Posts Written On July 2011

Antique Nine-Patch Bar Quilt Top

The seller of this top thought it was made more recently than the other antique quilts at the estate sale she attended. The brightness of the double pink and poison green prints does make it look newer than quilts made with darker fabrics from this period. The top is 76″ x 80″, and is in excellent condition — clean and bright with no fading or damage.

The design of this bar quilt is just so wonderful. I love the fact that each of the 9-patch blocks is scrappy, but there is a plan to the scappiness. The quilter carefully placed colored triangles in each block (the four reds, the 4 darks, and the green/yellow center), and then she cleverly flipped every other block upside down. The assortment of shirtings in the blocks is amazing, and the blocks themselves look so pretty against the poison green.

Unfortunately, some parts of the top are poorly constructed. All of the double pink fabric is puckered, and the points on the 9-patch blocks are stitched into the seams. I will have to take the quilt apart to correct these issues, but I hope to be able to keep most of the 9-patch blocks intact. Block sizes can vary quite a bit on these old hand-pieced tops, and I won’t know for sure until I begin to take it apart. For those of you who are concerned, the only thing I plan to change on this quilt is to make the outside border the same width on all four sides.

I saved a little time today by using the seller’s listing photos.



Bride and Groom Chair Backs

I’m happy to have a diversion from making napkins and crepe paper flowers.  This was actually a really fun project, and it was quick and easy to make from stuff you probably already have (if you’re anything like me).  Both backs are constructed from one vintage pillowcase with a crocheted edge, and the embroidery is simple outline around crayon.  Add some interfacing to make it stiff and a few decorative trims; pin the ties on before you stitch it all together, and Voilà  — you’ve got yourself some pretty cute chair backs.


Hand Embroidered Wedding Napkins

I have no idea what’s going on in blogland these days, but here at the Gray home, it’s all about napkins.  Trimming, hemming, pressing, and tying 130+ napkins with a little gold bow.  Although I have 2 weeks until the shower and 6 weeks until the wedding, there is still so much to do.  I will pop in whenever I have something new to show besides more boring napkins.  And now, it’s back to you-know-what.


Vintage 9-Patch Quilt Top — Redo (Version 2)

This evening I cut and pasted the photo of the new block to get an idea of how it was going to look as a whole top. Although I knew the blue sashing was going to make a big change in the look of the quilt, I thought that would be a good thing and would bring some symmetry. Well…it did that, but it also turned the top into something completely different. I had to think of something else.

After ripping off the sashing, I decided to leave the longer sashing strips (without the red cornerstones in the original), but cut them from an assortment of vintage prints. Now, I’m happy with the look — it’s super scrappy like the original, but eliminating some of the cornerstones and making the crosses the same print within the blocks is enough to satisfy my sense of order.  Now I’m pretty excited about the direction this is taking, although I think I may change all the cornerstones to a solid red.




Vintage 9-Patch Quilt Top — Redo

There are probably many of you who are not shocked that I decided to take this top apart. After all, my motivation for purchasing old tops and blocks is always to take them apart and remake them. I am not a vintage quilt collector — I’m a quilter who likes to make quilts with vintage fabric. Occasionally, as in the case of this top, the original item has a unique quality that makes me hesitate to take it apart. I spent a lot of time yesterday carefully looking over each block, and in the end there was no question in my mind that I was not going to be able to just quilt it the way it was. The stitching was crude; there were a significant number of fabric pieces that were either too coarse or too thin; and the lack of any symmetry just bugged me.

Of course, once I start taking a quilt apart, it’s hard to stop myself from making changes — swapping out fabrics that are inappropriate (or I just don’t like), and tweaking the design. However, I still wanted to retain at least some of the character of the original. The pattern has morphed from a 9-patch with sashing and cornerstones to a group of four 9-patches with a center cross. My 6″ block is smaller than the original at 7 1/4″ because I had use a slightly smaller template to re-cut all of the pieces. I also introduced a new vintage fabric (the blue & yellow floral) which will be the sashing around all the blocks. Here are my new rules:

use the original fabrics whenever possible
9-patches will remain as random as I stand to make them
the four cross pieces will be the same within each block
all sashing cornerstones and the block centers will be red

Thank you for all of your comments, and I hope those of you who said you would keep the original quilt aren’t too disappointed.

UPDATE:  I changed the sashing — see more recent post here.

Here’s a similar section of the original quilt top.


Vintage Nine-Patch Quilt Top

This scrappy quilt top was purchased last year on ebay.  It is entirely hand pieced with vintage dress fabrics (no feedsacks), and measures a generous 68″ x 86″ with finished squares measuring 1″.  I really like the random selection of prints and colors and, although I have spent a fair amount of time looking at this top, I have not discovered any “rules” that the maker followed when designing her top.  It appears to be completely unplanned, and I get the feeling that she just stitched her blocks and sashing out of whatever scraps she had on hand.  When she ran out of a particular fabric, she just moved on to another.  In checking the stitching on the back of the top, it’s obvious she also sewed elements together in a random fashion, with the top expanding in different directions and no continuous seams.

It’s hard to know what to do with this top.  Although the fabrics are in good condition, it bothers me that the construction is less than perfect with many seams that do not match (which would probably require an all-over quilting pattern).  I’m torn — there’s a part of me that wants to take the top apart and re-make it changing some of the things that bug me (those solid crosses, for instance) and fixing the alignment, or I could just quilt it the way it is and preserve all the little imperfections and idiosyncrasies.  What would you do?

Update:  Of course there’s a rule — I don’t know why I didn’t notice this before.  With the exception of one square (the green center in the pink cross), all of the cornerstone pieces are predominantly red or pink.

Vintage 9-Patch Quilt Top
hand pieced, unknown quilter
68″ x 86″


Laura Wheeler – Flower of Autumn Quilt Pattern

Recently, I purchased a couple of groups of 1930s Dresden Plate blocks in various stages of completion.   As usual with these old blocks, the muslin fabric is discolored, but all of the print pieces are in good condition.  Because I’ve made several Dresden Plate and Grandmother’s Fan type quilts, I really wanted to try something a little different with these pieces.

While I was looking through my old newspaper clippings, I found this pretty Laura Wheeler pattern that I think will work nicely.  My plan is to take the blocks apart, soak the individual pieces, then starch and re-cut them with my new templates.  It would be wonderful to find a vintage green print for the leaves and stems, but if I can’t, I’ll substitute a reproduction print or a vintage solid green.  My block pattern is 7″ finished, which is the the largest size I could draft and still accommodate the size of my quilt pieces.


Vintage Dresden Plate Quilt

This is a quilt made by the grandmother of my friend, Cathy.  The print fabrics, and probably the solid yellow as well, appear to be from the 1930s.  It was quilted, however, using a more modern polyester batting, so I suspect that the top was probably completed in the 1930s or 1940s, and was then quilted at a later date.  The quilt has been lovingly used for a long time, so some of the fabrics had completely disintegrated, while others were just beginning to shred.  To extend the life of the quilt, I repaired 30 of the plate pieces by appliqueing and quilting authentic fabrics from the period on top of the damaged fabrics.  I’m pretty happy to give this sweet old quilt a second chance.

Vintage Dresden Plate Quilt
71″ x 86″

I put safety pins on the repaired blades.