

You can see this one’s not finished. It’s machine pieced and hand quilted. If I can, I’m planning to finish it this coming winter. No amount of Houston air conditioning right now during these summer months could compel me to have this draped over my lap to be quilted!

The back fabric is a very large bed sheet or two and the batting is polyester. It just wouldn’t take that long to finish quilting it if I would just get to it this winter! The crazy part is going to come when I try and tackle the binding. There’s a big part of me that’s thinking about the possibility of trimming all the edges to straight lines. Maybe I should consider the “fold over and stitch down” method of finishing the zig-zaggy edge. ** update: I’m going to just persevere and tackle the zig-saggy edges!

So now you know all about my very heavy but very treasured polyester double knit quilts. Do you have a double knit quilt or two? I understand they were the “in” thing to make way back when. Speaking of when, I’ll do another blog post about this Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt when it’s finished 🙂

Blessings to everyone and of course, happy quilting!

Rhonda

The “yet to be named” vintage linens hexagon crazy quilt.

I might name this “The Project That Went On Forever” quilt. I started this in 2015 as part of the international CQJP group, the Crazy Quilt Journal Project. The idea was to make one block each month and then post the finished picture to the group. I kept up for the first 4? months and then life got in the way. If you go back to the post of 10/31/2016 you’ll see some early on pictures of how this project began. Slowly but surely I worked my way through all 15 embellished hexagons and 31 embellished equilateral triangles. Both the hexies and triangles are constructed in the same manner, backing fabric that wraps around to the front to form a 1/4″ white border/frame making each of the 46 fully finished stand alone pieces. I hand stitched them right sides together in the fashion of EPP (English Paper Piecing) using a thin strong white thread making tiny whip stitches.

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The hexagons vary, each one completely different, the white triangles are uniform in appearance. This hexie above, while 6 sided is made by sewing strips to each of the 5 sides of the center pentagon.

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This piece features a vintage embroidered flower spray doily with an ivory hand crocheted edging. The remaining embroidery was done my your truly to enhance the vintage work. Look closely and you can pick out the ivory Dresden Plate.

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Beautiful purple/lavender flowers crown this hexagon. They were cut from a seriously damaged vintage table-topper I found at an antique shop in Huntsville, TX. Visually they are very strong and needed a softer base on which to sit. The band of ivory trim separating them from the soft flowers beneath give the eye a place to find comfort.

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An old pink and white edged doily became the focal point for this piece. The dressed up ivory butterfly is a new piece but it blends in nicely with all the other old things. This piece is visually “bottom-heavy” with the large pink flower commanding center stage. All the pieces above the flower serve to compliment and draw the eye away after it’s had enough pink!

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Here’s another example of a center 5 sided pentagon fashioned into a 6 sided hexagon with the addition of side panels. The green ribbon leaf vine is new, from a craft store.

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Battenburg lace, white wedding handkerchiefs, commercial new and vintage white trims provided a wonderful base to be embellished with beautiful spring green satin ribbon, new silk roses, tiny glass lavender/green and white flowers. The tiniest little multi color flowers with the size 15 Ceylon white beads are sequins!

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I added lots of hand embroidery to this piece. I used a strong pink to couch the dark blue lines of embroidery, added the yellow wheat looking sprays, learned how to do a bullion stitch (never again…..) added the spring green leaves and the yellow french knots to the flower centers. See all the other embroidery? I did that too. This piece needed a lot!

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The above hexagon is one of my favorites! It’s just jam-packed with visuals in each of the 6 sections.

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Have you ever worked with Lucite flowers? They were in the jewelry section of my long gone favorite bead shop. They add such depth to a piece!

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Speaking of symmetry, this piece is the epitome of! Both the heart and the butterfly are new pieces I embellished.

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I don’t know what to say about this piece except I love it!

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Above, the butterfly is new, the flowers are part of a vintage table topper.

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This orange and blue hexie took forever but I feel it was worth the time and effort. I’m not a blue or orange person but after having worked with this for so long I came to understand how they work so well together. The crochet flowers were saved from a very damaged doily.

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I think in almost every project I have a fav and a not-so-fav… The above is the latter. This piece just never spoke to me. I spent hours on it, gave it some serious attention but like I said, it fits nicely, just not my fav…

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And finally, this is Kim’s wedding jacket, or at least parts of it cut up, re-positioned and embellished. This piece was entirely ivory before the bead explosion.

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While this hexagon is not part of this particular quilt, its a good exploded example to show you the 5 layers to each of the 46 pieces. 1. the front to be embellished 2. white cotton muslin 3. white medium weight machine embroidery cut away stabilizer 4. white 50/50 cotton poly quilt batting 5. again, white cotton muslin. Just so we’re all on the same page, please know that the stabilizer is cut away, not tear away and it stays in the hexagon sandwich. As you embellish the front of your hexagon you are stitching through the front, the muslin and the stabilizer.

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The embellishing is done through the first three layers. Once the final do-dad had been added, a layer of batting and the backing fabric are set in place.

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The backing fabric is cut 5/8″ larger on all sides. It is folded once to meet the raw edge of the embellished hexagon and the final fold will take it over the edge to the front where it frames the hexagon nicely and is hand stitched in place.

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The triangles are done in exactly the same manner. You might notice this little piece has no tiny white beads… At first I felt that embellishing the triangles would draw attention away from the hexagons so I made all of them without beading. Well, I changed my mind so I had 31 of these little babies to bead after they were basically finished! Oh well… these things happen…

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This final hexagon picture collage is in honor of the fully finished piece I lost while speaking to a Guild. I was carrying my project (before it was stitched together) on a display board from my car into the hotel when a huge storm hit! A gust of wind sent everything flying. It wasn’t until a few days later I discovered I had not recovered all the hexies. I was heartbroken 😦  sob sob…

All stitched together this giant triangle of embellished pieces measures 47 1/4″ on each of the 3 sides. So is it finished? No, I still have to attach a label and the sleeve, might just very well happen next week!

Thanks for reading this far! Let me know if you have questions!

Blessings to all and Happy Quilting,

Rhonda

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Finished! Saving the Pink Fan Vintage Quilt.

100% finished, binding, through the washer/dryer, finished! I left you in the last blog post about at the picture below. It did take a long time to raw edge machine applique the stems and 3 different sizes of leaves, but when the last leaf was finished I knew it was time well spent.

See that pink spot at the bottom right corner below? Nail polish. I decided it should be left alone, why take a chance to further do damage by trying to remove it.

On to the flowers. Over the previous few months whenever I had a spare minute or two I was making yo-yo’s, 3 different sizes. I used the vintage fabric in the fans as a jumping off point in choosing the new quilting fabric for the yo-yo’s. Each flower got either a vintage button or a white ceramic bead in its center. The buttons were sewn on by machine, I sew on a Bernina and the #18 foot was a time saver. Initially it was my intention to leave the yo-yo’s attached to the quilt using only the stitching of either the buttons or beads. After looking at the quilt for a day or two I realized I couldn’t live with “floppy flowers” so they each were carefully stitched down around their outer edge by hand. Yes it took quite awhile but I was happy with the end results.

Remember from the previous blog I said I cut down the side border by half as as to have a matching border on all 4 sized? I sewed the new old border to the raw edge of the quilt body using a 1/4″ seam, trimmed away any excess batting, etc., pressed the seam open, machine straight stitched the seams open on both sides and finally, pressed once more. I covered this unsightly operation on the back of my quilt by sewing on a pink bias strip of fabric (think bias binding) so as to hide my quilt surgery. Worked like a charm!

Each side of the pink bias strip was sewn down by hand.

And finally, the binding. Do you know I once asked a certified quilt judge “If I hire someone to bind my quilt do I have to list it as a 2 person project?” That’s how much I dislike binding. You know her answer was a resounding yes.

But…it’s not finished ’till the binding is pressed! We all go to great lengths to make wonderful fabulous things but how many of you remember to press your binding once the hand stitching is complete? It makes such a difference! Take the time to press, you’ll be happy you did!

More stuff to think about: A few blogs ago I featured the Saving of the Double Wedding Ring quilt. In that project I used the quilt block to determine my surface additions and made no attempt to disguise the DWR block pattern. In this Save project I took the quilt block and enhanced/disguised it using surface design to make the fans into butterflies.

Stay tuned to my next blog post where I feature a Save project where the new surface design has almost nothing to do with the underlying quilt block patterns. Got your interest piqued?

Remember way back up at the top of this post I mentioned that this piece (once finished) took a trip through the washer/dryer? Several reasons for this: 1. I used a great deal of Elmer’s Washable School Glue and 2. I made this piece to be used as a Throw. I needed the stiffness of the glue to be washed out and I also needed to know that as I was using it, should something be spilled on my piece, never fear, it could withstand the my laundry room. I have a front load washing machine. I set the control to Delicate Cycle, warm water, no fabric softener. The dryer was set to Normal where I used half of a generic no-scent dryer sheet.

I hope you look at old battered once beautiful quilts in a whole new manner after reading this post. It makes me so happy to take something that’s seen better days and make it fresh and new again! If you should decide to take the plunge and freshen up your own well loved vintage quilt, know I’m here to help, just an Comment or an Email away.

Let me know if you have questions, I’m always here to help! As an important side note, take care of yourself and your loved ones, it’s a troubling time with the global spread of this nasty virus. I’m re-learning how to spend time sequestered in my home, learning not to take things for granted and counting my blessings at each turn.

Happy Quilting and blessings to all,

Rhonda

Saving the Pink Fan Vintage Quilt

**Edit** I just can’t say enough good about the Support Center of WordPress! For some reason all 18 comments disappeared this morning. They are working/researching to figure out what happened! 

We’re at it again, Allison Aller and I challenged each other again to rescue another once beautiful quilt that was in need of serious repairs. We met up at the Quilt Festival in Houston early last month to take a serious look at our potential next project, purchased on EBay a few months ago for $65.00 plus shipping.

To better understand our challenge let me clarify a few things. We are not attempting in any fashion a “restoration” of this quilt but rather, we are  taking a well loved but damaged piece and saving it by both additions and/or deletions, transforming it into a new creation to be actually used again or hung as quilt art. You may have read my prior 2 blog posts about saving the double wedding ring quilt? My finished piece has been through the washer, air dried and I use it as a lap throw.

Here’s where I am so far but how did I get to this point?

This is where we started:

Here’s my half:

I’m going to try and show you some close up pictures so you can understand we had no qualms about cutting this quilt in half lengthwise. From a distance it looks find but there are holes everywhere, damaged and/or missing fan blades, nail polish and badly worn white fabric.

You know me, it’s almost impossible to put a quilt down on the floor for a photo opportunity and not have my black fur baby pose for a pic. Say hello to Winston the Cat.

Remember I mentioned nail polish? See the above pic. And the binding is all but gone from the quilt as shown below.

So what to you do with the raw edge of a freshly cut vintage damaged quilt? Serger to the rescue in this case.

The first of many pictures to detail the damage to this quilt.

Do you remember from the third picture above, my half of the quilt has only 3 borders. I decided to cut the remaining side border in order to sew half onto the other side but… if you attempt this, remember that the original side has about 1/4th” already in the seam allowance. You MUST take this into consideration when determining what is the half way point for cutting. The next pic shows half of one side border sewn onto the side without a border. When I am completely finished with the front I will hand stitch trim, ribbon, etc. on the quilt back to hide this long seam.

I set some early goals/ideas on where I wanted this piece to go and I surprised myself by sticking to them almost 100%. I knew I wanted my fans to become butterflies, I knew I wanted to have green vines and leaves and flowers of some kind, white butterflies and/or dragonflies. Initially I planned to hand dye narrow trims or laces to be my vines. I didn’t want to go to the expense of pricey dyes, but I knew if I used Rit Dye® the chances of fading in the laundry was a possibility so solid quilting cotton fabric was my final choice. The pic below shows my trial run at an undulating vine.

This is another instance where Elmer’s School Glue® is my quilting friend. I purposely chose not to use a fusible for my vines and leaves. Here’s my thinking: this is an old quilt, there are no straight edges any longer, the fabrics are worn and frayed. If I introduce vines and leaves with nice clean edges, I felt visually it would not be the look I was trying to achieve. A very thin stream of Elmer’s and a dry iron held all the greenery in place nicely as I transitioned from ironing board to sewing machine.

I use EZ International blue water soluble marking pens for any number of reasons but in this case I know I can iron over the marks and they will not darken and/or stain the white fabric.

And the large compass is from either Lowe’s or Home Depot kind of stores, it’s a Dasco Pro Compass. I have adapted one end using white duct tape to hold my blue marking pen. This is such a handy tool!

Once my stems are Elmer’s glued and dried with a dry iron, using a machine appliqué stitch on my Bernina and DMC sewing machine thread in a nice matching green (I have no idea on the color name or number, the top label on the spool has been long lost) I machine appliqué both sides of the green vine.

Now that the vines are on place I think I’d better address the damaged or missing Fan block blades.

But before the replacement to the fan blades, I found about 10 square white crocheted doilies in my stash. They will work perfectly to visually “tone down” the solid pink of each fan block. I cut these doilies in half both horizontally and vertically and use 1/4th of the original doily on each of the pink quarter circles. I sewed these pieces down using a tiny zig-zag stitch at the edge and then to further secure them I sew again about a half inch in from each edge.

Using the front and/or back of an inexpensive plastic 3 ring binder from a Dollar Store, I made a rudimentary template large enough to press under about a quarter inch on each of the four sides.

With my replacement fabric cut, I begin to press under the raw edges.

One side of the “fan blade” is a bit curved so I work with the fabric to get the desired shape.

Again, to help with the corners, I put a dot of glue to hold everything in place before I dry press.

Once I’m happy with the shape and the placement of the new fan blade I pin it into place and with a tiny zip-zag I stitch it into place directly over the missing or damaged original fabric. What’s in my needle and bobbin? Wonderfil Specialty Threads makes a wonderful 80 weight thread called Deco Bob. I’m using a light almost off white and it blends in so nicely! I forgot to take a picture of the zig-zag stitched blade for you 😦

It’s getting more exciting as it’s time to officially make these fans become butterflies! I debated a long time and auditioned so many different fabrics trying to decide on the butterfly body color. There’s no denying the pink solid fabric is visually “heavy”. I considered a medium grey, a green or a mottled brown but once I cut a small piece of the purple I knew I’d found my fabric! I feel it balances the solid pink quite nicely. Speaking of the solid pink fabric, have you noticed it is consistently the center blade of all the fans?

I used the orange plastic binder once again to cut a shape for the butterfly body. Note the half or profile butterfly bodies have a slightly smaller girth to them. The antenna were drawn on using a Pilot brand Frixion® pen. I used a dress making French Curve template to keep the curves consistent. At this point it was back to the sewing machine to choose and execute a decorative stitch for the antenna. I chose a purple thread from my stash that most closely matched the purple fabric.

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The applique stitch on my Bernina is put to use again as I secure the butterfly bodies in place.

I used a Sue Pelland Designs template to cut my leaves, such a quick way to cut hundreds of small leaves! It may be hard to tell, but the leaves are 2 different sizes. In the final layout the larger leaf is on the outer side of each vine.

Once I had an idea of leaf placement I began to place various sized yo-yo circles as flowers on the vine.

If you can pick them out, I’m also auditioning small white butterflies.

Yes, it took forever to applique all the leaves, but well worth the time. The glue held each leaf in place until it’s turn to be stitched. Just a dot at both narrow ends did the trick.

I’m thinking lots of white butterflies and dragonflies, white ribbon and lots more yo-yo flower clusters will be in place in the next few day.

So now you’re caught up! I’m hoping for a lot more progress over the holidays, time will tell!

Merry Christmas and Happy Quilting to everyone!

Blessings, Rhonda

ps: I typed up this blog post very quickly, if you come across any blatent typos, please let me know!

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