Saturday, August 24, 2013

{Post 1,243} Resuscitating Vintage Blocks

When I was visiting my daughter, I had the privilege of using one of the quilts I made from a set of antique blocks.  They are unsurpassed for softness and pastel beauty.  Then when my friend from Colorado came, she brought with her a set of signature blocks passed down in her family.  They needed some repairs and some units of muslin replaced.  These two circumstances stirred up the desire in me to want to make another quilt from antique blocks.  Hi ho, hi eBay I did go!

Yesterday I received the 20 vintage star blocks I won on eBay.  The description made them sound perfect (as they always do), but I was already anticipating having to fix a few.  Well, I've had to fix them all.  Two might be beyond repair, but I will examine those more closely later.

Here are some pictures of the before and after and the process.  Basically, I determined that the center square area should be 6-1/2" square finished.  The corner squares and the HSTs should be 3-3/4" square unfinished.  I tried not to take apart any more than I had to.  

If you've never worked on repairing antique blocks, there are several things to keep in mind.  The fabrics can be fragile, so the less handling the better.  If you press them where there is a stain, the stain will set more.  Finger pressing is best, but sometimes not sufficient.  Holes left from threads will usually not be noticeable after quilting, washing, and drying.

Here is one block before.  It did look quite hopeless for a rescue.  Notice the grid lines on my cutting mat to see the difference in size of each side:

Here's after:

You can see the bottom section is a little too small, but I'll just narrow down the seam allowance when I sew it to its neighbor.  

One of the things I found fascinating about this block is that two of the pieces of fabric have been pieced.  The center and one of the triangles.  It was not noticeable at all when I was looking at the blocks:

Those needle marks are from deconstructing and then reconstructing the block with the right sized units.

Another mystery is how one can use so many different seam allowances in one block.  Back of the block: 

Here is one block side repaired and one that is still in need of shaping up.  The top one was worse than the bottom before I took it apart and fixed it up:

Here are the six blocks I "refreshed" so far today.  They measure 13-1/2" square.

I am playing with some layouts.  I don't have EQ, so it's all on paper.  I toyed with the idea of adding 6" finished blocks as corner stones and using muslin for the rest.  I also experimented with different sized sashings.  I considered putting them on point.

I don't have fabrics that would play nicely with these.  I really don't want to buy fabrics to finish it.  I wanted it large enough to use on my queen-sized bed, but I don't think that is going to happen.  Time will tell.  There's no hurry on these.  Just enjoying the journey.


Janet O. said...

You have to be very patient for this kind of work. I have made a few tops from vintage blocks, and have a couple more sets of blocks still to piece together, but I'm afraid with mine I just let the points fall where they may.
This will be a very nice quilt, however you decide to set them.

Kath said...

I did enjoy seeing how you made "order out of chaos" and how well you did getting the blocks into some kind of uniform size.
I shall watch out for news of this quilt with great interest.