Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Who's Your Poppy?

Sorry - couldn't resist!  (I should have timed this for Father's Day)  I mentioned some time ago that I would show you my new poppy quilt and I just realized I never did!
(Do not hesitate to 'remind' me about things like that!)

Browsing an antique shop in Arizona, this striking poppy applique caught my eye. I  got a very good price on it, probably because it had one small hole needing repair - but even with that it was a steal. I love the gentle wavy edges. 

Rosie Werner, of Quiltkitid.com has thirty-two different poppy kit quilt applique designs on her website -  not including this one!

What company produced it?
What publication was it in?

A friend found this image in her files and it is exactly like mine. Sold as a kit, the white fabric would have been marked to indicate where the appliques should be placed and the kit would include stamped fabrics in dark red, light red and green to cut out and place as directed. Fabric pieces were numbered to correspond to the numbers stamped on the white ground fabric.The design for quilting stitches would also be marked. The maker would provide the backing and the cotton batting
Reading the details and directions on old patterns gives us information about how things were done in the past. In this case,  "No 50" thread was to be used for the quilting....the weight of regular sewing thread. 

These are examples from a different, unfinished, kit top. The poor construction on this one means it will never be finished; not by me, anyway.

Advertising of the day assured women that it was simple to make a quilt with all the pieces prepared for you ....sort of like 'paint by number'. By the way, kits drew criticism from some that creativity had gone out of quiltmaking.)

Many women who didn't even know how to sew were persuaded to give it a try but all were not successful!  Many projects were surely abandoned in frustration, like this one! 

My quilt is not soiled but I want to wash it - it smells and feels like someone got carried away with liquid fabric softener. But first - I need to fix that rip.

The damage - does not go through to the back

Searching my stash for the
'right' white

I clean up frayed edges ...
 add a little cotton batting

Cut an oval - match grainlines and applique

I was going to do reverse applique but the damage goes right up next to the vine so a traditional 'patch' worked best.

The quilting is rather sparse so it was not as easy to camouflage the patch with quilting....but I added a swirl line from the nearby vine to blend it in

Can you find it?

It washed beautifully and is ready for use. I have done very little quilt repair so I consider each project a way to learn and improve my skills. I can't say it's my favorite thing to do, but I know I'm giving the quilt an extended life. You know what they say, "A stitch in time...."

 Quilt Restoration: A Practical Guide by Camille Cognac is a great book with down-to-earth methods of quilt repair. Though out of print, there are some copies available on-line from time to time and both our county and local textile library have copies. If you have quilts to 'fix' it's worth looking up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hexagon Top - As Promised

Unfinished top
69" x 69"
Here is the hexagon top I talked about in my last post. I've included several views as well as close-ups of some terrific c. 1840 fabrics.

The fabrics are amazing in themselves but the 'piece de resistance' is the added care taken by the maker to selectively cut the fabrics in basically every rosette lending an exceptional artistry to the piece. 
The hexagons measure 1 1/4" on a side.

As always, click on any image to enlarge.

Here she placed a stripe 'just so' creating an interesting effect.

Here the 'sliver' of  moon print creates movement.

The rosebuds are centered  in the outer ring with a larger one at the center.

 A pear motif is featured
 among the roses. 

The same pear takes center stage here.

                Figural print 

Just plain yummy!!

More pears

Some of the small hexagons are pieced; this one twice! 
Even this looks as if the maker worked out the piecing with care to maintain the motif.

Hand-piecing shows frequent use of the back-stitch for a stronger seam.

The solid red 'path' creates a strong graphic and ties the various fabrics together.

Obvious challenge to be addressed - the edges

As an appraiser, I have probably seen more hexagon/grandmother's flower garden/mosaic/ honeycomb quilts than any other design with the exception of crazy quilts. Yet as I studied this top and pondered whether I would 'finish' it and if so, how I would deal with the edges, I realized something; though not a block set in the usual sense ....those rosettes CAN be set differently. With square blocks we say a setting is 'straight' or 'on point'. In a way, this can be applied to the rosettes, too.
Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit this but I can't say I noticed that before in the literally hundreds of such finished quilts I've seen.

Side by side examples show the difference

Collection of Charleston Museum
c. 1840
My collection
c. 1930

My top is set like the one on the right, the earlier one, and I estimate it was made around the same time. Was that setting more 'popular' at the time or just a coincidence? Studying many more examples may shed light on that question.
I think because I've never made a hexagon quilt, I didn't really comprehend the necessity of a solution to the edges. 

Truly studying any design or pattern seems to lead to more examples and variations than you could ever hope to see. Scrutinizing the details of a quilt through careful observation really enhances my enjoyment - and actually making a small example myself is the best teacher.
In the case of the hexagon quilts, variations such as the orientation or setting of the rosettes, the fabrics, colors, sizes of the hexagon and the many ways to handle that jagged edge resulting from working with a six sided shape - all lead to a great opportunity for creativity with countless possibilities in this 'one-patch' design.

More examples:

An unusual and effective edge treatment

I saw this quilt in person last January at Elegant Geometry, an exhibit at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, NE.
The exhibit booklet states the " design mistake began in the center of the quilt when she surrounded a double hexagon rosette with a single row of white hexagons and then six single hexagon rosettes. From there, the design went off-center when she was unable to place the hexagon rosettes symmetrically along the central vertical axis." Phew.

Did you follow that?

It goes on to show this close up of her solution to the "misaligned columns .....which "resulted in an irregular quilt edge."

Talk about close scrutiny! It shows that planning was essential - yet who can find fault with this masterpiece?

So, back to my top.

Look closely at the outermost edge.
Someone, long after the top was made, decided that they should 'border' the edges in a tiny red and white micro-dot. It is a strip of fabric, not hexagons. It is hand applied so it will be easy to take off  ( I have all I can do not to get out my ripper right now) but it will  keep the edges secure until I decide my next move so I will leave it  for now.

I've folded the edges back to see how it would look. I am thinking there may be enough red hexagons in what I take off to fill in the edge of the long straight sides. 

Final measurement would be
57" W x 69" L
Click here and here  to take a look at my two previous posts about hexagons and stay tuned - eventually I will make a decision and get back to you!

Two books specifically about hexagon mosaics you may enjoy:

Perhaps you will begin to pay closer attention to the many variations of hexagon quilts as you come across them - I know I will!

p.s. Just came across two wonderful blogs for more looks at hexagon projects
Hexagon Quilt-Along and Hexagon Quilt-Along too! They are described as 'sister' blogs. Take a look.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Make Room! Lovely Hexagon Top Finds a New Home

Hello again! Good to see you!
I am finally getting time to post again after a hectic start to summer here in Minnesota.
I told you recently that I would simply have to stop saying that I was done buying vintage quilts - it was NOT working - so I am not even sheepish about giving you a peek at the latest addition to my collection.

I have recently purchased four quilts and two tops from a local collector who is downsizing, including the blue baskets quilt in my previous post.

Sorry to tease you this way - but I promise my very next post (which will be within a few days) will be all about this very quilt top and the things I've learned from it...but these new additions remind me that adding more quilts to my collection means finding space for the newcomers. I was forced to organize my messy and woefully inadequate quilt closet. I wish I had taken a 'before' picture!

It's quite a job, but it's good for the quilts to be opened, allowed to relax and refolded periodically and it's always fun to rediscover their beauty when fully open.

I pulled them all out....

...opened, enjoyed, refolded them along different lines and stacked them on the bed.

I had to put some on the floor of the closet with the heaviest ones on the bottom. More shelves would help but I also hang some things so for now....

...and more on the top shelf. I covered the open rung shelves with stiff cardboard covered with Tyvek home building wrap to prevent leaving 'rung' marks on the bottom textile.
(I must confess, these are the bed-size vintage quilts. Crib quilts, doll quilts and tops are elsewhere. Then there are the quilts I've made.)

I know they are stacked too high. Storing them flat on the bed would be best, but I can't designate a bed for them now and frankly, that method makes it really hard to get them out when I need to take them somewhere. I am trying to think of a way to have more and deeper shelves. Do we really need a coat closet? My husband seems to think we do.

They won't stay this way - I know that from experience.  But for now they look great, don't they? 

 How are your quilts stored? 
Summer is a great time for them to be aired and refolded. 

That hexagon mosaic top  - a discovery !