In the past, I have never used my quilts as tablecloths. Somehow it didn’t seem right, spilled food or stains that can’t be removed, were a big issue. Didn’t want to have clear plastic over them either, as I didn’t care for that look. Did make placemats, but that is different, that is their purpose.
Our granddaughters were coming to visit for two weeks, so I cleared out a drawer in the guest bedroom for one of them, so she wouldn’t have to live out of her suitcase.
There was stuff in that drawer that I hadn’t looked at for years. Does that tell you that I have too much stuff and need to clear out a few more drawers? You are right!
When we left the Los Angeles area, the daughter of a deceased friend gave me a box of finished and partially finished blocks, fabric scraps from the 30’s and 40’s. She said, “I know you will know what to do with them.” I didn’t want to tell her that I had enough unfinished items but I thanked her and put them in the drawer. I didn’t go through them too carefully, just thinking, someday I would do something with them.
As I emptied the drawer, I unfolded one of the items, thinking “what is this?” It was a scrap quilt top of fabric squares, randomly sewn together. There were all types of fabric from drapery fabric to seersuckers. There was even one square of an old Disney fabric, of Pinocchio. I laid it on the bed, but it wasn’t large enough to use as a coverlet. Then I realized it might be big enough to be a tablecloth. Where did that idea come from? It fit my dining room table perfectly.
I put it on the table and left it there. We used it every day and it looked pretty nice with my plain white dishes. I washed it in cold water using a tablespoon of quilt soap. There is more to it than that, so I will blog about washing quilts at another time.
If this quilt top was going to get much use, it really needed a backing and finished edges, to protect the seam allowances. The squares had been sewn together by hand into rows. Then the rows had been machine sewn together. The seams didn’t match and it didn’t really lay flat.
At first, I felt bad about taking it apart, but then realized, if it was to be used and finished properly, there was only one choice.
As the squares were taken apart, I measured them. They ranged from 4-1/4″-5″. No wonder the seams didn’t match or lay flat. The next step was to square up each patch. I decided that 4-1/2″ was the median size. A few squares were eliminated that were too small, but the drawer yielded other fabrics to make up for them.
Now there were 228 squares to press and trim. To speed up the process, I laid out the squares, a bunch at a time and sprayed them with Mary Ellen’s Best Press. I think it works better than spray starch and doesn’t leave a residue.
Then it was time to square them up. I put on my Ipod and listened to some of my podcasts because this was the tedious part of the project. It is one thing to be strip cutting pieces from yardage, but another to be straightening up 228 squares, one at a time. I tried two at a time, but just gave up and did it the hard way. I did use my swiveling Olfa Mat, so that helped save some time.
Debbie at Debbie’s Fabrics, a local quilt shop, helped me pick out the border fabrics. She thought the red would be a nice touch between the top and the border. I do, too. The red was cut 1-1/2″ wide and the border fabric was cut 4-1/2″ wide.
I finished the edge with some rick-rack I had been saving, obviously for a while. When was the last time you bought three yards of rick-rack for 10 cents?
There were enough of the squares to set them diagonally, I don’t do too well at random layouts. I like a certain amount of order in my quilts. Looks pretty nice, don’t you think?
So what do you think? Have you done something like this? Have you recycled a quilt? Please tell us about it.
Tags: 30's fabrics, rick-rack, scrap quilt, table topper, tablecloth
Barbara, I love the thought of recycling, and what a great idea to use pieces of a quilt that’s no longer usable as a quilted bed coverlet for another purpose. The finished tablecloth is charming. I love your website as it spurs me on to new ideas. Especially touching was the “Gallery” of quilts made for the study of cancer research. Thanks so much for your inventiveness, Barbara.
Glad you enjoyed the website, Sandy. Hopefully it will inspire others. It is fun to share my quilts this way. Come back and visit often.
It is your quilt, you should be able to use it the way you think is best and fix it the way you see best. Sometimes people get really old tattered quilts and don’t want to do anything to them, because they don’t want to destroy the historical value. Yes, that is a legitimate thought if it belonged to some historical person or had some significant place in history, but if you found it at a garage sale and it would have gone in the dump anyways, do something with it! HOWEVER, it would really disturb me if you cut up a quilt in perfectly good condition to make pillows.
I, too, Barbara, have never put quilts on my tables, only hung them, put them on beds, or on shelves. But, now…I just figure I should and can use them however I see fit at any moment…