This is the second of three quilts my step-mom, Connie, inherited from her aunt. Well, actually, she inherited the quilt tops, and I am completing them for her.
This quilt top, likely made in the 70’s has issues. First and foremost, the various fabrics Auntie used to make the quilt were difficult to deal with. The patchwork contains everything from crepe, to double knit, to denim, to very thin cotton/poly, to a snythetic linen. The second issue is the seam allowance. Although the squares were cut 3 1/2″ and machine sewn, the seam allowance is quite scant. The fabrics with looser weave needed wider seam allowances to forestall unraveling. I had to replace the pale pink block that was splitting apart at the seams.
Block with splitting seams
A third issue was the loosely woven, “cheap” calico sewn between the rows of Nine Patches. The loose weave (and lack of accurate measuring) caused a lot of fullness in the quilt. Also, the quilt top was stained in spots. (I would probably be stained, too, if I’d lived in a cardboard box for the past 40 years!)
Do I sound like I’m complaining? The trick is to overcome the issues so that the quilt is useable and a memorable tribute to a thrifty Auntie. To make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!
First of all, I replaced the block containing split seams. I chose a light pink solid from my stash and a calico garnered from hubby’s grandma’s attic, figuring it was probably printed circa 1970. Perhaps you’re wondering if I washed the quilt top prior to quilting. The answer is “no, never!” The seams would have unraveled terribly. I’ll defer the quilt washing to Connie.
Replacement block & Quilting detail
To ease in the fullness, I used a high loft polyester batting manufactured by Fairfield. I loaded the quilt in my longarm sideways, and using white thread, I meandered from edge to edge. There are still a few puckers, but the loft of the poly batting allows the loose fabric to puff up more than a thin, dense batting like Warm and Natural would.
The final issue of varying lengths of the vertical rows in the strip quilt was solved by cutting all the rows even after quilting as shown in the photo below. A medium blue solid binding adds a unifying touch to the edge.
Now that it’s quilted, you would never guess all the issues the quilt top had. It’s not a silk purse, not a quilt show winner, but it’s certainly colorful and serviceable. And it’s undoubtedly a scrapbook of fabrics available for dress making in the 60’s and 70’s.
While working on this Strippy Nine Patch quilt, I was inspired to make a table runner by the same design. I used 3″ Nine Patch blocks from a guild exchange, sewing a light gray tone-on-tone between the rows.
I quilted an X through each Nine Patch and a freehand leafy vine in the gray strips.
Have you worked on a less than perfect quilt top? How did you overcome its “issues?”