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Thread: New to Quilting. Legit Heritage Quilt (30+ years in the making) Help please!

  1. #1
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    New to Quilting. Legit Heritage Quilt (30+ years in the making) Help please!

    Hello! I am excited for this world of quilting. I embroider and sew. I started an embroidery/quilting project earlier last year but I'm not done embroidering my squares, so I haven't even pieced my first quilt yet! I'll be ready in another 20 blocks or so lol.

    Anyways, I've spent most of January taking care of my ailing grandparents, both in their late 80s. My grandmother has always been the family historian and I'm now taking up the yoke. I've been packing items and collecting stories. One came with an unfinished quilt. My great-grandmother, Nanny, gave it to her before she died and it was given to Nanny by her sister who passed away before finishing it. So, I'm only 23 and Nanny died ten years before I was born and who knows how long she had it before then, so this quilt is at least 30. Neither Nanny nor my grandmother sews and my grandmother kept putting it off finding someone to finish it. Along comes me, and I have a hand in any craft I can find, comes from my granddad who's an artist.

    Anyhow, like I said, I've never quilted before. The plan for my personal quilt was machine stitching. But I can't do that with this quilt. Or I can, but I think it'd be a disgrace to my relative who put in the time to do it all by hand.

    So, I made some observations about this quilt and attached some photos of my observations. Please tell me what you think and what I should do. It looks like somewhere along the way, a lesser experienced quilter picked it up and tried to do something with it. I know enough to know the back is wrong or at least not clean.

    PHOTO ONE: this quilt is a monster. It is also very pretty.
    PHOTO TWO: View of the basting, some is coming undone. The basting is very wide on this quilt. It is done in a very very wide grid. I think there are only four total vertical basting lines over the entire quilt and three to four horizontal.
    PHOTO THREE: More views of the basting and binding/backing I'm confused as to what's going on. It looks incredibly sloppy to me.
    PHOTO FOUR: more bastin and binding/backing. Here there binding goes from probably an half-inch/inch (not good at estimating) to twice that width on the edges. I know I'm going to need to even that out, but I'm not sure how.
    PHOTO FIVE: More confusion. Notice the fine seemingly finished stitches on the outer edge of the binding.
    PHOTO SIX: now, there is one starburst thingy right smack dab in the middle (I don't know proper terms yet, bear with me) that is quilted straight through all three layers. This the front view of the sloppy stitching.
    PHOTO SEVEN: Backside of that stitching, to me this looks horrendous. And I've seen enough finished handstitched quilts (by the same aunt) to know this isn't her style or how it's suppose to be done.

    That's all I have. lol If you stuck it out with me this far, THANK YOU! Now, please tell me where to go from here? do I attach the binding/backing and finish that before quilting? or the opposite?I haven't gotten to that step in my own quilt yet. How do I fix what is (in my mind, if I'm correct) completely wrong? Should I continue with octagonal patterns mystery relative did and stitch in the ditch? Or should I use evenly spaced diagonal lines that my aunt used in other quilts? Give me your opinions!

    I'd really love to finish this myself by hand. I have the patience to learn. I'm also planning on going into Joann's to see if any employees there handquilt and can offer some direction. I need to purchase the needles and thimble. Are quilting hoops any different than embroidery hoops? I haven't been in to look at the selection yet and determine that for myself. lol What brands do y'all like?

    Sorry for this monstrously long post, but it's a monstrously large quilt for a newb like me! lol I appreciate any advice or opinions you can give.
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  2. #2
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    Congratulations on getting into quilting!

    I think you will need to take out the hand quilting and basting and take all the layers apart before proceeding.

    In terms of the hand quilting stitches, whoever did it did not know how to bury starting and ending knots in the batting. From your description and the photos, it looks like only the middle got hand quilted anyhow.l

    (Photos down to one, so I will work from memory now.)

    It looked to me as if a sheet had been used as the backing. Sheets can be very hard to hand quilt through, so I would want to change that. It may be part of the reason why the original quilter gave up on it.

    The edges are not finished. The backing may have been brought to the front simply to protect the batting until the quilting was finished. I can't tell what the batting is. You may want to change that also to one that it easy to hand quilt.

    The layers need to be basted a lot more than that before you start hand quilting. The usual recommendation is for thread basting lines to be no more than 4" apart in any direction.
    Last edited by Prism99; 02-10-2013 at 01:47 PM.

  3. #3
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    i agree you need to take it apart--then work with the top--hexagons maybe pieced over papers--i feel you could modernise it by machine quilting it but thats me ---get some more experiencd quilters to give you some advice[it will be different from each one you ask] then you choose what you would LIKE to do with it---enjoy

  4. #4
    Super Member Daylesewblessed's Avatar
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    I agree to remove the quilting stitches and the basting. Before re-layering it, you might want to check all of the hand stitching in the hexagon piecing. It looks likes it could use reinforcement in some of the places pictured.

    If you are up for hand quilting, I say go for it..

  5. #5
    Senior Member TeresaS's Avatar
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    I agree..take apart the stitches and basting..think about get new backing and piece back together.

  6. #6
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    I agree with everything Prism99 has said. Unfortunately it looks like you'll need to do an almost total re-do. I'd take it apart, give the top a good inspection, fix any areas that look weak and then give it a really good press. New batting and possibly just a nice muslin backing fabric to keep with the vintage look. It appears you'll need to do straightening of the edges as well. You could hand quilt simply 1/4" out from all seams which would be appropriate to the age of the quilt and not be too taxing for a new quilter. Wonderful that you want to tackle this project. Just remember...quilting is not a race...it's a process...enjoy it.

  7. #7
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    I agree with all the suggestions above, but have a suggestion that hasn't been mentioned. After taking everything apart I would take the top with batting and backing to a long arm quilter and have it based together. It would make it so much easier to work with as a first quilt.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the responses! I'll keep you updated, might take me a long while to finish with life and other projects. But it's waited who knows how long so far so a few months or a couple of years will be a blink of an eye for this quilt. lol

    I guess I'll take it all a part and see what we can do.

  9. #9
    Super Member gramajo's Avatar
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    darkwolf: Welcome to the board. Please give us progress reports as you go along.

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