Friday, December 30, 2011

Double Wedding Ring Quilt - all done except binding

I have been working off and on, on my Great Aunt Laura's Double Wedding Ring quilt since summer. I posted a number of pictures a few months ago as I started work on quilting this top. As far as we know, this top was completed by my Grandma's sister in about 1931. The top has been stored in my Aunt Marg's sewing from since the early 50's.

The fact that the top was stored for more than 60 years definitely made for some challenges in keeping the quilt square. The other challenge - the biggest challenge - was that I do not, at this time in my quilting life, have the skills necessary to do this beauty justice.

Knowing that when I started this quilt, I decided that 1) I was not skilled enough to do a custom quilting job; 2) I most likely will NEVER have the skills necessary to custom quilt a double-wedding ring quilt and 3) if I put it in a bag and put it away, it was going to sit for ANOTHER generation as just a top. I really think Aunt Laura would want me to finish this quilt, even if I could only do a less than wonderful job.

So, I finished it..... I know, it's not finished until it has a binding and a label. But, I have never done a binding with a scalloped edge. I know that I am going to need to make about a mile of bias binding and from there... ? - I need to do some research and see what I need to do. Here are some pictures of the quilt before I tackle the binding.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My quilt guild, The Silk City Quilters, held their annual quilt show today. We had so much fun! It's a lot of work setting up a quilt show, but many hands make lighter work. Each of the visitors that came to our show was given a ballot to vote for their favorite quilt. We as a guild, had also been given a challenge to make something black, white and one other color. There were quilts, tote bags, wall hangings and even pictures. Visitors also voted for their favorite challenge quilt.

Judy Rowley won the first place viewer's choice with her quilt made primarily of fabric selvedges. It is indeed awesome! I know for a fact that Judy's selvedge quilt also took a blue ribbon at our county fair this year!

Second place was ME! What fun! I entered my Springtime Magic (spring green) my purple, teal and white Shakespeare in the Park and a t-shirt quilt. I also did a Queen size quilt for the black, white and one other color challenge.

Tina won the challenge with her amazing fabric picture. (Yes, this is all fabric).

We also showed the quilts that we have made for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. This year's theme was Dr. Seuss Cat In The Hat. We all started out with the same fabric panel and built our quilts from there. These quilts will all be auctioned off at a community tea with the proceeds going to pay for books for Dolly Parton's program.

Also on display were some of the 160+ pillowcases that we have made to be donated to the local RAVE house (domestic violence center for women and children), the wheelchair quilts and bags for the local nursing homes and the quilt we make as a group to be raffled for the benefit of the Silk City Museum.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

T-shirt quilt or t-shirt tent

(Sorry the picture on the bed is sideways.) This is positively the largest t-shirt quilt I have ever done. My shoulders will need several recovery days! It was, however a labor of love as the t-shirt collection belonged to my son-in-law. One Christmas present is done! If you see him, don't tell him that these pictures are here!

It looks as though this is just about the largest quilt that I can do on my HQ16 frame! I do have to admit that the quilt was placed on the frame sideways so that I only had to deal with the seam in the backing on one pass instead of making the adjustments for every pass.

Most of the time, when I make t-shirt quilts I use the method taught by Andrea at Too Cool T-Shirt Quilts . I highly recommend that you purchase her book if you are interested in making a quilt from t-shirts. I love the fact that you do not use any stabilizer on the backs of the shirts, so the quilt stays soft.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

template problem solved by local glass shop

I finally decided that I had to have some rulers that would help me to accurately quilt the arcs on Great Aunt Laura's Double Wedding Ring quilt. Not knowing if I would ever be quilting another
double wedding ring quilt, I hesitated about purchasing specialty long arm rulers to the tune of $70.00! So, off to the local hardware we went. Warren at Gilroy's GotIt in Ionia is a Saint! He has cut a number of cutting templates for me from plexiglass, but once he heard what I was trying to do, wasn't sure that plexiglass was going to be thick enough to keep my hopping foot from jumping the ruler and thus throwing my machine timing off.

So, he sent me on to Bert's Glass for a piece of Lexan Polycarbonate. This stuff is amazing, it is about 1/4 inch thick and perfect for a quilting ruler. I had used my AccuQuilt GO! cutter to cut a perfect double wedding ring arc and melon from a piece of cardstock. I took these cardstock shapes and my $6.00 piece of Lexan back to Warren at the hardware store. Warren was able to perfectly cut my shapes out of the Lexan and YIOLA! A perfectly shaped and sized arc and melon shape to use as rulers. A big plus? Warren said "no charge".

I am so happy with my local guys for helping me out. Now I'm going to be able to put that huge double wedding ring back on the frame and finish it.

Here is a picture that shows the cardstock shapes that I cut out with my AccuQuilt GO! and the double wedding ring die along side the pieces of Lexan that "Warren the hardware guy" cut for me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

3 little nap quilts for 3 little boys

I needed to hurry and get that double wedding ring quilt off the frame so that I could get busy making "rest quilts" for my three little grandsons to take to kindergarten/pre-school. Picking the fabric was pretty easy. Big trucks for Braden, trains; specifically Thomas the Train for Alex and Buzz Lightyear for Avery. A marathon sewing session over the last few days netted these three little quilt tops. Tomorrow I will quilt and get started on the binding. I know that they are in a hurry to get these little quilts to take to school, so I need to keep working on them.

(I can hardly wait for Avery to figure out that his name is embroidered in GLOW IN THE DARK thread).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Work continues on Aunt Laura's Double Wedding Ring quilt

I spent another 5 hours with Great Aunt Laura's double wedding ring quilt top today. I am finding out that 80+ years is not so kind to fabrics - especially those cut on the bias. There are no two blocks the same size and no two melons the same size. It makes for some interesting quilting. It will not be perfect and it might not even be very pretty when I am finished, but it will be done and I think that Aunt Laura would like that.

I can't even imagine what I am going to do to get this beauty washed once I am done quilting and binding it. It does have a bit of a stale smell and my hands are getting a bit dirty working with the fabric so I know that I will need to wash it. I am also finding some very weak spots where the top was folded for years and years. These are creases that are probably not ever going to come out. At this point in time, I think it's important to get the whole top "nailed down" to some batting and a back to prevent any further deterioration.

I am doing the center blocks in a rose motif. Great Aunt Laura and her husband Uncle Vic were very active in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Rose Society. She had a beautiful rose garden where she lived on High Street in Lowell, Michigan. I have very fond memories of my visits there.

Back to the quilt.... I do not think that I have the skill to do all of the stitch in the ditch sewing that needs to be done on all of the arcs. I also do not have - or know if one even exists - a template or curved ruler that would help me with this part of the quilting. Once the center block rose motifs and all of the "melons" are quilted, I am going to take the quilt to my regular sewing machine and do all of the outline stitching. It will be lots harder than doing it on my HQ16 quilting machine, but at least it has a better chance of being straight and actually close to "the ditch".

Also taking the quilt to my domestic machine (a Babylock Ellisimo) will get the quilt off the frame quicker. Last night I received a phone call from one of my grandsons. He is 5 and just starting school. He explained to me that he needs a "nap quilt" for school like the ones that I made his older sisters. It needs to be "about 3 feet wide and about 8 feet tall". It also needs to be "orange, green and red". It also needs to have his name on it. This is a task I'll happily undertake (even if I don't make it 8 feet tall), but I will need to get the double wedding ring off the frame so that I can put little Alex's quilt on and quilt it.

How am I supposed to get this melon flat? I ended up scootching extra batting up under there to take up some of the fullness. :-)
My ankle has had enough standing for today. Tomorrow after my Aqua Fit class at the Y, I'll get at it again.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Great Aunt Laura's Double Wedding Ring Quilt top

This past weekend, I was given, by my Aunt Marg Hart, my Great Aunt Laura's Double Wedding Ring quilt top. The top - pieced by Great Aunt Laura in about 1931, was given to my Aunt Marg approximately 60 years ago. Aunt Marg told me that she doubted that she was going to get around to finishing it, so was giving it to me to finish. I'm thrilled!

The quilt top is HUGE for a quilt top made in the early 20th century. It measures 90 inches by 104 inches. That would have generously covered any full size bed with lots of hang on either side. It also would have tucked nicely up under and over pillows at the head of the bed.

The Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern was first published in 1928. However,
the flood gates opened in 1931 with a dozen or so publications illustrating the Double Wedding Ring and selling its pattern--Successful Farming, the Mountain Mist batting wrappers (pattern 21 ©1931), Woman's World, Nebraska Farmer, Missouri Ruralist.

I am going to guess that my mid-west great aunt (from Michigan) most likely used one of these patterns - thus my guestimate that her quilt was made c. 1931. I also find that the original pattern for the Double Wedding Ring instructed the quilter to sew the arcs of the ring to the center piece by stitching them down from the top, like an applique rather than the classic method of stitching the arcs to the center piece . This is indeed the way this top is constructed.

The numerous pieces found in this gorgeous quilt are predominately feed sack type fabrics. Colorfully printed sacks made to contain animal feed, flour, sugar, etc. were popular in the 1920's and the 1930's. The lady of the house collected these sacks to use for sewing clothing as well as quilts. Many a housewife gave her husband specific details about the sacks that the feed needed to come home in. However, both my mother and my aunt tell me that they do not remember seeing feed sack fabrics in their home. Their animal feed was grown on their farm and they took their grain to the mill to be ground into flour. The flour always returned in the same beige fabric sacks.

Both Great Aunt Laura and Grandma McPhee spent time as young ladies working in the city for the rich people doing child care, cooking, sewing and working as nannies. They worked as a "team". I suspect that the colorful feed sack fabric as well as the smattering of fabrics that don't really seem to belong there (satins, silks and brocades) probably were scraps from the sewing done for the families that employed them.

Both my mother and my Aunt Marg remember that Grandma and Aunt Laura worked for a rich family by the name of Hanchett in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They also remember hearing about the work that they did for "a judge" in Saginaw, Michigan. The research that I have done this far does show a wealthy family by the name of Hanchett in Grand Rapids during that time frame. They lived in a large home "with 5 chimneys" in the area of Grand Rapids now known as Heritage Hill. I have not yet been able to locate the name of a judge who would have lived with his family in the Saginaw area during this time frame.

Before I started thinking about quilting this antique top, I wanted to be sure that putting a new back on the quilt, using modern cotton batting and machine quilting the piece was not going to destroy the value of the top.

Quilt historians and quilt restoration specialists encourage those faced with this question to determine if the quilt top is a one-of-a-kind museum type piece, beautifully constructed and original or is it one of hundreds made of any given pattern. Once you add new batting, backing and thread to an antique quilt top, you have a - quilt! Nothing special to anyone but the person that owns the piece.

If it is a museum piece, it should not be quilted. It is worth more as an antique quilt top. Otherwise, the quilt's value is determined by the person that owns it. This quilt top is worth LOTS to me, but it is probably not a museum piece. It is one of many double wedding ring quilt tops made - I think that Aunt Laura would want me to finish it! So, I am going to give it my best shot. Now on to determining just HOW I am going to finish this quilt.

History of the Double Wedding Ring

Friday, September 16, 2011

Completed Customer Quilts

Two more queen-size customer quilts completed - and they are gorgeous. One of the quilts, I understand, is going to live with my customer's daughter in Georgia so I used a Hobbs 80/20 batt making it a little lighter in weight. The other quilt is going to stay in Michigan where winters can be brutal. I used a Warm and Natural 100% cotton batting for this. It is definitely heavier than the Georgia bound quilt. The lighter of the two quilts - the autumn squares is quilted with an edge to edge tapestry design. The log cabin is heavily feathered. Wilda S. always does beautiful piecing so quilting is such a joy! Both of these could certainly find homes with me!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Summer fades to Autumn

Looks like our beautiful Michigan summer is fading into autumn. However, there is nothing "faded" about a Michigan autumn.

I have been busy, busy, busy quilting customer quilts. Once quilters are finished with their summer garden and lawn chores, thoughts turn back to quilting! This past week finishes for several memory quilts as well as some more traditional quilts were seen. All of this worked in with my summer canning.

I don't need to can anymore. My children are all grown and my DH is quite happy with the juices and vegetables that DelMonte and the Jolly Green Giant have available. However, I feel like I get better quality from the things that I do myself. Tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, chili sauce, pickles and peaches all have a home on the shelving unit in my basement.

Enjoy the last days of summer everyone! Fall is on it's way.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crib quilt based on child's painting

Several months ago, a very dear niece of mine requested a very special quilt for her baby due in November. She asked if I could make a quilt for her new baby based on a painting done by her husband's little sister Gracie, shortly before Gracie died of a brain tumor at age 8. The plan is to use the painting as a focal point in the nursery. Here is a picture of the painting and since I have never seen the actual painting - this is what I had to base the quilt on.

Now, I am not an art quilter. I like traditional patterns and traditional fabrics. I live 1930's reproduction fabrics as well as civil war type fabrics. I don't have a single piece of boldly colored fabric in my whole stash.

So, the first thing I needed to do was to ask my on-line quilting friends for advice. Then I asked a few of my local quilting friends. And then I went shopping.

There is a wonderful little quilt shop down the road from me run by a delightful little Amish lady. She has shelf after shelf of beautiful batiks for less than $5 per yard! What a find! The name of the shop is Miner Road Fabrics and it is just outside of Carson City, Michigan. She doesn't have an on-line shop and I can only envision her taking mail orders to the post office by horse and buggy!
This is definitely a "visit in person" kind of shop!

I thought I needed to use batiks to get the rich, full colors as well as the depth and movement that batiks give. Once I had the fabric that I thought would work, I agonized about the design. As I said - art is not my forte! I finally decided to just mimic the drawing. I hope both mommy and baby will love the finished quilt.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Red Wings T-Shirt quilt

This gorgeous t-shirt throw used to be my brother-in-law's collection of Detroit Red Wings Hockey t-shirts. I hope he is going to love it! He gave me the big bag full of t-shirts this last spring and told me to "do what you do as soon as you can stand long enough to work on it" to make it into a quilt.

Now that I am standing for longer periods of time - up to an hour or so - and as long as I take frequent breaks to elevate my leg, I am able to work on projects like this. As a little side note - the edges on this quilt are NOT that wavy. I should have taken more time to straighten out the quilt before I took the picture. :-)

I also got a chance to give my little granddaughter the Molly Mine purse that I made with my embroidery machine. It was truly a big hit. She never put it down all day. She even took it with her to the Detroit Tiger baseball game that night. The gate person asked to look through MY bag when we entered the stadium. When he asked her if he could look at her bag, so responded, "no thank you".

And, her mother tells me that she slept with it as well as bringing it down with her in the morning. That makes it all worth while!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oak Leaves in the summer

Summer continues and we have had hot, hot, HOT weather in our neck of the woods. Luckily a cool basement level makes sewing and quilting bearable. This afternoon I finished "Oak Leaves and Reel", a panel quilt by Terry Clothier Thompson for Moda. I have had this quilt panel and all of the accompanying fabrics for this quilt for at least 3 years. So, I decided it was time to make it up. I did echo quilting around all of the leaves and acorns in the borders as well as treating each panel block seperately. The quilt is ready for a binding and as soon as I finish that, I will move on to my brother-in-laws requested t-shirt quilt made out of his collection of Red Wings t-shirts.

Thursday, June 30, 2011