Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Quilt Restoration & Repair - A Long and Crazy Journey with Carrie

Part 1 - How the quilts came to me, or "What was I thinking?"

Well, in spite of my good intentions, a year has flown by since my last post.  It seems that last year at this time we were heading off to Market and Diane's American Summer Quilt was going to be debuted.  Now, we are heading off to Market in about a month and Diane's American Crossroads quilt will be debuted.  My Americana II line will be arriving soon, but we got the shop kit last week, so she is working like crazy to finish it, so that it can be quilted and bound before Market.  Easy, huh?

Anyway, what inspired me to start up with my blog again is a project that I have been working on.   It started about a year ago - ok, maybe a little bit longer than a year - when a nice couple called to see about getting some antique quilts restored and completed.  My obsession with  antique quilts would not let me pass up the opportunity to at least look at the quilts, so they brought them in.

When I looked at them, I was kind of disappointed, there were five of them, two tied quilts and three tops.  Only two were really worth working on.  It always makes me feel bad to tell people that their precious family quilts aren't really worth anything, but I am a realist, and I collect antique quilts (mostly tops), so I am well aware of the market value of these quilts. There was a time, not all that long ago, when antique quilts were treasured and coveted, but since everyone and their mother has become more internet savvy, antique quilts have been falling out of attics and barns and landing on eBay.  It's the old story of supply and demand, and the supply is up.  Quilts from the Quilt Revival period, from around 1920-1940, are a glut on the market.  Its really sad to see some of these heirloom quilts sell on eBay for next to nothing.  I always tell people to put a label on them and keep them in the family.

In spite of my suggestion to the contrary, my customers decided that they really wanted to have these quilts repaired and/or completed.  I reluctantly agreed to give them an estimate.  I was sure that once I put a price on the job, they would change their minds.

My estimates were very honest, and ridiculously high, considering the condition of the quilts.  To my surprise (and, yes, dismay), they asked me to go ahead with the project.  Go figure.  I took pictures for my quotes, and you can see them below, with the names that I have given them, and a short description.  I thought that you might find it interesting, or just plain funny, to follow along as I work on these quilts - and sharing with you might help keep me on track!

So without further ado, here they are, in no particular order:

 Improved Nine-Patch Tied Quilt - Circa 1940 
Machine pieced and machine appliqued to border.
Condition – fair/poor

Nine-Patch on Point Top - Circa 1900
Variety of Indigo prints set with a single shirting  print,  hand pieced blocks set by machine. 
Condition – good, but bias edges are a problem.
Shirting blocks in one area are bleached (?) and need to be replaced.
Double Nine-Patch Sashed Quilt Top - Circa 1890
Hand pieced - some stains, holes in fabric, opened seams, shattered fabrics
Condition – Fair/poor
Irish Chain Quilt Top - Circa 1930
Hand and machine pieced
Condition – good

Squares and Shoo-Fly Tied Strip Quilt - Circa 1950
Machine pieced
Condition – poor

So, there you go - Five quilts &  tops in a wide variety of conditions.  I don't usually do quilt repairs myself, since I don't really have the time, and usually they can be easily handled by one of our talented quilters, but these quilts had some special issues, and nobody else wanted to do them.  

In case you wondered - I have not just been procrastinating for over a year.  The customer wanted the quilts  washed, so I started there.  Although they weren't horribly dirty, it seemed like a good idea.  I did take the two tied quilts apart first and got rid of the batting, which was mostly clumped up and yucky.  I was able to salvage one of the backs, or at least part of it, to possibly use for repairing the top.  The other back was in shreds, and I had to get rid of it.

Now the fun begins!  Stay tuned for the next installment. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

To Market, To Market

Hello Pieceful Quilters!

Next week we leave for Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis.  We are pretty excited this time, since Diane and I will be talking a little bit about Diane's wonderful American Summer BOM at the Penny Rose Schoolhouse session.  The quilt is all finished, and Teresa is quilting it now:
 We are hoping that showing the finished sample will convince some other shops around the country to pick it up for a BOM project.  Diane did such a great job of writing the pattern and putting together great kitting instructions for shops.  Since we have our own shop, we know what kind of challenges shop owners face when trying to kit things.  There is a fine line between having enough fabric in a kit to allow for operator error, or having too much so that people feel like you are overselling to them.

American Summer starts in our shop in June, so if you are planning on doing it, either in the shop or by mail, please sign up soon!  We will probably start cutting the kits when we get back from Market, since the fabric arrived yesterday!   Katie does have it set up so that you can sign up on our website at under Shop Online/Block of the Month Quilts & Clubs.

My next fabric line, Samantha, is not coming out until September, but Penny Rose sent me some small pieces of the strike-offs to do something for Market.  Here is what I have so far - I am still doing some borders, but I am really loving this fabric!  The double pinks may look a little bright in this picture, but if the fabric prints the same as the strike-offs, you are all going to love these double pinks.  They are dead on authentic colors, and they look so great with the deep rich browns and tans.  I have a couple of real quilt designs for this one, but I have been playing with ideas for a BOM for this one, too.  (In my spare time - hah!)  We will also take pre-orders for Fat Quarter bundles of this line.  You can see both of these lines at Penny Rose Fabrics, and order on our website.

So there you are - I have not blogged twice in a week!  Stay tuned for more Pieceful Babble soon!

Happy Quilting - Carrie

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Americana Fabric Line and American Summer BOM

Hello Pieceful Quilters!

So - after vowing to post a couple of times a week, it has been 5 months - Wow- how did that happen?  I could have sworn it was less than three - which is also horrible - but 5????

Anyway, my new fabric company, Penny Rose Fabrics, is doing a blog hop or something, which I said I would participate in.  I am not sure what that really means, and I am guessing that they have probably taken a look at my pathetic blog and dropped me off the list - totally understandable!  But, on the outside chance that I am still in this - I thought maybe I would post something! 

I guess I should start with my fabric lines that are coming out.  First, coming soon to a quilt shop near you, we have Americana.  Being a total sucker for anything patriotic, this was a natural for me.  I learned to be patriotic from my dad, who woke us up on the 4th of July with LOUD Stars & Stripes Forever on the record player.  I didn't always appreciate this - particularly in my college years - but I would give anything to have him around to do that now.  Lesson:  Appreciate your parents while you can - they won't always be around to annoy you!

So, I design fabric - or do I?  Although I have been known to take out a dot here and there, or change the scale of a design, my fabrics are authentic reproductions of antique fabrics.  Most of these fabrics are from quilts, quilt tops, blocks and fabric pieces that I have collected.  I have a special affinity for fabrics from the Civil War era, but I like from the 1800's up to the turn of the century. 

Reproduction - what exactly does that mean?  Basically, I choose fabrics I like from my collection.  I do what I can to enhance them - sometimes that means making the print sharper, as these fabrics are often pretty faded, and sometimes I don't have big enough pieces to make out the entire pattern, so I piece together what I can, and fill in the blank as best I can.  Once I have the print the way I want it, I come up with alternate colorways.  Usually, I have a plan - patriotic, pink & brown, blue & white - or anything that Penny Rose needs!  I always try to make the colors work together, and throw in some neutrals.  Since I own a quilt shop, I know what I need to have in a fabric line for it to sell in my shop.  Whenever we order a complete line, it seems like there are a few dogs that I know will end up in our sale room.  My goal is to produce a line with no dogs.  Hah!

I believe I have digressed - back to Americana.  The Storyboard is below.  As you can see, there are 7 different prints, and each is done in 3 different colorways.  There were other prints that the company decided not to use, and other colors that they had do choose from.  Once they have decided what to do, a stylist (read that - someone that actually knows what they are doing) fixes everything so that it will print correctly on fabric and they send it out for test prints (strike-offs).  Sometimes they get sent back a few times before the colors are just right and the prints are sharp or soft enough. 

With the Americana line, we have done a Block-of-the-Month.  Diane Nieman designed this awesome quilt and I think you will agree that it works perfectly with my fabrics.  We are extra excited that Penny Rose is helping us in offering this to other quilt shops.  Ask your local shop if they are going to do it, or do it online through our shop.  You can find all the information at: under "Shop Online - Block of the Month Quilts and Clubs.

Until Next time...  
Happy Quilting - Carrie

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas!

I know, it is hard to believe that Christmas is already here, but I was saying to Katie the other day that for some reason, I feel more ready than usual.  Not that I have done more (you know me better than that), but somehow I am more ready in my heart - I guess that is how I would describe it.

Maybe some of you are like me - I don't look forward to events and occasions as much as I seem to look forward to them being over.  Not that I want them to end fast (usually), but I am in a hurry to get on to the next thing, or I am worried about something that I should be doing instead.   I think a lot of us are like that, and we don't take time to enjoy what is right in front of us.

I don't know if it is the grandchildren, or just that I am getting to a new stage in my life, but I am truly looking forward to having my family around me and soaking in each joyful moment of the fun and laughter that they bring.  I am also vowing to try to live my life in the moment a little more.

I hope you all have a most joyful and blessed Christmas!


My Little Sweethearts

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thread according to Carrie

Thread - a boring subject if ever there was one.  Let me start by saying that I am, by no means, a thread expert! There are so many questions that arise about thread, and so many misconceptions, that I thought it was worth writing about.  I am just going to tell you about some of the thread that we carry, what I use it for, and why I use it.  I know there are a million different types of thread on the market and COLORS - oh the colors!  You could spend a fortune and never have the right color!  Talk about counter candy...

Here are some of the threads that I like to use:

You may notice a common "thread" here (groan).  All of them are shades of beige and brown.  Truthfully, I don't use a lot of colors.  There doesn't seem to be much need for a lot of colors in the types of things I do.

Lets start on the left.  The big cone and the spool in front of it are both Signature 40 weight cotton thread in a color called Mother Goose.  Why it is called that is beyond me.  It is a great color that magically seems to pick up any color that is near it.  Our quilters have used it on many quilts that have a wide range of colors.  I even had them use it on a blue and cream quilt of mine.  It looks great!  We use this brand of thread almost exclusively on our Longarm machine, and many people like to buy the smaller spools for machine quilting on their home machines.  A 40 weight thread is a little stronger and a good choice for quilting.  We only use 100% cotton for quilting on cotton fabric.  There are stories around that polyester in you thread will eventually cut through cotton.  I am here to tell you that it is TRUE!  One of my instructors quilted her children's baby quilts with a cotton/poly thread and it eventually ripped right through the quilt.  This is in our lifetime, so you will not want to use it on an heirloom quilt - which, of course, all of your quilts will be!

The next spool and cone are Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread.  Aurifil is a fabulous thread for piecing.  I also use it for quilting smaller projects.  90% of the Aurifil I buy is color 2310 - light beige.  I use it for all my piecing.  Aurifil is a long staple thread.  So, what the heck does that mean?  Staple refers to the length of the fibers in the thread.  Inexpensive thread has shorter staple fibers which means they are fuzzier and they mess up your machine.  They are not as strong as long staple threads, either.  You really do get what you pay for, but even then, looks can be deceiving.  Nice long staple thread is finer, even though it is stronger, and you will find that if you compare the amount of thread on a spool of Aurifil with the amount of thread on a similar looking spool of some of the other brands, that there is a whole lot more thread.  When you start comparing you will find that even though Aurifil is twice the price, there is about twice as much thread on each spool as Gutterman and Mettler.  Large Aurifil spools have 1450 yards compared to 876 and 547, and the small spools have 220 yards compared to 110 & 164.  Don't be tricked - Aurifil is your best deal for price and quality.  I should get paid for this!  Another reason to use cotton thread is that it shrinks at the same rate as your fabric.  You don't want a baggy quilt, do you?

The next spool in my picture - that whitish one is water soluble thread.  This thread can be great for specific uses, but be careful - keep it in a plastic bag away from your other thread and label it.  It looks a lot like regular thread and you do NOT want to accidentally piece your quilt with this! 

Now to the pyramid.  The thread on top is YLI Cotton Hand Quilting Thread.  I use it for a lot of my hand work- not just quilting.  I use it for hand finishing my bindings and, yes, I use it for my English Paper Piecing projects.  I like it because it is a little stronger and heavier than Aurifil, and because it is treated with beeswax or something, it doesn't twist and knot as much.  Since it is 100% cotton, I know it will be alright for my cotton fabric in the long term.

Lastly, on the bottom of the pyramid are the only two colors of YLI silk that I buy - light taupe and dark taupe (or brown color 235 and beige color 242).  I ONLY use silk for applique.  I know some people have used it in the top of their machines for machine applique, too.  What is nice about silk in these colors is that the silk is kind of translucent, so it picks up whatever color you are using in on (in the unlikely event that your stitches even show).   So, why only applique, you ask.  Some people are saying you must use it for English Paper Piecing.  Seriously???  Have you ever seen an antique crazy quilt with silks and other fabrics?  What is the first fabric to shatter?  Yes, the silk.  Why would you piece with that?  At least applique would be easy for your heirs to repair.  Besides it is so fine it is hard to keep in your needle, and if you are like me you can barely see the stuff. 

Some other thoughts - GET RID OF GRAMA'S THREAD!  Unless you are displaying it in a glass jar because it looks so quaint on the wooden spools.  Old thread gets brittle and breaks.  If you have thread that is more than 5 years old, throw it away, or save it for basting or make birds nests out of it.  Sure, you have nothing else to do, right?  Throw it out! 

Nylon or other see-through threads.  I used to use these for quilting - but, isn't nylon like polyester?  Besides, it gleams in the light and looks kind of weird.  It also melts if you press it - fun!  Stick with cotton.  If your quilting is that bad, we have people for that.  Have you seen mine?  Ask my staff about my lack of skill in that department.  Thank God for my people!

Well, I hope I haven't totally bored you to death.  I would do a post on needles, which are really boring, but I couldn't stay awake during the needle class at market.  Z-z-z-z-z.

Hope this answers some questions. 


Thought for the day:   Don't do anything without a clear reason for doing it!