Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday 20

Just for something different, the latest of my quilt restoration projects. The first two are finished and the third is about to hit the rack:

Peaches:1940's Dresden Plate    Crayons:  1950's Dresden Plate Variation Quilt    NY Beauty:  Detail, 1903 Satin/Silk/Velvet Crazy Quilt

(If I did this right, you should be able to click on the thumbnails to see the larger images.)

The crazy quilt will likely be my last major job. I can only sew for a few minutes at a time now before my hands go on strike. Not a bad thing when you're restoring 103-year-old textile art, but still, mildly frustrating. I can go on and use what I've learned to consult with and help other quilters and collectors with their projects. I might even write a book about my adventures in quilt recovery and conservation, you never know.

If I haven't put you to sleep yet, any questions for me?

36 comments:

  1. Didja get your sewing machine fixed? ;)

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  2. Anonymous12:55 AM

    Wow! They're beautiful. I have a crazy quilt that came out of the estate of one of friend's grandmother. They were going to throw it away. It's gorgeous, but some of the pieces are silk and they're disintegrating. I also have a Civil War Era dress made by a women who lived in my town and the letters from her husband and his brother they sent to her during the war. I'd love some tips on restoration and preservation. Are there any websites you frequent or books you'd recommend?

    I'm impressed by what a good job you've done. I've been afraid to do anything to things I have.

    A daily lurker,

    Karen

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  3. They're all beautiful.

    I'm partial to #3. Wow. Engage jealousy mode in 3...2...1.....

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  4. The crazy quilt is beautiful!

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  5. The quilts are gorgeous! I especially like the Dresden Plate (at least I think #1 is a D.P.) I love scrappy, colorful quilts. You've done an amazing job. :)

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  6. Totally unrelated to writing, but have you got any advice for helping kids get into quilting? My daugher (9) would probably love it, but I can barely sew hem in a pair of pants, so I'd be mostly useless in helping her learn to quilt.

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  7. The quilts look great PBW - the third "crazy" quilt is my favorite I think! ;)

    Question: How would you go about re-inspiring yourself to resume work on an old piece that was worked and reworked until you were so sick of looking at it that you threw it in the back of the file cabinet never to be seen again? [Well... almost never...]

    Would you:

    a) try and write it again from scratch?

    b) wait longer and see if it looks better in another two years?

    c) buckle down with a hot cup of self-discipline and get crackin’?

    d) something else?

    Thanks for your thoughts, as always PBW! Hope you’re feeling alright!

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  8. What did you/would you do if the edges were frayed? I have a quilt of my great-grandmother's; the material at the edges is frayed - and I think one of the squares is torn right in the middle. :-( Oh, and any washing ideas. I certainly can't put it in the machine and don't want to trust a drycleaners!

    Thanks,

    ~PJ~

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  9. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Have you ever used a digital voice recorder with your Dragon NaturallySpeaking?
    I'm thinking about buying one myself, and I'm not sure if it's worth investing the money ;o). Actually, I'm hoping that if I record my story first, it would be easier to just focus on editing it when I transfer my file to Dragon.

    Best,
    Pencilone

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  10. Tam wrote: Didja get your sewing machine fixed? ;)

    It's still sitting here waiting for me to quit procrastinating and decide what to do with it. It know it's the only thing standing between me and the dark side (Bernina).

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  11. Karen wrote: I have a crazy quilt that came out of the estate of one of friend's grandmother. They were going to throw it away. It's gorgeous, but some of the pieces are silk and they're disintegrating. I also have a Civil War Era dress made by a women who lived in my town and the letters from her husband and his brother they sent to her during the war. I'd love some tips on restoration and preservation. Are there any websites you frequent or books you'd recommend?

    Before you do anything, I recommend you have your antique textiles appraised by a knowledgable expert. For quilts, I highly recommend PAAQT. You can do a search to find a PAAQT member in your area here.

    Antique Roadshow's quilt expert wrote a great article here about simple ways to preserve old quilts, and
    Kris Driessen has a good article here on the differences between repairing, restoring and conserving old quilts, and different techniques used for repair work.

    Crazy quilts are some of the hardest quilts to restore and/or conserve, and shattered silks are a common problem with them. If you've never done restoration work, and the quilt is appraised as a valuable one, you might consider hiring a conservationist or restoration expert to do the repairs. Another way to go is to donate the quilt to a textile museum that will make the effort to preserve and display it as part of our history.

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  12. Nancy wrote: I especially like the Dresden Plate (at least I think #1 is a D.P.) I love scrappy, colorful quilts.

    #1 is a Dresden Plate, and came to me covered with brown stains and spots as if someone had thrown up on it and not washed it for a few months. Smelled about as good, too. Turned out that a previous owner had tried to tea-dye it to give it an "antique" look. If not done properly, which is almost always in the case of someone attempting tea-staining, the solids solids in the tea settle in spots and cause dark brown freckles, streaks and patches. The acids in whatever tea was used -- I'm betting a commercial mix with lemon -- also caused the backing to disintegrate. Folks, if you want your quilts to look old, just let them age -- please don't tea-dye them.

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  13. Sandra wrote: Totally unrelated to writing, but have you got any advice for helping kids get into quilting? My daugher (9) would probably love it, but I can barely sew hem in a pair of pants, so I'd be mostly useless in helping her learn to quilt.

    There are any number of learn-to-quilt kits at fabric and craft stores, but the way I interest kids in quilting is by having them make potholder or doll size patchwork quilts. Because those projects don't take as long as a full-size quilt, kids are able to finish them quickly and see results faster. If you want to try this, keep the project simple (like using one of the block patterns shown here.)

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  14. Have you ever used a digital voice recorder with your Dragon NaturallySpeaking?

    I've been meaning to ask for several Fridays if there's anyway to make Dragon "portable", so I'm glad somebody asked it. *g* I use a digital recorder, too.

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  15. JLB wrote: Question: How would you go about re-inspiring yourself to resume work on an old piece that was worked and reworked until you were so sick of looking at it that you threw it in the back of the file cabinet never to be seen again? [Well... almost never...]

    Personally I'd trash it and start over from scratch; I get the best results that way. Everyone's process is different, however, so this may not work for those who prefer to rewrite, get some distance/perspective, etc.

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  16. PJ wrote: What did you/would you do if the edges were frayed? I have a quilt of my great-grandmother's; the material at the edges is frayed - and I think one of the squares is torn right in the middle. :-( Oh, and any washing ideas. I certainly can't put it in the machine and don't want to trust a drycleaners!

    Badly-frayed quilt edges can be rebound, trimmed down, or covered with new border/binding, depending on how extensive the fraying is. Any patch can be repaired by appliqueing a replacement patch of antique or reproduction material over the torn or worn area (I often harvest fabric for repair patches from pieces of what I've trimmed off, for example.) If you've never done this, consult with someone who restores/conserves quilts for the best way to go about it.

    Some cleaning tipes: Never put a fragile antique quilt into a washing machine or dryer; it's like running it through a shredder. Cotton quilts can usually be safely soaked in a bathtub filled with lukewarm water and a gentle detergent (I use Woolite exclusively.) Synthetic quilts, especially those with old silk, satins and velvets, should only be aired, not washed. Do not treat any type of old quilt with bleach, spot cleaner, Febreeze or other chemical-based odor-removing products; these all can damage the fabric. I don't trust dry cleaners, but there are some who advertise that they specialize in cleaning antique textiles -- I'd still get a recommendation from another quilt owner who has used them before trusting them with your antiques.

    Drying an antique quilt is like drying a sweater; don't wring it or hang it but lay it flat. I have a picnic table I use to dry mine; I cover it with an old white sheet, then the damp quilt, and another sheet on top of it before I put it out in the backyard (with a couple of quilt weights on top to keep it from blowing away.)

    If the quilt is basically clean but has a musty age or storage odor, you can try storing it with some lavendar or other fragrant dried herb sachets inserted in the folds (make sure the quilt is perfectly dry, and the herbs don't come in direct contact with the quilt.)

    Never put any quilt in a plastic bag; that invites the Mildew Fairy to party all over it. Instead tore it wrapped in acid-free tissue paper (some quilters use baker's parchment; I buy paper made especially for quilt storage at my local quilt shop.)

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  17. PBW said...

    It know it's the only thing standing between me and the dark side (Bernina).

    When I went computerized, I looked at Bernina, test drove one in the store, hemmed and hawed over the price, then, by accident, ran into a Pfaff dealership (by a place that repaired our vacuum). I never looked at a Bernina again. If you haven't looked at a Pfaff, I can heartily recommend them. Mine still purrs like brand new and I got more features for about half the price.

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  18. Yeah, living in Houston makes it a very short commute to the huge Quilt exhibition every Oct/Nov. I believe it's the largest of its kind in North America.

    In my previous life, my then spouse got interested in quilting, and after going to a couple of the big exhibitions, I became interested too.

    I'm certainly far from being an expert on old quilts, but I did try to pay attention when the experts were talking about the old quilts, and what makes one quilt of a particular age "more valuable" than another of the same age. Expert craftmanship is only one of the criteria that lends value to these old works. For example, as wonderful as many of the quilts from the 1920s are, sometimes a higher monetary value are placed on what look to be lower quality quilts made during the depression. Depression era quilts were made from vibrant (er, gaudy) colored fabrics that were often of less durable/cheaper fabric. What makes depression era quilts more valuable is the rarity of excellent samples. Many of those quilts were used as window panes over broken windows and other very utilitarian purposes that simply ruined them. Perfect specimens appear from time to time, but not as often as ones from just a few years earlier. The use of various "blue" dyes in fabrics from turn of the century quilts often mark them as different from others. I learned this when visiting estate auctions and making bids on old quilts.

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  19. Pencilone wrote: Have you ever used a digital voice recorder with your Dragon NaturallySpeaking?

    Not yet, but eventually I'd like to give it a go (would have come in very handy this week, as the Dragon is upstairs and I'm stuck downstairs.) If anyone out there in the blogosphere has done this, would you let us know how it's worked for you?

    Actually, I'm hoping that if I record my story first, it would be easier to just focus on editing it when I transfer my file to Dragon.

    I don't know if these would be cheaper for you, or work in the same fashion, but I found two alternatives to the Dragon and posted some links to where you can get them here.

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  20. Shannon wrote: I've been meaning to ask for several Fridays if there's anyway to make Dragon "portable", so I'm glad somebody asked it.

    I'll send one of the kids upstairs to grab my manual -- I'm interested to see if the latest version of Standard has any specs or info on recorded speech-to-text. Will post on the blog what I find.

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  21. Tam wrote: If you haven't looked at a Pfaff, I can heartily recommend them. Mine still purrs like brand new and I got more features for about half the price.

    I'm a Singer snob; I grew up using a Featherweight, and have only owned two Singers since -- the kind that are only one level up from little squirrels running in cages to power the motors. I'll take a look at what Pfaff has; there's a dealership not far from town. I'm a little scared of the computerized ones, though; they look like you might launch an ICBM if you push the wrong button. :)

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  22. My question is writing-related. Do you have any tips on writing comfortably in 3rd person? I've been trying to get it down, but it's just not gelling the way I'd like. You (and a few other writers I admire) make it look effortless, and it's almost like reading 1st person. I want to know how to do that.

    I've always been more comfortable with 1st, but lately I've realized that my novels will be better with other viewpoints.

    Thanks in advance. Beautiful quilts, btw. :)

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  23. Walt wrote: Yeah, living in Houston makes it a very short commute to the huge Quilt exhibition every Oct/Nov. I believe it's the largest of its kind in North America.

    I went to the Int'l Quilt Show in Houston a few years back, and I liked it much more than the AQS show in Paducah. Huge, though -- if you go, take a couple of days and good walking shoes.

    Thanks also for the interesting insight on Depression-era quilts. The few I've seen were extremely worn, probably due to the fact that the maker had to make do with cutting up old clothing for fabric when she couldn't afford new.

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  24. Vamp_Writer wrote: My question is writing-related. Do you have any tips on writing comfortably in 3rd person? I've been trying to get it down, but it's just not gelling the way I'd like.

    I think it's the emotional distance inherent in writing in third person as opposed to first. Most of the time we see third person delivered like a narrative, i.e.:

    Jane had to attend the tea party. She wasn't comfortable with the social obligation, but she owed it to her mother to go.

    With great reluctance she dressed in her best outfit, pausing only to debate over whether or not to wear white gloves. No, she couldn't bring herself to put them on, not even for her mother's sake.


    Nice and polite, but bloodless. Now, if I was going to write that in first person, it would go like this:

    I had no choice but to go to the tea party. If I didn't, I'd never hear the end of it from my mother: You have to keep up with your social obligations, dear. For my sake.

    From the closet I took out a dress I only wore to weddings and funerals. Sure, I'd be a good daughter, and go, and bored to death, and that would make Mom happy. But no way was I wearing those stupid white gloves.


    You can write it the same way -- from inside Jane's head -- but in third person, too:

    Jane had no choice but to go to the tea party. If she didn't, she'd never hear the end of it from her mother: You have to keep up with your social obligations, dear. For my sake.

    From the closet Jane took out a dress she only wore to weddings and funerals. Sure, she'd be a good daughter, and go, and bored to death, and that would make Mom happy. But no way was she wearing those stupid white gloves.


    Does that make sense?

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  25. There should be a "be" before "bored to death" in those examples, btw. Sigh.

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  26. Thanks for your thoughts on my question PBW!

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  27. If I'm not too late, do you really read 10-20 books a week? (I'm going through the Friday 20 posts I missed)

    And I thought I was fast! I read about 7 books a week.

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  28. Yes, it makes perfect sense. :) Thank you, Sheila.


    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  29. Milady Insanity wrote: If I'm not too late, do you really read 10-20 books a week

    Yes, ma'am. I learned to speed-read in the military, and gave up watching television many years ago, so I can knock out at least one, usually two books a day. On Saturday nights I hit the TBR stack and read at least four or five books.

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  30. Anonymous11:59 PM

    Did you know that Rebel Ice made the best seller list?

    http://www.locusmag.com/2006/Issues/04LocusBestsellers.html

    Congratulations!

    Lynda H. in San D.

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  31. LOL.

    I don't watch TV, and I typically finish a regular-length fiction novel in two hours flat, and I believe in Carry A Book With You Everywhere.

    I must be doing something very wrong.

    Oh and thanks for putting my blog in your links!

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  32. So beautiful! I'm madly in love with that last one one the right. WOW!

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  33. do you have any idea of the value of the brightly colored quilt on the right?

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  34. jeni wrote: do you have any idea of the value of the brightly colored quilt on the right?

    I've not had a professional appraisal on that quilt yet, as I still have some finishing work to do on it. I plan to donate it to a local museum when it's done. A friend of mine who works with antique quilts guessed it might be worth three to five thousand dollars fully restored. This is mainly due to the workmanship, design, and the fact that we can date the quilt to the turn of the 20th century.

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