Thursday, August 30, 2012

August Goals --- The Results

Here is my promised report on my August goals.

Amish Bars: Finished
After a set-back involving changing my mind about how to quilt the border, I did get it done, washed and dried.
I have been wanting to quilt a feathered vine border on something. It's is seen often  on Amish quilts.

Black quilting thread 

The colors are off on this close-up. True colors are shown in the full view.

I used Gwen Marston's book Quilting with Style, to learn how to draw my own feathers. This book is a 'must-have' for any hand quilter. Directions and diagrams are extensive and easy to follow. I finally got my 'vine' down, drew some feathers and started quilting. It was tedious. I didn't like the look. On a mere 3" border they were too small - they didn't seem in scale with the rest of the quilting.

So. I've always said I learn from every single project and this is what I learned on this one:
Do the lovely graceful feathered vine on a wide border!  It really needs some space to show off! and ...don't be afraid to rip to get it the way you want it.

But no time wasted - I did learn to create my own feather designs for future projects. I am confident now that I can size them to my needs and I won't need a stencil.

I used a drafting compass to poke holes for marking
I also did the exercises in the book for making various cables and decided to use a double cable.

I am happy with the results. The scale of the quilting design fits better with the piece. Barb, in PA, thanks for your advice to use black thread to quilt it.

I mark all homemade stencils and save for later use.

Scottie Top - finished:

39.5" x 45"
The rectangular blocks which I chose to 'off-set' meant I had partial blocks along the sides. I appliqued 'half' dogs; the 'heads'  on the right side and the tails on the left so they could continue to march across the quilt in formation!.

For the borders I auditioned options from my stash ( I really try to use what I have unless absolutely nothing works...which is hard to imagine) What chaos that produces!

I had a plaid, printed on the bias, that I thought would work but after staring at it for a few days laid out on the floor I just didn't like it. It was a too dominant and a bit 'drab' for this perky quilt. I ended up pairing a narrow red inner border with a small black and white check. I like the overall look. It doesn't take attention away from the little dogs.

I will quilt this one by hand in an overall plaid with rust thread.
ps. this little Scottie shape was also from one of Gwen's books...I enlarged it.

Medallion - Aargh.  Not finished:
This is one I avoided all month. I got it out and reviewed where the heck I was when I put it away last spring.  I just couldn't think. Is there such a thing as "Quilter's Block"? Like Writer's Block? I couldn't resolve the last few rounds. I have the  sharp points for my outer border mostly made but getting them to fit all the while trying to have the quilt come out to the size I want just boggled my brain. Too much math! I did work on it - I guess that's good. I hope to show you the finished top sometime in September. I'm learning on this one, too and resisting just doing any ol' thing just to get it done.

Playing with Denim - minimal time spent:
Well, I forced this - I wanted to try making coasters in that clothesline method. I've done one small mat with it and it's kind of fun.....and our woven coasters get soaked through when it's humid and the glass 'sweats'....I thought this might be a solution; a thicker more absorbent version.  So I did get out the clothesline and cut some strips...does that count?
Lots of ideas
Good directions


Spring Song II

This was not on my list but I did complete another little bird quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiatave and I  am putting the binding on a 3rd one. I've gone bird crazy. More on those soon.

In case you're wondering, I posted before September 1 because I will have no more sewing days in August. I'm heading to the Minnesota State Fair and then 'up north' for the long weekend.

I hope you have a relaxing and safe Labor Day week-end!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bowtie on the Bed - Re-run

82" x 93"
It's cooling off here in Minnesota but it is not yet fall. I do love having a reason to really USE a quilt on the bed again, even if it requires leaving the windows wide open all night!

I want this lovely bow-tie to get a little more attention before I turn to the fall tones. It's like wearing white shoes or there still a 'rule' about Labor Day?

If this looks familiar, I shared it in  this previous post with a few other bow-tie examples from my collection - but in this 're-run' I will share more close-ups of the fabrics and some tips for successful scrap quilts.

I have it on a double bed. With the deep mattresses today, most vintage quilts need to bump down a size to work. It would be skimpy on a queen. (If you are making quilts from patterns in old books, be sure to double check the size of the bed you are using!)

5" blocks

Purchased last year in Des Moines, Iowa. It is a veritable catalog of fabrics largely from the 1950' including florals, stripes, geometrics, plaids, dots and novelty prints in a range of colors, scale and value.

Variety is the key

The diagrams below show two construction methods for this block. 

The following close-ups show that the maker of this quilt used the classic version. The 'knot' at the center (D) is a separate square sewn in using the "Y" seam method retaining the plaid or stripe where needed. In the Quick method the use of an overall print would work best.

For a successful scrap quilt be sure to include:

A range of SCALE

Small scale print floral

Large scale

 Interesting Geometrics/Plaids and Checks



 A range of VALUE- more important than the color itself:


Tone-on-Tone fabrics - They appear from a distance as a solid:

Novelty prints - identifiable objects:

Dogwood Blossoms


Botannical forms

Directional prints and stripes create movement:


A unifying fabric - a place to rest your eyes

 In this case, the plain white cotton used as the background for each bow-tie and the same plain white used in the border tie it all together.

What I love about scrap quilts besides the fact that they allow a maker to 'use up' leftover fabrics is that they invite you to take a longer look - delighting with first one fabric and then another as you move your eyes across it.

What is a scrap quilt, really?  Some guilds today require a specific number of different fabrics to be used in order to qualify in that category in their shows. Some say if you 'buy' the fabric specifically for the quilt that it's not a true scrap quilt......

Do you have 'scraps' piling up? 
Have you made a scrap quilt lately?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The 'Hand' Quilt - Crowding the Back Burner

76" x 89"
I've been busy making progress on that 'list' I shared in my last post but today I want to show you some blocks I've been working on for, let's just say - - - of those many projects relegated to the 'back burner'.

My inspiration, once again, came from a vintage quilt. I saw this one in the Utah state book. They call it "The Hand".  It was made in Utah by Harriett Ambrosine Hacking in the late 1800's.

It's a bear paw variation that I find interesting.  The addition of that tiny triangle square at the inner corner of each 'hand' gives it a little spark, I think.

Working it up on graph paper

When using a vintage quilt for inspiration I don't have a pattern so I must draft the design first. I look at the size of the original quilt to estimate the size of the blocks. (one reason I hate it when a photo of a quilt does not include the size!)
Of course, one can make them smaller or bigger than the original but I like to get a feel for the scale of the original and then make my decision.

Here are some of the blocks I've completed. I am not sure if I will follow the original setting exactly or not, nor am I sure what final size I will make but with 10.5" blocks, I know it will be bed size.
In comparing my blocks to the original, I see that I need to make more 'low-contrast' blocks. And I love the two blocks with yellow in them in the original quilt, don't you?

Now that I think of it, I started another Bear's Paw years ago -  many years ago! I dug it out of my UFO bin so you can compare the blocks.

When I started this one I was thinking of a bed quilt for the cabin but now I think I may be happy with a smaller piece for the wall. Sometimes letting projects 'rest' partway through gives you an opportunity to go in a different direction!

Next: Bowtie on the Bed

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August Inspiration

August already. I hate when this happens.
Summer goes zooming by. Back-to-school ads begin to appear, the Minnesota State Fair looms at the end of the month and I even saw a couple of sumac leaves starting to turn red on my walk yesterday.
As you may know, I set monthly goals for my quilt related life all through the year but somehow the 'end of summer' makes me panic. But this year, the London Olympics are helping to motivate me.

The dedication and hard work the athletes exhibit - long term - is really amazing to me. I do not compare my life or achievements to the athletes stories but I am inspired by people who have goals in any field and are willing to work hard to achieve them...thus.... I have given myself  a virtual 'kick in the behind' to apply more energy and focus on my goals.

I usually bite off more than I can chew and may have done it again for August - but I thought I'd try sharing my list with all of you in hopes that promising to post the results at the end of the month will be motivational!
Thankfully, a gold medal is not at stake!

So here's what I am going to do:

    Finish my Scottie top - crib size

Finish my Mariner's Compass top - full size              

    (friends are doubtful!)

Finish my Amish Bars - just the outer border to hand quilt 

And in my spare time....

    Play with denim.

 Watch for my report on September 1.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Embroidered Cross-Stitch Quilts

At our last study group meeting here in Minnesota we tried to cover the 1950-1970 era. We discovered it was a lot to cover in one day! 
Rosie Werner, our resident kit quilt expert, stated that kits continued to be very popular during this period; applique florals as well as cross-stitch embroidery. 
The X's were pre-stamped on the white background fabric and the quilting lines were also designated as is typical with kits. The embroidery thread was available as a separate item; often with more than one color palette.

This one from my collection is one of those rare's dated on the back corner in green thread. Thank you, anonymous maker, for taking the time to stitch the date on the back. I would have loved to know your name and where you lived, too!

The color scheme surely fits with the date - remember avocado green and gold?

Wedding Ring Kit Quilt
by Bucilla

The workmanship is excellent. It's beautifully hand quilted. I got it a few years ago at the flea market price of $32! Crazy.

The cross-stitch embroidered kit quilt seems 'under-appreciated' by many collectors today - probably obvious by the price I paid. Machines for quilting and embroidery have become more sophisticated, put out nice end products and surely take less time, but I believe that as fine handwork becomes increasingly rare these items will become more appreciated and sought after. There are some lovely examples.  

More vintage cross-stitched quilts:

             The same settings used in pieced or appliqued quilts can be seen. 

Central Medallion

The block setting for this type of kit below is often printed on vertical sections which are then sewn together.  Some companies did stamp individual blocks for embroidery, however.

Block setting - at least in appearance!

Enlarge to see blue dots indicating quilting lines 

Unusual design with swag border

Some cross-stitched children's quilts:

 Embroidered on pre-quilted yardage
which became available in the 1970's

Hot Air Balloon

Early to Bed - Early to Rise

Thanks for visiting my blog. I always appreciate your comments and suggestions

(Did you notice a new feature along the right side? I've added links to a few blogs I thought you might enjoy....I'll change it from time to time.)