Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Vintage CQ...Outer Blocks Pieced

Some of you have asked about what I meant by constructing crazy quilt blocks "the traditional way", so I thought I'd show my take on that.

It's really just cutting out shapes, ironing under edges, and basting the whole thing together on a foundation before sewing it all down.
Here's how it looks on an old and unfinished crazy quilt:

This is about 8" X 10", the size of most of the blocks I made. You can still see all the basting threads.

But I decided pin basting was faster and more accurate...

Very occasionally I would flip and sew a couple of pieces together, but mostly all my blocks came together like this.

Sometimes I would sew part of it down before adding the rest of the pieces, but usually not.

I topstitched everything with clear monofilament thread. In the bobbin I use a rayon thread by Wonderfil...it is so thin that a lot fits on the bobbin at once. This is a good thing. Also, it is strong but still lightweight enough to make it easy to tear off a patch, if need be, in order to switch up the block's lay-out. A quick hard tug and zip, it's off with no damage done.
I did that quite a bit, actually!

Here are some more blocks:

...the "Ribbon Block"...

...and the "Tapestry Block". The leaping critter is actually a photo transfer of a picture I took of a wonderful textile that was in my great-grandfather's furniture store in Indiana well over a hundred years ago. Obviously I wasn't going to cut that up...but I could still use the design this way.

I've had some fun mixing the old with the new like this. I pieced some fragments of that unfinished crazy quilt into my blocks, and salvaged a few of the embroidered motifs as well (the flowers in the top right corner above are an example). I also pieced in some old fabrics from that quilt in with my own contemporary fabrics. And each block has one of the vintage Kensitas flower cigarette silks that I bought from Maureen a few months ago.

My friend Conni Jenkins, of The Scoop, the Score, and the Deal had sent me a really cool artist trading card with an embroidered clover leaf on it. Well....I just had to put it in the quilt too.

She stitched it on some lovely felt she made with her embellisher.

It totally belongs here. It's the same perle cotton and style of embroidery as the antique motifs!


My goal has been to combine vintage and contemporary in this quilt, and I feel more successful with my second attempt at the border blocks.

The blocks are all trimmed, zigzagged, interfaced, and ready for handwork.

The last two major CQs I made (the H Quilt and the Spring CQ) had much more controlled overall designs. The tops were assembled first, and as a whole, before embellishing.
But in the old days crazy quilters almost never worked that way. Their piecing was random and they finished embroidering their individual blocks before assembling them into a top.
It truly gives a different look. So that's what I'm doing this time around.

There is a lot more work to do on the center section first though....

19 comments :

joey said...

This is pretty darn wonderful!

FredaB said...

Allie the colors are really good. They go with the centre blocks well. It is so stange one time I look and I see the flowers and another look and I see the other section. This will keep us thinking.

Hugs

FredaB

Plays with Needles said...

Yay! Now I see what you mean...I am SO delighted by the border...it skips along, honoring the past and leapfrogging into the present. It's happy, celebratory and I love love love all the little treasures and history you included...the ribbon (drop dead gorgeous) -- in fact, you might want to scan that one to use as a transfer one day...I've never seen one in such lovely condition

love the shamrock for luck and the transferred stag and his story...

It's all a lollipop shop of loveliness...

I'll admit...I had to go back and look up the old blocks because I couldn't remember...the old ones were beautiful too...they just lacked character...these are like "blue blood" blocks...those old ones were pretenders to the throne...Well Done!! xo Susan

Lisa said...

Oh! I like this border so much better! Love that you have incorporated so many things, from the beautiful flower silkies, antique ribbon as well as bits of fabric art from your friends! Lovely!

Lisa said...

Wanted to also say that I think part of what makes the new border so much better is that the colors are slighltly more subdued and it allows the center to sing. The original border was just too bright! But now that you have all those bright blocks made, I'm wondering what you'll be doing with them!

Pumpkin Patch Quilter said...

Wow that is gorgeous!!

Raspberry said...

I'm absolutely in love with that clover. So cute!

Gerry Krueger said...

The new squares are fabulous and just sings in harmony with the center. You must have been working non-stop to get that many done... Wish I had something special to contribute...

Hugs... Gerry K.

Dena said...

Although I am fond of the crazy quilt technique, I am not as knowledgeable of its history. Thank you for sharing this information. It allows me to appreciate what goes into creating something made using this technique. Thanks!

Debra said...

Looking very colorful and inviting!

Kerri said...

It is so amaazing watching you work. I know that when I do CQ, it is done well but when I watch what you do, I am so humbled. I think that I am unable to be as good as you. Keep up the good work. You so inspire me! You are so talented! Best wishes and have a Great New Year!

Kerri Murphy
http://crazystitcher.blogspot.com/

Bobbi Pohl said...

This is a remarkably interesting quilt and more so with the descriptions of the items included. What more work will you do on the center? I hope to see it in person some day when it's finished. Too bad we live on opposite ends of the country.

Rian said...

Thanks for the peek into your technique. I'm interested to see how this "old way" method develops.

Summerset said...

Love the final result. I think you've captured the feel of a traditional crazy quilt exactly, yet made it brighter in color palate to reflect the inner blocks.

Conni said...

Oh, this quilt is going to be magnificent! Thanks for the information on traditional piecing. I will have to try that as I find it a real struggle not to get a spikey look with the strictly flip and sew method.

I LUV WUT U DID WIF TEH CLOVR.

Judy S. said...

Very nice, Allie. I sure do like those Kensitas flowers. What a nice find those were!

Jane said...

All I can do is echo what everyone else said. These new blocks have it all over the original ones for playing off the center, time sure had a way with your design revelation. Your mirror into history is so cool

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Jean said...

I love staring at the star blocks and how they pop out a bit. And then going to the circles... great design... and the new blocks are going to be really neat! So great that you were able to encorperate the old with the new!