Getting Started on Your First Vintage Cross Stitch Quilt Kit: A tutorial

In case you haven’t seen a picture of me -  at Quilts at the Harbour a few years ago, complete with some last minute handwork, as always.

Make sure you attend our 15th Annual Quilts at the Harbour this fall!

Read about it here: http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/04/quilt-show-and-sale-halls-harbour-ns-sept-28-29-2013.html

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In addition, today I’m going to reward all you folks who read right through to the very bottom of this post – SPOILER ALERT!! – you’ll find a nice offer to help you save on your purchase – this is good ’til my next post goes up, at which time it will disappear, so act now!

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NOW ON TO THE TUTORIAL SO MANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN ASKING ME ABOUT!:

First some words about getting started with your vintage quilt kit:

FOLD LINES AND WRINKLES, SPOTS AND FOXING:most of these kits have been in storage some 25 or more years – in some cases more like 60 years. If storage was not under optimal condition, there may be some staining, age lines and ‘foxing’ – if I feel this is a significsnt issue I will always include that information in the description, so that you know before you buy.

If you feel your vintage kit is less than pristine – do not wash before comnpletely finishing the kit – washing will in most cases destroy the blue pre-stencilled lines for stitching and for quilting, leaving you with nothing to go by – there are ways, after the kit is finished to wash out or reduce marks and soil and this is covered here:

http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/01/removing-the-stamped-markings-from-quilts-made-from-kits.html

When you take your vintage kit out of the package you may be  dismayed by all the fold lines: DO NOT IRON OR PRESS THE QUILT TOP – this will set the blue washout markings and you’ll never get them out! Instead, arrange the panels over a door,hanging down in strips; or if the kit is one large piece of cloth as all wholecloths are, and some applique, then arrange the fabric laying flat on your spare room’s bed leaving curtains drawn or blinds down to keep off sunlight.

You will find that the fabrics ‘relax’ sufficiently to start work. When ready to sandwich try the same thing with the batting and backing fabric – it works nicely for me! In addition – a TIP -  Quilters’ Dream, Request weight batting does not creep and bunch up once it has been basted or pinned – the three layers adhere nicely and don’t move around like many other battings do – in addition there is no dealing with hard little knobs you can’t get the needle  through – love that Quilters’ Dream!!!

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JOINING THE PANELS OF YOUR CROSS STITCH QUILT KIT: Are you going to  stitch all the panels together first or embroider one panel at a time?

This is your choice and I’ll go into factors influencing the choice later……. lets talk now about joining the panels…..

 

Pardon the look of this sketch – I’m a quilt artist, not a pencil and paper artist! You will see similar diagrams on all the instructions that come with your cross stitch quilt kit. Read the instructions carefully and use the floor,  a very large worktable or your bed to lay out the panels and to be sure you are placing them in the right order. THIS IS ESSENTIAL – go away for a while, have a cup of tea or something and come back with a fresh eye.  Some kits will have two, some have three and some more than three depending on the size of the finished quilt. Some kits have border edges printed as a cut-apart pair on onhe panel – so watch for this possibility.

When you are convinced you have the correct layout it’s time to act!! Start at one edge of the quilt kit and take it and the panel to which it will be joined and work with them. Again – no using an iron to press – no heat please – finger press the edge panel so that you can just barely see the dotted lines – stitch lines – pinning as you go and then basting with a large running stitch – use only white thread so that no coloured fibres rub off on the top.

When the panel has been basted it’s time to start lining up the two panels you’re working on – start at the top – pin securely, and then go to the bottom and pin securely again. Now go to about midway, and watch the stamped stitches or ‘x’s while referring to the stitch graph so that you are abutting the right x’s – work very slowly and check often – take a break and come back if that helps. When the whole panel is pinned together – the eureka moment has arrived.

Lay out the two joined pieces on a flat surface – the larger the better – I use a folding banquet table – this works well.  Arrange the panels so that the edge panel – which is the one folded under is toward the back of the table and the panel to which it will be attached is closer to you – NOW HERE COMES THE TIP!!!! – slide your biggest omnigrid ruler – mine is 6×24 under the joined fabric panels.

Thread your needle with a nice strong white piecing thread – can’t beat Star piecing cotton for that – and carefully starting at the midpoint and working to the end  blindstitch the two panels together. TIP!Keep the fabric pieces flat not fed through your hand – your omnigrid ruler will deflect the needle and you’ll find the two pieces of fabric are easier to keep matched with the work flat.

Work slowly and ease a bit here and there to line up the x’s. Work to the end, tie off your thread securely and go back to the  other end – which is an edge – the topmost edge, I think, and work towards the middle until you are there, easing as you go. Tie off your thread. NOW ANOTHER TIP  – DON”T FINGER PRESS THE SEAM OPEN _KEEP IT TO ONE SIDE AS YOU ORIGINALLY PRESSED IT .

Continue as per above until all the panels are joined, keeping the seams to the side as you go. ANOTHER TIP – NEVER EMBROIDER THROUGH THOSE SEAMS – with your spare hand move the seam out of the way each time rather than embroidering through a seam. Trim off excess fabric on the underside to a quarter inch seam allowance, making sure the selvedge is trimmed off as if it’s left it may shrink unevenly at washing and cause puckering.

Now you are ready to start embroidering, or if you alreadyembroidered the whole set of joined panels you are ready to check it all over and then sandwich it.

First though. MORE TIPS!

Start by organizing your colours seperately from one another. You may wish to thread an embroidery needle with a length of each colour as this may speed you up as you work. 

Start your embroidery in the centre of your quilt top, or in the case of embroidering panel by panel, wherever you choose to start – I tend to start everything I do in the middle and work outwards, but it’s your choice when doing the panels one  at a time.

Use a good sharp embroidery needle with a large eye – if using three strands of floss,  make a very small waste knot, leaving about six inches of loose thread below it – you will late come back and thread up that loose long end and weave it through the stitches you’ve made and clip it close after doing so. If using two strands you may find it handy to thread the  doubled single strand, leaving the loop at the end farthest from your needle and then make a teeny tiny stitch through the fabric and put your needle through the loop to secure rather than using  a knot – I find this a very neat and tidy way to keep the back from getting lumpy. Again – works for me – mightn’t for you – your choice.

Remember you are embroidering on very fine percale that has a ’see through’ tendency – never, never make huge messy knots and never never carry your thread over portions of fabric that won’t be covered by embroidery later. After having once faced this sort of mess on the back of an embroidered quilt I had contracted to custom quilt for a lady I never again accepted an embroidered quilt to quilt without looking at it first – arghhh!

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A FEW WORDS ABOUT EMBROIDERING A PRE-QUILTED KIT – these are usually made in baby size and need you to be very careful or your work will show through on the completed back side of the quilt.

Make a very small and tight knot at the end of your floss. Next slip your needle through ONLY THE TOP OR THE PRE-PRINTED FABRIC OF THE THREE PART SANDWICH coming up at the precise point where you want to start.

If you keep your finger on the back of the quilt as you needle, you wil feel whether or not you ae coming through on the back and slip your needle out and try again if you do come through.

When the knot is tight against the fabric, using your thumbnail to exert pressure, and pulling on the thread you should be able to “pop” the knot through to the underside of the top layer – the pre-printed fabric.  Now, if you ae used to ’stab’ stitching when cross stitching, comes the harder part – you will need to change your technique so that you enter and come out at the points you want to in one stitch – keep doing this and when you are finished with that colour, make a knot in the end, about a half inch from where you will put your needle in and pull the knot through to the underside of the fabric and clip. Keep doing this until finished and you will have an unblemished and pristine underside on your quilt.

This darling Beatrix Potter quilt kit by JCA is in my inventory at present, and comes complete with floss to finish - read about it here and contact me if you wish to order it: janet@novascotiaquilts.com so I can put a hold on it for you.

http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/03/beatrix-potter-holly-hobbie-and-walt-disneys-bambi-quilt-kits-and-more.html

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There is a basic rule of thumb I use about whether or not to sew the panels of a vintage quilt kit together before or after embroidery. BRIEFLY: IF THE CENTRAL PORTION OF THE QUILT KIT IS HIGHLY DETAILED AND WILL NEED CAREFUL AND EXACT LINING UP – SEAM THIS TYPE OF KIT FIRST! Then if there are little inaccuracies you can fudge a bit on the stitches making one or two longer or shorter won’t be noticed in the overall scheme of things.

Below, I show you a few examples from vintage kits that are in my inventory at the moment – if any of them interest you, use the link below each one to check on details and prices. Contact me: janet@novascotiaquilts.com if you wish to purchase or clarify any details.

http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/04/vintage-cross-stitch-qult-kits-with-floss.html

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http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/06/new-acquisitions-of-vintage-quilt-kits-june-2013.html

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http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/04/vintage-cross-stitch-qult-kits-with-floss.html

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Below are some quilt kits which are clearly ’strippy’ or made to look like blocks – with this type of vintage quilt top you can choose to embroider after seaming, or if you want a more portable project to work on, then by all means do your embroidery first – your choice!

http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/06/new-acquisitions-of-vintage-quilt-kits-june-2013.html

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http://www.novascotiaquilts.com/2013/04/vintage-cross-stitch-qult-kits-with-floss.html

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 Have you signed up yet for my monthly newsletter? You won’t be sorry you did! Send me an email – janet@novascotiaquilts.com with “Sign me up!” in the title line and you’ll start receiving the newsletter right away. Lots of pictures, info on vintage quilts and quilt kits and often a special offer.

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And speaking of SPECIAL OFFERS – for a limited time only I’m offering 10% off the first item in my current inventory you buy and if you buy more than one item you’ll get a reduction of 15% off your purchase before cost of shipping is added.

 This  SPECIAL OFFER will be withdrawn as soon as my next post is published – which is usually no more than a week later – I like to talk to my friends regularly – but if I have some special news to post I sometimes post again in a day or two – you never know, so check out my inventory by searching for your wish list items or run back through the posts for 6 months or so and see what strikes your fancy. Remember, I have a pretty extensive inventory of floss klits for cross stitch kits and at $65 for each one that is a big saving over price at local needlework and craft stores where $1 a skein is the usual price.

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Enjoy this great summer we’re having! Hugs from Janet

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3 Responses to “Getting Started on Your First Vintage Cross Stitch Quilt Kit: A tutorial”

  • Carol Leible:

    Do you happen to have a Bucilla quilt kit #2323 Brian Rose …..stitched in pinks. We have a kit but it was sent with wrong panels…..would like to purchase new kit or correct panels.

  • janet:

    Hi Carol: checked my inventory and I’m happy to say I have Bucilla #2323 Briar Rose and it is factory fresh – still sealed. In addition I also have the embroidery floss kit in the pink colourway – sufficient to complete the 90 by 103 kit. Price for the two pristine vintage items is USD $260 plus postage.

    One of the most commonly received queries is from folks who have purchased a kit on the secondary markett nd are disappointed to find some issues of missing or wrong materials.
    Nova Scotia Quilts takes the heartbreak out of buying a vintage or antique kit I buy in the secondary market and if I get stung I suck it up and put it away amomng my frogs who didn’t turn into a prince – LOL!!
    Contact me if you decide to purchase – it’s a lovely design, and these cross stitch kits are great fun to do Janet.
    J

  • Carol Leible:

    Thank you for answering my question….however, we cannot afford the kit and floss to match….we are a small church in a small town in Mo. and this kit was given to us…unfortunately they started working on it before seeing that we did not have the correct panels….we were hoping someone had a kit that they were not going to use and would donate it to us. We are hand quilting quilts and raffling them off with the proceeds going to a building project. Thank you so much for responding to our question though.

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