Being a longarm quilter is sort of like having a perpetual trunk show in my basement… All day, every day, I get to see a wide variety of different quilts made by a large number of people. Every so often, a special quilt comes along that makes me stop and pause for a moment. I recently came across such a quilt… A vintage double wedding quilt!
My client Erin told me that she had a special project that she would like some help with, and I was immediately intrigued.
While she had been in the USA, Erin had purchased a vintage double wedding ring quilt top. The quilt top had been hand pieced (HAND. PIECED.) and was in great condition. She wasn’t sure if she should hand quilt it, or if there was a possibility that I might be interested in longarming it for her.
Ummmmm… yes please! She sent me some photos of the quilt top, and I just about fell out of my chair, it was so gorgeous. I was really excited to see it in person and help Erin finish this project. Full disclosure: I had never longarmed a vintage quilt before, but I felt pretty confident that I could handle it!
Erin left all the design choices up to me, meaning that wanted me to choose the thread colour and pantograph design (the trust between client and longarmer is REAL). I wanted to make sure that I honoured and elevated this quilt, so I took a while to ponder my options.
My first instinct was to create some tension between the quilt design and the quilting. The double wedding ring quilt is very traditional and round in its piecing, so I thought it might look nice with a linear, modern, geometric design (something like Wishbone). This is a technique that I use a lot, and while you might think that the quilting would “clash” with the piecing, I find that it actually enhances the overall aesthetic. For instance, I’ll often put a curvy pantograph on an angular quilt, or use a more traditional pantograph on a modern quilt, or longarm a quilt with curved piecing using a pantograph that has strong lines.
However, when I saw the vintage double wedding ring quilt in person, I knew that I would have to re-think my earlier plans. First, it was stunning. It literally took my breath away when I saw it. Second, although the hand piecing was well-done, the stitches were fairly loose in some areas (possibly from being handled over time). There weren’t any large holes that needed repairing, but I was somewhat concerned about the integrity of the quilt top. I wanted to make sure that the longarm stitches would secure the hand piecing, so I decided against any pantograph that would have large unquilted areas.
I searched Instagram for any vintage double wedding ring quilt inspiration, found that I was most in love with more traditional pantographs on this quilt pattern. This was the perfect opportunity to use Feathered Spirals, a panto that I had received as a member of the Longarm League. If you’re a longarm quilter and are in love with this pattern, you can purchase it here.
Given that I wanted to *really* secure the stitches, I sized down the quilting design so that it would be more dense. Yes! That’s a thing! My computerized longarm allows me to sew a pattern at any size, and I’m thankful for this feature every day! If you’d like to read more about my thoughts on sizing a pantograph, you can check out this blog post.
During the hours that it took to longarm this vintage quilt, I had a lot of time to think about all the hands that were involved in its making. Certainly, the person who hand stitched all those tiny pieces of fabric together was the MOST involved. But who had taught that quilter how to sew a quilt like this? And who had invented the double wedding ring quilt pattern? Who were those people? And it seemed to me that the scraps of fabric had come from someone’s shirts that were possibly worn in the…. 1970’s? So I wondered about THAT person. Then there was Erin, who had found it and was giving it a new life. And me! The person who used a computerized machine to stitch the heck out of it in 2021.
I really love that about quilting – no project is the product of just one person… there’s always a NUMBER of people involved. And I was overjoyed to have been one of the people involved with this vintage double wedding ring quilt.
So now of course I want to scour the Internet and find allll of the vintage quilt tops that are for sale. I want to buy them all, quilt them up, and get them into the arms of people who will love and cherish them for years to come!
If you have a special quilt that you’d like me to longarm for you, just fill out my form to get started! Or, if you’d like more information about my process, you can check out my Long Arm Quilting Details page here.
Have you ever purchased a vintage quilt top? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below!!