Posts Written On February 2010

Ladies Art Company Quilt Pattern Book – 1922

I count this as one of my best vintage purchases. It came with a $10 lot of quilting ephemera and was a complete surprise. Here is the introduction to the catalog.


The following minature diagrams can give but a faint idea of the beauty of these patterns, being here reduced to so small a size the details are imperfectly brought out.  The diagrams, which go with the patterns are printed on heavy cardboard, about ten times the size of the minatures in this book, and are artistically colored, so as to give some idea how the finished blocks would look; being also suggestive of effective colors to use in making up the blocks; tho of course, the combination of colors can be varied indefinitely.  Each design is put up in a numbered envelope and consists of colored cardboard diagram and complete pattern for cutting and piecing the design.

Do not cut this book.  Order patterns by numbers only.  Positively no patterns exchanged.

PRICES.  Pattern with colored cards:  10¢ each; 3 for 25¢; 7 for 50¢; 15 for $1.00,  Color cards without patterns 4¢ each; 25 for 75¢.  Prices under quilt block designs are for finished calico blocks.

PLEASE DO NOT SEND STAMPS.  Send P.O. money orders or silver well wrapped.

Can you imagine….you could buy a completely finished calico block.  I wonder who was sewing these blocks.

This is the beauty of using the template method to mark and cut your pieces — no special instructions needed — just a basic knowledge of geometry and you can draft any of the designs in this pamphlet.  I hope some of you will try this method.





A to Z by Peter Mabie – 1929

This is one of the best alphabet books I’ve ever seen — a 1929 Art Deco ABC book by the fabulous Peter Mabie. I don’t own this one (it’s prohibitively expensive), but over the past year I have slowly managed to find photos of the inside pages on library and auction sites. Because I know there are others who would love to see these images in one place, I am posting them here. I’m sorry that a few of the pictures are cut off a bit on the left or right, and I did not include the smaller drawings on the bottom of each page because many of these were missing on my images — they are included on the letter J so you can see how they look in the actual book.

Click on the gallery thumbnail to see the full view.


Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

This is a large mail order transfer dated 1938 from Laura Wheeler Designs (#2266). My copy is in pretty bad shape, with some mouse chews and stains in addition to the usual yellowing. Probably mothers don’t teach this poem to their children anymore because of the whole dying in their sleep thing. Of course, it is followed by the more uplifting third verse (which was new to me) where the child gets to live another day. I still think it’s sweet and I love the little boy with his dog and cat.

The original is a large design (15″ x 20″) and it would probably be a hassle getting the design onto fabric because of the size and all the cross-stitch x’s. Click to enlarge the image below to use the light box method, or a lightened, reversed copy (along with the directions) is also available here, in case you want to use the transfer pencil/hot iron method.


Antique Jacob’s Ladder Quilt Top

This is my latest quilt top purchase. My plan (as usual) was to take this apart to make antique doll quilts, but now that I’ve had a chance to look at it in person, I am almost tempted to remake it in it’s current form. There are many puckers (which really bother me), together with some split seams, poorly matched seams, and a few stains. Although I haven’t examined every print, the fabrics appear to be sturdy. There are some pieces in the top that look very old – the cadet blues, mourning prints and shirtings, but then there’s the pastel and brighter blue prints that look more like 30s prints. It’s obvious from the stitching that the blocks were all constructed by the same quilter, so maybe she just had some older scraps in her stash — like I do. If I were going to remake the top, I might not include the newer fabrics because they just don’t look quite right to me.

This top is both hand and machine sewn, and I don’t know what it is about these very old machine sewn tops — the quilters used unbelievably tiny stitches that are just horrible to remove. I wonder if the stitch length was not adjustable on those early machines, or maybe it was standard practice to sew with 26 stitches in an inch (I am not kidding — I counted them).

I love all the shirtings in this quilt, and most of the prints are a good scale for a miniature quilt. Maybe I could make a Jacob’s Ladder doll quilt, and then I’d feel less guilty about taking it apart.


Cross Variation Doll Quilt

This quilt top was really a drag to quilt. On a doll quilt, I try to get my quilting stitches as small as possible so they fit the scale of the piece, but it’s hard on a top with this many tiny seams. The same thing happened when I originally quilted the Mariner’s Compass doll quilt, and I was so unhappy with that one, I ripped out all the quilting stitches. Fortunately, I wasn’t nearly that disappointed in this one. Because the quilt is so busy, it’s difficult to see the quilting pattern, so I took a photo of the back which shows the design a little better.

Once again I used a piece of cotton flannel for the batting which I’ve decided works very well for doll quilts. The back is a thin vintage muslin from Belfast Mills, and the binding is an antique double-pink. Usually I have to use some new fabric in my quilts (even doll quilts), but this time everything you can see is very old. I really like that.

Cross Variation Doll Quilt
machine pieced, hand quilted
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2010
20″ x 20″


Vintage Fabric Gallery — 1930s Greens

Here are some photos of several of my vintage fabric pieces. I have collected thousands of scraps, small pieces and swatches, and I’d like to document some of these patterns before they get sewn into quilts. If you click on the thumbnails, the enlarged photo represents a rectangle about 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″. My plan is to photograph the prints and also create a small gallery on my blog every couple of weeks. I hope you enjoy them.


Sawtooth Doll Quilt

Barbara’s doll quilt is finished. One quick dip in a tea bath was just enough to tone down the bright white to match the border that I selected after I’d made all the blocks. My quilts are always done this way — never completely planned at the beginning.

The quilting is diagonal in the blocks and border, with a little heart and leaf motif in the white triangles. The prints in the top and the binding are all vintage 1930’s fabrics in Barbara’s favorite colors — the back is a new tiny blue printed check and the batting is a piece of flannel sheeting.

Sawtooth Doll Quilt
Machine pieced, hand quilted
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2010
16″ x 20″


Sawtooth Doll Quilt Top

Yesterday I made this doll quilt for my friend, Barbara, at Oodles and Oodles. Last month she sent me a box of cute vintage scraps which I assigned to several different quilt projects. A little doll quilt seemed like a nice way to thank her, and I was just thinking about the colors when amazingly, she wrote a post about her favorite colors and pictured several vintage items as examples. The doll quilt was set in motion.

This Sawtooth pattern is from Gwen Marton’s Twenty Little Triangle Quilts (out of print, but still available from other sellers on Amazon). The prints are vintage 30s in Barbara’s favorite colors, and the top measures 16″ x 20″. This week I’ll do the hand quilting, and then it will be on its way to New York.

Update: I just finished tea-dying the top which toned down the white — it looks much better now. I’ll post another photo after it’s quilted.


Mariner’s Compass Doll Quilt Top

This is a pattern from Mini Quilts From Traditional Designs, by Corcoran and Wilkinson. The book is out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon. I made this years ago when I first began using vintage fabric. The brown and tan background fabrics are reproduction, and the compass circles are vintage. Several of the prints in the compasses are much more contemporary than the period represented by the repro backgrounds, but I didn’t know much about vintage fabrics back then.

The circles were hand pieced and then appliqued onto the background fabric. This is a challenging pattern to make in this size, as you can probably tell from my wonky blocks. I started hand quilting this top, but after I was about two-thirds finished, I freaked out and decided I didn’t like it. It has been lying in a box until yesterday when I took it out and ripped out all of the quilting. I’m going to do the same quilting design, but this time I’m going to use tape instead of trying to draw pencil lines (thanks Kathie for the idea). The top is 17″ square.


Santa’s Follow-the-Colors Embroidered Quilt – Row 2

The second row has been finished for several days, and I’m just getting around to taking photos.  I was able to cut a lot more squares for the sashing with some pretty vintage scraps sent to me by Barbara at Oodles and Oodles. Thank you, Barbara!

A few of the original designs are going to be swapped out for some from another vintage “follow-the-colors” coloring book.  I asked my daughter, Emily, to select the designs since the quilt was her idea. The other book is generally not as cute, but a few of the drawings are really good.
In the evenings, I am trading off between hand quilting the doll quilt and embroidering these blocks — this way I hope to prevent the carpal tunnel symptoms which seem to be exacerbated by the motion of hand quilting.


Needlecraft Magazine Embroidery – December, 1933


Since I am working on a Christmas quilt and am still sort of “in the spirit,” I thought I would post this darling pattern just in case someone would like to stitch it up for Christmas, 2010. This may be my all-time favorite cover of Needlecraft, The Home Arts Magazine.  The designer’s name is a little hard to make out, but I think it’s Georgietta Brown Horbeson. UPDATE: I was contacted by Embroiderist on Flickr (who has an amazing collection of vintage embroidery patterns), and she said “This cover art is by American needlework artist Georgiana Brown (Mrs. Frank Godwin) Harbeson 1894 -1980.  She did a whole series of these needlework covers in the early 1930’s.” Here is the tiny blurb about the cover which was on one of the inside pages.

This Month’s Cover Design

No. 33 – 23 – 43.  Christmas Morning Hot-iron transfer-pattern.  15 cents. Perforated stamping-pattern, 30 cents. Design stamped on 22 1/2-by-23-inch cream linen, 55 cents. Crewel wool to embroider, $1.60.  (Color-and-stitch chart included  with patterns and stamped materials).


I wish I could order that stamped linen with all the wool for $2.15, but I’ll just have to make do with this funky pattern I made in Photoshop. It didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped (and you probably will need to use a light box instead of a transfer pencil because of all the stitching lines), but maybe having both the original photo and the pattern in its original size will enable me (and you) to copy this cute embroidery.


Cross Variation Doll Quilt Top

The top is finished, but it doesn’t have quite as many blocks as I had planned. There wasn’t enough of the sashing print, so the quilt ended up a square instead of a rectangle. It’s going to be interesting hand quilting this one because it has a lot more seams than any of my other doll quilts — I think I will use a very thin batting and probably just bleached muslin for the back. It’s a 20″ square.


Doll Quilt Blocks with Antique Fabric #4

Two more rows completed on this little top — and two more to go.  I’m not sure about some of my color choices and it’s very busy, but since this is only the second quilt I’ve made with this color pallete, I’m pretty happy with it. When making a doll quilt, I like the blocks to be scaled just like a large quilt, so I want them to be fairly small and intricate. This quilt top is currently 18 inches wide, but I will add at least one narrow border.

I put the Lockport Quilt Booklet in my downloads.  There are some nice applique patterns in it, but I’m sorry about the quality of the text — it was tricky to reduce the size and still manage to keep it readable.