Vintage Re-Imagined

My friend Mary Kerr, has been challenging me for years. Encouraging me to go places I didn’t know were possible. She revels in taking anything vintage; be it scraps, quilts or textiles, and repurposing them. Creating something new, all while giving us permission to use those old items and making of them, what we wish. I believe this was the 8th project I have quilted for her. Whenever I ask her what she’s thinking she would like done, she replies, work your magic. This is what Vases, Baskets & Bowties looked like when it arrived to my studio in the fall of 2020.

I’ve been asked how I chose the designs to quilt this project. What influenced me? I often look at what the piecer has done and take cues from the designs and fabrics that they included in the quilt top. There were two other things that influenced me. The first, is my Grandmother’s wedding quilt, finished before 1940. I love the blue thread she chose to quilt on that bubble gum pink fabric!

I wanted to experiment with the idea of using a different color of thread instead of a matching thread. Even though there is a lot going on with this quilt top, I thought it could handle some strategically placed colors of thread, like the blue thread in the flower and vase below. Then, I just let her rip, in the border and used all the colors!

The second influence was a book by Averil Colby published in 1971. It’s about Welsh quilting and I have wanted to recreate some of the motifs that are included in this book. Since it’s also from the same time period as the pieces used in this quilt top, I knew they would fit together nicely. I like to use the tools I have at my disposal and one of those tools is a computerised quilting machine.

Some people believe that this is kind of cheating, but designs like the circles in the border are just easier to do with a computer. It also allows me to create my own designs, like the leaf with the swirls that echo the designs in Averil Colby’s book. So I use my tools; whether it’s a ruler, a piece of chalk or a computer.

Sometimes, I already have a purchased computerized design that fits perfectly with the quilt top, like the beautiful, adorable-1-motif-4 design by Donna Kleinke, that fit perfectly under the vases or the Art n Stitch butterflies I scattered around the wide floral border. Other times I will create a design like the Quarter fan, the church window border or leaf design to echo the Welsh designs in Averil’s book.

All of this takes an incredible amount of time and effort. I’m also one of those that uses a seam ripper when things aren’t right and I know I can do it better and things don’t go as I expect them to go. This was my first try at doing the church window design in the border. I decided a two part arch would look less distorted and I’m much happier with the final version and feel it was worth the extra effort.

I’ve never been a fan of the stipple design, unless it was a micro stipple, which is far too small to use in this quilt. I started doing this overall curling design, in the video above, somewhere along the way and it’s become a favorite to use in vintage quilts. You might notice that I repeated that curl in the leaf used in the border. Repeating designs or elements helps to create a more cohesive finish.

Here’s she is in her full glory, just before shipping her off, at the end of 2020. Helping Mary quilt her 80 x 80 inch masterpiece was my pleasure. She’s one of the most supportive and encouraging people in the world. I just love how she’s using the materials she has at hand, the quilts and bits of quilts left over from past generations and allowing these lovely pieces to be enjoyed by future generations.

She has collaborated with a number of incredible longarm quilters and the final exhibit for her Twisted quilts are being shown at the Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset. This quilt, Vases, Baskets & Bowties has tagged along and will be up until June 16, 2024. You should go take a look!

You can get more information about all that’s going on there, right here.

Thanks for stopping by to see my work. I hope you’ll come again!

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