August 26, 2014

First Prize Quilt



This surely is a "collector's dream" quilt.

It pretty certainly dates to the 1930s.  The peach and soft green were both new and popular colors at the time. I think the cream background is fairly close to the original color, i.e. not a yellowing of a truer white.


The appliqué and quilting are both masterfully stitched.  Actually, maybe I should say super fantastically out-of-this-world stitched.

Not surprisingly, this is a prize-winning quilt.

There is a rectangular area at one edge, about 1.5 by 2 feet, where the fabrics are generally worn.  The fabric may be slightly stained there, a bit of a yellowish tint, so maybe there was a spill of something that mostly washed out.  Washing it might help avoid further damage, but also always has the potential to cause more damage.  I would not attempt to wash a quilt of this value at home, and instead take it to a conservation lab.


I would never actually patch over this area either, because there is no way ever to reproduce the fabrics and workwomanship well enough to have a pleasing outcome.  The owner and I discussed having me put a layer of crepeline silk over the area, but in the end I decided against that, too.  Right now, the quilt is just going back into storage, so there is not going to be any stress or rubbing that could make matters worse.  Adding crepeline would add stitches and extra handling, and also would be more visible than the damage, as a lightening of the area.  The documented history of the quilt adds to the reasons to leave it alone.

The only thing this quilt really needs is to be re-folded periodically in different places, and to have the folds padded.  You can see the prominent creases from long-time storage.  Eventually, the fabrics will be more likely to break along creases.  So it's always best to leave the neat, orderly, housewifely folding behind, and re-fold often and randomly.  It's also highly recommended to pad the folds with acid-free tissue paper (available at conservation supply stores, such as Talas) rolled into"logs".  This avoids those sharp fold lines.
(The quilt measures 82" x 98", too big for me to spread out without moving furniture and too big anyway to get effectively all in the shot, so that's why the right edge is folded in.)

I posted about a vintage photo of some visitors at an Illinois state fair quilt display in 1947, a little later than this quilt, but it's fun to imagine the stir this one probably made at its public appearance.

I took this view of the quilt just so we can all imagine waking up on a gentle, sunny morning with this quilt spread over us and spring birds chirping.  Or maybe it's even better to imagine it on a grey, drizzly late winter morning when we need a little color and gracefulness to help us get out of bed.









August 21, 2014

Trip Around the World

This Trip Around the World quilt is a comfy cozy sort of quilt, don't you think?

Here's a cross-section close-up view of all the fabrics.

There were two squares with torn fabrics.  For both of them, I used the trick of flipping the patch fabric to the reverse side.  Sometimes this works really well to mimic the faded look of the older fabrics.  It totally depends on how the fabric was printed.  The reverse needs to have just the right amount of bleed through color from the front.

These photos compare swatches right sides up (at the bottom of the photos) to the reverse side completed patches.


And in this photo, I marked where the patches are.  I had lots of trouble finding them, and I'm pretty happy about that.  Goal achieved.


August 18, 2014

Embroidered Initials

This quilt dates to c. 1900.  This 4-patch 9-patch combination block would be a nice pattern for beginning quilters.

There are initials embroidered with a tiny stem stitch in most of the blocks.




This block has a previous repair - I can tell because I can see the appliqué stitches and the pieces don't always match up to the old seams.  The initials were covered over.

Here's a tiny patch that I did - I'm excited about successfully manufacturing a two-color patch across a seam!


August 14, 2014

Happy Summer Sailboats

Isn't this just the happiest quilt!  This is part of what makes repairing quilts so much fun - I get to have quilts like this come and visit for a while.

The combination of block designs and colors make this quilt a delightful rendition of being out on the water on a sunshiny day. (And yes, it does look like it was cut down at some point in its life.)

And isn't this interesting - an appliquéd Mariner's Compass.  Has anyone else seen one before?  I love that it's multicolored.  But these days I'm finding myself drawn to any design that uses the full spectrum, so that's not too surprising.

The repairs needed were patches of tears in some of the blue fabric, and also restitching some of the appliquéd compass points.  This block shows two ways I patched the blue:


One technique is the quarter-circle patch in the lower left.  I made the patch to fit inside the quilting lines to hide it better.  The other technique was used for smaller tears like the one on the center right side of the block.  (The red tip of the compass point to the right is sort of pointing to that patch.)  That was done with reverse appliqué, a small piece of fabric slipped inside the tear and the edges turned under and stitched.

I found an amazingly great color match!  This is how I justify the enormous fabric stash I have.  I keep everything.  The scrap that these patches came from was about 10" by 10", a very irregular piece left over from who-knows-what previous project(s).

I hang on to absolutely everything!  I have different bins: 19th century, turn of the century, 1930s-40s, 1950s-60s.  And now that I've been doing this for so long, the stuff that used to be my own palette is now vintage, my source for repairing the 70s-80s things that are starting to fall apart.

Oh, and here is the bright floral print that is on the back.

August 11, 2014

Art Deco Second Addendum

Well, here's another addition to my increasing knowledge Cleopatra's Fan, the Art Deco-style pattern on this quilt.  Here's what's gone before:
Original post
First addendum

A very astute and friendly reader of this blog scouted out and is sharing a couple of websites with us.

First link:  Robert Kaufman Fabrics has a free downloadable pattern.  Lo and behold, the quilt pictured is exactly the same as the kit on the Keepsake Quilting site which taught me the pattern's name.

The Kaufmann page taught me something new as well.  (This quilt is bringing me all sorts of new info!)  It looks to me like this page is selling fabrics for shops to buy in quantity to make kits.  In other words this is one way places like Keepsake Quilting get the patterns and fabrics for their kits.  I'd never given it much thought, but always kind of assumed that kits were made up by the shops.

It's great to see closeups of this collection of fabrics - they really are beautiful, aren't they?

Second link:  Sharlene Jorgenson has a great template set, and a video that demonstrates how to piece the block.  The video starts with a fun discussion of pros and cons of different ways to place colors and values in the block.  I'm always fascinated by how changing fabric placement can made the same patchwork pattern look like totally different blocks.

So, the Cleopatra's Fan saga continues!  Thanks, astute and friendly reader!  I am musing about what mine will look like.  It probably will be another in my set called Something From Nothing.

August 6, 2014

Art Deco Addendum


I posted about a week ago about the quilt I repaired with an Art Deco pattern that I couldn't name.

Yesterday morning, over breakfast, I was leafing through the current catalog from Keepsake Quilting, and came across a kit for this quilt:
  CLEOPATRA S FAN QUILT KIT
Keepsake Quilting kit #6253

Well!  I found it, didn't I?!  The pattern is called Cleopatra's Fan.

In my post I'd said, "I haven't found it in the pattern compilation books."  Well, I am now going to eat those words.  It is in both Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and Jinny Beyer's The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns.

The one in Brackman's book is shaped and proportioned differently (maybe that excuses me for not recognizing it?), credited to the Old Chelsea Station Needlework Co. a mail order pattern company founded in 1933.  The one in Beyer's book is just like these and is credited to the Cincinnati Enquirer , Oct 5 1934, under the name Laura Wheeler, a name that was used by the Old Chelsea Station patterns as well.  

So there it is!  Mystery solved!  I have loved everything about ancient Egypt since grade school, and in fact, that fascination is what led me to my degree in anthropology/archeology.  I didn't follow through on archeology as a career, but it certainly plays into my interest in quilt history and stories about quiltmakers.

Info on finding a pattern for this quilt is on a second addendum.

Methinks, I need to make a quilt in this pattern....  Egyptian Art Deco - sounds perfect for me!


August 3, 2014

Embroidery and Prairie Points

Next up in the quilt repair queue:  The stitching on this one, both the embroidery and the quilting, is really expert.  And then it has the prairie points giving a nice sparkle to the edge.  Try imagining the quilt without them; it really would lose a lot of spirit.


Sadly, this lovely embroidered quilt had an unfortunate interaction with the family dog.

Here's the repair step-by-step.

I traced the whole area including the embroidery and quilting that will need to be restitched.  And cut patches of the new off-white fabric.


I secured the ends of the broken embroidery threads.  Sometimes this entailed pulling out some good stitches, backing up enough to have enough thread to knot.  I also took out stitches which would be under the patches. This is perle cotton, so it's thick enough to make it difficult to sew new thread in the exact same place.

I pinned the patch in place, and decided that it looked a tad too bright.

I experimented by laying tiny swatches of several fabrics on the quilt, and then squinted at them to see which one disappeared the best.  I found another, creamier fabric (can you tell which one I chose?), and re-cut the patches.  It's a small difference, well, infinitesimal actually, but I ended up happier.


Matching fabrics and threads for repair work rarely means finding an exact match, of course, given the passage of time.  I find that choosing the one that is a bit too dark is almost always preferable to choosing the one that is a bit too light.

Here's the completed patching.

I've talked about the issue of matching old colors in several previous posts:
faded red and old white
using rust and tan to repair what used to be a red and white schoolhouse quilt
matching red on a Victorian silk crazy quilt
matching old whites on a blazing star quilt

To mark the placement of the embroidery and quilting, I laid the tracing paper over the patch, inserted pins at the embroidery and quilting marks.

Then I lifted the paper back, and drew guidelines for the stitching with a big pin.  This scores the fabric enough to see in good light (actually light that comes in at a bit of a slant, so there is a shadow created). It can be tricky to get it just right to see, but the plus is that there is no marking to remove.  This seems ever so much safer to me.


I found the perfectly matching perle cottons at North Shore Needleworks - tons of glorious colors and tons of types of thread and super helpful staff.  No affiliation / highly recommended.  

And here is the completed repair.


The whole-quilt photo at the top of this post was taken after the repair was complete.  The repaired block is center of the bottom row.

This is one of my most successful repairs, if I do say so myself.  I'm really happy that I stopped and recut the patches.  I always figure that the time is well-spent - an extra half hour now will stave off years of the I-wish-I-had's.  I have to talk myself into it that way every time!


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