Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Southern Belle

As I mentioned in this post, my Grandma Mildred (on my mom's side) made a quilt for my parents when they got married.  This quilt was used and abused loved.  Most of the quilt is in shreds, but here is a close-up of part of it.

After Grandma Mildred died, my Aunt B brought some of her quilting things over to my mom.  Included among those items was a box with fabric already cut out to make a couple more of the old fashioned doll quilts. 

We decided to make this a family project.  My sisters and I were each going to make quilts like the one my grandma made and include some of her original fabrics.  Because I like big borders, I decided to have one doll match my border and setting squares.  Purple is my favorite color, so I selected that for my solid and a 1930 reproduction fabric for the doll and borders.  I selected another lavender for the backing.  Except for the one purple dress which matches my border, all of the doll dresses were cut out by my grandmother (most likely in the 1940's). 

I tried to make my quilt as much like my grandmother's as possible.  I turned the edges of the fabric under and appliqued it by machine with a decorative stitch.  Then I hand embroidered the hair, arms, neck, and bow.  This took me a couple years to finish.  I had to put the quilt top aside for a little while.  (I seem to have done that a lot.) 

After I had taken a class from Maybeth Oxenrider and quilted some seasonal quilts in my cabinet, I felt ready to tackle this quilt.  I basted it with a different quilt basting spray, and later wished I hadn't.  I normally use Sullivan's quilt basting spray, but this time I used 505.  (I have heard so many wonderful things about 505 that I am now wondering if I just got a bad can.)  My quilt didn't stick together as well as it normally does, leading to many tucks while quilting. 

I decided to do cross-hatching around the dolls like Maybeth demonstrated in her class.  Then I did a feathered quilting in the solid squares like Linda Taylor describes in her book, The Ultimate Guide to Longarm Machine Quilting.  I think it looks awesome on the back (even with my tucks).  I did a free hand feather in the borders.  You can see that feathers are not my strong point, but it is pretty good for my first attempt on a real quilt. 

I really enjoyed working on this quilt and finishing something the way my grandmother would have (with the exception of quilting it by machine instead of by hand).  What was supposed to be a mother/daughter project, really became just my project.  I am the only one to have finished this old fashioned doll quilt. 

I quilted this with my Janome 6500 (with an eight inch arm) while it was sitting in my sewing cabinet. I used extra tables behind and around my machine to support the weight of the quilt. I decided I liked quilting this way more than on my Grace Machine Quilting Frames. I like being able to quilt in a larger area than just the six or so inches I am limited to on the frames.

Quilt Stats #26
Name: Southern Belle
Pattern: based on a quilt my grandmother made in the 1940's
Size: about 91 x 112 inches
Batting:  Hobbs 80/20
Date finished:  2005
What I learned:
  • I don't enjoy machine applique. (Most of my quilts are just pieced.) 
  • I don't enjoy hand embroidery. (But I am glad I did it anyway.)
  • I should stick with what I know works (my preferred basting spray).
  • It is fun to do more detailed machine quilting and give the quilt texture.


P.S. Cheetah was watching over my shoulder and asked, "What is the XX for?"  I told him it meant "kiss, kiss" like "quilt kisses."  He said, "Oh."  He didn't seem think it is as clever as I do. 

P.P.S.  I just linked this up to Val's Tuesday Archives for Apples and Applique. 


  1. Great quilt, nice to reflect on prior projects in Val's Linky. Your southern belles are spectacular!

  2. Do you by any chance have a pattern for this quilt or block? My grandparents made one together and it's been all but destroyed. I would love to restore (more like recreate) it but can't find a pattern for THIS one.

    1. I don't have a pattern. I just traced my grandmother's block and made my own. Good luck finding or making one.


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