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I've been practicing my ladder stitch. It's a sewing method used to repair seams invisibly. I have used this stitch many times on qu...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I've been bidding on vintage quilt tops and lots of orphan blocks on eBay. There are always quite a few to decide between and I have to go with what my budget will allow but I'm game to increase my collection. I have an eclectic assortment of quilts that all need some kind of repair.

My favorites are quilts made in a truly scrappy fashion. I love looking at different pieces and imagining what clothing item they came from and maybe even how many clothing items were made from a fabric before any surviving scraps were tossed in a scrap bag to end up in a quilt. I have read accounts of how a woman's dress which was worn in some places would be cut down for a dress for a younger woman, a boy's shirt or a girl's dress. After that item was worn out, any surviving fabric may be made into a toddler or infant dress. Any part that made it through may be used as a rag or towel. Smaller pieces that were still strong and not too faded made it to the scrap basket or bag. Fabric scraps were not only used for quilt piecing but also for patching clothing and quilts. Thread was also saved from garments. And almost anything resembling long strands of fiber were used for sewing. Sometimes fabric was unraveled for thread. I even  have a quilt that looks like it was pieced with white string! Women who were that resourceful are my heroes.

One quilt I was able to get for very little money s a lovely, soft bowtie design. The only problem it has is worn and frayed binding. I plan to replace the binding with new fabric. This quilt is not a museum piece so my purpose is to repair it for my use.

Binding is a very important element in the life of a quilt. Because the binding on this one is so worn, I am assuming that it was well used. What stories a quilt like this could tell!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Between helping out with the twin newborns and their 2 year old brother, I am trying to finish quilts for the twin beds in one of the rooms of our cottage. Over the years we've had many different bed coverings but my goal is to cover each bed with one of my quilts. After these 2 there is just one more to do.

My next project will be to decide what to do with the quilt squares I just bought. I'm intrigued by orphaned sets of blocks.  I go back as usual into thoughts of who the original maker was and why she chose the fabrics and pattern, how long it took her to make the blocks and why she didn't finish the project.

There are 13 larger blocks composed of 4 pieced blocks each. There are 11 small pieced blocks in addition. The sewing is by hand but very uneven. It looks as if some of the pieced blocks were evened and pressed carefully. The others show poor matching. They may have to be picked out and resewn if they are to fit into a design with the rest. I'm considering separating the four patch blocks and assemble a larger piece with the pieced blocks individually used and intermixed. It seems like a good idea to spread out the yellow. Sashing may help unify the quilt. The color of that sashing is a dilemma though. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In my post of September 10th, I described the Wisconsin Quilt Expo and how much I like all that it offers. Here is a picture of me giving my lecture on orphan blocks and tops. I'm holding the table mat I showed in a different post in August.
It's a wide view, taken by my friend Susan. The pile on the table reflects a bit of the spontaneity of my talk. I knew where each example was when it was time to show it but I wasn't too neat about putting things back on the table. I showed quite a few examples of unfinished tops, ranging from some that needed no repair at all to several that were only good enough for taking apart to salvage fabric that may be used in the repair of other quilts. I also showed examples of orphan blocks and various decorative options for these little jewels.
The green and white quilt on the table was a rare find. It was mixed up on a table of clothing at a very jammed and messy antique store. Because the store owners were out of town, the person they asked to run the store needed to price the quilt which was unmarked. He said, "well it's kind of dirty. How about $7.00?" Needless to say, it went home with me. It needed no repair and is well pieced and quilted. A light soak and air dry was all it needed. Sometimes a person can find a gem!

Monday, September 12, 2016

This is a picture of the reassembled quilt I mentioned in my previous post. With the blocks evened out and a new arrangement, it looks like a different quilt. The fabric is in good shape and won't need any further reinforcing. Now the seam allowances are even and the sewing is consistent. I plan to use 80-20 batting. It's thin and cotton like and easy to quilt. The backing and binding will be navy Kona cotton.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A quilt top I acquired from Ebay was just begging to be finished and used. The original sewer pieced the blocks fairly well but they were joined unevenly and the sewing detracted from the overall attractiveness of the quilt. The quilt was also very grimy.
I began by soaking the top in a weak solution of Oxyclean and water. I used about half a measuring cup (the one that came in the box of Oxyclean) in about 5 gallons of water. Not surprisingly, a lot of dirt was released from the top. Then I let it air dry.
This picture shows the top in its original form. I understand the stair step design that accounts for where the navy was placed but I thought the navy should be spread around the whole quilt. I did disassemble the quilt down to the 5 inch squares. Then I squared up the blocks and matched 2 plain with 2 pieced blocks to get back the 4 patch look. When pressed and squared the blocks fit together beautifully. The four patches were laid out in rows and the navy distributed around the quilt. I also tried to distribute the pinky/peach blocks. My preference is always symmetry!

I used this top as an example in my "Treasures from Castoffs" lecture at the Wisconsin Quilt Expo this past week. Now I'll get to layer and quilt it. I think I'll use navy to back and bind it.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Wisconsin Quilt Expo that is ending today is a really fabulous opportunity to take classes, attend lectures and visit vendors. It always occurs during the end of the week after Labor Day. I have attended other quilt shows, including IQA Chicago, but I think that the format and the variety of offerings at Quilt Expo are better - at least for what I need as a quilter. The program always seems to be balanced with just enough attention to new techniques without forgetting the mainstays of quilting that many are interested in. I enjoyed a session on setting up a home sewing machine for free motion quilting. Some of the information confirmed what I already know and do. But some of the information was new and thought provoking.
The second lecture I attended was about turning a photo graph into a quilt. I learned a lot just in time to start a quilt version of a picture of my son sitting in the entrance to an ice cave in northern Wisconsin.
The lecture I gave twice on using old quilt tops and orphan blocks was fun. The audience members were attentive and participated. I felt very comfortable talking and sharing my ideas and what I've learned from working with older fabric pieces.
My friend Susan, who helped out at my lectures, attended a three hour workshop on applying zentangle designs to fabric. She appreciated the opportunity to have a bit more time to work on the technique. That's also why I like the Quilt Expo: there are half day "sit and sew" and "hands on" opportunities as well as one hour lectures so anyone attending can sample many techniques and learn from experts while still able to visit vendors and sit in on free stage presentations. The Expo has something for everyone!
Next year the dates of the Wisconsin Quilt Expo will be September 7, 8 and 9.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My twin granddaughters were born today. Amalia Lynn and Madeline Rose were both almost 6 pounds. They arrived early this afternoon. Their mom is doing well. So is their dad.

My husband and I are amazed to be so blessed. Hallelujah!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

In an earlier post I mentioned four crazy quilt blocks. They're roughly 14 inches square and made from a variety of fabrics foundation pieced onto either hardanger cloth or felt. There is quite a bit of embroidery on all of them. I added more and embroidered the seams when I sewed them together.
I backed the strip of four blocks and added tabs at the top. The tabs will allow me to hang the piece on our fireplace mantle. It looked like this.
Since I took this picture, I have added more embroidery and some lace. I felt that the aqua pieces were too bright so I toned down that color a bit. The revised and finished mantle quilt looks like this now.

Friday, September 2, 2016

There is a pack of 20, 36 piece blocks that I got somewhere. I need to do better with documentation!
I kept playing with the blocks, trying to make a bigger piece from them. When nothing seemed to make sense, I finally decided to make a small quilt from just 4 of the blocks. Originally, I thought it would be a nice doll quilt, with the pink plaid pieces repeated in each block, so I backed it in pink. There wasn't enough pink for binding so I opted for white. The quilting is simple, diagonal lines crossing the pieces. You can see it in the close up picture. The finished quilt is 15.5 by 15.5 inches. I may use it on a table instead but with granddaughters coming soon, it may get moved to the doll crib anyway.