Let’s Make a Vintage Linens Quilt Together, Post #5

I have added a .pdf file to the Facebook Group page for your viewing. In it I list the 32 quilt blocks, both their Cut and their Finished sizes. This will assist your efforts as you begin to analyze your vintage pieces and how and where you might consider using them in your quilt.

You will notice the blocks, with the exceptions of the cornerstones and sashings are of the mathematical power of 2. In other words, they are and can easily be divided by 2. This will easily allow you to make changes if you wish. For example: the center 12″ square block could easily become four 6″ square blocks or two 6×12″ blocks. The star blocks could easily become some other quilt block just as long as the finished block(s) measure 12×12″ when finished.

Remember, I keep stressing that this is YOUR quilt, you need to feel free to make it your own and if that means adapting the given pattern, please feel free to do so! But…also remember that I will not teach and/or address your adaptations.

***Now…keep in mind that this class begins on January 1, 2021. As such all specific instruction will not take place until that date. ***

Blocks finished size: Blocks cut size:
8 Star Blocks, 12×12” 8 Star Blocks 12 ½ x 12 ½”
1 Dresden Plate Block, 12×12” 1 Dresden Plate Block 12 ½ x 12 ½”
5 Embroidery etc. feature Blocks 6×12” 5 Embroidery Feature blocks 6 ½” 12 ½”
4 Four Patch Blocks 6×6” 4 Four Patch Blocks 6 ½ x 6 ½”
4 Pinwheel Blocks 6×6” 4 Pinwheel Blocks 6 ½ x 6 ½”
10 Embroidery etc. Feature Blocks 6×6” 10 Embroidery etc. Feature Blocks 6 ½ x 6 ½”
36 Sashing Cornerstones 1×1” 36 Sashing Cornerstones 1 ½ x 1 ½”
20 Sashing Strips 1×6” 20 Sashing Strips 1 ½ x 6 ½”
36 Sashing Strips 1×12” 36 Sashing Strips 1 ½” x 12 ½”

Remember how I have been talking about making this quilt your own concerning the pattern and/or the design? I have done just that by changing one of the 6×6 plain blocks into a pinwheel. Always remember, you can do whatever you wish with this basic diagram! In fact, see the pinwheel block near the lower right that has a narrow colored border around it? This is proof that you should not sew and cut when exhausted. I made the pinwheel block, loved the look of it and promptly trimmed it too small. In order to save this block I added a fabric border.

Blessings and Happy Quilting to everyone!

Rhonda

Let’s Make a Vintage Linens Quilt Together, Post #4

Supply list:

General quilting supplies: whatever you normally use to piece quilt blocks.

No special thread, no special scissors, no special anything! Use quilting supplies that work best for you. All we’re doing here is making a quilt top! The special thing about this quilt top is that it is going to have a lot of history sewn into it instead of all new quilting fabrics!

If you have the option of sewing with a machine that has built in decorative stitches you might find a use for several of these stitch patterns. Perks that are not necessary but made my process a little easier:(see pictures below)

12 1/2” Omni grid square ruler

6 1/2” Omni grid square ruler

Slotted Trimmer by New Leaf, seriously one of the most useful things I have purchased this year.

June Taylor Shape Cutter, a wonderful device

Ultimate Flying Geese Tool by Creative Grids

Perfect patchwork templates, the Dresden plate set by Marti MichellIf you are wondering about these items, just google them for more information.

I use marking pens, both the blue water erasable and Pilot Frixion Pens. If you are not a fan of Frixion Pens, keep this to yourself. This is no place to start up and/or fuel a war of words. If you do not favor them then exercise your freedom to make other choices. Yes, I feel that strongly about no negative comments!

Muslin, white or natural if you plan to use vintage handkerchiefs. You will want a layer of solid white fabric behind the hankie. Launder your muslin in HOT water and send it through the dryer! Muslin shrinks even if you purchase the brand that indicates “pre-shrunk” on the bolt label…launder it anyway! It will still shrink!I do not ever ever use iron-on fusibles with vintage linens with one exception: vintage damask tablecloths/napkins. Damask is a strange weave, it will ravel if you so much as look at it the wrong way 🤣… If you want to use fusibles in your blocks it is totally up to you.

Here is an unusual item for a supply list: A sense of adventure! You are going to be making a lot of decisions while constructing your quilt top. I can and will give you direction about construction techniques but I can offer no advice at all about your preferences.

You must choose your own fabrics and your own vintage linens. Choose things that make you smile and you will love your quilt! 🙂😀🙂

Do not let yourself overthink what we are going to make! It is what we are going to use in our project that will make our quilting hearts sing!

Are you excited? I know I am! Blessings for a great day and Happy Quilting!

Rhonda

Let’s Make a Vintage Linens Quilt Together, Post #3

Cleaning Vintage Linens by Rhonda Cox Dort

Cleaning Vintage Linens:

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 a 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’ll 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.

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 spatula used to stir the water

Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid

Automatic Dish Powder

Sodium Perborate (to be detailed later)

Warm to hot water

I’m 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.

Crochet and Hand-worked Wovens: How dinge and stains come to be present.

Crocheted Pieces

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 eyeglass lenses 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 on that thread. Those left behing hand oils attract and hold dirt and/or dust in the fibers in our vintage linens.

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 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: spray starch and/or sizing. It helps us in the short term, but abuses our linens in the long term. 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 damage to the fibers.

Spray starch also penetrates the thread fibers sealing in dirt, dust, and hand oils. Have you ever scorched a piece 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.

Woven Textiles

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.

Experimenting:

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 (www.RhondaDort.com) 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 powder piece 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…

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 attach 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 nation 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.

RetroClean™:

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 on 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, 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.

The tried and true recipe:

My go to recipe to soak my linens and quilts is as follows: ½ cup dishwashing powder to every gallon of warm/hot tap water. Example: if I’m filling my tub with 3 gallons of warm/hot tap water, I will add 1 ½ 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 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’m 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 to 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 pod, normal cycle, warm water wash, cold rinse, high spin. I also add ¼to 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.

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. 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, 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 in your linens. Again, using my front load washing machine I added ¼ 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 you 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. 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 over on its self 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.

Rust:

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 thread 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!

Happy Quilting and be blessed!

Rhonda

Let’s Make a Vintage Linens Quilt Together, Post #2

What’s up with the following pictures? This is the best way I can think of to give you an idea of the Vintage Linens used as well as different blocks that used bits and pieces of the same piece.

The different color circles show where I was able to use the same vintage linen piece to create multiple blocks. The number on the block corresponds to the listing 1-7 below, detailing what the piece was before I used it to make the quilt block.

  1. Dresser scarfs
  2. Table toppers
  3. Handkerchiefs
  4. Doilies
  5. Tea towel
  6. Napkin
  7. Tray cloth

This makes sense to me, but does it make sense to you? I am attempting to demonstrate that just because there are 32 blocks in a project you might not need 32 individual vintage linen pieces. As you cut into a linen, save your bits and pieces as they might have an opportunity to appear in the quilt as a smaller block piece.

Happy quilting and blessings to all,

Rhonda

Go to Facebook and join this Group:

Let’s Make a Vintage Linens Quilt Together; A Free FB Class!

Let’s start 2021 with a free quilt class! I’ve designed an original quilt pattern, made the quilt top and taken lots of pictures in the hopes of creating a class to brighten your 2021.

Titled “Boehm House Vintage”, this pattern measures approx. 54×54. Not interested in the sashings and cornerstones? Here’s a picture of what your 48×48 quilt top would look like when all the blocks are sewn together:

Why the name? The 1914 Boehm House, (click on the name) a fabulous 3 story Victorian is my absolute favorite Retreat Venue and I’m fortunate enough to call the owners Anita and Rick Todd friends. It was because of Anita’s encouragement that we scheduled 2 Vintage Linens Retreats in 2020. The March event was so much fun but sadly the July went the way of Covid and had to be cancelled. We’ve got March 2021 on the calendar but only time will tell if it’s a go. Not sure how to pronounce Boehm? Think: baim, long a, silent i.

If you jump over to the Facebook page: 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Retreat you’ll find several of my posts about this free class. It’s here that you can sign up for the class by joining the FB group. All you’ll need to do is join the group and make a pinky swear not to share the quilt pattern. Take some time to read through my November posts in this FB group to gather info about the class that will officially begin January, 2021.

One of the best steps in vintage linens quilting is selecting the pieces.

The fabric collection? A jelly roll purchased at a Tuesday Morning store several years ago.

The jelly roll had 2 strips of each fabric. By sewing them together I’m able to cut my larger quilt block pieces. Yes there are unusual seams here and there but because the vintage linens are the eye candy I’m not at all concerned. It’s kind of a “make do” moment because the fabrics work so well with the linens.

See what I mean…if I hadn’t told you, you might not have noticed the seams in the star points! And the background fabric, wish I had bolts of it! I pulled it from my stash, having no idea where or when I purchased it and no info on the selvage for reference I’m just glad I have several yards to work with! The lacy look of the light ivory tone-on-tone works so well with the linens.

Are you game? Are you looking for a January project? Hope you’ll join me!

Happy Thanksgiving and blessings,

Rhonda

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

The Courtship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings and of course, Happy Creating!

The Vintage Linens Pillow Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The finished pillow, front view.

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

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

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

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

Rhonda

“Quilting With Vintage Linens” Narrated PowerPoint Presentation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


RhondaDort@gmail.com

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

Blessings to all and Happy Quilting,

Rhonda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings to everyone and of course, happy quilting!

Rhonda

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

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

Photo May 08, 12 27 59 PM

Photo May 08, 3 31 19 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 25 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 30 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 33 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 36 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 41 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 44 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 48 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 51 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 55 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 57 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 31 59 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 32 03 PM

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

Photo May 08, 12 45 53 PM

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

Photo May 08, 3 32 10 PM

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

IMG_6554

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

IMG_6561

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

IMG_6562

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

IMG_6597

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

IMG_3641

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

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

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

Blessings to all and Happy Quilting,

Rhonda

img_4386