Thursday, December 1, 2016

Vintage Quilt Block Finds & My List

Vintage Star Blocks: 
Depression Fabric and Feedsack

I'm SO curious! Please tell me if there 
is a special name for a Morning Star 
block in a hexie setting!

This past weekend was Small Business Saturday, but I carried it over to my Sunday excursion. I wasn't shopping for quilt blocks, but one of my favorite little stores had a package of 69 blocks in a bin. I hemmed and hawed, but in the end decided I'd kick myself if I didn't get them. Little did I know at the time their full beauty. It took my breath away as I went through the blocks at home.

I spread a few out on the kitchen table to show you, then into a pail of cold water with Dawn Blue Dishwashing liquid and a little Oxiclean they went to wash out the years of dirt. Is this what the experts say to do? I'm not sure, but the process has worked well for me through many vintage finds, and all my new fabric, too. Dawn Blue has a neutral ph which is why they use it to clean oil from birds during a spill. It's neither an acid or a base so is considered a gentle cleaner. (Read HERE if you're into the this sort of thing.)

The trick with washing old fabric that might not be color fast is to keep it submerged, and don't let it just sit and soak. Try to keep it stirred every few minutes. You never know which colors might bleed, but brown, blue, and green have been more of a problem than others for me. And so you know, brown is made of red, blue, and yellow mixed. The red has a tendency to bleed out of the brown, but I don't find it so much when it's a pure red to start with. 

The Oxiclean is a whitener or a bleach substitute. It much like mixing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Read HERE. It won't remove old protein stains like blood, but helps to brighten light fabric, and seems safe for colors in my experience. I shake a bit into warm water to dissolve, then stir into the bucket of fabric.

If You Think It's Too Much Work...

As I soaked and stirred, I was tempted to let the next half of the batch go. I watched the surface of the water as a fair sized spider made his way out of the bucket. He went outside to live, and the rest went directly into another bucket. Does this convince you? Wash your fabric!

Vintage Nine Patches Est. 1890-1910

Another bag contained a stack of Nine Patch blocks. When I looked at the condition and the dating, they also found a new home with me. They had already been washed and starched, but they also smelled dirty. They were washed the same as the star blocks.

I also stumbled onto a scattering of Drunkard's Path blocks. I was ecstatic! They're being processed, and I'll show them soon. 

This Story Will Continue...

Even with the care I took, I had 2 blocks of the nearly 100 here bleed and stain, though, minimally. This is the same block in the original picture at the top of the post center right. I don't consider that a tragedy, and will gladly have it happen at the beginning rather than when they've been assembled into quilts. I'm nearly done with all the pressing and blocking, and will show you more details soon.

Checking Off My List:
Four Patches Done and Crossed Off

Curious what 300 four patches look like? I only needed 220 for my 'En Provence' Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt, but got carried away. I think estimating the amount is easier when you're only using strips, but I added pieces of scrap strips for variety throughout, and wound up with some bonus extras for the next quilt. No worries. I'm ahead of the game the next time.

One Quilt Crossed Off the List

The first of the twin quilts was completed Sunday, and delivered until it needs a tag. Since it's a gift, the givers can enjoy it until the next is ready to deliver and wrap. I'll show you both of them when the other is finished, too.

Today's Plan

Yesterday I devoted myself to catching up with email, and blogging. I didn't finish, but it can roll over to later today. It's on the list, and I'm accountable to it.

1. Bee Blocks head the list first off.
2. Four more rows to sew on the Twin quilt, and into the longarm.
3. I'm stuck on what kind of binding the Tiki Beads needs. It may have to wait until I can see it.
4. Catch up on Instagram. 
5. Get out and enjoy the day with the dogs before the cold snap hits us.
6. Start thinking about any handmade Christmas items. Oh! That can be another list, I think.

Thank you all who added your comments to my post on list making. It's so interesting how some of us can be superproductive when we work from a list, and others just detest them. Whatever works for you--do it! The long term goal is to be happy with what you do, and who you are.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


Laundered Cotton said...

I've read that the blue dawn is the key to removing the dye that has bled onto the other colors. Maybe the oxyclean neutralizes that effect? (Chemistry is not my strong suit.) But it takes a few iterations of the 'cure' if I recall. There's a link to the process on my blog, bottom right column. Also, would love to see side-by-side before and afters from your cleaning process (not that you don't have enough to do, lol).

patty a. said...

The vintage blocks are wonderful! I especially like the drunkard path blocks. What a great score!

Glenda said...

Hi Julie a wonderful interesting blog this morning what eye candy seeing all those vintage fabrics, those Drunkards Path blocks are wee gems. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us all. Hope we see more of those 9 patches love the colour combinations Cheers Glenda

Linda Swanekamp said...

Great vintage block finds! Congratulations on finishing the neutral blocks. I still am on the fence about doing the mystery. The last one I did was Grand Illusion and I did not like it one bit- I gave the blocks away to someone who was willing to make them into a comfort quilt.

Angie in SoCal said...

What a treasure trove.

KaHolly said...

What a find! I'll remember your tip if I'm ever so lucky!

O'Quilts said...

great post maybe I will try this with a quilt i just made with old fabric and it bled

Janice Holton said...

Wow! So fun reading about all the vintage finds and everything you have done and are doing. Great post! I'm excited to see what you will do with these vintage finds.

Julie said...

Absolutely, Kimberly. Vicki Welsh's site is one of the many I've been through that has side by side testing, but overall it's that Dawn is so accessible to most of us. We tend to do things when they're easy! I have not personally had great results resoaking blocks that have bled, but I'm going to give this a try, and show you a side by side for sure. Thanks for point out something new to me too.

Feathers in my Nest said...

Gorgeous variety of fabrics in your 4 patches!

Julie said...

Linda, at least your work went to a good cause. I will admit it takes a bit of faith to jump into a Mystery Quiltalong. Seriously, the cost of the fabric even if it's stash you're trying to move, the enormous labor--I was shocked at how long these took me!, and then I agree with you, what if you don't like it? I knew from the start I was not going to love a quilt that had so much purple in it--and my stash was thin in purple/violet, and I wasn't going to shop for more. I tried to make it as user friendly for me by choosing a different palette, and one that I could switch around if I might need to as the quilt instructions progressed.

The other thing is I have rarely, if ever, done a quilt with one or two block designs. I like a lot of things going on, and get very bored with a repeated design most days. I know this is how BH works, though, so I accept that.

The ONE thing I will say is Bonnie Hunter has energy and enthusiasm, and there are a slew of really delightful people involved in it. So I see it as being swept along with the excitement, and willing to accept what the outcome is. I think I have already learned enough now to make the whole investment worth the while. That said, come on and do it with me, Linda. We'll commiserate together if we aren't thrilled with the final quilt. ;-)

Julie said...

Delightful design! I think this quilter had a phenomenal sense of fabric combinations. I will steal them shamelessly!

Julie said...

Kimberly, the first poster above, has a link back to the Vicki Welsh site. It's excellent. Mine is an adaptation of her method and several others from old quilt articles. I have yet to have great success with getting out the stain once it has bled, so if you do, please let me know how you did it. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Oh whoa is me! I am at 130 4-patch units (of 221) for the BH mystery quiltalong!! Today should get me close to the total......Unlike Julie - I love the purples/lavender stuff! No matter what the final quilt will be - I know I will be happy with it Go something 'for the first time' -- Bonnie Hunter is BIG inspiration for me!!

Schulz Family said...

visiting from crazy mum quilts. Wow you have a LOT going on. I have projects in my mind but never quite so many on the go. I am so envious of your old quilt finds. The star in a hexi pattern was the second quilt I ever made about 27 years ago. All by hand too. Whew how times change

Lisa in Port Hope said...

I will not be doing Bonnie's colours either, but i agree it is a lot of fun to sew along. I haven't been able to start yet but hopefully will cut out the first two clues this weekend.

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Those are some great blocks you found. Have fun playing with them.

Kate said...

Gorgeous blocks! What a fun find. Thanks for sharing your clean up process, I've been tempted by some old blocks, but wasn't sure what I'd do with them. Next time I'll know at least how to clean them up.

Susan said...

Wow! That was an awesome find, and well worth the washing they were put through.

Kate @ Smiles From Kate said...

I love your vintage blocks, what a wonderful find, and how the maker would be happy to know they ended up with someone who really appreciates them.

helenjean@midgetgemquilts said...

That's a big commitment for a mystery quilt ! A lot of sewing going on there . I love how you find all these vintage blocks and breathe new life into them - real sustainable lifestyle there

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

I love all your vintage finds, great to update/upcycle them! The scrappy drunkard's path blocks really are very special, look ofrward to seeing what you do with them.