The past several days brought the Vintage Applique Butterfly quilt started by my Great-grandmother, Mina Opal, to a completed top.
As I picked apart the previous setting, I noticed that there were 6 blocks where the butterflies were straight on the block and 48 blocks where they were angled. Considering the care and attention to detail in the work generally, I was certain that was not an accident. But, why?
Research revealed that that there is a layout for 54 blocks that has a six block center–a medallion!
After that the process went relatively quickly. I created a six block medallion and surrounded it with three part sashing, placing a nine-patch in the corners. Most quilts in this style used either a single wide piece of sashing or additional background material, but I liked this look. Around and around we go!
Three layers plus a wide outer border of muslin as close as I could get to that in the background of the blocks. It is lighter, but the texture is right and I think after quilting it won’t be too obvious.
I am preparing to scallop that outer border when it gets back from the quilter and marked a rough draft version to guide her work. Yes, this quilt is being sent out. It deserves the best, so I am giving it that chance.
Won’t my mother be surprised when she sees it again!
This year is the year–of Vintage Projects.
Recently, my mother surrendered two quilts started by HER grandmother, Mina Opal, (my Great-grandmother) in the 1930-40s. Today we will take a look at the first one.
Mina Opal created 53 applique butterfly blocks. My mother added one. She then added sashing and started to build a top (early-to-mid 1980s). But she was unhappy with the results and put the whole project away for about 35 years.
ASIDE: Now that I think about it, my mother quit on the quilt about the time Mina Opal became ill and died (1987). Hmm…I wonder if that had something to do with it?
Anyway, when it came to me I asked if there were restrictions on what I could do, because “It won’t look the same when I bring it back.”
With my mother’s (blind-faith) blessing, I have gone to work. First, pick the entire top apart. It took days.
Clean up and iron each block. This was a tedious but useful process. It helped me to see the work more closely and to better appreciate the skill and care Mina Opal and my mother, Verna, put into the quilt. It also gave me clues as to the possible original intent.
It also gave me a reason to AGAIN use my new lint roller. WHO KNEW one would be so useful?! I don’t know how I did without one this long.
I chose the largest possible size (9″) for the blocks and squared up. This step was the hardest emotionally so far. Cutting 80 year old fabric…arrgh! What if I make a mistake? But, I went slowly and only did a few blocks at a time. And double-checked. A lot.
Time for design decisions….Coming soon!
As I am preparing the Irish Stars top for quilting, I decided to add a new step to preparation: use a lint roller on the back to remove the little bits that are so very common when using little pieces.
Wow! That is more than I expected. Hm…maybe I should do this more often.
In a recent hand-me-down quilting box was a ziplock bag with this partial lone star quilt in it. I am fairly sure it was started at least 20 years ago and most of the work was hand piecing.
However, over the years some of the pieces were lost, or at least they weren’t found in this bag.
And, the top had numerous stains. Yikes! Can this quilt be saved?
While I wouldn’t generally recommend it, I washed the assembled section. Carefully stain treated. By hand. Air dry. Much pressing. There were still a few stains, but I could replace those pieces.
It seemed to want a sort of modern-Amish (there’s a contradiction in terms) treatment.
But, I went too far and that bottom strip had to come off. It felt awkward somehow.
So, this is where we are. It is currently about 63″ x 81″. Finished? Saved?
I did not work in the garden.
I did not vacuum.
I did not do the dishes.
I did not do laundry.
I did not read a book.
I did none of these things.
What I DID do was assemble the Irish Stars Quilt top.
When there are 323 blocks constructed primarily of 1-1/2″ squares, it is slow going.
Seemingly tiny mistakes matter, and have to be picked out and done again.
But, in the end, it is worth it!
Daughter, known as Sparkle Jane, is also having a productive sewing summer.
This is a project she started and put away a few years ago. As sometimes happens, it was time to get it out and make a decision. The funny thing is that both of us thought of it as a dark, slightly depressing, quilt. It isn’t! She was able to quickly finish and assemble the top.
Next step is finding the perfect backing fabric.
The end is in sight.
Hoping to have an assembled top in the next week or so.