Saturday, May 4, 2019

Vintage Quilt Resurrection Completed; Back to Lars's Mission Impossible Graduation Quilt (With Only Three Weeks to Go), and PROM 2019

I have a FINISH, you guys!  This is the vintage 1960s era family quilt that I rescued for a friend.  
Vintage Quilt Repaired and Quilted, Ready to Go Home

It was like an episode of This Old House where they start out planning to just update the kitchen of a 19th century home but then they find all kinds of problems hidden inside the walls...  There were definitely moments when I wasn't sure I could get this quilt back together again and had to walk away from it for a few days before I felt comfortable about how I was going to proceed.

I'm very sad that this next photo is out of focus, because it was the best picture that shows my greatest accomplishment with this project -- this quilt is now SQUARE, as in STRAIGHT sides and 90 DEGREE ANGLES at every corner!  

The Victory of Straight Sides and Square Corners
Squaring up the quilt top before quilting it was challenging, to say the least.  There are all different fiber contents from cottons to poly blends in the quilt top, with different weave densities, so some of the fabric patches had shrunk at drastically different rates from their neighboring patches over the years.  You know how quilters talk about quilt tops that have "C-cup blocks" here and there?  Well, this top had C-cups, D-cups, and a big maternity bump through the center.  I used the vertical channel locks to keep the sides of the quilt straight as I was advancing it, scooting the raw edges of the fabric in a LOT in the center of the quilt top despite how scary all that fullness looked, and I was seriously amazed that I was able to "quilt it out" with my loopy meander swirl.  So, even though I didn't fully understand why vertical and horizontal channel locks were a big deal when I was shopping for my longarm machine two years ago, I get it now and I am REALLY glad that I have electronic channel locks on my APQS Millennium machine!

The actual quilting went pretty fast.  I initially was going to partially float the quilt top since "they" say that gives you "more control" with a quilt top that isn't perfectly flat and square.  I pinned it to my quilt top roller but, try as I might, I was not able to get the top rolled up without the center of the quilt top stretching out wider than the top and bottom edges.  So I unrolled, unpinned, floated, and prayed...  

In this next photo, I've drawn around each of the patches that I added in yellow so you can see how extensive the repairs were:

Everything Outlined in Yellow is a Patch that I Added
As you can see, almost all of the patches had to be pieced together from multiple fabrics ahead of time to adequately cover the holes in the quilt top without being obvious later additions.  Because the original quilter had used most of her fabrics multiple times in the quilt top, I made sure to repeat my new fabrics and spread them around the quilt top as much as possible for a balanced look.  Several of my fabrics, such as the Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink scraps, were bleached before using them to mellow their vivid hues and mimic half a century of fading.  I am really, really pleased with how well those patches blend in and disappear, especially after quilting and laundering.

Without the Yellow Outlines, Can You Spot My Repairs?
Here's a shot of what this quilt top looked like on my design wall after I'd separated it from its shredded backing fabric, polyester batting that was coming out through the holes, and the acrylic yarn ties that held it together at 4" intervals:

Quilt Top Separated from Original Batting and Backing, Prior to Repairs
And here's a shot of what the quilt looked like originally, in one of the good sections, with those original yarn ties:

Original Acrylic Yarn Ties in a Good Section of the Quilt
So, why did I quilt this instead of replicating the original yarn ties?  Several reasons.  Number one, I don't know how to tie a quilt with yarn in a way that would create tiny pom poms like this, and I'm not really interested in learning.  Actually, that's reason number two, because if I thought it was the best solution for the quilt I would have grumbled and complained but I would have figured out how to do it anyway.  The real reason this quilt is now quilted instead of tied is the fragility of the vintage fabrics in the quilt top.  I patched the worst places, but it was a balancing act -- if I replaced every piece of fabric that was seriously compromised by age and UV exposure, I'd have had to replace 80% of the quilt top and it would look like a completely different quilt when I was finished.  Yarn ties put a lot of stress on the quilt top fabric at each knot, and the proof of that is the many places in the quilt top where the yarn tie had ripped right through the quilt top fabric.  Quilting the layers together marries the fragile quilt top fabrics to the strength of the new batting and backing fabric better so it's impossible to grab hold of just the top layer accidentally all by itself.  The loops that I incorporated into my meander quilting were functional in that they helped to draw up excess fullness in the quilt top, but they were also a little nod to the original polka dot effect of the orange yarn ties.  I also saved all of the orange yarn knots when I cut them off, with the idea that they COULD be reattached by machine if the quilt's owner really missed them, like with a button sew-on tacking stitch or something.  I chose the orange binding fabric to maintain continuity with the original color scheme, and even though the new backing fabric is lavender instead of solid orange (the quilt's owner requested a different color backing), it has little orange dots that reminded me of the orange yarn ties:

Yarn Ties Saved in a Baggie; Label Embroidery Thread and Backing Fabric Chosen to Coordinate
I used the Liberty lettering font in my Bernina v8 embroidery software to digitize the label, with expanded font spacing to ensure the dates would be legible.  It's stitched in 100% cotton embroidery thread because the sheen of a polyester or rayon embroidery thread seeming like a jarring anachronism to me.  So, after appliquéing the label to one of the quilt corners, the only thing left to tackle was the binding.

Hand Stitched Binding Takes FOREVER

...And I ALWAYS underestimate how long "just need to add binding" actually takes me.  With this quilt, which was approximately 63" x 70" when I put it on the frame, I think it took me around eight hours to hand stitch the binding to the back side of the quilt, and that doesn't include the time it took to make the binding, machine stitch it to the front of the quilt, and join the ends of the binding together.  This quilt had hand stitched binding originally and it deserved to get hand stitched binding again, but I REALLY need to learn how to do a completely machine stitched binding for the many projects that deserve to be finished but fall short of being heirlooms, you know what I mean?  

If you have a favorite machine stitched binding technique, please share a link to a tutorial, video, or book in the comments so I can try it next time!

Removing the Original Hand Stitched Binding, Backing and Batting Prior to Repairs
This quilt will be returned to its owner at church on Sunday morning (we both sing in the choir).  I really, REALLY hope she likes it.  It is a scary thing to take a scissor and a rotary cutter to someone else's family treasure, and there's definitely no putting it back the way it was!

My One Monthly Goal for April was to finish my son Lars's Mission Impossible graduation quilt top and to get this vintage quilt top quilted, both of which I managed to accomplish by the end of April.  I am finally getting the hang of this Setting Reasonable Goals thing!

My OMG for May is to Complete Lars's Graduation Quilt by the May 26th Deadline

My EQ8 Rendering of Lars's Mission Impossible Graduation Quilt
So now my OMG (One Monthly Goal) for May is to get Lars's Mission Impossible quilt 100% completed no later than the May 26th deadline.  Our church is doing a big graduation blessing sendoff service for all of the high school graduates on June 9th where they process into the church in their caps and gowns during a slideshow on the big screens of their baby pictures and graduation pictures, and then each graduate's parents wrap him or her in a quilt and lay hands on them for a blessing, and all of the moms and grandmoms are weeping and the men are pretending they have something stuck in their eye...  But the pastors and staff members pile all of these quilts in the middle of their conference table and pray over them and bless them ahead of time at their staff meeting, and this is why I have a hard deadline of May 26th to get the quilt finished and dropped off at the church office.

My Most Recent Photo of the Actual Quilt Top, Still In Sections
I finished assembling the quilt top at 3 AM and all of my helpers were asleep, so I didn't get a photo of the finished top before I folded it up and hung it in the Quilt Purgatory Closet.  But the top is done, ready to quilt.

Having been recently reminded that hand stitching the binding on a quilt this size is likely to take me the better part of a week, I really only have two weeks to get this quilt loaded, quilted, and off the frame...  

Meanwhile, the intended recipient of this quilt is off enjoying his prom tonight:

My Lars-of-Ours With His Lovely Prom Date, Corinne

My Lars-of-Our With His Parents, Who Are Trying to Figure Out How 18 Years Went By So Fast
I'm linking up with:  


·      Whoop Whoop Fridays at
·      Finished Or Not Friday at
·      TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here:  
·      One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts:


·      Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 
·      Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts
·      Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·      Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:
·      BOMs Away at Katie Mae Quilts: 


·      Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at
·       To-Do Tuesday at Stitch ALL the Things:


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

your old quilt top turned out wonderful! you did a really great job on this and to take it on was a really nice thing you did for your friend. Lars and his girl look great and yes - 18 years goes by so fast and so do the next 20 - take my word for it - I can't believe my girls are now 46 & 43!! talk about time flying by.
On the orange pom pom type of thing that the yarn ties are - I think that is probably from the quilt being washed many times over the years - some people use embroidery thread to tie a quilt - I really don't care for the look of tied quilts so I have only done it one time when I was helping a group do them that way for a donation thing - really didn't like the way they looked - but it wasn't up to me.

SJSM said...

You did it! The quilt will continue to be treasured for years to come. What a gift of talent you gave your friend.

Lars looks so grown up. This time of life is one of many changes and joy. The years will go quickly for you. For Lars life will continue at the same rate until he graduates from college and starts his career. He will then look back and see he has traveled far and still look forward to what lies ahead.

Enjoy these days.

Lakegaldonna said...

Oh my gosh the vintage quilt is so square and flat. You did it and did it well! I hope she tears up a bit when receiving it from you.

I will send the machine sewn binding to you and where I got it from plus mu write up used when I taught it to my guild.

You may loose points as it is a little wider like 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Email me before putting it on the long arm.

Robby said...

The care, skill and love you put into refurbishing that old quilt couldn't be any less than the original quilter's efforts. What an amazing job. Good luck with your next deadline.

Janice Holton said...

I have absolutely no doubt your friend is going to LOVE what you did. You made her precious quilt usable again without fear of it falling apart. It was fun seeing all the different spots you repaired.

Louise said...

Wow, it really turned out great! Your replacement patches match PERFECTLY. I'll bet the family hardly notices them. They'll remember certain fabrics when they see them, and their minds will just assume that all of grandma's pieces are still there. Anything else will just sort of disappear in the wild, scrappy mix. And I think it looks so much better with quilting than just ties. More...quilty. Congrats on such a successful endeavor! Crossing my fingers that your friend is thrilled with it :)

O'Quilts said...

Great job on both quilts....on the boy too

Patty said...

Your blocks for the graduation quilt are very cool! Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and good luck on your project.

Rose Marie said...

Great job on the reconstruction! I would be nervous about tackling that job, but you jumped in and did wonderful! They will love it.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Oh Prom!!! SO pretty ( or handsome!!) and that quilt! what a great rescue!! I bet that was so fun watching that come to a finish!!! Great job!

Claire said...

I would have to really love a quilt to do all that tedious repair work! Love the graduation quilt--the texture/motion you got with size and color is wonderful.

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca Grace! Your title pulled me right in. I had to come and see the Mission Impossible quilt, even though I know you will finish it in time. What a handsome couple they made for prom! And I sure know about time passing by so quickly - those 18 years went by in a blink, right?! ~smile~ Roseanne

Kim said...

Hell there Rebecca Grace, just visiting your lovely place from the bottom of the world and so happy I did. Oh my, this beautiful quilt you have so lovingly restored is truly a triumph. I have slowly strolled through each photo to gaze at all those lovely fabrics oozing an evocation of a vintage era. Your fun narrative which jumps off the 'page' made me smile. All the different fabrics and thicknesses must have been tricky to work with. The miraculous repairs you have pulled off with this quilt are amazing. A lovely quilt to be treasured for another generation.

Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts said...

The newly restored quilt looks fabulous - thank you for bringing it back to life. I have a special place in my heart for old quilts, I always wonder about the stories they would tell if they could talk. You will have Lars quilt finished before you know it, and I can't tell you enough how much I love those curved flying geese! His prom pics are lovely. Time does fly and our kids grow up way too soon. I hope he and his beautiful date had a fun time!

Miaismine said...

Oh my! Your restoration skills are amazing! Kudos to you for such a great job! I'm sure the recipients were ever so grateful! :)

em's scrapbag said...

You did a beautiful job restoring the quilt. Thanks for sharing with Moving it Forward.

dq said...

It is amazing how great the restored quilt looks! I also love the label you added that tells the story.