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  


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

they turned out wonderful - I'm sure you are glad to be done though and can move on to other things. Merry Christmas

Ramona said...

You and Christa have given this woman such a gift. How wonderful to have something that her grandmother worked on and she can now use and admire. The bed runner is gorgeous!

Melanie said...

They are indeed wonderful projects and I loved reading about all the thoughts that went into creating them. xo

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca Grace! I love your name. What a labor of love this project is, and what a good egg you are to have finished this for them. I am 100% certain that their grandmother is just as pleased as can be to have her granddaughters love and cherish these runners. What a happy post - and I'm so glad I read it. {{Hugs}} Now get to those presents so that you can move on to even more fun. Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thanks for linking up at TGIFF. ~smile~ Roseanne

Michelle said...

Such a wonderful solution to the imperfections in some of the blocks, and a way to stretch the memory of the grandmother to another family member. These runners are beautiful and will no doubt be cherished for a very long time.


Marie said...

Oh my goodness, what a special gift - actually, two gifts. Your client must be over the moon! Good for you for thinking of the bed runner idea - sometimes you just have to cull those 'personality' blocks and move on.

Gretchen Weaver said...

These runners turned out beautiful! The client had to be thrilled and her cousin is going to be so happy with her gift too. You were very kind to finish these. Happy Stitching and Merry Christmas!

O'Quilts said...

Great job. Very great job!

skdesignscustom said...

They are stunning! What a heartfelt gift of time and knowledge from you both, being careful to honor the origin quilter's work and to personalize them with sweet labels with French knots! What a treasure these will each be!

PaulaB quilts said...

God bless you, Cathy. I’m in a nursing home right now, giving my strength back I hope you have a wonderful and merry Christmas with your family.

Preeti said...

Oh Cheeky, I run out of adjectives when I wander over to your blog and see your handiwork!!! Yes, I love what you have done, of how you took something (almost) hopeless and turned it into meaningful keepsakes that will be used and treasured for a very long time. This blogpost is like Easter (resurrection) at Christmastime. You are absolutely amazing and I am completely bowled over by your thought process and resulting products. Personality??? Huh. Now that is
relatable :-)