I have a real challenge on my hands with my vintage quilt. Just to refresh your memory, this is the top I’m working on:
And it has had its share of challenges. It is a bit wonky and it has some, um, creative piecing:
I suspect the maker was close to running out of border fabric. I will tidy those intersections up later.
I knew I had this problem coming, but I chose to ignore it:
There is not enough fabric on the left hand portion for it to accommodate the same width border as the rest of the quilt. So, what did I do about that? Ignore it until I had to face it of course! There was NO extra border fabric and I knew this would be a challenge as this is vintage fabric, vintage color. I was shocked to find a fabric in my stash that surprised me:
Okay, the photo color is off, but it is pretty close to the color of the vintage border fabric. It was a total Hail Mary to even try to make this work. I first quilted up bits of this fabric, cut it up and laid it upon the existing quilt, just to get a feel as to whether it might work:
In this photo I have 4 skinny bits of this fabric quilted up, the two left are the back of the fabric and the two on the right are the front of the fabric. I was shocked at how well the right pieces blended in, better than the photo might suggest. I think the print helps it blend in.
At first I thought I would piece it in – hah! That was way more complex than it would sound. I realized, the only solution was to applique it on. Uh, my applique skills are rudimentary. I have tried all the different methods in the past and for a number of reasons, I opted for needle turn. I would have used the Appliquick tools, but I had not purchased them yet and I was in a hurry (for no good reason😊). So needle turn it was. I cruised a few videos and dove in.
I needed a template, so I laid down some Golden Threads paper on the actual quilt and traced the outline of the feather tips, then placed the paper on my “new” border fabric.
I stitched a line of tiny stitches along the feather tips to staystitch the rather loosely woven fabric. Boy am I glad I did that!
You can’t tell from the photo, but to prepare the fabric, I cut into each cleavage and also snipped up to one thread from the stitching line along the curve. I had previously played a little bit with the starch method, but it was not working for me on this fabric, hence plain ole’ needle turn:
I did a little test piece. Keep in mind, I have not appliqued in like 10 years!
One thing I love about the above photo, even though it is all a little rough, note how much better the second hump is than the first. I call that “Visible Learning Curve” and I talk a lot about that in my classes.
So here it is, all appliqued down, ready for quilting. I cringe to post this photo, kinda like showing you my dirty underwear! But here’s the deal, I simply can’t crank out exquisite applique right now, I’m too new. I have to accept this and go forward. It will look better once I remove some of the stay stitching once it’s quilted to death.
And I mean quilted to death, with a teeny weeny micro stipple:
There are several reasons why I did such a teeny micro stipple:
– I wanted to smash down the batting around the feather tips to enhance their dimension. Micro stippling does a great job at that.
– I am using the skinniest thread there is, 100 wt silk. The skinnier the thread, the smaller the stitches.
– But even beyond that, with such a tiny micro stipple, I had to have tiny stitches or those curves would have looked pixelated. The tiny stitches make for a smooth curve.
But then I made a mistake and had to rip out…several times. All along as I was doing this micro stippling, I knew it would be a bear to get those stitches out if I had to rip. Ripping just a 3″ section of this skinny border (maybe 3/4 – 1″) took an hour. Let me show you why:
This photo shows 3 different ripping tools, moving from the right: a BERNINA seam ripper (sharper and skinnier than the standard seam ripper), a Clover awl and a Clover stiletto. Note the size of each tool in relationship to the stitch length. If the size of the tool is bigger than the stitches, it will be useless. The BERNINA seam ripper and Clover awl were both too big to be of any use. And even the stiletto would only fit in maybe 30% of the stitches. It was HARD to rip that micro stippling out! It also frequently required the use of my tweezers too; I had to tug to get those stitches out.
I figure that to fix 12″ of border it will take around 11 hours, including ripping out considerable stitching 3 times and other learning curve issues. Here you can see a partially ripped out area. There was not a way to actually rip out several inches of thread at a time, it was literally one or two hard earned stitches at a time. Ugh.
And here is my proposed binding treatment. This is a very traditional quilt and it’s not a refined top. I think it needs a simple binding like this to honor its nature. I actually love this simple binding!
And here I caught it in the morning sun, highlighting the texture. I have loved working on this quilt!
I only have an hour or so left to finish the quilting of the fix, but I didn’t have it in time for this post. I may amend this post later with a photo of the final fix. If I do that, I will alert you to that next week and show a photo of the finish.
I’ll be sharing at: