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.

{Post 1,242} End of Birthday Day

The rest of my birthday was splendid.  Several of my children went together and got me an hour-long massage to be scheduled later.  Mmmmmmmmm.....  Thanks so much Emily & Steve, Ben, Rachel, and Isaac.

Then I went to the studio to await the surprise.  I put a movie on loudly so I wouldn't be tempted to listen for clues.

When I was finally brought up, I was sooooo surprised.  Wes had invited over a great friend, Molly Swaffer, and her family.  She has 4 young children (7 down to 1), and I can hardly believe I didn't hear any noise from downstairs!  Amazing!!

Wes and the kids made one of my all-time favorite meals, shrimp fettucini alfredo.  Ben made Red Lobster biscuits.  They were as good as the originals!!  Molly brought a fruit pizza.  What a tremendous meal.

They wouldn't let me help clean up supper dishes (oh, well!), so I taught Andrew (7) how to play Five Crowns.  He picked up on it really well.  A little bit later six of us played a game.  

Then I played Settlers of Catan for the first time.  There was a lot to take in, but I didn't do too shabbily.  Came in second with 8 victory points.  I learned a lot about it while playing and fully expect to win next time (here's to high hopes!).  

All in all a very special day thanks to my precious family.

Friday, August 23, 2013

{Post 1,241} It's My Birthday!

Today's my birthday!  I woke up to a love note on my bathroom mirror from my hubby.  That made it special.

Then he brings me a diet Dr. Pepper on ice.  That made it special.

Then he brings me my own package of Pecan Sandies.  That made it special.

Then Rachel yells at me from down the hall to come get the door (I am thinking, "Get it yourself--you're right there!").    But I go.  It's a man from a local florist shop with these...that made it special.

Daisies are my favorite flowers.  The card says "Happy Birthday.  I love you.  Wes.  Yours for life."  That made it special.

Then I go down to do an exercise DVD (thankful I have the health to do that).  On my sewing machine table (I exercise in my studio) are a canister of multigrain cheddar Pringles and a bag of garlic bagel chips.  Kinda counterproductive to the whole exercise thing, but I had the will power to wait to open them.  I did cast a lot of glances their way.  They remain unopened.  That made it special.

Then my husband suggests I take our youngest two kids out for lunch.  That made it special. 

Don't know how much more I can take, but I'm up to the challenge!!

He told me I am being sequestered to my studio at 4:30 until he comes to get me.  THAT I can handle.  I told him whatever it was, to take his time!!

I got phone calls from my second and third daughters.  Some of the things I talked about with each of them brought tears to my eyes.  They are both such sweet, accomplished girls.  They are grateful for things they learned growing up here.  That was so good to hear.

Update tomorrow!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

{Post 1,240} Two Minis...Scale is Crucial

Here are two minis I pieced this AM.  Both are 12-1/2" square.  The one on the left has 2" finished blocks, the one on the right has 3" finished blocks.  I like them both.  Choosing a size depends on what looks you want.  

A close-up of the one on the left, which will be added to my stack of mini quilts after quilting for my someday mini-quilt wall.

Both are pieced from men's shirts and muslin.  I think the one with 3" blocks would look good with the outer muslin edge trimmed down a bit with a plaid border.  But I'm leaving that up to the new owner.

{Post 1,239} Two Zip Bags Made

A few days ago I stopped in a local quilt shop to pass some time.  That was the day of the airport mix-up.  I bought an Atkinson Designs pattern while I was in there.  If you've never used her patterns, they are fantastic!  The directions are so well laid out!

I made one from the floral fabric first.  I wanted to enlarge the height of the bag (so I didn't cut off the kitty) and wanted to test drive it on this fabric before I made one for my daughter from the cat print.  She recently got a black kitten (I am terribly allergic to cats and will miss my daughter!).  I wanted to show my support but not visit!!  The fact that she's 900 miles away is also a factor ;)

The cat bag is 8" x 6", the floral is 8" x 5".

Then I went down and made this little pocket zip.  There is a pocket on both sides on the outside.  This would be a perfect wallet.  Bills folded in half fit inside nicely as well as room for change.