Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The 1930's Quilt

My 1930's Quilt -- Made from Antique Quilt Blocks
I call this the 1930's quilt. I worked on this off and on for about 5 years -- from around 1995 - 2000. I purchased all these blocks already sewn from an antiques shop in Michigan. I paid $20 for 48 blocks, all made with fabrics from the 1930's. My mother and sister were with me when I bought them and didn't seem to understand why I wanted them. I remember sitting in the backseat counting them up and deciding right then and there to make a quilt that was 6 x 8 rows -- roughly the size of a twin-size bed quilt.

This is also one of the first quilts that I know of where I made a binding. I folded the backing fabric over to the front and sewed it down by hand. This method is sometimes used, although it is not usually the preferred method.

So, here you can see that each block is actually made up of 8 half-square triangles, as they are known to us quilters.
The quilt maker most likely cut the triangles, then sewed the triangles together into squares, then sewed four of these squares together, making one block. The piecing on this quilt is all done by machine -- both the unknown quilter and my addition of the sashing (the blue fabric).

The blue sashing fabric that I used was, again, more of my great-grandmother's leftovers. I had a couple of yards of that lying around and thought it would work well with the '30s fabrics.

If you look closely, you can see in this picture how the blue fabric is actually textured. You can also notice some of the detail in the other fabrics and the variety of colors, patterns, and scale that were used. I imagine the quilt maker was just using up scraps from her own stash.

In this close-up now you can really see the texture I was talking about in that blue fabric.

You can also see this detail of the quilting I did in the outer row of the sashing. My original intent was to do this vine and leaf quilting in ALL of the sashing. Well, as you can probably guess, after five years of working on this thing by the time I got this close to finishing, I just decided to forget that and do only the outer sashing instead!

In case you are wondering, I used a stencil to trace the design on with a water-soluable fabric marker.

Here is the quilt from the back. I used a light pink fabric that I purchased (not a sheet! Haha!). You can see now why I was working on this quilt for five years....all the hand quilting that I did took a long time! This was my largest undertaking of "real" hand quilting up to this point.

I did outline quilting around every other triangle, giving it this pinwheel affect. Then I did a flower in each of the other triangles. I used a stencil for the flowers.

Here's a close-up of one block.

Another close-up of my quilting, as seen from the back.

Now, here you can REALLY see how my quilting improved over the five years I worked on this. Remember, I would work on this off-and-on between other projects that I did.

If you look at the line of diagonal stitching in this photo and compare the size of the stitches to the ones in the flower, you can see what I mean. I quilted all of the triangles first. Then I went back and quilted all of the flowers. I almost have to laugh when I look at how large, crooked, and uneven those stitches around the triangles are!

Here's another example! Boy, did I improve over those five years! Whenever I look at this quilt, I think about how it is now a permanent record of my progress during that time.


  1. Oh this is so lovely! Wonderful job!

  2. This is just gorgeous and I love it - thanks for sharing all the details. Congratulations on completing it.

  3. Love this! How wonderful you came across these blocks!