Posts Written On July 2009

ABC Embroidered Quilt Block – Spring

This is one of the 4 seasons blocks that I am adding to the last row after Z is for Zebra. I should be working on the V is for Violin, but I was anxious to see how these blocks were going to turn out. At first I wasn’t going to put the names of the seasons, but since there was extra space on the side, I decided to go ahead and do it.



Vintage French/German Fabric

These beautiful vintage fabrics are from one of my favorite ebay sellers, frjoan, who lives in France.  The fabrics average about 1/4 yard and they come freshly laundered and smell great (such a treat since many vintage fabrics I purchase have that old fabric odor).  Joan also sells lovely vintage European linens — mostly sheets and pillowcases with embroidery and lace insertions.

I tried to be artistic with the photo — I haven’t decided what sort of quilt I am going to make with these fabulous pieces, but it will have to be something very special.




9-Patch and Snowball Quilt

This was the first quilt I made from vintage fabric. The prints are more 40’s and 50’s so the colors are brighter than some of my other quilts. It’s entirely hand pieced, which is unusual for this pattern since it’s an easy pattern to sew on the machine. When I began to seriously quilt again about 8 years ago, I wanted to hand piece everything. When it came time for the quilting, I did a couple of rows and decided I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the piecing. I thought about the church ladies in Ohio who had finished the quilting on my first quilt, Morning Glory in the 70’s (and several quilts for my mother and mother-in-law), and decided to contact them. Mrs. H responded that her group was still quilting and they would be pleased to finish my quilt. I packed up the quilt and mailed it the next day. About a month later I got it back and was so excited to take a look.

Well, friends, you would not have believed what I found. The poor church ladies must have been really old by then because the quilt was a complete mess — the stitches looked like a child had done them, there were really dark pencil lines from tracing the flower template, and the muslin back was covered with little blood stains. I was devastated! After I recovered from the shock, I started the process of taking out all of their quilting and doing it over — one block at a time. Here’s what I used: seam ripper, tweezers, a little cup of diluted Oxyclean, Q-tip, and hairdryer — it took about 6 months to complete. The good thing that happened was that I began to enjoy hand quilting, which is now my favorite part of the quilt-making process.

Mrs. H and her friends were paid, and I never told them that I was unhappy with the result. They had done such beautiful work when they were younger, and it was sad that their vision had obviously deteriorated.

I discovered after this quilt was done that one of my pieced blocks and two of the quilted flowers are turned the wrong direction. I couldn’t really fix the pieced block, but I didn’t change the flowers either which is kind of strange since I’m usually sort of a perfectionist about this type of thing. For some reason, it just doesn’t bother me at all.

9-Patch and Snowball
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2001
hand pieced, hand quilted
70″ x 80″






ABC Quilt Top WIP – A through T

For some reason, photographing this quilt top has been challenging. I tried to lighten up the photos to correct the white fabric, but now the embroidery looks washed out. I took the pictures outside, but the lighting is always so tricky — photography is something I struggle with.

I’m going to redo some of the stitching on the mailman block because in a couple of places the floss color is too pale and he looks like he’s missing part of his left arm. Also, the capital M has one area with that really light color that needs to be fixed. Other than that, I am feeling pretty good about this quilt and it’s been a lot of fun to plan and stitch.





Yellow Duck Quilt

The little duck quilt is tied and bound and ready for my friend’s new baby. Thank you everyone for your suggestions on the floss colors. I hadn’t thought about using two different colors of floss, but (because of your comments) that’s exactly what I ended up doing — red in the sashing and yellow everywhere else. Also, I didn’t have to go to the fabric store to finish the quilt — the two red prints are fat quarters I had in my stash, the gray-green backing is a top sheet I had been using as a tablecloth, and the batting was pieced from 3 scraps. I mean it’s not like I didn’t have to pay for this stuff earlier, but it really pleases me when I don’t have to buy even more stuff to finish these little projects.

Nobody seems to make tied quilts anymore, but I think they’re cute and, of course, much faster than hand quilting. The other choice for these quick projects would be machine quilting, which I generally do on my tablecloths, but I don’t enjoy it much and I’m not very good at it.

Yellow Duck Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2009
machine pieced, hand tied
42″ x 42″




ABC Embroidered Quilt Block – Tiger

I love this tiger — especially the tiny hairs all over his body. I know…it’s another animal, but I had to stitch him — he was so much cuter than the tree. This is the end of Row 4 — only 2 more rows to finish. I have sewn row 3 onto the quilt, but thought I would wait to take another photo of the incomplete top until I’ve added row 4. I don’t usually start sewing a top together until I’ve finished all of the blocks — this quilt is an exception.




ABC Embroidered Quilt Block – Sailboat

Bunny pointed out that most of my blocks are living vs. non-living, so I thought I should do the sailboat to add one more non-living item. Callipygian suggested that “S is for sailboat” sounds better than “S is for seal” and I think she is right as well. So, here’s my new sailboat block which was one of the easier ones to stitch. Seagulls had to replace the clouds — this is the Pacific Northwest, after all (S is for seagull) — and I added our name to the flag. Originally I tried drawing waves in the S letters, but they looked terrible so I just did the hull design. I love this DMC floss — it’s very subtle, so I’m not sure if you can see the variation in the colors in my photo.

I’m working on the duck quilt — hopefully I’ll be done in time for the next post.




Yellow Duck Quilt Top

This is the little quilt I’m making for one of my friends at school.  The ducks are a decorator fabric I purchased at a local fabric store that was going out of business.  At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it (it was just so cheap), but I think it worked out pretty well in this quilt.  I wanted something pretty simple in the middle because I thought the ducks should be the focus of the quilt.  Usually I don’t take the time to hand quilt these school baby quilts (it’s like Village of the Damned up there), so I had planned on tying the quilt with embroidery floss using the red color. Now I’m thinking that might be too distracting in the yellow/white blocks — maybe yellow floss would be better.  What do you think?




ABC Embroidered Quilt Block – Rooster

This was a quick block, but I think it’s pretty cute. I spent most of the day piecing a baby quilt for one of the teachers at my school who is pregnant — the top will be finished tomorrow. Right now I’m finishing up T is for Tiger and tonight I’ll work on S is for Sailboat or Seal (I haven’t made up my mind yet).




Embroidered Linen Tablecloth

Yesterday my friend, Patti, and I stopped in our local antique/consignment shop.  I wasn’t really expecting to find anything because they don’t have many textiles and also their prices are way too high.  However, I fell in love with this beautiful hand embroidered linen tablecloth.  It had 3 or 4 little stains that didn’t look bad at all so I paid the $40 and took it home to wash.  All the little spots came out and it looks brand new.  I wonder if this was a stamped tablecloth or a transfer — I guess I’ll never know.  The gold border is a nice touch and I just love the colors. 

It certainly was not the kind of steal that my thrifter-blogger friends seem to always find, but if I had stitched this beautiful tablecloth, I could never sell it for $40.





ABC Embroidered Quilt Block — Queen

This little queen was stitched mostly in the car on our trip to central Oregon and the coast. I had to change the drawing a bit to suggest a pattern I could use as the filler for the letters. I like her new necklace, and I don’t think I could have sewn that squiggly one anyway. Also, I’m not crazy about the original crown. To me, it looks more like something an evil queen would wear, and my queen is very sweet.




Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show – 2009

Today Gordon and I went to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon, which is located in the central part of the state. It’s a cute town in a gorgeous setting — Ponderosa pines everywhere and the beautiful Sisters mountains. For the show they hang quilts (1200 of them this year) inside and outside of all the local businesses — they even close the highway through the middle of town and re-route all the traffic. We arrived early and it was pleasant — not too hot yet and not too crowded. I have to admit that I didn’t see a lot of quilts like the ones I make — most of them are brightly colored and machine quilted. If you want to see examples of fine hand quilting these days, I guess you have to go to a museum. Anyway, there were a few antique quilts displayed which were very pretty, and then this one that just blew me away. It’s a Charley Harper bird quilt and I just loved it — even though it’s contemporary. I should have gotten the info from the tag, but I was so distracted staring at the quilt, I completely forgot. If anyone knows who made this quilt, please let me know. I have all of the re-issues of the Charley Harper books and I have often thought I would love to make a quilt from his wonderful pictures. I doubt I ever will, though, because I don’t think I could ever make one this beautiful. My photo really does not do it justice.

UPDATE: Lisa K. informed me that the quilter’s name is Jane Haworth (from Auburn, California). Lisa provided a link to Susan Beal’s blog — West Coast Crafty. Susan has wonderful photos of the of the Sisters quilt show, including close-ups of the Charley Harper quilt.

I also bought several bags of great vintage fabric scraps that were super cheap. They were mixed in with bags of newer stuff and nobody buying seemed interested — even the people selling it didn’t seem to think it was worth anything — I was thrilled!



ABC Embroidered Quilt Block — Mailman

When I started this project, I had a few rules:

Each block would use one color of variegated floss.
Each letter would have a pattern design — same pattern on each letter.
The letter designs would stay inside the letters.

The first rule has been broken twice, and now with this block I’m breaking the last two. You might ask…”Why didn’t you just use the little envelopes in both letters?” I don’t know — I just really liked the stamp, but it didn’t look right on the lower case m. Oh well….even though it’s very different from my other blocks, I still like it. Also, I am so relieved to have finally come up with something — anything — for these letters. I can get pretty stressed out about something stupid like this.




ABC Embroidered Quilt Block – King

This was a pretty easy block with an obvious pattern to use on the letters. Originally I was going to do the quail for Q instead of the queen (even though she looks so cute with the little king), until I managed to change her design a little bit to create a pattern for the letters — even though it’s kind of lame. The fill designs have been the hardest thing about this project and you’ll see what I mean when I post the next letter — M is for Mailman — where I really lost it and stitched something totally random.




ABC Quilt Top WIP — A through J

I think the colors and the scrappiness of these pinwheels manage to pull the alphabet blocks together into more of a cohesive look (my daughter, Emily, also likes it that several of the characters appear to be waving). I sort of regret that I didn’t use a brighter color for the elephant block (and maybe even the doll), but they actually do show up better in person than in these photos. The first picture was taken before I added the siding to the house block.

The quilt top seems wide enough already, so I’m not going to add any additional borders. Although I haven’t selected a fabric for the back or a quilting pattern yet, I would really like to finish this quilt over the summer. The quilting part will be boring to post, so I’m thinking of another project I could work on at the same time — maybe a doll quilt made with the little Simplicity patterns I posted earlier.