Posts Written On March 2009

Embroidered Wool Quilt WIP – Rows 4 & 5

This time I waited until I had two new rows to post. Pretty soon the quilt will become more squarish and I’ll be able to fit it into one photo. Probably everyone is getting tired of looking at this quilt, but at some point in the near future I am going to run out of finished quilts to photograph so I’ll probably be posting lots more of this WIP stuff. I’m attempting to branch out a bit in my embroidery stitches. I tried to do some back stitching, but it didn’t show up very well on this thick, fuzzy fabric. I took Bunny’s advice and purchased some black flannel for the back which I think is going to be really cozy.





Wine Light Box

For hand embroiderers, here is a great idea for transferring embroidery patterns to your fabrics. First of all, let me just say that this was my idea.  However, my husband, Gordon, actually made it for me.  I had been using our glass coffee table and putting a light under it, but this light box is so much nicer.  Here’s how you can make your very own wine light box.

The most important part is finding a wine box that is made for at least 3 bottles with a sliding lid. 

Then buy a piece of opaque plastic the same thickness and dimensions as the sliding lid (we went to a store that will cut this for you).  Drill ventilation holes in the bottom and each side of the box.  Next, buy three small compact flourescent lights  — the ones we purchased were little modular 9w lights in their own round housing (about 4″ in diameter and 1″ high) that interconnected.  Gordon attached them with double-stick foam tape and lined the inside of the box with aluminum foil to reflect the light.


Voila!  you’ve got a cool wine light box.



Simplicity Needlework Catalog Dutch and Chinese Tots

Here are more patterns from the 1948 Simplicity catalog.  The pattern suggestions for using these motifs include  luncheon cloths and tray cloths.  I’m not completely sure what these are — I thought maybe luncheon cloths were sort of smallish tablecloths because  I remember some cute embroidered tablecloths we had when I was a girl.  They were square and just the right size for covering a card table — my sisters and I used them to set a little table for tea parties, or to put on the ground for a picnic.  The tray cloth I’m not sure about.  Anyway, they are pretty cute however you might decide to use them.






1942 Animal Paint Book

This is such a cute book and I think the drawings are perfect for embroidery.  The book is very tall, and includes a colored picture at the top of each page suggesting how you should paint your picture. It seems strange to me now, but when I was young I had a very “stay in the lines” kind of personality and probably would have painted the picture exactly according to the directions. I’ll keep scanning and posting these pages, because I think all 46 drawings would make darling quilt blocks.

Animal Paint Book
Whitman Publishing, 1942
Cecile Lamb, Illustrator


Emily’s Navy Tote Bag

My daughter, Emily, likes all things navy — especially anchors — so last year I started collecting navy-related vintage fabrics on ebay to make a tote bag for her. I found a couple of cute vintage twill fabrics and a feedsack piece that were perfect for the shell, straps and pocket. I purchased new fabric for the lining. This is a Vogue pattern (7563) that I have used many times for barkcloth totes — it’s pretty big and can be used as a gym bag (in Emily’s case) or something to hold a big old quilt you’re working on (in my case). The directions do not include a lining (just a little facing around the top), but it’s easy to add a lining and some cute pockets on the inside. She was a good sport to model the bag, even though it was freezing outside.




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Green Fan Quilt

You may recognize this quilt which appears on the cover of the book, American Quilt Classics, from the collection of Patricia Cox. I copied almost everything about the Cox quilt except the quilting pattern. This is one of the first projects I started when I began to quilt again, and the fabrics I used are almost all reproductions. After I had cut out all the fan blades, I became interested in collecting real vintage fabric to make my quilts. Consequently, this project languished for years while I worked on other quilts until I finally picked it up again in 2007. I actually do like it (even if the fabrics aren’t truly vintage) and I especially like the quilting pattern which is an abstract tree and leaf adapted from one of Helen Squire’s designs. I love lots of the quilts in the Cox book — it’s one of my favorites.

Green Fan Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2007
machine pieced, hand quilted
68″ x 78″







Vintage 30’s Fabric Samples – Pinks

These are some of the wonderful vintage triangle pieces I purchased on ebay last year. There were three sizes of triangles — this is about a third of the pinks in the medium size (2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ x 4 1/4″).  These were obviously swatches removed from  salesman sample books, because some of them still have a bit of glue or paper on one end).  I haven’t been able to find one duplicate print in the entire box of over 5,000 triangles — it’s pretty amazing.  The green triangles in this size were posted earlier.





Embroidered Wool Quilt – Row 3

Row 3 is done — only 8 more rows and 44 embroidered squares to go. Although I love the wool, this is probably the most difficult fabric I’ve ever used for embroidery. I have to draw the design freehand since it’s on thick, black fabric, and because the wool is a bit fuzzy, it’s impossible to get a nice clean line with the white pencil. I’ve ripped out a lot of stitches on these little squares, and they still aren’t perfect. I do think the thread looks nice against the dark wool, and the old Simplicity embroidery catalog has been a great resource for the designs.





Vintage Triangle Table Topper

These little table squares are really quick and fun to make. I had a box of vintage 3″ squares which included quite a few old shirting fabrics — not enough to make a quilt, but just right for a tablecloth. After cutting them into triangles, I started playing with the arrangement. In the end, I had to add a few reproduction fabrics — for some reason old shirting pieces are difficult to find. The colored prints are all vintage, about 3/4 of the shirtings are vintage, the border and binding are new fabrics. Just like my other table squares, this one has no batting and is machine quilted in the ditch.

Triangle Table Square
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2008
machine pieced, machine quilted
38″ x 38″



Morning Glory — My First Quilt

This quilt was finished in 1975 and I didn’t make another quilt until 1995 (one started, but none finished). The pattern is very different from the scrap quilts I make now. The quilt has seen lots of wear — it’s pretty thin and the black print with the little roses is faded. I like the circular effect that was created when the blocks were sewn together.

I bought a giant quilting frame to hand quilt the top, but I couldn’t stand it — the frame was awkward and the stitching tedious. I did about a third of the quilt and ended up sending it to a church group in Ohio to complete. My mother-in-law, Gail, is from Cleveland and she located this group of ladies who did a fabulous job. I decided that quilting just wasn’t my thing.

In 1995, I was working at Somerset Elementary when one of the teachers arranged for a woman to come and share her quilts with the kids. It got me thinking about quilting again and I decided to finish the tumbler quilt I started years earlier. After that it just snowballed — I discovered a love of vintage fabric, hand quilting and hand piecing. I placed a link to the instructions and templates below the photos.

Morning Glory
Martha Dellasega Gray, 1975
machine pieced, hand quilted
70″ x 86″



Morning Glory Instructions.pdf
Morning Glory Templates.pdf


Embroidered Wool Quilt — Row 2

I’m excited about this project — it’s a nice change from my usual vintage cottons. The wool is very nice to work with, but no hand quilting on this project — it’s way too thick and many of the squares are a bit fuzzy. I am planning to tie it with yarn and back it with something soft, although I’m not sure what that might be at this point.





1955 Easter Dresses

Every Easter I am reminded of all the beautiful dresses my mother made for me and my sisters.  These three dresses are definitely the ones I remember most, because they are just so fabulous.  In the photo we are perched on our giant living room chair — left to right, Mary, Sally and Martha. We are holding Nancy Ann storybook dolls that my older sister, Jean Ann, gave us for Easter.

The bodice of the dress was made using a light blue cotton fabric with little printed red roses.  The dress was sleeveless and bound on the neck and armholes with bias binding made from red cotton.  The circle skirt fabric I believe was a linen/rayon blend (because it didn’t wrinkle at all)  and included a petticoat in the blue print with a 4-inch ruffle, the edge of which was bound with the red bias fabric.  She constructed the belts with those little kits you could buy and covered the belt and hardware with the red fabric.  The little bolero jackets had covered buttons in two parts (the middle area was slightly domed — then there was a raised part around the outside of the button — I think you can see this on my jacket).  I also love the rounded cuffs on the jackets.  I searched all over, and I finally found a pattern that resembles these dresses (below).

As I got a little older and began to make my own clothes, I could truly appreciate the skill and love that went into all the beautiful things she made for us.  I think you’ll agree that she was quite talented.

1955 Easter Dresses
Marjorie Dellasega

Simplicity 3501


Revised Mother Goose Quilt Blocks With Verses

The stitching of the verses was finished a while ago, but I just got around to taking photos.  The Old Woman in the Shoe verse got a little jammed up, but I wanted to include the part where she whips them all soundly.  There are several “nice” versions of the Old Woman in the Shoe rhyme out there that are really nauseating.

My stitching on the verses is not as neat as I would have liked — I just couldn’t get it looking perfect and I eventually just gave up and decided it was fine.  I need to come up with a plan for the top since I don’t even know how many blocks to make.  I’m sure an idea will come to me pretty soon… or I’ll just stick it in a shoebox with a label and move on to another project.

Adapted from The Very Young Mother Goose, illustrated by Margot Austin





Vintage Workbasket Transfers – Cross Stitch Animals

These are more little animals from an old Workbasket transfer sheet which came stapled to the inside of the magazine. Originally there were these little bits that were on the other side of the staples, but often they will be missing when you find a group of these old transfers.  Most of the time these little bits sort of go with the rest of the motifs, but sometimes they seem random. This one was intact, matches the other animals and I really like the little chick border.  The tiny ladybug, turtle, duck and bird were placed in the spaces between the animals, so I thought I should go ahead and include them.