Monday, April 9, 2012

Charm Quilts and More

 This is my charm quilt that has been in progress since 1994 (about 1/4 showing)!  It has been my "Carry Along Project" mostly when I visit my Mom.  I have a hard time just sitting and talking so I try to always have something available to work on!  At home this is not a problem as I always have Many Projects in various stages of completion to choose from when I finally sit down in the evening!  I could not remember exactly when I started this Applecore quilt but one day while browsing through back issues of "American Patchwork and Quilting", I found the pattern I used.....think it was Issue #8.  At one point a couple years ago, I thought I would discontinue it as it had older fabrics in it that I did not think really worked with the newer fabrics of today that are so much more wonderful!  Then, I decided that it would be a great "catalog" of fabrics over a span of nearly 20 years!  Originally I planned to make 25 rows of 25 for a total of 625, but I think I will make it a little wider for a nice drop on my bed.  I have always been fascinated with "Charm Quilts" since I first read of them in quilt history books in the 1980's when I became interested in Antique Quilts.   Charm Quilts (a quilt in which each fabric is used Only Once) were a popular fad in the late 19th century when young ladies would strive for 1000 different fabrics in their quilt!  Now I've read of another theory wherein ladies would collect only 999 because 1000 charms would ensure that they would not marry!  

Charm patterns could be any One-Patch pattern...squares, triangles, diamonds, hexagons, tumblers, applecores, etc.   I plan to start a second Charm Quilt in the near future using Hexagons in Reproduction fabrics only as I have seen a few antiques in books that really spoke to me!  The following three photos are closeups of some of the applecores.  Oh yes, I have another Applecore in progress....using the Cindy Blackberg stamp (much smaller than this) for a tablerunner in only Moda fabrics.  Both of the charm projects are pieced by hand.  After I join each applecore, I press the seam with my thumbnail....have never touched an iron to my large quilt but it looks like I did from the finger-pressing!

 The next two photos are from a charm quilt I have from the late 19th century....would love to photo each section of the quilt for a photographic record of all the fabrics!  Maybe someday!  This quilt is handquilted in 3" diagonal grid.  One of these days I'll hang it on the clothesline for an overall photo.  I have also a 1000 Pyramid Charm Quilt (again late 19th century) Top that I should photo.  Charm Quilts stayed popular for a long time as I also have a 1930's Top done in triangles.....I  have more Tops than Quilts!

 This is a quilt that is One of my current handquilting projects (yes, there are others too!).....a center medallion (toile) that was inspired by one in Gwen Marston's "Liberated Quiltmaking 2".  Again, would love to make this in a fullsize bed quilt as this one is about a crib/wallhanging size.  This one is a Charm but I do have a lot of different fabrics in it.  I used the 3" grid quilting design from the above antique quilt.  I find it so relaxing to do handwork in the evening all cozy on the couch with my plaid brushed homespun quilt (also a Charm!) and the woodstove across the room........cheery with its glass doors allowing the warm glow of the flames to be seen.
 This little quilt (15" x 19") is from "Back to Charm School" by Country Threads.  I love both of their Charm books!  This is the first quilt I have made from the books and it is probably the most complicated because of all the small half-square triangles.....the rest of the patterns look easier and therefore faster to finish!  I machine-quilted this one in the ditch around the blocks (am not a good machine quilter so I mostly quilt where you can't see it but it holds everything together!).  Then, I just can't leave well enough alone and have started handquilting in the pink setting triangles!
 This photo shows the top before I added the half-square triangle border (see them in the box?)  The box at the top of the photo is my overflowing box of leftovers from this and other current projects that will eventually become strips in another log cabin quilt.  The log cabin in my Header did not provide any handquilting space so I am making another (will take years!) with 3/8" logs so that there will be just that little tiny place with no seam allowance behind it to handquilt!  19th century log cabin quilts were not generally handquilted but I just love the feel of a closely-handquilted quilt!
 Closeup showing the handquilting that I just can't help adding!
 I am not much of a Gadget Queen, preferring to use tools/methods of quiltmakers in days gone by who somehow still managed to produce masterpieces among their Everyday Quilts!  I use the Hera marker to mark the quilting lines on the Medallion quilt in the hoop above.  Just run the Hera along the straight edge of my makes a little crease that is easy to follow with no lines to erase.  Only mark a couple lines at a time as I'm not sure how long the crease will remain visible.  Also pictured is my Roxanne thimble that I Love!  I am allergic to inexpensive metals....even the silver one wreaked havoc on my finger.  The gold-plated one lets me quilt without abusing my finger!  Lastly, I have slight arthritis that is beginning to bother when pulling the needle through the quilt layers.  One of my customers gave me a few of these little "Needle Grip It" dots and they work great!  Place one on my thumb and one on my index finger and it makes gripping the needle much easier!  The dots are clear and smooth and I did not see how they would work being that smooth (as opposed gripping power of little finger cots) but they certainly work for me!  Forget I have them on!   Now it is 9:30 in the Evening and time to go get some handquilting done!!


  1. love the fabrics you chose in the apple core quilt. the 1930 quilt is pretty as well. I have the hera tool but have never used it.

  2. Love your quilts Cyndi, I really think I need to come and raid your fabric stash!! You have some fabulous old fabrics, some in colourways I've never seen before. I'm so glad you decided to continue on, leaving the older fabric in your applecore. It will be a wonderful quilt for future generations of fabric lovers to admire and love as we do today.

  3. Hi Cyndi,the flowerfabric used in your medalionquilt are gorgeous!!!!
    Gr.Marianne S.Netherlands

  4. Lovely post. Interesting seeing so many great fabrics . I'm sure all these quilts will be ones that be open for discussion about fabric choice's in years to come.

  5. I love your charm quilts and I also find them facinating. Blogger is being bad and not letting me post so you may get multiple comments from me from trying......argh.

  6. I just can't wear any metal except gold.....the silver thimble (and of course any cheap thimble) create an itchy, red rash accompanied by swelling. Plastic does it too....years ago I sliced a piece off the end of my finger and the dr put a plastic guard to keep my finger from bending.....that became worse than the cut!

  7. Love your apple core quilt. I had some of those fabrics, too! It would be a fabulous "time capsule" of fabrics, wouldn't it. thanks for sharing.

  8. beautiful post. I have an apple core all cut out but not pieced yet.
    Have you ever tired a rubble office finger for gripping your needle? I've been using it for years and it works great.