Stretching past my comfort zone . . .

A group of friends gathered New Years Eve for our annual Chinese buffet dinner.

One of the organizers asked if I would be willing to quilt a top for her.

I said, “Sure!!”

I met with Norma a couple of days ago and she showed me the quilt top (this is it on my worktable):

Satin Log Cabin quilt top
Satin Log Cabin quilt top
Another Satin Log Cabin shot
Another Satin Log Cabin shot

“It’s gorgeous!!” I exclaimed. “What’s its story??”

Norma told me her husband’s great-aunt made it while she was dying from cancer back in the 1920s. Norma never met the great-aunt so she didn’t have a chance to talk about the quilt top.

The quilt top is a Log Cabin pattern, made entirely of a fairly heavy, sturdy satin. It is entirely hand-stitched and embroidered. The embroidery is a herringbone stitch on all seam lines, even on seams where pieces of satin are joined to lengthen a strip, or where odd shapes have been inserted.

Embroidery detail
Embroidery detail
More embroidery detail
More embroidery detail

Here’s several shots of the back of the top:

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes
Back of a block
Back of a block
Hand-stitched block
Hand-stitched block

Well, when I got the quilt top home, reality set in . . .

This quilt top is nearly one hundred years old (though you can’t tell by looking)!!  ARRGH!!

This quilt top is not as flat as I’d like; there are ripples and waves across it!! YIKES!!

Ripples and waves across the quilt top
Ripples and waves across the quilt top

How would YOU handle this?? Leave a comment below and stay tuned for developments.

8 thoughts on “Stretching past my comfort zone . . .

  1. Raymond,
    It is truely a work of art. This would be better quilted by hand. You would have move controll of the puckering by working through the difficult sections first. A quilt frame would allow you to roll the top with backing to flatten it whilt streaching is squar and plum at the same time. You have quite a task on your hands. I have complete faith you will rise to the occasion.
    Tom

    1. Thanks, Tom . . .

      I know I’m “pissing off the purists,” but I will not hand-quilt this quilt (vintage or no). I will not “square and plumb” it, either. It is not my quilt top to “fix.”

      My mission is to machine-stitch simple cross-hatch quilting across the face of the quilt to bring the quilt “out of the closet” (where it’s lain for many years) and onto a bed (where it belongs).

      1. Hi Raymond,
        You are not “pissing me off”; far from it. This is simply my suggestion for how I would “fix” this quilt. I intend not to piss you off. In my opinion, all this quilt needs is quilting “in the gutter” to hold it together; either by machine which is your preference. (or my hand ( 😉 which is my preference).

        Thanks for sharing this beautiful hand-made quilt with us and for asking our opinion on how best to preserve it. By the way, I have had many spools slide through my fingers but I DO NOT consider myself a quilter yet. I come from a long line of very talented hand- piecing and hand-quilting quilters.

        Thanks, Raymond.

        1. No, no, you misunderstood me . . .

          “Pissing off the Purists” was not directed at you, personally. There have been a few suggestions on handling the quilt in a “traditional” way, and I’m sure there have been even more unvoiced suggestions. But, this site is not called “Nacho Grandma’s Quilts” for nothing.

          But you HAVE given me the best suggestion of all!! Quilting in the ditch would be perfect!! (I had planned on cross-hatching across the face of the quilt.) Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a row of stitching to rip out!!

  2. Oh that’s gorgeous! All those waves and wrinkles can be mitigated just fine and dandy on the longarm. I’m confident that you’ll make it into a beautiful heirloom. Can’t wait to see the final product!

    1. Thank you, Debi . . .

      That’s the problem: I’m not quilting this on a longarm. I’m quilting this on a 30-year-old White domestic.

      I’ve decided to stitch-in-the-ditch on all seams (partly to anchor the embroidery). First, I’m stitching three vertical sashing columns as anchors. Then, I’m stitching twelve horizontal sashing rows. Then, one-by-one, I’ll stitch the log cabin blocks from the outer edges in. I’ll hand-stitch gathering stitches to bring the ripples and waves under control before I stitch them down, too. All remaining fullness will fall to the center of each block.

      Sound reasonaable??

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