Saturday, March 26, 2011

Red and White 1910 Vortex Quilt, Part one

The original quilt was on display in New York the last week of March as part of the show at The American Folk Art Museum.  The original was made around 1910.   I have made 2 of these, working on another. 
Feel free to contact me with any questions.


Size: 84 x 84

Yardage:  7 yds red
                7  1/2 yds white

1   yd less of each fabric is needed if you choose to cut in the thrifty method described later.

Read ahead in the instructions and you will get an understanding of how this will go together.

This quilt is strip pieced, goes together much quicker than it looks.  Strip sets are made with graduating sizes of strips.  Narrow wedges are cut from the strip sets and sewn to form the bullseye center.   I learned a few hints along the way that I will share.  There are 52 wedges, 21 strips in each wedge.  Dividing a circle into 52 wedges gives an odd angle, one wonders why that number was chosen.  52 weeks in the year?  52 cards in a deck?

There are 2 kinds of strip sets.  One starts and ends with red, the other starts and ends with white.

The cutting of  wedges leaves a lot of waste scraps.  You can not just flip your wedge template upside down and cut the next wedge the other direction because you would end up with the wrong size red and white pieces in the wrong order. To save fabric, I give directions to cut the wedges in parts then sew them together.  That will save about 1 1/2 yards of each fabric.  It is not a great lot of extra sewing, but you may choose to just cut the entire wedge from a whole strip set.  You may have ideas to use up the scrap.

I used a white bed sheet (don't call the quilt police!).  A wide sheet can be split in half and used like yardage.  I did this because I felt it would give a bit of sheen and would be durable.  I machine quilted, so that was not a problem.  I had no problem doing needle turn applique on the sheet fabric.  Also a sheet was inexpensive.

Cutting strips

Tip:  Store the cut strips in the pages of a note book or a road atlas to keep from getting them mixed up.  All of one "row" in each page.

If you plan to cut whole wedges all at once, you will need to make 3 full and one half strip sets of both kinds (begining and ending in red, and begining and ending in white).
So, for each row cut 3 red strips and 3 white strips.  Place them for safe keeping between the pages of a note book, one row (3 red, 3 white) in each page. Then cut a 25" length of each fabric.  Cut each in half along the fold giving you  25" by (approximately) 22".   Cut a set of each color from these,  (half as wide as the other strips).
 Be careful to cut along the  (+ or -) 22" edges, or you will run out before all are cut.  Keep these half strips in the same page as the full strips of the same width.


If you want to save a bit of fabric,  cut one strip of each color rows 1 thru 9.
Cut 2 full strips and 1 half strip of each color rows 10 thru 17.
Cut 3 full and 1 half strip of each color rows 18 thru 21.

 To get the half strips, cut a 20" length of each fabric.  Cut in half along the fold.  You have 20" x (about) 22" pieces.  Cut half strips for rows 10 thru 21 from these pieces, cutting along the 22" edge.  1 red and 1 white for each row.

Cut strips in these widths:

row   width
1    2"
2    1"
3    1"
4    1   1/8"
5    1   1/8"
6    1   1/4"   
7    1   3/8"
8    1   3/8"
9    1   1/2"

10   1   5/8"
11   1   3/4"
12   2"
13   2   1/8"
14   2   3/8"
15   2   1/2"
16   2   3/4"
17   3"

18   3   3/8"
19   3   3/4"
20   4   1/8"
21   4   5/8"

Making strip sets

Sew with close stitches, these wedges are cut narrow at the end and stitching can come undone.
Be carefull on the first few rows not to get the order of rows mixed up.  It is easy after about row 8 to start sewing on the wrong edge (row 1). 

If you are going to cut whole wedges, make strips sets with all rows 1 thru 21.  3 full width sets and a half width set will start and end in red.  3 full width sets and a half width set will start and end in white.  Press to the red.

If you are making the wedges in sections:
Use rows 1 thru 9 to make a strip set starting and ending in white, and one strip set starting and ending in red.
Use rows 10 thru 17 to make 2 strip sets starting and ending in white and 2 strip sets starting and ending in red.

Use rows 18 thru 21 to make 3 full and one half strip sets starting and ending in white.  Make 3 full and one half strip sets starting and ending in red.
Press to the red.

In this photo the strip sets for rows 1 thr 9 and 10 thr 17 are done.  Rows 18 thru 21 are still in the pages of the road atlas.  The wedge template is also shown. 

Comming soon, I will show how to make the template.

Red and White House Quilt

1910 Red House Quilt

I saw a red and white house quilt in The Ultimate Quilting Book by Maggi McCormick Gordon.  The quilt was made in NY or Pennsylvania around 1910. I decided to draft the blocks in a small size for a wall hanging.  The quilt will finish

31" by 29".  Feel free to use my sketch to make any size you like. 

This block is partly strip pieced
Use 1/4" seam allowances, press to the red
Cut strips across the width of fabric at least 43" wide.

First, make 2 full strip sets and one 1/2 strip set from these strips:
          1 1/4" white
          3/4" red, folded wrong sides together
          1 3/8" white
          1 1/2" red

The folded red strip is sandwiched between the 2 whie strips sort of like you would add piping.  The lower strip of white is 1/8" wider than the upper white strip.  This will make the finished window panes apear to be the same size after the folded red flap is pressed toward the wider white strip, forming a window pane.  Press.


Cut a 15" section off the 1/2 strip set, (save the 2 long sets) and to the red edge add  15" long strips:
          2 7/8" white
          3/4" red

Press.  Trim the end, cut 9 (nine)   1 1/2" sections.  Set aside for later.


Sew 2 long strip sets together, white to red.  Cut the left over short strip set  in half and sew them together the same way.  Trim and cut 18    1 1/2" window sections.  Use the short strip set first as the leftovers from the long set are needed  in the next step for the house end.  Tip:  Keep the sections true by squaring up the strip set evey few cuts.  Set these window sections and the door sections aside untill the ends are made.  We will complete them when we know the exact measurment of the ends.


Add a 1" red strip to the white edge of the remaining strip set. Press, trim and cut 9   1 1/2" sections.

Sew 1 1/4" red strips to each side of the window sections that are a bit longer at each end.  Press and trim even with the window sections.  This is a way to help keep the blocks even.  Place the ruler with a line on one of the seam lines to keep the ends square. 


Assemble the fronts by sewing sections as follows.  (Be careful not to flip one of the window sections upside down.)  Sew a red 1 1/4" strip to each side of  the window/door section that is a bit longer than needed at both ends.  Square up and trim with a ruler, being careful to keep the lines of the ruler paralell to the stitching lines.

  Add a window section to each side.

 Add a 1 1/4" red strip to each side, leaving it a bit long and trimming as before.

It is more important that blocks be uniform sizes than that they match the sketch.  I did a SMALL amount of trimming on some of mine.

Now the red and white section above the windows.  If all went well, at this point the house ends should be 1/2" taller than the house fronts.  If so, make 2 strip sets of 3/4" white and 3/4" red strips.  Press.
If the house ends are more than 1/2" taller than the fronts, cut the red strip wider by that much.  If the house ends are less than 1/2" taller, cut the red strip narrower by that much.  It is better to make this adjustment on the red strips, not the white.

Tip:  You may want to pair up sides and fronts so the sets are closer to 1/2" different in size.

 Sew the strip set to the top of the house front with the white to the outside, leaving a bit extra on the ends and trimming as before.  Press.

Sew a 3/4" white strip to the left edge of the house front.

Sew a house end to the front. 

Tip:  I used the left edge of my presser foot to make an even 1/4"  wide white "trim" strip, sewing with the white on top.


Cut 9  10" x 1 3/4" red strips.  These are longer than the block, but will be trimmed later.

On the original quilt the peak of the roof does not line up exactly above the center of the windows on the house end.  Placing a ruler on the photo in the book shows that the tip if the peak is actualy above the window to the right of center.

 I chose to make my quilt with the peak centered, but if you want to stay true to the original, cut the angle of the roof this way:

 Make a mark 2" from the left end along the top of the red roof strip.  Make a mark 3 1/2"  from the left on the bottom.    Cut from mark to mark.

If you want to keep the peak centered, make a mark 1 3/4" from the upper left corner, and a mark 3 1/2"  from the lower left corner.  Cut from mark to mark.  (45 deg angle)

Sew a 3/4" white strip along the cut edge of the larger roof piece, leaving it a bit longer and trimming. Press.  Sew the peak part of the roof to the white strip, being careful that the strip is straight when pressed open.  Press to the red.


To help in matching points, draw a light pencil line 1/4"  from the lower edge of the roof section along the white "trim".  Draw a light pencil line 1/4" from the top edge of the house block on the vertical white "trim".  Place the roof  section on the house section, right sides together.  Use a pin to match the edges of the left seams of the white "trim" strips.

 The seam to the right on the roof "trim" will not line up with the seam to the right on the house "trim" because of the angle of the roof "trim".  (I like to leave the pin in place sticking straight up, then add a pin on each side to secure, then remove the first pin.)   Sew the roof to the house.  Sewing on the white will help to keep the white strip an even width as before.   Press well, try to keep the block square.  Trim the roof ends.

On the back of the block make a light pencil mark 1/4" from the edge at each end of the seam connecting the roof to the house.  Also make a mark 1/4" from the top edge where the "trim" meets the place where the peak of the roof will be.  Be careful to make this mark at the peak, not on the other edge of the "trim".  I messed up a few of my blocks.  Also a mark 1 3/4" from the upper corner on the other end of the roof.  Draw  sewing lines from mark to mark.

Place a 2" white square (2 1/2" if you moved the peak) under the corner of the block.  This square is a bit larger than needed, but we will trim.  Sew on the line.  Press the square upward.  Trim even with the background, then cut away the extra layer, leaving a seam allowance. 

Make a light pencil mark 1/4" from the top edge at both ends of the red roof.  Use these when adding the chimney/sky section.


Cut 15" strips for the chimney/sky section.  If all your cutting and sewing was totaly acurate, cut the strips in the following sizes.

          Red      1  1/4"
          White   5 1/4"
          Red      1 1/4"
          White   1 3/4"

The reality is your blocks are probably not 9 1/4" wide.  (mine were not)  They may not even be alike.  Pick one that is an average size to take measurements.  Take measurements 1/4" below the top edge to get acurate numbers due to the sloped seams.

          White       from the edge to the roof top plus 1/4"
          Red          1 1/4"
          White        tip to tip of roof minus 1"  (this alows for the chimneys and seams)
          Red          1 1/4"
          White        peak to edge plus 1/4"

Assemble strip set, press, trim and cut 9   1 1/2" strips.

When sewing chimney strip to the house, be careful to place the strip  so the white ends are on the correct end if those parts were not the same size.  Use a pin to line up points as before.  This is the most tricky part of the block.  You may want to baste the areas where the chimneys meet the roof, check the alingment, then sew the entire seam.  It may save some "unsewing".  Press.


Cut sahing strips 1  1/2" wide.  Use red for the binding.