I have been so sick the past several days fighting some strange cold/flu/pink eye/migraine-y sickness. I got nothing new accomplished so I thought I would dust off an older project: my super-cheap-and-easy-fabric-stiffener-quilt-top-wall-art.
My friend Jennie Atwood, author of Sew Vintage, introduced me to the idea of saturating vintage fabrics and/or garments in liquid starch, shaping them and allowing them to dry. The result is like sculpture in fabric and is reversible by simply laundering the item.
I had an antique quilt top I picked up for a song at flea market. Ideally, I would love to learn quilting and finish this piece as an actual quilt. Realistically, that wasn’t happening any time in the foreseeable future. The sculpture fabric idea was a manageable project for getting the quilt top out of the drawer and onto my wall where I could enjoy it.
How to: Working either in a tub or a sink pour starch over clean fabric. (Craft stores sell fabric stiffeners which would work fine as well, but would make this project infinitely more expensive. I used the big bottle of blue fabric starch that is sold in the laundry section of the grocery.)
Dip the fabric up and down in the starch to distribute it throughout the fabric. Once the fabric is well soaked in liquid laundry starch gently squeeze out the excess. Don’t twist the fabric, you’ll have better results running your hand across the fabric like a squeegee.
Place the garment on a flat, clean covered surface where it can remain for at least 24 hrs. undisturbed. Plump the item allowing creases and folds as you like. I supported the fabric’s high spots from the back by placing crumpled dry cleaning bags beneath the quilt top. Be sure to turn the bags inside out so that no dye from any advertising fades onto your fabric.
Because the quilt top had unfinished edges, I rolled them under on all four sides to give the piece a more finished look.
Once you like the look of how you have placed and plumped the item, allow it to dry for at least one day. You will be able to tell by touch when the item is completely dry. Before displaying the item remove any plastic you have used to support it during drying.
I hung the quilt from a dowel when dry. The fabrics were delicate so I decided not to sew a channel across the quilt. I really do hope to quilt it one day and didn’t want to have to rip out that channel from fragile fabric. Instead I was able to sew four old-fashioned curtain rings onto the back of the quilt top-one at each end and the other two closer to the middle of the piece. The dowel simply slides through the curtain rings and hangs from a cup hook I put in the window frames at either end of it.
To me this is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t wait until you can have things perfect before moving forward on a project. Someday I hope this will be quilted and happily tossed across the sofa in my family room, but I am well aware that I may never get it done. Meanwhile, I love seeing it everyday in my bedroom and am glad I liberated it from the dresser drawer.