MQG Make-It: Vintage-Inspired Quilts

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Welcome to the MQG Make-It challenge! In each issue of the Modern Monthly, we’ll provide a prompt and some inspiration to create something fun over the next three months. Get inspired, make something, and then share your work with your guild, with your sewing friends, and on Instagram using the #mqgmakeit hashtag.

For our first MQG Make-It, we challenge you to make a modern quilt inspired by vintage quilts. This could mean creating a template based on a vintage block, incorporating vintage fabrics into a modern design, or putting a modern spin on a vintage classic. This MQG Make-It will run from mid-April through the end of June on Instagram. Share what you’re working on and look for inspiration at the #mqgmakeit hashtag.

Vintage-Inspired Quilts

By Amanda Hines

I love looking at old quilts – the more intricate the better. I’m always struck by the detail, the time involved, and wonder what this (usually) woman’s life was like. She didn’t have rotary cutters, rulers of every conceivable size, or the company of podcasts and Netflix while she sewed. However, she did have some of the same tools that we still use today — templates.

 

Templates may get a rough reputation with all the tracing and cutting, but I think they provide freedom — freedom to know that what I design and cut out will sew up correctly; freedom from intricate quilt math (sometimes); freedom to use weird-shaped scraps.

Recently I saw a quilt at the Texas Quilt Museum that I just loved. It was a Wagon Wheel quilt made by an anonymous maker in 1900. I snapped a photo and set about drafting a replica of this block. I used my templates to trace and cut the pieces, and then I pieced the straight seams by machine, and the curved seams by hand. (I love how the edge pieces don’t quite line up with the wedges.) I’m still working on getting the templates right for the outside pieces, but my goal is to figure this out for this first MQG Make-It challenge. Stay tuned! I really love how the fabric selection takes the pattern from vintage to current.

 

I’m in the midst of finishing a drunkard’s path variation quilt that I drafted with just a compass. I made two different 6-inch blocks and made them all in pink, purple, and chartreuse scraps. I found a layout that I LOVE which has motivated me to just-keep-stitching.

So, if there’s something vintage that inspires you, give it a go. Draw up your template on paper to get it how you want it, and then transfer it to a heavier material (template plastic, cardboard, etc). If your template pieces match up, your fabric pieces will too. Tricky curves or Y-seams? Think about piecing by hand — which can be much more forgiving than piecing by machine. I hope you give templates a try as you’re sewing up your vintage-inspired quilt. I can’t wait to see what you make!

Amanda Hines is a quiltmaker and educator living in Austin, Texas. She works for the Modern Quilt Guild as Member & Sponsor Manager, and served two years as President of the Austin Modern Quilt Guild. She is drawn to traditional shapes and techniques, with fabrics that lend a modern feel. She spends her non-quilt time reading, running, attempting to garden, and shooing cats off fabric. Find her on Instagram @wellthreadquilts.