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