Recently I joined a new group on Facebook called Quilting Vintage which quickly grew to over 2500 members from around the world. This group, organized by Kelly Cline, a longarm quilter from Lawrence, Kansas, takes vintage linens of all kinds--hankies, dresser scarves, table napkins, table cloths, and more--and gives them new life by custom quilting them. Some are matted and framed, some are bound and turned into wall hangings or table toppers, some are turned into pillow shams or pillow covers. Each item is unique and so far I haven't seen anything that didn't turn out spectacular! Many of those in the group are using their longarms to quilt these vintage items. Others, like me, use our sewing machines or sit-down quilters (I have a HandiQuilter Sweet 16). Whatever technique used, the results are amazing.
For my process, because I'm a sit-down quilter, I have to pin-baste my layers together before I can quilt. I had in my stash several yards of a gorgeous mauve Shantung poly silk that I had bought to make a dress that never got made. It was the perfect color for the background. I expected the little bit of cutwork in the napkin would let the silk show through after quilting. I've worked with Shantung on quilting projects before and knew I would need to stabilize it with Best Press before I could pin it.
I centered the linen napkin over the central square, distributing the amount of orange peel behind it as evenly as I could and started quilting. I outlined it by quilting just inside the scalloped edge first to secure the piece and then started the journey of what to quilt and where. I knew I wanted to do pebbling around the applique and cutwork, so I started in that corner first.
Something I've learned about myself as I've continued to do custom quilting is that I can visualize what I want, but I cannot draw it with pencil and paper. Once I'm at the quilting machine, I can quilt what I visualized and often later laugh at the lines I tried to sketch out with a water soluble pen before starting. I didn't even take a picture of my sketched idea, but instead did some quilting based on what I had imagined, and spritzed the napkin last night before I went to bed so it would be dry to work on today.
The bow I envisioned is a little bulkier than I might have wanted, especially the center knot, but overall I'm delighted with my first try at quilting vintage! I threw in a few swirls, and added feathers up both sides into the corners. It was fun making the feathers bump into the scallops up both sides of the napkin.
More snippets from the sewing room soon,