The Making of “Out of Mom’s Workbasket”

Hi everyone.  I am happily anticipating the fall after this tough hot summer here in northern Virginia. We had a little taste of it this past week although they are predicting the next few days will be back to hot summer weather. In spite of that I have already begun my fall and winter sewing and quilting fun here in my studio.  I have clothes, wall art quilts, a special banner, and videos on my sewing docket for this.  I think I really have to get busy!

I have a quilt that will be shown in an in-person quilt show this week at the Pennsylvania International Quilt Extravaganza in Oak, PA, that runs from 9/16 Thursday through 9/19.   It is my memory quilt for my mother Out of Mom’s Workbasket9/17/2021 UPDATE:  This quilt won third place in Traditional Quilts category!!!   Hooray!!!

Out of Mom’s Workbasket

I used five crocheted blocks that I found in her workbasket after she passed in 1998 and held on to them until I could figure out what to do with them and had time to do it.  I made this quilt last year during the lockdown and it was a wonderful activity for me during this time. Sweet memories of her floated around me as I worked on it.

I used multiple techniques for this quilt just as I have to make a lot of my wall art quilts.  Note that I am not much of a piecer, although I do piece parts of my quilts when necessary.  I do love machine applique, free motion stitching and quilting, and adding embellishments such as machine embroidery, paint, and beads or crystals to my quilts though.  This quilt has all of these techniques.

I machine embroidered this free standing lace star for the center of the quilt.

In the first place, the white fabric is crepe-back satin and the blue-gray fabrics are dupioni.  Well, yes, that’s true, but these fabrics are polyester!  They are dramatically cheaper than silk (or quilting cotton for that matter), and they wash without shrinkage or bleeding of color.  However, the dupioni, which seems lighter than silk dupioni, requires a fusible interfacing to back it.  I used Pellon SF101, a woven fusible lightweight interfacing that remains in the quilt and is very drapable even after fusing. I particularly like the way the dupioni looks and feels and I intend to use it again.  I love the way these fabrics quilt up especially.  I believe my mother, who was a fabulously talented seamstress, would love it.  I once saw her make a gorgeous prom gown for my cousin entirely out of a single color of crepe-back polyester satin with no additional embellishments.  It was styled so beautifully and I still remember it decades from then.  I know a lot of quilters think polyester is not to be used on quilts.  I have had them call such fabrics and polyester threads “plastic”, which is technically correct, but is definitely intended to be an insult to the fabric and threads. There is also a nice batting that can substitute for wool batting and can be easily washed.  I would, however, avoid using all these polyesters on a child’s quilt for a few reasons.  Cotton is necessary for kid’s quilts and nice for cuddle quilts in my personal opinion.  But this is an art piece, and I might also us it as a decorative throw from time to time.  Sew what do you think?

I added things she loved around the quilt..flowers, birds, sewing machine, Peter O’Dog (the scottie), stars, angel, pearls, and so forth.

So I finally figured out that the five 10 inch blocks could be placed in such a way that a beautiful star was formed while drawing on the geometric patterns in the crochet to make a pentagon surrounding the star with crosses pointed outward.

These are the five 10 inch squares of crocheted lace that I found in Mom’s workbasket. They inspired the quilt.

I worked for months to design the quilt from there.  Really, the hardest part when constructing it was to make the blue-gray pentagon that backs the crocheted blocks.  Getting each side and angle to match at just the right size onto a freezer paper pattern took me a full day.  I suspect if I were better at math and geometry it would not have been so difficult, but after four attempts, I finally got a pattern I could use, and then I appli-pieced it into the middle of the off white satin large block.

The central pentagon before the quilt top was constructed.

The second biggest challenge was figuring out how to mark the satin.  The satin is free motion quilted and the birds and leaves are painted in with multiple shades of Setacolor paints. But they required marking the leaves and birds and placements for the  various in-the-hoop patches and direct embroidery.  The big advantage of poly satin over silk satin is that it can be easily washed.  So markers could be washaway.  But here’s the problem…satin weave catches sharp pencil points, satin does not hold chalk marks very long, and wet markers run like crazy on the satin weave. Those facts eliminate nearly all the regular markers I use.  I wrote a blog on Markers for Satin linked here when I figured it out.

Fortunately, I discovered that Crayola had recently come out with washable gel pens.  Sew I tested them on the satin.  They marked a narrow line with a small amount of spreading, but still maintained a clear line.  The test marks of several colors washed away with a little Synthrapol with no problem except the orange, and even that washed away after a second wash.  So I made a pillow top to test all the markings,  paints, and work out some free motion quilting.

I think the most fun I had making this quilt was the machine embroidery pieces and the quilting.  I enjoyed the whole thing in its entirety and I love looking at it now. I don’t know why but it gave me a sense of making her a beautiful wedding dress.  Her wedding dress was nice, but a short pretty dress and she and Dad were married just before WWII and did not have a full wedding.  I think she would have liked this concept. I don’t have a wall big enough for it, so I drape it over the upstairs banister when it is here.  This week though, if you go to the PA Nat’l Quilt Extravaganza, you can see it in person.

Detail showing the angel with the horn. It has crystals and pearls on it.

Sew happy everyone!  Have fun in your studio.