Have you ever come across a once beautiful, now battered quilt at a yard sale?
Had a half-finished quilt passed down to you from a distant relative because someone remembered that you love to sew?
I’ve had both things happen, when they do, it’s a challenge to know exactly what to do with that quilt. Even if it’s not in good condition to put on your bed, you still want to respect all the work and care and love that went into the making of it.
And yet… our stashes of fabric are already large enough. Hardly room for a giant vintage quilt to sit indefinitely.
Recycled Hexie Quilts, (which I received free from the publisher), by Mary W. Kerr, has plenty of inspiration for repurposing vintage quilts. Written more as project show-and-tells than tutorials, the book offers advice for cleaning and brightening these old quilts, and for using them in your own projects, incorporating them into new quilts and other soft goods.
The book focuses on lots of methods that you may not have thought of for getting portions of these quilts into your own work. You can cut them into quilt blocks, of course, but also offset them and give them a border, or use the vintage quilt as a border to your own quilt blocks. You can mix-and-match pieces from different vintage quilts into the same project.
See? Lots of ideas!
Although Recycled Hexie Quilts is specifically about the hexagon design (chosen because it’s not only very versatile, but also one of the oldest types of quilt blocks), these methods should apply to a wide variety of quilts that incorporate small pieces. For instance, I have a postage stamp quilt top passed down years ago from my husband’s grandmother, sitting in my fabric stash ever since, the thought of what I could possibly do with it being one of the tons of things constantly in the very back of my mind. That quilt, and any others similarly pieces, would work perfectly with any of the techniques described in this book.
I know that remaking quilts can be controversial–in other words, how dare I cut up a quilt that someone possibly spent years making, probably by hand? To me, though, honoring handmade items means USING those items. My husband’s grandmother’s quilt top is honoring nothing and doing no one any good by being folded up at the very bottom of my fabric bin (which you have seen is massive, sigh). Better to stagnate for another hundred years just that way, only to finally be trashed by someone who has no memory of its provenance, or better to live for twenty years incorporated into a table runner, or couch pillows, loved and used, its original creator often called to mind, only to finally be utterly worn out and discarded, or reincorporated into yet another work?
Better to live, I say.
I received a free copy of Recycled Hexie Quilts from the publisher, because I can’t review a book if it hasn’t caused me to rethink every vintage quilt purchase that I have ever passed up, ever.