Add a Little Vintage to Your Life

October 5, 2015

I have a small obsession I haven’t shared with you yet.  Vintage quilts.  Oh, you’re not surprised, are you?

When I travelled to Utah last month to film an episode of the show called Quilt It (affiliate link), I met someone else who has an even greater obession with vintage quilts.  Her name is Kelly Cline.   Have you seen her work yet?  Kelly is a longarmer, like me, and she follows in the footsteps of domestic machine quilter Cindy Needham.  Kelly’s specialty is taking vintage linens, and filling them with new life.  Here’s a sample of her work that you can find on her blog. I’m a huge fan; Kelly is so full of joy and enthusiasm for what she does.

Kelly Cline quilting

Kelly is a free-motion quilting whiz. And on occasion, she combines FMQ with intricate computerized designs to create masterpieces that will surely live to see another century. If you like the idea of trying this, she has a facebook group that will give you plenty of inspiration!

Although I love old quilts, I don’t often have the opportunity to visit antique shops like Kelly does.  So I troll ebay and etsy, looking for beautiful pieces from the past.  If they’re unfinished, that’s even better!

Look at this lovely log cabin.  I like to daydream about how I will quilt it.  But I can never seem to commit.  The ghosts of quilters past hover over me, and I collapse under the pressure and tuck it back on the shelf, only to pull it out the next week and stare at it again.

vintage Quilt CLose Up log cabin 1

We visited the lake the other day, and I brought some of my vintage finds along with us.  The kids played at the playground next to me, and I snapped a few sunset pictures.

The grass is burnt and dessicated from the blistering August heat.  But there’s still something beautiful about it.

vintage Quilt Aunt Ginny log cabin 1

Sophie vintage quilt at lake jpeg III

My daughter can’t resist a quilt photo shoot.  She thinks it’s just a normal activity that all moms do with their kids every week.  We had so much fun attempting to flip this quilt out against the lake breeze.  We tried and tried until we were both in hysterics.

Then we turned around and looked at the giant sign two feet away from us.  How did we miss it?!?!?! We ran away screaming and laughing at the same time.  Apparently the water moccasins like this location too.

Swim at Your Own Risk and Snakes

We moved to higher ground for the rest of the pictures.  This X block quilt is from the 50s. I love the high value crispness of it.

vintage Quilt CLose Up 1

Can you see the perfect little hand stitches on the back?  I think of the time spent on these quilts, how much must have happened in a woman’s life during the time she slowly stitched each piece together with her hands.  I think about what she might have been thinking and feeling with each length of thread.  What would she think of me holding her quilt now?  How would she want me to finish it?

vintage Quilt CLose Up 1 Hand Stitches on Back

My mother found these feedsack Sunbonnet Sues for me.  There’s a whole perfect set of them.  What would you do with them to finish them?  Would you stay true to the period, or would you run with the solid colors and do something with a modern twist?

Sunbonnet Sue set of 3 Sunbonnet Sue set of 2

They are all hand stitched too.  So much time.  So much love or heartbreak, or laughter or tears.  Probably all of those things.

Tomorrow I will finally post another Tips and Tutorials Tuesday!  I know you bloggers out there have written some amazing posts in the last month.  I hope you’ll link them up for us all to share!


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  • Reply Kelly Cline October 5, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the link, Stephanie!!! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE vintage! I’d be doing some modern twists all over Sunbonnet Sue and the beautiful log cabin too! Don’t wait, just jump in!!! xxoo

  • Reply kthurn October 5, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I agree modern twist but not too detracting as you want “Sue” to be the star. I love vintage too. I could have kicked myself this summer when I found a wonderful quilt of a pattern I have yet to see–machine pieced probably on a treadle machine but done in the 40s or 50s with real 1930 fabrics ( a bit frayed on the binding)–duct taped over shop equipment on a shelf at a garage sale with no for sale sign. After talking to the owner of it and extolling the value of vintage quilts, the importance of passing on history of the quilt and maker, the excitement of authentic 1930 fabrics, etc., my husband whispered to me “too late to offer them $5.00.” We left and later returned to find it lovingly folded and sitting on a shelf and not for sale. Kick, kick, kick.

  • Reply barbara woods October 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    i have some that we don’t know whether hubby’s mother or grandmother made them

  • Reply Stephanie October 5, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    I love Sunbonnet Sue, but I’ve been thinking for awhile that someone should do something modern with her. I love the idea of using solids that match those retro colors to do that.

  • Reply Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl October 5, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    You have a great eye for beautiful vintage quilt tops, Stephanie. I think you should just trust your instincts and quilt to your hearts content. The love and joy you take in quilting it will shine through, for sure!

  • Reply kittywilkin October 5, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I love this post so much, Stephanie! Those same reflections go through my mind whenever I see some intricate, vintage (I just say “old”) hand stitched quilt or other fiber art. It also makes me think back to my Grammy June on the day before she died, when she told me “oh, that’s just going to end up in a yard sale” about a hand-pieced medallion style gorgeous quilted wall hanging she had not yet finished. She was a very matter of fact woman, but I immediately swore that her quilting and sewing would NEVER end up in a yard sale. I vowed to finished her quilt and sat with her for a few moments trying to get her vision and last instructions so that I could hope to complete it according to her vision. It is all hand pieced, Y seams and all, and there are even parts she instructed “must be ripped out and replaced with a purple stripe fabric. But I haven’t found the right one yet”. Those ghosts of quilters past have opinions, I’m sure. I hope that one day when I get brave enough to pick up her quilt, that I do it justice. I know that I will be hand quilting it. and the fun thing is, I also know to whom I will give it–my dear local friend, as directly instructed by Grammy June’s curt “give it to ___’s mom”. Done and done. One day, when I’m brave enough to pick it up without fear of messing it up.

    • Reply kittywilkin October 5, 2015 at 8:33 pm

      ps. Are you joining in on the Farmer’s Wife quilt along hosted by Angie @ Gnome Angel and FQS? The book has letters from actual farmer’s wives, and the blocks are inspired by the letters. This post makes me think of it, and I really think you should join! (I’m biased since I’m a guest blogger, and I know you need another project like a hole in the head, but you would love it!). <3

      • Stephanie Palmer
        Reply Stephanie Palmer October 5, 2015 at 9:05 pm

        I would love to join in the Farmer’s Wife project, Kitty! I did it a couple of years ago with the old book, and loved it. But I have to wait til I launch the Quilter’s Day Planner. I’m only allowed to do one big project at a time!

  • Reply cheryljbrickey October 6, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I think that the women who made the quilts would be absolutely happy to see their creations they spent so long making finally finished. You are such a wonderful quilter I am sure whatever you decide to quilt them with will look great!

  • Reply Rachael Ferrera October 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    I’m sure you’ll come up with a lovely quilting pattern. I would be stumped too! Cindy visited our guild earlier this year – Amazing AH MAZE ING work!!! I’ll have to look up Kelly’s work too.

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