Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Everything Old is New Again: EQ8 Design Inspiration From a Vintage Quilt

 Good morning!  Happy Passover to my Jewish friends, Happy Holy Week to my Christian friends, and Happy Spring to one and all!  In my house, my younger son has a half day of remote learning today and then he is off for a week of Spring break.  My older son is coming home from college tomorrow afternoon, and we are all going to attend a real, live, in-person worship service together for Easter Sunday, followed by Easter dinner with my mom.  I'm so excited; it's like seeing the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel!  We had to sign up in advance to attend church services due to reduced capacity for social distancing, and we'll get our temperatures checked at the door and wear masks the whole time, but STILL.  ðŸ˜Š

My main focus project, Anders' high school graduation kaleidoscope quilt, is still on track, but I'm sure everyone's tired of looking at it right now and it isn't looking much different than the last time I showed it anyway.  I'm just working my way through row by row, sewing corner triangles onto blocks that you've already seen.  So I thought I'd show you something else today -- a client's vintage Economy quilt that is in my queue, awaiting repair.

62 x 80 Vintage Economy Quilt, Awaiting Repair

Don't you love how fresh and MODERN this antique/vintage quilt appears?  Other than its exceptional condition overall for a quilt that's probably 80-90 years old, what strikes me about this particular quilt is how it's a two color, pink and white quilt, but there's a subtle ombre effect from the use of at least three different shades of pink fabric, and the way the quilt maker distributed those three shades of pink in the block layout.  Secondly, what a cool quilting design!  It's similar to Baptist Fan, except that the design reverses direction in the center of the quilt to create a very modern-looking wave effect across the quilt top.  Also. the curved lines of quilting meet up with the rows above and below rather than touching the "fan" to the left as in a traditional Baptist Fan quilting design.  

Not sure I'm explaining that clearly, but photos can help where words fail:

Baptist Fan - Pantograph
Traditional Baptist Fan Quilting Design

Compare that to what our antique quilt maker did here:

Curved Stitching Lines Inside Each Fan are Oriented Differently on Vintage Quilt

See what I mean?  The binding of this quilt is unusual, from today's vantage point, as well.  Instead of a continuous, double fold binding with mitered corners that most "traditional" quilters have been using for the past 50 years or so, this quilt has a single fold binding that was applied individually to each of the four sides of the quilt.  It's really wide binding, too -- every smidge of 3/4" finished width.

Single Fold Binding Finished at 3/4 Inch Width

3/4 Inch Wide Binding, Back Side of Quilt

Notice how the corners were managed.  Binding was applied to two opposite sides of the quilt first, then the other two sides of the quilt were individually bound with the binding overlapping at the corners.  Raw edges were tucked inside and stitched closed by hand.  The rather thick thread used for hand stitching the binding as well as for the hand quilting stitches appears to be feed sack string, although the blocks themselves were pieced with a much lighter weight thread.

I should note that the binding on this quilt is where the biggest damage has occurred, and I'm going to be covering the original binding with new binding for the client since the fabric has worn completely through along the edges of the quilt, causing the thick, lumpy cotton batting to fall out.  And that's interesting, too -- I often hear experts in the industry advising quilters to choose a thin cotton batting for a "traditional antique quilt" look, but if I wanted to replicate this particular quilt I'd either use a double cotton batting or else try the Deluxe or Supreme loft version of Quilter's Dream Cotton.  

Because, yes -- when I see a cool vintage quilt like this one, I always want to try to make one just like it!  Drumroll...

Economy Block, First Published in 1933 (Kansas City Star)

My handy-dandy copy of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, 3rd Ed., identifies the 21" blocks in this quilt as a pattern that was first published as "Economy" in 1933 by the Kansas City Star, although it showed up again as a Nancy Cabot pattern called "Garden of Eden" the following year.  However, the proportions of the blocks in my client's quilt are a little different from the published quilt pattern, with skinnier unpieced bars.  This quilter made sets of 9" finished square-in-a-square blocks and then set them together with 3" finished width unpieced bars and a 3" finished center square.

62 x 80 EQ8 Replica of Vintage Economy Quilt

I left the seam lines in this first EQ8 rendering so you can see the Economy blocks clearly.  When I first took in this quilt, I was thinking that it was just groupings of Square-In-a-Square blocks with sashing dividing alternate rows, but those seam lines where two white bars come together clued me in to the larger block construction.

Economy Blocks On Point

One of the great things about using EQ8 software is that, once I'd recreated the original quilt, I could play around with variations, like the diagonal setting shown above.

Baby Quilt Version

...And this is where I ended up on my little creative detour!  Can you see the Economy blocks in this design?  There's one complete Economy block on point in black and gray with a red center, surrounded by four quarter blocks in black and white with red.  I added the pieced triangle border to get it up to a nice width of fabric baby quilt size, and finished it off with 3/4" wide Kaffe Fassett Collective yellow and black striped fabric for the binding.  I know this is not going to be every quilter's favorite baby quilt color palette, but if you google "newborn visual stimulation" you will see where my inspiration came from.  If I were to make this quilt in real life -- and I might, if I live long enough -- I would probably throw in some black and white prints as well as solids.

But for now, I just saved the designs along with the hundreds of others on my hard drive, because I have a graduation quilt to finish!  I've scheduled the repair of this vintage quilt for early June, after graduation.

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

Free Motion Mavericks with Muv and Andree


Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts


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

enjoy your Easter service - glad to hear they are limiting how many can attend - I know it means a lot to so enjoy!
lovely old quilt!

Karin said...

Wishing you a nice Easter break...enjoy the service.
I love old quilts and that one is just fascinating. I am glad to hear that somebody else got oodles of designs stacked away on their computer.

Julie in GA said...

The vintage quilt is great; love the variation in the shades of pink. Your baby quilt design based on the block is fantastic, very striking!

SJSM said...

As always, your creative mind never rests. Happy Easter. said...

What a wonderful antique quilt. Would you love to hear the stories it could tell?

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

This quilt is so cool! I have seen the binding treatment like that before - its so different... and they are probably related to me - ones that want binding to be easy Bwahh ahaha!! That quilting pattern is so unique - I see how it differs and is similar to the Baptist fan! I like that you mocked it up in EQ8 - I see that in your future!

Enjoy your family and church service!!!

Pat at Bell Creek Quilts said...

your color mock up of this quilt really puts a different look to the same pattern!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Love how the old has inspired you to create the new! Lovely design for someday. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

I love that vintage quilt and as soon as I saw it here, I thought I must make it. Your variations are so striking as well. It will be hard to choose. So many quilts, so little time! I've found so many quilts today I want to make!

Maggie said...

It is a fun book and program to play with, LOL. When I taught myself from books already 20 years old more than thirty years ago, that is how I did the binding for many years. Since learning to do the continuous binding, it is so much easier and the mitre corners are so much more robust and stronger. Happy Easter to you and your family. Enjoy your service in person.

Marti said...

I wouldn't have noticed the fan weave and direction if you hadn't pointed it out. I do love vintage quilts and that is a nice one.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

That's a beautiful quilt, and I particularly like the way the maker used the different pinks. That does seem more like a modern quilting practice where everything doesn't necessarily have to match or "go with" everything else. I have quilting friends who still need that to be true in their quilts! :) Happy Easter!

Andree G. Faubert said...

Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for looking at this quilt with us. It was really interesting. I hope that you had a great Easter weekend. Thanks for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks. Take care.

dq said...

I think it fun that the old quilt inspired you to make one. The colors in their ombre fashion are indeed lovely!!!

I liked looking at the stitches done by some lady so long ago.