Utility Quilt Remake

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I am working on making quilts to illustrate my newest lecture, “My Quilting Journey.” During my talk, I want to show some old quilts in my collection, quilts made by grandmothers now in heaven. Those quilts and the women who made them are part of my quilt-making heritage. In addition, they provide inspiration for the quilts I make today.

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The most used quilt in my collection came from hubby’s grandmother. It is most definitely a utility quilt, patched together from odds and ends of shirt fabrics and dress fabrics, and feed sacks and muslin. Initially, I thought the quilt was assembled in horizontal rows . . . but now I notice vertical alignment of blocks, too. Perhaps Granny made rectangular blocks all of the same size and then set them together in rows.

The remake of this quilt capitalizes on the idea of horizontal rows of rectangles of various widths. My guild gave me 1/2 yd. of a lovely, large scale floral print for helping organize the door prizes for our state wide symposium in 2013.

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The challenge was making a quilt that would allow this fabric to make a big splash. I pulled coordinating green, blue, and yellow prints and tonals from my stash.

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I had nearly a yard and a half of white fabric, so I cut it parallel to the selvage in the following widths and placed them on my design wall: From top to bottom – 8 1/2,” 5,” 4 1/2,” 6,” 8 1/2,” and 11.” Using wide rows of white modernizes the quilt by adding “negative space.”

From the half yard of large floral print, I cut 3 strips 6″ wide, from selvage to selvage. I sub-cut each strip into roughly 2 rectangles 13 1/4″ x 6,” and 2 rectangles 8 1/2″ x 6.” I placed these splashy rectangles on the design wall, staggering them.

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I began cutting strips of various green, blue and yellow fabrics in 6″ widths. I sub-cut these in random measurements: 2 1/2,” 3,” 4,” etc. up to 5.” I sprinkled them on the design wall, randomly spacing the color values. The rows of colored rectangles extended past the edges of the white strips by several inches to allow for seam allowance “shrinkage” in the pieced rows.

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After sewing the rows together, I pressed them in one direction and sewed them between the white strips. I decided that adding a 6th pieced row would make the quilt proportionally too long, so I reserved it for the back of the quilt.

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After sewing all the rows together, I trimmed off the side edges and installed the quilt top in the longarm machine for quilting. I considered quilting a Baptist Fan design just like Granny’s quilt, but the large flowers begged to be imitated. A medium blue thread shows up well on the white rows of the quilt and blends in nicely with the colorful fabrics.

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I selected a brilliant royal blue for binding fabric. The design idea of Granny’s vintage utility quilt lives anew in my modern remake.

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The bright, splashy colors of this quilt remind me to celebrate spring. It is coming, isn’t it? Despite the below freezing temperatures outside?

Do you own a vintage quilt that you have copied/remade?

One thought on “Utility Quilt Remake

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