Yesterday our marriage was tested when we decided that it was the perfect day to replace 2 fluorescent fixtures in the basement. Both had died, one spectacularly with flames when I put in a new bulb. We replaced them with LED fixtures. Of course it couldn't be done without one extra trip to the hardware store. But they are done and I have light in my exercise corner again. They kind of look like 2 idiots installed them but they are in and they work and it's an unfinished basement.
Next I decided it was time to cut my Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks. Since I am making 8 quilts I did 8 blocks of each. All 8 aren't necessarily the same fabrics. I'm using what I have. I even decided to "use what I have" for white fabric. I was going to set aside a bolt of white fabric but I have a bin of various white and white-on-white fabrics and I need to use them. There's no reason that the background can't be scrappy too.
Now that these are cut, I'm pondering saving the sewing until we go to Maine in August. I have these arranged on boards that can easily be stacked and wrapped. We will be there for 4 weeks this summer and I like to take projects that are already cut. Last year I took veterans quilt kits. I'll spend some time thinking about that this week but it would be kind of cool to just have a bunch of blocks cut and ready to sew.
I cut something else out of pink and I'll share it tomorrow if it sews up nice. You will NEVER guess what it is.
While I was pulling fabrics I found this really cool one. It's vintage but not feedsack and it's awesome! I must finally use it for something. It needs to come out in public and be seen.
Then it was back to the floor cloths. Here's the first motif. I have a 160 tooth base circle and I drew with a 60- toothed football shape. I had to go around multiple (maybe 4?) times skipping 5 spaces between each.
I did one set of lines using the hole that's on the point (left) and one set with the hole on the side (right)
Then I wanted to do a design in the center using the inside of the 160 circle. To make sure everything stays centered I first fit the outside template over the inside template and then I remove the inside template. I use lots of that artist tacky stuff to hold the templates in place.
For the inside design I used a 72 tooth square and went around twice, once using the side hole and once using the hole on the point.
A little coloring in and this one was done.
Here's how that floor cloth is looking. The new design is at the top right.
That photo reminded me to show you the gears that I used for the squiggle line. I've got loads of these shapes that I can put together any way I want. These are a lot of fun to work with.
Here's the second design. I only got 2 designs done yesterday because both of these took a while. Planning, prep, drawing and cleanup took about an hour and a half for only 2 designs. The more they are layered with other designs the longer they take. I almost messed up and drew through the "top" design with this one.
Here's how that floor cloth looks with the new design in the lower right corner of the photo.
They are coming along! I do love them.
Yesterday was "dyeing day" so I didn't get much of anything else done. My cleaning lady came, halleluiah! She missed a time because she had covid (very mild). She did the requisite quarantine so I was very comfortable with her coming back. Plus she uses a lot of bleach products here so I doubt she could leave germs if she wanted. Chris and I did clean the day she missed and we aren't in a hurry to do it again. My allergies were crazy after that experience. Anyway, we spent some time catching up, she cut my hair (because she's also licensed for that too) and then I got to the dye studio. After dinner I did get a couple of rows quilted on Mom's quilt. Based on where I am I think this will take a total of 9 passes so 6 more to go. It's a really wide pantograph. From this photo you can get a better idea of what the quilt looks like.
The quilt was started by a friend of hers who passed away a couple of years ago. It was supposed to be a Yellow Brick Road. Once Mom got it together she hated it. She decided to cut it up and add the 3 borders and I think it made a huge difference. It's going to basically be big enough to be a bedspread on her bed and it's going to look great in her bedroom. I want to finish quilting it by the weekend because I expect that I'll be picking up more veterans quilt tops at sewing this weekend.
So, on to the real purpose of this post, to introduce my Rainbow Scrap Challenge project. I've been following the RSC blog for several years and always considered starting a RSC quilt but nothing has ever really grabbed my attention. But while cleaning up the sewing room this weekend I got to pondering my modest collection of feedsack, vintage and repro fabric collection. I feel like it's time to do something with them.
Then I remembered these star blocks. This is the very last of my Great-Grandmother Flora's UFO projects. You might remember this quilt that I made for my brother a couple of years ago. It's actually my childhood quilt made by Flora, recovered in her orphan blocks. It's really heavy, just like my brother likes.
The only blocks left from her stash of stuff are the 8 stars.
I started to play with them over 10 years ago and got one set in a white background and bordered with Broken Dishes blocks. Then I packed it away. I couldn't decided if I wanted multiple quilts or one big quilt.
I've now decided that I will make 8 lap quilts and give them to members of my family so that everyone will have a piece of her work. This will be a multi-year project and I'll use the RSC project to make a bunch of 9" blocks to set around the stars. They may all be identical or I may make a couple of quilts at a time. For now I'm just going to make some blocks and see how it goes. You can see that she used whatever fabric that she had and I plan to do the same. I'll use mostly vintage and repro but I'll probably add in some plaids, solids and maybe some hand dyes. I will not be buying fabric. That's really the only rule.
I've pulled a basket of pink fabrics for January.
I'll pick a block from this book each month.
Here's the first block. I plan to get some blocks cut out this weekend and sew them next week. I'll work on this as much as I have time. I'm not going to stress over it because I expect this to take a few years to complete.
I'll play around with layouts but I expect that I'll end up with something simple like this but with different blocks and some sashing between blocks.
We'll see how it goes.
Since I'm thinking about Flora this week I thought I'd share some of her other quilts that I've finished for her.
Like most quilters, when she died she left behind several UFO projects. Some were sets of blocks (Mom still has a set of Double Wedding Ring blocks from her) and some were unfinished tops. Mom had a Trip Around the World hand quilted and I quilted these 3 tops. I used a Baptist Fan on this Maple Leaf quilt. I really like this quilt a lot. I don't remember who got it but I think it went to one of my Mom's cousins.
This is the Dutchman's Breeches block and maybe the 2 that are now on my quilt were rejects from this quilt. She had put sashing between the blocks but I wanted sashing around the edges too. I easily found a yellow to match but had more trouble finding vintage blue. I think the bright blue was leftover fabric in her stash and I found the dark blue to finish it off.
I did some custom quilting on this one because it was the nicest of the three and I wanted to gift it to my Aunt. She took it but wasn't really happy.
She wanted this quilt instead because many of the fabrics in this quilt were from her clothing. Of course we traded quilts and the Dutchman's Breeches went to one of their cousins.
If you think that Mom and I have now finished off all of Flora's UFOs, you would be mistaken. I have 8 of these stars. I don't know that I'll ever do anything with them. They aren't flat and they are too big to use in one quilt.
She also left a few of these blocks and I know I'll never do anything with them. They are way too wonky.
But I was intrigued enough bu the block to draft it up in EQ a long time ago. I've since lost the file.
I even made a few sample blocks. Maybe I'll revisit these some day but for mow I need to get that marble quilt done!
Remember this photo from Monday? This is how Flora bound this quilt. It's kind of weird but I am so grateful! This is what made it possible for me to fix this quilt on the longarm.
I had just enough fabric in that binding to pin to the zippers. As I rolled the quilt I would unfold the edge, pin to a strip of fabric and then I could use my clamps. It was perfect.
This utility quilt got utility stitching. I nailed down the edges of every block with straight stitching and then did a stipple in each block. I found that it was helpful to use my ruler table on the longarm because I had to hand manipulate the edges a bit and the flat surface really helped. It only took a couple of hours to do all of the stitching/quilting. I used an off-white in the needle and a tan in the bobbin. The tan virtually disappeared into the back.
This is a thick quilt so a 1/4" binding wasn't going to work. It would feel like cording. Flora used wide binding so I would too.
Scrappy binding in feedsack fabrics, of course. I machine stitched the binding because a utility quilt can get a utility binding.
I am beyond thrilled with this quilt. It looks like something Flora might have made with anything and everything thrown in to make it work. I'm so glad I covered every inch of the original quilt. It really works with the chunks of other vintage fabrics. I took this photo before I washed the quilt (first time 40 years) because I was afraid it would fall apart. But it came out of the was in great shape.
Here are some close ups of each section of the quilt. Flora loved that Dutchman's Breeches block. I had 2 of those and neither was square.
You can see how my thread color completely blended into the back of the quilt. You can still see Flora's Baptist Fan quilting and my stipple doesn't looks as awkward as I thought it would.
I'm calling this project a huge success.
Now it was time to get serious and patch the worn areas of the front and use as many of Flora's blocks as possible. Each block was like this and had paper pattern pieces pinned to the corner. None of these blocks were square and several weren't flat so piecing anything was out of the question. Instead I pressed under a 1/4" (more or less) edge. No worrying about points or straight edges.
Most of the patterns were on brown paper bags but I did find a few amusing newspaper clippings.
I spread the quilt in the living/dining room floor. We actually refer to this as the sewing annex because we mostly use it for overflow of my sewing crap. We eat 1 or 2 meals a year in here. Anyway, we keep the furniture moved to the sides and I had just enough space to lay out this 70" x 80" quilt. Flora made several Trip Around the World quilts and apparently she was starting 2 more. She didn't strip piece these like we do. No. She worked it in rounds one square at a time. You can see one big white patch beside the center panel. That's where the $10,000 patch is located on the back and I covered it with a big chunk of batting.
Next I used the 16-patch blocks to connect things together. It was at this point that I decided that the entire quilt needed to be covered. I have a pretty good supply of feedsack fabrics and auditioned using only one print for all of the open spaces but it just didn't excite me. I needed to fully invest in scrappy.
Deep in my stash was a set of fat eighths of vintage fabrics. I'm pretty sure that these are real vintage but, if not, no matter. There's a ton of variety and the sizes are perfect.
I started at one end pinning the blocks in place and as I did I tucked in the fabric chunks. I did not worry about how one block overlapped another. You can see that this windmill block overlaps onto 2 16-patch blocks. I didn't even cut away extra bulk. I did have to go back and re-pin some of it because I remembered that I was going to load it on the longarm so I needed the pins to all be horizontal to the edge I would be loading on the machine.
Next to figure out how to load and piece/quilt it.
I decided that the logical second step in this quilt was to work on the back. I had 3 areas of holes with one of the biggest right in the center. One corner had several holes that could be covered with 2 patches.
I could have probably found some hand dyed fabrics that would have matched the backing color closely but I really wanted the patch fabrics to be as soft as the backing fabric. That's when I remembered that I had a stash of "white" feed and sugar sacks.
I was excited to find this bag printed $10,000 plus a couple of sugar sacks with the printing still visible. I decided to use them double layered for stability. I simply cut out a patch and pressed the raw edges under and topstitched them to the quilt.
If you can't match a patch them make it stand out as much as possible! Now it was time to do some batting repair.
I don't know what batting looked like when Flora made her quilts but it's thick and heavy and I don't know how she hand quilted through it. I cut out the bad areas and basted in 2 layers of scrap batting to approximate the thickness of the original. It took a couple of hours to fix the batting.
While I was up close and personal with the quilt I noticed this fabric throughout the quilt. I don't know what color the floral image was but the dye ate through the fabric all over this quilt.
The next day I tackled the front of the quilt.
I got immersed in a project last week that I spent 3 days to get it finished before we left for our annual family vacation. I wanted to get this done because it's destined for my brother, Eddie and I can deliver it this week.
Before I get into the background of this project I just want to point out that this project would have never happened without bloggers. I've been watching Carole do some miraculous restorations on old quilts and I've always been inspired by Debra's free-piecing and use of vintage textiles in her quilts.
This series of posts are about a quilt made by my Great-Grandmother, Flora Texas Goad Rakes. She died at the age of 80 in 1968. I was almost 8 when she died and I do remember her a bit. I mostly remember her sitting in her rocker with a tin of supplies hand piecing quilt blocks. She also wasn't terribly tolerant of having urchins running around her. But she was a quilter and she made quilts for everyone. If you got married you got a double wedding ring. All of her Great-Grandchildren also got quilts.
Here's another fun blog find. Through my blogging friendships I learned that Karen Goad and I are related through this lady and Karen's husband. Apparently all Goads from Virginia are related.
Here's the "precious" quilt. This project started with me rummaging in a closet and finding (again) my childhood quilt that Flora made. This is the quilt I slept under until I went to college. It has holes in it and is very worn but I just can't throw it out. I've been waiting for a idea that might inspire me to cut it up and make it into something else.
My quilt is heave but my oldest brother, Eddie's, quilt was even heavier. About 10 years ago he asked me to repair it but every single fabric was worn out - front and back. During a previous repair we learned that his quilt was heavier because it actually had an old whole quilt as the batting. He had to give up using his several years ago and he's still bummed about it. After watching Carole repair quilts I wondered if I might actually be able to refurbish my quilt and give it to my brother. (I've reached a point in my life where a super warm quilt at night isn't comfortable anymore.) I didn't want to spend too much time because, clearly, all of the value in this quilt is totally sentimental.
Time to inspect! Yes, that's the carpet. This quilt is seriously worn.
There are a few fabrics here and there that have held up but then there are fabrics that have completely shredded.
Now I slept under this quilt for years and years and I never noticed how she did the binding. On the sides the top is folded to the back. Top and bottom have the back folded to the front. This is why I'm always harping on people who are overly self-critical on themselves. Once you accept that the gift recipients only care about 2 things, color and comfort, you can stop worrying about the piecing, quilting and binding precision.
Aside from the holes, the back fabric is in great shape. It's a pretty heavy loose weave fabric and it's really soft. I'll have to keep the softness in mind when I patch those.
I remembered that I had a supply of Flora's orphan blocks. I think these were her pattern blocks. She would make up a sample block and pin the paper patterns to the block. My Aunt gave these to me years ago along with some quilt tops and other blocks. I think I can use these to patch the roughest areas of the quilt.
There were also a stack of scrappy 16-patch blocks. I took that night to think about whether I really wanted to do this and how I might go about it.
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In Bloglovin you need to search "Colorways By Vicki Welsh" to find the blog.
I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.