Cleaning Vintage Linens and Quilts

This vintage quilt really needs help!

So now that you’ve collected your vintage pieces it’s time to get them clean and ready to use. My advice is to never use a piece in a project that has not been laundered in some fashion. The last thing you want to happen is for something to fade, deteriorate, bleed, etc. in your fabulous finished project. My goal is always to get newly found pieces into some sort of soak the same day I bring them into my home. This goes for delivered pieces also; things I might have purchased on any of the online sale/auction web sites. After opening the packages the vintage pieces go straight into a soaking tub.

On a go forward basis we will be talking about fabrics that are either 100% cotton or linen. Blends and/or manufactured fibers present their own set of issues. You will need to do your own research on how to deal with cleaning things such as velvets, silks, rayon, acetates, polyester blends, etc. Rayon is a natural fiber so why is it listed here? Rayon has trouble holding fast to dyes and as such it has a tendency to fade and/or bleed on surrounding fibers. And silk…cleaning soiled/stained silk just scares me.

The supplies I have on hand include things such as:

White plastic dish pans

Clear plastic bins that will hold at minimum 4 gallons of water before item to be soaked is added

A dedicated large plastic/silicone white spatula used to stir the water

Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid

Automatic Dish Powder

Sodium Perborate (to be detailed later)

Warm to hot tap water

I’m personally not a fan of soaking items in the bathtub. Besides the fact that I find it physically difficult, I cannot get an accurate measurement of the water and therefore end up guessing about how much detergent needs to be added. Also, I find I end up in trouble trying to gently handle a large wet quilt without popping quilting threads. I’ll detail my method of folding quilts for counter top soaking later.

A vintage crocheted basket.

Crochet and Hand-worked Wovens: How ‘’dinge’’ and stains happen to them:

Let’s talk about vintage crochet pieces first: doilies, table runners, lace, even large tablecloths were created by crochet in threads of various weights. Consider how crochet (and for that matter hand knitting) is made. The threads are almost constantly in touch with our hands. Think about what happens when you touch your glasses lens or a window pane with your finger. You leave a mark. Fibers are no different. As the crochet thread is dragged across your hands, part of you stays with that thread. Those hand oils will attract and hold dirt and/or dust in the fibers in our created project.

Be aware that the typical laundering process can actually cause more problems. The thread (fibers) with their multitude of surfaces hold fast to soap, detergents and fabric softeners used in either the washing machine and/or the dryer. Did you know that fabric softeners are generally comprised of water, soap and oils such as olive, corn or tallow? These additional deposits on the fiber can attract more dust, dirt, etc.

Then along comes another laundry helper/villain depending on your point of view: spray starch and/or sizing. It helps us in the short term, but abuses our linens in the long run. In days gone by crafters were even known to stiffen their crochet with a mixture of sugar water thus creating an invariable feast for as I call them: little creatures of the night…silverfish and beetles of every kind causing all sorts of bug damage to the fibers.

Spray starch also penetrates the thread fibers sealing in dirt, dust, and hand oils. Have you ever scorched a piece of fabric you were ironing? More often than not you have not damaged the fibers but rather, you’ve slightly burned the spray starch sitting on top of the threads. Do you also know that most scorch marks can most often be removed with non-diluted hydrogen peroxide?

Dresser scarves, pillow cases, hand towels, tablecloths are all good examples of woven textiles I work with. Those with handwork such as embroidery undergo the same process of excessive handling as they are being created. Hand oils, hand lotions, dust and dirt all find their way into each piece. As if that’s not enough, as these pieces are put to use, other perils are show up!

Think about a dresser scarf. It will sit on furniture polish and dust. Perfumes and nail polishes will be spilled, heavy objects will be sitting on the scarf as well as combs, brushes, coins and jewelry all affect the fibers.

The Science Behind Dinge and Stain Removal

All of these influences have a place in creating the dinge/patina of an old hand created piece. Have you ever held a new piece of muslin next to a vintage piece? Or how about a vintage white pillowcase next to a new one? The older piece, if it has been used will always have a bit of a different look to it because of the utility stresses it’s been exposed to throughout its’ long life. Remember, the products available to us today are nothing like the basic soaps of yesterday. I’ve got my own ideas about both soaking and laundering so let’s get started on what works and does not work for me.

Sorting your items to soak:

So now that you’re ready with supplies it’s time to sort through your items to be soaked. Let me say right here and now that depending on your item(s) no cleaning method is guaranteed to be 100% successful. You need to acknowledge that with vintage linens things can happen. Let me give you an example: I had an old quilt top purchased online, natural muslin and pink cotton fabrics. When delivered I was shocked at how grungy dirty the top was. I immediately soaked it in warm tap water with automatic dish powder. Within a matter of minutes, the soak water turned a horrible pink/mustard/brown. End results: the top, while very clean was now entirely various shades of pink. Not completely ruined, but not what I expected as the outcome. I just want you to understand that “things” can happen.

Sort your items into groups separated by those with any black or grey embroidery floss and those without. Black and grey flosses have a tendency to release some of their dies onto any fabrics coming into direct contact with them. We’ll talk about how to soak these items in a bit. Next, sort through and group solid colors together. I’m talking about dark colors such as reds, blues, browns. Soak these color items separately so as not to chance dark color fade or bleed.


Let’s get into the technical stuff about what you’re going to add to the soak water. Don’t glaze over, this is good to know. If you’ve been reading my blog over the years you’ll notice my soaking methods have changed up a bit. I used to use an automatic dish powder along with powdered Biz®. Recently I’ve dropped the Biz® and just use the automatic dish powder. Why? Well I did a kitchen experiment: I bought a medium sized dresser scarf that was universally stained across almost the entire surface and I cut it into 2 identical pieces. I soaked one in automatic dish powder and one in Biz® powder for 24 hours. The results, the automatic dish powderpiece was free of stains, the other, not so much. Now don’t get me wrong, the Biz™ has its place but if it is more economical to just use the dishwasher product, well then, a penny saved… See the pictures below:

The container on the left has dishwashing powder, the right has Biz. You can see I’ve cut my just purchased horribly stained doily in half for this experiment.
Half of the doily soaking in each of the two cleaning solutions.
Wow! The proof! The dishwashing powder wins!

Comparing Biz™ and Oxiclean™:

Before we talk details about automatic dish powder, let’s examine Biz® and its polar opposite OxiClean™ because they’re both useful cleaning agents. Some think they’re interchangeable but do you know they work in completely different ways? Biz® is an enzyme cleaner and OxiClean™ is a bleaching/lightening cleaner. In very elementary terms, Biz enzymes attack and devour a stain, OxiClean™ lightens a stain.

The manufacturer of Biz™ lists its ingredients as: surfactants, enzymes, sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, sodium silicate, fabric brightening agent, fragrance and cleaning agents. So, what exactly is an enzyme as it related to cleaning your treasures? By definition an enzyme is harvested from beneficial bacteria. Enzymes found in laundry detergents cause a chemical reaction by breaking down dirt, grease, fats and blood. Enzyme cleaners come in both powder and liquid form but keep in mind that the shelf life of enzymes in a liquid state is shorter than that of a powder.

OxiClean’s manufacturer reports on their web site: “The OxiClean™ formulation is a combination of ingredients, the key ingredient being sodium percarbonate, sodium carbonate, surfactants and polymer.” You can see that there are some common ingredients between the 2 but keep in mind they work in a very different manner. Can you use one in place of another? Of course! You can use any cleaning product you desire, just know they generally are all different and of course, results will vary.

Automatic Dish Powder:

Let’s jump back to automatic dish powder. I have a national chain grocery store very close to my home and I’ve been buying their house brand of automatic dish powder for about a year. Previously I purchased a brand name but in my penny-pinching fashion I decided to give the much less pricey house brand a try. I bought it and liked the results! What’s in this house brand? Sodium Sulfate, Sodium carbonate, sodium silicate, Sodium percarbonate, a trade secret dispersing agent, binding agents and titanium dioxide.


Let’s talk about another popular product on the market: RetroClean™. If you’ve read the packaging, you’ll see it contains: Sodium Perborate. That’s right, one ingredient. Look above at some of the other products we’ve dissected. You’ll see sodium perborate is often one of the ingredients. Sodium perborate is a chemical readily available for purchase from a chemical supplier in white powder form. When sodium perborate is added to water the molecules of each combine to form Hydrogen Peroxide. Other uses of Sodium Perborate include but are not limited to: teeth whitening, mild antiseptic and a mild bleaching agent. What the packaging on RetroClean™ does not tell you is that Sodium Perborate is only effective in water temperatures above 60°.

Sodium Carbonate:

But there’s another ingredient in a few products listed above that has a similar name: Sodium Carbonate more commonly known as: Washing Soda or Soda Ash. A web site called “The Spruce” lists additional uses for sodium carbonate as: chemical manufacturing, food, glass manufacturing, personal care products, bubble bath, toothpaste, paper products, veterinary skin treatments, etc. Sodium Carbonate is very effective in removing many different kinds of stains from fibers. Have you ever had issue with toothpaste bleaching out a spot in a facecloth or a towel? It’s the Sodium Carbonate in the product!

Examine your items, consider the stains:

Are you still with me? If so let’s consider what stains we might be trying to remove from our vintage pieces: food, beverages, blood, hand or body oils, dust, dirt, mites, face makeup, hand or body lotions, soap scum, detergent residue, starching/sizing products, tallow (from fabric softeners), house paint, fingernail polish, perfume, ink, graphite, furniture polish, pet residue to include urine, feces and the likes. Regarding house paint and fingernail polish, all I can say is good luck. I did once read that some success might be had by soaking an item with house paint in glycerin. They indicated the glycerin could cause the thread fibers to expand and possibly release the paint from the item but to date I’ve not experimented with this idea. About 90% of the above stains are organic in nature. I think that’s why the automatic dish powder works so well for me. 100% of what needs to be removed in my dishwasher is organic so that stands to reason.

Oh goodness! This is a current “cleaning work in progress”!

My tried and true recipe:

My go to recipe to soak my linens and quilts is as follows: ½ cup dishwashing powder to every 3 gallons of warm/hot tap water. Example: if I’m filling my soaking tub with 3 gallons of warm/hot tap water, I will add 1/2 cup of automatic dish powder. I first fill the dish pan or plastic bin to the desired level, add in the appropriate amount of dish powder, stir for a minute or two (note: the entire amount of powder will not immediately dissolve, it’s never been an issue) add the linens one at a time allowing captured air to be released.

Keep your linens submerged. It might be necessary to have something of weight to the top of the soaking linens. Choose an item that will not have a chemical reaction to your soak water, something like a ceramic baking dish, plastic containers filled with water, etc. Important: do not weigh down your linens with a metal that could rust!

The dreaded black and grey embroidery flosses:

But wait! Remember above when I talked about your linens that have black or grey embroidery floss and how those flosses release or bleed some of their dies onto fibers touching them? Well how do you handle this dilemma? It’s in this instance where I love Sodium Perborate! I’ve never had an embroidery floss fiasco with this product. Does my item get as clean? Sometimes you’ve just got to go with what works and accept the outcome.

Stuck at home in a blizzard and only have dishwashing powder? I’ve actually done the following with black and grey floss in items: in an empty dishpan lay out one vintage piece. Using plastic wrap, lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of your linen. Lay down the next linen and cover it with plastic wrap. Layer up as needed based on the amount to be soaked. Mix your hot tap water and dishwasher powder in a separate container. Slowly transfer the soak water to the dry plastic wrap layers using a large measuring cup. The layer of plastic wrap will keep the villain flosses from transferring their color(s) to any other fibers. Yes, this took time, but in the end, it worked.

After the soak:

How will you know how long to soak items? I believe 24 hours is a good STARTING point. If you position your stained pieced so that you can have a visual on the bad areas, you will know if they’ve been in the tub long enough. Once I’ve either become terribly impatient or it’s evident the stains are gone, I carefully pour out the soak water and drain the linens/quilt on a colander in a sink for an hour or two. I am a huge advocate of time management and as I never seem to have enough time, I also advocate for the convenience of the washer/dryer with vintage pieces. My soaked and drained pieces go directly into my front load washing machine. I use a fragrance-free laundry detergent, normal cycle, warm water wash, cold rinse, high spin. I also add ¼ to ½ cup of distilled vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. What does the vinegar do? It will assist in removing any soap/detergent residue that might remain in the fibers and it will also soften the fibers a bit. Then it’s on to the dryer, normal dry selected and I toss in ½ of a fragrance-free dryer sheet.

Soaked twice, laundered once, ready to be soaked again. Lookout stains! I’m not finished with you yet!

Dawn Dish Soap:

Let’s talk about how wonderful Blue or Clear Dawn Dish Soap is for those of us who work with fibers that fade. You know, the beautiful red 100% cotton quilting fabric for example. No matter the price, the manufacturer, the cleaning method, some fabrics will fade when they become wet. But why? Fade occurs when a fiber cannot retain all its dye particles. The reasons the fibers cannot retain dye is varied but the results are the same: fade or bleed. There’s a product on the market to address just that and it’s called Synthrapol. It’s intended use is to bind the errant dye particles floating in water and surround them to keep them from reattaching to fibers.

Dawn Dish Soap does the same thing at less than half the retail price. If you have to clean an item that you know will fade, launder it in Dawn. Last I checked there are various colors of Dawn. Use only blue or clear, don’t chance that the color of the green or brown or pink Dawn product might remain inyour linens. Again, using my front load washing machine I added 1/8th cup of blue Dawn to a normal size wash load. I expected there to be a great deal of sudsing, I was mistaken, there was none! I chose warm water wash, cold water rinse with an additional cold rinse just to be on the safe side and my double bed sized badly red fabric faded quilt came out like new!

How to fold a quilt for soaking in a countertop plastic bin:

I like to soak my vintage quilts in a large plastic storage bin on the kitchen countertop. I also like to fold the quilt so as to have some of the stains visible in the soak water so I fold them design side out. It does not matter how they are folded or how thick a quilt bundle you have, just as long as the entire quilt can stay underwater. I lay my quilt out on the floor, fold in half width-wise three times, four of it’s still too wide for the container. I then fold from top to bottom two or three times, always checking that my quilt bundle will fit down in my container freely. Once I am happy with the folded quilt, I prepare the soak water and slowly, very slowly lower the folded quilt into the water. Why slowly? You need to allow air to escape the quilt bundle. Once the fibers are wet, they will swell and will no longer freely allow the trapped air to escape because this trapped air will not allow your item to stay submerged. Now just know that while you’ve done your best with the air, you will probably have to weigh down your quilt with something heavy like a ceramic baking dish or smaller plastic containers (with lids) full of water.

Did your big soaking plastic bin come with a lid? Use it! It will help to retain the heat of the tap water! Again, the amount of time needed to soak a quilt depends entirely on what the stains might be, how badly the quilt is stained and how long the stains have been in or on the fibers.

This larger sized quilt was easily soaked in a plastic bin on my kitchen counter.

How do I get the big folded up quilt out of the water? I can either begin to bail out water using something like a large measuring cup or I tip the pin allowing water to flow into my sink. I prefer the latter. Once the bin is tipped sideways I let the water drain for at least 30 minutes. By this time the quilt has folded or rolled over on itself again and is usually in the shape of a wet cylinder. I carefully pick up the wet cylinder and place it on end standing up in a colander, still utilizing my kitchen sink. I let the quilt continue to drain for at least an hour at which time I carefully move the quilt to my front load washing machine. Remember above I gave the parameters for washing linens, I use the same selections for a quilt and yes, I put the quilt in my dryer with ½ of a dryer sheet.

The “after” the soak water is down the drain.


Then along comes the question of how to remove rust from cotton or linen fabrics. I’ve researched so many different ideas on rust removal, experimented with a few and had very little success. Rust impregnates the fibers, becoming part of the threads as it spreads. The longer rust is in a fiber, the more difficult it becomes to remove. I’ve tried with little success to remove rust without damaging surrounding fibers.

A general list of stains I’ve had little to no success removing:

Some colognes/perfumes, nail polish, house paint, furniture stain, rust, certain adhesives and some beverage stains. Sometimes you’ve just got to accept that a vintage piece is not ready to give up it’s battle scars!

I hope this lengthy article helps you! I’ve quoted directly from product web sites, listed unpronounceable ingredients directly from packaging and performed many non-scientific experiments with many products. If just one piece of information helps you than I will consider it a success!

Oh yes, what’s my source for Sodium Perborate? In a word: eBay. Here’s a picture on the actual packaging.

And here’s a picture of one of their listings from a minute ago:

Happy soaking/cleaning and then creating with wonderfully clean vintage linens,


Class 2, the Christmas Stars Vintage Tablecloth Quilt Project

For everyone still working on a Star quilt from Class #2, with the 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Classes, take heart, so am I!

Want to know more about these free classes? Search Facebook for:

1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Classes, once there just click to join and let the fun begin!

I just took this off the longarm and trimmed the edges a few minutes ago. Why am I showing you this quilt before I do the binding? Because at the rate I’m progressing, the binding might take months! 🤣

What’s not to love about seeing a Christmas quilt in June! 🎄 🤶 Just to recap, I fussy cut star centers from a well used vintage Christmas tablecloth. Here are 50 pictures to take you visually through the process start to almost finished:

I am thrilled with this quilt! I love that I was able to take an old well used/loved Christmas silk screened tablecloth and transform it into a modern day piece. During the actual quilting process I discovered the red fabric fades/bleeds when wet so I will launder once the binding has been attached. I will use my front load washing machine, cold water wash and rinse, 1/8th cup of Blue Dawn Dishwashing Liquid with an extra rinse cycle added. After it is clean it will promptly go into the clothes dryer.

Once again, thanks to pattern designer Karen Walker of Laugh Yourself Into Stitches, this quilt is an adaptation of her Lattice Stars design.

Happy quilting and blessings,


Vintage Linens Quilting Retreats in 2021!

I’m so excited to announce two Vintage Linens Retreats for 2021! The dates? July 8-11 and Dec. 1-4. The very idea of maybe, just maybe getting back to normal makes my heart happy and wouldn’t it be fun to work with Christmas themed vintage linens at the December event!

Each retreat will each feature 3 projects, the Pink and Green Vintage Linens quilt:

The Vintage Handkerchief quilt:

And Saving the Cutter Quilt project. Below you’ll find several pictures of examples. But what’s a cutter quilt? I think it is a quilt best described as worn, torn, tattered, stained. A quilt in very sad shape but worthy of saving.

The 1914 Boehm House in Moulton, Tx is the perfect venue to work with vintage linens and quilts. The beautiful 3 story Victorian home converted into a retreat center is very welcoming, comfortable and ready for your reservation!

Get in touch with Anita, her email is: or you can find her phone number in the picture above.

Here are a few pictures from a previous retreat, we had a blast!

Check your calendar, make a call, send an email, just get in touch with Anita and book your adventure! I’m looking forward to teaching again this year! See you there!


Class 3: Adding Sashing to Hexagons

Have you been following the free classes on Facebook at the: 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Retreat group? We started January 1st with our first class and we’re now working on hexagons in Class 3. I hope you find this third tutorial helpful:

Three hexagons with sashings added. So far the sashings look quite ordinary.
Stack one on top of the other, still ordinary.
Add one more in this placement and the magic takes place as the sashings begin to look intertwined.
How to begin? With your hexagon in front of you, begin to audition fabrics and color placement.
Check the back of your hexagon, are the dots still there?
Pin your first sashing strip in place.
Flip your hexagon over and sew dot to dot.
Flip and press.
SERIOUSLY IMPORTANT TIP: always always always on EVERY HEXAGON sew the sashing strips on in the same order, either clockwise or counter clockwise. ALWAYS!
For the next 4 sashing strips, the dot to dot sewing is ignored.
Sew from edge to edge.
Using scissors or rotary cutter, you can trim the right hand excess from sashing strip #1.
Flip and press.
Continuing in my clockwise placement, I pin and sew sashing strip #3 in the same manner, edge to edge.
Flip, press, repeat through sashing strip #5.
Can you see how I have folded down and pinned sashing strip #1? After this pinning, set sashing strip #6 in place and this time…
Sew left side dot all the way to the edge of the pink strip.
That’s right, keep sewing.

Carefully press strip 6 and then un-pin strip 1.
This is what it will look like.
Carefully open up strip 1, lay it out over strip 6 and sew in the pressed
fold line.
Begin sewing at the edge of strip 6.
Flip, press and with your rotary cutter begin to trim away the excess fabric.
Is this a great technique great or what!!! 🙂🙂🙂
And here it is in my quilt top!

If you follow these steps you will end up with amazing sashed hexagons!

Happy quilting!!


Class 3: Making a Star Hexagon with 60° Diamonds

Have you been following the free classes on Facebook at the: 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Retreat group? We started January 1st with our first class and we’re now working on hexagons in Class 3. This is the second tutorial to be published for Class 3.

Once again, stitching ONLY between the dots is key! Because so much of the instruction is the same as the hexagon made with the three 60° large diamonds, I am not going to have quite as much to tell you about in the picture captions.
By sewing two strips of fabric together and then strategically placing the template, you will have made things soooooo much easier as you construct your 6 point star hexagon.

Here’s an example where I go against tradition and press the seam open.
Remember, the dotted line is the stitching line. It gets placed directly over the seam line.
You can mark and scissor cut or you can use your rotary cutter for your pieces.
By sewing the two fabrics together first, we have saved ourselves so much time!!!
But wait!! What’s this new template? I’ve had this super handy Deluxe Corner Trimmer for ages and I love it! I can also use it to mark the 120° and the
60° angles.
It’s a close match-up in the star center. I could have done better but this works for me.
All six of the ivory diamonds have been added and I am ready to press.
Remember to be consistent when pressing seam allowances.
This is one instance where I go against the rule of “press to the dark”.
I lay my hexagon template over my creation and if necessary I will trim
to size.

Are you ready to give it a try?

Happy quilting!


Class 3, Piecing a 60° Diamond Hexagon

Have you been following the free classes on Facebook at the: 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Retreat group? We started January 1st with our first class and we’re now working on hexagons in Class 3.

This was the introduction to hexagons posted on the Facebook group on May 1st:

Let’s begin our Class 3 hexagons with a picture laden little tutorial all about how I mark and then sew pieces together that will form a hexagon. We are beginning today with three 60° diamonds. You will find instructions below each of the pictures.

But first let me tell you about a perk Marti Michell is offering. When you make any purchase, in the shipping information, in the line titled Company all you have to do is type in: Rhonda sent me and you will receive a free template! I’m listing her web site, her products are simply the BEST!!

With the larger of the two 60° diamond templates from the Marti Michell set H, I place the template on the fabric so the bird is generally centered. Once I am happy with the placement, using my rotary cutter I fussy cut my first piece.
I perform the same function on this different bird fabric.
The third diamond will be cut from this vintage dinner napkin. While I cannot get the entire design to fit within the template, I work with it until
I am happy with the result.
Always be aware of the 1/4” seam allowance when positioning your template over a design.
This is what my three diamond pieces will look like when they are stitched together.
I use either a mechanical pencil or a Pilot Frixion pen to mark a dot with the holes as my guide. These holes are at the exact spot where the 1/4” seam allowances perfectly meet. *Edit: if you use a Frixion pen you will need to re-mark the dots after you press your finished hexagon.
Now I’ve marked the ivory diamond.
If you do not have the benefit of the Marti Michell templates I suggest you very lightly draw a pencil line or a Frixion pen line of the entire length of the seam line.
Mark the seam allowance on each of the four sides. You can mark the entire length of each side or just enough so as to have intersecting lines
at each angle.
It is at the crossing of the lines (the intersection) that indicates where your stitching needs to begin and end.
I begin with these two pieces.
I lay them perfectly one on top of the other with the right sides together.
I send a straight pin down through the top dot making sure it goes through the bottom piece dot. Leave the pin straight down. Do the same thing with the dot at the other end of the side of the diamond.
With your two straight pins still straight down, take two more pins and position them as you normally would to hold fabric together.
So here is almost the most important thing I can tell you!!! To begin sewing put your needle down manually into the fabric exactly on the dot. This is where you will begin sewing. I advise you to take two stitches forward, one stitch in reverse and then sew to the next dot. DO NOT SEW A SINGLE STITCH BEYOND THE DOT! 🙂 When I reach the end dot I take two stitches in reverse and then 1 stitch forward. We don’t usually “back tack” in quilting, it’s
usually reserved for garment construction but it is essential when constructing your hexagons.
Remember: no stitches before the starting dot and no stitches after the
ending dot!!!
Congrats! Your first two pieces are sewn together! Do not press/iron yet.
From the right side with the seam allowance finger pressed to the right, take the tip of the right diamond and carefully fold it down.
Do you see what happens when you fold this diamond down? That seam allowance opens up automatically for you!
Straight pin the folded down diamond just as shown in this picture.make sure that little point stays just as the picture shows.
Position your third diamond (the one I marked with my ruler) into position and straight down as before. Once you are confident your new piece is in the correct position, with three more straight pins, pin as shown in the picture, the difference this time is you will position 2 pins at the bottom, one before and one right after the dot.
After you remove the straight down pins this is what it will look like. That second pin after the stopping dot serves to hold the other diamond out
of the way.
Are you ready to sew your final seam?
Remember earlier when we folded a diamond in half top to bottom? We are going to do that once again with the ivory piece. The action of folding the ivory piece will automatically cause that little angle piece to move out
of the way.
Again, at the two dots, pin straight down and then two more pins in
normal fashion.
Your seams are finished!
So it’s decision time and this decision needs to remain consistent throughout the remainder of your quilt…do you press clockwise or counterclockwise? The choice is yours, just be consistent!
I press clockwise, but see what needs to happen in the center? If you place your fingertip at the center and slightly twist very carefully your seam allowances will position themselves perfectly!
Finished! It took a hundred times longer to type out directions than it will take you to sew a three diamond hexagon!

Happy quilting,


Class 3: Vintage Linens Hexagon Quilt

Class 3: Hexagons! I am so excited to spend a few months with hexagons! Have you noticed? Our Facebook membership has grown to 1800+! How amazing is it to have a globally active quilting group!

Class 3 starts Saturday, May 1, 2021. Between now and May you have several important decisions to make:

  1. What kind of hexagon project will you make.
  2. What fabrics will you use? Will they be neutrals? Colors?
  3. Do you have the necessary vintage linens and trims for your
    desired project?
  4. Do you plan to embellish your hexagons?
  5. What size project will you create?
  6. Will you make a “show” or a “utility” quilt?

I will have a basic supply list posted by Tuesday, April 6.

Take some time to look at hexagon quilts. Search through both Pinterest and Instagram for beautiful and varied examples. (I am particularly fond of 2 patterns: Sweet Sunday Candied Hexagons and another titled: Smitten.)

This is a screen shot of my Hexagons Board on Pinterest. (How do you find me on Pinterest? In the app search bar just type in my name Rhonda Dort. I have my Boards in alpha order so they’re easy to locate.) I’ve pinned 299 pictures of fabulous hexagons/hexagon quilts. This board has been so inspirational as I ventured into hexagon experimenting.

Hexagon quilts can be visually very structured, they can follow a general layout or they can be remarkably random. I’ve made examples all three and each was a very rewarding experience!

The 5 hexagon quilts pictured in the class reveal are each of my own creation, no pattern followed. They were not difficult to create, they were each an experiment with a different technique and goal in mind.

3” each side hexagons surrounded by 1/2” finished sashing strips. The placement of the sashing strips gives them the appearance of being woven together.

My interpretation of a lovely Australian pattern titled: Sweet Sunday; Candied Hexagons by Tree House Textiles. All ivories and whites with little pops of quilting fabric colors.

This work-in-progress is almost the complete opposite of the previous picture, smaller areas of neutrals surrounded by rich colors.

A very structured hexagon experiment, these are 2” finished hexagons and equilateral triangles set together with 60° diamonds.

And finally, 3” each side finished heavily embellished hexagons set together in a honeycomb method in the fashion of English paper piecing.

Are you already seeing the possibilities? The sky’s the limit on what you can do with a basic hexagon shape! Class 3 begins on May 1, 2021. How can you participate? On Facebook search for: 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Retreat, make a request to join and you’ll be all set!

Today is Good Friday, take a moment and reflect on what that means. Blessings to all, Rhonda

Class 2: Restoring Mother-of-Pearl Buttons for Embellishing Vintage Quilts

If you have and/or are planning to add mother-of-pearl (MOP) buttons to your Quilt(s) or any project there are some things to know about these little treasures.

Back in the day, MOP buttons were removed from garments before they were laundered as the process and the laundry detergent chemicals could and did cause much harm to these buttons made from shells.

If you’ve ever seen MOP buttons that are dull, chipped and peeling you can assume the buttons have been exposed to the laundry process.

There is a way to save these abused buttons, I’ll outline it below:

  1. Sort through your buttons and remove any that are not MOP.
  2. In the laxative section of your Drug Store look for Mineral Oil.
  3. Place your buttons in a container and pour in enough Mineral Oil to cover everything.
  4. Very gently stir the buttons over the next few days.

The Mineral Oil will penetrate the button surfaces and restore the lost luster. The oil will most likely also loosen and dirt etc. from the button surfaces.

  1. Transfer the buttons to a colander and rinse them well using warm-hot tap water.
  2. Place the buttons into a clean container, cover with warm tap water and a teaspoon of Baby Shampoo. Carefully wash the oil from the buttons. Do not leave them in the shampoo water for any length of time!
  3. Again, using the colander and warm tap water, rinse the buttons and spread them out on a terry cloth towel to air dry.

You should see a remarkable difference in the before and after for your mother-of-pearl treasures!

Mother-of-Pearl Buttons From the Banks of the Mississippi

Photographs courtesy of the web sites listed above.

Isn’t it wonderful to think we can save these precious little buttons! Blessings to all and happy quilting,


Class 2, Embellishing with Laces and Trims, my Vintage Lattice Stars Quilt

When considering embellishing elements for your quilt, don’t forget commercially produced laces and lace applique motifs. Once again you will find detailed information in the individual picture captions. Are you seeing that embellishing can add so much to an already pleasing quilt? Keep in mind: if you are intending the quilt will be a utility piece, your embellishments need to be able to survive the laundry process.

This flower and leaf lace motif was part of a much larger piece. I trimmed until I was happy with the size for my quilt. With 6 straight pins holding the lace in place, I machine stitched the flower/leaf piece to the quilt using the default stitch length setting on my sewing machine.

Another flower/leaf lace stitched to the quilt.

Don’t be afraid to overlay your laces.

If at all possible, place your embellishing pieces in groups of odd numbers. You’ll remember from a previous FB post that odd numbers create visual tension and therefore visual interest.

Not all added embellishment need to be laces. The circle with petals above was cut from a manufactured ivory doily with damage from use.

Some people still are asking if these embellishments were added before or after quilting. Can you see that the longarm quilting is hidden below this lace motif? This tells you the lace was added after the quilting took place.

Hope this gives you ideas about using things that might not be “old” but will work so well with your Vintage Lattice Star (or any other) Quilt!

Blessings and happy quilting!


Class 2, Adding Embellishments Quilted Quilts, my Vintage Lattice Stars Project

Let’s spend a little time and talk about how ribbons and buttons work so well together when embellishing vintage linens.
Once again I am going to use the picture captions to give you step by step instruction about how I approach adding them to this pink and white Vintage Lattice Stars quilt.

I like my white ribbon but I know I can give it some more character by adding a vintage button. And I’m going to use my sewing machine to sew the button on to the quilt.

Use transparent tape to keep the button from moving when sewing onto your quilt.

With my button taped in place, I’ve attached foot #18 to my Bernina. A little tip for those of you using the #18 foot…there is a movable “part” in the middle of the foot that allows for a “thread shank” when sewing on your button. This “part” gets in the way. I have this”part” taped up so it is disabled. This is not a button that will be used as a utility fastner and therefore I do not need a thread shank. Does all this sound like gobbly-talk? I have a garment construction background…sometimes I intermix the lingo with quilting…

Once my button is sewn in place I easily remove the transparent tape. If you sew on a Bernina, you will find your button attaching stitch with the buttonhole options.

You can see I’ve sewn a 5 button swag. Make note about the 4 hole buttons…not all the holes need sewing machine stitching.

I digress here but…don’t you just love the French Knot flower blossom!!

I’m using 1/8” wide white satin finish ribbon and a hand sewing needle with an eye large enough to handle the ribbon. I am not actually sewing the buttons with the ribbon, merely kind of weaving it up and down through two of the button holes. I do not sew the ribbon to the quilt top. Between each button I tie a simple knot for visual interest.

If I would have had a light pink narrow width ribbon it may have looked a little better than the white but I’m happy with this result. You can see in this picture that I tied a simple knot both between the buttons as well as on top of the holes on the center one.

Just a closeup for a better look at the end result. If you have difficulty pulling your threaded ribbon needle through the button holes, the gently assistance of a small pair of pliers might help. Just do not pull so hard that you rip your button from your quilt!!!

Does it bother me that I have used two different white ribbons in the same block? Not at all! There are no quilting embellishing rules at this point!

So far I’ve showed you 1 button, 5 buttons and now 3 buttons. Odd numbers create nice visual tension and visual tension creates interest.

3 vintage buttons with a very narrow spring green ribbon connecting them all.

Sorry about the poor picture quality here but can you see the single white button with the narrow green ribbon bow? There are so many different things you can do with ribbons.

Again a single vintage button with the narrow green ribbon. Very simple yet eye catching embellishments you can add to your finished quilt!

I hope you see the possibilities in your own quilt creation!

Until next time, blessings and happy quilting!