Granny and me with the Sunbonnet Sue quilt she made me.

This is my grandmother with me and the Sunbonnet Sue quilt she made from scraps I provided. It includes scraps from a lot of dresses, skirts and blouses I made in high school. We didn’t call it recycling back then, but it was.

I am so proud to have this photo which I did not even remember being taken.

These are two antique quilts I salvaged from my grandparents’ home. One is the Rose of Sharon quilt.








This pattern is colored muslin appliqued on a muslin background. The muslin squares are stitched together, I believe by hand, but it is hard to tell. The stitches are tiny. The quilting thread is a coarse cotton and the quilting is about 10 stitches per inch. I believe this quilt dates from the 1920s or 1930s, but am not positive. The fabric is worn through from the applique to the front in many places. I have a quilt that my grandmother made and I am certain that she did not make this quilt. My best guess is that her mother or a sister made it, but I suspect her mother made it.

The second quilt is a wedding ring quilt.








I believe this second quilt is newer than the first. The same coarse muslin is used, but the piecing is of a finer weave fabric. The piecing fabrics tend to be mostly two-color prints. I am not sure if this affects the dating of the quilt or not. This quilt, I believe, and I am just guessing, but I think this one may have been made for my grandparents wedding.

If anyone has any information about how to date quilts or anything of that kind, please let me know.

My art quilt “Bonnie Lass” will be displayed at “The Main Street Gallery” beginning Monday, June 7 in Groton, NY.

The 16-patch was hand quilted following the print lines of the fabric. This is an easy cheat to avoid actually designing or choosing an elaborate quilting pattern. The curved shape of the print on the darker pink fabric contrasted nicely with the thin plaid lines on the plaid fabric. This quilt is about 10-stitches-per-inch overall. Buttons were added just for fun.


Completed 16-patch quilt



When you complete your quilt, you will want to consider binding options.  Some quilts are bound by folding the quilt backing around to the front. The backing is first trimmed to an even distance from the quilt top all the way around. The outer edge is folded over about a half-inch and pressed in place. Pin this pressed edge to the front of the quilt, at least a quarter-inch inside the edge of the quilt top. The folded edge is then hand or machine stitched to the quilt top.


At the corners, fold the edge in at a 45 degree angle and then miter the edges together at the corner.

Fold the corner again until it is the same width as the sides.

When you fold the two side pieces towards the quilt top, they should form a mitered edge. Adjust until the two edges meet in the center of the corner and pin in place. Stitch the mitered corner.

Sometimes you may wish to use a binding of a different color or from a different fabric. Commercial seam binding is a readily available option. The problem with commercial seam binding is that it comes in solid colors. There are a variety of colors available, but many times the shade of your desired color is not compatible with your quilt fabrics.

To circumvent this color and fabric print problem, you may wish to make your own seam binding. You can choose a fabric from the quilt top or another coordinating fabric.

Make sure that the fabric has been washed and pressed before you begin. Unwashed cottons will very likely shrink and disfigure your quilt.

Place the fabric on your cutting mat. You can cut your strips on the bias and use a bias tape maker to form perfect folds for attaching the binding to your quilt. Cutting mats such as this one have a bias line marked on the grid.

Some quilters prefer to cut the strips on the straight grain of the fabric because it does not stretch. Binding cut on the bias stretches and folds easily, but can pucker if too much stretch occurs along the stitched edge.

Cut the strips to the width of your bias tape maker. This tape maker measures 2-3/4 inches. Strips can be cut at 2-1/2 or 2-3/4 inches. There are many bias tape makers available at sewing and quilting stores. They come in a variety of widths. Check your bias tape maker to make sure you are cutting the right width for your strips. To increase the length of your strips, cut the fabric ends at 45-degree angles. Place the 45-degree cut edges together with right sides together. The strips should form an L-shape. Stitch together on wrong side of fabric. Press strip, pressing seams open. Continue until you have long enough binding strip for the entire quilt.

Feed the fabric strips through the bias tape maker and press the folds as they come out the flat end.

Fold the pressed strips so that the folded edges match up. Press the folded edges together making a crease in the center.

When binding strip is complete, loop it in long folds or roll it up to keep the creases from flattening out before you pin them to the quilt edges.

Pin binding strip to the quilt edge on the back. Miter corners. Stitch binding strip to back of quilt by machine or by hand.

Turn quilt to front and pin binding in place. Edge of binding should overlap edge of quilt top by about 1/4-inch. Make sure your binding strip is folded evenly and does not have puckers or stretched areas. Hand or machine stitch front of quilt and binding together, mitering corners.


Sixteen Patch Quilt Blocks
The sixteen patch quilt blocks can be simplified by using a rotary cutter with a cutting mat and straight edge. Once you determine the size of the squares in your block, add 1/2 inch to each dimension. If you want four inch squares, you will cut your squares at 4 1/2 inches. You only need two colors or shades of fabric to make the sixteen patch blocks. Sashing may be added in an additional color or colors after you put the block(s) together.

The number of blocks you will need is determined by the size quilt you are making. For a sixteen patch quilt block to be used as a wall hanging you will need a quarter yard of each of your two fabric choices. This will make one block that is 16 inches by 16 inches square.

First: Cut your fabric into four and a half inch wide strips.








Second: Sew the strips together, alternating the two fabrics. For example, if you are making the blocks with a white fabric and a blue fabric, sew 4-strip sets alternating white and blue. Press seams open.

Pressing is the most important part of any sewing project.










Third: Place the 4-strip set on the cutting mat and cut it, running across the strips, to make four and a half inch wide block strips that have alternating colors.








Fourth: Pin cut strips together in alternating colorways. Match white squares to blue squares, for example, and pin or baste seams together. Match edges.
















Fifth: Stitch along basted or pinned edges, removing pins as they approach presser foot. Press seams open. Turn block over and press flat using ironing cloth.








Press again.

Add sashing as desired and press.

Quilt block is ready to be embellished with embroidery, beads, etc. or to be layered with batting and backing to make the classic “quilt sandwich” and secured with quilting. Embellish as desired.

If you are making a larger quilt, you will need approximately 1/4 yard per block. The finished blocks will be 16 by 16 inches. You will need to calculate how many blocks will be needed. Sashing is the strip of fabric between the squares. It may be the same fabric used in the block, or it may be a coordinating fabric. Decide how wide you want the sashing to be, then cut strips in that width by 16-1/2 inches. Stitch the sashing to each side of a block, then add a block to the far edge of a sashing strip. Continue until you have the width you need, adding a strip of sashing on the outside edge of the last block. Press seams.

Once you have assembled your sixteen patch blocks into strips the appropriate width, cut sashing strips to a length to fit the width of the quilt. Stitch a strip of this sashing to the top and the bottom of your quilt block strip. Press seams. Add another row of quilt blocks. Continue adding rows of quilt blocks until the quilt top is the desired length. Add sashing to the outside of the top and bottom row. Press seams. Check that quilt top lies flat.


Add sashing along the sides of the quilt top. Assemble the quilt sandwich. Baste quilt sandwich or place in non-baste frame and you are ready to quilt.

An alternative to ironing seams open is to iron them flat in opposite directions. Then you can butt the seams together as shown. Pin in place and stitch.

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