Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Turning an old quilt top into a quilt

It has felt good this week to be back at work on my Gammill long-arm quilting machine. Sad to say, it had not been used since about March or April, when I quilted the Green Man. Between teaching school and traveling quite a bit on weekends, I just could not find the time or energy. But I kept giving Grendel (the Gammill) some long drinks of oil and an occasional warm-up, and she has performed admirably for the past two days.
I decided to do something about the partially quilted butterflies quilt that my sister-in-law Debbie asked me to finish for her. It is one that was started by her late grandmother, Helen Stewart of Indiana. Here is a picture of Debbie's daughter with Helen, which must have been around 1977. I have already done two others for her, the stars pictured yesterday and a basket quilt that I really liked. It had lots of white space to show off some feathery quilting.
The challenge this time is that she had hand-quilted about two thirds of the blocks. The whole thing has been sitting in a bag for about forty years or more. I originally thought I would hand-quilt the remaining blocks, but after more than a year decided I would never get around to it. So, I mounted it on the Gammill and had a go at it.

You might notice that the sashing just does not match up, and there is a lot of fullness in the seams. Debbie says that in her grandma's later years, her eyesight was not that great. Or maybe this is one of Grandma's UFO's that got put away because it just didn't come out quite right!

I made a couple of templates by tracing the quilting motifs, then marked the designs with a blue washable marker. Helen had used pencil for her markings, which is still showing behind her quilting. Basically there is outline around each butterfly, a big cross through the center, and a fan design in the plain corners of each block. She also did a quarter-inch quilting line inside each square. Below is a block quilted by hand by Helen.

Here is one that I machine-quilted. Here are hand-quilted blocks next to machine-quilted ones.

Now, I hate to mark quilts, hate to use rulers, and don't have a stitch regulator. And this quilt only had about a half inch of extra backing and batting on the sides. When you have to clamp the sides, that leaves no room for using a ruler.

But I have done the best I could. One of the problems of putting a partially quilted piece on the long-arm is that you might get puckers on the back. Oh yeah, that has happened here, too. The backing is white muslin, or perhaps an old white sheet. It has lots of fullness, and a few puckers and pleats.

But you know what? This is not going to any quilt show. It will be going to one of Helen's grandchildren, great-grandchildren, or possibly even great-great grandchildren. How lovely that they will now have a finished quilt to inherit, instead of a project in a plastic bag?

I have emailed some pics to Debbie to show how it looks with just her grandma's quilting motifs, and suggested that I add some quilting to the sashing to get it to lie down a little flatter. Then I need to decide what binding to use. And the whole thing needs washing very badly, as you can imagine. But doesn't this old project have a little charm?


Vicki W said...

I love old quilts like that and you have done a great job on it!

Cathie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathie said...

Clevelandgirlie said...
I know we all strive for "perfection" -- but "perfection" should be left to machines. Imperfections are the signature of being handmade -- and anything handmade with love should never be perfect. Think of those little puckers as though they are little puckered-up "kisses" from Grandma!

Bet you are enjoying your summer Jeanne. We are heading out to the Colorado Mountains soon - can't wait. Lots of inspiration out there!

Lynn Majidimehr said...

Ooooh, pretty quilts and nice quilting!