Category Archives: Vintage and Antique Quilts

2018-1 Red and White Rescue Quilt

Red and White Quilt

Dumpster Rescue Quilt


This quilt was rescued from the dumpster at Bibles for Missions, a thrift store in Chatham, Ontario.  My brother bought it with the intention of cutting it up for padding for another project.  My sister in law, horrified that he would cut up a quilt, rescued it from him and then gave it to me to clean and repair.

The quilt was VERY dirty, so I soaked it in the tub several times, gently squishing suds through it to get it much, much cleaner.  I then repaired the ripped seams with careful blind stitches.  I patched holes and frayed bits as appropriate.   In some areas, the quilting stitching is broken, but I decided to leave it be, since my own hand stitching is distinct from this quilter’s stitch and the difference in  consistency  would make it immediately noticeable as a repair.  The tattered white binding was removed and then replaced it with a red fabric of similar vintage and intensity.   The quilt looks strikingly better and I am pleased with the result.  I think the original quilter would be happy with my rescue of her work.

While working on it, I wondered if I was merely wasting my time on a quilt that was clearly past its prime.  However, last summer, I entered the quilt in the fall fair category of yard sale/thrift shop quilt and won first prize.  That felt like a confirmation that all of my effort on this rescue quilt was worth it.

Now it is living a second life as a Christmas decoration that is brought out of storage only in December.  It adds a lovely festive touch to our family room and is soft and cozy to snuggle under while watching Christmas movies.

2016-14 Modern Dresden


This queen sized quilt was inspired by some vintage Dresden Fan blades I found in my UFO cupboard.  I wanted to make them modern, so this is the result.

The pale peach background fabric is a wide fabric that I bought in the night market in Cairo, Egypt.  I have great memories of that shopping trip when a friend and her doctor-fiance negotiated for me in Arabic.  He advised me to stay silent because as a man, he could get a much better price from the male vendors.  He did get an awesome bargain for me!

The Dresden Fans are appliqued onto the background in a non-traditional asymmetrical arrangement that gives the quilt a fresh, modern appeal.  The broken inner border is also a modern element.  The quilting design is an edge to edge digital pattern called Dresden Fan by Kim Diamond of Sweet Dreams Quilt Studio.  It is stitched in a peach thread that matches the background and backing.  The same fabric French fold binding is applied to the front and hand stitched to the back.

Modern Dresden won first place in its category, Grand Champion Machine Quilting and Judges Choice at the Caledon Fair as well as Grand Champion Machine Quilting at the Fergus Fair.  I love pretty ribbons!







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!)

Antique Quilts at Kentucky Museum

Kentucky Museum Antique Quilt Display

Kentucky Museum Antique Quilt Display

On my way to Paducah this year, I planned a visit to Bowling Green Kentucky and the Kentucky Museum at Western Kentucky University.  The display of antique quilts is quite wonderful and well worth the stop.  These are photos I took during my visit  and are posted here with permission.

Blazing Sun circa 1855, by Temperence Ely Snodgrass.

Trapunto Detail

Trapunto Detail

This next quilt, an 1860  Pine Tree variation, is one that captured my attention.  I love small pieces and scrappy quilts.  Pine Tree Quilt, circa 1860

Detail of Pine Tree block

Broderie Perse quilt made from English Chintz by a bride who arrived here in 1800, but never quilted this top.  It was eventually tied and a border added by machine in 1875.

Broderie Perse quilt made from English Chintz by a bride who arrived here in 1800, but never quilted this top. It was eventually tied and a border added in 1875.

Mariners Compass, circa 1850

Mariners Compass, circa 1850


Trapunto Detail of Mariners Compass Quilt