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

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