Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Update of Lochry Grave Marker

A million things have happened since my first blog post on the matter of replacing Jeremiah's (my 6 x great grandfather) grave marker. Here is a link to the original blog. Several Loughry family members have corresponded with me, I am pleased for their interest and grateful for their input.  Here is the final and approved gravemarker. 
It was important for me to include that he was the founder of the Loughry family, although most of the descendants spell their last name in alternate ways.  So with the last line "founder of the family in America," addressed that fact, without having to spell the name 25 different ways! Now all there is left to do, is wait for it to be created.

I have to say that this is the most unusual project I've ever undertaken.  Thanks for listening.

Here is the last update on Jeremiah posted Dec 2013.

Ann Fahl

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Actual Rescue of a Quilt Block

We will begin the repairs on this block.

Earlier I talked about what order I would re-applique the blocks. It's not very exciting, but I like to begin with the three stems.  I'll take you through this, step-by-step.  It is important that you remove only one piece at a time; replace it; and then remove the next piece.

Why? because when you remove a piece there are little holes and short threads remaining, to show you exactly where you should stitch the new piece.  If you take off too many pieces at a time you'll lose the markings.  This is old fabric, I don't want to mark with a pencil if I don't have too.

Carefully removing the center stem to be replaced.
I use a seam ripper or a tiny pair of embroidery scissors to do the removing. Make sure you have good light on the project. Remember these threads are old and the fabric underneath is fragile so it's important not to just rip and tear things off. Be gentle.

As I remove threads along the stem, I have to clip some of the stitches on the nearby leaves, but I let them stay in place. Then I replace the center stem with a bias strip. Now you can pull out all the little old snipped threads that were marking its position. Next I remove the right stem and replace, then the left stem and replace. By this time the four leaves are almost hanging by a thread. So one at a time, I remove and replace until all four leaves are finished.
The stems have been replaced with new bias strips, new leaves have been appliqued and the lower triangle has been added.
Now it is time to work on the tulips. The red fabric is shabby, but still firm. So I will leave it in position unless there is a big lump at the outer tip of the flower. If this is the case I'll snip a few threads on the tip, and remove the lump. Now, I'll pin the red tulip petal over the existing red piece and applique it into position. 
Red center petal pinned;  only the upper tip is needle turned and appliqued; remaining edges are raw.
Notice that the lower tip of the red center is folded under. I just pin it in place. You'll notice the fold is aligned with  the lower edge of the green petal. You can also see the black top of a pin marking the edge of the green petal on the left side.

After the one center red petal is pinned and sewn; I lay on the two green side petals. Sometimes the original petals are in such bad condition that they get totally removed. Others that aren't too bad, I'll just applique the new petal over the old.
Green petal appliqued on left side of tulip
Now all that is left is to applique the right green petal.  There are 3 of these tulips in each block.
As of Oct 12, 2013  I have completed 6 blocks and some of the border. I am pleased with my progress.

Still stitching.

Ann Fahl

Friday, October 18, 2013

A New Look for an Old Block

As I begin this blog, I've got 2.5 blocks finished.  Working a little bit each evening, I can re-applique one block in a week.  It's important that this be a NO pressure project, just sewing a little if I feel like it.  Those are my guidelines.  No more high pressure projects that have to be done by a due date!  Quilting should be enjoyable and relaxing.  I've been missing the "relaxing" part for the last few years. And this quilt is for me, not for a show with entry deadlines and qualifications.

When I began my quilting career in 1978, I quilted for about 3 hours every evening. When I say "quilting" I mean all the hand work; applique, quilting and finishing the binding.  I looked forward to this part of every day.  When my children came along, I didn't get 3 hours anymore, but after they were tucked in, I sat down with latest quilt. This was a little bit of my stitching heaven.

Since I've made the switch to being a machine quilter, I've had nothing left to do in the evening, maybe sewing on a label or finishing the occassional bias binding. So this old quilt is fulfilling a need for me.
The first block re-appliqued is one on the outside corner.
When I stepped back from the completed block, I said, "wow."  What an amazing change. I can only imagine how the quilt will look when it is done.  There will have to be some requilting on top of the applique, but that's too much for me to think about right now. Tomorrow is another day. Didn't Scarlett say that?
Detail of the the stems and leaves.
 In the previous post, I talked about how the leaves needed to have points and the stems should be laid under the flowers.  So here is what I meant.  I am also using matching thread colors so little boo-boos don't show. This is quite pleasing to the eye.
A closeup of one of the appliqued tulips. Notice how nice the stem sits under the flower.
I am not restoring this quilt for a museum, I'm fixing it for myself, so I'm taking some liberties with my techniques.  I am using hand techniques that I like to use, and are high quality, not duplicating the stitching by the original maker. So I'm using matching thread.

Next time I'll show you a block in progress.

Ann Fahl

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thoughts on Workmanship

Here is a look at the beautiful stitches on the red tulip pieces.  This woman's workmanship was beautiful, and I don't find the white thread too distracting. At this time in history, a tiny whip stitch was usually used with white thread no matter what the color of the applique.
Small white whip stitching holds the red petal in position

The green fabric is just about gone, so it is hard to tell how the stitches actually looked. There are some whip stitches but there is other sewing with light green thread.  It seems like a different person sewed on the green; or made repairs in later years.   

Look at how the stems are folded over on top of the tulip.  This drives me nuts. Why didn't the maker slip the end under the flower? It would have looked so much nicer and would have been less trouble.
There is a lump at the base of each flower where the bulky stem was turned over.

See how the leaves were almost too big to fit in the spaces, so the maker stuck the ends under or over the stems to fit them in!  This gives an awkward look.  I will trim my leaves to a smaller size so they fit in each space, and give them points at both ends. Look at the photos above and below.
The base leaf on the left was laid over the stem. The leaf on the right barely touches the stem, this is more pleasing. 
The blocks are approximately 14 inches square. What I am seeing is that our skill level and tools we use in quilting today are so far superior to what women used years ago.  Our quilts are so much easier to make.  Also we have good light in our sewing areas and homes which even in the 1950's we didn't have.  

I don't mean to be too critical of this woman's work, it is a beautiful quilt. But the difference is in how far we have come in the quilting world. These little details make a big difference in the final appearance of the quilt.  I think I've been competing in judged shows too long.

At the time I am writing this post, I've actually appliqued 2 blocks and they look beautiful.  Next time, I'll show you the difference!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Where do I Begin?

These blocks are lovely and I've always liked the color choices the maker used.  I've made hundreds of quilts, done lots of hand work in my life, but never restored one like this. Where do I begin?
I think it is wise to remove one old piece at a time. The old stitching holes and pieces of old thread will mark the spot where I should sew the new piece on.  Beginning with the 3 center stems. The original maker used bias strips. So I constructed enough green bias all at one time to finish all 20 blocks.  I cut 1.5 inch strips, pressed them in half, then almost in half again to create .5 inch strips with both edges folded under, and easy to applique. I made 560 inches of bias! That should be enough to complete all the stems.

Next is the leaves. As I look at what is left of the blocks I see there isn't much consistency of size.  So I traced over the tiny leaves at the top and the larger leaves at the base to create plastic templates.  Wow, I haven't made templates in years.  I cut out enough just for several blocks so I can get going with my project. I'll cut more as needed.

Now the tulips, each consists of a red center and two green petals.  So I've done the same thing, made plastic templates and cut out enough for only 2 blocks.  I'm anxious to get going.
Tulip pieces in both red and green have been cut with scissors, like the original maker.
I will work in this order, removing all or portions of the damaged piece first:
  • Middle, right left stem
  • Lower green corner triangle
  • Middle red tulip piece, then 2 green side pieces
  • Tiny top leaves on both sides of the stems
  • Large lower leaves on each side of the stems

As I work, I'll pull out the old stitches and look for places on the front and back that may need repair.  I'll make those using some muslin that is well washed and matches the white background pretty well.

The quilt was appliqued with white thread.  This was done for many years, and was traditional to use white. But I love color and own thread in hundreds of colors so I will be appliqueing with matching red and green thread.

Hmmmm, each block times 20.  That's a lot of blocks.

Ann Fahl