Category Archives: Quilt Rescue

2016-32 Snowball Star


This queen sized quilt is one that I made out from someone else’s UFO.  One day last fall, I received an email offering a partially made quilt top and coordinating fabric.  An unknown quilter had gifted it to Judy, who was moving to a new home and purging her sewing area.  Judy needed to pass this along.  This was the photo.

Judy's UFO Gift

Judy’s UFO Gift

The photo intrigued me.  Confident that I could finish assembling the quilt, put on some borders and then quilt it,  I gladly accepted the UFO.  I like a challenge.  However, when it arrived, I saw it in a different light.  The photo does not show the intensity of the chrome yellow fabric.  When I put it up on my design wall to consider how I would finish it, I found the yellow and red fought for dominance in the quilt.  Every time I walked by, I shuddered.  It bothered me so much that I ended up taking it all apart.  I used the extra fabric to make more red and white singleton blocks with a polka dot center.  I made a few half snowball blocks to extend the points out into the negative space beyond the center.  Then I added a red check inner border and a red polka dot outer border to finish the top.

Before I quilted it, I noticed a dirt smudge on one of the snowball blocks.  I decided to spot wash it before I quilted it.  It came clean and I hung it to dry.  The next day when I mounted it on the longarm, I noticed that the colour from the red check fabric had bled into the white fabric.  After a quick internet search on what to do when excess dye runs, I ran to the grocery store to buy Dawn detergent.  I filled the bathtub with lukewarm water, added half a cup of Dawn and then laid out the top to soak in the soapy mixture for three hours.  I was a tad stressed as I saw the water turn a lovely shade of pink.  Apparently, there is something about the Dawn detergent that makes the colour suspend in the water and not in the fabric.  I followed the recommendations for draining and rinsing.  It came out perfectly with no bleeding visible.  Just to be on the safe side, I repeated the whole procedure, but I did not need to do so.  No more dye came out.  I’m glad to know this trick.  It will come in handy again, I am sure!

With that ordeal over, I quilted it with a lush feather edge to edge design that sets it off nicely.   The binding is a tonal red fabric that visually contains those polka dots!   I’m pleased with the final outcome of this quilt.

This quilt won Grand Champion, Machine Quilting at the 2016 Wellesley Fall Fair. It now goes into my stash of wedding gift quilts for some future bride and groom to select.

I have a plan underway for what to do with the leftover yellow and red nine patch blocks.  It involves a bottle of brown dye!  I am certain that most people with not recognize them as having been part of the original UFO.







2016-3 Applique Roses


This is the second rescue quilt I was gifted.  It also needed some repair, although much less than the Blue Sampler (2016-2).  The applique stitches were far apart so I did quite a bit of restitching before quilting.  The hand quilting stitches were long toe catchers, so I opted to quilt it over with a fairly dense but complimentary machine stitching design.  The new binding is applied to the back and then top-stitched by machine.   It will never be competition quality, but it will make a great donation quilt.  Someone will love it, I am sure!




2016-2 Blue Sampler


This quilt could tell a story! When a local woman was cleaning out her house to move, she offered me a box of fabric.  Of course I cannot refuse fabric!  When I went to pick it up, I explained that I would use the fabric for quilting,  Once she heard I was a quilter, she insisted on giving me two of her mother’s quilts.  They had been well used and she did not want to throw them out, but absolutely could not take them with her on the long move across the country.


The quilt needed repair, so I started with each block, hand stitching broken seams and reattaching some of the applique designs. You can notice the degree of fading exposed by the loose appliques.


One block, I completely replaced.  I found a complementary fabric in my stash and made a new block.  Can you tell which block is new? After the top was repaired, I then mounted it on the longarm and quilted it densely.  The blocks are a feather design called Golden Topaz by Donna Klienke of One Song Needle Arts.  The sashing is a formal feather design I created and the border is a feathered rose pattern.   The machine stitching will hold it together and give the quilt a new and longer life.  This quilt will be a donation quilt, most likely to one of the Syrian refugee families we are expecting to arrive in our community soon.






2015-37: Fast Forward to the Border


This is a quilt I made in 1997 – one of the first quilts I ever made.  I gave it to my son Dan for Christmas that year when he was nine years old.  He loved it and named it “Fast Forward to the Border”  because he linked the flying geese design to the fast forward button on the VCR player.  (That is how long ago – no DVD invented yet!)  Dan used it daily though the remainder of elementary school, high school and then took it with him through five years of undergraduate study and two years of graduate study.  Not only did he love the quilt, so did Kyle, one of his roommates.  It became the object of a friendly war when Kyle would steal the quilt first to the living room and then to his bedroom.  Dan said he would often lose possession of the quilt for months at a time! After all the constant use, the quilt became somewhat worn.

When Dan moved home after graduating with his MSc, he asked me to fix the frayed binding.  While removing the old binding, I noticed that the backing fabric was also fraying in places, so I opted to add a whole new backing and quilt it over again.  The original quilting was done on my domestic machine and as a beginner quilter, not especially well done or dense.  This time, I mounted the new backing on my longarm and then treated the old quilt as the batting and top.  I quilted it with a tighter design that will keep it secure through the duration of his current degree and beyond.  Requilting it also gave me an opportunity to square it up.  Nineteen years of quilting experience has taught me a lot about quilt construction.  I smiled to see this early quilt is missing a lot of points and that one side was longer than the other.  Nothing could be done about the points; However while it was on the frame, I eased in the fullness on one side so that it was square and true.  I am really happy to have the chance to re-do this quilt.  My son is pleased with the result.

During the summer, while I was hand stitching the binding, his roommate Kyle came to visit at the cottage.  His eyes lit up when he saw the quilt and again teasingly claimed ownership of the quilt.  We all laughed and I have made note of the type of quilt to make Kyle when he gets married!  It feels rewarding to know that my quilting is valued and appreciated.




2015-25 Zodiac Stack and Whack

Stack and WhackThis Stack and Whack quilt was made from a UFO I purchased at the Mississippi Valley Quilters Guild show in Davenport, Iowa.  The guild had a great show and a wonderful sale area.  I spent too much money there!

This package contained the stack and whack pieces cut out, the navy background pieces and enough of the Zodiac themed yardage for the borders and binding.  I added the setting triangle fabric from my stash and bought the wheat coloured inner border to coordinate.   This was the first quilt I assembled on my new featherweight machine.  It was very pleasant to piece this – a project I did in small snippets of time during a small quilting class with advanced level children.  When they did not need me, I just stitched away on my project and they stitched away on theirs.  It was very companionable and gave me something to do rather than stand over them when they were fully capable of sewing on their own.

Once the top was pieced, I quilted it with a design called Just Stars, which enhanced the Astrological theme of the fabric and echoed the stars of the setting triangles.  The thread is a gold Omni by Superior Threads.

The finished quilt was given to Adam and Meg as a wedding quilt.  Adam is a neighbour at our cottage who played in the forest, swam, boated, skiied and eventually partied every summer with our two children.  He is the first of the very tight knit group of seven cottage kids to get married.  He chose a lovely life partner and we were happy for them both.


2013-22: Triple Irish Chain Quilt

Triple Irish Chain

This scrappy Triple Irish Chain was a quilt rescue project.  Someone gave me a package of partially completed blocks and many 2.5″ strips.  I added strips and more plain fabric to finish up the quilt top.  Then to pick up the predominantly red/blue/purple scraps, I selected a narrow inner red border, a wider red-violet border and finally bound it in red.  The backing is a purple leaf pattern.  It makes quite a dramatic quilt!

The edge to edge quilting pattern is Seaweed by Anne Bright.  I used a red-violet trilobal polyester thread called Magnifico by Superior Threads.  The thread has a lovely sheen to it.   Because the whites of the background are not all identical (quilt rescue substitution!),  I felt that an all over pattern in a strong colour thread would help to blend the whites.

At first, I worried that the different whites would be too distractting and briefly considered giving the whole top a colour bath in dye, but Maureen, my quilting inspiration, tells me the different whites simply add to the charm of the quilt.    I’ve decided to believe her!

TIC Detail

2013-17: Double X Quilt

Double X QuiltThis Double X quilt started out as a flimsie I purchased on EBay.  It did not look too bad when I saw the tiny photo online, but when the packaged arrived I was rather dismayed when I saw the quilt.  It had holes where seams had frayed in the wash, stains from tiny four footed night-scurriers, childishly large hand stitching and the piecing was significantly challenged.  Big sigh.

I liked the blocks, but the setting strips and cornerstones left something to be desired.  On closer examination, I determined that the blocks had been hand pieced by one quilter and the sashing and borders were added at a later date by machine, likely by a different quilter.  This is what it looked like:


Embarrassed that I had purchased such an awful quilt top, I put it out of sight in  a sewing room cupboard for several years.  Since retirement, I have been committed to clearing all UFOs off my conscience, so I pulled it back out of hiding and began to work on the rescue process.

Since I liked the blocks, I set to work separating them from the rest of the quilt.  Once reclaimed, I repaired seams, reinforced stitching, stabilized bias edges, squared up blocks and eventually discarded two blocks that were beyond repair.   The remaining blocks were heavily starched and pressed and then had green coping strips added to each side.  Then I squared all of the blocks to a consistent size.

Working with blocks that are true and square makes everything else so much easier in the quilting process.  From that point, it was straightforward to add the red sashing and cornerstones and then to apply the navy border.  I chose fabrics with an antique feel that echoed the old fabrics of the Double X blocks.

I chose a Warm and Natural batting because I wanted it to shrink and crinkle up like a well loved antique quilt.  Warm and Natural shrinks about 3%, so after the first wash, it will achieve exactly the look I want.  The quilting design is Jacobean by Anne Bright.  I have quilted quite densely over the quilt for two reasons – to mimic an old fashioned quilt and also to give extra security to the  hand stitched seams of the blocks.  On top, the thread is Superior So Fine in a Dark Olive colour with Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin.

The red binding is applied to the front and stitched to the back with a tiny blanket stitch using Superior MonoPoly.  I hand stitched the corner miters both front and back.

All in all, I am quite pleased with the results of my quilt rescue efforts.  However, I have sworn off buying any more quilt tops on EBay.  I still have three remaining tops from that imprudent buying foray.  I am forcing myself to finish them all so that I will be thoroughly inoculated against impulsive EBay purchases!  As one wise quilter told me…”There is usually a reason why some quilts are left unfinished.”  How true.  Unfortunately, some of us learn our lessons the hard way!  I derive comfort from the saying that “Life is a series of lessons.  You keep repeating the lesson until you get it.”  My consolation is that lessons learned the hard way rarely need repeating.   (Grin!)