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.