Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Never too late .... change your mind.

I started this sampler quilt for my eldest daughter way back in 2003. My daughter was 1 and a 1/2 and we were on holiday in Australia. This was my first 'class quilt'.

The top went together quite quickly, but since I no longer had access to a quilt shop or classes, it hang around a long time waiting for backing fabric and quilting. Once I was ready to sandwich it, I decided to make the quilt a little longer. Enthusiastic about the 'get it done, not perfect' philosophy, I literally 'whacked on' a floral border top and bottom, then pieced together some strippy shirtings to lengthen the back. The top was sandwiched, basted and I began quilting. Summer came and the quilt went back in the cupboard.

When I pulled it out again this autumn, I suddenly noticed something. One of the blue and white fabrics in the back had a decidedly yellow tinge to it which stood out badly against the other blue and whites. How did I not notice that before? (I have since noticed that in bright light, the white reads whiter - in dimmer light the white reads cream). I thought about it a long time, deciding whether I could live with it, but seeing as that part of the quilt hadn't been quilted yet, I decided to replace both pieces of the toile.

The easiest thing would have been to applique a replacement strip over the top (this is what is recommended when repairing old quilts). But that fabric was one of my favourites - it seemed a pity to waste it.

I carefully unpicked the seam, folded the seam allowances under, slipped a new strip of fabric underneath, and applique stitched the surrounding fabric back in place. The quilting is going to be pretty dense, so I think it will hold. If not, I can always repair it - the quilt is staying at our house. This photo shows one the replacement pieces.

Now I am looking at those 'whacked on' border strips. I still have plenty of time before I quilt those - might come up with a pieced solution to substitute. This quilt has been such an odyssey as it is - no reason to finish it in a hurry now:)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

A change in the weather

Last night was the first really cold night of the autumn. Quilts come out around the end of September to decorate the house for my eldest daughters birthday, but we don't really need them until mid-October. I haven't finished any large bed quilts - the girls have their cot and crib quilts. This quilt is my four year old's favourite. She loves blue, like me.

This quilt came together really quickly. I had two very similar Italian shirtings (easy to come by  in Italy as many men have their business shirts custom made - but they are still frightfully expensive), some scraps of white cotton and a pale blue ticking given to me by my mother. I found them sitting near each other in my fabric  box and they just seemed so right together.

One of the blues has a fine black thread woven into it, and the other is a blue and white herringbone.

The backing is a lovely brushed cotton with a double blue pinstripe. It makes the quilt warm and soft. The batting is wool/polyester (probably Matilda's own), and the quilt is hand quilted with white thread.

This is the first time that I have done a Baptist fan pattern. I drew up a template with pencil and compass on some thin card, drew over the lines with a thick black marker, and then cut them out. Next time I would like to try larger fans, perhaps hand drawn.

I think I had this quilt somewhere in the back of my mind - it is one of my favourites and one I would love to make one day (Tree of Life - from Ljiljana Baird's book 'Quilts')

Perhaps because this quilt went together so quickly, I didn't notice until the top was finished that the corner stones run itno the outer border - not being able to think of any other solution, I left it as it was. I kind of like it.

This quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted. It measures 32 1/2" by 40". I will add the dates once I figure them out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dresden plate blocks

Machine pieced dresden plate blocks purchased on e-bay - I presume from the thirties or forties. None of them are the same size and some don't sit flat. I don't have any immediate plans to do anything with these but I love the colours and the odd combinations. I might just repiece the ones that don't lie flat and use them rest as are. I kind of like the craziness of them.

There are individual shots of the blocks in my flickr album.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

1930's string pieced Lone Star

This e-bay purchase was inspired by Ann  of  Ann Champion's blog  and Martha of Q is for Quilter, and their collections of antique and vintage quilt tops. This quilt top was advertised as of being feedsacks, but the fabrics appear (to me) to be dress fabrics.

The quilt top was not in great condition. Somebody had, at one time, sandwiched the star (there are no setting squares or triangles) with a thick polyester batting and machine appliqued it onto a pale yellow sheet and, apparently, used it as a bedcover or throw.

Some of the stains are probably age ones from the fabrics used being from used clothes, and some of the stains are new - like blue wax candles. Some of the fabrics are very faded and worn while some are in almost new condition. I assume that the maker used a combination of old clothes, and new dressmaking scraps. I believe that quiters coud also buy scrap packs in that period. In all there are about twenty small damaged pieces.

First I gave the whole thing a gentle soak in warm water with mild dishwashing liquid (with a few colour catchers thrown in). When it was dry I took the star off it's backing. Luckily it was machine sewn with a large zig-zag.

Then I made a template from one of the diamonds and used it to check that the outer diamonds weren't too damaged or frayed. Using the template I realised that no two of the diamonds were exacly the same anyway (perhaps because the quilt has been used and washed - or were they never precise?). Despite that, the quilt does lie flat.

I have gently folded under the outer edges and loosely basted them down to protect the edges from fraying any further. As many of the fabrics are thin, I am going to applique the quilt back onto a new sheet instead of using a setting fabric. That way if they wear there will be another fabric underneath to hold the quilt together.

I plan to replace the badly stained fabrics and the very worn ones, but some of the damaged pieces have just one very small (moth?) hole. I am considering just repairing them. I can always stitch a replacement over them later. Does anyone think that is a good/bad idea? I think I can darn the tiny holes with matching thread.

The curious thing about this top is that it does not have a homogeneous collection of fabrics. Some of the sections have very bright fabrics and some sections use much quieter fabrics. The stitching appears to be all done (by hand) by the same person. Perhaps she started off using her favourite bright fabrics and ended up scraping the scrap barrel at the end?  Two sections in particular are the most fadey, and strangely enough she didn't think of separating them with the brighter sections.
The nice thing about working on this top is enjoying all of the fabrics - there are so many to look at. They are so bold it makes me really curious to know what kind of clothes were in fashion at the time. Barbara Brackman has posted about housedresses from the 1930's here.

Ann Champion has a quilt top with the same design on her blog, and Bonnie from Quiltville and Tonya from Lazy Gal Quilting have both made modern versions of it (Tonya's top is actually posted on another blog - read the explanation here).