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how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Posted by anniemac.643 (My Page) on
Sun, Sep 2, 12 at 20:50

I have a quilt top with this pattern - very old and the hexagonal pieces aren't all the same size- hence the quilt is hard to square up on top of the batting and the backing. In trying to get the rows of design equidistant from the sides - well it doesn't happen! Some of the 'garden squares' are larger overall particularly on the outer corners. Some of the outer hexagons have partly frayed too; so have lost some fabric and size with this.And the fabric has stretched a bit in places :(
It will be when I have finished hand quilting and trying to put a border or finish the edges that the problem is going to arise. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to make the borders look OK - ie not a crooked looking quilt!
Is there something at this stage that will help ?? before I continue with the basting of the layers together??

this is the first quilt I have tackled - bought the quilt top and am finishing it off; probably not very sensible one to start with but I do like a challenge!
If some one can help I would be very grateful.
thanks very much :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

I am very interested in the suggestions as well. I bought an antique top where the hexagons are placed so that the pattern is like a diamond. I also have Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks that my Grandma started and I am trying to finish. Because the hexagons were cut out using cardboard templates, they are not all the same size so I am experiencing some of the same problems.

Mary


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

How about adding a wide border, then trimming it to square up the quilt? Test out some prints to see which works best to hide the fact that the width varies.

Kate


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Thinking along the lines of Kate, but thought maybe a large diamond, but that might mean sacrificing too many of the little hexagons. Since it's just pretty, not tied to a family member you can pretty much use what you want and sacrifice some that you don't.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Thanks for your replies!!
The suggestion of a border was one I had thought of, but decided that in putting one on- mainly I guess if a different colour- then the straight line of the border might accentuate the fact that the flowers/ designs don't match up, and the border passes through different parts of the flowers.
I did think of using a border the same colour as the main background colour but it will still look odd. So a bit stuck still!! Mary - if you do hear of any ideas in other blogs or emails can you let me know! Many thanks- and please keep adding to this blog - anyone out there- that might have an idea :)


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Maybe if we could see a picture it would help. Can either of you post one?


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

I will take a picture tomorrow and post it.
My plan is to take 2 antique tops, both purchased in the area that my parents grew up, and use one for the front and one for the back. The one with hexagons has feedsack fabric in it and the other one used sugar sacks for the background. Both probably made in the late 30s or early 40s. They both have brown spots but I will not attempt to wash them until they are quilted.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Hi- here is a photo- I have tried to upload more than one but not sure if you can do more than one at a time?
I can post up more separately if only one comes through. not sure if this is helpful on its own- whether the discrepancy with the hexagons comes out that well?!


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

photo number 2
:)


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

third one!
I hope they help- if not please let me know how I can better them for a positive comment
Many thanks


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Really pretty. The colors are still so vivid. Other than replacing some of the edge hexagons I'm afraid I have no ideas though.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Tuppermom, in regards to those brown spots, I've read that you can age a quilt by washing it in coffee, thus changing the color of the quilt. Would that help disguise those stains?


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Mary- Please DO NOT wash your old quilts in coffee!!! Please try to preserve the integrity of the wonderful old fabrics and history, brown spots and all. I am anxious to see the pictures.

Anniemac- Fix this top without being on the batting and backing first of all. I think you need to remove the frayed hexies, making new out of similar fabric (muslin?), replace them and continue adding hexies to make a straight line. Then attach a border, same white fabric- carefully pressing - not too hot. Square the entire quilt, cutting the border that essentially will be a coping strip. Then add a decorative border or finish as desired. It is a big project for the first! It is a lovely top - do you know the history? What is the condition of the rest of the hexies?


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

You could use some lemon juice and salt, scrubbed on gently with an old toothbrush to "fade" the darker of the brown spots. But I wouldn't worry too much about getting rid of the spots completely. Of course, only treat the white pieces, not the colored hexagons - the colors are just wonderful in these quilts.

I plan to applique (machine tiny zig-zag or buttonhole stitch) a white border to my English Paperpieced baby quilt that is an ongoing project. Doing this you are joining white to white and the uneven parts might not be so evident? If you do this, I would look carefully for whites that closely match the old white fabric in the old tops. If you can find Kona "Snow" or Chanticleer "Vintage White," these might be a good match. All white unbleached muslin or plain white quilters' cotton are not alike! You will see this if you look for white fabrics for these quilts!

But you will have something wonderful when you finish these! It's a project worth pursuing.

Teresa


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

I thought I already posted this but I guess it didn't 'stick'.

I would also recommend repairing the wonky hex pieces, but I don't think I would add pieces to level the edges. Go to Google Images and search for Grandmothers Garden quilts to see a variety of bindings. I think following the natural edges of the quilt would be most traditional and would best preserve the quilt.

Coffee would give a very dark color over all the the fabric and you would lose the vibrant shades of the prints. I know tea is more commonly used as a dye, now and in colonial times; it gives a soft natural color to the muslin. But like most of the others here, I think it's OK to leave the dark spots.

Kate


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Here are pictures of mine. On mine the edges have been filled in with 1/2 hexagons to make a "straight" edge. The edges are also fraying badly in spots and the whole top is "wavy"


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Showing frayed edge.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

and the last picture showing the brown spots. They are all on colored fabric....not much muslin in this one.

I am going to try one of the stain removal soaks made specifically for quilts to see if they will come out. If not, they just add to the character of the quilt.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

anniemac, I'm with Kate....replace the frayed edges and just bind it without a border. I think the simplicity (not that it's a simple thing to do) will look more elegant and enhance your quilting, too.

SharonG/FL


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Hi- hey thanks so much for all this wonderful feedback!
I sat most of last evening finishing off the basting and looking at the edges; I think the idea of doing the least to it ie putting a binding that matches as close as possible to the quilt top base colour is the best solution too! A border will perhaps accentuate the mismatch of the symmetry, and draw the eye more to the imperfection of the edges-
I am going to take it into a craft shop today where the owner is a very accomplished quilter; will see what she has to offer as suggestions and let you know.

As to Mary's quilt-I will give my penny's worth here too - ( being such a knowledgeable quilter :)- I think coffee would make it too dark a colour; special soaks would be probably the best way to go in trying to maintain the integrity of the old fabric. And if the spots don't come out - then yes ; character to the old quilt is quite endearing and gives one a sense of history; that they were used practically by some, not simply ornamental :)


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Oh I did mean to add- the colours are not quite as vibrant as my camera has shown! but still lovely.
Is it sacrilege to consider taking off the outer damaged portions at all? Resulting quilt a smaller size?
please don't eat me alive if this is a NO - just a query!!
I don't know the history of the quilt unfortunately; and the rest of the hesagons aren't in too bad a shape; it is just the edges that are a bit worn.")


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

There are no quilt police here! LOL You can do whatever makes you feel good about the quilt. I think even if the original quilter were sitting with you, she would just be happy to have it used and appreciated. Take off the damaged pieces if you need to and don't feel guilty. You've saved this quilt and should only feel good about it!

Kate


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

I was told by someone that quilt tops were used as "flimseys" in the summertime so that is why so many of them have frayed edges.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

As this is your first quilt that you are working on, I still recommend adding a border, even if it is only 1 1/2" to 2 1/2" wide. If the edges of the quilts are what is showing in your photos, even an experienced quilter might have trouble putting on a binding that will be scalloped due to the shape of the blocks.

just my opinion :o)

Teresa


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Hello all- back again!
I have decided to start trying to quilt this and leave the decision of how to do the edge till later.
I now have a different query- being a first time hand quilter, I am really struggling to find a thimble that works for me. I am looking for one that has the deep dents at the top, and has a deep lip on the edge so that the needle doesn't slip off the thimble all the time. I have tried today, and given up with the ones I have. Now I am in New Zealand- have been to the local shops here to try and find this type of thimble and can't find one anywhere.
Could someone give me an online link of a craft shop in the US or Oz that I can buy one from please!
I have a daughter in both countries so shipping isn't an issue- but my attempts to keep some momentum up with this quilt isn't happening!
The push the needle through to the bottom and then up to the top, creating one stitch at a time = exponential light years to get any of it done!! :)
Hoping for some help here please
Thanks so much
Annie


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

If your daughter in the US goes to Joann Fabrics I am sure she will find just what you need.
Small world, you are in NZ and I have a son and family in Cambridge, NZ. They have been there about a year and half and are loving it. They have 3 young boys and are finding it a great place to raise a family.

Mary


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Thanks Mary- indeed a very small world!! We are in CHCH - the shakey fallen down city. Cambridge is a lovely town - quite appealing atm for us! In fact anywhere but here is a draw card!
Is Joann Fabrics in LA? I will also look online and see if it comes up.
Very frustrating this - I have done about 10 stitches today on the quilt all singly done!! Very pretty, but slightly overwhelming if I can't find a faster way to effect the technique!!


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Yes, it looks like there are a number of Joann Fabric Stores in LA.

I worry so much about earthquakes in NZ but I guess they are far enough north that they haven't felt anything. They arrived about 6 weeks after the big ones in CHCH.

Good luck with your handquilting, it does take practice and even with a thimble be prepared for sore fingers.

Mary


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

I've got a question about using coffee on a quilt to age it. The site I read that tip on didn't say how dark it would make the quilt, but it sounds like some of you have tried this technique, or have seen it done. How dark does the coffee make the quilt? Would using tea make for a lighter "aging" of a quilt? If some of you who have used either coffee or tea would provide your experiences, it would be great! I've thought about making a dresden plate quilt, and would like to age the quilt when I'm done. Any tips from those of you who've been there?
Dan


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Tea will give you an aged, golden glow like an unbleached muslin. Coffee will probably look like the quilt was soaked in mud. Just sayin'.

Both will dull the colored prints used as well as aging the background muslin. But it will make it look like an old quilt and that can be fun. Be sure to use 100% cotton thread when quilting (not tie-ing) and wash/dry on hot. That will set the coffee or tea and will tend to shrink the quilting thread enough to give a bit of a pucker. This increases the look of age. The overall effect can be charming.

It's probably just a matter of preference but I would test out pieces of muslin with coffee and tea before doing a whole quilt. If you like the look of the coffee, go with that.


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RE: how to square an antique grandmothers garden quilt

Kate, it sounds like the tea would give me the look I'm wanting. I want the quilt to look like it's been around for awhile, like maybe it was done by my grandmother, y'know? I don't mind the colored fabric looking a little bit dulled because that's what would happen over time, and if it looked brand new while the muslin looked ancient, that just wouldn't look right.
Thanks for the input!
Dan


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