String Pieced Melons


I have a new pile of vintage blocks.   They are string pieced melons, And were foundation pieced on newspaper.  The newspaper has been removed but I can still see traces of it.

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They are in need of a pressing but are in great shape.


I have no way of knowing exactly how the maker intended to use them but I imagine that they were to be used in melon patch blocks.

melon patch
If I set them on a black background the colors brighten up


I think red would be great as well as black and many other colors.  Teddy likes it with black.


I have enough for a full-sized quilt.   I will need to make a template for the setting pieces and look at my fabric stash to see what I have enough of.

When I was working on the Teddy Quilt I started one on a mottled fabric.


I worked on that one the last few days

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I didn’t want them to be the same so I made some changes to the drawing and did not add a bandanna to this one.   I used black YLI hand quilting thread on this. I used the same binding fabric as the last one


and cream-colored backing


here the Two are side by side

2 teddys

Here are a few others I am working on (click pictures to enlarge)

Happy Quilting



Cartoon Teddy Quilt Finished


I finished the quilting on the Cartoon Teddy quilt for the Quilt Alliance contest.   This is how I imagine Teddy would look if he were to be a cartoon character.

Here it is before binding


I used a very thick poly batting to give him some definition, it shows better on the back.


I used the same fabric for the binding as I did for his bandanna


And gray for the backing


Here is the post about how I drew it out and got started with the embroidery

and here is the post about the quilting

I am going to have to make another so I have one to keep because all entries become a donation to the Quilt Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and after a national exhibition tour, will be auctioned to benefit the mission of the organization.

I did draw out another on a different fabric and I think I will finish that one to keep.


Teddy almost always has a bandanna on, here he is yesterday.


Last night it came untied and I didn’t notice it was missing until I looked at the pictures.

Here he is proudly posing with the finished quilt.


He has his ears down in the picture, but often his ears are up, like in the quilt, when he is listening or thinking.


I still need to add a hanging sleeve and label but that will wait until tomorrow .

Now back to work on some of the quilts in the big pile :)

Happy quilting




Quilting Teddy


Yesterday (see post here) I posted about a new quilt I am doing for the Quilt Alliance .   The theme for the contest is Animals We Love.

This is how it looked last night.


I did a blanket stitch to applique the bandanna.


I finished the embroidery this morning.


the next step is to mark the quilting.   I am doing a 1/2″ grid on the diagonal.   First I marked the edges to make the 16″ square, next I drew diagonal lines corner to corner, and then drew lines measuring 1/2″ from each of the diagonals. I use a #2 mechanical pencil.  I have not had any problems with it washing out.


Next I put the batting down, it is a mottled gray.  Then batting, I am using I leftover poly scrap.  Then I pin on the top


Now to quilt it.   I considered black thread but I didn’t want it to distract from the design so I am using white YLI 40 wt hand quilting thread.   I am using a size 10 sharp Bohin needle. I am starting with the grid but I will also do some quilting on Teddy.

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Happy Quilting

Animals We Love


I started a new quilt today.  I don’t really need a new project but this one is special.    It is for Animals We Love, the 9th Annual Quilt Alliance Contest

Quilt Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 organization established in 1993 whose mission is to document, preserve, and share our American quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation’s diverse peoples and their communities.

In support of this mission, the Alliance brings together quilt makers and designers, the quilt industry, quilt scholars and teachers, and quilt collectors to further the following goals:

  • to promote the understanding of the quilt as an important American grassroots art form
  • to make information about quilts available to a broad public
  • to educate Americans about the importance of documenting quilts and quiltmakers so that their stories will not be lost

I am a big fan of all they do for quilting and I really love the theme for this year’s quilt contest

The theme is “Animals We Love”  and quilts are to be 16 inches square.    Here is more information

Of course I have to make a Teddy quilt.   I have plans to some day make a big whole cloth with Teddy as the subject, but for this little quilt I don’t think it would work so I am doing embroidery.

First I marked off 16 inches square and then drew the picture


Then I went over it with a black marker to darken it


I need to dark because to transfer it to the fabric I place the fabric on top and trace, the dark lines show through the fabric.

I tried it on a blotchy fabric to see how it looks


It is hard to see the lines in the picture but they are there.  I decided that plain white was better. (but I will probably finish both)


I started the embroidery


When I finish that I will hand quilt it. I might need to add a bandana applique.

Teddy is watching the progress

Happy Quilting


Fading red


Yesterday I posted a picture of a quilt top that had a lot of tan in it, that at one time had been all red.


I bought another old top with that fading red dye….


It looks rather dull now but imagine it when it was new and all bright red.

The white in the top is recycled flour sacks ( I think flour but could be other items)

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So what is with that “red” fabric.  Lets start with Turkey red

 “Turkey red”  doesn’t have anything to do with Turkeys, it refers to a particular color,  Turkey red isn’t just red, or a particular red, or even a dye you could buy.  It’s actually a dye process that produces a very colorfast red.  The dye process was developed in the Middle East so it got the name Turkey red.  It was a very involved dye process , part of which included steeping in oil, the use of oil caused it to sometimes be referred to as oil boiled.   Once turkey red became available quilters went crazy with the very ornate red and green applique quilts of the  mid 1800’s.   The process for making Turkey red was very expensive so the fabric was very costly.    Synthetic reds were introduced in 1875 and they were advertised as colorfast, and often falsely sold as “Turkey Red” , but they either bled all over the place or faded to various shades of tan.  There wasn’t a really colorfast synthetic dye until the 1920’s

So the new quilt top would likely fit into the space between 1875 and 1920.

A few more examples of mixed red fabric.   You would not be able to tell the dye process by looking at the new fabric so it wasn’t uncommon for quilters to mix fabrics, that would have looked the same when new as in these stars.


I pieced the antique blocks into a top, but I left the faded reds as they are because to me it is a part of the history.

Blazing Star Pieced 009

When new this top would have been more red white and blue.

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but a lot of the red has turned tanish pink.

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This fade happens whether the fabric is washed or not. Sunlight and washing make the fade faster.

Some have just a few pieces of color fast red that let us know that the rest of the fabric would have been red when new


It is hard to get a good picture of the real color they fade to, and they do fade differently depending on the fabric but to get an idea of the color think Band-aid.


Green is a different story and different dye process but greens can really fade too.

This top was red and green when new


and the lilies in this top were red and green and yellow when new


When we look at old quilts sometimes we see odd things, one block or two very differently colored,a few odd pieces in the quilt that seem to stand out etc. It is tempting to believe that these color differences were intentional and have some special meaning or symbolism, when in fact it was just the fabric dye of the time.

So the new top was once red, and it is now a sort of washed out redish tanish brownish color but it is still sort of cool.  and I will quilt it one day.

Teddy is not so sure, he didn’t want to sit on it ;)


Happy Quilting


Can you guess?


What is that?

here is another picture
one more


I went to the beach yesterday.   These are pictures of the snow and sand in Grand Haven MI on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Here is the lighthouse

It is really amazing what the wind and water do.   It was pretty cold with the wind off of the lake but I am glad I went to the beach to see how it looks in the winter. It is a bit different in the summer.


I was in Grand Haven for a quilt presentation for the Lighthouse Quilt Guild  and it was a great group!  I think I brought 25 quilts to share and had great fun.  Thanks to all.

While I was intown I stopped by a shop called Old Things.  They had an old quilt which I couldn’t pass up.


It really is not normally one of my favorite patterns.

I do have a few old tops in the pattern.

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These are sort of oddballs the first one, from the 40’s I think, has a sort of random look because the paths are not all one color.  The second one, from about 1900, when new would have not had any tan in it.   Red Dyes of the time (non Turkey red) were pretty unstable and even without washing the red faded to tan over time.   This maker had 2 different red fabrics, one stable and one not, but would have no way to know at the time what it would look like 100 years later.

Back to the new quilt.


It really is quite common to see Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts from the 30’s.  It was a tremendously popular pattern.  I think what attracted me to this one is the red.   It was much more common for the paths between the flowers to be green.  Hexagons have had a real resurgence in the past few years and they are usually English paper pieced these days.   These quilts from the 30’s were generally not paper pieced.   Just plain old hand piecing.

The piecing is well done on this one.   The quilting not so much.

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The stitches are pretty large and uneven but the quilting is done in the most traditional way for this pattern, each hexagon is outline quilted.  The backing is blue


there is no binding, the edges were turned under and whip stitch closed.


It is hard to tell from the pictures but it was pretty dirty, most likely from storage.


I can tell that it has been previously washed.   Again it is hard to tell in the pictures but the white fabric is sort of pale pink, the red fabric ran in the wash.

Since it was a sturdy quilt, with no real wear and since it had previously been washed I decided to was it again.

Some antique quilts should not be washed, very rare, old, fragile quilts might be ruined in the wash.   This is none of those things, it is not that old (relative to quilt history) it isn’t rare, and it isn’t fragile, and dirty as it is it isn’t usable.   So I washed it in the machine, with OxiClean and Tide and hot water and then dried it in the dryer. Some of my quilt historian friends are probably cringing at the thought! This is pretty harsh and some people will start with a much more gentle treatment such as hand washing with Orvus   But don’t worry I know it will be fine.

Here it is fresh out of the dryer, all stains gone.


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Now it is clean and I won’t be afraid to use it.  It is about 85″ x 74″ , the batting is pretty thin so I think I will save it for spring.

I knew it would be a late before I got home from Grand Haven so Teddy spent the night at The Elegant Pooch and got groomed by his girlfriend Julie.  Today he got to try out the freshly washed quilt.


He knows when he is looking good ;) His new bandanna from the “spa” has little hearts on it.

I have a ton of quilts to put away so back to work.

Happy Quilting






I posted pictures of a vintage quilt top a few days ago


and pointed out how the center is a problem


How does that happen?

The pieces are all diamonds

No matter how you cut a diamond there will be bias edges.   Bias edges stretch when you sew them and that distorts the pieces.    Multiply the little bit off that they all become by all the seams in the top and you have a problem.    Where 6 of them all come together in the center it makes a big bump, or quilt volcano.

How can this be fixed?   Here is one way

Press the top and work from the outside edges in to the center.  Every top will be off in a different way.  For this one all the fullness comes out if I press it all to the center right down the middle.


For some quilts I would have to do this in  the opposite direction as well.  This one has quite a large pleat down the center after pressing and the rest of the top is pretty flat.

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If I pin it in place


I can turn it over and see what it looks like.

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That makes the center star somewhat distorted.   I think some people would not be able to stand it.    We quilters do get rather obsessed with perfection and live in fear of the judgment of the quilt police.

Is there a way to make it perfect?   I could take it apart and start over being careful on the bias and pressing and checking frequently as I go.   Starch is also a help on bias edges to prevent stretch.    The question is do I want to do that.    I could also take out the 6 seams that join the center star, essentially separating the top into 6 wedges.  Then press and block the pieces and trim to uniform sizes and then sew them back together.

I don’t mind the resulting wonky star in the center, I think it adds character and keeps all the work the original maker put into it intact .   It also addresses the issue of making the top flat so that it can be quilted.  I have not stitched the center yet, it is still pinned.   I want to be sure this is how I want to do it before I sew it.  Stay tuned to see what I end up doing.

I did a bit of hand quilting on the applique top to see how the quilting on the edges will look (click pictures to enlarge)

I have a lecture on Monday evening  and I am writing the lecture and selecting which quilts to bring. It is hard to decide because there is something to learn from every quilt (when I stop learning I think I will be done quilting).    If we had several hours I would bring them all!   I love to talk about quilts ;)

Happy Quilting