Remember a few blog posts ago I mentioned I had saved the quilt back but had to soak and launder it twice? I’m so glad I have it as the original quilt back is the same ivory fabric used on the front of the quilt. I believe it to be a light weight muslin.
There was enough of the ivory back fabric to cut enough 2 1/2 x 18” strips that I can use to square up the wonky quilt blocks.
I can’t straighten up the quilt blocks too much (or sometimes at all) before I add the strips to each of the four sides of the starched and pressed original blocks.
Can you see that if I straighten the original block, the basket base will be cut away on the pink triangle edge? I cut the strips wide enough to be able to eventually trim the block to 16 1/2”.
The picture above shows the block before I trim it.
Another example of a seriously crazy edge on another of the blocks.
I’m showing you this picture so you can see the evidence of the original seams remain in many places.
Even with the strips of fabric sewn to all sides, it remains a wonky block until it gets trimmed with this giant 16 1/2” square quilting ruler.
So I have a perfectly square quilt block at this point but those side strips sure do look odd. No worries, I have a plan…hopefully it will work.
And in the store this pink sashing looked like a perfect match… it looks good enough I’m thinking.
I was very happy to learn recently about this quilt pattern. A designer, woman extraordinaire, quilter, chef, etc. by the name of Florence La Ganke writing under the pen name of Nancy Page designed this quilt pattern known as Grandmother’s Garden in 1928 or 29.
Quilter Elenor Burns did a book remake of the instructions not all that many years ago.
I’ve been moving along so fast I forgot to show tell you how I handled the precariously pieced basket triangles. Most of the actual baskets were hand pieced and many had already come apart by time I bought the quilt.
Putting my built in machine decorative stitches to use once again, I chose a light ivory thread, needle and bobbin, and stitched directly over the seams. I removed the red thread used on so many of the basket handles and using the machine applique stitch I sewed around the entire basket motif to include the handle.
Let me take a minute to show you the back of one of the blocks:
Is it any wonder these blocks are wonky!
But back to the pretty side, there were areas of damage to be addressed, white Bosal brand light weight woven single sided fusible to the rescue:
All I’m interested in doing is securing the torn area. Yes it looks like the “patch” it is, I will address this area later in the process. This is a good closeup though of both the outer edge applique stitch as well as the decorative stitching directly centered over the basket pieces seams.
Want a closeup of each of the 20 blocks?
Oh I do love these wonky blocks! What’s the little tag with numbers at the bottom point of each? I needed to establish both the smallest and largest block in order to make a decision about how to handle squaring up each one.
I’ve been doing research on this quilt pattern and have found out lots of info! More on that in my next blog post.
As I work my way through all 20 blocks I try to remember to take pics of the before and afters so you can see the changes side by side. This block, I forgot the “after it was cleaned but before it was embellished” picture.
You can see I’ve drawn embellishing lines directly on the flower blossom using a Frixion Pen (by Pilot).
With deep purple poly machine embroidery thread I satin stitch over the pen lines.
I like the look the newly added lines give the blossom.
But…there’s no embellishing the fact that these are the wonkiest quilt blocks I’ve worked with in quite some time, maybe ever!
Here’s another block…there just no way that these blocks will ever be square again on their own. Yes…a dilemma to say the least!
Not sure about the name of this blossom but I like it! I will like it even more after I satin stitch the drawn lines. And yes, I forgot to take a pic once I finished the satin stitching. ☹️
This sweet blossom has missing fabric issues.
And “not even kind of square” issues.
By removing the fabric piece I will be able to better replicate the shape.
Using my Frixion pen I draw my desired shape.
I had initially thought of using the wrong side of this fabric but:
But after seeing the right side of the fabric sitting on the block, I decided it looked best. I used a machine applique stitch over the raw edges to secure this new piece of the blossom in place.
Many more blocks are patiently waiting their turn for a “make-over”, stay tuned because over the next few days/weeks I will document my progress with additional blog posts. Oh how I do love working with old things to bring them to life again!
Tackling the vintage pink basket quilt, Post #2. Never one to give up easily, I continue my my mission to give this quilt (now a quilt top) a new chance to shine.
Right away I noticed that this basket block was machine pieced while most of the others were done by hand. This is a good example where the quilter, without regard to individual block size or shape “made it work”. Note all the different sizes of triangles. And I am also going to assume she ran out of all light colored thread as most if not all the basket handles were machine stitched with red thread. I also found many areas where the blocks were machine stitched to sashings with white, ivory, purple and/or red thread and…in most instances the needle and bobbin threads do not match.
Wow did this thread thing bring back memories! I learned garment construction as a child and I was not the most patient seamstress. One of the things I HATED was when I ran out of bobbin thread (and did not have an appropriate backup bobbin ready to go) was having to stop, unthread the machine, wind a bobbin, re-thread, insert the newly wound bobbin, pull up the bobbin thread, find where I left off stitching…you get the picture… What I’m saying is I can totally relate if this quilt top was the creation of an impatient child.
The back of the quilt benefitted greatly from a second time in the soaking tub. Because I work with vintage quilts so often I save every bit of vintage fabric I can. Because they often blend in well, these old fabrics find their way into many of my vintage quilt projects that need a repair/fix.
This is the quilt top hanging on a design wall at a fabulous retreat venue (the 1914 Boehm House in Moulton, TX 🙂) where my intentions were to remove the basket handle red threads and re-stitch by machine using a pale ivory. I know there were fellow Retreaters who thought I had lost my mind…
After I had “fixed” a handle or two reality hit hard when I realized that to be successful, this quilt top needed a lot more than just ivory handle stitching.
Do you see what is nestled in the quilt top at this point?
Hello Mr. Rippit! Can you also see the seams just to the right of the ripper? Just about nothing in the quilt top lined up correctly. Nothing.
Here’s the bottom half of the block. Oh dear. See the triangles that have been trimmed? There’s no way to fix them unless I take apart the basket and replace these with a similar fabric and at this point I realized I would just work with what I had and be as creative as possible.
So, the deconstruction continues. The stripe fabric is light weight/thin, the stripe colors are pink and an interesting yellow/green.
And nothings pleases me more than when I see a “make-do” block pieced from fabric scraps. What’s up with that Serged edge? After I took the quilt apart I serged the four outside edges of both the quilt top and the backing before I soaked. I purposely set the serger to stitch very loose/loopy in the event I needed to remove these stitches.
More to come soon! Happy quilting and blessings, Rhonda
Is there anything better than a day (or two or three or fifty four) spent working with vintage quilt blocks? 🙂
I bought this quilt on eBay for $33.99, when it arrived I had a pretty good understanding of not being 100% truthful in advertising…but I liked the idea of a grand challenge and this quilt certainly presented one! See the picture captions for information later today I’ll do. Blog post at: RhondaDort.com
Here’s the original quilt, stains and stink galore!
The ivory is a light weight muslin. The quilt is tied with something heavier than Pearl Cotton.
This shows one example of the problems across the quilt. The baskets are all hand pieced and so many of the treads are broken.
Also, the ties seem to be very random, no order or plan could be seen.
So this is what the batting looked like. I’m wondering if many of the quilt stains were a result of the raw cotton? I think this is raw or uncleaned cotton? Anyone have some thoughts and/or experience with this? I realize and seriously do appreciate that the original quilter used what she had available, please don’t think I am faulting her!
Once deconstructed and soaked, many of the stains and 100% of the odor are gone. This is the wet quilt top laid out on my tile floor and left to dry.
Here’s a “before”, below is the “after.
You can see that most but not all of the stains came out. Are you also noticing the piecing? It is interesting…
Lots more to come in the next few days/weeks, all of this quilt has undergone quite a transformation.
Reminding you what the quilt top looked like before I began to make changes:
I removed each of the Dresden Plates including their big red center circles.
While the outer edges of the Dresden were raw edge embroidery stitched in place, the center circle raw edges were turned under, maybe about 1/8th”.
After pressing the circle flat, using an acrylic circle template, I marked and then scissor cut the circle. I’m not keen on needle turn applique and have decided to machine applique stitch both the center red circle and the Dresden outer scalloped edges.
After I have cut/trimmed the center circles I rely on Elmer’s Washable School Glue to hold them in place making my machine applique stitching easier.
I use Elmer’s on so many of my projects, but…they must be projects that I KNOW will take a trip through my washer/dryer once finished. As a reminder, Elmer’s, once dry is quite difficult to hand stitch through. Keep this in mind if you plan handwork on a project you might think about gluing.
BUT…what happens when the inner circle is so misshapen that the newly trimmed old red circle just barely covers the inner Dresden petal edge(s)?
I love a product by Bosal, it is a very lightweight, think almost handkerchief, light one sided fusible. By pressing a small rectangle over the edge of the short petal I can solve the problem.
I am sewing this project on a Bernina 550QE and am utilizing stitch number 1329. I chose a nice matte finish red sewing thread in both the needle and bobbin.
Remember from blog post 2 about this project I mentioned the irregular center circles of the Dresdens? This picture shows you just how misshapen things are.
It is easy to trim away the excess petal fabrics making for a better visual from the quilt top front. By trimming away this excess I did not have to worry about the solid yet thin red fabric will show the bumps and humps and raggedy edges of the underneath. By doing this unnecessary but appropriate step I’m confident that from the front side things will look ship-shape.
I stitched the centers on each of the 12 Dresdens and now I’m ready to reattach them to the quilt top.
The next step will be to place the Dresdens back on the quilt top and stitch them securely in place.
After I am confident the Dresden is centered, I use two vertically positioned pins at the top and bottom. This pinning technique allows me to fold the right side nearly in half. I next run a thin bead of Elmer’s along the outer scalloped edges and carefully flip the Dresden back in place. Finally I dry press to set the glue. Dry press because there’s no reason to add moisture (steam) to a liquid (glue) that I am trying to dry.
Repeat on the left side of the Dresden.
Using the machine applique stitch once again, I reattach the Dresden Plates along the outer scalloped edge.
When I had all the Dresdens once again attached to the quilt top I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture! ☹️ For several days I had been mulling over how to add some interest to the plain red 3 1/2” finished sashing strips.
After auditioning several solid color fabrics I finally decided on this warm green cotton. Remember, the red and light ivory fabrics are a poly cotton blend?
All I had to do was very carefully, with my ruler and rotary cutter, slice the sashings in half and insert a 1 1/2” green strip that finished to 1”. I began with the top sashing and worked my way down the quilt one row at a time so that I never had more than one slashed sashing at a time.
Once I had all the horizontal sashings finished I started on the vertical ones.
A close-up of the quilt top lower right corner.
I really love how the green strips change up the solid light ivory cornerstones into 4 separate small squares.
Oh I seriously love this result!
Can you see that the addition of the green strips added 4” to the width and 5” to the length? My quilt top now measures 73×98 and is ready for the longarm for some custom hand-guided quilting when I can get to it…🙂 Hopefully soon! I am very happy with the outcome, sure hope the original quilter would be too as I had a wonderful quilt top to start this project!
As a reminder, this is the quilt top before any changes were made.
I knew I wanted to remove the Dresdens as well as their center red circles.
I’ve successfully detached each of the 12 Dresden Plates and this is what I was left with.
I then removed each of the center red circles.
What I’m facing now is how to handle the Dresdens, the wonky center opening as well as the various lengths of the actual petal pieces themselves.
This is an acrylic template laid atop of the center and you can see all is not well with the mis-shaped opening.
The petals ranged from 5 1/4” to 5/3/4” in length.
But before I addressed the centers and the petal lengths I tackle the various drab fabrics by dressing them up with vintage laces, trims and sheer fabrics.
Once I added laces, etc., using the built in stitches on my Bernina I address the seams. First I press all seam allowances in the same direction and then using a matte finished 50 weight light ivory thread, I stitch directly over each seam allowance.
Compare the two pictures above to see the difference the laces and decorative stitches have made.
I used 2 different decorative stitches on each Dresden, alternating seams.
And here’s the same Dresden with the red center circle laying atop.
I like how the trims and the ivory stitches give the Dresden Plate a bit of interest. I did the same thing to the remaining 11 blocks.
In this picture above, the fabric to the right on the newsprint strip is very light weight, maybe rayon fabric. I knew it would not hold up well to the decorative stitching. By placing this paper strip directly beneath the seam I could easily stitch and then peel it away.
I used another acrylic circle template to tidy up the outer edge curves of the individual petals.
It took a long time to both mark and then scissor trim the curves but it was time well spent.
This is something I’ve never encountered before…this is how the quilter started and stopped her machine straight stitching. As you can imagine, this made for some interesting seams from the front of the quilt. I spent time correctly making the straight connection between these two stitch lines.
Stay tuned, there’s more to come in the next few days! The first blog post about this project is dated Jan. 22, scroll back a few days to find out how this all started. Blessings and happy quilting, Rhonda
Isn’t it wonderful to see your DWR project coming together! By this point in your construction you have:
1. Chosen your fabrics, 2. Secured your templates, 3. Selected your vintage linens, 4. Cut your block centers, 5. Attached your vintage block feature pieces, 6. Cut your Arc fabrics, 7. Sewn together your Arcs, 8. Cut your Small Melons, 9. Sewn your Footballs and WHEW! Can you believe it’s only Jan. 27th!
You have everything laid out in some fashion so you can achieve both a color and visual nice balance and are ready to begin sewing blocks together. I’ve sewn together a lot of crazy shaped quilt blocks together before but never anything close to a Double Wedding Ring quilt top!
You will need a method of keeping your Football shapes in the correct position when moving them from your layout to the sewing machine. I used 4 Flower Head straight pins. I marked them with T B L R: top, bottom, left and right.
BEFORE I remove a Football shape from my design wall, using one of these 4 pins I position them on the Melon piece. The top of the pin indicates the direction of the Football while the letter on the pin indicates the placement with regards to the block center piece. So in the picture above, the top most football needs to be sewn to the left of the center, the Football on the right…sewn to the right side of the block center.
Now…if your Center Blocks are directional, you may wish to create your own system of marking so that when you are stitching you will not have to worry about a center ending up in the wrong orientation.
Carefully fold the center in half and finger press. Do this in both directions, horizontal and vertical.
The Marti Michell templates make a 8 piece Arc making it easy to align the center seam of the arc with the finger pressed center mark of the block center piece. Pin to secure the position of the Football piece.
I used my Accuquilt Go and the DWR Dies to cut my solid arc quilt pieces and was fortunate to have the centers marked already by the tiny little wedges.
You can use just three pins or a multitude of pins to secure your Football piece to the block center. Do what works for you!
You can stitch football side up or melon side up, again find what you’re comfortable with. I chose football up because it allowed me to be sure that the arc seam allowances stayed in the direction they were pressed.
If you are sewing Football side down this is what it will look like as you begin to sew. Remember, begin your stitching at the pre-marked dot from your templates.
Oh I was giddy when I stitched and then flipped my block over and open!
And so it begins! The blocks getting sewn together! This is the first block and the one and only time you will sew together a complete four Football separate block.
From the diagram (thanks Marti Michell) you can see that after that first and only complete block you will now be sewing blocks that have only three Footballs attached to the center. Does this make sense?
The heavy black curvy line above shows how I will be sewing my block pieces together to form a horizontal row.
I have my diagram marked showing horizontal blocks 1-4 and vertical blocks 1-6.
To finish horizontal row one I will sew three more partial complete blocks with a Football shape on the top, the bottom and only the right side.
Ready for horizontal row 2? This time I will sew three Footballs, left, bottom and right. See how I have placed my Flowerhead straight pins accordingly? I absolutely need these markers to keep my pieces positioned correctly as I begin to sew. If you’re like me, don’t rely on memory once those Footballs are lifted from the design wall, after awhile they all begin to look the same! 🤣
Row 2 construction technique is how you will finish each additional row of your quilt top. And you thought this was going to be hard!! Easy-Peasy once you understand and are comfortable with the method!
A new old project underway. I’m thinking the quilt top maker had good intentions and at a glance everything seems great. But a closer look reveals problems that the quilting of this top will not remedy.
Overall measurements are 69×93 with individual blocks measuring anywhere between 18 and 19 1/2” square-ish and sashings are 3 1/2” wide.
The Dresden Plate measures 14 1/2” across and the red center is 5 1/2” in diameter.
The Dresden petals are all raw edge and were secured to the background fabric by these 3 strand embroidery floss buttonhole stitches. Sometimes the floss was knotted on the back, sometimes the front.
It took an amazing amount of time to remove the red floss stitches.
The red centers were also stitched in place with the red embroidery floss but unlike the Dresden Petals, the edge is turned under.
Throughout the quilt top, seam allowances were arbitrary as was sewing machine thread color.
Removing the Dresdens proved easiest when the floss was cut from the back of the block.
This picture shows the idiosyncrasies in the block construction as well as showing that the Dresden center circle was not trimmed to be a bit smaller than the diameter of the red center piece.￼
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the Dresden fabrics are mostly garment and possibly drapery with a handful of 1960’s or 70’s quilting (?) cottons. The sashing and block background is a poly/cotton blend. I figure I’ve got nothing to lose by redoing/fixing/embellishing this kind of vintage quilt top. This will be an interesting journey.
All the red embroidery floss took about 2 days to remove and for scale, this is a 6 1/2 cup bowl. 💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼