Monday, July 25, 2011

Doll Quilts - Vintage and New

I've been inspired by blogger friend Dawn's doll quilt replicas and her plan for displaying them. I can't wait to see the end result.  Visit her blog at Collector with a Needle.
I happen to love doll quilts, too - both vintage and newly made. Here's the doll quilt that started my collection.
16" Square      c. 1940

I found it at a local quilt show boutique about fifteen years ago. It was displayed on an old ironing board and I thought it was adorable.
Little did I know that it would be the start of a very specific collection and would also lead to my interest in making doll quilts.

The embroidery was done after the top was pieced and goes all the way through to the back - serving as the quilting.

I enjoy trying unusual techniques that I notice on old quilts so I made a replica to donate to the silent auction at my next guild show. I used some of my vintage fabrics and variegated pink thread as seen in the original. The embroidery took longer than I thought! I was happy that a quilter friend had the winning bid.

My replica - 2001

Sorry about the photo quality but it's the only one I have of  the two quilts together (being  shown at the guild.) The original is in front as I can see yellow patches in the corners.

Making small quilts is even more fun than collecting them. It's a satisfying way to try different techniques, color combinations and styles with a better chance of completion. Recently, I made this Joseph's Coat, the name being a reference to the biblical story of Joseph's Coat of Many Colors.

21" x 26"
Sometimes it's called "Rainbow"

It is found almost exclusively in a three county area of SE Pennsylvania. Made by both Mennonites and non-Mennonites, no pattern has been found. I guess it doesn't really need one!! It was most likely shared among individuals living in this particular geographical area. 
When our Minnesota study group studies a particular style, some of us choose to make our own example for education and fun. I knew I would never make this quilt full sized so it was a perfect project when we studied the Strippy style.  
I used only solids and quilted a different design in each color strip as is typical in early examples.
Hand Quilted

Here it is full size as shown in Quilting-Traditions-Pieces From the Past 
c. 1900 Pennsylvania     82" square 
I had to revise this post after I realized I had some great photos of large Joseph Coats quilts that were part of the American Quilt Study Group seminar I attended in Lowell, MA, 2007. The late great Cindy Cawley did a study center on Pennsylvania quilts. I don't know if she owned these particular examples because many in the class brought quilts to share. You can see how the quilting is done. Most use rainbow colors - one includes white.

Whether vintage or newly created, a doll-sized quilt is versatile; it can be used on a wall or table top - at least until the chilly winter evenings come and dolly needs it.

Poor Andy (c. 1972) lost his left arm somewhere along the way but he remains cheerful!

Watch for more of my doll quilts in the coming weeks but.....

Next: Mariner's Compass Medallion Update 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Coolest Quilt

I actually have cabin fever from staying inside so much in the SUMMER! The thermometer just hit 98 and the dewpoint has been setting records ...........which just means that we, in Minnesota, are getting a taste of the tropics without leaving home.
But it's never too hot to talk quilts so I tried to find a 'cool' quilt to share with you - and came up with this one because of the pastel colors and the ice cream cone border.
40" Square    Made in 2002

I'm sure many of you recognize the blocks as Dear Jane  blocks. In 1996 Brenda Papadakis grabbed the attention of  the quilt world by telling the story of an amazing quilt made by Jane A. Stickle in 1863. She got permission to draft the blocks from the original quilt and published them to challenge quilters of today.
The original quilt is featured in the Vermont state book Plain and Fancy  and is currently in the collection of the Bennington Museum in that state.
Original Quilt 80" square
There are 169 blocks which finish at 4.5" and the border is made up of elaborate pieced triangles. The corner piece is what we would love to find on all old quilts - the maker's name and date she made the quilt. Jane even included the number of pieces and the words "In War Time".
Her signature is faint  ( bottom right )
I had played with some of the blocks when the book first came out but after I finished the 'easy' ones the project stalled. I lost interest until a friend put together a class to help people break down the construction of each block. I was her test case! She divided the blocks into groups requiring specific skills and asked me to choose some from each group.She encouraged viewing each block as a project in itself to prevent feeling overwhelmed!  I learned that I could do it! This was a great way to work with the blocks without trying to reproduce the entire quilt.
Some of my templates
I chose a very different look than the original quilt. I used fabrics from my vintage stash as well as some reproduction prints c. 1930-1950. Can you tell which are repros?

Here's a look at the pattern for one border triangle and a section of the border of the original quilt.

Working in a small size I was forced to simplify the border ! (phew) 
Hand quilted

I'd love to hear from any of you that have worked with these blocks! There are numerous clubs devoted to Dear Jane. (some refer to these passionate folks as Janiacs!)

I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I need a treat!

Until next time: Stay Cool! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Joy of Giving

I made this quilt in 2008 for a ‘long time’ friend.
We walked home from elementary school together, shared an apartment during our first years of teaching and continue to ‘talk’ almost daily.
The pattern is, appropriately, Old Friends by Cranberry Cupboard. 

With Mary Engelbreit fabrics, it’s machine quilted and has a coordinating pillow case.

She’s celebrating a special birthday today so…..
Y   Y    Laurel!

Monday, July 11, 2011

EASY Hourglass Construction

Here's the way I made the hourglass blocks for my medallion quilt and many other projects. It's easy and makes two identical blocks at a time. The method is described in Leisure Arts Quick Quilts from the Heart by Fons and Porter on p. 111 so if you have the book you can skip the rest and just go make a few!

Cut a square 1.25" larger than your desired finished size of each of the two fabrics you want to use. I wanted  a 6" finished block for my last project so I cut a 7.25" square of each.

On the back of the lightest fabric, draw a diagonal line in both directions from corner to corner.

Position the squares right sides together and stitch a scant 1/4" on EACH side of ONE of the drawn lines.


I set the stitches with a quick press and then cut down the middle on that drawn line.

Press each unit open toward the darker fabric.

On the wrong side of just one of the units, extend the drawn line to the corner.

Now place them right sides together being sure to position fabrics with attention to the contrast.
Once again stitch on EACH side of that drawn line.
Set the stitches and cut down the center of the two stitching lines as before. Now you have TWO identical hourglass blocks.

Press, admire and repeat with another set of fabrics. I square them up to check on accuracy. If you find your finished blocks are a bit too small you could start with a slightly larger square or if sizing isn't crucial just trim them to the same size.

I've made several baby quilts this way


It's much easier to actually DO it than to read the description of HOW to do it. Give it a try.

Next: The Joy of Giving

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mariner's Compass Medallion - Update I

My Mariner's Compass medallion project has progressed. I promised I would get that next frame on before June ended and I did it....surprising what you can do if you put everything else aside for a day or two to fulfill a promise!
I finished making the hourglass blocks and added them to all sides.

I want a rectangular quilt so I added a 5" strip to the top and bottom only - I had a nice stripe in my stash.

Time for the first 'fitting'.  Have you ever designed a bed quilt on your vertical design wall  and ended up with a quilt that didn't enhance the bed as much as the wall?  This quilt is being made for double bed so the bed is my design wall. This section now covers the width of the top.

Now it's back to my original notes (see my first post on this project in May) to review the blocks I wanted to incorporate in the borders and do the math....aargh. I have determined the finished size now so I can plan the width of the remaining borders - remembering, this time, that the quilting will take up at least 2" and washing takes up a bit more. I want it long enough to tuck pillows under at the top.

I've lain awake a couple of nights now with these thoughts running wild through my head. I think I have a plan! I'm cutting and sewing.....Watch for Update II soon.

 In the meantime, I'll post the method I used to make my hourglass blocks.

Next: EASY Hourglass Construction

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Patriotic Quilts

It's the 4th of July weekend and here in Minnesota, miles from Lake Wobegon, it's brutally hot - with a heat index at feels like a sauna out there. So I am staying in the a/c as much as possible, feasting on cold watermelon and treating myself like it's a holiday.

Quilts expressing patriotism or political convictions have been made throughout the years, peaking especially during times of war, election time, the Centennial Exposition of 1876, the bicentennial of 1976 and after 9/11 in the U.S.

I made this quilt several years ago. I call it 'Star Spangled Sparkler' though the design is often called Farmer's Daughter (which I am, come to think of it!)
The use of red, white and blue, intentional or not, lends any quilt an undeniable patriotic aesthetic.
Hand quilted in an overall 'fan'
I started these flags on the 4th of July in 2007 with the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy playing on the TV in my sewing room. (Egads! I pride myself on keeping good quilt records but I now realize this habit can be a real downer! FOUR years ago?? Impossible!)
The pattern is '12 Star Salute' by Cotton Pickin' Designs. I added an extra row so I guess it's really a 15 Star Salute. The photo shows only part of that extra row at the top. I will do a better job of photography in its next appearance.....Maybe by July 4, 2012 it will have become a real quilt and be on a bed at the cabin.

These two 30" square Lonestar tops were made for teaching samples 'some time ago'. I refuse to look up the exact year. I am into medallions now so one (or both) may become the stellar centerpiece of a larger quilt. Truly, there is some benefit in not rushing things. Good ideas need to germinate.

I have plenty of appropriate fabrics in this category

 I tried to contain them within an old dish pan but.....I forecast lots of pieced backs on the finished quilts.....


The only 'vintage' example I have in my collection is this crib sized quilt featuring the bicentennial logo. It was offered by Mountain Mist in1976 both as a pattern and a kit in crib or full size.  The 'red' in this one leans toward orange....

..... but the amazing thing about it is that it is not pieced but appliqued.  I get the logo at the center of each star but those tiny little triangles?  yes...all appliqued onto a white wholecloth foundation which I believe you can see in the close-up. On top of that, the fabric is a poly/cotton blend making the task even more daunting than working with all cotton which was hard to find back then.

Here are the Mountain Mist ads which appeared in various needlecraft magazines of the time. My thanks to Rosie Werner and her kit quilt identification site for these images. 
Though red, white and blue are perhaps the most frequently used colors in American quilts with political or patriotic intent, here are two of my favorite exceptions from the book All Flags Flying by Robert Bishop and Carter Houck.

"Sweet Land of Liberty"   1985
72" x 72"
Jeanne Champion Nowakowski
North Carolina

"Hope"   1985
72" x 72"
 Barbara Barber
Rhode Island
   More information on this subject...........
 As far as the current market for patriotic quilts, Stella Rubin in Treasure or Not? How to Compare and Value American Quilts, states that in spite of the wide range in quality and style, patriotic themed quilts continue to be of interest to collecters due to their relative rarity and the individuality of designs.

Next: Mariner Medallion Update