I’ve gotten really frustrated lately at the number of PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) that I have. I have a list on my computer and there are 36 items left on the list to finish. The top item is Orphan Blocks and there are literally dozens of those. But there are also things that aren’t on the list. I just found one this weekend. It’s like there are PIGS hiding everywhere trying to escape my notice.
But the project I decided to finish next is this wonderful old quilt. It belongs to Elizabeth, a friend of mine. Elizabeth’s grandmother made this quilt for her. I’m sure Elizabeth’s grandmother made it to be a utility quilt – or as Mary Kate would say, a not-precious quilt – that Elizabeth could use and love. Elizabeth has loved it a whole lot. And because her grandmother made it, the quilt became precious.
Elizabeth’s quilt is a true scrap quilt. The fabrics include cotton, polyester, polyester double knits and velour. The quilt is tied with pink yarn. The backing fabric is folded to the front to finish the edges. The quilt is truly charming in it’s simplicity.
Some of the fabrics have been washed so many times they are sheer. Some of the seams have come undone.
The Backing is Torn
The quilt back is in shreds. Elizabeth’s frugal grandmother used an old blanket instead of batting.
The original quilt back was a Dresden plate print. I looked and looked for that fabric, wanting to honor Elizabeth’s grandmother’s vision. I didn’t ever find a Dresden plate print but I did find a Grandmother’s Flower Garden print by Robert Kaufman Fabrics that is similar enough that it will work very well. I thought about washing it multiple times to fade it but in the end, I decided the strength of the new fabric was what was important.
New Backing Fabric
The backing fabric has the green “border” printed along one selvedge so the photo is two widths of fabric sewn together. I matched the pattern so the seam is barely noticeable. After I’d stitched the two widths together, I was so pleased with how nicely they matched, I held it up and jokingly said to my husband, “Aren’t I good?” I guess I should have remembered that he doesn’t sew. He said, “What am I looking at?” It made me laugh.
Pinning the Torn Backing in Place
I pinned the torn quilt back in place so as I add the new layer of backing, I won’t have pleats and tucks in the original back. I pinned from the top so I can leave the pins in until I am ready to quilt that particular spot.
I decided to quilt it on the Grace Q’nique 14+ longarm machine that we have in our sewing studio at the office. I feel like I’m much more likely to get the back nice and smooth. The front will never be completely smooth because some of the fabrics used in the quilt shrunk and some of them didn’t.
The Backing is Loaded
I loaded the backing in the frame but decided to “float” the quilt. I’m trying to be aware of the fragile state of the old backing and some of the blocks on the front and I didn’t want to put any extra stress on them.
I decided to quilt it densely in order to add some strength and stability and extend its life as much as possible. But I also want to stay with the idea that it’s a very basic quilt. I didn’t want to be quilting feathers or pebbles or matchsticks. I finally decided to do e’s and l’s. It can be a fairly dense pattern, it’s easy to do and it’s very forgiving.
I’ve mended the seams that had come apart as much as possible but some of them were a challenge.
Seam with No Fabric Left
The fabric for the seam in the green material is gone. I just stitched a couple of extra loops when I quilted to hold everything together.
As I am quilting the quilt, I find myself stopping often to pat the quilt top and coax the fabric into place. I am able for the most part to make it lie flat or at least nearly flat.
I can hardly wait to finish the quilt and give it to Elizabeth. UPDATE! I delivered the quilt to Elizabeth this weekend. She was thrilled!
As I finish writing this, I think perhaps there are those of you who’d like a book with the 9-patch block that Elizabeth’s grandmother used. It’s a simple block but a super way to use scraps. This book has a block for every day of the year. What a tool for learning or ideas for your next project. Block a Day: 365 Quilting Squares for Patchwork Inspiration is available at quiltandsewshop.com in hard copy or digital format. Check it out.
Just one more thing before I go – have you seen that Keepsake Quilting has a Fabric for Life contest going on from now until the end of the year? Can you imagine? Fabric for Life?? Go here for more information.