Vintage and antique quilts are just the best, aren’t they? Who doesn’t love the soft textures, beautiful fabrics, and the stories behind them? The only problem with them is that they aren’t always suited to everyday use. Most vintage quilts are a tad bit fragile and you may not want the wear and tear on them from being drug around the house by a toddler, or soda spilled on them by a teenage grandson, or having to wash them on a regular basis. What’s a quilter to do? Make a new quilt with a vintage feel! You can recreate the whole vintage vibe!
This is how to do it!
1. Choose Reproduction Fabrics The key to achieving a vintage look in your quilts lies in the fabrics you select. Nearly every quilt shop carries lines of reproduction fabrics. I know. I know. When you hear “reproduction fabric,” you immediately thing of dark Civil War tones or pink 1930s reproductions. Although, those are fine, there are way more options out there in the world of reproduction fabric. You can even mix and match reproduction fabric with just timeless solids or classic prints like florals, gingham, polka dots, or even feedsack patterns. These timeless fabrics will transport you back in time and give your quilt an authentic vintage feel.
2. Embrace Hand Embroidery Remember those days when handwork was an art form? Bring that nostalgia into your quilt by incorporating hand embroidery. Simple stitches like the lazy daisy or French knots can add a delightful touch of yesteryears to your project. And hand embroidery is making a big comeback right now. It is back in vogue and there are lots of patterns out there. (In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret… Missouri Star is getting ready to launch some embroidery items later this winter. Yay!!!) Add some hand embroidery to your quilt and it’s definitely going to have a vintage vibe to it!
3. Mix and Match Patterns Vintage quilts often have a charming hodgepodge of patterns. Don’t be afraid to mix different block designs, colors, and shapes. The eclectic blend will give your quilt that warm, inviting, and unmistakably retro vibe. Back in the day, quilters used what they had on hand and their quilts were not always matchy-matchy, most utilitarian quilts were scrappy.
4. Repurpose Vintage Linens Have old tablecloths, handkerchiefs, or doilies tucked away? Repurpose these vintage linens by incorporating them into your quilt. The delicate lace and intricate embroidery will add character and tell a story of days gone by.
5. Explore Quilting Patterns of the Past Research quilting patterns that were popular in the era you’re trying to recreate. Patterns like the Dresden Plate, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, or the Double Wedding Ring can add an authentic touch to your quilt.
6. Create a Nostalgic Label Every quilt deserves a label, and for your vintage-inspired project, a nostalgic label is a must. Personalize it with the quilt’s name, date, and a meaningful note, written in cursive or with typewriter-style fonts.
7. Quilt It Like They Used To: Consider quilting the quilt in patterns like they used to use in antique or vintage quilts. Pick a Baptist Fan pattern, or perhaps just a nice crosshatch pattern. This can be done by machine quilting, or you could even dive in and hand-quilt your quilt! Study a vintage quilt that you love and see how close together the quilting is and recreate it. Many times the vintage quilts have lots of small quilting stitches fairly close together. You can do it!
8. Don’t Prewash Your Fabrics: Yeah, you heard me right. Don’t prewash your fabrics. By not washing them, you can achieve that crinkly texture that comes with finishing the quilt and then washing it. The fabrics shrink up ever so slightly and leave you with that cuddly lovely textured feel that you love.
9. Consider Your Batting: Different battings give you different results. Decide what kind of look you are going for when you choose your batting. If you want a crinkly vintage look, consider using 100% cotton batting. It will give you the look you are striving for!
10. Share Stories Behind Your Quilts Lastly, when gifting or displaying your vintage-inspired quilts, share the stories and memories behind them. Whether it’s a quilt made from a cherished family heirloom or one that’s inspired by your own adventures, these stories make your quilts even more special. A quilt with a story behind it just makes you fall in love with it!
Let’s embrace the retro aesthetic, one stitch at a time. Your quilts will not only keep you warm but also warm your heart with nostalgia and memories of days gone by. Happy quilting!
‘Til next time!
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