Class 4, the Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Blog Post #2b

Class 4 Information, FB Post 2b

Why have I avoided talking about machine decorative stitching over the raw edges of the vintage linen circles? This is how things progressed for me:

Once I had all my circles cut and glued to my background fabric I began to position them on my design wall in what I considered to be a pleasing layout. (And I forgot to take a pic at this point ☹️) I immediately learned a few things, the first being that there was one circle that while upclose looked fine…from a distance looked dirty/stained. See the first two pics below. Before you scroll to pic 2 see if you immediately spot the culprit circle. Even before you cut fabrics for your arcs, lay out your center block pieces to weed out those that just do not enhance your project.

Don’t begin choosing the various colors for your decorative stitches until you’re comfortable with your fabric(s) layout.

Happy quilting and blessings, Rhonda

Class 4, the Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Blog Post #2

Class 4 Information Post 3

From the 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Classes Facebook group. Jump over to Facebook and join the group! We are working on Class 4, the Double Wedding Ring quilt.

Have you been busy cutting out your large block center pieces? By this point do you have a quilt size in mind?

Let’s spend a lesson talking about the actual cutting out of the vintage pieces to be showcased in your DWR blocks. Again, you will find information in the picture captions.

Below you’ll find I’m talking about and showing pictures of machine decorative stitching of my Christmas themed quilt..but not my solid arc reproduction fabrics quilt. There’s a huge reason for this! I need to have my blocks and solid fabric arcs layed out on my design wall first. My decorative stitching thread color choices (and there will be many) will be dependent upon both the beautiful embroidery and the 4 different fabrics that will border the block center.

I have two of these vintage pieces so it is easy to show you the “before and after”. I placed my acrylic circle template over the basket, marked the outside of the circle and cut it out. But…it looked a little sad because the top of the circle was just very plain. I put my circle template to use again and placed it over the pretty floral swag at the doily’s top edge.

I like the look of this circle much better with the floral swag added to the top. Can you tell that I trimmed away the basket edge from the back of the floral swag? Not absolutely a necessary step, I just wanted to reduce the bulk.

This doily has an embroidered flower petal edge but this does not stop me from using it! I forgot to take a pic after I marked the circle and before I cut it out.

Did it jump out at you that this featured piece is not a complete circle? It works doesn’t it!

Another doily ready to be featured.

But did you notice…when I marked and cut out the circle, I did not cut through the beautiful hand crocheted edging? Save your crocheted edgings, they may come in handy in your next vintage linens quilt project.

Just another example of a circle cut from a vintage piece. This was cut from a nice guest towel and I had a bit left over with some nice embroidery…but nothing I could cut a nice circle from…too much empty areas left over.

But what’s up with this circle? Can you see that it was cut from the same hand towel as the picture previous? Look at the left side of the circle, look for the vertical row of tiny little open squares. Can you picture the guest towel now? But there’s more…do you see the bottom pink flowers has stitching around it?

This is the back side. Can you see the stitching on the slightly oval patch? The guest/hand towel was needing something else, at least in my opinion so I cut a pink flower from another area and machine zig-zagged it to the circle. You can also see I’ve run the glue around the circle so it’s ready to be centered on the background piece.

So, from one guest towel I was able to get two very nice vintage linens circles for my quilt!

But what if you are cutting your featured block center pieces from something like a vintage tablecloth? (As a side note, someone asked why I had melon pieces marked on the tablecloth. I initially thought about using these designs in the center of the “footballs” but came to my senses realizing how chaotic it would look.)

Because I had done my measuring as advised in Post 2, I could cut a translucent plastic template of the exact size needed. This template allowed me to precisely center the underlying motif(s) because I marked half way registration lines with a black fine line Sharpie pen.

I marked the entire tablecloth. I needed to be absolutely positive that I had enough center block motifs for a 4×6 block quilt.

I marked the cutting lines with my newly created plastic template but did the actual cutting with a slightly larger acrylic quilting ruler. All I had to do was reposition the quilting ruler as I cut around the marked square.

I just love these minstrels! You can see I’ve pinned the square in place in anticipation of the upcoming mchine decorative stitching.

But how do I know the little square is EXACTLY centered?

Remember from Post 1, we reviewed the diagonal folding and finger pressing? IF you folded and finger pressed properly and IF your newly cut square is truly a square…then at each of the four corners…they will line up EXACTLY with your finger pressed diagonal fold lines.

***Personal thought here…nothing bothers me more than when we don’t take time to be precise where precision is needed because it will be very obvious if our feature motifs were WONKY…but that’s just me… 🤪

What’s happening here? I’m auditioning thread. I want to know if the color is the best I can find. Pull off a foot or two from your spool/cone and lay it all helter-skelter on top of your motif. Seriously, this is called “puddling the thread”. Do you like it? Does it play well with the motif colors? Will it work with the various fabrics you’ve chosen.

A close-up.

You can Elmer’s Washable School Glue your squares to the background piece if you wish, I chose to just pin and stitch.

This is a built-in sewing machine decorative stitch directly over the raw edge of my tablecloth motif square.

Don’t freak out at the corners..just do your best. I find that if I try to turn the corner when stitching I usually have a mess. I stop and start at the end of a side and at the beginning of the next side.

And the raw edge decorative stitching is complete!

And here’s another one of the tablecloth motifs just for fun!

Whew! We’re finished with Blog Post #2 of the Double Wedding Ring quilt! ❤️👍🧨💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼🧨👍❤️

Blessings, Rhonda

Class 4, the Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Post #1

Class 4 Information

The Double Wedding Ring quilt class begins! I’m teaching this class via Facebook at: the 1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Classes group. So why the posting here also? I’ve found many of the participants find it easier to print from this website than from Facebook. It would be my preference that all questions/comments be posted via the Facebook group, thanks in advance.

This post is loaded with pictures and below all but a few you will find information.

For some of you we will be moving slow, for others the pace will be crazy fast. Just keep in mind these instructions will be here in this Blog post maybe for years to come.

Keep up with your reading and remember, quilting is supposed to be fun!!! 😵‍💫❤️😵‍💫🤣🤣🤣

Read through everything at least once BEFORE you begin. BEFORE! NOT AFTER!! 👍 You’ll thank me later…

But how big will your quilt be? This is your decision! It can be as small or a large as you wish. The graphics at the end of this post will help you to determine how many blocks you will need to make.

No matter what kind of DWR you are making, you need to make your block center pieces first, well before cutting any of your beautiful quilting fabrics!

Now…let me say…you may want to wait for a few weeks to do your decorative sewing machine stitching around your vintage linens motif shapes. This is totally your call. I knew exactly what I wanted on the Christmas quilt so I decorative stitched them immediately, the vintage linen circles, I waited until I and all my fabrics cut out and placed.

For my pieced arc Christmas themed quilt top I’ve chosen to use the acrylic DWR templates from Marti Michell.

One of the two dies with the Accuquilt DWR template set I used to make the solid arc reproduction fabrics quilt.

I knew I wanted to fussy cut the various motifs found in this vintage Christmas tablecloth. I chose my fabrics to compliment the tablecloth as well as carry out the Christmas red and green theme. Of note: the tablecloth background is white but I chose a variety of fabrics with both white and ivory.

I’m not crazy about what I will call the “lime green” but because it was used extensively throughout the tablecloth I knew I needed it to make an appearance in the fabrics.
The next step will be to choose the fabric for the block centers as well as the “football” melon shaped centers. Football??? When the two arcs are sewn to the center melon the resulting piece reminds me of a football.

My next step was to cut out the DWR center piece. 📌 Remember!!! It is very important to cut this piece out on the “straight of grain” of your fabric!! Wonder what straight of grain means? Google it for more info. Fold opposite corners together and finger press the fold. Repeat with the other two opposite corners. You now know the exact center of your DWR center piece. If you plan to applique vintage linens to this center piece you will need to perform this “fold and press” step to each of your block center pieces.
Because you have cut the block center on the straight of grain, the diagonal folds will be on the bias. 📌 Use caution so as not to stretch the block as you finger press these two fold lines.

There’s lots going on in the picture above. First, I’m showing you that the Accuquilt template outline on the left is smaller than the Marti Michell acrylic template on the right. This is just one example to illustrate why you should never mix templates from different manufacturers. Second I’m showing you that if you are using the right side template, use care as you layout and cut the large piece because the melon piece can easily be cut from what looks like waste fabric left behind!

Here’s an example of my comment earlier about cutting out the large center piece and having enough left over fabric to cut out the football melon. 📌 SAVE YOUR SCRAPS!

Have you decided how large your quilt will be? A project 4 blocks wide by 6 blocks long will require 24 blocks. As you cut out your center pieces, keep track of them. In this picture above I’ve stacked my pieces in groups of 10.

If you plan to applique vintage linens circles to your quilt block, the next few pictures are important for you. Remember from above how to find the exact center of a symmetrical block piece? Fold to opposite corners and/or sides. My longarm circle templates comes in handy because it has registration marks at 3, 6, 9 and 12.

Using a Frixion Pen I drew around the acrylic circle and then using a ruler, I made marks at 3, 6, 9 and 12 showing there the quarter inch seam allowance will fall. Because I planned to use a built in sewing machine decorative design to applique my “raw edge” circles to the block center, I needed to know the outer most limits so as to not catch the applique stitches in the seam.

Using the same acrylic circle template, I begin auditioning vintage linens to see what will fall within the circle confines all the while looking wonderful.

Once happy with the placement of the circle template I drew around the OUTSIDE of the template with my Frixion Pen.

Elmer’s Washable School Glue once again is the best for a project like this! I run a small amount of glue all around the INSIDE of my marked circle. Using my finger or the glue bottle orange top I smear the glue a bit.

I lay the vintage linens circle directly onto the large block center piece and YES!!! I’m very happy with the look.

But what if you’re using something like my vintage Christmas tablecloth for your center motifs?

You will measure side to side at the narrowest point of your center block piece, both horizontally and vertically. This will determine the size of square that will fit your block center. Just like above, you will need to take into consideration your quarter inch seam allowances. I prefer to work with squares so for easy math let’s say the narrowest measurement is 6 inches. We know we will need to account for quarter inch seams so the largest square we can use will be 5 1/2”.
Do you see the finger pressed diagonal fold lines above? They are absolutely key to properly centering your square feature motif. Each of the four square points must match up exactly with the diagonal fold lines.

One final thought for today if you are using a vintage tablecloth…if you need 36 blocks but you only have 30 motifs…you’re in trouble. This is where planning ahead comes in. If I would have needed more blocks I could have easily cut squares of the holly, pieced them together in a 4 Patch and used that in my block center. PLAN AHEAD, PLAN AHEAD, PLAN AHEAD! Don’t reach the “almost end” and realize you don’t have enough to finish! 🙂❤️☹️❤️🙂

If you purchased the Marti Michell template set you will have already received some excellent DWR black and white layout graphics. If not, my search of the internet found these two pictures above you may find useful.

Whew! Is all this more than you bargained for on day one? Take your time! Like I said a few weeks ago, Class 4 will progress slowly!

Blessings to all for a wonderful New Year, for health and happiness and for a TOTALLY FABULOUS DOUBLE WEDDING RING QUILT! ❤️🙂❤️

Rhonda

The Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Class #4

Unless you are a quilt historian, take all the things you think know about the Double Wedding Ring (DWR) and put them out of mind. It would be hard to find two that are identical, they were generally made with scraps of many fabrics, their size varies as does the outer edges of this type of quilt. They are steeped in tradition(s), they were typically a wedding gift to the bride and groom and because of their sweet meaning to the wedding, they were either used until they fell apart at the seams or stored away as a keepsake to be treasured.

https://www.rockymountainquilts.com/files/antiquequilt_q9019.php

No matter your thoughts about a DWR quilt, they have stood the test of time so I think it’s “time” we got busy making one or two or three of our own in Class #4. Are you ready to set your fears about curved seams aside? Trust me, you laugh at yourself once you learn that a curved seam is just not that difficult at all!

I’m going to fill this blog with pictures and links so you can get your homework finished well before we begin our DWR quilt class instruction on January 1, 2022.

Grab a beverage, find a comfy chair and get ready to see both traditional and modern versions of this amazing quilt pattern!

http://www.womenfolk.com/quilt_pattern_history/wedring.htm

https://www.whyquiltsmatter.org/welcome/news/a-most-romantic-quilt/

https://quiltdom.com/double-wedding-ring-quilt/

This excellent quilters reference book by Jinny Breyer shows several different blocks as DWR’s:

The idea that there are hard and fast rules needs to be forgotten, a DWR has so many beautiful variations it could make your head spin.

And speaking of variations, there are no hard and fast rules about color placements. See the quilt below from the web site: https://theplaidportico.com/2016/06/21/stitch-modern-2016-part-1/double-wedding-ring-quilt-by-tara-faughnan/

How about the very specific arc color placement on this quilt:

https://helpinghandsquilts.com/double-wedding-ring-quilt-102-by-110-1/

But what if you want to begin your DWR journey with fewer pieces? How about this quilt I’m currently quilting? All of the arcs are cut whole from different fabrics.

I had never tackled a DWR until a few weeks ago. Yes I was nervous but I must tell you, once you get the technique down, the piecing was very straightforward! In a few days I am planning to start a new quilt that will have the traditional pieces arcs.

I bought this book for a few dollars on eBay several weeks ago, a wealth of info and pictures:

You can make a DWR with the arcs set horizontal and vertical:

Or your arcs can be placed at a 45° angle as below:

But what about the amazing quilter Victoria Findlay Wolfe and her book: Double Wedding Ring Quilts, Traditions Made Modern.

https://vfwquilts.com/

But how are we going to work vintage linens into our DWR? The possibilities are endless! You can see in in my quilt top picture way up above, I cut out circles of vintage linens and with my sewing machine I attached them to the DWR block centers. Same idea as my DWR rescue quilt below:

What if the DWR centers were cut from a vintage tablecloth, either a solid color or a lovely print? What if the melon pieces in between the arcs were cut from vintage lace laid atop a solid white or ivory fabric?

I’m challenging you right now to do your own internet search for different examples of the Double Wedding Ring quilt. Think about how you could use vintage linens in the making of one of your own. Think about color(s), design variations, quilt size, intimate use (wall hanging, table topper, show piece and/or utility quilt). You can see from just these few examples that you can be as creative or as traditional as your heart desires!

For those of you not already part of the Facebook quilting classes I’ve been teaching, you can find the group by searching:

1914 Boehm House Vintage Linens Classes

We began in January of this year as a way to circumvent the social distancing etc etc that Covid created. Classes 1-3 remain on this Facebook group page and Class 4 is set to begin January 1st, 2022. I will release a general supply list on October 15th. Stay tuned and join this group if you’d like to participate! In fact, tell your friends to join, it’s so much fun to share and to work with fun loving quilters!

Happy quilting and blessings to all,

Rhonda

Saving Another Double Wedding Ring Quilt, Part 3

Have you read the previous 2 posts about the “saving” process going on with this vintage well used and well loved Double Wedding Ring quilt? In this post I am going to take you through the steps of applying the false back at the top and bottom edges as well as making repairs to fabrics that have become ragged, torn, frayed or simply are missing.

Let’s start with the false back. If you remember, both the front and back of the quilt top and bottom were in very bad shape. With the front edges repaired, I needed to address the back.

Just to the right of the green line above you can see a seam line? For this edge of the quilt I was fortunate enough to have a length of muslin that very closely resembles the original quilt backing. I folded over a quarter inch, pressed it in place, carefully placed the length of muslin across the entire quilt top edge and pinned it into place.

I needed to secure the strip of muslin to the quilt so I carefully stitched it down by hand at the folded edge. How did I handle the scalloped edge? I carefully pinned the outside quilt edges to the new false back muslin piece and then machine zig-zagged the outer scalloped edge. Once I had this machine stitching completed I carefully trimmed away the excess muslin.

Can you see how I tried to mimic the hand quilting lines with my sewing machine?

This is the other end of the quilt, I used an ivory muslin as the false back.

Now that both the top and bottom quilt edges have been addressed it was time to work on the front again. Below I am showing you how I used trims, laces, etc. etc. to either cover up or disguise the damaged areas of the quilt.

I welcomed the opportunity to experiment with the built in decorative stitches of my sewing machine. This quilt project was perfect for “decorative stitches reinforcement”. Let me give you a heads up: if you plan to stitch on a vintage quilt such as I did, it is imperative to clean out the area underneath your needle/throat plate and around your bobbin OFTEN! It is amazing the amount of lint that the needle and thread carry through two your bobbin area of your sewing machine.

I consistently used both blue and yellow threads for my horizontal decorative stitching and both pink and green for the vertical. I chose a different star shaped decorative stitch to outline all of the 4 Patches.

At this point I had some ideas about how to tackle the larger centers of the double wedding ring blocks. I jumped right into working and forgot to take very many pictures of my progress. ☹️

A year or so ago, using my Accuquilt tools, I cut out 30-40 melon shapes from reproduction fabrics. Pulling these shapes out of storage I began to lay them out on the quilt top surface and decided on this placement. Of course my Elmer’s Washable School Glue came in handy!

Ignore the things indicated by the blue arrows. The pictured Accuquilt Die cut the smaller melon shapes on the left and the yellow fabric circles just didn’t work for me, they were too small.

This is raw edge machine applique and I’m using a Wonderfil Specialty Threads product: white Deco Bob. I love this versatile thread!
I took this picture to show you the machine settings for my applique stitch.

This is what the quilt looked like before I began to glue and stitch down the melon shapes:

Once all the melons were stitched I knew I needed something in the center were the four points meet. Vintage yellow yo-yo’s to the rescue!

The yo-yo’s were sewn on by hand…so much easier than sewing tight circles of applique with my sewing machine.

I’ve got a bit of work left to do in the body of the quilt, some on the front and a little on the back and of course then there’s the binding to replace.

Never underestimate your ability to save an old quilt! It’s a wonderful feeling! Blessings to everyone and of course, Happy Quilting!

Rhonda

Saving Another Double Wedding Ring; Part 2

Did you read Part 1 posted on August 11th? Are you ready for the next step of making templates and replacing fabrics?

Now that I’m confident that all the necessary pieces of the quilt are present it’s time to begin replacing some of the quilt top fabrics. Above you can see I’ve used the cover of a dollar store orange plastic three binder to make a template of the arc pieces.

Going through my scrap bin, I’ve chosen 9 or 10 different fabrics. Some of the fabrics will be used “right side up” and some will be used “wrong side up”.

I’ve pressed the 1\4th” seam allowance on one of the long edges.

With the replacement pieces laid out, I am beginning to replace the outside of this arc.

The red arrows above show you which fabrics are wrong side up.

Elmer’s Washable School Glue to the rescue! I glue the arc pieces in place before I machine stitch them to the quilt.

I’m using my sewing machine built-in stitch, the buttonhole or the blanket stitch.

And seriously, doesn’t that dark blue vintage fabric look just like Painter’s Tape!

This is the back of the quilt. It’s obvious I have not added the False Back at this point because this entire project is a “hands on experiment”. I will talk more about a False Back when I post again.

I’m trimming away the edge excess fabric and this picture reminded me that I forgot to mention that after I had all the ripped parts of the quilt in position using the SF101, I serged around the entire quilt edge.

Now to work on that deteriorating muslin melon shaped piece. Again, a plastic dollar store binder comes in very handy when needing to make a custom template.

My red template is complete, I make another template using three layers of freezer paper and cut a muslin melon shape large enough to address the needed seam allowance.

I press the freezer paper template into the muslin, trim the edges for a quarter inch seam allowance.

Using the cap from my can of spray starch, I spray directly into the cap, enough so there is liquid to be brushed on the fabric.

Using an artist paintbrush (or a Q-tip or your finger…) I paint on the liquid spray starch all around the seam allowance .

I carefully press the seam allowance over the freezer paper edge. Once cooled I carefully remove the freezer paper template and set it aside. Note: you can reuse your freezer paper template over and over again.

When both the right and the left arcs are repaired I carefully lay the muslin melon into position. When happy with the placement I lightly glue or pin the muslin piece in place. But what about the glue? Because I will put this quilt through the washer/dryer when I am 100% finished, I am not worried about how much glue I use. Remember, it will all wash out.

And the using the blanket stitch, I stitch the piece to the quilt top. I will replace the missing end piece later.

Here I’ve worked on another of the arcs but this time the muslin melon piece does not need to be replaced.

I’ve replaced two pieces above with new fabrics, can you find them?

It’s only the quilt top and bottom edges that are really bad. Once I’ve repaired them I begin to address individual pieces in the quilt body that need help. Look for lots more information and pictures in my next blog post, Part 3! 🙂

Happy quilting and blessings,

Rhonda

Saving Another Double Wedding Ring Quilt; Part 1

At one time I know this was a beautiful quilt, the fabrics, while tattered in places, are all just fabulous and vintage prints found here are wonderful. I found this quilt in an antique mall, probably paid too much for it but I was drawn to the still bright cheddar orange binding.

Layed out with the battered top and bottom edges tucked into place, this is the quilt as purchased. The next few pictures will show you up close how much work is ahead of me.

Some areas are missing just fabric, some fabric and batting and then there’s the through and through holes.

The good thing is that it appears all of the edge pieces are still with the quilt albeit some are just hanging.

This picture for example…all the parts are still with the quilt, just not where they should be.

Did you read my blog post of March 4, 2021, the one about how to launder a severely damaged quilt before you begin the repairs?

I forgot to take pictures of how I used tulle to hold this battered double wedding ring quilt together so I could send it through the washing machine and dryer. I cannot bring myself to work on a filthy dirty smelly project so if I can’t find a way to clean it, I don’t buy it.

Below you’ll find the picture tutorial on how to secure a torn/damaged quilt in order to launder your piece. You can purchase wedding tulle at almost any craft and/or fabric store, either from the bolt or the cone as shown in the first picture. I don’t use regulag netting because it is rough in texture and I don’t want any of the quilt fabrics “roughed up” anymore than they already are. Lots more info if you scroll back to March 4th.

But before I’m ready to begin any repairs to the double wedding ring quilt I’m going to need to remove the binding.

Important point: I do not nor do I ever plan to “Restore” vintage quilts! I mend, repair, fix, patch, embellish, etc. etc. old quilts as I try my best to give them a second or in many cases, a third chance.

I took this picture to show you how the quilt maker, or the cheddar binding seamstress handled the binding strips. They were just overlapped rather than stitched together into one very long strip.

Binding removal is complete!

What’s going on with the white rectangles circled in yellow above? The next picture shows a Pellon product I love: Shape-Flex or SF101. It’s a very light weight (think handkerchief) woven fabric with a fusible on one side that I sometimes use to make repairs. Note: I use it for repairs, not as a stabilizer! Huge difference! I’ve used the very small rectangles above to act as a temporary hold while I work with the battered edges. I oh-so-very-quickly touch them with an iron. They will temporarily hold the pieces of the quilt in place and because I barely fused them they are easily removed when I don’t need them anymore.

Oh, and I forgot to mention when I use the SF101 I always use one of my Teflon pressing sheets. This keeps me from accidentally ironing the SF101 to my ironing board cover.

These pictures of the quilt back show where I have ironed on the SF101. These back pieces will remain in the repaired quilt, I will not be removing them.

So what’s next? The quilt needs 2 sections of a False Back, one on the top and one on the bottom.

Stay tuned, there’s much more to come, I’ve been working on this quilt off and on since June.

Blessings to all and happy quilting,

Rhonda

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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,

Rhonda

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,

Rhonda

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:

info@1914BoehmHouse.com 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!

Rhonda