Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Wrap-up: Projects Review

A tradition - new hotpads for the kids

Well, here we are at the end of another year. My Dad was right, they really do go by faster the older I get!

Here are the quilts I completed. 

All but the birds are doll size and you've seen them in previous posts - and all were new projects. At the beginning of the year I listed twelve 'themes' - one per month ideally - that I wanted to focus on in 2012. Some of these are responses to that concept; Amish and Pennsylvania 'Dutch' styles, one-patches and donations to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. All are hand quilted except the little redwork. It's a 'cheater' panel given to me by a friend. I added borders and combined hand and machine quilting and a striped binding. (click to enlarge)

9" x 9"
This and the yellow bird were
donated to raise funds for
Ami Sims
Alzheimer's Art
Quilt Initiative

There is more to our quilting life than completions, of course. I did make forward progress on many other things during the year; notably the bed size Mariner's Compass Medallion. It is now in frame and the quilting has begun.

My favorite room!

I am sorry ( and a bit shocked) to realize that not even one 'old' project was completed this year! I keep rather detailed records as you may recall from this post of one year ago...and even last year I see I only finished one UFO. I think something has to change!
I am working on defining my goals for 2013. It's such a dilemma because I want to FINISH some stuff that's been around too long but I also want to start new things, try new techniques, and then when I throw in my knitting, rug braiding, reading etc it becomes a problem. I need more hours in my day, don't you?
Overall I'm happy with what I accomplished and look forward to more fun in the coming year. And that's really what it's all about after all.
I hope you enjoy my posts and will continue to check in to see what I'm up to and to share your thoughts along the way. At the bottom of each post there is the word Comment...or No Comments if nothing has been posted...just click that and talk to me!

How do you assess the past year in your quilt life?

Friday, December 28, 2012

On the Bed - Rabbit's Paw

Purchased from the collection of Pat Cox this year, here's the beautifully simple Rabbit's Paw in red and green.

I don't think this was ever used on a bed. It appears to be one of those quilts that got made, folded up and put away. If it was on a bed it was taken off before use and it has never been washed. Pencil marks are still quite visible. Will I dare wash it?

The quilting is simple but nicely done. The green is fading toward tan which makes me want to circa date it about 1880. The narrow red binding is top-stitched by machine. This particular nine-patch variation is not as commonly seen as the Bear's Paw but is more delicate and I've long admired it.

So. I put it on the bed for show and then decided - heck. I'm sleeping under it! I try not to be intimidated by my quilts. I respect them but unless they are terribly fragile I believe that using them as originally intended honors them more than being folded up in a closet. This one has spent many years that way already!

Here's an very different example from David Pottinger's book Quilts From the Indiana Amish, A Regional Collection. 

The dark colors and on-point setting give a totally different look.

On my list of 'Quilts I want to Make" I include this design for a baby in two colors - pink and white cotton sateen. I already have the fabric!

Wouldn't a bunny applique border be cute?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Red and Green says Christmas!

30" square
I didn't have time to do much decorating this year but I did get the falling leaves quilt off the kitchen wall and replace it with this  festive little treasure. The pattern, Folk Art Red and Green, is by Laurene Sinema.  It's hand appliqued and hand quilted and is my first, and so far only, attempt at a dog-tooth border.

According to Barbara Brackman, this style of border was very popular before 1860 - and especially before 1830. (Read her excellent discussion about this here)

It's fun to do - not hard at all. 

55" square
The interesting background on this quilt is that I had occasion to examine the collection of Laurene after she passed away. I opened up an unfinished top - looked so familiar to me!  I finally realized the blocks were the same as  the quilt I was currently working on! Her pattern! She often created patterns from her vintage textile collection.

As you see by the finished size, she reduced the block size for the wall pattern. I have arranged the blocks differently, placing the one with hearts at the center, but they are the same nine blocks.
My quilt and the original top c. 1850

Later I learned that several women in Arizona had taken a class from Laurene  making the 9 block quilt in the full size. Here's one of those along with another quilt maker's version of the wall size! As you can see, we all positioned the blocks differently to make the quilt our own!
Could the maker of this unfinished quilt ever imagine that it would end up inspiring quilters 150 years later?  (Take heart for your unfinished projects!)

Would you like to see more red and green?
Here are two links to red and green quilts I shared last Christmas.....

    1     2

Check back soon ...
before the year ends I'll show you another 'red and green' new to my collection this year.

Also, coming soon: My 2012 'Wrap-Up'

Friday, December 7, 2012

Quilter Makeover

 Not me but I look just like her!
(Sorry, but I had to get your attention!)
Some time ago I was going through some papers in one of my many three ring binders of ideas and notes and came across a list I'd seen in an article by Barbara Wysocki called 'Quilter Makeover'.
We are familiar with cosmetic 'makeovers' - a new hairstyle and/or color... or a new make-up or technique. (I had one once and it was really fun but ever since then I've felt I need a brow wax periodically!)

Our quilt selves might also get a lift from a makeover!

She suggested trying:
  • a new color scheme - break out of your usual favorites
  • a different technique -  something you haven't tried. I take inspiration from vintage quilts and want to try things like reverse applique, stuffed work and English paper piecing.
  • a different style - pictorial, contemporary, scrap, regional, the new 'Modern' 
  • different sized projects - small, wall, doll, table, lap 

As we approach a new year I am thinking again about ways to expand my experiences with fabric and design. Last year I tried to have a 'theme' of experimentation each month. I'll report on how that went at year's end.

 Do you have any ideas for your quilt makeover in 2013?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


This is no doubt the most unusual quilt block I have had occasion to share with you! It is one block of a very large quilt displayed at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Mn, home of Mayo Clinic. We are staying here for several weeks after my husband underwent a kidney transplant at the end of November.

A long-time friend of ours offered to donate one of her kidneys!  She miraculously turned out to be a nearly perfect match and she went on to pass all the tests to determine suitability. Last Tuesday she literally gave the Gift of Life!

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, eighteen people on the organ transplant list die every day due to a shortage of available organs.
Have you ever thought about being a donor? Organ and tissue donation helps others by giving them a second chance at life.

You can learn more about the donation process - and how to become an organ donor - at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
If you want specific information about kidney donation please visit the National Kidney Foundation.

Give the gift of life by registering in your state, having your driver's license indicate that you are a donor and making sure your family members know of your wishes.

Thank You!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkeys Advised to 'Make Tracks' !

At least one turkey I know of did NOT get away - but we're talkin' quilts here and this seems like a good time to take a look at a particularly graphic classic quilt pattern called Turkey Tracks.

There are many variations as is true for most patterns!

Made by  Agusta Schelling, Nebraska c. 1920

From the collection of the International  Quilt Study Center
Indiana c. 1850

In memory of Jan 

One of my very favorite more contemporary versions was made by my friend, Jan.

She had a great sense of humor and since it took her so long to finish it she named it "The Slowest Turkey in Town.

I have much to be thankful for this year; a special note of gratitude to Sharon.

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Time to Quilt

(Shown on the bird print backing I've chosen)
It's finally time to start quilting my L O N G term project....medallion quilt.  (See full view here)

Over the years I have tried a variety of things....wooden hoops - both circles and ovals; both large and small.

I've tried the PVC type standing rectangular frame.

I guess I thought that hand quilting with a frame was the way it should be done but after trying all these methods what I really preferred was pin basting and then working in my lap without a hoop. I've done that for years now.

Then I heard someone raving about the standing hoop and mentioned to a friend that maybe I should give it a try.

I'm always open to new ideas and to rethinking how I do things. Maybe the even tension provided by a hoop would result in nicer stitches.

Well, she just happened to have one in her attic that she said I could borrow!

I had  my medallion quilt basted by a friend who does long-arm quilting. She did a straight grid about 5" apart in both directions.

I am so thrilled to have escaped the huge job of pin basting such a large quilt and dealing with the pins when using a hoop is a major hassle.

So, I'm going to give it a try. I'll keep you posted!

Hand quilters....what is your favorite method?
How did you arrive at that choice?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quilts of the Early 20th Century - AQSG Study Center

Virginia Gunn, acknowledged expert of fabrics and trends of the time period between 1900 -1929, led the study center at the AQSG seminar in Lincoln, NE, in early October.
I have  loved, collected and studied quilts from this period without really realizing what I was doing (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)
I was, and still am, drawn to them.

We focused on pieced quilts and the fabrics most often seen in them.We are reminded that styles always overlap but subtle changes occur between the quilts made closer to 1900 and those in the latter part of the period as the 30's are ushered in. It's a brief bridge from Victorian/dark/fussy to the clear light pastels of the Depression era.

General trends in fabrics (and thus the quilts) in no particular order:

  • Lighter in overall tone 
  • Stripes, plaids, checks and chambrays.
  • Dots, cotton sateen
  • Indigo and cadet blue, claret (burgundy), shirtings - a 'red/white/blue' feel
  • Mourning prints, neons (brights on black ground)
  • Fewer prints  - those that were available were quite simple - often just white with one color.
  • Simple designs in keeping with the Arts and Crafts movement which stressed function and simplicity. 
  • The Art Deco influence can be seen in prints and quilt designs starting in the 1920's. These 'modern' designs reflected the machine age. (Read more about the Art Deco aesthetic here.)

The fabrics used for garments naturally made their way into many quilts of the time. By the 1920's bright, fast (called tubfast) colors are available.

Mail order catalogs are a good way to see what fabric was available to the home sewer across the period.
This is a scan of a page from my 1929-1930 Montgomery Wards catalog.You see chambray, gingham and romper cloth.
I always thought gingham meant checks but there is 'plain' gingham and plaid gingham! It turns out that gingham actually means 'yarn died'. That is, the fiber was dyed BEFORE being woven as opposed to being woven and then vat dyed or printed.

I also thought that chambray was always a solid looking cloth woven with a color in the warp and white in the weft....often blue, tan, grey, green. But this ad shows striped chambray as well as solid.

This catalog being from the end of the period, we see prints beginning to make a comeback and taking us into the 1930's where prints once again take over.

Romper cloth was a sturdy woven cloth designed for wash and wear garments for children.

I found this item at an estate sale years ago. I was interested in the fabric - a woven gingham check. I thought I could cut it up and use to make quilts. (Checks today seem to be mostly printed or cotton poly blends) But I discovered I had a home-sewn romper. The loose construction allowed freedom of movement while at play. Thought to be the first casual clothes for children, they were quite a contrast from the restrictive clothing of the Victorian era.

Annual photos of school children often include a sign in front of the children with the name of the teacher and the year. Studying the clothing worn by the children shows a preponderance of the same fabrics available from Sears or Montgomery Wards.

A few examples from my collection:

Red/White/Blue combinations - the patriotic feel

Simple piecework
Lots of squares and rectangles, nine patches,

Woven plaids, checks, stripes

Wool suiting samples - 'Bricks'

and my most recent addition - purchased last Saturday from a member of our study group.

For more details about the fabrics of this time period, read Virginia Gunn's full research paper in Uncoverings 2007,  "The Gingham Dog or the Calico Cat; Grassroots Quilts of the Early 20th Century".

Do you have quilts from this period in your collection?