Thursday, November 12, 2015

Old Quilts New Life with Sarah Fielke!

Old Quilts!  Old Quilts!  Is there anything I am more passionate about than the love of Old Quilts?

Well yes, as long as you include old fabrics, old machines, old sewing notions – every piece and part has a story to tell.

Antique quilts have always been a passion, from the first quilt I rescued from my dad’s car trunk in my early 20's to the quilts I later inherited from my grandmother who was NOT a quilter and didn’t know the story behind the quilts, just that they had been “in the family”- to the very first yard sale purchase of antique blocks with plans to put them together myself, and hand quilt them, finishing the job of a faceless, nameless needlewoman who had left them behind.  I love it all.

I love the connection to quilters and needle workers from the past the most.

I like to think that if we were ever to meet face to face, we could sit down over tea and cookies and talk about our love of all things quilting, from choosing the right piece of fabric, to what it takes to make that scrap bag go a bit farther, having to be creative when pieces are limited, to the pleasure of cutting out each piece and seeing stacks of uniform shapes ready to sew together, to the actual sewing, quilting and binding. 

Oh we’d have SO MUCH to talk about!

And then there are those who I have met during my lifetime as a traveling teacher – teaching along side other folks who share the same passions – the love of fabric, needle, thread, and longing for more time to put those three things together.

In May of 2014  I had the pleasure of meeting up for the first time with Australia’s own Sarah Fielke as we were both teaching at the Grand Hotel Needle Art Seminar on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

There we were..Sarah with her applique in hand, and I with my hexies, talking about all of those things I have longed to share –in real time!


Sarah Fielke!

I’ve had fun being in contact with Sarah ever since through her Instagram feed  and her Facebook  and of course her blog, The Last Piece  where she is always posting something wonderful- either of quilts she is teasingly working on, or sharing bits of her fabric collections or even better – shots of what her life is like in Sydney (sometimes cooking and baking up a storm) as the mother of 2 nearly grown sons.

As the mother of 2 sons myself, I can so totally relate!

So when Sarah asked me if I would do something a bit different during the release of her new book, I said SURE!!

Sarah writes:
My book is about antique quilts from the American Folk Art Museum in New York. I've interpreted 9 quilts in a direct interpretation, and then as a Modern quilt as well, so each antique quilt has two corresponding patterns.
The aim of the book is to give readers a little info about antique quilts, which I am passionate about! And to inspire all kinds of quilters so make all kinds of quilts. And that's where you come in!
Rather than ask you to review the book, I wondered if you would be interested in participating by blogging a picture of an antique quilt that speaks to you, and explaining why you like it, what the design means to you, why it inspires you etc. I have asked several different quilt and fabric designers, quilting corporates, authors, and teachers, all of whom have very different styles, interests and talents, from traditional to modern to art quilts.
This should be a really fun and interesting collection of quilts, opinions and ideas from an inspirational and eclectic slice of the quilting industry!
Follow along with other antique quilts by using the hashtag #oldquiltsnewlife where over 150 social media members will be posting their favourite antique quilts from November 1 on - so that will be fun! 
Oh, I am SO IN!  Gonna head right over to Instagram and check out that hashtag!
If you don’t have Instagram, you can still follow what I am posting by clicking the little slide show in the right blog side bar just above the Facebook widget (on a real computer, not a mobile device) – it shows the most 10 recent things I have posted through my days, and is updated continually as new things are posted!

If you ARE on Instagram, please follow me @quiltville_bonnie and give @sfielke a follow too!
It was not easy to pick my favorite quilt…I went over several of them, all of them wonderful, but this one stood out amongst the many:
Sunburst, circa 1900
Beauty in Imperfection!
This quilt came to me as a gift.  One day a box of quilts arrived in the mail with a handwritten note from two sisters who were downsizing and unable to keep these quilts any longer.  With no appreciative family to pass them on to, they boxed them up and sent them to me.  I feel so honored to be the caretaker of these quilts until it is time for me to pass them on to someone else to love!
What’s not to love, stains and tattered binding and all?
Things I love about this quilt:
I love the alternating green and red backgrounds for the blocks.  The green is fugitive, maybe hand-dyed, in any case it has faded to a funky khaki color.

I keep reminding myself to try this in a quilt some day.
I love that there are chopped off points, but not too many.  It is not “purposely wonky”  It is what it is.
The sunbursts are not perfectly round, some are kind of squashed looking.  I like that.
The substitution of fabrics, where there wasn’t enough to do the whole block!  This maker made the best she could with a limited scrap bag at hand!
Check these out!  Aren’t they great?
I love how the sold red splashes.
If you don’t have enough of ONE fabric, perhaps you can find two to alternate!
And of course, throw in some cheddar to brighten things up!
If you look closely to the center circle, you will see that blue plaid  is pieced to make a patch big enough to cut the center circle from.
This maker used what she/he had on hand and made it work.
I also love the wandering vine quilting in the background of each block.  It is also very random, with no two blocks alike in the quilting department.  This quilter quilted to the beat of her own drum.
I also love the quilting on the sunbursts themselves.  Concentric circles anchor every piece and add more texture than simply stitching inside each patch.  The quilting crosses the seams so the quilt is sturdier and less likely to pop open at the seams.
And that backing print?  It’s fabulous!
Can you see why I chose this one?
I also chose this one because it is likely one that I will never feel the need to recreate.  However..I was thinking if I did do it in English Paper Piecing, I might be able to piece those sunbursts on the road….I guess I better never say never!
So where does Sarah’s book Old Quilts, New Life come in?
Old Quilts, New Life features 18 stunning quilts designed by passionate quilter, author and designer, Sarah Fielke.
Sarah has selected 9 beautiful quilts from The American Folk Art Museum in New York and created two designs inspired by each quilt - the first, a sympathetic interpretation of the original piece and the second, a more contemporary creation. Two creations from each antique inspiration!
Old Quilts, New Life showcases these stunning quilts- each one accompanied by step-by-step instructions so you can create them at home.

That is if you can stop drooling long enough to start stitching!  Check out this beauty!
The book takes you through the history of the quilting tradition and explores the techniques and styles employed by quilters over the centuries. From the beautiful simplicity of an Amish quilt to a pretty pinwheel design, there is a quilt here to suit all skill levels and styles.
Just a peek at what else is inside!
Ask for Sarah’s book, Old Quilts, New Life at your favorite shop.  Sarah also ships direct from her website, which is handy for those who live in Australia and want a signed copy.
I hope you enjoy Sarah’s book and  share in her love of recreating from antique quilts as much as I do!
Thank you Sarah, for letting me gush over your book and quilts just a little bit!

If you follow any of these bloggers, they will be writing about their favorite antique quilts as well:

Susan Carlson
Sue Spargo
Katy Jones
John Adams
Jacquie Gering
Alex Veronelli
Amy Lobsiger
Alexia Abegg

Click Here to like our Quiltville Friends Page on Facebook for more fun!

Click Here to join our sister group, Quiltville's Open Studio on Facebook, a place to Sew, Share & Grow!!


  1. Free motion hand quilting? Love it!

  2. Anonymous10:19 PM EST

    I truly did not notice the difference in materials, it is all lovely.

  3. It makes my heart glad to know that you and Sarah have stayed in touch. You two had such fun together!

  4. Beautiful quilt.. Old quilts keep amazing me and often it was all hand work.
    Thank you Bonnie for sharing this with us. Hope you are happy to be home again. Happy quilting, Yoka Bazilewich

  5. Edyta Sitar has a pattern called Dresden Star that looks like your antique quilt. It uses templates, so you could make your own English Paper Piecing, or sew on machine.


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