Friday, December 20, 2019

Vintage Double Wedding Ring Bed Runners Finished and Delivered!

Remember that Double Wedding Ring UFO that I told you about back in August?  A woman had contacted our Charlotte Quilters' Guild looking for someone who could finish an in-progress Double Wedding Ring quilt that she found in her mother's attic. She had a tub of assembled circular wedding ring blocks, a small section of a handful of blocks sewn together, and lots of tiny wedge pieces cut out.  Based on the client's recollection of when her grandmother had grown too ill to sew, as well as rough dating of the fabrics in the blocks and the techniques she was using (paper templates and scissor cutting), we think that her grandmother was working on this project in the late eighties or early nineties.

Vintage Double Wedding Ring Bed Runner
As is typical with vintage quilt tops, these blocks had lots of "personality" that made them difficult to assemble.  Each circular block had finished to a slightly different size, and there were signs of struggle in most of the deep Vs where the arcs join adjacent blocks.  I suspect the original maker set this project aside due to frustration and discouragement trying to fit the blocks together after she'd gone through all of that work to cut out every single patch with a scissor and then all of the curved piecing...  We've all had projects like that, haven't we, that we just need to put in "Time Out" until we're ready to deal with them again?

Vintage Double Wedding Ring with Curly Feathers Quilting Design
Instead of completing this project as a bed quilt as grandmother likely intended, we decided to select the blocks with the fewest piecing issues and use them to create two Queen bed runners, one for my client to keep, and one for her to give as a surprise Christmas gift to her cousin who shares fond memories of snuggling up under Grandma's quilts.

One Of the Two Bed Runners, Laid Out on Dining Room Table
I completed the piecing of the bed runners myself and starched them as flat and smooth as possible before passing them off to my friend Christa Smith for computerized longarm quilting.  (My machine is not yet computerized, and had been experiencing technical difficulties at the time I was making these arrangements for my client's project).  I knew Christa would do an amazing job, and she definitely came through!  We chose Jessica Schick's Curly Feathers allover design for the bed runners for a couple of reasons.  First, the labor involved in piecing the tops and doing the hand finished scalloped binding for two bed runners was significant, and an allover computerized pantograph design helped to keep this project affordable for the client.  Second, custom quilting the bed runners might have drawn attention to the imperfections of the piecing.  There also would not have been enough time to get the runners finished in time for Christmas if we'd gone with custom quilting.  But most importantly, the primary value of these bed runner quilts to the client is that it represents the last quilt her grandma made, and none of Grandma's older quilts that she remembers from her childhood have survived to be passed down.  Custom longarm quilting is definitely not the way that Grandma would have quilted this project back in 1990, and it would have made the bed runners more about the tastes and preferences of the quilters of today than about the taste and preferences of Grandma.  I think Grandma might have finished this herself with a hand quilted feather wreath of some kind in the middle of each wedding ring.  The way we quilted it gives a similar traditional look at first impression, does not upstage the piecing, and gave enough quilting to control areas of fullness in each runner so they lay nice and flat, without "overquilting" any area in a way that would look more "modern traditional" than truly vintage. 

So my amazing friend Christa of Cotton Berry Quilting quilted both bed runners and she also did the scalloped binding.  This is the friend who has the same model longarm machine as mine, who has gone out of her way to help me figure out what was wrong with my machine so I could get it up and running again -- one of the kindest, most generous and talented people I know.  (FYI, for those of you who might be looking for a longarmer -- although Christa is no longer doing custom quilting for clients, she still accepts customer quilts for computerized edge-to-edge quilting).  

Christa did the scalloped binding as well.  Then she returned the quilts to me and I personalized them with machine embroidered quilt labels.

Label Machine Embroidered on Bernina 750QEE with Mettler 60/2 Cotton Embroidery Thread
To maintain the vintage vibe, I embroidered the quilt labels with Mettler 60/2 cotton embroidery thread rather than using a shiny rayon or polyester embroidery thread.  

Digitizing the Labels On My Computer

I digitized the labels on the computer using my Bernina v8 Designer Plus embroidery software, utilizing the built-in settings for lightweight woven fabric and Run Liberty, one of the fonts included in the software.  

Digitizing the Label in v8 Bernina Designer Plus Embroidery Software

I increase the space between letters with this font to ensure the label is still legible with the font so small, and then I added a hand stitched French knot to the dot above each "i" after the machine embroidery was completed.  [Note to Self: skip the water soluble topping next time I'm embroidering quilt labels for a quilt that won't be washed immediately.  It was such a bear trying to remove all of those little stabilizer bits when I was finished embroidering!]

Second Machine Embroidered Quilt Label
Each of the two bed runners has a different backing fabric, but I went with the same fabric and thread colors for both labels.  After pre-turning the edges and pressing the creases with my iron, I glue-basted the labels in place before hand appliquéing them to the back of the bed runners.  And no, I did not put either my name or Christa's name on the quilt labels.  I know that quilt historians want to know the names, birth places, and blood types of every single person who worked on a quilt, but these are not museum pieces.  I feel like these small quilts are between a grandma and her granddaughters, and it felt wrong to put anyone else's names on the labels besides theirs.

I could not be more pleased with how these came out, and my client is thrilled with them.  As a quilter myself, I know how much it would have meant to the original quilt maker to know that her granddaughters still cherish her memory, and the memory of being wrapped in her quilts at the holidays.  These last two quilts from Grandma will surely be treasured.  But I'm also glad they are done and out of my house!  Now the only thing between me and the Jingle quilt needing to be quilted is a mountain of Christmas packages waiting to be wrapped...

I'm linking today's post with:
·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·       Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
·       TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week at Home Sewn By Us  

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Jingle Status Update: Designing, Planning, and Online Shopping

This needs to be short and sweet today, as I have about a bazillion errands to run before choir rehearsal tonight and if I even stop to blink, my clock will spin from 10 AM to 5 PM while I'm not looking!

Current Favorite Quilting Plan for Jingle, iPad Sketch Detail
I haven't had a chance to get this quilt loaded yet, or even spent any time at all in my studio since I last posted about it, but my iPad is with me everywhere I go so I've continued to experiment with sketching different quilting ideas on top of a photo of the quilt top in my Notes Plus app.  I'm currently leaning towards doing the feathery thing on the red and green inner setting triangles, along with the two different geometric ruler work designs on the outer setting triangles, all of the red triangles in one style and all of the green ones in the other style.  Then each of the pieced blocks will get some kind of custom quilting and the applique blocks will be quilted in the ditch and then the backgrounds will be quilted down with different fill designs, cross hatching, etc.

iPad Sketch & Notes, Zoomed Out

At first I was drawing the feathers in ALL of the setting triangles, and I decided that was boring so then I started changing up the outer setting triangles.  I'm liking the idea of alternating between the two designs for the outer setting triangles but keeping those feathery things on all of the inner triangles at the moment -- provided I can actually QUILT those feather designs.  Just because I can draw something on my iPad does NOT automatically mean I can quilt it with my longarm machine!  I think I'm going to have to mark them somehow and/or use a template for that center pointy petal shape in the middle of each feather.  I'm remembering how Judi Madsen uses tagboard templates for curvy shapes that she uses in her quilting; need to find her Quilting Wide Open Spaces book and review her method.

Threads for this quilt will be Superior's invisible monofilament Monopoly for all stitching in the ditch, both pieced blocks and appliqué, because it's so forgiving of the oopses and wobbles, paired with Bottom Line 60 weight polyester in the bobbin.

Then I've got some lovely Antique Gold Metallic from Superior planned for the feathers and ruler work in my red and green setting triangles.  Yippee!!  I ordered a Medium Brown Bottom Line thread to use in the bobbin with my Antique Gold Metallic thread.  If the metallic thread behaves nicely, I might use it in the pieced blocks as well.  

Detail of Irish Lass by Judi Madsen, photographed at APQS Quilt Week in April 2019
As some of you remember, I traveled to Paducah, Kentucky to take LOTS of longarm quilting workshops with Judi Madsen and Lisa Calle back in April.  There was a special exhibit of Judi Madsen's quilts at the show and it was wonderful to be able to go and look at them between classes, with all of that fresh, front-of-mind information about how and why she quilted them the way she did.  I was surprised to discover that Madsen's Irish Lass quilt, from her Quilting Wide Open Spaces book (detail pictured above) used Superior's Antique Gold thread over all of the non-white fabrics, with white thread against the white backgrounds.  That's what inspired me to buy a giant cone of the Antique Gold Metallic thread from Superior's booth in the vendor mall.  This is also the quilt that Judi refers to in her book when she talks about making templates to mark shapes on her quilt, such as the dragonflies and some of the larger swirly hook shapes.

Finally, my off white appliqué backgrounds will get quilted with an off-white thread, probably So Fine since I have the right color on hand already, and then I'll likely add some details to the larger appliqué shapes in matching threads.

In addition to the bobbin thread that I'm waiting on, I also ordered LOTS of Quilter's Groove longarm quilting rulers from Lisa Calle's web site.  I purchased a 5" Pro Circle template and a Pro Echo 11 arc template from her when I took her Rulers for Rookies class and I really like all of the markings on her rulers that some of the others don't have.  So I've ordered all of the remaining sizes of Pro Circles and Pro Echo arcs to have a complete set of options for curved crosshatching and all sorts of block designs.  When they get here I'll be able to pick out a few options to use on Jingle and then I'll let Santa wrap up the rest for Christmas.


One more goodie on the way is this adjustable height saddle stool so I can sit at the longarm when I'm working on the detail quilting around all of that appliqué.  I'm looking forward to seeing whether I have better control for detail work when I'm seated at the machine as well as whether I can quilt comfortably for longer if I can switch between sitting and standing.  This particular stool had quite a few positive reviews from customers who mentioned using it with their longarm quilting machines, so I'm hopeful that it will work well for me.

Meanwhile, the "quick blog post" has taken nearly an hour to write, as usual.  Gotta get out the door and get busy on those errands!  Have a wonderful week, everyone.

I'm linking up today's post with:


·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication
·       “WOW” WIPs on Wednesday at Esther's Blog


·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·       Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts