Sunday, June 28, 2015

PSA: Please don't wash antique quilt tops!

Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on antique quilts. The best I know is Barbara Brackman and there are many others that know more than me. Now here's my story:

Years ago (10?), my great-aunt gave me an antique quilt top made by someone in the family. She didn't remember anything about it. Most of the fabrics are from the 1930's, though some seem possibly older. It's a true scrap bag treasure. My great-grandmother was a quilter, so I'm hoping she was the quiltmaker, but there's really no way to know.

The pattern is Nosegay, and like most of the fabrics in it, is typical of the 1930's:

You can see that the edges are really wavy. All the patches on the edge of the quilt top are cut on the bias. There were no setting triangles or borders to contain the bias and they got really stretched out.

Here's a close-up of the bottom edge to show a little better how wavy it is, plus how the corners look like tear drops. 

Now here's a close up shot of the back. You can see that someone along the way washed it. The seams have raveled...a lot.

I repaired the open seams but you can see that the top is hand pieced and there is not a lot of seam allowance left in places because when the top was washed, so much of the seam allowance raveled up and went away.

Here's what I trimmed off the back. The pen is just to show you how big the wad of thread is. All of this should have been seam allowance helping hold the beautiful patchwork together.

It's understandable that old quilt tops are sometimes smelly and dirty, but if you're willing to go to the trouble to work on them and want to use them, then don't you want them to hold up as best as possible? Here's my advice: put them in a plastic bag with several dryer sheets and let them sit for a few days. This should take care of any smells. If it doesn't, put new dryer sheets in and give them a few more days. Please, please wait until after you have quilted and bound your treasure, then wash it.

I quilted this top in a simple but dense swirl pattern that gave me the flexibility to wander around as I needed to and reinforce trouble spots, and help hold everything together as well as possible. I don't personally feel that old quilts have to be either hand quilted, or quilted in motifs as they would have been in the era they were made. There are those who do feel that way, and that's fine, too.

After it was quilted, I trimmed off some of the wavy edges to try to make it a (little!) flatter but also try to preserve the half-block look of the design on the sides. I had some vintage 30's fabric a friend gave me that I used for the binding, and now instead of a top sitting in the closet, it's a full-grown quilt! And labeled with what little I know about it.

When it needs washing, I'll wash it by hand in the bath tub. It's too fragile to do anything else.

If you have an old family heirloom sitting around, why not pull it out and finish it up? There are some tops that may have been set aside because they had problems (like not laying flat! lol) or for any other number of reasons, but done is better than perfect, right? I'd like to think my great grandmother, or whoever set this aside way back when, is smiling right now.

Do you have an old top that's been passed down to you? Have you thought about finishing it?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Crockpot Spaghetti Update: The Power of Pinterest!

I'll admit I occasionally look at my blog stats. It's interesting to see if anyone is actually reading what I'm writing. And there's a place where I can see where people are finding me and clicking through. For example, on a normal day, mostly facebook. Or during a Bonnie Hunter mystery when I link-up to show progress, I'll get lots of hits through her blog.

Back before my big blogging sabbatical, I started getting lots of hits though Pinterest. That's weird; I'm not even on Pinterest. (I know...gasp!) It turns out one of my posts (Crockpot Spaghetti) got pinned and passed around, and back then it got something like 10,000 views! All for a simple (though totally yummy) dish:

So there are two updates. One is that it's now had over 41,000 views. Wow! And among some old comments awaiting moderation was this excellent suggestion: a much easier way to get the grease out of the ground beef is with a turkey baster. Great idea! I'm not likely to try it this week while the heat wave has me frying eggs on the side walk, but when it cools off, I'll be giving the turkey baster trick a try.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Do I Even Remember How To Blog?!?

Figure out what username I used for blogger, check. Reset my password, check. Find where to write posts, check. Remember how to insert a on the list. We'll see if I can figure this out, and if you're reading this, then yes, maybe I can remember how to blog! lol

If you know me in real life, then you know I've been through a divorce and a move back home to Georgia. After I moved, I spent almost exactly a year without any desire to quilt. I didn't freak out. I just waited patiently, knowing it would come back. And it did! Hooray! So here are a few highlights of what I've been up to lately:

First up is Sunburst. The quilt top was done as a round robin by several friends in an online quilt group a long time ago. I made the center Mariner's Compass block in a class with Judy Mathison, then the block got passed around and borders added as I added borders around blocks for them. The fabrics are hand dyed by my friend Susan and Dianne Dye in Roberta, GA did the beautiful machine quilting. I love how it turned out!

Next is this cute little Bunny sampler. I can't remember right now what I named it. I swapped these blocks with friends in an online quilt group several years ago and these are some of the blocks from the swap. Dianne Dye also quilted this one. There are carrots in the quilting! I got this done in time to hang for Easter this spring.

The last one for today is this Civil War Churn Dash quilt, also made from swap blocks with the same online quilt group. The setting is from Sharyn Craig's book "Great Sets" which is full of fun, creative ideas. I rented a longarm from Dianne to do the quilting on this one.

That's all for today's show and tell from me. What are you working on?

Thanks for stopping by!