Land That I Love, my newest quilt project, Part 1

Taking a step away from vintage, just look at this quilt pattern! I fell in love at first sight!

My friend Diana showed me the pattern and suddenly things escalated, we devised a plan: she’s not crazy about doing applique and I’m not crazy about piecing so by combining our efforts we are making two quilts, I’m the doing the applique and she’s the piecer.

Want your own pattern for this fab quilt? Click on this link:

Ready for some pictures of our progress?

We’ve raided our respective stashes, spent a few hours together reviewing blocks and choosing fabrics.

We realized we have enough red/white/blue/ivory fabrics to make 50 quilts! 🤣🤪

And the first block is born!

I thought about doing needle turn applique but came to my senses a day or two later. This project is going to be raw edge machine applique all the way.

How cute is this sail boat!

Oh I’m loving this one!

The tiny red circles…33 of them…two identical blocks means I’ve got 66 of these to machine applique! Yikes!!

But what are the prep steps for my machine applique? I’m a big fan of Heat ‘n Bond Lite fusible. I buy it by the bolt (with a coupon) at JoAnn Fabrics. When my fusible is more than 3/4” wide I “donut cut”, see the melons above and the number 4 below.

Why “donut cut”? It greatly reduces bulk, especially when there are overlapping applique pieces.

The fabulous Carpenter’s Square block!

If you look carefully at the above and below pictures you’ll notice I changed the background fabric for the Heart in Hand block.

These blocks are going to be so much fun to machine applique!

This is the Heart in Star block:

And oh be still my heart…just feast your eyes on this bicycle block:

I’ll add the tire spokes later.

Once the star is appliqued in the cabin window this block will be finished!

What’s up next? The block below has 50 applique pieces! I’ve got all the fusible pieces traced and cut out, now it’s on to choosing the fabrics!

Yes this is a huge project but when you break this down into manageable segments things progress nicely!

Stay tuned for future updates… Happy quilting and blessings,

Rhonda (and Diana!)

Saving the Crow’s Nest Vintage Quilt, blog post 2 of 2.

This quilt “save/rescue was one of the most challenging projects I’ve worked on in a long time. I had offered the quilt to 2 of my different retreat groups and with no takers I decided to work on this worn out piece myself. A great decision!

Let’s start with a picture of the finished project:

You will remember from the previous blog post, I addressed the necessary fixes to all the seams in the quilt so this post will be all about the items added to further embellish the blocks and sashings. Also as a reminder, I’m doing all the work on my sewing machine, nothing by hand.

I alternated traditional shaped and square on-point doilies.

Then there was this unusual shaped doily. The first picture shows you the extensive damage and the size is far too large for this quilt. I decide I’ve got nothing to lose by experimenting and cutting it apart into 4 sections.

I’ve now got 4 unusual shaped doilies from one large damaged piece. In order to keep any of the crochet from unraveling I apply a liberal bead of Elmer’s Washable School Glue to the cut edges and either allow the glue to dry naturally or set with a dry iron. Why a dry iron? Had I used steam I would be adding liquid to a liquid and the glue would take much longer to dry. What about the damaged areas? They will be covered in the next step by applique hearts.

The two cut edges are top right and left. A very small machine zig zag stitch both attaches the doily to the quilt and secures the cut edges nicely. If you’re still worried about the cut edges, stitch 2 rows of zig zag stitches instead of just 1.

The 10 partial blocks (5 top and 5 bottom) present another challenge. I had a very large and in my mind a very unattractive white doily to experiment with. Why unattractive? If you’ve ever crocheted you will know the look you get when you use a crochet hook a bit too large for the crochet thread. I think that’s the case with this 12” doily:

Folded in half I’m ready to make the first cut on this approx. 12” round doily.

For added interest I wove a quarter inch white satin ribbon into the cut doily and as before, I machine stitch this piece to the quilt with a very small zig zag stitch. From this 12” round doily I was able to cut 8 pieces. But if you remember, I have 10 partial blocks that need doilies.

Not the best picture, but this shows an ivory oval doily I cut in half. I placed 1 piece in the center top partial block and the center bottom partial. Worked perfectly!

I always keep bits and pieces of previously used vintage linens and in this case this piece will allow me to cut several heart shapes.

Just to give you an idea of the size of these hearts. You can also see that I have machine applique stitched this heart to the quilt. I was so excited to stitch down my first heart that I forgot to change the needle thread to a nice medium pink color… to remedy this I, without removing the white stitches, stitched directly over them later with pink thread

I also cut a few hearts from a lovely white embroidered fabric I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics a year or two ago.

Now you can easily see the nice medium thread I used to stitch down the heart.

The project is taking shape! I’ve sewn hearts to every block, hung the quilt on my design wall and have begun to plan my next step: ribbons!

While not actually ribbon, this Snug-Hug seam binding makes a lovely ribbon substitute.

For added interest I attached a commercially produced ivory ribbon rose .

More commercially produced ribbon roses. To give them a more vintage look I flattened them with a steam iron before machine stitching them to the quilt.

Each of the “other than on-point square” doilies got a ribbon bow with streamers.

An eBay purchase, these cut up vintage quilt scraps will be perfect for cutting heart motifs of all sizes.

Next step: buttons!

Have you ever sewn buttons using your sewing machine? I sew on a Bernina so the Button Foot is the #18. There is a very specific stitch found with the sewing machines buttonhole stitches. By taping the buttons in place first, I don’t have to worry that they will shift out of place.

Here’s a very good video clip about using your machine to sew on buttons:

See the little metal bar between the black toes of the #18 foot? This little bar adds a “thread shank” to the button. I need this thread shank! Without it the button would be sewn tight to the quilt and weaving in the ribbon shown below would be difficult.

Once my button swags are stitched I can then add narrow ribbon button to button. To add interest I often will knot the ribbon both at the start and finish of the button swag as well as in the middle of each button.

A trip through the washing machine and the quilt is ready to be blocked. Why block? The quilt I started with is old, well used and well laundered. As such it has shrunk a bit. When I machine stitched the vintage light ivory damask tablecloth binding to the quilt, the very act of stitching and the presser foot causes the quilt to slightly stretch out to more of its original size. Does this make sense? As such, the body of the quilt remains slightly smaller while the edges are now closer to the original quilt size. The result: wonky/wavy quilt binding edges.

By washing and then blocking the quilt you will be able to tame this misshapen quilt. If I am blocking a Show Worthy Quilt I block pin at least every 1/2”. For this fun utility quilt I pin about every inch.

I did an experiment yesterday with this quilt. After it was blocked and 110% dry I didn’t like the overall feel. It wasn’t super soft and snuggly so I sent the piece through the washer again and then on to the dryer with wool dryer balls and half a sheet of unscented fabric softener. Ooooohhhhhh it came out perfect and the edges were not wonky!

Ready for close-ups of the 30 finished blocks?

And the back? Remember in blog post #1 I said I was super careful to use thread that matched the back fabric? This is why, I wanted the green and the orange original quilting thread to remain the focus of the quilt back:

As a reminder, above is the original sad but well loved quilt and below is the finished piece:

I made this piece to be used (or sometimes termed a Utility Quilt) and I’m hopeful that will happen. I’ve had a few people express an interest in purchasing this piece but so far it remains available, e-mail me if you’re interested, the price: $525.00 My email address can be found in the pic below.

Are you challenged to save/rescue a quilt? I sure hope so! Blessings and Happy Quilting, Rhonda

Saving the Crow’s Nest Vintage Quilt, blog post 1 of 2.

I’ve had this vintage quilt for about 2 years, offered it twice to my retreat groups for purchase but with no takers I decided to take on the “save” challenge myself. Checking Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns I believe this pattern is called either Crow’s Nest or Attic Windows.

Want to know more about this amazing quilter/author?

Tap: Barbara Brachman Blog link

Freshly laundered this quilt measures 67×80.

Yes, this is a very rough quilt…but it has potential! I encased the bad areas in tulle before sending this piece to a 2 day soak and the front load washer and dryer. I first contemplated repairing both the top and bottom edges but in the end I trimmed them away.

I am replacing fabric with some of my stash, most from the Marcus line named Aunt Grace. By machine applique stitching the raw edges of the fabric down to the quilt the bad or missing fabric areas of the quilt are quickly repaired.

This quilt will get miles and miles of machine stitching directly through all three layers. For this reason I chose Superior Threads So Fine color #401. This thread matches perfectly the solid slightly off white backing and quilt front fabric. It also has a mat (or not shiny) finish.

What to do about an index finger sized hole straight through the quilt? Elmer’s Glue and a commercially produced daisy flower will mask the hole from the back side.

The daisy is first glued into place, the glue is dried with an iron and then stitched in place, machine straight stitch. I will place a slightly larger “something” on the quilt front later.

Lots and lots of vintage commercially produced flat trims/laces are up next. I machine stitched the trim in place, most often using a very small zig-zag.

My quest to “save this vintage quilt” continues. I’ve secured EVERY single seam by stitching directly over the seam line with machine decorative stitches. Yes it took forever but well worth the effort. I like the soft feathery look this stitching created.

I also did a machine decorative stitch in the sashing swirls choosing a thread that matches the original green hand quilting found throughout the quilt.

And now onto attaching (by machine) the vintage hand crocheted doilies, the really fun part. Each doily was secured to the quilt using Elmer’s Washable School Glue. I ran a bead of glue around the entire edge of the doily and then dry pressed it with my iron. Because this quilt will be laundered when I am finished, and because this glue is “washable” I know (with hands on experience) that no glue will remain in the finished quilt. If you were wanting to hand stitch the doily to the quilt, skip the glue and hold the doily in place with straight pins. Why? It is quite difficult to hand stitch through the dried glue.

I have quite a few of these square crocheted doilies in both white and ivory. I’m planning to use these doilies on every other quilt block, randomly choosing between both colors.

Here’s a close-up to show the doily being machine stitched to the quilt. I am sewing on a Bernina 550, the zig zag stitch set to a very narrow width.

This project is moving along quickly with the machine stitching and the added doilies giving it a wonderful soft look. Stay tuned for more info as I continue working with this lovely very old quilt.

Blessings to all, Rhonda

Machine Embroidery Christmas Ornaments, a Tutorial.

My “Machine Embroidery Ornament Construction technique”.

It’s June so why am I posting about Christmas ornaments? It’s never too soon to begin creating personalized ornaments. Think gifts for family, friends, teachers etc. etc. If you start now you’ll avoid the stress of making sure you have everyone (including your own Christmas tree) covered when the holidays arrive.

I made this ornament in 2009 for a very special family.

I’ve got both the front (the wreath) and the back stitched. I used a nice white medium weight Cut-Away embroidery stabilizer with my natural linen fabric. Each of the two separate embroidery designs measure approximately 5” square. For those of you new to stabilizers, for machine embroidery the two basic kinds are Tear-Away and Cut Away. Tear-Away is removed when the design has been stitched out, Cut-Away does not tear, you leave behind whatever you deem necessary. In this case I will leave quite a bit of the stabilizer as detailed in a picture or two below.

I use Embird software to manipulate (think increasing, decrease etc.) the commercially produced embroidery designs. Embird also gives me the option of adding a basting stitch around the entire design. I love this feature. My machine, a Janome 11000 does a fabulous job stitching out the designs.

To the best of my remembering, these are designs from Embroidery Library,

Yes! I just had time to do a bit of searching and here they are:


You can see I only used the two outermost borders from the picture above, the sweet candy canes with the green ribbon and the red/white banded border.

Matching all four corners and each side, top and bottom basting stitches, pin securely. Using a zipper foot, stitch around both sides and bottom of the design. ***Do not stitch across the top of the design. I used the basing stitch line as my guide for my sewing machine stitching. Why do I suggest a zipper foot? If you have embellished your designs with beading, trinkets, etc. and these embellishments are near the design outer edges, a standard sewing machine foot may be hampered by these embellishments. A zipper foot will allow you to stitch very very close without hitting an add-on.

Begin and end your stitching 1⁄2” above the design top as shown by the blue arrows above.

With sewing machine stitching completed, trim top of ornament 1⁄2” from basting stitches and both sides and bottom 1⁄4” from basting stitches. Your ornament will look similar to above.

Trim each bottom corner as shown above. When you trim the corners, use extra care so as not to cut through the seam you just sewed. On both the front and the back, trim away the white stabilizing material as shown above.

To provide stability, you will need a firm and lightweight form inside your ornament. I use several different things to accomplish this. In this example I am using plastic needlepoint canvas. (In the example at the end of this blog post you’ll note I used a more sturdy product. Use what makes you happy.) The needlepoint canvas is inexpensive, easy to cut and flexible. Always cut the inside pieces 1⁄2” smaller than your design. You need to allow room for the seam allowances once your turn your design right sides out.

In the above picture I’m showing you the ornament before I “turn” it. As I said before, it measures approximately 5” square so I cut my plastic needlepoint canvas to 4 1/2” square.

Wrap your plastic needlepoint canvas in batting. You will need several thickness of batting in order to properly fill out your ornament once the canvas and batting are inserted inside. How many layers of batting around your center is up to you. I’m sorry the next picture is so blurry but you get the idea:

So to get started on the next step, using a great deal of care, slowly turn your ornament right sides out. You will need to use a blunt object to get the bottom corners to look good, just remember to never use force against any of the corners or seams.

Slightly squeeze the sides of your batting wrapped plastic canvas together very gently and insert into the ornament through the top. Use caution so as not to catch any of the threads from either the machine embroidery or the beading thread if you embellished either/or the front or back.

This step will take time, don’t hurry. Towards the end, in order to get the wrapped plastic canvas completely to the bottom of the ornament, you will need to “work it down” until the canvas is securely along the bottom stitched seam.

Here’s a picture of how things should look once you’ve inserted the batting/canvas:

Fold the front and back top pieces down into the ornament and whip stitch into place. Leave at minimum 1⁄4” – 1⁄2” at each side to accommodate the cording that will be stitched to all sides.

Here’s what your ornament top will look like when your hand stitching across the top is complete:

Do you notice that my hand stitching does not go all the way to the end on either the right or the left side of the top?

You need to leave two openings for the cording. When working with this cording, always remember to tape the cording before cutting!!!!!

Insert one end of the cording into the top left corner. You may need to use a narrow object to assist inserting the Corning into the opening. I use either the point of small scissors or tweezers, just use care so as to not poke a hole in the side, front or back of your ornament.

Following the outside seams, pin the cording in place as shown below:

Remember!!!! When you’ve pinned the cording round the ornament, you may want to continue the cording across the top once again to create a “hanger” for your project. Don’t cut the cording without first taping! This last taped end will then be tucked into the opening you created on the front top right of your ornament.

Using monofilament thread and following the curves of the cording, stitch the cording to the ornament on all four sides. There’s no picture of this because I learned that it’s difficult at best to photograph monofilament. If you’re going to bead the outside cording, that will be your final step, otherwise, congrats, you’re finished!!!

But remember way up above I mentioned using something more stable in the inside, something other than plastic needlepoint canvas? I will show you how to use foam core board inside your project.

What do you need for this method? Foam Core Board purchased at any hobby/crafting store, an Exacto Knife, a mechanical pencil and a ruler/template with 90° corners.

With my ruler/template I draw a 4 1/2” square.

Using the Xacto Knife, carefully cut through all layers of the foam board. This will take several “swipes” with your knife, be patient. (Never use scissors or a rotary cutter on foam board!)

Once your Foam Core Board has been cut to size, as in the picture above, and with your Exacto Knife, carefully trim away the two top corners. What’s up with this step? Your Cording need space. If you don’t trim away the corners you will end up with thick lumps at each top corner.

After your Foam Core Board has been wrapped sufficiently with batting, use scissors to trim the top two corners to the same size as the board inside.

Your next steps will follow exactly as up above, you will hand stitch the top closed but will remember to leave small openings at both the right And the left edges for the cording,

Now just a side note, I’ve talked about machine embroidery throughout this tutorial. Hand stitched embroidery pieces would be just as beautiful and would follow the same steps. The only thing than would not be present would be the machine embroidery stitched basting outline.

Are you excited to get started? Let me know if you have questions!

Blessings to all and happy ornament making!


Jellystone, My Bear Paw Quilt

I woke up one day and decided I needed a king size quilt. Here’s the journey beginning to end.

I purchased this book as a download maybe a year ago and this quilt intrigued me.

This book is full of great quilts/patterns.

First I needed what seemed like 10,000 half square triangles. I cut and paired one light and one dark fabric square, made sure my bobbin was full and the sewing commenced!

Did I chain piece? Yes! Did I remember to take a picture of this chain piecing? No. In fact I forgot to take pictures of a bunch of the steps.

The next step was this part outlined in yellow. There are great instructions about how to make two at a time.

This template I made out of a plastic 3-ring binder cover came in super handy.

Each Bear Paw block needs 4 half square triangles and these hst’s need their light and dark fabrics strategically placed.

Like I said, excellent instructions!

Now…sometimes I follow a pattern, sometimes I go rogue. It was at this point that the “rouge-ness” began.

If you scroll back to the top you’ll see the pattern calls for block sashings made from lots and lots of small rectangles.

I decided on a 1” finished dark red print sashing. My quilt top finished at approx. 51×51. I folded it up and put it into the stack of quilt tops to be quilted.

Enter the idea for a king sized quilt. Now just let me interject…I was also on a 2 week prescription drug that gave me insomnia…really bad insomnia.

I’ve quilted before when exhausted…think most quilting retreats…but never on 2 or 3 hours of sleep for days running. My solution: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN IN STEPS!

So the transition from 51×51 to about 90×90 began. I decided to add borders, at least 20” of borders to each side. Below you will see I added a 1” finished border of the red sashing fabric, a 2” border (and black print cornerstones) of an ivory fabric and another 1” finished border of a brown print.

At this point I decide to add a border of 3×6 Flying geese. I needed 84 of these blocks. It was at this point things got fuzzy. Fuzzy as in “How on earth did I end up making 252 Flying Geese blocks???” People!! Sleep is important!

I liked this layout for the Flying Geese border but I need to address both the corners and the 2 inches in the middle where the Flying Geese don’t quite come together.

I made 8 more Bear Paw blocks to use as border cornerstones, add a 1” border and then another round of the Geese blocks. I addressed the gap issue of each Goose border by adding a 2” pieced strip of a red and 2 white 2” blocks. There’s a final 2” border to be added but at this point my design wall is just too small. You can see the final border below on the longarm.

But first, look at this backing fabric. I love it!

My batting choice for this quilt? I always love Hobbs 80/20.

A hand guided panto or edge-to-edge is my quilting choice.

This paper panto is by Urban Elements and is titled: Santa Ana Grande, a 10” pattern.

The needle and bobbin thread is by Superior Threads, the So Fine product, variegated color #701.

I’m not terribly keen on actually doing pantos…I find myself bored. Was I ever happy to take this picture! Quilting finished! All 6 hours and 35 minutes of quilting. Which reminds me…do you keep a journal of your quilting? I do, because without it I would have no idea what I did, what I used and how long the quilting took! No idea!!

Off the longarm and trimmed.

All 90.5” x 4 of binding finished!

My quilt took a trip to the DortWorld Day Spa (the washer dryer) and it came out all soft and cuddly. I knew I had some temperamental fabrics in the quilt so in the washing machine rather than use laundry detergent I used 1/8th cup blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid, selected a cold water wash and added an extra rinse cycle. Why blue Dawn? Head over to my blog post of July 2021, grab a cup of coffee and read all the details.

When’s the next time I will make a king size quilt top…probably never! These things are HUGE! 🤣

Happy quilting and blessings, Rhonda

A String Quilt!

I save scraps…lots and lots of scraps. This March I decided it was time to make a plan for all those scraps.

A search in Pinterest offered up several String Quilt Tutorials, I chose this one, a tutorial from:

A very easy straightforward tutorial that produced perfect results.

When you look at the above quilt, initially it appears that you will be making 4 strip triangles, sewing them together into a square and then adding white sashing. Look again! What appears to be white sashing strips are actually the center strip of a square block! Who sits around and thinks up these things!

How did I decide on my block size? My standard sized ream of newsprint. The largest square from a 8 1/2 x 11” sheet of newsprint is an 8 1/2” square. I stitched directly on the newsprint just as the tutorial shows, knowing my blocks would finish to 8” squares.

The fact that I already owned this versatile quilters ruler helped tremendously with the block trimming once the fabric strips were sewn in place.

But my influences also came from another quilter: Bonnie Hunter! You may know she recently created a wonderful tribute to the Ukrainian people with her Hearts of Hope Sew-Along.

It was her outside border from this wonderful quilt that inspired me to create something similar and that’s how the outside 4 1/2 x 8 1/2” rectangles came to be.

A couple of things: I constructed all the interior 8 1/2” blocks at a retreat in Moulton, Texas. My absolute favorite retreat venue!

Here’s me at home making the outside rectangle blocks.

Only one more border block to go before I’m ready to finish the quilt top but how did I decide on the size of the border rectangles? I reduced only the width resulting in a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2” finishing to a 4×8” rectangle. Can you see that these calculations also resulted in 4” finished cornerstones?

What about the newsprint on the back of each block? I constructed the entire quilt top leaving the paper in place. Only then did I begin the rather satisfying process of peeling the paper away. I sew on a Bernina and to make this paper removal easy I reduced my sewing stitch length to 1.7. Sure I had a huge mess in and all around my recliner but a few minutes with the vacuum cleaner solved the mess in a snap!

Finally before loading on the longarm, I decided a “visual stopping” white final border was in order. All the diagonal lines of this quilt top send your eye in a thousand directions. The white (or any same fabric color) border stops your eye and holds it to the quilt.

No need for custom quilting, a nice hand guided “edge-to-edge” is the perfect choice.

This quilting design is from Urban Elements: specifically the pattern titled: Highland.

I used variegated thread in both the needle and bobbin, specifically Superior Threads So Fine numbers #705 in the needle and #711 in the bobbin. I also used a single layer of white Hobbs 80/20 batting.

A nice orange binding works well with the royal blue bandana fabric on the quilt back. If I recall correctly this orange fabric is: Freckles by Andover. CORRECTION: (thank you Paula) This fabric is Dimples by Andover! The bandana print fabric…pulled from my stash, purchased years ago.

A couple of things to keep in mind: if you want to utilize this border block idea your interior blocks will need to be rows/columns of even numbers. My quilt body is 6 blocks wide by 8 blocks long. Odd numbers of blocks will not allow your outside border rectangles to visually line up properly.

After the trip through the washer/dryer. Because I had so many different fabrics of undetermined age/maker, I laundered the quilt in cool water, 1/8 cup of Blue Dawn Dishwashing liquid and 2 color catchers. The dishwashing liquid acts as Synthrapol to capture errant fabric dyes that are released during the washing process. This keeps those floating die particles from redepositing on surrounding fabrics. I forgot to take a picture of them but the two color catchers were very reddish pink in color after the quilt was laundered. For THIS laundry cycle I only used Dawn…no laundry detergent.

And have you noticed: the outside rectangle border blocks are mirror images of each other. One block has the white center strip running top left to bottom right, the next block has the white center strip running bottom left to top right. Very important!

Oh, and another thing…is it noticeable that all my center white strips in the quilt body are not the same size? Picture me furiously stitching away for a few days only to suddenly realize I had cut two different widths of white strips. While most are cut 1 1/2” wide, many are cut 1 1/4”. Would you have noticed without my pointing this out? Maybe not.

I love the idea that I made a quilt from pieces of fabric that many would have tossed! The finished size after quilting and laundering: 58×75”. Perfect as a throw for chilly evenings!

Save your scraps! Blessings to all and happy quilting, Rhonda

The Vintage Pink Basket Quilt, Part 10-Finally Finished!


Having heavily marked all the diagonal quilting lines, I’m slowly rolling the quilt back and forth on the longarm while spraying all the blocks with water: spray…wait to dry…roll…repeat. It helps that I have a ceiling fan almost directly above the machine.

So while I’m going through the “blue line removal” let me show you a few close-ups of the added embellishing.

This tiny pink butterfly, measuring about 1/2”x3/4” comes in handy by covering a split in the seam. Remember back a few posts when I told you the quilt top is a combo of both hand and machine construction? Well, this barely 1/8” seam opened up due to the stresses of the quilting process. While on the longarm I positioned the little butterfly and stitched around the edges.

More vintage ribbon fashioned into a bow at the top of the basket handle. The white lace leaf/fern looking motif is new and commercially produced. The ivory Lily of the Valley piece is vintage.

This flower, an older commercially produced piece has gotten a facelift by adding hand embroidery.

French knots and commercially produced daisy-like flowers add interest.

Larger daisy flowers and hand embroidered lazy-daisy flowers. I have yet to heat remove the lazy-daisy petal stitching lines.

Binding…one of my least fav tasks…a very old dominated hand thumb injury (think ski slope tumble) makes hand stitching very slow.

Taa-Daa! Finished and through the washer/dryer! Soft and cuddly and clean and ready as a utility throw for any cool weather that might find its way to Houston.

Now…you know the actual longarm quilting dilemma I experienced with this quilt. Do I like the diagonal lines? I say this honestly…I’m not crazy about them. Do I like the fact that this project is finished? Yes!

Do I think I should have thought out the process a bit better and added a 3” border around the quilt top to give it a visual anchor? Yes. I’ll just call it 20/20 hindsight.

Am I happy to have had the chance to rescue/save this wonderful vintage quilt? Absolutely!

Blessings to all and happy quilting!


Saving the Vintage Butterfly Quilt, Part 3 of 3

Working towards a finish, in the picture above you can see that I have attached (by machine) all the vines, the leaves, the yo-yo’s and the two vintage ribbon bows.

This is the top of the quilt as I began to shape the ribbon streamers.

And this is how it looks with the ribbon machine stitched in place. I used a very tiny zig-zag. My needle thread is a Wonderfil Specialty Threads product called Deco Bob. It’s a wonderful 80 weight thread that can and usually does take on the color of the fabric beneath. You’ll find a link to their website below:

I intentionally used an old worn ribbon to fashion the bow.

What’s going on in the picture above? I am stitching out 6 machine embroidery Free Standing Lace butterflies. I have intentionally chosen a thread color that is very similar to the light ivory fabric of the quilt top. I want them to blend in rather than stand out.

You can find this beautifully digitized design at:

Have you noticed this beautiful old quilt is quilted with blue thread? You will also remember that everything I’ve added has been done by machine. I intentionally chose a matte finish light ivory bobbin thread so as to not to be distracting. In the pictures below you can see how my quilt front repairs do not distract on the back of the quilt.

I had thought that I might add vintage mother-of-pearl button clusters here and there around the quilt top but decided they were not needed.

It’s finished! After binding in the same fabric as the vines this beautiful vintage repaired quilt took a trip through the washing machine and the dryer. This quilt began its life as a utility piece and it can and will continue to be a serviceable and well used piece!

It was my honor to pay tribute to the original quilt maker by saving her beautiful work. I can only hope that the things I’ve done to her creation would make her smile. ❤️

Blessings to all and of course: happy quilting!

Saving the Vintage Butterfly Quilt, Part 2 of 3

The original vintage quilt (minus the raggedy outer border) hung on my design wall for over a month while I mulled over what I could do to save/repair/fix this beauty.

I’ve drawn blue lines on the what were once pale blue inner borders. I decided these faded to almost white borders would be perfect for embellishing.

Have you ever made your own bias binding? This was the first time for me and I’m telling you…it’s easy! Very easy! How much bias binding did I make? I forgot to measure before I began winding it on this small cardboard rectangle. Let’s just say I made at least 5 yards.

I cut my bias fabric strips 3/4” wide that finished 1/4” as it came out of the folding tool. At this tiny width and on the bias I knew I could easily achieve flat curves.

I did not take the time to pin before stitching, instead I just followed my pre-marked vine lines. I’m using my Open Toe (Bernina #20) foot. How did I mark my lines? Using a 6” clear acrylic round template I first marked the corners of the inner border. Yes…I forgot to take a picture but did remember a pic of the marked additional border. See the picture below.

A sliver of late afternoon sun making its appearance on the design wall. The undulating vines are finished, machine straight stitched on each edge of the 1/4” bias binding.

I have an Accuquilt and used it to cut about 80-90 leaves in 2 different sizes.

I begin placing leaves on the vine, kind of random placing, kind of not…if you have been following me for any length of time you know I try hard to design “random” but I finally had to admit I’m very “structured” 🤪

I bought a very damaged Yo-yo quilt several years ago. Over several weeks I deconstructed the quilt, soaked and then laundered the Yo-yos. Yes, I put them through both the washing machine and the dryer.

The soaking and then the laundry process worked wonders on the smell, the dirt and grime, and the stitch holes where the yo-yos were tightly sewn together.

These very clean vintage yo-yos will become my flowers. Luckily I have them in 2 different sizes, 1 1/4” and 1 5/8”.

I’m making progress. The leaves are sewn in place by machine using the Applique stitch. The yo-yo flowers are sewn using a very tiny zig-zag stitch.

Stay tuned for one more blog post in a few days, the post that will wrap up the “saving” of this beautiful soft and cuddly vintage quilt.

Blessings to all and happy quilting, Rhonda

Saving the Vintage Butterfly Quilt, Part 1 of 3

When the wonderfully soft and well worn vintage butterfly quilt arrived I knew I’d made an excellent eBay purchase. Not everyone would have looked at this quilt with the same perspective. It was ragged, worn, torn, faded and missing almost the entire top border.

What does it look like as of a few hours ago? All I have left to do is decide on the binding fabric:

But how did I get from the pic below to the pic above? If you’re interested in saving an old quilt the way I do then follow along.

What I do is definitely not quilt restoration but rather I take an old well loved quilt and try my best to make it pretty and useable once again. I call the process “Saving” an old quilt.

This is what it looked like when I opened the shipping box.

Oh my! I knew the edge was bad but this is really bad!

But before any “beautification” takes place I need to address the “sneeze factor” that comes with almost every old quilt I purchase. I need to send the quilt to the Dort Day Spa but when edges are as bad as this quilt, that can mean problems.

How can a ragged edge be successfully soaked, rinsed, take a trip through the washing machine and then the dryer? Tulle!

Not the hard scratchy netting but instead the soft pliable tulle found on rolls at most craft stores as well as Amazon. At 6” wide and generally about 40 yards long, this single roll will last a very long time.

White tulle on a white-ish quilt is hard to photograph! Do you see the solid blue wonky sewing/stitching line to the left of the arrows and to the right of the solid green line? I folded in half a length of the white Tulle. By slipping the ragged quilt edge into the folded tulle, I could machine stitch, using a long stitch length and a contrasting thread, this tulle to the quilt, catching both the front as well as the back in one pass. This way the bad quilt edge(s) is secured and ready to be laundered. Why the contrasting thread? The first time I used this method I machine stitched with white thread and it took FOREVER to unstitch once the quilt finished in the dryer. Lesson learned…

The quilt has 54 butterflies, I replaced 12. I could have replaced many more but part of me likes the idea that some of the original parts stay with the quilt.

Here’s two more butterflies that were desperate for a makeover.

A quick visit to the Dollar General and I have the perfect material to make a plastic template. I used the front (or the back) of a $1.00 three ring binder. Just cut away the front and the back of the binder the fold lines. Remember to choose a color that you can easily see through. Using blue painters tape, I secure the orange plastic to the quilt.

Very carefully with a fine line Sharpie I trace around the outside of the butterfly. For good measure I also mark the hand embroidery stitching lines.

Using my “Anything Utility” scissors I cut out the template about an 1/8th” beyond my traces line.


I trimmed away what was left of the original butterfly fabric. Looking back I realize this step was not necessary as all of the replacement reproduction fabrics would have easily covered and disgusted the ragged fabrics beneath.

Once I realized I did not want to attempt to replace the top border I held my breath and cut away the remaining three. The trimmed quilt now measures 64×72”.

Why is the above template red? Some how from one day to the next I lost the orange one! Good grief! I quickly made another one, this time chose a red binder front plastic sheet. I realized there was no reason to mark the hand embroidery stitching lines on the second template.

Using my spray starch and a small paintbrush I carefully dampen the outer fabric edge and press to the wrong side of my fabric.

Do you see that where I have left the original hand applique stitching intact? I positioned the new butterfly in place and with a white thread machine appliqued the turned edges.

Look at the above and below pics. Would you have readily noticed this technique if I hadn’t pointed it out? If I can achieve an acceptable look by machine I’ll do it every time! I marked the stitching lines with a black Pilot brand Frixion Pen.

My newly dressed blue butterfly is finished but how did I do the straight interior lines? By machine!

I bought a spool of 30 wt. black cotton sewing thread and used the triple stitch on my trusty Bernina 550. Remember the weight of thread increases as the numbers decrease. 40wt is generally regular sewing thread, 100wt is very thin…think silk. Check your machine manual, specifically the utility stitches, most machines come with a triple stitch. I purposely have white cotton thread in the bobbin and with a scrap piece of fabric folded into 4 layers, I stitch and slowly tightened the needle thread tension until a bit of the bobbin thread was pulled up, enough to give this machine stitch a “hand done” look.

Another new.y dressed butterfly.

And another.

Don’t be afraid is leaving a bit of the old to work with the new.

Here I am auditioning two yellow fabrics, I love that I have lots of Aunt Grace by Moda reproductions to choose from!

Stay tuned, when I post again I will go into detail about all the embellishing that happened to achieve the look of the first picture way above at the top. Such fun!!

Blessings to all and happy quilting, Rhonda

Ps: if you’re so inclined, scroll back a few days to March 10th and read my post about making quilt blocks for Ukrainian refugee children! Such a worthy cause! 💙💛