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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...

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I have written in past posts about my zeal to collect old quilts, quilt tops and orphan blocks. Lately I've been acquiring sets of blocks that I think were set aside to be made into quilts at some point but never were. I'm not sure that these are actually what is meant by orphan block. But I haven't encountered any discussion of what the term "orphan block" means either.

To me, up until the last year or so, an orphan block was a singleton block that had no mates. It is found by itself and has not much to offer about who made it or the purpose for which it was intended. I heard someone recently say that many orphan blocks were made by young women who were learning to piece. So they may have only made one of a certain pattern before moving on to another pattern that would help them build skills, especially in hand piecing.

I do have sets of blocks that I consider orphan. One set of 7 blocks comprised of 100 tiny squares each and bordered in white, seem like they were to be part of a large project but somehow were abandoned to be found by me years later. The colors are bright and the white borders are clean. The blocks are made of a large variety of fabrics, most of which appear to be cotton.
I played with many ideas for making these "orphans" into something useful before I settled on a table mat. But with 7 blocks to work with, the best solution that came to mind was an octagonal shape made possible by cutting two of the blocks in half diagonally. There were two blocks that had many green pieces so I elected to cut those. After a few false starts and much anxiety, I did manage to cut the blocks and assemble the table mat. I kept as much of the white border as I could, supplementing with some extra white Kona brand cotton. This is the result after simple machine quilting and binding with more white cotton.
I like it very much and I use it on the antique round table I inherited from my grandmother. Lovely. Orphan blocks made into something at least.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

In my last post, I referred to Barbara Brachman's book which is an encyclopedia of quilt patterns. It is entitled Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and was published in 1993. It has been revised but not a lot changed. It is complicated to use. The categories are organized by shapes. I had looked up my snowball quilt but made the mistake of choosing a pattern that is block-based rather than piece based. So the actual names for the quilt I pictured are Hummingbird, Bluet Quilt and Periwinkle. The reference number in Brachman's book is 445.9. It is not included in the listings for snowball quilts but in the section entitled "eight-sided shape as a piece". As time goes on I will keep browsing through the book bit by bit. Bit by bit because it's a daunting task. But it is an interesting book and the more I can learn about quilt patterns, the better for me.

In the introduction to this book, Ms. Brachman emphasizes that the name of a quilt pattern is the one you use. In other words, it really doesn't matter what someone else called it, or calls it. That sort of explains why she discovered so many different names for some of the patterns. It also makes sense that quilt makers named their creations whatever they wanted to even if a pattern they used or made was published under another name. Also, in the past twenty years, many, many quilt designers have adjusted and renamed quilt patterns to reflect our modern techniques and styles.

Friday, November 11, 2016

I saw a Facebook posting by Nancy Zieman about a book of patterns for quilts inspired by vintage quilts. It made me think about all of the patterns we have for traditional quilts. Barbara Brackman made a book of more than four thousand of them. Her extensive research uncovered up to 10 different names for the same pattern.

One pattern I am beginning to like a lot is the snowball pattern. There are variations, of course. But the more traditional pattern involved connecting the snowball shapes with kite shaped pieces. Here's a picture of one unquilted top that is in my collection.

Other names for this pattern as listed in Brackman's book are Bluet, Hummingbird and Periwinkle. It is not included in the snowball pattern options. Who knew?

More modern patterns show that adding a triangle to the each corner of a larger square visually "rounds" the corners to make the center appear round in the quilt. It's not complicated and can be very striking. Many of us are familiar with the concept of sewing a small square to the corner of a larger one, then trimming the extra fabric so that when the triangle is turned it makes the square whole again. When a number of these squares with small triangles in their corners are pieced together, the effect can be amazing. It makes the snowball quilt a bit less complex.

I may need to start one of these soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I spent last Saturday volunteering at The Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. It was documentation day. My role was as part of a team that measured, described and photographed the quilts that were brought in. The quilts are eventually listed in the national quilt data base.

What an interesting day! Some of the quilts were vintage. Some were just the tops and one had a newspaper foundation. Fun to read the newspaper bits for dates and names. Other quilts were newly finished. I loved seeing the pride on the faces of the quilters who brought in their work and talked about the patterns and the techniques The data base of quilts is a great way to honor quilt makers and keep track of quilts as they move around the country. Anyone can check a quilt's heritage by looking at the label sewn on the back that tells where the documentation took place and the quilt's reference number. An eleven page document is used to describe the quilt and it's provenance so the data base has a wealth of information.

I met some wonderful people and had an exhausting but very learning filled day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

D Rose Quilt Rescue and Repair: So when do we repair a quilt, when do we restore i...

D Rose Quilt Rescue and Repair: So when do we repair a quilt, when do we restore i...: So when do we repair a quilt, when do we restore it and when do we opt for conservation methods to protect it? Funny question but when you l...

D Rose Quilt Rescue and Repair: I've been thinking about the repair, restore, cons...

D Rose Quilt Rescue and Repair: I've been thinking about the repair, restore, cons...: I've been thinking about the repair, restore, conserve stuff. I collect quilts that other people want to get rid of for unknown reasons....
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 quilts in need of the repair of seams whose stiches have come undone. Many times the thread had given way because of age and wear. If the fabric is intact, new thread can be used to repair the seam and the ladder stitch is the one to use.

I have made some fabric pieces to practice on by matching two ten inch pieces of fabric and sewing outermost 2 inches of one of the long sides together. I pressed the seam open all the way along the side. This made about an 8 inch opening to practice on. I can use the ladder stitch to close the seam, evaluate my work and then take out the stitches to do it again.

Why practice? I feel I can never get accomplished enough at hand stitching. It doesn't come easy to me. I know that the more I do, the better my sewing is. Sounds logical, I know. So if I set up little practice pieces to work on while watching TV or waiting at a doctor's office I'll get more accurate and faster at using the stitches best suited to quilt repair. Accuracy and speed are important when repairing and restoring quilts for others.