Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gettysburg Flag Quilt Miscellany

I'm still sewing the binding on the Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt.  I love doing hand work, but it's slow-going.  I am plugging along on it, though - fear not!

DSCN2056 Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt

See? I'm getting there.

I also spent a good deal of time yesterday IDing all the units that go with each flag or guidon and digging up links to more information on each.  Basically, putting all the research I had done in one place.  I was putting everything directly into my FlickR photo album, which seemed like a great idea.  Saving as I worked would have been an even better idea... and, oh, let's just say I lost it all and had to start over and really felt like my head was going to explode.  A good reminder to save as you go - and it did remind me of the "old" joke about "Jesus vs. Satan":

Jesus and Satan have an argument as to who is the better programmer. This goes on for a few hours until they agree to hold a contest with God as the judge.
They set themselves before their computers and begin. They type furiously for several hours, lines of code streaming up the screen.
Seconds before the end, a bolt of lightning struck taking out the electricity. Moments later, the power is restored, and God announces that the contest is over. He asks Satan to show what he has come up with.
Satan is visibly upset, and cries, "I have nothing! I lost it all when the power went out."
"Very well, then," says God, "let us see if Jesus fared any better."
Jesus enters a command, and the screen comes to life in vivid display, the voices of an angelic choir pour forth from the speakers.
Satan is astonished. He stutters, "But how?! I lost everything, yet Jesus' program is intact! How did he do it?!"
God chuckles, "Jesus saves."

Love that one.  Anyway, I'll post all the blocks tomorrow. In the meantime, let me field a few questions! I do save all the questions (there's that word again...) and will eventually answer them all! My friend Patty asked in part, "What are the layers of a quilt? What is the batting made of? How thick is the quilt and are all quilts about the same thickness?
Did you decide not to tea dye the quilt or was that a passing fancy?..."

The layers are the backing (in this case, a lovely quilt-weight cotton), the batting, and the top (what I've been sewing together). My preference for batting, unless I'm making something I'd like to be poufy (like a dog bed or perhaps a throw for a baby) is to use cotton. It has a low-loft to it (loft being "thickness" - or pouf, if you will ☺) and is a joy to quilt through - be it by hand or machine.

DSCN2053 Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt

See how thin that is?  Just to the right of my thumb are threads hanging down.  That should give you a good idea of the scale.

Check out the batting:

DSCN2054 Gettysburg Battle Flag Quilt

It is 100% cotton with the thinnest of the thin polyester scrim to it.  That scrim basically helps bind the cotton together and means you don't have to quilt it every inch - you can space your quilting lines/design 4" or more apart and not have it fall apart when you wash it.  And wash it, I will, once it has been bound.  The batting will shrink a tiny bit - and will add the loveliest antique feel to the quilt!  You'll see!  If I had to give you a thickness to the quilt ... I'd guess 1/8".  Maybe.

All quilts are not the same thickness!  Batting comes in many different "lofts" (thicknesses) and is made from all sorts of things - right now, cotton or polyester are probably the most popular choices on the market.  It also comes in wool, bamboo, and there is even an eco-friendly batting made from recycled soda bottles.  I'm fairly certain they didn't have that one available during the 19th century.  Ha ha ha.  ... or the polyester ... or the bamboo.  They certainly had wool or cotton available.

Here's a trivia question for you:  you see two antique quilts made around the time of the Civil War.  Knowing nothing more about them, you see that one is thicker than the other.  Where would that thicker quilt most likely be from - the north or the south?

When I first got into the whole realm of Civil War quilts, I guessed "the north".  It's colder in the north, they'd need that extra loft to keep warm!  Right?  (insert buzzer sound here)  Not right!  The fluffier, thicker quilts were actually usually from the South!  Then it hit me - they had the cotton.  ☺  See... NOW it makes sense, right?  That's your Fun Fact of the Day.

The tea dying!  I keep thinking about it.  I'm very tempted, but my husband voted against it and I think I'm being swayed in that direction.  Basically, and I might will post more on this another time as Trace did ask about it, tea dying is just that - dying the quilt with tea.  You make a really huge batch of strong tea, then soak your quilt in it for a while ... then rinse, heat set with your dryer, and wash & dry.  That's the Cliff's Notes version of how I do it.  It is sort of like "instant antiquing" - but I'm not really sure this project needs it.

And here's something I probably should have posted at the very beginning of this project - the fabric that started it all:

DSCN2051 The panel

Yes, of course I bought more than one panel! This is the "spare". You know ... in case I REALLY messed up or if I couldn't get all the flags cut out of one panel.  I have no immediate plans for this extra fabric.

That's it for today!  Thank you so much for comments, questions and for reading!


  1. You are so kind to answer all my rookie questions. This is such a cool project.

  2. I always learn so much about quilts from you! I have an old quilt my mom brought me that I think I need to actually take out of the bag and look at as I think it's really old. Maybe I'll understand it now!

    I also learned that fabric panels have fingers and feet! :)

  3. We guess the north too so we got it wrong! Your quilt is just so beautiful!

  4. Wouldn't the tea just wash out eventually?


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