Thursday, September 3, 2009

Two Dork-Outs In One

I’ve been wanting to make a redwork quilt ever since I restored the 1907 redwork quilt last year (see first post). But I wanted to do it with authentic patterns, so the hunt was on! During my quest, I came across nine patch squares from the thirties at my fave antique store. Shortly thereafter, I located the aforementioned redwork patterns. Two, two, two dork-outs in one! Redwork embroidery and antique fabric!

The nine patch squares were filthy dirty and stapled together (just put a staple through my heart why dontcha), but after I surgically removed the staples, I was able to move on. After a good long soak, most of the grime came off and I could get a good look at what I had. Nine 3” squares of mostly cotton with some viscose were hand sewn together to form each block. All are still gorgeous even after the indignities they’ve suffered.

I thought it would be cool to pair the redwork and nine patches together since there was a lot of red in the 9 patches. Fortunately, the reds complement each other and a new quilt will soon be born.

The hand embroidery took 27 hours to complete, and was a joy to follow patterns over 100 years old. There are 1” frames around the redwork to make all the blocks the same size. Around the center is a 6” border of black and red paisley print. The blues in the squares plus the cream in the redwork balance out all the red fabric. I’m almost done quilting it, and haven’t decided on a binding fabric yet. Maybe a blue and cream print? Any ideas?


  1. What kind of soap (or process) do you use to clean up older fabrics?

  2. I soak everything in Oxyclean, following the directions. First I check to make sure the Oxyclean isn't going to destroy/bleach the fabric by testing it on a seam allowance on the underside. I swish everything around once in a while, but I don't rub, twist or make a paste to put on stains. After it's done soaking, I hand wash it in Ivory flakes, or any gentle wash for baby clothes. Again, no rubbing, just swishing. I put everything between 2 white towels and blot until most of the water is gone. Then I put it on a sweater drying rack. Hanging up wet textiles will stress the fabric and the old stitches. Not everything comes out, especially water stains, but the dirt does, and the Ivory flakes get rid of the musty odor.