Thursday, June 29, 2017

Spring 1893

In the spring of 1893 someone we will never know stitched a remarkable embroidery square.   Nearly 125 years later there it sat in a box of hot mitts at a church rummage sale.  It was folded so that the embroidery was on the inside, so easy to overlook.  A jewel hidden in plain sight.  But something about that little muslin scrap caught my eye.

It is a Victorian crazy quilt block, 11.5 x 12 inches. The back is two pieces of old muslin of a fairly coarse weave.  The front was pieced of ribbons, and probably taffeta and silk.  But it is nearly completely covered with dense embroidery.  The embroidery thread is the style not made any more.  From the looks of it, and the style of needlework, I believe that the embroidered date of "Spring 1893" is accurate.  Nearly 125 years old!

I'm posting a photo in a larger format than usual so you can perhaps zoom in and appreciate some of her work.  Every time I look it over, it seems there is something new.  I've found bugs, butterflies, horse shoes, a violin, a crown, an anchor, St. Andrew's cross, paisley swoops, a bluebird, a book, moon and sun, flowers, clover and ivy.  I saw the date 1893 right away, but didn't even see the word 'spring' until I got it home.  What a delight!  I've put it in a shadowbox frame for now. Such stories it could tell!  If only she had embroidered her name as well.

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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Little garden baskets

9.5x32 wall hanging
This little garden basket wall hanging and matching table runner are finishes #6 and #7 for this year.  Whoo-ee I've been on a roll!

The vertical wall hanging will be for our daughter who has a couple of huge gardens at her rural Wisconsin home.   I was thinking of her when I bought the fabric at Hobby Lobby.  The store recently moved into our area, and though the fabric section is small, they have some very nice quilting cottons.

The plan was to make a runner for the top of our daughter's bathroom counter.  The colors complimented the bright green walls in her bathroom.  Well, not long after the top was pieced she painted the walls a different color!   Then she mentioned that she would rather have a vertical wall hanging.  I was NOT going to rip it all out and turn the blocks sideways, so I pieced a second one.  The horizontal runner will just have to find another home.  LOL
Ah, the best laid plans.....

These already have me looking forward to spring!

9.5x32 table runner



Monday, February 13, 2017

Medallion is quilted too

Another fun finish for the year.   The Medallion sew along is all quilted up too.  The challenge was: A Basket, Childhood (Sister's Choice for childhood days playing with my sister), Log Cabins, Stars and Something Fishy (The blue border is quilted with scallops.)
Sew much fun!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Courthouse Stars finish

Scrappily wonderful!  This Courthouse Stars pattern by Fons and Porter is so cheery and bright.  Just perfect for quilting up during these cloudy winter days.  It's the 4th top quilted up this year so far.  Making progress!
My 1.5-inch scrap bag is nearly empty after this, but I've noticed that the 2.5-inch bag is overflowing, and so is the 2-inch bag.  There will be more scrappy quilts in the future if I want to keep those scraps under control!

Linking up my Friday Finish at confessions of a fabric addict.  Stop over and see what everyone is posting there this week.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Minnesota State Parks

Bed runner 38x85
Here's the next couple of finishes for this year.   A few years ago I picked up a panel at a Brainerd, MN quilt shop that featured four Minnesota State Parks.  Finally, I found the perfect place to use it.   Inspiration for a Bed Runner and a Baby Quilt came from Classic Elegance Bed Runner, by Julie Weaver and found in the book "Quilts with Unique Borders by Annie's Quilting.

I actually started out intending to make two bed runners, one for home and one for the cabin, but changed my mind halfway through.  The Baby quilt has one panel facing each direction so that it is right side up either way when it's draped over the side of the crib.


34x42 baby quilt, yellow flannel backing


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Easy Street finish

Lots of quilting accomplished here in January 2107!  With a serious determination to quilt up as many tops as possible, and whittle down that very tall stack, I started out with Easy Street.  This Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt from 2011 was sandwiched and pinned up last summer, all ready to go.
Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt 97x97 inches

Why had I been procrastinating?  It quilted up beautifully!  I certainly didn't expect that.  It's been on the bed for a week now, and DH loves it.  The size is 97 inches square and he's so happy that it covers from head to toe, and there's enough drop on the sides that there's no stealing the covers necessary.  I'm going to have to remember this size as my new go-to queen size.   It's so big I don't have wall space inside anywhere to take a photo, so out in the snow it went.  Neighbors must have thought I was nuts!  

This quilt certainly looks different from her original.  No lime green, turquoise or purple in sight!

More to come... The sewing machine has been busy!

Friday, January 27, 2017

2016 Recap

Time to do a recap of last year's quilting and keep myself on track.
Quilts completed: (see the 2016 tab above for photos)
One queen t-shirt quilt, one full size denim quilt and one twin size quilt.
One Christmas tree skirt.
Five table runners, five table toppers, five lap quilts and five baby quilts.
Six mini quilts.
Seven wall hangings.
That's a total of 37 quilting projects!

Total yardage used: 71.5 yards. (does not count fleece backings, denim or t-shirt fabrics)
Total yardage purchased: 75 plus my December thrift store Thimbleberries find.  So, I nearly made it as a break-even year.

Eight projects carried over as Works in Progress.  Eight more quilt tops are finished and ready to quilt. Six really old UFO's I'll keep on the books, but one is going to be sent to the orphan block box.  I'm never going to finish the Just Takes 2 quilt and can use those 18 blocks in some other project.

January through March are my most productive quilting months, and I've completed three quilt projects so far already.  It's so easy to be motivated to finish up UFO's during a cold Minnesota winter, and I've got a great start this year.  Hope I can keep it up!

How are you doing?  Have you posted your year-end progress yet?



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seminole Patchwork

This January we took a short winter vacation to Florida.  It was delightful!
We stayed at the 100-year-old Peninsula Inn in Gulfport, FL.  It was so charming and restful.  They made us feel so welcome.

One of the things we always try to do in a new city is go to the museums and learn about the history of the area.  And, as always, I keep my eyes open for quilts.

The Tampa Bay History Center has a very nice area dedicated to Seminole Patchwork and the culture of the Seminole Tribe.  Their unique style of patchwork developed between the turn of the century and 1920.  Originally used for trade goods, it is still used today in their ceremonial clothing.

Can you see the flip card display?  There were two of them.  Each card holds a tiny pieced sample of a Seminole patchwork pattern.  There were several hundred different patterns.  I so longed to look through those and see each one.  But, alas, they are safely behind the glass cabinet.

It looks like an internet search might be in my future.  It's a whole new technique for me.  Wouldn't a table runner or small Seminole Patchwork project be a nice remembrance of our Florida vacation?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Love my little Calendar Girl

It might be progress, or it might be procrastination because I'm supposed to be quilting instead of piecing, but another UFO quilt top is nearly finished.

This one was started in 2011 and you've seen a number of progress reports over the years. Finally, the last four rows are finished and the main part of the quilt top is complete.

There was one last-minute glitch.  The bottom six rows were together, and the top six as well.  Then when I went to put the two halves together...the top was a whole inch too short! Out came the seam ripper and some of the end spacer strips were made wider to get it all worked out.  Lesson:  measure each individual row to make sure it's the right length, don't just presume the measurements all worked out. LOL

Borders might take some thinking.   It only measures 73 x 84, so too small for our queen size bed without a couple border strips. It's pretty busy so a solid or tone on tone might be best.  Maybe just a 3-inch black border and use it on the full size bed in the guest room.  What do you think?

There have been a few requests for patterns. Here's the best I can do for now.   The whole quilt was inspired by the 2011 McHarbors Quilt by Lyn Brown.  January: Snowflake Stars, March: Slanted Shamrocks, April: Baskets and Bunnies part 2, May: Parade of Posies, July: Flying Flags, August: Regatta, September: Windblown Leaves and November: Dresden Turkeys are all  designed by Lyn Brown .  I used a stripe fabric to make Easter Eggs and applique'd them down instead of the bunnies that Lyn had.  I needed something quicker and with a simpler shape.  Now I can only find the basket on her blog.  If you want any of the patterns perhaps you could contact Lyn through her blog or Etsy shop and she might be able to help you.  I printed the PDF files at the time, but to send one to you without Lyn's permission would be a copyright violation.  Sorry.

December Gifts are from 2014 Thimblemouse Designs by Lynn Z Provencher and were part of the Country Crossroads Quilt Shop, Orange Park, FL Row by Row Experience that year.  June Sweet Summertyme are also from 2014 Row By Row Experience designed by Roseann Meehan Kermes for Rosebud's Cottage, White Bear Lake, MN.  I bought one kit and used scraps from my stash to make additional blocks as needed.  I can't find links to either of those patterns anymore.

February Hearts are from Quiltmaker's Bitty Love Hearts, but I doubled them in size.
October Pumpkins are  from Sherri K. Falls at This & That.  They are from her Mystery Monday #6, and I reduced the size by half.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Allietare!

Yes, it's time to Rejoice and do a happy dance today.  It took a year, but my Allietare quilt top is finished!
Allietare quilt top - 84x84 

Allietare was Bonnie Hunter's 2016 Quiltville Winter Mystery, and it's a beauty.  At the time she published the clues for the mystery my scrap bins were pretty low on options.  So, I shopped my stash for fabrics. There was enough yardage of the right colors in the stash to make a half-size Allietare using constant rather than scrappy colors.

Since I have at least four Bonnie Hunter quilt tops in the pile that still need to be quilted, I thought half size sounded good enough for me.  After borders, it actually turned out much larger than I anticipated.  It will fit the full size bed in the guest room perfectly!

It's a new favorite!  It may be some time before it's quilted though. I seem to always be more interested in piecing than in quilting.  But let's count 7.5 yards of fabric used already this year and 0 new yards purchased.  Off to a good start I'd say.