Thursday, December 19, 2013

It's getting close to Christmas so not much time for sewing these days.  I just wanted to share my bit of red and green gloriousness.  I am not certain about the name but did a little asking around and the consensus was Prairie Rose.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Antique quilts

I was looking forward to sharing more pictures of great museum quilts from another DAR session this week. But, Mother Nature decided to dump snow on the DC area and when that happens everything halts around here.  So, the museum was closed and I missed out on something I've been looking forward to more than Christmas.  Ah, well, I am sure it will be rescheduled.  In the meantime, I thought I would share a few of my own quilts.

Last winter, I bought quilts at an auction for the first time ever.  What fun! I knew I would have to be careful not to get swept up in the bidding excitement so I put a very firm limit on what I was willing to pay and things worked out well for me.  I got what I wanted and didn't break the bank.  The star quilt above is the reason I decided on giving it a shot at all.  I may have mentioned (two or three hundred times) that I love 8-pointed (aka Lemoyne/Lemon stars).  I've seen some really early examples in others' collections and I think this one may be one of the oldest in my own collection.

Here is a close-up of the soft pink toile border.  If you squint, you can see that the maker had to piece the border in the corner.  You can also get a look at the quilting which is pretty decent.  There are clamshells quilted in the border and some nice grid and outline quilting on the stars.  The alternate blocks have an unusual motif which wasn't captured here.

Above is a close-up of the stars so you can get a look at the fabrics.  They are different from what I see in my later quilts.

Speaking of fabrics, this is a chintz quilt from the same lot at the stars one above.  When I bid, it was for the stars in my mind but I knew there was another "chintz" as part of the deal.  I had no expectations so when I saw this one I was more than a little excited.  It's hard to get a good look at the fabrics in the two photos below but they are incredible.  Some, like the browns on the right in the upper photo and near the top in the second photo below, are nearly gone but most are just fine.  There is a blue and white toile in one of the nine-patches pictured that is a "bear baiting" toile.  That's what I was told, at least, by someone who knows toiles much better than I do.  These quilts came from New York and the backing on this chintz quilt has the stamp of the mill that made the fabric - Lowell Mills.  I hope to do a little research to see if I can find out more about the fabrics made at that mill.  There is not a lot of quilting in this one.

The feathered star quilt below is another quilt from the same sale.  All of these were part of a single family collection.  I am not sure if they were family quilts or just collected by the family but they were from New York.  It is rare that I know where my quilts are from so this is pleasing to me.  The feathered star is not well quilted - there is not a lot of it and the pattern looks rather hurried - but is all hand pieced and that was done well.  I like the way the browns were kind of clumped together and the colors (pinks, yellow, gold, blues) are more on the left and bottom.  I saw an Ohio star in the Nebraska Historical Society collection that had its colors arranged like this one.  When I saw this one it just charmed me into buying it.  Besides, hardly anyone else bid on it so it wasn't expensive.  Some of the browns look like they are about to give up but it is still in reasonable shape.  And, the fabrics are quite fun to look at.

So, I don't have the wonderful DAR quilts to show you but I enjoyed sharing some of my own favorites.  I hope you are able to enjoy them, too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Doing some sewing

It's finished!  My little "Cheri" quilt was hand quilted by Bellwether last year but was left unbound until last weekend. Having hand quilted quilts - no matter how small - hanging around in that unbound state makes one feel a little guilty.  And not in the guilty pleasure sort of way.  So, finally, I cleaned out the sewing machine area and bound all 50" or so of this little cutie.  I love this design Cheri provided for free and I copied shamelessly right down to her idea to sneak in some rogue colors.  That mistake in the center left?  Cheri did put a deliberate one in hers but mine was definitely not a deliberate error.  It's a legitimate goof-up.

I've mentioned it before that the way I get back on the sewing/quilting horse is to pull out my tiniest scraps and make one of these little - very little - quilts.  Again, this one was already finished but was just a top.  When cleaning out my sewing area for the other quilt's binding I unearthed some scraps of batting and backing so I put this guy together and quilted and bound it.  It took an NFL football game to finish.  I did lay out and sew another one and it's basted and ready for me to do more quilting.

Since I finished two entire "quilts" I decided it was new project time.  Cheri Payne's design style is so inspiring and she provides some free patterns on her blog from time to time (I also bought plenty of her patterns, too).  This little 4-patch was posted in June 2011.  Cheri did hers with a black background and scrappy 4-patches.  When I saw it I immediately thought "red and green!"  It's an easy quilt with easy directions but making those little 1-1/2" 4-patches is kind of time consuming.  But it's so fun to dig around in the scrap box and fabric stash.

I bought that green fabric when looking for greens that were not "poison green" at Little Quilts a couple of months ago.  Hmm, that pattern sure looked familiar.  It seems that when I find a good thing I keep going back for more.  I bought the blue when I wanted to do a blue and brown quilt for my son but it just wasn't right with the brown.  Then I saw a basket pattern by Linda Sawrey at Temecula and was thrilled I had many yards of that blue.  The brown was a trial run for my Lemoyne stars but didn't work for that.  It will, however, be going into another project.  The red is a lovely cherry red - not too orange - and the green, well that works so well in red and green quilts.  These are nice subtle but not boring prints and the colors are fantastic.  They are from the "Tavern" lines (Tavern Blues, Tavern Reds - get the picture?) by Paula Barnes for Marcus Fabrics.

That's it for now but I am still doing some sewing and should be back for more quilt chatter soon.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Do you like stuffing?

More of the lovely Amelia's lovely quilt. The photo above is a good example of how Amelia included the naturalistic motifs into her quilting.

Above is a photo of nearly the entire quilt compliments of the panorama feature of my iphone so it looks a little skewed.  But I wanted you to get a feel for the size of this magnificent quilt - and don't forget there are FOUR of them.

This photo turned out pretty well and shows, again, my favorite little crescent feather motifs plus more of the other stuffed quilting.  I should have measured the crescents because they are smaller than you realize.

Okay, next quilt.  This photo captures a bit of the next quilt we saw after Amelia's.  I was still smitten so I had a little trouble appreciating the beauty I was beholding with this one.  But, I am sure you can get the idea.  Rather complicated piecing and then such extensive stippling and stuffing.

Who can't appreciate a pineapple - the symbol of welcome.  Don't you wish you could run your fingers along this one?  We wore gloves but we did get to give the stuffed motifs a little squish.  I also love the light blue fabric.

Above is just a shot of the entire light blue pieced block.

And, another blue quilt.  Darker indigo in a sunburst design.  Blue and white has been a favorite of mine.

I tried to point out the small inserted background piece of fabric on this one.  On one hand, quilts like this one fly in the face of the sentimental notion that all quilting is the result of frugality and using up every scrap of fabric.  This quilt clearly used a consistent background and indigo fabric.  But, there were numerous instances where the quilter did add in bits of background to make it work where she didn't have quite enough of the fabric.

Finally, nearly a whole shot of the indigo quilt.  This is one that I could not get turned the right way but you get the idea.  Curse you iphone, curse you.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tackled the photo issue so I have more pictures to share


Note to self - bring the good camera next time you get to see antique quilts.  Okay, now I have that little bit of bookkeeping out of the way I can tell you a little about a couple more quilts I saw yesterday.  Above, is a corner.  Why show us a corner, you may ask.  But, if you are a fabric lover like me, you will know why.  Wouldn't you love just a bit of that fabric used in the border?  Since this quilt is something like c. 1850 I'd say that was some very special fabric.  The colors are divine.

The photo above is from the same quilt as the corner picture.  I hope you are able to enlarge the photo by clicking on it because I am not sure you can see what is quilted between the two partridges (not a bird expert so they might not be partridges).  It's another partridge!  Looks a bit like a duck but who am I to criticize.  And that fabric...!
Now, for the one I absolutely adored.  This one was so big I couldn't get a full shot of it.  So, above is the center medallion.  Hopefully, you can see those small little feathered arcs and get a sense of their size.  So much detail in such a small motif.  And the color!  I really can't tell if the fabric used in the piecing was actually pink - as it looks now - or a red that faded.  Probably pink(ish) given the date of the quilt which is 1823.  Truly, I could have spent the entire time just taking in this quilt.  There was so much quilted into it, the fabrics, the piecing, the overall effect...

We have another eagle here.  Is he gorgeous, or what?  I also love the way Amelia, the quilter, embellished her floral fabric motifs by adding trapunto sprigs.
Finally, I tried very hard to show you Amelia's signature block.  It reads:  "Made by Amelia Lauck in the 62 year of her age November 15, 1823.  There are FOUR nearly identical extant quilts by Amelia Lauck.  Two in the collection of the DAR Museum and two in the Colonial Williamsburg collection.  You can read more about the DAR Museum quilts on the Quilt Index (  Amelia lived in Winchester, Virginia and there were slaves in the house.  So, she may have had help on these elaborate quilts.  The one pictured here was made for her only daughter.  The other one in the DAR collection was made for her son and his wife and the inscription appears on a banner in the eagle's mouth on that one.  It would appear the son married in 1830 - date on that quilt's inscription - but it is likely that quilt was made around the same time as the one pictured here.

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Jaw dropping quilting

The DAR Museum in Washington has started monthly (2nd Tuesday) workshops featuring a theme along with examples from their collection.  This month - November 2013 - the theme was "stuffing" which is amusingly appropriate given the Thanksgiving holiday this month.  For a very reasonable fee, up to 20 quilt enthusiasts may participate.  Consider me a quilt enthusiast. It is always a challenge to photograph quilting in a way that those viewing the pictures can truly appreciate the quilting.  And, I only had my iphone for a camera.  So, I played a bit with Picasa to try to bring out the depth of quilting in the beauties we saw.

The example of stippling and trapunto in the eagle motif above was one of my favorites.  Probably because I am gathering eagle motifs for a very special project.  I love this one with the "stars" that look like suns (well, that is a star) floating above it.  The detail captured in quilting stitches of the arrows and branch along with the feathers in the wings is remarkable.  The entire quilt was in poor condition but I was very pleased that this motif survived intact.

There are more quilts I photographed but my pictures are not playing nicely.  They appear to be turned the right way in my files but when I try to upload them they flip around and do not cooperate at all.  I will pound away on the computer and see if I can come with more eye candy soon.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oh good grief

What I remember about when I last sewed was how neatly I had straightened my sewing space.  It took me the better part of a day and a new plastic bin or two but I had things cleared up enough to get some serious machine sewing done.  That was over three months ago and all I've accomplished since then was two little star blocks - they didn't even get pressed (see them on the sewing machine bed?).  Yet, somehow, even though I don't remember being in my sewing room at all this mess appeared.  I don't remember what I was working on and where things belong so how am I supposed to clean up this mess and get back to business?

This is my cutting table.  It's bigger so a lot of stuff can be on it and still leave me room to play.  I did work on the only project I've been able to manage this whole year - stars.  Cut a few out today and packaged them up.  They are all ready to take with me this week.

I would like to get busy on one of these projects but until that first table gets cleared progress is impossible.  Plus, I can't really decide if I want to get back to applique on Mary Mannakee, binding the small quilt under the star blocks, finishing up the red star idea I had over the July 4 holiday or doing more of the blocks from hst for my Edyta project.  So, when in doubt, stitch stars.  Oh, and I did press those two measly star blocks and put them away.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ready to return to quilting

I've been missing for months from blogland and miss seeing what others are making and collecting along with doing my own quilting.  I was busy helping to prepare for one of my biggest days as a mother - the wedding of my oldest son.  The big day went off splendidly last Saturday so indulge me as I show him off just a tiny bit.  Here he is with his beautiful bride!

This one is a little dark (cell phone).  My younger son is in the best man position and he said that this was the moment it "got real" for his brother.  I have to say, the best man killed it with his speech.  Brought many of us to tears which is my measure of a good wedding toast.

Just had to share this picture of the delicious crabs we had at the rehearsal dinner.  What a fun time to share with our families before the big day.  Plus, no Maryland Eastern Shore event is complete without the tasty crustaceans.

Tonight I cut more pieces for my stars and get back to hand stitching tomorrow.  The weather has turned cooler and I look forward to cleaning up my sewing space and spending Sundays watching football and stitching.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bits of antiques

Not much going on here - it's hot, I'm busy with non-quilty things like work and an upcoming wedding (DS #1!).  But, I did take a day this week to drive to Flemington, New Jersey, to attend the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Study Group meeting.  The theme was signature quilts and I am such a sucker for signature quilts.  Boy, those New Jersey girls (and historical societies) have some o-l-d quilts.  You'll see what I mean when you examine the fabrics in these pictures.  The detail above is an interesting one.  Every single name was done with the same stamp.  Unless every one of the ladies had her own version, someone had to tweeze the letters out each time and then squeeze the new ones in.

The other interesting thing about that quilt is that the names were stamped in the cornerstones of the quilt.  Normally, I see them in the center of the block.  It is a pretty stamp.

One would be inclined to call the red balls on this quilt berries but they are grapes.  Notice the leaves?  They are grape leaves.  Those berries grapes are stuffed within a millimeter of exploding.  They look a bit like what was growing in my yard after a week of thunderstorms everyday.

I included this one because the inking is just a masterpiece.  The fabrics are pristine, too.  You probably cannot read the writing but it says Sarah Cowin, Lambertville, 1843.  

Last, but hardly least, is another stamped name with more bright, crisp fabric from the early half of the 19th century. I really like this block and I know I've seen some repros very similar to these fabrics.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad - lazy days of summer kick off

June 21 is the first day of summer, occasionally Father's Day, and my old dad's birthday.  Today he would have been 90 if he had not spent the last 35 years in heaven.  In this photo he is on the left and is with two of my mom's six brothers and his new father-in-law.  For a man who didn't get to grow up with his own family around, he certainly picked the right group to marry into - he got 8 in-law siblings in that deal.  This photo is c. 1943-44 and they all look very spiffy, don't you think?

When I was a kid, June 21 meant the longest day of the year and I spent every minute running and playing outside.  Freedom!  That was a long time ago but June 21 is still my day to enjoy a little freedom so I took a day off work to give myself freedom to sew.  After surveying the hst supply I decided it was time to try putting another block in my hst quilt together.  My first attempt (described here) was an exercise in frustration but this time I was rested and had a new plan of attack.

Just when I was giving myself some mental high fives for "having a system" and "working methodically" I wound up with this - can you see the mistake?

But I did have a system and did work methodically so that minor blip was the only problem I had this time and my second block is done and much better than number 1.  Isn't that always the way?  You struggle through the first block in a quilt and then the pieces all start falling into place?

I would probably be a lot thinner if I still spent the day running around outside but sewing is pretty fun, too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sew. Much. Fun

I am at summer camp!!  This week I am with 20+ like-minded crazy women individuals and fabulous teachers for a stitching extravaganza.  It is Country Sampler's (Spring Green, Wisconsin) Grand Olde Flag event.  Unlike some of my table-mates this is my first time partaking of a Country Sampler event.  I certainly understand why so many come back time and time again.  Let's try a visualization exercise...close your eyes and imagine six full days of quilting and stitching workshops with Paula Barnes (front row, right), Linda Lautenschlager (front row, left), and Carol Hopkins (front row, second from right) along with an incredible hostess, Jeanne Horton (front row, second from left).  Are you picturing it?  Okay, now add in breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday, kits for every class packaged with ribbons and extra treats, space to cut and sew and press from morning 'til night and tell me what you think.  Heaven?  You betcha!!  Wait a minute, I forgot to add that you are doing this at the Country Sampler store in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  If you need a break you can wander over to the shop and browse the shelves of fabrics and drool over the complementary decorating items for sale.

The first workshop was with Paula Barnes, fabric designer for Marcus Fabrics and pattern designer with Red Crinoline Quilts.  The  pattern is Sampler Star by Paula and the fabrics were selected by Country Sampler staff with their impeccable aesthetic for combining country/primitive fabrics that result in a completely modern combination.  That red sashing in the middle of the class model is from Paula showing us an alternate idea.  Going this dark in fabric choices isn't something I would have braved without a push but I am so thrilled to get the chance to try it and love the way my own top is turning out.

After a full day of sewing on day 1, Paula treated us to a trunk show of her quilts.  I love hearing the stories behind the designs.

Did I mention the food here was de-lish?!?  Yesterday we trooped over to a local restaurant for a Greek pasta salad lunch, followed but some chocolate treats awaiting us on our sewing machines when we returned and then dinner was a lip-smacking chicken and rice casserole, phyllo wrapped asparagus, green salad, homemade rolls and strawberry shortcake.  I know I am repeating myself but what beats quilting all day and not having to cook?  Uh, not much.  Today, after pancakes for breakfast and healthy nibbles at lunch we had an early salad with shrimp and homemade chicken soup at another local restaurant.  Then, this evening we were treated to root beer floats in mason jars and s'mores over a real fire.  I took my picture after the treats were scooped up but you get the picture.  As anyone who uses Pinterest can tell you, everything is more fun to eat from a mason jar!

One more photo of the event hostess/organizer (Jeanne in the front) along with our great teachers.  My next post will show the wonderful cross-stitch project by Linda.  I wasn't even a cross-stitcher until I saw the project we had in store.  Now it's time for bed.  Breakfast is at 8am.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dear Jane!

(photo courtesy Linda at Quilts in the Barn blog - used with permission)

Have you ever had a dream - perhaps nightmare - where your shortcomings were right out in the open for all to see?  That's what I felt like when I saw the photo above on the Quilts in the Barn blog.  Row after row after row of completed Dear Jane quilts.

I started my quilt just before the year 2000.  I kept thinking the turn of the millennium was just a year or two ago until someone referred to it as "last decade."  Wow, it's been about 14 years since I started my quilt.  I've made 29 blocks which, by my count, is an average of about 2 per year.  So, time to get cracking and work on my two for this year!

I've been saving this fabric for this block pretty much since I started the quilt.  When I first saw the picture in the book I thought it was just about the ugliest fabric I'd ever seen.  It's grown on me and I have nearly a yard saved up just in case I want to make a few dozen more these blocks.  

So, block A-13 is complete - hand pieced. I've completed 30 Dear Jane blocks now.  There are a few hundred quilters in Europe and Australia who crossed that mark a l-o-n-g time ago.
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