November 14, 2012 by magpiemenina
This project has been in the works for a while. I liked the idea of having decorative pillowcases made from vintage or antique quilts, but the notion of cutting up an old quilt for that purpose was abhorrent to me. I decided to make my own “quilt,” cut it up, and dye it in lieu of using the real thing. I’m excited to share the results with you!
I did some research on old quilts using Barbara Brackman’s book Making History: Quilts and Fabric from 1890 – 1970 (Lafayette, CA: C&T Publishing, 2008) in the hopes of making my quilt pillows look convincing. I had a nice pile of fabric scraps from projects, as well as bits of fabric purchased just for this project. (Did you know you can buy fabric in quantities as small as an inch wide at JoAnn Fabrics?) I read Brackman’s book, took a look at the fabrics I had, and realized I had fabrics suited for two different time periods.
The first period (second picture) was roughly 1890 to 1910. These were fairly simple patterns, lots of stripes, blues, whites, and reds. I threw in a brown gingham because earlier quilts apparently relied a great deal on browns. Here’s a picture of the quilt on which I modeled mine, down to the mistaken direction of some of the bow ties.
The second period was the 1930s. I had some flour-sack reproduction prints and plenty of colorful kid’s prints, as well as fabrics in the Nile Green color Brackman writes about. She also writes that 1930s quilts had a great deal of white in them. I didn’t want to use a lot (or really as much as I did), but the steps of white stripes are kind of a compromise. I made the simple pattern, using squares that were 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches (giving me a .25 inch seam allowance on each side). This is one of those projects I did because I wanted the result, not the journey, so I abstained from the fancy stitching and piecing Brackman shows in her book.
I coffee-dyed the 1890s quilt to antique it, then threw it in the dryer to “set” the dye. I used tea for the 1930s quilt, which gave it a slightly dingy look by dulling the white. Either process simply involves brewing some black tea or coffee and then throwing the cloth in a pot with the liquid until it reaches the desired hue. Coffee is usually browner and tea a little redder.
I planned the quilt tops to slightly exceed the width and length of the 16 inch x 16 inch pillows. I cut green cotton fabric to the same width and length as the front, with an extra two inches on the top and bottom. I then cut that piece in two at about 2/3 of the length, folded over the extra inch, and stitched the fold. I overlapped those pieces, pinned the green cotton to the 1930s-style quilt front, and sewed around the outside. When I turned it right side out, the green cotton pieces formed a coin-purse-style opening for the pillow.
I got these great reproduction 1930s buttons a while ago, and they’re perfect for the pillow! Jaybird helped in the decision. Aren’t the little ladies cute?
I haven’t finished the bow tie quilt pillow yet. I’m waiting to use the red ticking fabric for the back that is currently engaged in protecting the barstools from Mew. The barstools, you may recall, aren’t ours, so the fabric will be free once we move. I also have three brass buttons of antique provenance to put on the back. It should look great. I’ll put pictures up when that’s done, too.