But that wasn't all. Oh no. Though the eleven remaining pansy blocks are beautifully and skillfully embroidered, the machine sewn sashings and borders were rippled and pulled by an uneven thread tension, or so I thought. Clearly, pressing was not going to resolve these seams and the puckers were not going to quilt out. And there was that unmatching block to deal with. Unfortunately(?) I apparently never took a photo of the entire top, but you get the idea.
Not many choices other than take the entire top apart. So, this spring, during episodes of NCIS and Person of Interest, my trusty seam ripper and I slowly began disassembling the top. And we found the reason for the unintended rippling of the seams. Unmatched threads. Yep, the bobbin thread was apparently an all polyester thread while the upper thread a heavier weight, more evenly spun cotton. The thread differences while clearly visible to the naked eye, show up even more spectacularly under the microscope:
Anyway, the longer I toiled over unstitching this tarnished gem, the more I came to the realization that putting it back together with those dull, unimaginative fabrics used originally was not going to happen in my lifetime. At the very least, that solid purple needed to be replaced, it is a thin slippery polyester while the embroidered blocks and the calicoes are all cotton. That, plus these pansies are just crying out to be framed with a bit more spirit, with some brighter fabrics that will help bring out the embroidery colors, not let the whole thing fade into a monotonous nothingness, while still retaining some of the vintage spirit of the original maker's top. After a few hours reacquainting myself with the contents of the long-packed stash bins, and some of the scrap piles, we have a first run at some possible additions for sashing, borders. maybe even a swagged outer border should ambition/inspiration strike (thanks to an older 2010 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting).
Anything seems possible right now, though I'll still need to find a few suitable small medium pink scraps (currently scarce in this girl's stash) and maybe a tiny bit of deep yellow to highlight the yellow in the pansy embroideries to add to the auditioning pile. Right now this stack is going back to the the bin to mellow for awhile and see if these fabrics really want to play nice together. Though I will say at this point, this top went from 'never gonna get done' to 'wow, maybe I can do this' as soon as those old border fabrics disappeared into the bottom of the bin. This could be fun. Or angst - only time will tell ...