Posts Written On January 2009

Workbasket Embroidery Transfers – Toy Animals

This is one of the small Workbasket transfer sheets that came stapled into the magazine — it’s 8″ x 17″, red ink on craft paper.  I love the animal toys, especially the way their little parts are sewn together.  I think I’m going to try an embroidered doll quilt since there are only 5 patterns in this group and they are fairly simple.  Sometimes I wish I could manage to complete more projects instead of this constant skipping around.   I should finish the Very Young Mother Goose blocks and the 70’s doll clothes for Julie, the American Girl doll.  I am donating the doll, trunk, doll quilt and clothes to our school auction, so there’s an actual deadline.  I hate deadlines, but they certainly are motivating.



Jennifer’s Tile Tray and Hanging Rack

In my last post I included a photo of a tile rack made by my niece, Jennifer Krohn. Today I want to show you  the beautiful tile tray she made for me.  Jennifer has worked as an industrial designer, but right now she is staying home with her three little children, Max, Oliver and Marjorie. I don’t know anything about making tiles, so I asked Jennifer to describe the process she used to make both the tray and the hanging rack.

The tiles in the tray were made from a slab rolled out on a slab roller which flattens the clay to a consistent thickness. They were then cut out with a 4 inch tile cutter — it’s kind of like a cookie cutter. Then the design was lightly drawn onto the clay with a pencil and carved out. Next, the tiles were painted with black slip in certain places, followed by a bisque firing. After the bisque firing, they were dipped in clear glaze and different colors of crushed glass were placed in the carved out holes in the center of the flowers. The glass melts and spreads out a bit during the final glaze firing which was a high fire to cone 8.


The tiles in the hanging rack were made from impressions of the tray tiles. I rolled out a slab and cut it into pieces and pressed the pieces into the existing tiles. I then used the same 4 inch tile cutter to cut them out. They were bisque fired and then painted with colorful low fire glazes and fired in a low glaze firing to cone 06.



Vintage Tablecloth Grocery Bags

I made 66 of these reusable grocery bags which I gave as Christmas presents in 2007. The heavier fabric of an old tablecloth is perfect for these bags. If it has a small hole, you can cut around it, patch it, or just ignore it — it won’t matter. The pattern is one I found on Jan Andrea’s web site. The directions are very clear and the bags only take about 30 minutes to make, counting the time spent cutting them out. You can easily change the dimensions, which I think I might have done just to make better use of each tablecloth. Jan suggests using French seams, which makes the bag sturdy and it washes well — no exposed seams, so no raveling. The handles are securely attached by folding and stitching them twice. A couple of my tablecloths were a little thinner, so I put two pieces together to make one bag. I could get two bags out of the smaller cloths, and 3 from the larger ones.

Having used these bags for quite a while now and comparing them to other cloth bags, I would say that they work well, but they are a bit floppy and you have to sort of hold them open to load the groceries. They may not stand up on their own like some bags I’ve seen, but they’re a lot cuter.

In the photo below, they are hanging on a rack made by my niece, Jennifer, using her hand-made tiles. She is very artistic and makes beautiful tiles as well as many other crafty things.



Vintage Table Topper

First of all, I want to thank everyone who made such nice comments about Marjorie’s Quilt and the Anniversary Sampler. It makes me very happy when other quilters and crafters like my work.

In 2007 I purchased a lot of 50 cutter tablecloths for $50. A few of them were practically minty and I kept those whole to use as….well…tablecloths. Most had small issues — little holes or stains — but that didn’t matter for what I had planned. I cut up the rest of the cloths to make reusable grocery bags to give as Christmas presents (I will post some of these next with instructions). The leftover scraps I used to make this little table square. It’s a fun project and goes very quickly — it doesn’t need batting and I simply machine quilted the top to the backing (in the ditch). Normally I find a cute print for the back, but I happened to have a reproduction tablecloth that I thought would work well here. Instead of a separate binding, I turned the repro cloth over which made a cute wide binding because of the printed scallop on the edge — it’s reversible. I like to make these squares as opposed to rectangle runners because they work better on my tables, but you could do either. I guess you could make a whole tablecloth like this, but I kind of like the wood showing a little.




Marjorie’s Rhyme Land Quilt

I finally finished the quilt for Marjorie Claire, daughter of my niece, Jennifer, and her husband, Cyrus. I think Marjorie was about 10 days old in the photo below, taken in December. We are all excited to have a sweet baby girl in our family, and I am pleased that she has my mother’s name. I think she looks a lot like her grandmother (my sister, Sally) when she was a baby.

This is a Ruby Short McKim pattern from the 1930’s and it is available here.  I’ve even seen it offered as a machine embroidery pattern, but I just do not understand the appeal of machine embroidery. Although there were lots of nursery rhyme patterns produced in the 30’s and 40’s, this one is my favorite. I love the lettering and the cute little characters. Of course, I had to change the name Margery Daw to Marjorie Daw for this little girl. The blocks are lightly tinted with Crayola crayons and hand embroidered with two strands of DMC. It is both machine quilted (in the ditch) and hand quilted.

Rhyme Land Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2009
hand embroidered, machine & hand quilted
50″ x 60″







Marjorie Claire Krohn


40th Anniversary Sampler

This little sampler was a gift to my parents, Marjorie Louise Dellasega and Lawrence Anthony Dellasega, in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary. I’m so glad I made it, because daddy died just a few years later. The sampler was done on 22-count Hardanger fabric using one strand of floss. My mother and father are represented on the bottom next to the house in Bartlesville, Oklahoma where we lived in the 50’s & 60’s. Later they moved to Kansas where my father was from originally. I am jumping rope and my sisters, Sally and Jean Ann, are turning. My little sister, Mary, is next to our old baby buggy where you can just see my little brother, Larry. The cat is Miss Otis, who was very attached to my father. The bunny is not symbolic, but just fit in the space and confused everyone — “I don’t remember having a bunny.”

40th Anniversary Sampler
Martha Dellasega Gray, 1980
Cross Stitch on Hardanger
6″ x 7″



Grandmother’s Fan Quilt

The fan pattern is one of my favorites. I’ve completed two fan quilts and have two others in progress. I like all fans — smooth, pointy or scalloped. I purchased the fan blades for this quilt on ebay, and they were so clean, all I had to do was trim them a bit to fit my template. I was surprised to see some fabrics that I recognized from the quilt shop. It’s funny — even though they’re called “reproduction” fabrics, I hadn’t realized that they actually are exact copies of the old patterns. Too bad they only reproduce the cute ones, because a I think a few “ugly” (although I don’t find them ugly) prints add to the appeal of real vintage quilts. I’m not a complete purist about the vintage thing. Most of my quilts are made with vintage fabric, but occasionally I add a repro when I don’t have just the right color of vintage fabric for a block (rare) or I need a larger piece for borders or binding (more common).

This is a rather feminine quilt with it’s pastel colors and bow and heart quilting. Everything was done by hand, except the front side of the binding. The solid green and the binding (and 3 or 4 blades) are reproduction fabrics. Originally I made all of my quilts with muslin backs (like this one), but gradually I have made more with printed fabric. I think the printed backs are so cute, but I sort of miss being able to see the quilting pattern on the back.

Grandmother’s Fan
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2005
hand pieced, appliquéd & quilted
57″ x 77″




Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt

This quilt was started in 2002 when I acquired an old Christmas card box filled with vintage hexagons. As usual, some of the pieces were dingy and most were not cut accurately. After soaking, pressing, drawing with a fresh template and re-cutting, they were good as new. I sorted them into color groups and decided to make single flowers in straight rows using yellow hexagons for centers and as the fill-in pieces. This set is slightly easier to arrange since it has two straight sides. After putting the top together, I decided to add the yellow hexagon border. It took me 5 years to complete this quilt because I worked on it sporadically. It’s entirely hand pieced and hand quilted inside each hexagon. I love working with hexagons, but I don’t enjoy the paper piecing method. Just a regular running stitch which is easy to do (with a little flip when you’re at a corner) and doesn’t require all that basting and the little papers. I use my tiny iron and a pressing board I made (a thin piece of wood covered with linen) to press the seams as I go.

One mistake I made on this quilt (and one other) was accidentally using two different muslins — one very white and one slightly off-white. Since I was piecing this quilt for a long time and switching back and forth between projects, I got my whites mixed up. It actually doesn’t bother me, but I’m more careful now to mark the muslin (or vintage sheet) I’m using for a particular quilt.

The quilt is an odd shape (wider than longer) because I added an extra row to the side after I bought a new mattress set that was huge. I don’t know why these new mattresses and box springs are so gigantic — my husband rigged up a way to lower the old brass bed because it was way too high with the new mattress. Anyway, I should have added a row to the bottom as well, but I didn’t and now I regret it because the quilt is a little short.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2007
hand pieced, hand quilted
86″ x 77″





Green Crocheted Doily

This doily was made by me for my mother in 1980 from a pattern in Magic Crochet magazine (Issue #4). I taught myself to crochet when I was in my twenties by checking out an instruction book from the library. My first projects were potholders — lots of potholders — each with a different pattern and color. I used Knit-Cro-Sheen cotton thread, which was the largest thread I could find, and sewed terrycloth to the backside to make them thicker. Everyone got potholders for Christmas that year. As I got better, I began using finer and finer threads. With enough practice, I thought I could make a lace tablecloth, which became my goal. For some reason, when I was finally good enough to make a tablecloth, I wasn’t interested anymore. Probably it was that old problem I have of getting bored with projects that are repetitive. I did make several filet crochet designs and this doily for my mother, which she framed. In return, she gave me the only doily she ever made.

Crocheted Doily
Martha Dellasega Gray, 1980
DMC crochet cotton #30
11″ x 11″




Vintage Coloring Book Covers

These books were part of a big lot of coloring books I purchased thinking they might have some cute drawings for embroidery. Some of the them did, but unfortunately the pages in these three were not that cute. As is the case with many of these vintage coloring books, the illustrator of the cover and the illustrator of the inside pages are different artists. I’m not complaining, though, because I love the covers. The books are large (10″ x 15″ and 11″ x 14″) and the illustrations are so fabulous, I think I’ll just frame them.

Merrill Publishing

Boats ‘n’ Ships
Merrill Publishing

Flying Clippers
Saalfield Publishing, 1951


Emily’s Soft ABC Book

I made this book in 1985 for my daughter, Emily, when she was a baby. The pattern was complex, with about a million little pieces and lots of transfers. Each page has at least one (and sometimes four) colored fabric frames surrounding a letter and picture. It involves lots of machine applique — something I used to do a lot back then, but don’t anymore. The construction of the book is interesting — I actually had to follow the directions carefully, which I am generally not inclined to do. Many of the pages have little activities for toddlers (zipper, button, snap, tie, etc.) and some of these ideas work better than others. It’s a sturdy little book, and it has held up well over the years.

I have a new, uncut copy of this pattern. If someone would like to make this little book, just leave a message for me in Comments.

McCall’s 7524
Soft Book Craft with Blue Transfer
Published in 1981









“Rock Garden” Crocheted Afghan

This pattern was called “Rock Garden” because the instructions called for gray yarn between the granny-type flower motifs. I think the gray looks good in the magazine, and I’m not sure why I decided to use an off-white instead. Mine doesn’t really look much like a rock garden.

I made this in 1977 and I ended up spending a lot more money on yarn than I anticipated. The project began because I had some skeins of Persian wool tapestry yarn that I think someone gave me. I made a few motifs and liked the way they looked, so when I ran out of that yarn, I bought a few more skeins. Each little skein (which cost about $1.00) was just enough yarn to make one motif. Of course, I had to crochet 182 of those motifs to make the afghan, but it didn’t seem that bad since I would only buy a dozen or so at a time.  I had a lot of fun changing the colors around in the motifs — that’s why mine looks scrappier than the original.  After completing all of the flowers with tapestry yarn, I decided to use a more economical wool knitting worsted to crochet them together.

I like the way it looks, mainly because it has so many different colors of yarn.  Although the afghan is very warm, it’s not particularly soft and also it’s extremely heavy. Probably nobody has ever thought about making an afghan out of tapestry yarn, but I wouldn’t advise it.  A link to the instructions is provided below.

Rock Garden Afghan
Martha Dellasega Gray, 1977
crocheted – wool yarn
51″ x 63″



McCall’s Handcrafts
Volume II, Afghans

Click to enlarge instructions, or right-click in the instruction image to save the file.




Oliver’s Drunkard’s Path Quilt

This quilt was made for Oliver Lawrence Krohn, second son of my niece, Jennifer, and grandson of my sister, Sally. Oliver just turned 3 in December. He and his family (Jennifer & Cyrus and kids — Max, Oliver & Marjorie) live in Virginia now. My nephew, Chris, took photos of the Oliver and Max quilts when he traveled there for Christmas and Hanukkah. Marjorie Claire is just a few weeks old, and I am making a quilt for her now which I will post as soon as it’s finished.

I used new reproduction fabrics and unbleached muslin for Oliver’s quilt. The individual blocks were hand pieced, and then sewn together by machine. Although this is a common set for Drunkard’s Path, I designed the border myself (although I’m sure it’s been done before). This was one of my first attempts at more elaborate quilting designs in larger open spaces, and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I really enjoyed the quilting part and when it was finished, I was excited to try more challenging quilting designs.

Oliver’s Drunkard’s Path
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2005
hand & machine pieced, hand quilted
48″ x 62″


Oliver Lawrence Krohn

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Maxwell’s Nine-Patch Quilt

This crib quilt was made for Maxwell Raymond Krohn. Max is the oldest son of my niece, Jennifer, and the first grandson of my sister, Sally. Max is 6 years old now and he’s in kindergarten. My nephew, Chris, took some photos of Max’s quilt when he traveled to Virginia over the holidays.

You may recognize this quilt if you have read the book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!. The name of the pattern is “Hopscotch Nine-Patch.” I didn’t use vintage fabrics in this quilt — generally I use new fabric for crib quilts since they gets lots of wear. I decided to hand piece the entire quilt, even though most of the seams are straight and it would have been easy to use the machine. I was really into hand piecing at the time. The multi-cultural children make such a cute border, and it was fun selecting the fabric for their outfits. This is a good choice for a crib quilt if you don’t yet know the sex of the child — which was the case here since I started the quilt as soon as I found out that Jennifer was pregnant.

Maxwell’s Nine-Patch Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2002
hand pieced, hand quilted
48″ x 57″


Maxwell Raymond Krohn


Old Sequin Ornaments

As I began taking down the Christmas tree yesterday, I decided to post these funky old ornaments. Most of my homemade ornaments are stitched or painted, but I was trying to create something shiny to make the tree more sparkly. Can you even buy these weird satin spun styrofoam balls anymore and the special little pins? It killed your fingers pushing in all those stupid pins. My sister and I made a bunch of these together, and she has long since dumped hers. I remember this as a pretty popular Christmas craft in the 70’s — along with the bread dough ornaments which I actually did toss because they disintegrated. Every year I consider throwing these out, but I just can’t give them up. Of course, nobody but me will hang them up. I secretly think they’d miss them.


This one is huge — we call it “the grenade.”