Thursday, February 17, 2011

Meet Debbie!

Pin It Okie dokie, y'all.  I've been holding out on this post since before Christmas, but for a good reason.

I have this client, Debbie.  You're not actually going to meet her, but you will meet a couple of her quilts!  She's just awesome.  I love her!  Debbie brings me antique quilt tops.  I just love antique quilts!  The last one I had the pleasure of quilting for her was this beauty that her grandmother made.

I love it.  The picture does it no justice, as they usually don't.  The colors in the four-patches are much more vibrant when you see it in person.

When Debbie picked that quilt up, she informed me that she had a few more that she needed finished that were pieced by her relatives that are now gone.  Imagine my delight when she told me one of them was a hand appliqued top?  And the squeal I gave when she said it was a Sunbonnet Sue?  (This is, of course, a pre-quilting photo!)

Before I could load it up on my quilting frame I had to fix quite a few seams that had pulled apart because this sucker is OOOOOLLLLLLLD.  Did I mention that this one was made by Debbie's GREAT grandmother?  In total, I think there were nine places that needed mending, and others that looked like they wanted to come apart, so I fray blocked them.

Debbie gave me complete carte blanche on the quilting.  I had tentatively decided that I would stitch in the ditch around the blocks, stitch in the ditch around each Sue, do some very light stippling in the background and maybe cross-hatch the sashing and border.  A day and a half, tops.

That was, until I got it on the frame.

I got this beauty loaded and realized that it was going to be a completely different story.  It was twisted!  I spent a whole day just basting the top square, and then stitching down in the ditch around the blocks to keep it that way.

After that was done, it took me another half a day to stitch in the ditch around each of the Sues.  It took so long because I had to be super careful about trying to ease as much fullness of the background fabric into the body of the applique as possible.  Doesn't look much different, does it?

Then the loose stipple obviously had to be re-thought.  I decided to keep with the stippling plan (she did specifically ask for stippling), I just did it much tighter than we had discussed!

Once the quilting in the blocks was done, I had to decide what to do with the sashing.  There was way too much fullness to even think about doing the cross-hatching that Debbie and I had discussed.  I stared at this quilt for almost an entire day, battling with myself over what to do.  I finally came up with a plan, and thought about calling Debbie to get her approval.  However, I knew she trusted me, and I wanted it to be a surprise.

So I began basting down as much of the fabric as I could, to keep it in place.  Going slow all the way across the board was important with this quilt because the fabric is very old and obviously delicate.

Once I basted through all of the sashings, I stitched a little feathered heart to sort of frame each block.

There was still a lot of fullness to contend with.  Even though I was scared to death, I decided to pebble around all of the feathers in the sashing and border.

And here's the final product!

Now, why did I wait so long to post this blog?
First of all, I had to bind it and get the label on for her.
But also because Michele over at Quilting Gallery saw what I was doing with this beauty and asked me to write a guest blog.  I decided to not so much write about this quilt, but incorporate it in the story.  So I didn't want to ruin the surprise.  If you'd like to read that guest blog posting, you may do so here.  It just gives a little more insight into this craziness I call a life (and you'll actually get to meet Debbie).    :)


  1. McLisa - just wonderful - I loved reading this story all over again - what an act of love and thoughtfulness to the maker and the present owner.

  2. You did a fabulous job on this looks so amazing!

  3. Those little Sue's are just dancing on there now, aren't they? Wonderful job!

  4. Can I just say that you did a phenomenal job on the quilting! You are so talented!! How long did it take you to quilt it?

  5. What a wonderful job on your Sun Bonnet Sue. My Grandmother taught me years ago to quilt her with a steady had and a tiny stitch - Grandma would be proud of your "little ladies."

    Keep on quilting.

  6. Thats an incredible job. I would have bet against the quilt turning out great after seeing all that extra 'fullness' You are the longarm Master!

  7. You have done such a lovely job on the quilting. It is absolutely gorgeous.

  8. Thank you for your blog post. You've done a beautiful job with this quilt, and have inspired me to do something with 2 antique tops that have come my way.

  9. Aw, I just loved this post. I adore it when an old "abandoned" top is finally made into a beautiful finished quilt. What an excellent job you did too!