Friday, February 27, 2015

Lots of Love {Quilt Restoration}

Who doesn't love a challenge?

This quilt was made by my husband's great grandmother, Theresa Grohs.

She has an INCREDIBLE quilting/sewing history.  It's not very often that when you visit the National of Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., you can look up at the Spirit of St. Louis, and say to your kids "Your great, great-grandmother helped with construction on that airplane!"  She had incredible upholstery experience from her family business and was a seamstress, for Ryan Airlines, sewing the fabric coverings, usually a canvas duck-cloth, for their planes. 

Can you imagine the thrill she must have gotten when she worked on the custom plane ordered by Charles Lindberg?

Photo source:

 I first must say, my husband has one of the MANY quilts made by her.  She was very talented as a quilter and the family does have some exceptionally preserved quilts that she made.  However, this one....this one has a bit of a story that will probably make most of us quilters wince.

This particular quilt was found in my father-in-law's garage.  He used it often as a blanket to lay upon while working on his automobiles or boats.  And as my sister-in-law, who was this quilt's savior, put it...there were just soooo many quilts made by her, it never occurred to anyone to not use it?

To start.  This quilt started out MUCH larger.  I do not know its original size.  I just know that my sister-in-law, who was not a quilter at the time, decided to remove all the bad blocks that had irremovable grease and dirt.  Sight unseen, she asked me if I would be willing to repair it.  And it arrived like this.

 Two spare blocks and a strange tetris-like block. 
If you look closely, you can see that there isn't remnant binding on the right side or bottom, so I suspect that this quilt, based on the other quilts made by her in our possession, was probably more like a 5x6 block configuration.

And here you can see where my sister-in-law had cut along the seams. *wince*.

 If anyone is reading this now and has a quilt they want restored, my first words will be STOP!  Please leave the quilt in all of its entirety to allow the quilter assess what she can preserve!!
However, no worries! This quilt had a happy ending!

Here is a good picture of the binding edge damage. This certainly could have been removed, but I'm glad she left it.  It was actually the binding technique where you use the backing and wrap to the front for the binding.

If you are thinking about doing a restoration, I highly recommend using the internet and read!  I spent a good amount of time learning so much!!!
The other thing I recommend is to sit and map out a plan.

My plan? 
After sitting down and examining all the edges and laying the parts on top of each other? I decided I would cut out the sashing from the loose blocks and "inset" the blocks with sashing from the main part of quilt.  And when I say "cut out", I say that VERY loosely.  Hang tight to see my process.

First step?  Fabrics and thread were purchased.  I knew I was going to need new binding, no matter what.  I took the quilt with me and matched up the burgundy backing and binding to a very thin cotton I found.  I decided on the "thin" fabric because the original fabrics were all thinning and wanted it to "match" as best as could be expected. 

Ironically, the original binding was NOT a purple burgundy, but a much more red burgundy!
  When I folded back seams and such, the real non-faded colors appeared!

Next step?  The sashing and cornerstones were removed from the two loose blocks.  VERY carefully.  Instead of just cutting, I peeled back to the original seams and unpicked them. 
Can you see that orange-ish red?  The original sashing color wasn't a pale pink!

Important! I did not toss the leftover parts, they were saved for later!

I left the backing from the loose blocks, but did remove the batting up to the edge of the blocks.
It also gave me a better idea of the "red" that the backing actually was!

To explain the plan, here is the loose block butted up against sashing of the main portion of the quilting. 

The backing I left remaining is under the backing of the of the main portion because my sister-in-law had cut the backing on the main portion.  The sashing of the main portion would overlap the front of the loose blocks.

I basically nested the parts together.

 I love how you can see the delineation at the seam where the fabric faded overtime. This was actually helpful in the restorations!

Next, I removed the hand quilting on the sashing. I know, I know, it sounds awful, but it was the only way! 

After that,   I removed the small bits of fabric from the blocks cut away from the quilt.
Again, unpicking seams carefully!

This part always gives me a thrill!  
You can see the original machine stitching on the seams on her Singer 1930 Model 20!!

When I started doing my ladder stitches of the sashing onto the blocks, I might have finally settled in that my plan was going to work!

And here is that faded seam line I spoke about earlier.  You can use it as a guide!

After stitching the front, I flipped it to the backside.  Instead of cutting the backing, I just folded the edges of the remaining fabric over because it was terribly thin, and did a ladder stitch again.

 You can see that once the quilting was added later, the repair was a bit more hidden.

Some of the cornerstones were utterly faded, thin, and extremely fragile to touch.  Instead of removing them, I found that it was recommended by the restoration experts that it was better to just cover up that sort of damage.

 Remember those parts I said I saved from the loose blocks?  I unpicked one of the yellow cornerstones from it and just layered it right on top of the damaged one!

 I appliqued the new cornerstone square with simple hidden ladder stitches to the surrounding sashing.

 Can you see my repairs? I might have patted myself on the back when the family couldn't discern which blocks were added to the whole.

After all the repairs, I went back and hand quilted.
Again, using the un-faded color spots and holes (seen above) as a guide for the new quilting!

I was tickled pink that hubby couldn't see any difference between mine and hers, even though I felt like mine may have been a bit more uniform than hers.

I machine quilted the binding to the front....VERY SLOWLY and CAREFULLY.
 I figured I wasn't taking anything away from the integrity of the original quilt since she had  machine stitched her blocks together?

Then, I hand stiched the binding to the back like I always do myself.
 I added a hanging quilt sleeve using a scrap light pink from my stash that matched the original faded "pink" sashing.

A rather large quilt label was added to the back.  I had emailed my father-in-law some questions and he gave me a very detailed and lengthy story about the quilt and the quilter.  Since it wouldn't be used as a "cuddle" quilt, I thought it would be fine to print the entire story out.  Hindsight, I should have used a label with a QRC code.  But oh well!

Of course....I forgot to take a professional picture before I mailed it off.  I was soooo excited to get it back to her in time for her birthday!  She had been asking me that week if I was ever going to  have time to work on it with my busy schedule. 
I *may* have tried to ignore her email because I had just shipped it to her! I ended up sending her a very unclear email back that left her confused, until it arrived on her doorstep!
  This is a photo she took!

Luckily, I DO have close-ups I took!

I love the double stitching of color that coordinated with the blocks and the quilting stitches.

I could not find any pattern that matched it on my internet searches when I researched it,
so I decided to name it Lots of Love.  No one knows if it's her original pattern or one she found.

Quilt Stats:
Measures: 40" square
Pattern: Four appliquéd hearts around a circle in the center and appliquéd curved corners.  
Sashing with cornerstones
Fabrics/Thread: Cotton (Circa early 1900s).  Pieced by machine, quilted by hand.
Restoration: by Heidi Grohs (2014)  Original quilt much larger.  Pieced two salvaged blocks on bottom two corners and added new binding  February 27, 2014.
 Additions: Sleeves added for display and label added for record.

 I learned so much and would not ever hesitate to do another restoration after this one!

Argyle Socks {Quilt}

I was determined to get my oldest son's quilt done by his 18th  birthday....which is tomorrow! 

I made sure it was all quilted before I left this past weekend, and had even started the binding.  So it wasn't a hard feat to finish it this week even with my QuiltCon Hangover.

This is the third quilt I have finished from the Hexagogo Book and is called the Argyle Quilt.  I named it Argyle Socks because he wears the craziest socks and now I feel like I need to buy him some crazy argyle ones!!  The original quilt has more feminine colors and I wanted his to match his existing comforter set.

The hexies are all from my stash or scraps which made it fun.

The background is Denyse Schmidt from my favorite line of hers...Florence. 

I could go on forever about the things that mad me frustrated about the construction of this quilt, but I've decided to just focus on the good things so that I don't have ill feelings about it ;)

The backing is minky again....per his request. He has been spying his little brothers minky-backed quilts (Quirky But Solid and Slime) for awhile now and was hoping he would get the same warm and cuddly quilt.

The quilting was a challenge for me in many respects.   There are so many different things going on that free motion seemed the best option.

Paisley and straight line quilting on the borders.
Curved accents on the gray hexies.
Swirls on the colored hexie diamonds. 
Half moon circle quiltling on the background.

It has a LOT of texture.

NOTE: I often get asked about minkey backings.   To answer the questions ahead of time. Yes...I use batting.  Yes.  It is heavy (8lbs).  But the boys love the weight of them and they are probably the warmest quilts we have in the house. Yes.  We live in Houston.  Yes.  We do get cold here occasionally.  And not everyone loves air conditioning!

I have one more quilt in mind from the book and that is a long term one. I'm dying to do the British flag one...any Brits out there that want me to make it for them?  I really don't need one!

LInking up with A Year of Lovely Finishes!  I made my GOAL!!!!!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

QuiltCon Hangover

The dust is settling around here and I finished all my obligatory sewing when I returned.  Now I can finally post about QuiltCon this past weekend.  I asked some friends "What do you want to see from QuiltCon.  I don't want to bore you."  

The responses were mainly three things. 
 "We want to see more quilts." 
"What did I take away from QuiltCon?"
"What do you want to go home and do right away"

I'm going to scatter the quilts throughout this post that struck a chord with me.  They are interspersed, no rhyme, no reason. I put my thoughts into categories that have been on my mind during and since returning home.  Please excuse the less than stellar phone pictures.  My bag was too heavy with tools and supplies for me to lug my nicer camera.

1) Fear.  I don't give myself enough credit. I need to be more brave about sharing all the patterns in my head. Submitting quilts to shows.

Edited: Deconstructed Star by Amy Struckmeyer.

  The very "well known" quilters are not the only ones in the show. And most importantly to not feel shackled in the thought of "if I did that technique it wouldn't be good enough".  You don't know until you try. 

Ack. Did not take a pic of the name.  Embarrased.

A secondary portion of fear? My loss.  I had quilted for years but with no real passion.  Since the loss of my daughter, I dove in head first and found solace and happiness on my grief journey.  Its often hard to explain. 

Self Portrait, Year Two (Beneath the Surface) by Penny Gold

When I saw this quilt, I thought.....some people quilt because they like the process and art.  I like it for both of those things, but it is sooo much more for me too. 

2) Frustration. I get wrapped up in finding my style and I don't open my mind to new possibilities.

Under the Sea by Barbara Cline

  I need to make quilts that are more "me" and less for the person I'm making them for. I appreciate a traditional quilt and can make one now and then, but I sure would prefer making more modern ones or traditional blocks with modern twists. 

Forgot the name, but pretty sure by Lee Heinrich

3) I'm Important.  I shouldn't always put myself in the backseat.  My husband was VERY supportive of this trip once it was all booked and planned.  It happened to land during a very important time of his new job, his first week.  However, he made sure to let the new company know...this week was for me and there was nothing he would do to alter my trip. name in my photo library.  I thought I was more careful than this!

I almost headed home early Sunday because I was tired and I was feeling guilty I was gone for so long. The kids were missing me and I had a three hour drive ahead of me. I almost skipped my lecture I was registered for. My roommate reminded me I paid for it and it was the only one I was most interest in. I am so glad I went.

Elizabeth Dackson "Don't Call Me Betsy" Modern Traditionalism lecture

 After attending Elizabeth Dackson's Modern Traditional lecture I feel more confirmed in the idea that that modern traditionalism appeals to me the most. I need to embrace.

Colorado 4x4

4.) Let it Go.  Ahaha moments can occur when I let it all go.  Great things can happen if I open my mind to that. This feeds off the lecture I took that last day and followed me home on my drive.  My home is traditionally decorated because that is where my husband I meet in the middle, but I am going to be more and more bold with my quilts.

This is by Nicole from Mama Love Quilts.  I didn't take a pic of her quilt name because there was a demonstration just to the side of me and I was trying to take a pic FAST ;)

My husband doesn't love the more modern ones, but they don't have to live in my home.

Spiced Chai Quilt by Kate Blakesly

 Make them and donate or sell them if they don't "fit" our home. Or?  Maybe start pushing my home decorations to fit them!!!  

Long Island Modern Sampler by Kim Saper

5).  NAMES.  Learn quilters names.  Not their usernames on social media.  But their actual names. 
I'm going to make a concerted effort to get to know all my followers names and those of the designers. 

6). Classes. If ever I have a chance to take a class locally or at a conference, I will be sure I attend something I've never done before. 

Triangles and Ombre Classes with Vanessa Christenson and Advanced Paper Piecing with Lee Heinrich

It was amazing to attend classes with people I really have admired for awhile.  It was also nice to learn new tips in some of the classes I took.

  Next time? I think I need to be more open to things that I have never tried.  Go outside my box and see what happens.  The ombre class was my "out of my comfort zone" class and I gained SO much from it.

7).  Lectures. Attend more lectures. I had an open Saturday morning/afternoon and wandered aimlessly around vendors and the show. 

I imagine I missed some things I could have taken away with me.  I have read that lectures are sometimes more informative than classes. I am certainly going to take that approach that if ever I make it back to Quiltcon. 

8). I am an introvert. I always thought I was a mix of an extrovert and an introvert because I can be outgoing and fun in a group, but what I didn't realize until this weekend is that it takes some major effort and energy. 

I don't regret exerting that little bit of energy. It was so worth it to finally meet people that I've been "chatting" with online for a few years. 

9.)  Roommates are awesome.  Who else can you talk to for hours on end!!  

I will admit. My anxious self was planning to find a cheap hotel or stay at a friend's house out of the way and drive into town each day.  However, I got an email from another quilter I had met in Hawaii while meeting Jennifer from Knotted Threads two summers ago.  

My roommate was Jen (Newbie Jen on blogger) from Quilter in the Closet and we would talk non-stop about quilting.  Our classes.  Our lectures.  What we learned.  What we were disappointed about.  It was amazing.  If I did that at home?  The boys would start rolling their eyes and put their Beats on their ears and turn up their itunes music!  My only regret?  We NEVER TOOK A PICTURE together.  So silly!

10). Conferences aren't the only places to learn.   Can't afford the tickets?  The airfare/gas/parking?  The hotel room?  I have to admit.  I "knew" the final total bill would be a bit high.  But I imagine it could be extravagant for other people.  And to do it every year?  I would definitely have to justify the cost.  Are you in the "I only have enough for fabric boat"?   Most of the ladies leading the classes and lectures have books, blogs, and classes on Craftsy.  Go to your guild meetings. Check out their schedule. Someone might be coming your way and you don't even know it! Take advantage. I'm signing up for another Craftsy class with Angela Walters this week!  

So what was I in a rush to go home and do?  
Finish all my UFOs and WIPS.  Clear them out of my closet and plastic containers.  I don't want to completely scrub them.  However, I DO want to start fresh.  Start new.  Start letting my inner self be expressed more.  I think it will be so empowering!


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