Since Instagram is like microblogging, I wrote a post to share some of my notes on making this amazing vintage tie and hanky quilt.  I wasn’t aware that there was a character limit and I quickly exceeded it.  I had to move my additional writing to the comments.  Instagram is wonderful for sharing beautiful photographs.  But let’s face it, I’m a word person. i don’t know if anyone reads my blog, but sometimes I just have to write.

We begin with the story. My client is from the “old neighborhood.” Perhaps only those from my old neighborhood will appreciate it, because it is hard to express the sentiments captured in that phrase – the old neighborhood.  My memories of my childhood home in Cleveland and childhood friends are rolled into memories of the school, the church, the lake and all of the fun and crazy times we had in the tight-knit community. Everyone knew each other!

So I am already connected to my client by virtue of the old neighborhood!  She brought a collection of hankies and ties that belonged to her mom and dad..  She asked if I would make two baby blankets for her niece and nephew who were each expecting babies.  In the process, she requested a third be made so that each of her brother’s kids would have one.  Her brother has passed away and although these quilts don’t have any of his items, there is his memory here, too.

Some of the ties had specific meaning.  For example, the blue striped tie was worn by my client’s father at her niece’s wedding.

I worked with my client to hone in on a design.  We decided on a nine block.  She liked three ties on one block and a hanky on a block. We wanted to have the hankies in a diamond shape, but based on the largest hanky, it would have made the block size too large.

I initially went to Joann’s to look at fabrics.  I took the box of ties and hankies with me.  It was a challenge to find fabrics that worked with the colors of the ties. I was drawn to a line of their quilting fabrics in their vintage collection. I selected a number of fabrics and sent photos to my client.  In the end, she returned to my studio to see the fabrics laid out next to the ties and hankies.  And we went back up to Joann’s to look at the fabrics. I love the final combinations!

I typically make quilt blankets. I make the quilted top and sew it to a fleece backing.  It eliminates the need for batting and makes the process faster and less expensive for my customers.  I do occasionally make traditional quilts, but do not have the capability for all-over quilting, so I don’t make t shirt quilts that way.  The reason I love the top before quilting is that, being a #perfectionist, I love the point where everything is smooth and perfect!  As soon as I start quilting, all kinds of imperfections creep in.  These lend “charm” to the finished quilt but when I stitch in the ditch, I like the stitches to stay there (dammit).  But since I quilt by machine, that doesn’t always happen. 

A lot of the design process was established as I worked through the project.  There is surprisingly little information on the internet on how to sew ties and hankies onto quilts!  To prepare the hankies, I cut woven interfacing to roughly the size of the hanky.  I quick-fused it to the back of the hankies.  I then returned to the cutting table to fine cut around the edges so that the interfacing would be just inside the hanky edge.

I then stitched all the hankies with a narrow zig zag around the edge to the base block, which was a Kona cotton in natural color. I stitched the ties using a long, straight stitch.  

I thought, because of the fragility of the hankies, that I should add a batting.  I used a cashmere cotton flannel from  It gave the quilt a nice hand and it frees me from having to quilt every 8-10″ like I would have to do if it was a traditional batting.

The backing is minky. For the first time, I actually quilted the three layers with a minky backing. This went surprisingly well, although traditional quilting hurts my left shoulder with the constant pressure that needs to be applied. I used a walking foot, long stitch length, and very little pressure on the foot, and there is still a lot of drag when stitching with minky on the bottom.  I quilted only along the straight lines.  Working with minky is a pain. I always have my vacuum hose nearby. Even, so, there is fuzz everywhere from cutting.  The end result is nice and cozy, though.

I’m getting pretty confident with applying a quilt binding.  I do this by machine (my choice). I sew it to the back side and then press it to the front and top stitch. I cut bias binding to 3.5”, fold and press and stitched it to the back with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

I like to think that my items are practical, yet pretty.  My quilts are meant to be used and loved and washed!  I was concerned about the ties, so I took some scraps and quilted them – put them in the wash cycle on warm and was very surprised how they held up!  So I’m fairly confident that these blankets could be washed on cool, gently, with success.

I love these quilts!  And they brought back a flood of memories when my client saw them. I saved the tie scraps so I could make her something down the road.