Saving the 9 Patch baby quilt is my 3rd in a series challenges to use a Cutter quilt. So what’s a Cutter quilt? A quilt that has been so well loved and used and ultimately worn to a frazzle. A quilt that some consider only good to be cut up into smaller pieces and used for who knows what. This is definitely not about quilt restoration but about saving a piece potentially from the scissors or the trash.
After I removed wide pink binding the quilt measured 44×45.
The fabrics? The white seems to be a medium weight muslin cotton and the colors in the 9 Patches are a mix of feed sack and apparel fabrics such as shirting. Even though the colors are faded, they are still in relatively good condition. But what about the batting? There’s a single layer of the muslin as the middle layer of this quilt. And this muslin, if that’s what it is, is not a fine finish muslin, it seems more of a utility weave fabric not generally something one would readily choose to make a baby quilt.
So with the 2 previous “Save” projects on my blog, the first dealt with keeping the quilt block pattern true. The Double Wedding Ring project remained a double wedding ring even though lots of vintage linen pieces were added to the original quilt surface. The 2nd project began with the Grandmother’s Fan and through the use of doilies, fabrics, yo-yo’s, ribbons and buttons, the Fan quilt was transformed to the Butterfly quilt. This 3rd project of mine involves creating a new surface design that has nothing to do with the underlying quilt block pattern.
I began by cutting and laying out 3 long green stems placed in generally matching curves from the quilt top to bottom. I could have made each stem have exact/precise placement as the other 2 but I felt like this precision would not benefit the overall design in the long run. As the quilt is, there’s almost nothing precise about any of the blocks, the color placement and/or the remarkably random hand quilting. You can see that the stem curves are generally consistent and that was good enough for me.
Where things got precise was the 3 leaf sizes, the different flowers designs, the butterflies and the yo-yo’s. I used my Accuquilt cutter for the leaves, the flowers and the butterflies.
Carrying on with using those awesome Bernina built in decorative stitches, I stitched around each of the flowers with a variety of stitch patterns, varying the thread choices as the flower color changed. The new surface fabrics? They’re a mix of reproductions, most are from the Moda Aunt Grace line with a few stragglers from my stash thrown in.
So what’s the back looking like at this point? It’s taking on a whole new visual life of its own with each newly stitched piece. Can you see the sweet little child motifs in the backing fabric? Trains, jack-in-the-boxes, drums, balls, blocks and horns. Just darling!
Another wonderful eBay purchase, this block of 112 yo-yo’s are the perfect color and patina to complement the original quilt as well as the motifs I’m adding. I bought this yo-yo block for $18.00 plus $4.25 shipping and if my math is correct, that makes each piece 0.1986 cents per piece. Money well spent in my mind! I mean, just look at how all the fabrics in the yo-yo’s play so nicely with the colors of the quilt! Yes, I soaked the yo-yo’s as soon as they arrived in the post, they were initially a bit dingy but overall in very good condition.
After each stem, leaf, flower and butterfly was stitched in place I realized the 9 Patch blocks needed some serious attention and the built in machine feather stitch was the perfect solution. I stitched directly over each of the 9 Patch seams to provide both stability as well as a nice visual texture.
At this point I was ok happy with the results but not totally happy… I felt that the white blocks were boring. I loaded a soft yellow thread in my machine and chose a decorative stitch that looks something like cross-stitch. All the blocks are on point so this yellow horizontal and vertical stitching gives the quilt some very nice visual tension, a steady up/down and side to side place for the eye. You don’t readily pick out this yellow decorative stitch at first glance but it’s there, working in the background providing a sense of peace in this rather chaotic quilt top.
When it came time for the yo-yo flowers, again I used my sewing machine, chose the button stitch and I was off to the races. Buttons (holding down the yo-yo flowers) were stitched in place in record time. I’m using mostly mother-of-pearls from my button stash and I’m also adding light ivory 1/4th” ribbon tied in bows here and there.
By this point I’m assuming you’ve picked up on the fact that everything I’m doing to the Save project is by domestic sewing machine. I’m a big fan of using modern tools to save time and this project is no exception! Even the ivory ribbon is attached to the quilt by machine. Just take a look at the edges of the flower petals to see how they are transformed by the thread and decorative stitches! The sky’s the limit on what can be accomplished with your sewing machine!
I would have been happiest if I could have squared up this piece as I was coming to a finish, but that just couldn’t happen what with the overall condition of the quilt. I just had to accept that this project would have to be a bit wonky on all 4 sides, and if you know me like I think you do, you’ll know this was hard! There were places where the outer edges were torn and frayed and here’s where the vintage crochet as well as some commercially produced trims came to the rescue. Besides giving the quilt a nice finished looking edge, it hides a multitude of “really bad” edge areas. The binding? Bleached muslin cut 2″, finishing at approximately 3/8″ front and back.
***Serious disclaimer: This transforming project has taken what was once a baby/crib quilt and turned it into either a lap throw or a wall hanging. The introduction of buttons on the surface has forever barred it from use with a baby or small child.
Each one of these 3 “Save” projects has been both fun and educational and with each one I was always hoping the original quilt maker was 1. forgiving me for changing her work and 2. happy with the transformation that took place allowing her work to shine on!
Next time you see a very worn out sad looking quilt, don’t just carry on without a thought, take a minute to see if you can visualize a transformation to honor where this piece as been, who loved it and what it might become with a few days of fun on your part. Of course, I’m always here and available to answer your questions!
Blessings to all and happy quilting,