One of my favorite things to do is to finish a vintage quilt top. There is something satisfying about taking a quilt top that was carefully pieced long ago and giving it life as a quilt. However, quilts that have been stored away often end up with stains, discoloration, and yellowing from years of being stored. But there is a way to save them, and it's actually quite simple. OxyClean.
OxyClean is a magical stain remover that is safe to use on vintage quilts, or any other washable fabrics that you may need to clean. However, you must follow a process to allow it to really work.
I first tried this on my son's baby clothes. My son was the king of spit up and drool. All of his baby clothes had stains on them. Formula stains. Baby food stains. And if you've ever tried to get those stains out, you know that those two types of stains are some of the strongest stains out there. I had some favorite outfits I saved. They were washed and dried and put in storage. Stains and all. So, when testing a process to remove stains from vintage quilts, I decided to pull out those clothes and see what I could do. They had been stored for 13 years. I wondered. Would OxyClean make a difference in the stains? Would it be safe to use on older fabric? Would it damage the colors? What I found was that this OxyClean process works like magic.
Here is what you do:
You'll need a large tub or your bathtub and a tub of OxyClean.
And that's it. You will now have a quilt that has the stains removed, the color brightened, and the whites whitened. Ready to use and enjoy.
The reality is, I spend a lot of time ripping. Stitches go in. Stitches come out. Stitches go back in. It can make me crazy. But it's a part of quilting. New quilter? You're going to be ripping stitches. Seasoned quilter? I bet you're ripping those stitches too. Maybe not as often, but I bet you're pulling those stitches. It's the grown up, quilting version of a do-over.
One thing I have learned is that the right tools make the process much less painful. Who knew that not all seam rippers are created equally? For me, the sweet spot of seam rippers is my little Clover ripper. Small, fine point, and the handle is nice and smooth. Perfect weight and balance. Excellent for quickly ripping out a seam or pulling a few stitches.
But then I needed a big gun. Something that can take some serious stitches out. In comes the surgical seam ripper. It's a scary little tool. It's a sharp scalpel that can snip some serious stitches. But you have to be very careful, because it also does a nice job of cleanly slicing fabric. (Don't ask - but repairs have been made). A pair of tweezers is a must. And finally, the craziest thing. A sponge that I can run over the top of fabric and it picks up all the stray threads.
Whether it's pulling stitches from a quilt on the longarm or ripping out a seam I messed up when piecing, it's all a part of the process. However, it's actually a nice thing about quilting. You don't have to be afraid of sewing that seam or putting those blocks together. If something isn't right, it doesn't take long to rip it out and try again. Snip. Pull. Restich. And it's like it never happened. Now, if only life was like that...
My point of this post is this. Making mistakes is part of quilting. Don't expect perfection of yourself. Don't give up on a project because you have to rip out a seam. Or, in my case, 100,000 stitches from an entire quilt. Just enjoy the fact that you can do it over. That you don't have to be perfect.
I have a confession. When I began quilting, I didn't really like to sew. I didn't have the patience for the careful precision needed to accurately create a beautiful, finished product. Sure, I knew how to sew. I'd taken classes in school. I made curtains. I made pajama pants for my kids. But sewing just was not something I enjoyed. And now, here I am, a professional quilter. And I love it.
It all began with a comment from my aunt. She owned a very successful quilting store until she retired, and is a quilter. She knows me so well, and has been my biggest supporter my entire life. I was showing her something with the Cricut, and she made a comment that I should consider longarming. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. I had never heard of it, but, if she was saying it to me, I knew it was something I should look into.
I began watching videos, and fell in love with the longarming process. To see a quilt top put together with backing and batting, and have a design stitched into it, ending with this beautiful finished quilt was amazing. And, it included one of my favorite things - technology! I could program a computer to do this. Long story short, after much research, I became the proud owner of a 26" Innova Mach 3 machine with Autopilot. And so it began. This was not going to be a hobby. It was going to be a career.
From the moment I took my training, before my machine was delivered, I loved longarming. It was amazing. I couldn't imagine ever wanting to do the piecing of the quilt tops, because, after all that would require patience and precision. Nope, not for me. I loved the longarming. Pulling that finished quilt off the machine. Then, I was asked to make a quilt.
I decided to go for it. After all, this was going to be my career, I should probably learn all of the parts of the process. And, I discovered, I loved making that quilt. There was just some kind of satisfaction in choosing the fabric, cutting it apart, sewing it back together, and then finishing it with a beautiful stitch pattern on the machine. And the joy of the person who I made it for. It was amazing. That was all it took. Now, I not only longarm quilts for others, I also make custom quilts, along with some of the other fun things I have found I can make with my machine. And, that Cricut that started this whole journey now plays an important role in my business. From making thank you cards to cutting appliques, it works for me as well.
But I am not an expert at piecing. I am a beginner. I do lots of ripping. I watch tutorials on Youtube. I try. I make mistakes. I try again. But I love the process. I find peace in the process.
So, I am inviting you to take this journey with me. If you are a beginning quilter, then I hope you will join me on this quilting journey. If you are an experienced quilter, then I hope you will join for encouragement and advice. I will share projects and tips, ideas and inspiration. This will be a place to share joy and frustration. A place to ask questions and get suggestions. So, lets take this journey together.
My name is Amy Martin and I am a quilter. I am actually an odd combination of professional quilt finisher and beginning quilter. I began my quilting journey from the end of the quilting process, by finishing quilts with my longarm machine. I then began piecing for customers, and discovered that I love the entire quilting process. Join me on this journey of quiting.
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