Thursday, April 26, 2012

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative - In Memory of Mom

You may know about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative created by Ami Simms  in 2006.  People like you and me make small quilts - no larger than 9" x 12"  - which are then auctioned or sold through this non-profit organization to fund Alzheimer's research. The 10,000th quilt was just donated and to date the program has raised more than $700,000 for this important cause.


So, today I'd like you to meet my Mom - Verna Smith. She would have been 93 today;  born on April 26, 1919 on a farm in Minnesota - the last of eight children....and on the very day her own mother turned 40!
She was married to my dad for nearly 50 years and was a wonderful mother, grandmother and all around sweet person. Sadly, she spent the last several years of her life suffering from Alzheimer's.

So in honor and loving memory of the woman who gave me life and with the hope that someday, soon, there will be a breakthrough, I got busy. For a couple of days I explored ideas and then I worked on fabric selection and template making with Dean Martin crooning in the background - she loved Dean Martin!
Today I sat in the sun porch enjoying the applique and embroidery work and playing back fond memories of mom in my head.
I got the top done...I'll show you when I finish quilting it....but I'll give you a hint: a vintage quilt was my inspiration and a bird is involved - she loved little birds, too.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * UPDATE: July 11, 2012  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

The quilt sold for $50! I'm thrilled - more in the making

Perhaps you have loved ones affected by this disease. 
You CAN make a difference!
Click Here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two Vintage Quilt Tops - Ready or Not?

Plain blue half blocks edge top and bottom
I'm liking tops more and more since they take up less space, cost less (usually) and are ready to be quilted...(sometimes!)
I recently found this one-patch at a Tucson quilt shop, Cactus Quilts,  the only shop I know of that is willing to use precious retail space to offer vintage textiles to their customers. If you are ever in the Tucson area you will want to stop in!

This one appeals to me because the 'lozenge' shape is somewhat unique and because I love scrap quilts - so many fabrics to examine and exclaim over.

Plaids cut on the bias add movement and interest

Dots, shirtings, checks and stripes

A range of time periods represented

What about that green and orange geometric!
I will repair a few loose seams but the piecing is accurate; the top lies flat, so I would like to hand quilt the Lozenge One - Patch.

This one is often called Improved Nine Patch. I guess that's a matter of opinion -  I'm not convinced one can improve on the classic nine patch  - but this variation IS a graphic delight with the stretched out corners of the nine patch block and the melon shape connecting them creating a circle.

Improved? or Needs Improvement?
There were some flowers and vines marked in blue wash-out marker on a small area in the middle...and evidence that some hand quilting had been taken out. I could also see small safety pin holes in the rest of the piece indicating  that it had been pin basted. Someone thought it was ready for quilting....

A nice variety of indigo prints
I immersed the entire top in water to be sure that the blue marking pen would come out before I put any more time into it.  I've used that marker successfully in my quilting but there are some guidelines. You need to avoid heat - irons or even exposure to hot sun can 'set' the blue. When you wet it, do so thoroughly in plain soap. Dabbing at it appears to work until the next day when it may reappear. Another reason to get it wet is to be sure the fabrics do not run. I know many people are afraid to wash any vintage textile - but for me, if I am going to put my time into quilting it, I want to be sure that first time it's washed the colors won't run.

It came out of the water fine - blue markings gone and no bleeding blue.

It was fun to discover that various whites were used - here's evidence of  a sugar sack...............

........and several areas have pre-printed embroidery motifs - probably for a pillow case or dresser scarf. The 'use what you have on hand' philosophy!

I wonder if the assembly was done at a later time than the blocks?

However, upon closer inspection I discovered that it is NOT ready to be quilted. 
This is actually a rather complex piecing project when it comes to setting in those melons....and this intersection, and quite a few more like it, tell me that this top needs 'Improving' before going further! I'll have to think about this one!

Do I want to put time into fixing those intersections or just use it as an example for my talk:  Old Tops & Blocks: What to Do? 

I'll post separately on the many options and considerations for those orphan tops and blocks you may have in your stash!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Trading and Bartering to 'Grow' your Collection

Notice the background fabric
The time honored practices of  trading and bartering for goods and services recently allowed me to acquire a couple of quilts without putting out any cash.
 If you are a collector of vintage quilts and have friends who also collect, perhaps you've found yourself coveting something they have. If it so happens that they have had an eye on something of yours, a trade could be a good way for both of you to be happy.

Blocks measure  6"

I recently found an appliqued Water Lily kit quilt at an estate sale. A fellow collector thought she'd like to have it and remembered that I'd admired one of hers a few years ago!

A deal was struck. Now I own this lovely basket quilt and she has another pretty quilt to add to her 'pink room' collection. We're both happy!

I got this Flying Geese strippy from that same collector by trading appraisal services for it....she had just bought it and liked it but wasn't terribly attached to it and suggested we barter.

This was a fun and new way for me to add to my collection. I also bought a couple of things recently....two tops and a Poppy quilt - I'll show you those next time and I do want to further explore the topic of collecting quilts in a future post.

What is YOUR strategy?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thread Holders

Somehow I've gathered quite a collection of these interesting, decorative and useful items.

My first piece, this little chicken, was in my husband's grandmother's sewing box. That got me going and I began to see them at flea markets and antique stores.

I happen to also have lots of these 'old' smaller spools of cotton thread, also from family members, and I find them mostly perfectly strong and usable. The many colors are so great to have on hand for applique. If I tug hard on it and it doesn't break, I use it.

I have several of these clear plastic shallow types....ovals and circles of various size.

What a great design. Those white plastic 'teeth' allow you to single out the color you are using and easily cut new pieces as you sew.

I'm not sure if this tiny little wooden coffee pot is for thread. The smaller than typical spool still doesn't really fit ....but with that little hole in the front what else could it be?
Seriously, if you know or have a theory please send a comment so we can all be enlightened.

This one appears to be homemade - or is hand crafted a better term? It's nicely varnished.

Aren't the threads lovely?

I like the little 'well' at the center of this .....thimble storage? The beige silk poof on the right is a pin cushion but I wonder what the space on the left was for. Perhaps for the spool you are currently using?

This one is collapsible and the thread stays on it. Pretty inventive and great for packing up to sew on the go.


And here's a simple plastic circle...but cute!

What textile related doo-dads have quietly become a collection in your house?