Monday, June 19, 2017

You're not going to wear those pants!

That was my daughter's reaction when she caught sight of a pair of batik pants that were in my sewing room.  "You're not going to WEAR those pants!  You bought them for the fabric...right???"

Yes, she knows me pretty well, and I guess there are some things that a woman of a certain age should not be seen wearing.  (Though I will admit that I tried them on when I got them home. lol)  A recent thrift store visit led to the purchase of a $4 pair of pink batik pants, probably made in India. They had a wide border around each leg, but I really bought them for the pink fabric.

Of course, the first thing I did was wash them in cold water....multiple times!  The dye ran, and ran, and ran.  Vinegar rinses helped, and finally the excess dye seemed to be gone.  After drying them I was was in such a hurry to play with the fabric that I went charging on ahead and de-constructed them without taking a photo.  You'll have to use your imagination. (The burgundy stripe was the bottom, then the turquoise stripe, then the florals with a yellow stripe between the two styles. From the knees up the pants were dark pink batik which will go into my stash.)

Front and back leg pieces gave me a total of four 13.5-inch squares from the lower pant leg border.  I cut each of these in an X, and started to play with the resulting triangle pieces.  Here's what I came up with...

A very nice table runner!

It took a while to audition fabrics for the border.  I think I learned a lot about color and value.  Here were my best choices:

Bottom:  The main fabric of the pants, which is the fabric I really wanted for my stash.
Next:  Mottled dark pink that matches the pinks pretty well.
Then:  Turquoise that matched the lightest turquoise in the border.
Top:  a deep gold which was even darker than the dark gold in the border print.
Not making the cut:  a lighter yellow that matched the yellow in the border and the backing.

I learned that matching is a good idea, but isn't always the best idea.  The dark pink just disappeared as a border.  It would have worked, but it didn't really add anything to the piece.

The turquoise was my first choice.  I thought it would be perfect.  Nope!  It matched the bright turquoise, but it made all the darker colors look muddy.  The same with the light yellow - only more so.  In fact, it was amazing how they actually made the piece look ugly!

Finally, I tried the dark gold on a whim.  It was amazing.  It made the light colors in the border pop!  It gave something for the eye to contrast the lights against, and that made all the difference.  The bright yellow and light turquoise in the border fabric sparkled.  It 's something that I'm going to have to remember when selecting colors in the future.

So, here it is.... all finished!  Not bad for the cut off bottoms of a pair of pants.  It was a such a fun little project. It still needs a name.  Any ideas?
17.5 x 35 inches 



Thursday, June 1, 2017

More Baskets of Plenty

May has flown past and here we are in June already!  Not much happening in the sewing room, but I did work on few more baskets from Cheri's 'Baskets of Plenty' sew-along. Perhaps a few of them need more work, but I'll have to think about that for a while.  Sometimes you just have to wait for a block to tell you it's own story.

This block thinks it's all done!

This one feels lonely and wants a little bird at the bottom.

More berries?  No, then it gets too symmetrical. 

This one might need some more flowers, but for sure wants a button in it's star.

Happy Summer!

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Basket

Happy May Day!  I just adore May Baskets, and had to squeeze some time in today to make a basket block to share with you.

Cheri Payne  is a generous and wonderful quilt designer who has such a fresh and whimsical folk style.  She is in the midst of sharing a series of Basket Blocks with her Quilts by Cheri Friendship Group on Facebook.  I put together Block 1 today. It's the first time I've used wool for applique.  The tiny berries were so small that I cheated and substituted some sweet little buttons.  And, I used a piece of lace instead of the scalloped band on the basket top. Oh, I am soooo lazy!

Truly, applique' is not my favorite thing to do, and I don't know why!  My Elna does a lovely job of machine applique and it really doesn't take that long.  Trace, fuse, cut, fuse, applique.  Done!

It wasn't easy today though. The quilt gremlins were at it.

First, I cut the background piece for the top.  Then I cut the basket.  Next I started to cut the background side pieces - out of the piece I had set aside for the top!    What was I thinking?  Good thing this is a forgiving style.  There was just enough fabric left to piece together something big enough to replace that top section - but it took  3 pieces!

Then, my favorite quilting iron went on the fritz half way through the project.  It's the second time it's gone out.  The first time, a few years ago, there was a short in the cord near the plug and it kept turning itself off.   DH trimmed the cord back, put a new plug on and I was back in business!   Today it wouldn't shut off when it reached the set temperature and I scorched the ironing pad, gummed up the plate with spray starch and melted a piece of sweatshirt knit.  Yowzer!  Maybe time to retire it for good.  Should I yell "Mayday!"?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spring bunnies

Don't you just love bunnies in the springtime?  They are so adorable!... until they nibble off your flower buds.   So far, they've left most of mine alone.  (fingers crossed)  My Easter project this year tumbled into my lap when the museum director sent me a link to the Dakota County Historical Society and an exhibition they are planning for this spring.

Modern Interpretations of Historic Design V begins May 13th at the LeDuc Historic Estate and runs through the end of June.   Entrants were asked to create a modern piece based on one of the LeDuc designs.   Florence and Alice LeDuc  started a cottage industry in Hastings, Minnesota creating lovely embroidered designs for sale from 1888 to the mid-1920's.  You can read about them in this article from the Minnesota Historical Society.

The designs are wonderful and I decided to make a table runner based on their "3 Hopping Bunnies" design, and love how it turned out!  It did take me something like 10 tries just to get 4 corners the way I wanted them.   The first 4 were too small, second 2 were OK, the next 2 were backwards and had to be re-stitched, but they finally cooperated.  We all have days like that.  All I can do is laugh at my blunders.
Spring Bunnies table runner 15.5 x 47 inches
After a little encouragement from my sister I filled out an application, held my breath, closed my eyes, and pushed 'enter.'  A few days later an e-mail arrived.  It was accepted!  It's the first time I've ever entered a piece in any exhibition, so I'm pretty excited!

Blog posts will be few and far-between for a while now.  I'm switching out my computer because Google no longer supports the operating system on my good old reliable.  Though I have the new computer up and running, none of my photos or software has been transferred yet.  So every once in a while, like today, I fire up the old computer and do a few things.

There are other priorities too.  Our first grandchild is due to make an appearance any day now.  Can't wait to see what joy Grandparenting will bring into our lives!  I hear it's highly recommended.  (wink)

Linking up at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Whoop Whoop!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sarah Stone Mourning Sampler


Today I'd like to share with you a treasure from our local Historical Society that I have recently been researching.  It's not quilting, but it is stitchery related. 

From about 1780 to 1840 part of the needlework training of young women was to make a memorial piece and it was a popular form of needlework during that period.  

This linen cross-stitch sampler, dated August 3, 1823, is a lovely example of Mourning Needlework.  It was made by Sarah Green Stone "In Memory of William B. Stone, Obt. June 14, 1822, Aged 16 months 16 days."  

How tragic for her to lose a beloved little brother.  Stitching her grief into this sampler was her way of honoring his short and precious life.  It's hard to believe that this delicately beautiful stitchery was made by a girl who was only 11 years old!

Mourning samplers and needlework are so very personal.  They were not made from patterns or mass-produced.  Each one, stitched lovingly and uniquely, expresses the experiences of the family in which it is made.  This sampler has a house which most likely looks like the one where the Stone family lived in Stoneham, Massachusetts.  The funeral urn has little William's initials on it.  A weeping willow tree symbolizes the tears of grief, and the baskets and flowers up each side symbolize love.  There are little Egyptian-style birds in several places which typically symbolized the soul of the lost loved one.

Sarah G. Stone, daughter of Aaron and Lydia Buckman Stone, was born in June 1812 (death records) and baptized in 1816 along with her sister, Lydia. (church records)   She married Elihu Spencer Lynde in 1832. Sarah suffered many heart-wrenching losses in her short life: the death of her brother William in 1822, her sister Lydia in 1827, her mother in 1831 and one of her own children in 1837.  Sarah passed away just before her 26th birthday, and is buried with her infant son in the Old Burying Grounds, Stoneham, Massachusetts.

So, how did this lovely stitched sampler, born out of tragedy, come to Bloomington, Minnesota?

Sarah Stone Lynde's only surviving son, Elihu Lynde, Jr. moved to Minneapolis around 1875 with his family. His daughter, Sadie Lynde married Bloomington resident Edward Robert Pond, Jr. in 1911. The couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Maria.  The Ponds are buried in the Bloomington Cemetery.

Great-Grandmother Sarah Stone's sampler had been treasured and passed down in the family for nearly 150 years.  It was donated by the Pond family to the Bloomington Historical Society where it now can be seen and appreciated by the entire community.

The poem on the sampler is from a hymn written by Anne Steele (1717-1778) of Broughton, Hampshire, England and widely published in hymnals of the day.   Sarah has stitched the first verse at the top, and another verse at the bottom of her sampler.  Though much of the bottom verse is missing, it probably reads:

When blooming youth is snatch'd away
By death's resistless hand,
Our hearts the mournful tribute pay
Which pity must demand.

Christs voice in this alarming scene
May every heart obey;
Nor be the heav'nly warning vain
Which calls to watch and pray.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The taffeta disaster

Have you ever stumbled across a really old abandoned quilting project?  One surfaced here today. What's this???  Pieces neatly put into bags, labeled B, d and Borders.  No pattern.   What happened to A and C?

A few strips pieced and cut.  Have you ever seen anything so crooked?  Look at that middle strip!  And that border strip across that top... um... that's not straight in anyone's imagination. Up to 1/2 inch wave on the left.

The blue taffeta was fabric left over from making the Maid of Honor gown I wore at my sister's 1985 wedding.  I must have thought I could make a quilt for her out of the scraps.  Clearly, taffeta does not work well for quilting!   I was cutting with scissors back then -  no rotary cutters yet.  What a disaster!  Looks like it shifted all over the place.  

Glad this didn't keep me from trying again and learning to quilt.   Now I can only laugh at myself.  What ever was I thinking????  It does make me realize the challenges that quilters had long ago when they worked with silks and taffeta fabrics they had on hand.  The white print cotton might be worth saving, but the taffeta is going out the door!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

bags, bags, bags

Looks like I've become a Bag Lady!  It all started when my sister called asking if I had any decorator fabrics to re-cover some 30-inch pillows our mother had made...way back in the 70's.   It didn't look like I had anything big enough for her, but since I had the decorator fabric scraps all pulled out, let's use some up!

Leftover drapery fabrics became these grocery shopping bags.
five blue/white shopping bags
three green/pink shopping bags
No more white/blue stripe.  No more blue floral.  No more green floral.  No more pink.  Whoo-Hoo!

A quick tutorial:
(A little sketchy, but if I want to make more someday, at least I can't lose the directions if they're posted here!)
Cut front and back of bags 14 x 11 inches.
Cut side/bottom piece at 8 x 39 inches.
Cut an inner-bottom piece at 10.5 x 8 inches and finish the edges on the two short sides with serger or by turning under 1/4 inch.  Center on the longer piece, wrong sides together, and stitch together on the outer edges.
Cut two handle pieces, 2-1/2 inches x 22 inches.  Fold, stitch long side and turn. Press and top-stitch 1/4 inch along each long side.
Stitch the bag pieces together with the 11-inch side as top/bottom.
Finish the top edge with serger or by turning under 1/4 inch.  Then turn down another inch and top stitch down.
Attach bag handles.
Slide a 7.5 x 10 inch  piece of plastic or cardboard between the two bottom pieces.