Saturday, August 7, 2010

Everyday fabrics from long ago

I am working with blocks I got at an auction because no one else wanted them.

They were imprisoned in a quilt top put together in the 1970s. The 32 sorta-four-patch blocks are made of scraps of clothing from the late 1800s, still rich and vibrant. Some are a bit impulsive, with little sashing strips added to make the blocks the same size (6” x 6”). Just my style.  The inferior 70s sashing had already faded badly and was so brittle it tore easily. So off it came.

The blocks waited in a pile. A new line of reproduction fabric will coax them back to life. The line is Barbara Brackman’s latest William Morris line, coming to stores soon. What is fascinating is how well the colors work with the vintage blocks.

The first part of this project is tedious.  Not only were the poor blocks sashed in the awful 70s fabric, it was machine stitched on with the smallest possible stitch.  Some of it had to be trimmed away, some could be gently removed. I’m adding strips of the Morris fabric. I’m halfway through. I plan to stitch them all together in an improvisational way, adding some plaid strips too.


  1. That sounds like such a nice project. What a great way to rescue those old blocks! Can't wait to see it all together.

  2. I look forward to seeing what you do with this, Deb.

  3. I am really looking forward to seeing this. I have been collecting quilt tops and orphan blocks too.

  4. Hello Deb,
    This post reminds me of my very first quilt which I finished a couple of months ago. I've been making blocks of various patterns simply because I like the patterns, not because I wanted to make a quilt with them. Then one day I found nine blocks in the remnants bin at our Embroiderer's Guild, and I brought them home to play. With an experienced quilter's help, I made them into a sofa throw, or lap quilt, and everybody thinks I'm so clever - LOL!

  5. The beauty of old scraps from old clothing is the simplicity of patterns in them. I love how soothing they are to look at and work with. They allow you to really notice each piece individually. Quite different than today's fabrics.. you take one look and know who designed them!
    I am often unsure of what really I am drawn to and this is a perfect example of my wavering mind. Looking at this projects makes me want to open that box of goodwill shirts and start a new project.
    Thanks for the inspirations!

  6. When I was in 8th grade, in home ec class, I made a shirt out of a very similiar fabric to that "awful" 70's fabric. Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. You go girl! I'm getting more and more interested in the old fabrics and blocks, thanks to your and Barbara's inspiration. Something more to collect. Eek!