Reclaiming and Restoring an Old Quilt Top

Our vacation was pure joy and absolute fun! But there is always the let down of returning home when it is all over.

But!… always so much going on and never enough time to get things done. But always enough time to get things started! LOL

A few months back, on one of our abandoned house hunting trips, I found an old quilt top. It was absolutely filthy but through the dirt, I could see the beauty and the talent and the resolve that someone had spent in hand stitching all those triangles.

2015-02-18 16.45.07There was no cheating in this quilt, this one done one triangle at a time, producing those pinwheels. Often, there wasn’t enough fabric to complete a full square. Some of the squares have faded and there are places where the fabric has split. Most of the squares are not really square, and have puckers, but I think that just adds to the charm of the quilt.

There is the remnants of a border on one side, which I am planning on removing, perhaps using some of it to replace faded triangles. I am going to use this as my hand work while watching television – in addition to my humungous cross-stitch that I am still working on. Always have to have something to work on, just can’t sit still and do nothing while watching movies.

Let me point out some of its quirks and charms. First, here is a block that needed a bit of help to fit into the triangle, and the maker didn’t match the pattern quite right:

photo 4

This block is demonstrate that our sewer was definitely short on matching material. In this block she uses 6 different fabrics:

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This block is another example. Although the sister pieces are the same, She uses four different fabrics here:photo 8

This one only has one nonmatching triangle and she did a good job with color value:photo 7

This block is an example of the fading that is evident in this quilt. I don’t know if it is sun damage or it was just time and washing… either way, it does change the color value:photo 6

Just one more example of how our quilter ‘made do’ with the materials she had. Although the color value is essentially good, there is a definite change in color:photo 5

Here is but one of many examples of the damage to the quilt. Like I said above, this entire quilt was sewn by hand, mostly with the neatest little stitches. Because I have no history of the quilt top, I don’t know if it had been used for warmth while unfinished or if he had been damaged more by animals or insects or just the ravages of time.photo 2

This was a worse example, this isn’t simply where seams were pulled apart but actually damage. Not sure how to proceed with repair of this block. It also has unmatched colors and fabrics, and there is fading damage. These are the sort of block I almost think should be replaced.photo 1But that brings me to the essential question, should blocks torn or faded be replaced? What about simply mismatched fabrics? Should they be left alone or also replaced? To what extent should fabrics be replaced if they are faded or damaged? How should damaged fabrics be repaired? I am planning to do most of the repair by hand, just to keep the look and feel the same.

And another question about repairing the quilt, with the hand sewing, the quilt doesn’t really lay flat. After washing it, I attempted to iron it as flat as possible and there is just so many puckers, I know this would be difficult to quilt. I am tempted to simply tie it, but I really want to do as much as I can to be able to make it wear well. But I don’t want to change the essentially of the quilt, instead opting for as much of its originality as I can.

So, fellow quilters, help me out. Give me suggestions or hints or ideas. How should I approach this delicate challenge. I will be sure to share my progress as I go.

julie

 

 

Binding: How Do You Do It?

I think I’ve talked about this before, but for those new, this is an old habit (?) of mine. Every now and then I get stuck and don’t seem to have any forward momentum. When this happens I do one of two things… either I clean and organize or I jump head long into finishing up long overdue projects.

Well, over the past week and a half, I have been doing some serious finishing. I vowed to not start anything new (even though I went out and bought some new triangle templates and even some fabric. Let me just tell you that I have not bought new fabric in forEVER – at least a full year. But you also know that I have a small store of my own upstairs in my quilting room. Ha.

The guest bedroom’s bed was covered with quilts that had been quilted but needed binding. And my design wall has been covered in at least two layers of orphan and test blocks.

So, almost without a break, I have been binding and finishing quilts. And finished two orphan quilt tops.

But first…. we have to talk a little about binding. I recently posted the question about binding on a DIY site called HomeTalk about preferred methods of binding (you can see it here). As a self-taught quilt maker, I never knew exactly how to approach binding. My earliest quilts were bound by using the pre-made, pre-cut, pre-packaged binding pieces. That got costly quickly.

When I started quilting, the internet was still very much in its infancy and I guarantee that no one was talking about quilts on what was out there. It was either books or other quilt makers and I didn’t really know any quilters. So, I tried some things. First, I thought if I could fold each layer in on itself and make a seam, that would work. And it did, but seemed like a lot of work. So then I went with making the back larger and folding it over to the front. That worked much better. Sometimes I thought that I had ‘invented’ it.

Recently I posted the question about the preferred or better way to bind quilts. A serious debate ensued. I left the post with my opinion that everyone is entitled to bind their quilts in whatever way suits them.

I had come to this crossroad in a kind of funny way. See, Gloria – my long time long-arm quilter – parted ways with her equipment – and she retired. Actually, I think one of my denim quilts broke her machine and she saw it as a sign to quit! But she had a friend of hers finish what I had sent.

In the process, I think it wasn’t communicated to the newest quilter that I did the fold-over binding. You see, the quilt top needs to be centered onto the backing material or there isn’t enough material to fold over. So one of the quilts didn’t have the requisite material and I thought I would give (separate) binding method a shot. Someone in the online discussion had posted a good tutorial about how to do such binding, so I jumped in and completed this quilt in just that way.

Let’s just say that I am still not a fan. I purchased pre-fold binding and attached it to the back and then hand stitched the front. It was supposed to be invisible stitches, unfortunately my skill was somewhat lacking and invisible the stitches are not.  And it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to do the hand work and this was a small baby quilt. I couldn’t imagine working on some of the very large quilts I do… I think I could have been there for days!

Here is the baby quilt with the separate binding:DSCN3090

The backing is a solid pink and the binding is white, which I think gives it a nice contrast while still coordinating.

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And one more courtesy shot:

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Notice the last vestiges of our “blizzard” two days previous. I think we ended up getting like 3″ when they were predicting 2 – 3 feet of snow. Temps today reached into the low 50’s. And who said Mother Nature doesn’t have hot flashes!

Over the next week or so, The Kid and I will be doing some sightseeing. We are headed south (from Kansas City) and the ultimate destination is The Alamo in San Antonio Texas. I have uploaded all of my photos of the finished quilts and will post one every day while we’re traveling. I know I have been absent as of late, but I was just not feeling up to sitting behind a keyboard after being at the sewing machine most of the day. You understand, I know.

julie

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