Good morning and Happy Monday! I've had a great weekend with my Lars-of-Ours home from college on a four-day weekend. It has been so nice to hear him playing my piano, talking and laughing with his brother, and just having my family "intact" again.
Meanwhile, I've been working on a project for a client:
As you may recall, I met with a woman at the end of August who had discovered an in-progress (or "UFO" -- "UnFinished Object") Double Wedding Ring quilt among her late grandmother's possessions. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with the granddaughter about her childhood memories associated with grandma's quilts -- sleepovers in grandma's living room with her cousins, each child snuggled up in a different handmade quilt. :-). Those older, completed quilts were greatly loved and used over the years, so much so that none of them survived in good enough condition to be handed down. Once these blocks are joined into a finished quilt that can be displayed and used in the granddaughter's home, it will be the ONLY quilt she has from her grandmother. That is why I agreed to accept the commission, despite the challenges.
|Vintage Double Wedding Ring UFO, On My Design Wall|
Initially, my client had hoped to have the blocks assembled and finished as a Queen bed quilt, but we decided to do one (or possibly two) Queen bed runners instead for the following reasons:
- Affordability for the client, since I'm charging hourly for the project
- A bed runner that is removed for sleeping can be displayed and enjoyed without needing repeated laundering, extending its life
- A smaller finished size allows me to pick and choose the best pieced blocks and avoid the ones that have more serious problems
- We have enough good blocks to make TWO runners -- one for the client to keep, and one for the favorite cousin who snuggled under grandma's quilts with her when they were little
- Minimizing how much of the piecing is done by me means the finished quilts will be more authentically "made by Grandma"
What Are the Challenges?
As many of you know, the Double Wedding Ring pattern is an advanced pattern involving curved piecing that was traditionally pieced by hand. If I was making one of these from scratch today, I would probably be die cutting the fabric pieces with the Accuquilt Double Wedding Ring dies, or at least rotary cutting them with one of the many acrylic template sets that are available today. Grandma made these blocks before these tools were available (I'm guessing late 1980s-early 1990s from the fabrics), tracing around paper patterns and cutting out each patch with scissors, so there are size discrepancies and uneven seam allowances that make accurate curved piecing even more challenging.
There are no markings on the paper pattern or on any of the already-cut white center pieces indicating where the seam intersections are supposed to fall, and when I folded them to check for symmetry I found that each one is slightly unique. :-).
|Grandma's UFO Box with Half Paper Pattern Marked with Fold Line|
Also, Grandma was piecing her DWR blocks as complete circles, connecting the circles into rows by joining them at the white four-patch unit, and then attempting to join the rows together with those white curved diamond shapes that have long, skinny arms. That is extremely difficult to do successfully, which is why every single one of the DWR tutorials I was able to locate today instruct you to sew partial circle blocks to create rows with "S curves," a method that I believe was pioneered in the early 1980s by the engineer-turned-quilter John Flynn. The photo below is from an excellent (and FREE) Double Wedding Ring tutorial by Jo's Country Junction, showing the easiest way to assemble a DWR quilt top from partial blocks and an S curve seamline:
|Grandma's Completed Circle Blocks|
This is also the assembly method recommended by the American Quilter's Society (AQS) in their 2019 AQS Paducah Sewalong (see photo below). The AQS Double Wedding Ring tutorials are available here:
|Photo Courtesy Jo's Country Junction, her free tutorial available here|
But, like I said, these blocks of Grandma's are already complete circles, and I am not about to rip out and remove a melon from each and every circle just so I can sew it back together again!
Another interesting thing about Grandma's UFO DWR is that, in the section of blocks that she assembled, she seemed to have been setting her blocks on point:
See how the corners of her white diamond block centers point straight up and to the sides rather than diagonally? That is a much less common setting for a Double Wedding Ring quilt, and it was Grandma's deliberate choice to do it that way so I'm going to honor that with the bed runners.
|Assembled Section of UFO Indicates an On Point Layout|
The first runner is coming from the section that Grandma had already completed, which you see laid out on my Queen guest bed in the photo above. Ten circles laid out in a 2 x 5 arrangement are just the right size for a Queen bed runner, so I only had to remove two circles and a couple of the white diamond connectors from this section and close the seams that were left open in the white four-patches.
|Grandma's Completed Section, Laid Out on My Queen Guest Bed|
Then I selected ten of the loose circle blocks based on how well they were pieced as well as the client's color preferences (she likes the blocks with the bright red and yellow fabrics in them the best) and laid them out on my design wall.
As you see in the photo above, I'm creating four diagonal rows that each consist of two circles connected by a curved white diamond, and then joining those rows with S-curved seams.
|Layout and Piecing Plan for Second Runner|
You might think that assembling the runners from already pieced blocks would be a piece of cake, but it's been tedious and slow, with some ripping and restitching necessary at those skinny white points where I have no way of knowing where the stitching intersection is supposed to be. There's also a lot of fudging going on, easing and coaxing things to fit together against their will, and those little white melon points would be so much easier if the seam allowances were pressed towards the darker fabrics, but Grandma pressed all the seams toward the white and then secured them that way with subsequent stitching, so I'm stuck with that. There are also seam allowances that flip in the middle that are secured that way by subsequent stitching, a few pleats and puckers here and there, and uneven raw edges that need to be matched up somehow. But the end -- of the piecing, anyway -- is in sight!
|Where I Left Off Today: Three Curved Seams to Go|
My To-Do for Tuesday is definitely to finish piecing the second runner and prepare some quilting options for the client to choose from. She has been exceedingly patient with me!
I'm going to a lecture and an all-day workshop with Kaffe Fassett (yes, Kaffe Fasett HIMSELF!) on Thursday and Friday, so that can be my "time off for good behavior."
I'm linking up today's post with:
DWR is looking lovely, it won't be perfect but that's not the point. The runners will be treasured, much loved loved by the recipients with memories of Grandma. Happy Stitching!
Excellent idea! Two bed runners. Gramma’s UFO is saved and will be enjoyed by family. Soon you’ll be back to your lovely quilt projects.
You are doing a great job finishing grandma's DWR! Will you quilt the bed runners as well? It's a great idea to make two bed runners instead of one queen quilt. It will be beautiful on the end of a bed.
I don't envy you the task you've undertaken but the result is going to be spectacular that's already obvious!
Rebecca Grace, the unknown comment is mine. I was signed in under my husbands account without realizing it. :(
WOW! that's about all I can say about this project... ok, I can also say "better you than me because I wouldn't have the patience". What we've seen so far has been amazing and the outcome appears to be equally beautiful.
Great work! I just love that you're doing the best you can with the materials as they are, and doing everything possible to honor Grandma's methods/intentions. I know you're like me, in being a detail-oriented person, and are careful to have everything cut and sewn as accurately as possible. So working with these conditions can be challenging. However, I always feel so peaceful when I'm finishing a quilter's project for her/him after they've passed. The imperfections never matter in that case. It's the finishing it that counts. What a sweet project to be finishing!
Hi Rebecca Grace! I'm so glad your son came home for a visit! The family being all together and 'intact' is just the best thing, isn't it?!! The double wedding ring blocks are gorgeous. Still nice and white and lovely fabrics. The queen runner(s) I think is a great option for all the reasons you listed. Of course, each piece is unique! You didn't think this would be a piece of cake, did you? No good deed goes unpunished, I've always heard and it always applies to me. Thank you for sharing the process you're going through. Grandma is smiling down at you. ~smile~ Roseanne
My gosh, do you ever do anything simple and easy? You sure do like a challenge, but then you always seem to be up to that challenge. Good luck with the rest of the project.
Looks like you're making good progress on this challenging project! I like the way you talked the client through the process and will end up with the bed runners that are lovely memories of her grandmother, but not overwhelming for you to complete. Have a great week!
I think bed runners are a great idea - I have made two queen size double wedding rings one with an applique border all around and know they are not super easy to do - and taking on work that was already done and redoing is not an easy feat - good luck to you!! I think I put mine together the AQS way but really not positive it has been about 18 years since I made my last one.
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