Friday, November 29, 2013

Thinking about the Label

Every time I finish a quilt, I make a big ceremony of creating a label for the back.  It's true I didn't make this Red and Green Tulip, but I have put in considerable effort into restoring it.  What should I include on this label?

It would be nice to have a little story about the quilt, where it came from and who fixed it etc. But that would make a pretty big label!  Usually, I iron a piece of treated fabric onto freezer paper and send it through my printer. After pressing it, I sew on a border, sometimes add some embroidery, and sew it on the quilt back.
Here are the packages

Something came across my desk in October that has presented another idea for the label.  It includes a QR code, which connects a person to a website that includes all the information.  I haven't played with this yet, but it is a great idea for quilts given as gifts.  What is it?

They are called Story Patches.  More information can be found here. I now have a smart phone with a qr code reader so I'll play with it a little bit and report back to you.  Each label is: 
  • Modestly priced
  • Either a sew-on or an iron-on patch
  • Incorporate the patch on a quilt label on the back or in your patchwork on the front!
  • Available in black, blue, green, pink and red
  • Attach audio, photos, messages and videos about the quilt
  • Use your imagination there are many possibilities for their use
On the left you can see the sew-in label.

Ask your quilt shop to carry them. Let me know how you like them. I do have some questions about the lifetime of the product. They suggest hand washing or machine washing inside out. You may sew on the outside edge of the label, but no through the code itself.  But how long will your message be stored online?  Will it be there when your great grandchildren read the code?  Or will they even know what it is?

I'd like feedback from those of you that have used them. They seem like a wonderful idea for making a more personal label.

Still sewing red and green tulips.

Ann Fahl

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Being Thankful for Green

This was not a day I was looking forward too.  My husband and I had our wills drawn up and we were supposed to sign them after lunch.  Forty years ago when the first will was drawn up I was so emotional about it, I could hardly speak. Remembering my strong reaction to the occasion made me leery of what might happen today.

Last night, I was finishing cutting the last of the green leaves for my red and green tulip piece. It was very late and I was tired; I came to the realization that I didn't have enough fabric left to complete about 6 blocks. This was so upsetting that I didn't know what to do. As you can probably guess, I didn't sleep well at all last night. For emotional events like this I always make up a list of things to do the next day, so as I'm tossing and turning all night, I know I won't forget to shop for green fabric because this is included on "the list."

My morning was full, no time to go to Sew 'N Save to see if they had any green fabric left.  After lunch we signed our wills, and it went smoothly. There was no sobbing or tears, I guess I'm getting old and crusty as the years pass by.  After we returned home, I drew up the Thanksgiving grocery list; grabbed my green fabric sample and went to the fabric store. This errand was more important than shopping for Thanksgiving. When I reached the store, one of the ladies asked me if I needed help; perhaps I had a wild look about my eyes!  I showed her my fabric, told her my predicament, and she said there was still a partial bolt on the green shelf.  I really couldn't believe my good fortune, there it was, a  perfect match.
Oreo investigating the new green yardage

So here is my Thanksgiving tip for all of you quilters out there.  When making large bed sized quilts, always purchase a yard MORE than you think you will need. As work on a quilt begins, the original plan always gets changed, you will use more of one fabric and less of another.  Because I've concentrated on wall pieces the last 25 years, my estimates for quantities needed for this project were skewed toward smaller quilts. To avoid sleepless nights be safe, buy more than you need.

I am thankful for green today!

Ann Fahl

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Crisis Helps to Work in the White Spaces

Much of my concentration has been on replacing the red and green fabric applique. Now I'm realizing that I need to work on some of the weak spots on the background as I notice them.  In an earlier post I recommended marking the areas that need repair as I go.  This is a good idea.  But if I just mark them, they will all be waiting for me when I'm done with the red and green restoration.  Just working on white will be boring.

So as I write this, I've completed 8 1/2 applique blocks, it's looking beautiful. I've decided to ocasionally let myself repair a rip in the white space. This mixes up the different tasks to vary the job a little bit.

Outburst of Joy, (c) 1984 by Ann Fahl.  My apologies, this is a scan of an old photo, it's the best I can do.
Many years ago I entered a very colorful wallhanging into a local quilt show.  It was a compass style piece with an interesting border, all hand quilted.  This quilt was titled "Outburst of Joy" won a prize, a ribbon was pinned onto the quilt. At the conclusion of the show the ribbon was lying on the floor and there was a 3 cornered tear in the black background of the quilt!

The show organizers were most apologetic and were horrified that this had happened. When they pointed it out to me, I looked at it, and realized that it was small, a tear of about 1/2 inch in two different directions. Fortunately it was contained within a small triangular section of straight line quilting; and I realized that I could applique a matching piece of fabric over the tear. I did this the minute I got the quilt home.

With little tiny stitches, I appliqued a piece of black just inside of the hand quilting stitches.  It fit inside the quilting lines, perfectly.  Because it was a perfect match, nobody except me knew that it had been patched.  This quilt has been sold, long ago. If the owner is reading this blog, this is the first they will know of this affair! 

This is exactly what I will do to the areas in the white background of the tulip quilt as I find and mark them. I will cut a patch of the well washed muslin, and applique it within the quilting lines.
The split in the fabric was marked with thread.

A patch has been cut and appliqued within the quilting lines.

If the damaged area is larger, I will applique a much larger patch, yet inside of the quilting pattern, and quilt over the entire repaired area to match the original.
The patch has been quilted, so the quilting pattern is continuous.  This helps to camouflage the repair.
These photos do look pretty awful, but you are only looking at a small area of the quilt.  When you open the entire quilt up, and you see all the patterns, these patches almost disappear. It's difficult for me to find them. Quilt conservators might use a sheer netting for these repairs. I am intending on using this quilt daily, so I want to repair the weak spots with something that will withstand a little more wear and tear.  My new patches provide new strength to the area.

Still sewing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Far from Done with Red and Green Tulips

The block in the worst condition of the 20 in the quilt.
It's really exciting when I finish another block. The new fabrics just jump out and grab my attention. They look wonderful. But something bothers me about this fact. The tulips are bold, crisp and new. The background is aged, soft and puckered.  I know how this will be remedied, but it kind of bugs me as I admire my handwork.

I will quilt over some parts of the new applique, like the original maker did.  When the quilting has all been completed, I will gently rinse or wash the entire quilt and let it air dry.  Hopefully the applique will wrinkle up a little bit to give it a softer older look.  I want the old and the new to blend together.

Remember in an earlier blog I talked about the importance of pre-washing fabric? This is why.

Still stitching.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Restoring the White Background fabric

Close up of one of the simple feathered circles in the alternating blocks.

We've pretty much discussed everything about the tulip blocks.  As I've been working on them, I've noticed areas in the white fabric that will need some attention:
  • There are some small holes or splits
  • There are places where the hand quilting needs to be filled in.
  • Soiled areas.
My friend Linda gave me a great tip on how to handle the background repairs; and that is to lay it out on a table or floor and mark all the places that need attention with a safety pin or a loop of colored thread. Do this on the front and the back side.

Now as I work on appliqueing the blocks when I see those little places I will mark them as I go along.

Still Quilting.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Red and Green Tulip's history

Here is Oreo sitting on the quilt, with six blocks appliqued.
Here is what I know about the history of this quilt.  It was at the cottage in Winona Lake IN.  It was probably obtained from someone in Marion IN where my great grandparents lived.

My friend Linda Honsberger (appraiser and quilt historian) looked at my quilt and was able to tell me quite a bit about the history of my Red and Green Tulip Quilt.

This is what I've learned about it's beginnings:

  •         It is of German or Mennonite origin
  •      Possibly made in Ohio
  •         Made about 1880
  •         Has wool batting, very thin in places
  •         Hand appliquéd with white thread
  •         Turkey red fabric is in rather good condition.  Only the red outer border has some bad spots.
  •         Green fabric has almost totally disintegrated.  The dyes used at the time, have weakened the fibers so it literally just pulls away easily with your fingers.
  •      It has white cotton binding cut on the straight of the grain, 3/8 inch wide.
  •         The hand quilting is decent. The alternating blocks have a simple feathered circle. The  quilting in the appliquéd blocks and border is straight lines.
  •         The white background fabric is in fairly good condition, there are a few splits in the fabric, so I will repair those by appliquéing well washed muslin over them. 
  •      It was likely a 13th quilt, or someone's wedding quilt, or good quilt that was saved for special occassions.
  •      Sadly, we do not know the maker.