Friday, March 03, 2017

In My Happy Place!

These are the photos I took while dresser shopping on Monday --too many photos to post in one post.  Besides, that one WAS about dressers.  Now that that job is done, we've got THESE!

Machines and quilts.  Sigh.  I love finding them, I love petting them, examining them ---and mostly leaving them behind as I just really realize (Yes, in the middle of moving!) that you can't OWN everything and you shouldn't want to just because it is for sale and you can afford it.

"What are you buying really?"  Is a question I have come to ask myself.

HISTORY is often an answer, because I love the history of pieces from machines to quilts to sewing notions to vintage dishes, etc.

What else are you buying?  Ideas.  Possibilities.

Sometimes we collect things simply because we can, because others do.  We pick them up just like Easter Eggs because we believe that is what we are supposed to do.

We buy them because we  believe we are preserving them for future generations, and we are.

We buy them because we hate to see beautiful vintage quilts turned into bunny rabbits, teddy bears and Christmas stockings and throw pillows.  (I mourn the demise of a quilt that ends up thus, much as Harry in Harry and the Henderson's mourns the loss of his friends to taxidemy!)

I love this blonde mid-century cabinet with a pretty Singer 99 in it.  I don't come across 3/4 sized cabinets every day, so if you are near Burlington, NC - you will find this at Granddaddy's Antique Mall!

And I didn't even have to "Free the Machine!" with this one -- they left it out and visible and decorated around it.  BRAVO for this dealer.  Really.  There is more room on an open cabinet than on top of a closed one.  DING DING goes the bell!


Simple "Playing with Jacks" block!

This is one of the blocks also found under the Free Patterns tab.  I LOVE the dark backgrounds with the light triangles.  And that pink setting fabric?  LOVELY! 


Close up of fabrics, late 1800s.

Check out that block bottom center.  Those four BLUE triangles and the placement brought my attention to the fact that there are TWO variations of blocks in this quilt.  Can you spot them both?

Do you think the maker was combining two projects into one? 


From another angle.  

Love the fan quilting, OF COURSE!


16 patch boocks with hand-dyed sashing fabrics.

Looks like she ran out of the blue for the border and just threw pink in there.  Works for me!


 Close up of dress prints and feed sack fabrics - and MORE fans! 


Woolie crazy quilt! 


This wasn't done with normal embroidery floss -- it was almost a yarn, about sport yarn weight or a bit finer.  I love the vibrant colors and all of the varied stitches used to turn these ordinary wool pieces into something beautiful.


Close up!


Soft colors, 1940s florals!


Love the chartreuse sashings!

This is something that I've yet to do...sash in one color top to bottom and a different color between the columns of blocks!  I love it- it makes it look like a strippy quilt here.

There were many 9 patch, 4 patch, or 16 patch blocks found on this trip, reminding me that there IS beauty in simplicity.

I think we need simple from time to time!


Free the Machine!


Hello, Little Domestic!

These Domestics must have been quite popular in their day. I've come across several and can identify them right off by the shield shaped base.  I've never sewn on one.  But this is a day of catch-and-release.  My stables are full.  There is no more room for another cabinet.  She will live to sew another day. 


Sashed 16 patch.  Just SWEET!


Diagonal rows!


Very old and worn 9 patch.


I love the variations in the blocks!


Double T!!

And this is where I put on my big hat and let you know that this is one WORTH the discussion.

We hear so much about thread.  "Don't use that polyester thread it will cut the fabric!" 

In ALL my years of quilting, I have experimented with everything from 100% cotton, to cotton-wrapped poly to poly-wrapped cotton to even nylon during my early machine quilting years ala Harriet Hargrave.

NEVER NEVER NEVER has the thread harmed the fabric, tore the fabric, or did any of those dastardly deeds that folks warned me about.  NEVER.

I do all of my hand stitching of my bindings with SERGER thread.  I use serger thread a lot.  Yes, it's poly.  My quilts do not fall apart, and I like the fact that the thread glides through the binding as I am stitching it and does not shred after only stitching a short distance.

Bindings get a lot of wear and tear and I want a stronger thread here.  I also use it in my bobbins while long arm quilting.  It's no different in content than say bottom line or any of the other polyester machine quilting threads out there, but it feels closer to cotton to me because it is spun.  Yes.  there is lint.  It's thread.  There is lint with cotton, there is lint with poly, there is lint with batting (most of the lint while longarm quilting is from the cotton batting, not the thread) and there is lint with fabric.

We sew.  Lint happens!

But this is where the problem lies and I have seen this in my own earlier quilts:


See the sashing and block parts worn away?

The fabrics in this quilt date to possibly the 1940s, early 1950s.  There is embroidery showing that this quilt was quilted in 1977.  An older top finished later.

The poly BATTING is what has worn the fabric away.

Coarse poly battings act like a brillo pad on the underside of delicate fabrics.  In this case, the BATTING is stronger than the fabric and just ate away at it like a scouring pad.

Not the thread.  The batting did it.


If you are still using this kind of poly batting, stop.


May 1977

In my case, it was a quilt I made in the 1990s out of all 1/2 square triangles.  I hadn't thought of this quilt in years until I saw this disintegration and knew just what it was.

I had pieced that quilt with poly/cotton thread.  I had machine quilted it with invisible nylon.  We used that quilt for years and years, washed and dried, loved and used -- no thread harmed that quilt.  But the batting did exactly this -- it ate the fabrics from the inside out.

The batting I used was a mountain mist traditional.  It wasn't high loft, it didn't have a resin coating, but it was a poly batting.

I am not a thread snob.  But I do NOT use poly battings for this reason.

Are you a believer now?


OOOH!  Free the machine!


 Hahaha!  It's another Doomestic!

This one is on sale for $135!  Go get it!


It even has 3 shuttles!

While I'm sitting here writing this post, the crew has finally shown up to take care of the septic tank issue.

This is finally going on today. We have been unable to list our cabin as a 3-bedroom due to the septic tank permit being for only two. This was not disclosed to us when we bought the property. And it should have been. 

We are remedying the situation for the next owners, and also so we can legally list it in the MLS as a 3-bedroom property, not a 2. Good thing the snow (Yes! Snow this morning!) has stopped and the sun has come out, 

I'm sad to see some of these trees going in the process but the new owners will never have to deal with this mess the way we have.

Quiltville Quote of the Day!

The truth is, we hope for tomorrow but we really are only guaranteed today. What will you do with it? 

As for me, the packing continues -- 

Happy Friday, everyone!

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  1. VERY interesting post, Bonnie ... thanks for sharing the info. With respect to your septic guys ... they should not have any problems unless the earth around you has frozen below a certain point ... if they can dig they can install. I'm sure you're anxious to get the cabin on the market and catch that wave of Spring buyers. Good luck with the packing ... life WILL settle down and you'll love being in your new Quilt Villa VA ;-) Linda H

  2. Thanks for this and for your common sense. I so appreciate it. I think the big manufacturer's have so much clout(read:money) to convince the public of their products and many quilter's see it as gospel which then allows the quilt police to maintain the status quo. Makes me crazy! Hope packing is going well and will be so excited to see the "new" Quiltvilla.

  3. Interesting post. I like cotton batting better than poly, but usually use the 80/20 blend. Do you think the 20% poly in this batting would do the same?

  4. And happy Friday to you! I'm excited along with you for this new cabin adventure. I just know that all the packing, new septic, moving and unpacking will be so worth it. And so fun going antiquing with you!

  5. Oh my goodness, I never even thought about the poly batting thing! I normally buy cotton so, whew!

    Hopefully, you will get that septic finished and a buyer for a three bedroom cabin will appear out of nowhere!

  6. @Kathy Johnson -- I have used 80/20 quite a bit and have never had a problem. No worries there!

  7. Thank you so much for the information regarding polyester batting. My first quilting classes were in the late 1980's. I made two twin quilts for my children. They were turned(burped)and tied to finish. At that time, the instructor had us use high loft poly batting. They were used on their beds and eventually began to fall apart. In later years I assumed it was because I used polyester thread and it cut the fabric. Now I realize it was probably due to the high loft polyester batting used. I still have those two quilts and some left over fabric. I always intended to repair these quilts, as they were the first quilts I made. Life got in the way and I stopped sewing, but when I retired I resumed quilting and took as many classes as I could. So much new information and better quality items out there now. Someday, I'll pull those quilts out, take apart, repair layer and quilt properly, so I can hand them down to my kids or grandkids. Bonnie you are a wealth of information and I thank you for all you share. Good luck with your new quiltvilla adventure. Love, Janet

  8. So interesting about the poly batting. I did use it a time or two in my first quilts in the 80's. I just didn't like the way it felt while I worked with it. When I discovered (and could afford the then more expensive) cotton battings I switched.

  9. Thank you for the thread comments. I use what thread I have as long as the color matches. Not a thread snob or fabric designer snob. I do try to use a good quality feel fabric. A large portion of my fabric came from the estates of prolific quilters. I'm glad you pointed that out about poly batting. I hadn't thought of that. Blessings in your new chapter!

  10. Thank you so much for the unbiased information. Very useful.

  11. Amen! I am a believer sister quilter. I started out with the poly batting (and still have some left over), but when I bought 100% cotton batting - I fell in love. The way the material clung to the batting, the ease in quilting the sandwich. *sighs*

    But when it comes to thread - it is thrifted so I mix and match, as long as the color thread is the same. (I know BAD GRRL, I can just hear the "tsk tsk" noises now.) *grins*

    Thanks for this post.

  12. Bonnie, what about the newer, softer poly battings, like Quilter's Dream Dream Puff or Hobbs Polydown. They truly are a different animal from that rough, scratchy poly. Do you think they would have the same wearing effect?

  13. Thanks for that info! I've only used poly batting once about 23 years ago and hate to think what it looks like now. I use cotton or wool only now mostly because working with poly was so difficult for me. Really glad after what you wrote and showed us. Thanks for everything you do!

  14. Well I have moved to Aurafil thread and I love it! Especially not having to fill the bobbin so much! Never did like the poly batting and never used it.

    Sure wish I have know you were at Grandaddy's...I would have rushed over to shop old machines and quilts with you. It's dangerous to go in there too much...at least for me! Don't worry, I am not stalking you, it just would have been such a joy to meet you!

  15. I also used poly batting on early quilts for lack of knowledge. I find they also hold in moisture and ate hotter than the cotton.

  16. I knew there was a reason I didn't like poly batting. Only used it once, never again. As for threads, I have such a collection. When I got into embroidery, "they" said only use Sulky so I bought Sulky in every color. Then "they" say no, that's not good use only Floriani(sp). Now I sew and quilt with whatever that machine likes.

  17. Thanks for the great info about thread and batting. I've also heard that poly thread will cut the quilt fabric. Myth debunked! I promise not to use poly batting in my quilts. We did the septic thing last September when tree roots blocked the line completely! Don't we look great in our new septic repairs? Ugh! Anyway, it's all water running normally through the pipes now!

  18. I made a teddy bear out of a quilt from my paternal Grandmother's things. It was in such bad shape with all the rust stains and holes that it was either use the parts you can or throw it out. We now have a small memory of that quilt (without all the rust stains). I, too, dislike good quilts being cut up just to make something else. As long as the quilt retains is beauty, even though it is shabby or faded, I agree with you to keep it in it's original state.

  19. Thanks for your note about using thread. I had been using just that until I got a big dose of guilt. So I pitched it. Replaced with all cotton. Oh well, live and learn. thanks for your site. it is great place for information

  20. I am so happy someone finally explained what is going on with quilts falling apart for no apparent reason. Plus all the chatter and praises for high priced threads, beautiful yes, but, obviously we don't really need all the expense, fabric is high enough. Oh ya that is why we do scrappy, right? I have many, many spools of thread that I thought were no longer any good because they aren't designer quality. Thank you, thank you. for all you do.

  21. I've used poly batting for the great grands quilts...which are used and treasured every day. Thanks Bonnie, their future quilts will have cotton or wool innards. I'm totally in agreement with your threads comments. Thanks Bonnie for sharing.

  22. Bonnie, I appreciate your blog SO MUCH! I would also echo the others' question about 80/20 batting and your thoughts on it. Thank you!

  23. My early quilts from the 80's all look exactly like the pictures you posted. Once I started using cotton batting the problem went away. More than one teacher told me it was the thread cutting the fabric. Thanks for your wisdom, always.

  24. Some people think I'm crazy for using serger thread in my quilts. Well, it looks like I'm in good company!!

  25. I have found that the new generation of poly batting is very different. It's much softer, needled, and has a scrim to keep it from bearding. I love it for quilts where I want my quilting to shine since it gives great definition. I remember how coarse the old polys were! Hugs, Deb Quiltbeeme

  26. The only problem I have had with poly threads has been if the iron I am using gets too hot. I have had thread "disappear" on me (melted). Now I am more careful about settings when using a poly or mix thread.

    I also have a quilt that my mom made me for my graduation in 1988 and the fabrics are also worn away like the one in your post. Mountain Mist batting. I came across it the other day before reading your post, very timely :)

  27. Mountain mist quilt light is what I use so I guess all my quilts will disappear when I am gone. Sad. I cannot use any of the other battings because of the chemicals used in the finishes. I find warm and natural type battings make the quilts too heavy for me to sleep under so I prefer not to use that except for the occasional wall hangings or table runner.

  28. I probably have 5 king size poly battings in my closet, yet every time I need a bed quilt quilted, I choose the cotton batting at the quilt shop. Something about the poly bothered me. I do use it for small craft things such as burp cloths and place mats. I am so glad now that I went with my gut and chose cotton for the bed quilts!! Thank you for the info!!

  29. Bonnie, thanks for the information on battings. I have to say I've never used poly as I just didn't like it, cotton is king for me.
    I'm curious about the quilts. I am in Central Fl and went to a "antique" store and came across a quilt that was definitely pretty, old but had worn holes and very obviously blood on it. They were asking $55. for it... if bought it would need a lot of work but I walked from that. My question is what kind of prices do you find on the quilts your showing. Is this something they will bargain with?


  30. I guess it's a good thing I've always been a poly snob when it comes to batting. It just never made sense to me to use beautiful 100% cottons for the top and backing and then fill it with poly. Other quilters have looked at me funny when I'm adamant about only using cotton batting. I'm even more "rabid" about that if it's a child's quilt. Natural fibres only thank you very much. :-D

    As for thread, I generally stick to cotton for piecing as I like to use a pretty hot iron and poly thread just doesn't survive. However, I use silk to hand stitch down my binding.

  31. Bonnie, thank you so much for the information on poly batting and thread. As a new quilter, I am grateful for this information. I love seeing all the machines released and the quilts on parade! Both are an inspiration to me. I just recently purchased my Davis New Vertical Feed treadle because of your post about yours. As a bonus, the same day, I found a National Two Spool machine. I am in the process of restoring both of the machines and look forward to using them to sew and quilt.
    Wishing you the very best in the transition of Quiltvilla!

    Take care.

  32. I have never heard that about the batting! Now, about the polyester thread cutting fabric, maybe it's because I have way more garment sewing in my past, but I'd much rather have the seam thread let loose than the fabric cut through. Seams are usually an easy fix, fabric not so much.

    Here's another though on how the don't use poly thread on quilts came to be. I have some pillowcases (poly-cotton mix) that Mom embroidered in the 70s with good old 6 strand cotton floss and iron-on patterns. I also have some older all cotton pillowcases embroidered with cotton floss and iron-on patterns. The embroidery on the old all-cotton pillowcases is still in excellent shape, but sadly the embroidery on Mom's poly-cotton pillowcases shredded. Did the details on whether the fabric or threads were cotton or polyester (blend?) get lost over time and became a better safe than sorry "rule" ?

  33. Oh no, I just realized the last quilt Mom made is polyester batting, and not quilted closely at all. Do I take it off the bed and redo it with cotton batting? Will it still be Mom's quilt? Do I use it with fond memories until it's shredded, then turn the remainders into teddy bears or pillows?

  34. Bonnie, a big THANK YOU! for solving a mystery that has been puzzling me for some years....wondering WHY my older and well-loved quilts have torn just like the one in your photos..I checked my records and found that I had used some form of polyester batting in all of them...usually Fairfield Processing Poly-fil Low-Loft Batting. I had always kind of blamed the thread but I see now that the blame was misplaced. Well baby, NO MORE....I have been schooled!

  35. Bonnie, My first comment ever and I have followed you since early 2000's before I even knew your name I made your easy scrappy bargello. Interesting post today! I have had a problem with the polyester thread. I was making a prototype quilt for our quilt shop and when pressing the blocks the polyester thread actually melted so I had to switch to an all cotton thread for blocks. I do use polyester for machine quilting but try to be sure I use at least a cotton covered thread for blocks. In regard to batting, I have seen the polyester wear through on quilts but have never given it much thought. Thank you for the heads up! As of late, I like to use the wool battings because of the breathability and warmth of a natural fiber and if quilters like the lighter weight it is a good alternative. I love what you do and thank you for the many hours of dedication!

  36. Thanks for all the great info. I've been quilting for 28 years, and there is always something new to learn! The first quilt I made was filled with a thin poly batt. It definitely has 'aged' differently, but just thought it was because of getting more use. The fabrics have a faded look, and the hand quilting is sunken in a different way than my cotton quilts.
    As for thread, I've never used poly, but will certainly keep your knowledge in the back of my mind. Sewing machine dealers thread their machines with poly when a customer test sews. There must be something to that!

  37. Although I use Warm n Natural for batting, I DO use poly threads for piecing and quilting. Never had a problem either and I can get Madeira Aero quilt thread for a great price on the big cones. Lasts forever and does a great job!

  38. There is another possibility that you don't seem to have given a mention to.

    The fabric.

    I have a quilt that I made for my son that I made. I believe it was the dye used in the fabric that caused the problem.


  39. . Interesting on the poly batting though. But, I've seen quilts with cotton batting do the same thing. But the fabric that is worn away was less thread count and lighter weight cotton than the cotton fabric that didn't wear away

  40. Thank you for the information on batting. I have a large roll of 80/20 , do you think this will have the same problem as 100% poly.If so I may just use it on simple maybe more temporary or art type quilts. I purchased it because my teen grandkids like the puff, and old hand quilt books have suggested it.


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