May 23, 2017

Cozy 9-Patch

This lovely little 9-patch came for a few small repairs to the top and remedy for the very worn edges.  Originally, it had a knife-edge finish.  I added a binding as a way to cover all the wear along the edges most efficiently.

This quilt was made by Etta Metott Weaver, the current owner's great-grandmother, in the 1950s.  You can see another of her quilts in a post called A Complete Makeover.

Here are some of the lovely fabrics that Etta chose.

 scattered flowers in one of the blocks, plus a regular floral print in the alternate squares

a printed plaid

very typical 1950s print styles and colors

And then, there are conversation prints.  Conversation prints are prints that feature objects instead of geometrics or flowers.  I've been highlighting quilts with conversation prints in several previous posts.
faux patchwork, and kittens

tropical fish, parrots and a pineapple, and maybe a salt shaker and pepper grinders?

faux quilting

As a fun little aside:  The fabric below is from an Attic Windows quilt that I washed a couple of years ago.  It's the same design concept but with different flowers.  That quilt has the embroidered date - 1959.

 All in all, this quilt is a nice snapshot of fabrics of the 1950s, and a comfortable, cozy quilt.

May 15, 2017

It's Mend It May!

The other day, I discovered via Instagram that there's a tag for #menditmay where people share their mending adventures!  So, I'm taking this moment to pass along the links about mending that I've been coming across.

Mending used to be much more the norm back when many things were made by hand and were much more precious.
I love investigating old repairs.  Here's some old darning on a lovely Edwardian day dress.

I'm so intrigued by the creative new efforts to bring mending and repair to a more solid and important part of how we live our lives.  This is, after all, how I make my living, i.e. repairing quilts and clothing.  And I'm also very dedicated to living with a smaller footprint, which includes changing away from the "throw-away" economy. 

1.  I'll start with a philosophical piece on Tom van Deijnen's blog in which he and Sarah Corbett discuss mending as activism.  Sarah is creator of the Craftivist Collective whose motto is "Changing our world one stitch at a time…"  Tom says:
If you have concerns about social or political issues, but, like me, you’re not a very outgoing or confrontational person, then you’re sometimes left wondering whether there’s anything you can do in a way that feels more true to who you are.

2.  Next, two articles which showcase Sweden as a hotspot for setting up structure and venues to support and value repair over buying new.

The World Economic Forum recently published an article entitled "Sweden is paying people to fix their belongings instead of throwing them away."  Here are a few quotes from the article:

To combat its ‘throwaway consumer culture’, Sweden has announced tax breaks on repairs to clothes, bicycles, fridges and washing machines.

We don’t anticipate that this will make people avoid buying things overall, but hopefully it will be easier for people to buy high-quality products because they know it’s affordable to have them fixed if something breaks. 

And we also know that repairs are more labour-intense than production, which has been largely automised, so expanding repairs could actually contribute to an expanding labour market and a decrease in unemployment.

Wow, they've thought of lots of potential benefits.  I'm excited to see how it goes!

3. And "Sweden Opens World’s First Mall for Repaired and Recycled Goods".  This sounds heavenly to me!

The facilities contain both a recycling center and a shopping mall. Customers can donate the items that they no longer need, then shop for something new – all in one stop.

The center also includes a café and restaurant with a heavy focus on organic products, as well as a conference and exhibition facility complete with a specialty school for studying recycling.

The center, which is operated by the local municipality, has benefitted the local economy by creating 50 new repair and retail jobs, and providing space for private start-ups and local artisans.

4. And links to other repair venues that I mentioned in a previous post about why I like to mend things:
The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again
Home Repair Café

Here are a few photos of creative mends I have made.  The vintage clothes are from Basya Berkman Vintage Fashions.

Rather than replace the zipper, I crafted a new zipper pull with earring findings and pearls.

I added more beading to hide the snags in the bodice of this wedding gown.

This dress had a permanent stain on the bodice.  I covered it with ribbon and added more ribbon to the bow so the bodice ribbon wouldn't look so out of place.


This family heirloom quilt suffered an ironing disaster, ending up with a hole through all three layers.  The owner asked me to add an embroidered dedication to the patch.  (This quilt is super interesting.  The owner also has the diaries of the quiltmaker that detail the process of making the quilt.)

And finally, a family heirloom quilt that was literally in pieces, many of which I was able to rescue and rebuild the quilt. 

May 4, 2017

Amish-made Sampler Quilt


This quilt was a wedding gift, much adored, and came to me in need of some patching.  The needlework is marvelous, which after all is something Amish quilters are famous for.  This is a quilt made for sale, not at all in the traditional style of the antique Amish quilts.  Repairing it required that my needle skills stay on par with those of this great quiltmaker!

I couldn't get the whole quilt flat for the photo in my living room.  So you have to use your imagination a little bit.  Here's a rotated shot that may be kind of dizzying, but helps me explain.  The bottom and right side edges have the same deep white scalloped border and red binding that you see on the left edge.  At the top of the quilt is the pillow tuck with a straight edge.

Most of the repairs I did are in the basket block and the distelfink (birds) block on the right, and also some rebinding of the scallops alongside those blocks.  This area has been sun-faded, which has weakened all the fabrics in that area. 

And now we can return to normal gravity!

The quilt is dedicated and dated with machine embroidery.  It was specially ordered for this couple and made in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania.  I think this is one of the best town names ever, by the way.  Besides these quilted hearts (on just the three scalloped edges, the pillow tuck has only the parallel lines), there are plenty of hearts in the sampler blocks as well.  Such a romantic quilt!

Here are some examples of how grand the needle work is.  Those perfectly round grapes are 3/4" in diameter.  The logs are 1/2" wide.  And the Whig Rose is intricate and delightful.

In the distelfink block, the dark red tulip pieces were torn.  I knew that they hadn't been appliquéd as two separate pieces in the first place, and that it would be very tricky to mend them that way.  I carefully lifted up the white center piece, applied one complete red piece, and restitched the white center on top.  It worked quite well, if I do say so myself.

Here are a couple of shots of some of the other blocks, so you can see some more great stitching and some more of the fabrics.

And finally, a few shots that will let you see all the blocks a little better than in the big overview shot.

Once again, I've got to say that the variety of quilts I get to see and spend some time with never fails to inspire me.  And also, I get to meet the nicest people!  It seems that anyone who has a quilt touch their heart enough to want to really take care of it is by definition a wonderful person!

April 30, 2017

There's A First Time For Everything

So yesterday about noon I was sitting at the computer doing Stuff when the doorbell rang.  There stands a delivery guy with a huge bouquet of flowers.  I'm all prepped to direct him to whichever house he's really looking for, because there are a couple of addresses that always get confused with ours. 

And then - he said my name!  How bizarre!

I brought the flowers in, and found this card.

Now honestly, my customers are all very lovely, but this is the very first time someone has sent me flowers! 

Aren't they gorgeous?!  What a stunning color combination!  Quilt inspiration alert!  I am still a little bit in shock - a happy shock for sure! 

April 25, 2017

Fun With Stripes

If I was writing a catchy newspaper headline it might read something like this:

Local Quilter Inspired by Late Night Stitching Session!

I'm working on another little piece for my Something From Nothing series, this one to be part of a show you'll hear more about soon where the size limit is just 12".  I'm making this piece using just this one really cool striped fabric.  (You can see that I used a little bit of it in a previous quilt in the series.)

The photo above shows the pieces pinned to muslin so I could be sure (or more sure at any rate) that the stripes would end up heading in the direction I meant them to.  I started the piecing process with the center four triangles.  (And yes, the gold stripe is made with metallic threads.)

When I turned it over and pressed the seam allowances open, here's what I got:

Is that not just the coolest effect?!?!

Quite happily, I've got plenty more of this stripe.  So now my mind is buzzing about how to turn it into another little piece showcasing the "wrong" side!

More to come on this striped adventure - I hope!

April 19, 2017

A Perfect 1930s Double Wedding Ring

I call this a perfect quilt, because it is just what a 1930s quilt is all about.  There's the popular Double Wedding Ring pattern.  There's the wide range of 1930s prints and soft colors.  There's great quilting. 

It currently belongs to the maker's granddaughter.  It was pieced by Martha Streitmatter, and quilted by the sewing circle at her church in Princeville, Illinois.

There's also a fun (at least I think it's fun) story about the repair work that I did before I washed the quilt.

A short while ago, I posted about a 1930s sampler quilt that I had great fun repairing.  There was one block that I found really disappointing, though, because there was no damage to that fabric.  What an odd thing to say, right?  Well, I own the exact same vintage fabric, but didn't get to experience the joy of using it.

So when this quilt came along with one particularly weak fabric in pretty much the same color combination and size of print, I jumped at the chance to use my "neglected" fabric.

Sometimes, the strangest things can make me very happy!

April 13, 2017

A Complete Makeover

This poor little quilt has been "through it".  The quilt is currently owned by the great-granddaughter of the quiltmaker.  She sent me this history:

The quilt was made by my great grandmother, Etta Metott Weaver, most likely in 1950 or 1951. She made a quilt for each grandchild (including the grandsons) when they got married. My mother, Jane Weaver, was Etta's granddaughter and she married in 1951. Therefore, I imagine the quilt was made for my mom in 1950 or 1951.

I couldn't find a name for the block, so I am dubbing it Capital O, at least until I learn otherwise. 

She sent these photos of the quilt's condition.  Yes, this is just a top and back, no batting.  It looks to me like someone took it apart to fix it up, and then realized they didn't quite know how to proceed!

Here's what the owner and I decided to to.

I took off the two significantly damaged sides of the top.  Let me just state here that changing a quilt this much is something that I rarely do.  I try as hard as I can to keep to the original intent.  But this was just tooooooo far gone.  I took off the sashing strips on those sides as well, so the edges would be the same on all four sides.

I marked the portions removed in the photo below.  I also marked a mend I made to the remaining quilt top.  The red plaid fabric of the O in the block at the center bottom was badly torn.  I was able to patch over it with the green O from the right hand side since the background fabric was the same.  I took off the octagon with its center and appliquéd it over the torn red octagon.  I salvaged another piece or two from the edges to patch other spots that needed help.

Because I'd made the top smaller, I was able to position it on the back fabric to avoid one of the major rips and also had enough extra fabric to mend the other.

Then the quilt was tied and bound:  I chose a lightweight poly batt instead of a cotton or blend, because the fabrics are so delicate.  For the ties, a size 5 perle cotton in a strong dark pink similar to the original.  And the near-perfect-match binding fabric is a lovely organic cotton found by my husband's eagle eye.  It's from JoAnns, super soft and lovely to work with.  I think it would drape beautifully in clothing, plus be super comfy on the skin. 

Here are my great helpers, Maggie and Hanna.  I've known these two for years from the youth theater company I used to costume for.  They love to sew and helped with costumes several times.  They came to help me get the quilt in the frame because I'm nursing a broken foot back to health.  They stayed on and on until we'd set in all the ties which was way more than I'd expected.  And they were laughing and totally enjoying it all the way through.  The best helpers ever!

And.....the final appearance.  Quite an incredible makeover, if I do say so myself.  The green O that I moved is in the center bottom row.

And finally, a few close-ups of some of the fabrics.  Of course!

Here's the O that I moved.  I happen to love the background fabric.  I keep imagining it as a lace, maybe a lace curtain would be nice.

Homey floral plus cute multi-colored dots.


After a long time, I've figured out that the text probably used to say "Home is where the heart is."

And here are two prints from the borders that I removed.

This is cheater cloth (printed, faux patchwork) on the back, spool of thread for scale.

Welcome back to the world, little quilt!  Keeping heirlooms alive is one of the great joys of repairing quilts!