Thursday, February 21, 2013

Something Old, Something New?

I inherited thirty of these blocks from my mother-in-law.  I really don't know whether she made them herself, or whether she also inherited them from another quilter at her retirement home. They've been stored in my closet for 25 years, because, to put it in the nicest terms, they were never my taste.  But now that I've enjoyed creating settings for my orphan blocks, I thought I'd give these a try.  Can I make something I like out of something I'm not crazy about?

The block is apparently called Sunflower, but the multicolored fabric selection has created something that looks more like a pinwheel.  The fabrics are 1970's calicos, I think.  I find I like both the block and the fabric more than I did years ago:  there is more movement in the block than I used to think, and while the fabric patterns look very dated, the colors don't.  That bright aqua is very trendy, for example.

I also have quite a bit of respect for the maker.  The design was pieced and then hand appliqued to the muslin.  Interestingly, she used dark brown thread.  It seems like an odd choice, but it works.  There are no stitches visible at all on the right side.

The blocks are currently about 13 1/2 inches, but I will trim them to finish at 12 inches.  It's good that there is a bit of extra, because the placement of the pieces is not entirely even.

My goal for this project will be to keep the vintage charm, and yet give it a slightly up-dated look.  I can emphasize any color I choose: there's lots of red, but the yellow and the aqua pop as accents.  I'm thinking about an alternate block design, which will make the quilt larger than the twin size it would be with simple sashes.

I do have some of the original fabric which I can incorporate, but I'm not too sure about that.  Too much, probably.  There's also lots of muslin intended for borders; that is a definite no!

One question:  Should I cut away the muslin from behind the applique?  If I'm going to do that, I should do it before squaring the block.  What do you think?


McIrish Annie said...

Ohhh another orphan adventure! I like these and can't wait to see what you come up with for the alternate block. Unless there is a need to cut the muslin from behind, i would let sleeping dogs lie. I can tell you are into this project, you've already done a lot of thinking about it. Good luck!

The Calico Cat said...

The gold is sort of trendy not too. LouLouthi & Chicopee both have prints that might play well with these. (Chicopee especially - that while line has a 70's vibe going on.)

I just looked, both likes are available at (Citron in loulouthi & lime in Chicopee are what I was thinking of...)

*karendianne. said...

I'm not an appliqué pro by any means but I did take classes from a pro - Jan Vaine. The answer is "no" to cutting the background out. That said, as with anything in quilting, it really is fine either way and its your choice. I was taught never but my friend Rose Marie (applique n patch) trims it out.

I totally dig these blocks, the design and the fabrics. The brown thread... Small stitches, eh? 25 yrs, Kay. How cool is that!!!

Nellie's Needles said...

You get "points" for finishing up quilts rather than let blocks languish for many more years.

As for trimming the muslin from behind the wheels, I'd think about the intended use for the finished quilt. If it's to be well used, I'd keep it as is. If it's to be special and lighter use, I'd trim it away so it'd puff up more in the wheel parts.

Libby Fife said...

If the muslin is in good shape why not use it? If not then you get to pick I guess. I think today's "modern" fabrics might be a good choice for these blocks somehow.

Funny how our tastes and appreciation of things changes over time. I bet we all have orphan blocks like this waiting for their 15 minutes of fame. (As Debra would say!)