Dresden Refurb

I’m pretty sure I took on this project in April, or maybe March of this year. A friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in fixing a quilt for her. She brought it for me to look at and I thought I could do something with it. I had seen on a blog by Rhona Dort “Mostly about things I Create” other transformations of older quilts being made into useable ones. I figured it would be work, but interesting and possibly fun.

I took the quilt home and I “evaluated” it, wrote down every thing I thought it needed and shared the list with the owner. I think this quilt was made in the seventies, and possibly finished/added to in the eighties.

What I ended up doing was

  • First I took the top and backing apart and discarded the batting. The batting was polyester and in half of the quilt it was doubled. There was hand quilting around each plate and in the centers. The borders had been sewn on as if the maker was doing a quilt-as-you-go type quilt. The seams were sewn together onto the batting with the backing underneath. There were three borders, much of which had sun damage. The maker also folded the edges together and whip stitched them to create the edging, there was no binding.
  • The 20 blocks had been made by machine sewing the plates together, then hand appliquéd to the backgrounds. The background fabric was like a muslin, or just white cotton. It was stained and “aged” with a patina. Also, the maker had used a dark green/black fabric for plate blades that had bled into its neighbors and the backs. I carefully removed the fan blades from the backing, I felt a little bad about removing all those hand appliqué stitches. I found a few shattered and very worn blades, but most were in pretty good shape.
  • I washed the quilt backing, also a muslin type, three times, to see if I could get it looking clean. I thought I could use it to replace the block backings, and keep the vintage look of the quilt top. The fabric definitely got cleaner, but the hand quilting stitches had left large holes and they didn’t close up. I also found a few paint spots on it :). I resorted to using Bella eggshell for the block backings. Oh, I forgot to mention that some of the blocks were 16″ and some were 16 ½” and some were a bit more off.
  • I carefully hand washed the blades and pressed them. I reassembled the plates, replacing the broken, faded and bleeding blades as needed. I found the perfect yellow vintage calico to replace some of the center pieces. Most of the replacement blades are from my 30’s fabric stash. I sewed them onto the block backing doing the centers first and then the plates on top. I used a blanket edge machine stitch with matching yellow thread for the centers and off white for the edges. It was difficult to keep the centers the same sizes, I think it had something to do with the way the circles stretched or the blades weren’t uniform in size. I was aiming for a 6″center though.
  • Once I had all the blocks “fixed” I put them together and added three new borders, yellow, blue and pink/red.
  • I decided to quilt it with the Gingham Posies pantograph. I used an eggshell colored polyester thread on top and a a similar color that blended with the backing (beige with tan cross hatches).
  • The binding may match the backing, or I’ll go with a slightly tan.

I definitely underestimated how much time and effort this quilting project would be. I think I spent about 60 hours total, way more than the 12 or so I thought in the initial look-see. It did become a labor of love though, love for the craft, and admiration for the maker before me. It was interesting to discover the methods and compare them to todays ways. This quilt lasted a long time as it was, and I hope that it will live on to be useful again.

Be Kind.

More blocks and tops

Last night I finished the Ancients/Dragon quilting, just need to bind it now. Then I can get the Dresden plate quilt on the frame. I have been trying to pick between two quilting designs for it, a cabbage rose end to end or a gingham posy one. I have to attach the three borders first, so that’s on my to-do list for today.

They are similar, I think the posy one is cuter, but the roses are a bit more mature.

I thought I had a photo of a quilt with the gingham posy on it, but its on Instagram. This is NOT my quilt, but the gingham posy is quilted on it.

I finished the three blocks for A Ribbon Runs Through it BOM, from June, and started on the blocks for the sashings. Lots of three part HSTs, 192 and that’s only half of them. They finish at 2 ½ square, and there are six in each sash piece. This week had a lot of chain piecing, and squaring up. I think I need to sew the July blocks for the Reunion BOM, I can’t remember if I did or not. Just checked and I did, Yay! So many projects and so little time. I need to design a Star Wars quilt for a commission. I have a slew of fabric that was sent to me. It is mostly blue, grey, black and white, lots of storm troopers. This is a two sided quilt and I am leaning towards a medallion style pattern.

Three more blocks for the “Ribbon Runs Through” quilt

Last week I finished two baby quilt tops, used up two panels I had bought last year. I had just enough of the polka dot fabric to make them work. I tried to find more of it, but it is out of print, it was very adaptable to popular color ways. It has dots of green, orange, tan, blue, brown and yellow on a white background. I have a few more panels to make up, including two baby monthly charts that should be easy and quick.

Todays task is to sew those borders on the Dresden plate quilt.

Be Kind.

There be Dragons

I finished up “The Ancients” dragon quilt top this week. It’s a kit by In the Beginning fabrics, I think it is a Jason Yenter design. Simple enough, no triangles, only mitered corners in the borders. I got the backing together, mounted on the frame, just waiting for the black batting to come.

I finished stitching the last, of twenty, Dresden plate block yesterday. I had been waiting on more fabric for it, as I ran out of Bella Eggshell. I am now waiting on the three border fabric I ordered from connecting threads. They had a sale on a line of fabric called General Store 3, which is mostly calicos and 30’s prints. I got 4 ½ yards at about 6.00 a yard, I splurged and got a Halloween themed layer cake too.

I am thinking of joining a Sew-a -Long at Ivory Spring using a pattern from the magazine Quilters World. It’s called A Pumpkin a Day by Wendy Sheppard, I may just be able to finally use up all the Halloween Figs scraps. It starts on August 3rd, and the PDF magazine can be purchased at Annies Crafts. The magazine also has the pattern for Jo Kramers Frolic Leftovers quilt. Frolic was a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt from a few years ago. There were quite a few extra units made, because of the half blocks used and the color ways. I have them in a bin all ready to go for this quilt. I would like to get that quilt started this summer too.

I have made some progress on the Forever and Ever cross stitch piece. The Cardinals are done and the little house. I’d like to finish this in the next twenty days, as it is for a birthday present. I got a frame for it, I think its doable. I miss stitching on the Pilgrim though, I see it everyday, and I want to work on it.

In other news, the mother ship has landed in my back yard. Ugh, it needed to happen, as our septic tank is almost 60 years old. I am so glad I am not the one who has to dig the hole. Because of where we are, and how my back yard is made, it has to be hand dug. Four guys and their shovels, got halfway through yesterday. They’ll be back to finish on Monday.

Off to sew.

Be kind.

Deconstruction

There is a lot of deconstruction going on around here. My bedroom is half way done, my yard is a blank slate and this quilt is in pieces. Once I got all the parts apart, I could wash the backing and really see what I had to work with. The dark green blades of the plates were bleeders, they had to go. Then the backing of each block was stained and dyed by those bleeds, I ended up removing all the plates from their backings. As I did so I felt a bit sad that I was taking apart this quilt. The plates are sewn together with a machine, with very tiny stitches. The center yellow leaves are hand appliquéd then the plates on top of them. I think two different people worked on the hand stitching, as there are differences in the stitches and sewing techniques. One is a bit more refined and steady, while the other seemed to be in a hurry. There are also repairs that were made, again by another person. The thread is in better shape than the fabrics, I have to be careful when I pick them apart. I wash them in a bucket of soapy water, and they are brighter after, I guess 50 years of dust and skin oil adds up. I will iron them and replace the blades that need it, there are 20 per fan. Some of the yellow leaves have holes and thin spots, I found some vintage calico to use in its place. I am waiting for a few yards of 200 count muslin to arrive, then I’ll sew the plates on 16″ blocks. Once I get them all together, we’ll decide on a border fabric. I am leaning towards green, but blue or pink might work too. I’m not sure about what the client likes, so we’ll see.

I finished the twin size Cat quilt and sent it out to the buyer, I hope she likes it. She also bought the larger full size one I made last year. They match in colors and pattern, but the twin is the “Hey diddle diddle” line and the full is the “Catkin” line. This buyer also sent me a quilt kit to make for her, its an In The Beginning pattern called “Dragons the Ancients”. I hope this quilt pattern works, I have done some from them in the past, and they needed a little tweaking.

I have a few quilts of my own I wanted to start this summer. I got a kit for a Jacqueline de Jonge quilt called Enchanted Stars. Its paper pieced and very colorful. I also got all the fabrics to do a Swordfish quilt from Judy Niemeyer, as I also have the pattern for it. Two monster paper foundation quilts, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

I am posting this without photos, as it has been six days since I wrote it. The photos will come another day 🙂

Be Kind.

Summertime

I spent most of the first day of summer sewing blocks for the commission quilt. It was a hot day here, so staying in was a good idea. Work on my house and yard are continuing at a good rate. My yard is a vast expanse of dirt and my bedroom now has windows and a door. I am having 12 tons of base rock delivered today, can you say dust? I am so glad that I am not the one who has to move it all.

Back to the quilting. I need to make 4 more blocks today, I think I can do that.

Four days later…

I have a finished quilt top. I ended up adding another row of blocks to make it truly twin sized. When I cut the borders, I realized that the fabric print was eight inches wide, not eight and a half. Damn, the corner blocks were already made at that point, they are 8 ½”. Striped spacer to the rescue! I really like the pop of color that it adds to the border of this top. The final size is 86″ x 56″ , its for a twin bed.

Other than the quilt top, I haven’t done much sewing on anything else. I need to get some more quilting done on the Mrs. Miller quilt. If I can get the quilting of the HSTs done then I can do the bottom borders. Then I’ll take it off the frame, stitch the Commissioned quilt, and re-mount the Miller quilt turned so I can do the side borders. Thats my plan for this weekend.

With all the quilt making going on I haven’t been stitching much on my Cardinal cross stitch piece. I really want to have it done by August, for a birthday present.

Yesterday I went to a fun sort of thrift shop. Its called Fab-Mo and it is a place to find fabrics and all kinds of things for making fabric art, clothes, quilts, and collages. I spent 30.00 and got a bunch of “needed” things. I had seen in their newsletter that they had gotten in a lot of heavy duty canvas, it was about 50 inches wide and at 3.00 a yard, I splurged and got two yards. I also got some nice webbing, a few notions, a large piece of fabric suitable for a backing, a few vintage calico fat quarters, AND a stamped cross stitch piece that was mounted on a small sized scroll frame. I was so excited by the $3.00 price tag that I didn’t look at the embroidery until I got it home. I’m not sure I’ll be finishing that one anytime soon. Before I left the shop, I asked about donations, and they do take them, then I started cleaning out my sewing room in my mind. Maybe later this summer, I am imagining a great clean-out of bins and books and patterns. I have often thought of selling things, but, after all the time and effort needed to photograph, post, sell and send an item, it really doesn’t end up profitable. For instance, I have upholstery fabric that I’ll never use, that would be one empty bin.

Be Kind.

Where did the time go?

I think I have been busy I have much progress to show for the time, but not many words. I have been working on my BOMs, Reunion and Ribbon runs through it. I’m happy to report that I am caught up. For reunion I finished the 16 “different” blocks, they are different colors and same pattern. They have 117 pieces each, finish at 12 inches and take about 3 hours to cut, sew and put together. I was looking forward to starting the secondary blocks, all same colors and pattern, because I thought they would be easier. Alas, no. They have the same number of pieces, the difference being that they have a modified nine patch in place of the double flying geese. The centers are a bit bigger too, I was surprised when I counted that they had the same numbers.

The Pilgrim is making progress, I have been steadily working on it most evenings. Thankfully more stitching than ripping. I don’t have a side project, although that may change soon. I get a little bored stitching one color, so I have been doing smaller cross stitch pieces along with this large one. I have this Cardinal one kitted up, but I am not sure about the linen I have here for it. It is actually a woven hemp, that has been hand dyed. Its a 32 count, and the resulting stitchery would be too large for the frame I have for it. I ordered a few pieces of 36 count linen last week, I may change it out when that shipment gets here.

I started on the quilt restoration project. I carefully took the whole quilt apart, it was like an archeological project, it took me a few days. This quilt was made in the 70’s, with all the skills of that time. Some machine stitching lots of hand stitching, scissor cut fabrics, and templates were involved. For example the quilt was finished envelope style, after it was hand quilted in the center, the edges were turned in and invisibly hand stitched together. This is a large quilt, almost a queen size, I guess its akin to hand stitching binding, bleh. The borders were machine stitched on and the stitched in the ditch by machine. It seems to me that maybe the sewist did a sort of quilt as you go method. I must mention the batting, it was polyester, a decent grade of it too, but, for some reason, the quilter used two different bats, one was slightly thinner than the other, so it was folded in half and doubled. This made half the quilt heavier on one side, I was happy to get that out and separated. The backing fabric seems to be a poly blend muslin type. It is pieced, but not too much. There seem to be some seams that are industrial machine sewn. I am wondering if the fabric may have been curtain lining at one time. I washed it in my front loader, but it still looked dingy. I am soaking it in dish washer detergent and water now, it seems to be getting cleaner. The problem with quilts that have been used, is that they pick up skin oils, grime and dust and “stuff” that becomes one with the fibers. Rhonda Dort has an excellent tutorial about cleaning vintage linens at her blog Rhonda Dort . I would like to use this backing to replace some of the backing on the Dresden blocks. The dark green blades bled when this quilt was laundered and left ugly yellow stains. I am going to remove the green blades and repair and replace the blades that need it. Then I’ll resew the blades to the new/old backing. I am hoping that I can also wash these blocks once they are repaired, so they can be made into a new quilt. I am thinking of adding some sashing, and different borders. The lady to whom this belongs to, didn’t like the original brown, red and yellow borders, I am thinking a softer pallet may be better. Plus, the originals are faded on one half from the sun.

I have another commission for a twin size quilt too. Last year I made this quilt (above), Cats in the Stars, to use up my Julie Paschkis fabric stash, this client would like a similar one in a twin size for her son. As is the case with OOP fabric, finding it is tough. She has been scouring the internet here and in Canada, for pieces of the Catkin line and complimentary lines. She sends them directly to me, so I get these happy little packages of pretty fabric. I am awaiting the delivery of some solids and black fabric to start the scrappy stars, plus I do have the matching center cat panel left over. Hoping to get this one done quickly, and off to its new bed.

Cats in the Stars – before borders were added

I have purchased a bunch of fabric too. I bought all the batiks to make the Swordfish quilt from Judy Neyermeyer. There is a clearance/retirement sale still running at Batiks Plus, when I got mine it was 30% off, now it is 40%. I also bought a fabric kit to make the Enchanting Stars Pattern from Jacqueline de Jonge. It was on sale too, and I have the pattern already, so why not? So I have two monster sized quilts to make this summer, as well as finishing the two BOMs.

On top of that, we are replacing all the windows in our bedroom and redoing the landscaping in our back yard. Yup, going to be busy around here.

Be Kind.

Getting things finished

I have a bunch of finishes I accomplished in the past two-ish weeks. I am procrastinating though, by making and finishing things I am putting off starting a big commissioned project. The quilt is a Dresden plate that was made in the 70’s. Its got some shattered fabrics, a poly batting, hand quilting and machine quilting, and a bit of wonky-ness. I have talked with the customer and come up with a plan for it, even wrote it down, so I wouldn’t forget. I just don’t want to start it yet. The customer is in no hurry either, but I am at the point I want to get it done and out of my sewing room.

Things finished this month

  • Summer cross stitch – framed
  • Christmas Figs bound and finished
  • Four small quilts quilted and bound
  • Estrella quilted
  • Two pillow shams quilted and made
  • Table runner made
  • Sold four quilts (yay!)

I have another quilt on the frame, the Sew Kind of Wonderful pattern, called Posh Snowball. I’m using a Panto called Mr. Marbles, its coming together nicely.

I have been steadily stitching on the Pilgrims Progress, although I did start another small piece. I friend and I have a tradition of saying “Rabbit Rabbit” upon waking up on the first morning of a new month. We kid each other about it, and often forget, but when we do remember, its a lucky month. This piece is a gift, not only is it a rabbit piece, but its part of a monthly series by Ink Circle. This one is for June, my friends birth month.

I finally got my 4 month seven blocks together for the Reunion quilt BOM. There was a mix up in the cutting room and everyone got the wrong fabric, purple instead of pink. It was number 6 instead of number 9, I can only imagine how organized one must have to be when cutting these kits. I have to check and recheck the colors before I cut my pieces. Funny thing is that the other BOM I am doing, A Ribbon Runs Through, had a similar problem, but they just forgot to add a strip of a blue printed fabric. I had a little of it left from a previous month, but not enough for the block. They are sending it with next months kit.

Off to sew.

Be Kind.

Progress with the Pilgrim

Last month I posted a picture of my current cross stitch piece, Pilgrim Progress -by LongDog Samplers. I have been stitching a bit every day (almost every day:). The process is really starting to show, I have almost finished the four pages of pattern that go across the bottom. There are twelve pages in all, so I’m about a third done. This sampler(?) is still fun and engaging for me, all the interesting motifs, and geometric shapes, its easy to skip around and work on bits of something. Or if I want a little challenge, try to stitch something in its entirety, like the fox or rabbit.

Recently, LongDog came out with two new chart, that I bought, called Tap Dancers. It just appealed to me, the motifs and the story of it. Just look at the submarine and the little scene in the bottom right corner, fun! The description is below.

This design is a slightly tongue in cheek tribute to the British architect Richard Rogers who died in 2021. He turned architecture not just inside out but on its head too with his striking plans for the tubular Pompidou Centre in Paris, the vast Millennium Dome in London and the brash Lloyd’s of London building with its soaring atrium.

I am plugging along on the longarm too. It is working very well after its spa day and replacement of its upper tension assembly. I finished the Christmas Figs quilting, just need to bind it. It actually have the binding all ready to go, I made it when I finished the top, back in July 2019. I have two quilts done on this large backing and I am going to try to fit two more. This saves me time, not having to re-pin backings on, but it also makes it very easy to get four done in the time of one big one.

Four Corners 🙂

Off to quilt a bit.

Be Kind.

Shrinkage may occur

I last posted on 3/15, about my upcoming retreat to Empty Spools in Asilomar. I had a very good time, too much to go over in print. I communed with the quilting community, and had a few nice walks on the beach and through the town of Pacific Grove. I worked a lot on collage-ing too. The hardest part for me was letting go of the “paint-by-number” mentality, allowing the print of the fabric to do the textures and coloring. Susan Carlsen is a good mentor/teacher for this, she has a very encouraging way about her, to help you get the feel for collage and make it work. I have this photo of my owl, Trusty Friend. I still need to add some layers of tulle, and quilting.

Part of the Empty Spools program is to have a classroom walk about on the last full day. I get a lot of inspiration doing this and get to see a bunch of techniques and ideas to try on my own. Pricilla Bianchi was giving a class using her striped fabrics and Guatemalan woven fabrics. I took her class a while ago at PIQF, I bought a few ½ yard woven stripe patterned pieces at the time too. I can’t find the quilt blocks we worked on in class, but I was inspired to do another stripe quilt. Pricilla had this one with her, on display, and a few more on her website.

I really like the log cabin one, but I didn’t have enough of the “right” material to make it. The stripes, however, I did. I cut as many 3 ½” triangles as I could, and sewed them into squares. There were too many to lay out on my design board, so I switched to the guest bed. Once I got them together in a pleasing way, I sewed the diagonal rows together and added blue HST’s to the edges. This is where the “shrinkage” occurred, my final top size is 42 x 55. Its a good throw size, but I was kinda shooting for a full size, like the bed it was on.

I’ve been working on finishing the Christmas figs quilt currently on my frame. Yesterday I quilted the last block, now I just need to do the sashing, I am planning on computer stitched bead strings in each part. The outer borders are skinny too, only about two inches wide. I may just do parallel lines an inch apart.

Be Kind.

The Ribbon Quilt blocks

I started this BOM in January of this year, with the first four blocks. Then, due to some kind of supply/shipping issue, I didn’t get the February set until last week. I have been working on them this week, and realized that they have a lot of pieces and take a few hours to make. I counted the pieces, 115, which I probably shouldn’t have, but I figured out why it is taking so long to put these together. After seven of them, I have a system down, thankfully the instructions are easy to use and helpful. There are 16 of these blocks in total, and then 8 different ones. I think I have said this before, but I am glad this is a BOM, otherwise I don’t think I would finish it.

Speaking of long term projects, I am steadily stitching on the Pilgrims Progress Sampler. It is starting to look like something now. I have completed two pages, there are twelve in all, the small motifs and patterns are interesting to stitch. I like to have a goal each time I stitch, to do one, last night I did the bird cage and a bit of the lettering. I started to fall asleep (thanks to the hour lost thing) while stitching, which is not conducive to counting, so I packed it up. Generally though I do about 200 stitches in a session, not having to change colors makes it a little easier. Still have to count accurately though.

Aurifil #12 36 count Linen

I am really looking forward to my up coming retreat at Empty Spools next week. I have a class with Susan Carlson, Fabric Collage. We have already met in an introductory Zoom session, and talked over what we need to do before class and what we need to bring. No sewing machines will be used, as the process of collage-ing will most likely take all five days. I am using this Great Gray Owl photo as my inspiration.

The Great Gray Owl is a character named “Trusty Friend” in the novel “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr. I really enjoyed listening to the story, and due to the magic of the internet, Gray owls started popping up in my Pinterest feed. I had been searching for an animal to collage for a few months, when this photo came up. A magnificent bird, more pictures here, the eyes are really that yellow too. I’m thinking of bringing a suitcase full of fabrics, as I know I’ll be using lots of little bits to create the shadings in the feathers. Since I’ll be driving there, I can load up my car, and not have to worry about overweight bags and checking them. I may do a blog post from there, we’ll see.

Be Kind.