Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Vintage Quilt Tops - Ready or Not?

Plain blue half blocks edge top and bottom
I'm liking tops more and more since they take up less space, cost less (usually) and are ready to be quilted...(sometimes!)
I recently found this one-patch at a Tucson quilt shop, Cactus Quilts,  the only shop I know of that is willing to use precious retail space to offer vintage textiles to their customers. If you are ever in the Tucson area you will want to stop in!

This one appeals to me because the 'lozenge' shape is somewhat unique and because I love scrap quilts - so many fabrics to examine and exclaim over.

Plaids cut on the bias add movement and interest

Dots, shirtings, checks and stripes

A range of time periods represented

What about that green and orange geometric!
I will repair a few loose seams but the piecing is accurate; the top lies flat, so I would like to hand quilt the Lozenge One - Patch.

This one is often called Improved Nine Patch. I guess that's a matter of opinion -  I'm not convinced one can improve on the classic nine patch  - but this variation IS a graphic delight with the stretched out corners of the nine patch block and the melon shape connecting them creating a circle.

Improved? or Needs Improvement?
There were some flowers and vines marked in blue wash-out marker on a small area in the middle...and evidence that some hand quilting had been taken out. I could also see small safety pin holes in the rest of the piece indicating  that it had been pin basted. Someone thought it was ready for quilting....

A nice variety of indigo prints
I immersed the entire top in water to be sure that the blue marking pen would come out before I put any more time into it.  I've used that marker successfully in my quilting but there are some guidelines. You need to avoid heat - irons or even exposure to hot sun can 'set' the blue. When you wet it, do so thoroughly in plain soap. Dabbing at it appears to work until the next day when it may reappear. Another reason to get it wet is to be sure the fabrics do not run. I know many people are afraid to wash any vintage textile - but for me, if I am going to put my time into quilting it, I want to be sure that first time it's washed the colors won't run.

It came out of the water fine - blue markings gone and no bleeding blue.

It was fun to discover that various whites were used - here's evidence of  a sugar sack...............

........and several areas have pre-printed embroidery motifs - probably for a pillow case or dresser scarf. The 'use what you have on hand' philosophy!

I wonder if the assembly was done at a later time than the blocks?

However, upon closer inspection I discovered that it is NOT ready to be quilted. 
This is actually a rather complex piecing project when it comes to setting in those melons....and this intersection, and quite a few more like it, tell me that this top needs 'Improving' before going further! I'll have to think about this one!

Do I want to put time into fixing those intersections or just use it as an example for my talk:  Old Tops & Blocks: What to Do? 

I'll post separately on the many options and considerations for those orphan tops and blocks you may have in your stash!


  1. I love that improved nine-patch! It is in much better shape than the old top of that design that I purchased years ago, made by an elderly woman from her collection of aprons.

  2. Great tops Jean - you have such a great eye.
    I think it is ecudactional to leave some of the tops unquilted because so much of their 'story' is on the back side...
    Love the variety of fabrics in the one patch.

  3. Wonderful quilt tops! Is the scrappy one a charm quilt, or just scrappy? Guess I could study the photo a bit to find out. Two-color Improved Nine Patch... lovely. It would seem to have a lot of lessons in it for your lecture. You are probably familiar with Tim Latimer of Quilts Etc. blog? He collects and hand quilts vintage tops with beautiful results... very inspiring.

  4. great tops! I love the variety of fabrics in the first one....and the "needs improvement" nine patch is very striking in blue and what...very bold. Looking forward to seeing how you decide to procede
    Thanks for sharing them


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