Category Archives: Antique Quilts

Never under estimate the power of an “older” machine

imageThis machine runs smoothly with a little rhythm that relaxes your mind.  I had a fun time finishing this cute little owl wall hanging on my antique Standard treadle machine.


I’m calling this one “What a Hoot!”

Now, I just need to find the right foot to do the quilting by treadle- what do you think?


I’ll check the manual too


News about an old Quilt

1930s kite pattern
1930’s Kite Pattern

I know I have posted on this quilt before, but I found out some new  information about the quilt pattern today that I would like to share with you!

The individual kite squares were hand pieced in the 1930’s by my husband’s great-grandmother.  Luckily for us, the pieced blocks (joined by machine in the 1930’s) were not damaged by time.

Today, as I was surfing the net for background information on the pattern, I found this website – Moore About Nancy:  The Kite quilt block.    This blog, written by Candice Moore,  has information on the pattern when it was published in both 1933 and 1877.   Candice explains about the pattern when it was posted in 1933 in the Chicago Tribune.  The Kite pattern was one in a series of patterns by Nancy Cabot.  Thanks Candice 🙂

Candice notes in her blog post that the pattern was also published much earlier in the Progressive Farmer as Star Kites 1877.  The hand written pattern can be found on the Quilt Index website.

Can you just imagine someone in 1877 reading this pattern, then sitting down to sew the kite squares by hand?  Now, you too can continue this time-honored tradition by slowing down, unplugging the electronics (did I just say that!) and joining the slow quilting movement at least for a little while.

Happy Sewing or Surfing – and Enjoy this Spring Day – maybe even fly a kite 🙂

Adding a Binding Edge to the Antique Quilts

So, this is how I attach binding to a quilt – it is pretty easy after you have done it a couple of times –

I started with using the extra backing fabric from the two antique quilts I had sent out to the long arm quilter.  They always give you the remaining backing and batting from the project to use on another project or for doing a binding in the same fabric as the backing – that is if you bought enough!

After organizing the backing remnants, I am ready for the first step.

extra backing fabric

The first step is ironing to get the fabric free of wrinkles before cutting with the rotary cutter.

Cutting 2.5 inch strips
Cutting 2.5 inch strips

After ironing on a cotton setting with steam, I fold then cut off the rough edge about 1/4 inch so that all of the cuts from that point will be square.


I first cut a 5 inch strip, then sub-cut 2.5 inch strips.


The 2.5 inch strips are then sewn right-sides together at the ends in order to make one long strip that is 2.5 inches wide.


This long strip is then folded in half length-wise and ironed before joining to the top side of the quilt.

DSCN0763 DSCN0764

I like to start sewing the binding onto the quilt about halfway down one of the sides.  I leave about 5 inches or so of binding unstitched as this will be necessary for joining the end of the binding in the last step.


I sew the binding on without pinning- EEK!  To do this, I just lay the ironed binding flat on the quilt top with the fold to the inside of the quilt top and the edges lined up with the finished edge of the quilt and sew away.  I use the regular foot and a “heavy” setting for fabric on my machine with a stitch length of 2.5.


When I get to the end of a side of the quilt, I stop about 1/4 inch away from the corner,  lift the needle, and cut the thread.

stopping 1/4 inch from the edge
stopping 1/4 inch from the edge
folding at the corner
folding at the corner

I then fold the long (not sewn on yet!)end of the binding strip up perpendicular to the current side, and then fold back down again along the new edge with a fold at the top of the new side.


This technique leaves a fold at the top of the new side with a corner of fabric tucked into the fold which will allow you to get perfect mitered edges on both the front and the back of the quilt at each corner when you turn the binding to the back for hand stitching.

The last step is a little tricky, but thanks some excellent online tutorials, I think I have gotten the hang of it.  Go ahead and click on the link!!!! it really helps!


As I am sewing down the last side of the quilt (back to when I started) I stop with about 5 to 7 inches of edge unsewn, then leave 10 inches of folded binding material unstitched. I find a place between the two ends of the binding edge where I would like them to meet! – Say hello to the beginning and the end of the binding strip!

At the point where they meet, take the extra binding from the starting edge and fold it back on itself – this is on the right side in the photo above.  I take the extra binding from the left side (where I just stopped) and fold it too, with the folds of both sides meeting in the middle of the 5-7 inches of un-sewn edge. See the picture above for this step.


I cut the fabric on the right at the fold, then measure 2.5 inches from the fold on the left and cut there.  If your binding width is different, then add that amount to the end of the binding strip before you cut.  I just use the unfolded binding as a tool for measuring here.  I will cut the long end of the binding one binding width from the fold.  In the picture below, I would cut the bottom fabric at the point where it meets the right edge of the top fabric where my index finger is pointing.  This gives me the perfect measure of fabric for an exact fit along the edge. See the picture below.


Now, take the right sides of the two binding edges UNFOLDED and place them perpendicular to each other and sew diagonally across the “T” to make a single piece that is the perfect length for your quilt. I would sew these two pieces together as they are placed below, starting at the bottom and sewing diagonally up. Click here for a tutorial.


Once you have sewn this seam, trim away excess fabric ( the triangle on the right in the picture below) and re-fold the binding strip in half length-wise again and press that piece.  This length should fit exactly along the side of the quilt if you have measured carefully.


Now, just place the last bit of binding on your quilt top edge to finish attaching the machine stitched top edge of the binding – see below.

– BUT we’re not done yet! It’s time to hand stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.


I fold over the binding from the front of the quilt to the back and use a matching thread with tiny stitches that won’t be too easy to see.  One of my favorite brands of thread is Gutermann.


This part takes awhile, so grab a cup of tea and sit down with your favorite music or TV show on – I can generally get this step done in an evening.

DSCN0779 DSCN0776 DSCN0823

This is the folded binding  at the corner.  I stitched to the end, and then fold the binding down on the next side, keeping a fold of fabric in the corner again.  This fold then makes a perfect 45 degree miter.


Now, I stitch up the fold and then work down the next side of the quilt – attaching the binding to the back using small stitches with thread that matches the binding.


This is a close up of the hand-stitched binding edge on the back.  This piece is now complete –


– Let me know your thoughts about your favorite binding techniques and if you are a 1930’s fabric fan like me.


Adding New Life( Backing and Binding) to an old Quilt

Cleaning Closets and found this!
Cleaning Closets and found this!

My SIL found two old – I’m guessing from the 1930’s partially finished quilt tops while cleaning out her mother’s closet this summer.  What a find!  Each of the squares was hand stitched, and the squares were joined by machine.  I volunteered to have them long arm quilted, then set out to find some backing and binding material that would seem as though it belonged with the original fabrics.  As you can see, the background muslin fabric has changed color a bit with age, but the fabrics have stayed in tact with no fraying or holes!!

Backing Fabric
Backing Fabric



I found some soft yellow and orange that looked like a good match for the colors in the top and picked an open pattern for the quilting template.  I also picked a white cotton batting – a natural or unbleached batting would show through.

Machine Quilted  - no yinding yet
Machine Quilted – no binding yet

After picking up the two quilts, I used the extra backing fabric to create bindings.  The process is pretty simple, so I’ll show you how I did it in the next post.


BTW – if you have any idea on the vintage of these beauties, or like the 1930’s style your self, let me know!


Great find at the Antique Market


It finally feels like spring today!  The robins are chirping and it is nice enough outside to wear a light jacket!

I decided to do a little window shopping at a local antique market, and found this little lovely.

Antique appliqué

I was able to haggle a bit and got a 25% discount- it is a cute hand applique flower with machine stitched border and quilting.  I (GASP) laundered it to try to remove some yellowing in the white background and freshen it up.  I’m happy to say t made it through the ordeal quite well- no fraying or loose seams!


You can see the amount of stitching from this view of the back.   Really a cute find- I’d love to find out if anyone has an idea about the age or value on this one- let me know!