I was quilting a vintage top last week and noticed regular pairs of small thread holes, and then one or two had blue yarn shreds in them. They were regularly spaced and I soon realized that the top had once been a tied quilt. This set me to thinking about tied quilts. These days we don’t see too many of them. This scrappy one is in my personal collection. It has a very heavy batting that might just be an old wool blanket. The ties are all of a dark blue yarn, and randomly placed. These kind of quilts were often tied.
This one is my vintage silks Crazy Rails, and it is tied with small stitches that are invisible on the front, and barely visible on the back. This has no batting in it, like most crazy quilt types. While we are at it, crazy quilts were most often tied also, as this top will be when I finish doing it for the customer who owns it.
So the question is, why tie? and is it Ok to tie a quilt instead of quilting? So yes, it is fine to tie a quilt as long as you do it well and securely, especially if your batting is very heavy, bulky or otherwise hard to stitch through. I once worked on a quilt that had another older worn out quilt as the batting. They were tied. You can also tie a quilt if you want the fluff of a comforter and have very puffy batting. Be sure that you have enough ties in it that the batting wont shift on you. Read the batting package for the spacing recommendations.
You might also consider tying the quilt if there is to be no batting. Crazy Quilts and vintage tops that need to have seam allowances protected while in storage fall in this category. If there is no batting to shift you only need to tack it here and there to keep the top and back layers together. In some ways the ties act as basting in this situation.
Tying a quilt is also a quick finish. In the time it takes to baste for quilting with pins or thread you can be done and get that warmth on the bed. The placement and color of the ties can enhance the design too. Honestly if I am making a quilt for a toddler, or very tactile person I sometimes add a few ties just to give them something to play with as they snuggle in for a nap. It can also act as an interim finish till you decide what kind of quilting you want to do (or while waiting to afford the longarm person ) The quilt on my bed for the winter has a wonderful fluffy wool batting in it and is tied. It is too big for me to do on a domestic machine and I don’t want someone else working on it. It is tied for several seasons now and is doing fine.
If you have a project you would like to tie, feel free to do it at the shoppe. Just call and be sure the tables are available if it is a big project. If you bring some friends to help we can be done in no time flat!!!
On April 6 we will have our first meeting for the Alaska BOM. We are all ready to go. I have handouts ready, kits cut and I am still hoping to have the entire top done by then, but it is going to be close. I lost some time to a rotten cold this week, and a few other project deadlines that snuck up on me. I have room for one more person who wants to choose one of the alternate color schemes. See the Alaska BOM page for choices and call me.