Vintage New York Beauty

If you have been following my progress for the past month you know that I have been working on hand quilting a vintage New York Beauty quilt top.


Here is the first post I did about it

The top was beautiful but had a lot of problems.  It was not flat or square.  It was beautifully conceived but not well made.  When I start to work on a vintage quilt top I have to make a decision about what to do.  Do I re-make it, or do I leave it as it is and only fix it as much is a needed to quilt it.   In this case I did not make any major alterations…while quilting it I did need to take a few tucks to remove bulges but It is, for the most part, exactly as made.

Here is how I basted it and here is the start of the hand quilting

It might be hard to see in the picture but there is not a straight line in it.  here are a few pictures of the finished quilt with a long ruler laid across it to show how off it is.

DSCN1739 DSCN1740

I know this would drive many people crazy but to me this irregularity is part of the beauty of the quilt.  Some would call this work “primitive” but I would call it “liberated” .  It is as if the maker of the top was not concerned with technical issues and focused on the overall vision.  I think of piecing a top myself and how much effort goes into matching up seams, not cutting off points, making it square, worry about where the bias edges are….exhausting!  The maker of this top (wish I knew who) clearly was not under the control of the quilt police.  to me it feels energetic and spontaneous and exciting.

Here are more pictures (click to enlarge)

Now It has to go back to its owner Bill Volckening where it will join an impressive collection of New York Beauty Quilts.  I have another (very different) of his New York Beauty quilt tops to do next and will post pictures of that soon.

Happy Quilting


43 thoughts on “Vintage New York Beauty

  1. Lori East says:

    Great job, Tim. I applaud your decision not to straighten out those wonky lines. To my eye they add to the sense of movement. This would be a fun one to hang and enjoy.

  2. mehitabel says:

    Wonderful job! I’m sure Bill will be delighted with it. I think in this “modern” age of “liberated” quiltmaking we can have the best of both worlds–and enjoy and appreciate the visions of our predecessors!

  3. mehitabel says:

    Wish I’d seen Lori’s comment before mine posted–very appropriate since it’s going to “Wonkyworld!”

  4. Looks great, can’t wait to see it in person. Send me an e-mail privately with invoice.

  5. Karen says:

    I love seeing what you are doing with challenges from Bill’s collection. Part of his collection was recently on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles and, yes, many quiltmakers from his collection were liberated and many of the guests appreciated that!

    • timquilts says:

      I think it is great to see that perfection is not the only thing! I can appreciate perfect quilts…but the imperfect or liberated seem to be more human

  6. Janet says:

    It looks marvelous! This quilt is exciting to look at and the wonkyness of it is delightful. Your quilting is wonderful! I’m curious about these tucks you talk about – did you do them the same as the Lily quilt?

  7. Jeanette says:

    When visiting Wonkyworld, i noticed the reference to Latimer quilt and Textile Center. Are you related or involved in this center ?
    Very interesting entries and yours will fit right in. So happy to get your posts

    • timquilts says:

      It is a strange coincidence that there is a Latimer quilt and textile center near Wonkyworld….As far as I know there is no relation, but I will have to get there for a visit one day

  8. Jeanette says:

    Did you notice on the last three photos how the dark fabrics stand out ? The wonder of the lens.

  9. audrey says:

    Wonderful work Tim! I so love this quilt. One of the main reasons I find your blog such a joy to follow is the respect you give to the makers and the quilts. A lot of quilters would have sneered at the quality of workmanship in this quilt. You not only invested your very valuable time hand quilting this wonky quilt, but you obviously appreciated the spirit of the maker as well! Kudos to you and your generosity.:)

  10. Pam G says:

    You’ve worked wonders yet again. Love your work!

  11. Tim, this is fantastic, I am glad you never reconstructed this quilt, I love the fact that you have quilted it and it is now fully liberated!

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks!….this one needed to stay they way it was intended…..some need to be re-made in order to get them to work…glad this one didn’t!!

  12. Sara says:

    Of course you also have to remember that the vintage quilts were not made with rulers and rotary cutters! The wonky business sometimes came with the wonky quiltmakers and that makes them special, too! 🙂

  13. Jill says:

    The quilt stitches look natural and true to the quilt’s era. I like it very much.

  14. quiltsalott says:

    It’s magic Tim, you did this beauty justice. I love all the wonkyness, it has personality plus.

  15. Darlene Reid, Gilbert, Az. 85296 says:

    A woman is dancing up in heaven because her quilt is finally finished.

  16. Kristen says:

    Looks scrumptious, Tim. Love that great, crazy border! I’m sure the piecer is feeling the love somewhere, probably from the great beyond.

    • timquilts says:

      thanks!…I was on the verge of squaring up the edges for binding but decided to leave the border wavy …actually harder to do the binding that way but It is fun

  17. Pamela says:

    This is beautiful, Tim. I love the look of the whole quilt, but enjoy the close-ups to see all the wonderful fabrics even more. I see Gwen had an impact upon your thinking – “liberated” has become a part of your vocabulary.

    • timquilts says:

      I guess she has 🙂 ….and I can’t think of a better word to describe it than liberated…Gwen has it right…I think she would like this quilt

  18. Lisa says:

    Wow! You are talented. Now it is a beauty.

  19. Babara says:

    Wow, what a great quilt. You did a fantastic job making it into a Cinderella.I love those New York Beauties and this liberated one is a gem. Thanks for sharing the details.

  20. vanessa says:

    As always your work is amazing and was the perfect solution to not have straight lines anywhere. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Carolanne says:

    Fascinating how you transform these quilts. Its not just because they become beautiful, they sort of ‘live’ or become alive… Sorry if that sounds ‘Twee’. Well done.

    • timquilts says:

      Thanks!! It sounds perfect to me because that is how I feel….quilting makes them come alive and they become what I hope the original maker had hoped for

  22. Sujata Shah says:

    I think the real primitive works of art was so much more liberating than today’s liberated work. What you said is exactly true, to fuss over oh so many things to perfect a quilt is exhausting work. I love the edge being stretched and wonky. It adds such a character to the final result. Absolutely amazing work! If the original maker would see it, he or she would be thrilled!
    I recently went to a local quilt art gallery to view an exhibit and some of my machine quilting friends were really taken by how much of hand quilting is making a come back. Photography was not allowed in the gallery, you would have like this quilt made about Valley Forge Park. I stood there and spent enough time to see every stitch and keep it in my memories.


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