Posts Written On March 2010

Baby Doll Quilt

The quilt for Baby Doll is finally finished. BD is the youngest daughter of my blog friend, Ann at Nifty Needle, and she needed a “blanket” for her doll. I think she is going to like this sunny yellow quilt made with 30s scraps. The prints in the top and the yellow fabric are vintage — the binding and backing are new. The batting is a piece of an old flannel sheet.

Because the colors reminded me of spring, I decided to quilt little tulips in the yellow spaces — they’re pretty small, so I hope you can make them out. The printed areas are quilted with an elongated football shape.

Tomorrow this little quilt will be on its way to Texas.

Baby Doll Quilt
machine pieced, hand quilted
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2010
17″ x 23″


GI Joe Cubees

Today I didn’t sew at all — I was too busy cutting out and putting together these fun Cubees from CyberDrone at deviantART. These are some of the decorations for my son’s family birthday party next weekend. It’s kind of silly (since Elliott is turning 28), but for years I have done either a GI Joe or Transformer theme for his birthday parties — Emily always has a Hello Kitty theme. It’s just a tradition now and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Also, it’s a fun challenge to come up with something new each year.

These little papercraft toys are a lot of fun to make, and there are tons of them out there — Cyberdrone has similar patterns for Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers (the best looking Cubees since they’re sort of squarish to start with) and many others. All you need is a color printer, some card stock, scissors & a razor blade. There’s no glue or tape involved, since it’s all done with slits and tabs. Some papercraft toys are extremely elaborate and difficult, but these are really easy — and they’re free!


Ladies Art Quilt Block #176 – Pyrotechnics Redo

This block was a real fiasco — what was I thinking? Finally, it’s done and now I like it very much — it has a lighter feel to it and looks better with the other two finished blocks in the Ann Champion Series. Of the three blocks so far, this one was the most difficult to stitch (matching all those points) and took the longest (not even including the redo). I really like it, though, and it’s always fun to try something that is a bit more challenging. The pattern for this block is included in my previous post.


Ladies Art Quilt Block #176 – Pyrotechnics

This is the third block in the Ann Champion Series, and it was the most time-consuming so far. The large interior pieces can be machine stitched, but all of the smaller curved pieces must be hand stitched. The center circle is appliqued and the muslin outer piece is machine sewn.

The outer edge of small curved pieces was tricky — you can probably tell in my block below that I had to ease the curved muslin pieces into the outer circle. I think it won’t be as noticeable once the top is quilted.

Although I intentionally changed the color of the center circle, it would be a complete lie if I said I made a decision to change the color of those lozenge shaped pieces — I just wasn’t paying attention and didn’t notice until I was probably halfway done with the block. I’m always making stupid mistakes like that, but right now I’m not planning on changing this one, even though I think I like the coloring better in the original pattern. Of course, I may change my mind later and make a new one.

Just for fun, I Photoshopped my block picture to look sort of like the original. I’m not sure now — which version do you like best?


John Martin’s Book–March, 1927

Because I am still working on the embroidered Christmas quilt top, the Baby Doll quilt top and the latest Ann Champion block, I don’t have any photos right now — hopefully very soon, though.

While we’re waiting for me to finish something, here are some cute illustrations from one of my old copies of John Martin’s Book.


Laura Wheeler Embroidery Transfer – Kittens

Here is Laura Wheeler mail order transfer, #2307, dated 1939 — a project for sewing and embroidering a laundry bag with an appliqued and embroidered pocket for hankies. On the original transfer, the HANKIES lettering was not on the pocket so you could iron it separately onto the applique fabric. Probably most of you (with the exception of maybe Barbara and Jan) do not need a special laundry pocket for your hankies, but I was thinking the design could be used for other things — like a cute apron with a personalized pocket. This is another one of those big transfers — around 18″.


Baby Doll Quilt Top

There must be a name for this pattern, but I’m too lazy to look it up. I wanted to design something that would take advantage of the tiny, rectangular Lord Baltimore pieces. This is a present for the youngest daughter of my friend Ann at Nifty Needle. Ann made a darling doll-sized pillow and pillowslip with a tatted and embroidered edge — so I felt that the doll needed an old fashioned quilt to go with her cute pillow.

At 18″ x 24″, it’s slightly larger than most of my doll quilts because it’s for an American Girl doll and they’re pretty big. The quilt will not have a border, so now I just have to figure out how I’m going to do the quilting.


Baby Doll Quilt – WIP

It’s time to share some quilting, but I don’t have much to show today.  The third block in the Ann Champion series is drafted and cut, and I hope to put it together this week.  I am also making use of the tiny Lord Baltimore quilt pieces to make a doll quilt for a special little girl.  Here is a little peek at the quilt in progress.


Big Big Paint Book — 1936

This is the largest coloring book I own — 492 pages and only a few are colored.  Coloring books from the 30s and 40s rarely have a theme, and the drawings are usually done by several different artists.  It seems like Whitman and other publishers would just combine a group of pages by various artists, and then release a “new” coloring book with a different cover.  I have several coloring books published in different years that contain some of the same pages.  Not that I’m complaining — I love these old books and this is one of the best.

Today I have chosen several pages that I think may be early Eloise Wilkin drawings.  Elliott and Emily loved the Golden Books “We Help Mommy” and “We Help Daddy” illustrated by Wilkin, but I could be wrong about these coloring book images — artists are not credited in these old coloring books, so it’s hard to know for sure.  I just think they look like Wilkin — what do you think?


Ladies Art Quilt Company Pattern #99 – Georgetown Circle

This is the second block in the group of four — affectionately known as the Ann Champion Series. Even though this block has many more pieces than Cog Wheels, it’s actually much easier to piece and most of it can be done on the machine.

Here is the drafted block which I re-sized to 14″. In retrospect, I don’t know why I drafted this pattern larger than the bed of my scanner. It’s annoying to have to put several scans together and, since it was going to be re-sized anyway, it wasn’t necessary to make it so large.

This is how I decided to piece the different sections of this block, but you could make smaller sections if you wanted. Start with the interior triangles and work outward.

I began hand piecing the inner circle of triangles, but switched to machine piecing after that.  I made a few changes in the block:

the center circle was changed from light to dark (a mistake, I think, since you can’t even tell it’s a circle now).  Also, I appliqued the center circle which is way easier than piecing.

The completed large circle was turned a bit before adding the background piece which changed the position of the center star (this is just a personal preference — somehow it just looked better to me)

I cut the outside white from a single piece of fabric instead of four separate pieces.  This seems wasteful, but I use the cut-out circle to cut other pieces, and it gives a much cleaner look.  I’m going to go back and change the Cog Wheel background to a solid piece as well.


Favorite Paint Book — Little Girls

This is one of my very favorite vintage paint/coloring books — I love the subject and the style of the drawings by Mary Alice Stoddard. The best pictures are of boys and girls doing everyday activities — like quilting! Because there are 20 girls and 20 boys, you could make two darling little quilts.

I haven’t decided how I’m going to do this embroidery — redwork would be very cute, but crayon with embroidery would be nice, as well. What I would really like to do is multi-colored embroidery with some appliqued details using vintage fabric.

I am so pleased to finally get these cleaned up to share, and I hope my stitchy friends like them as much as I do.  Click on the thumbnail images to make them full size.

Click here for Favorite Paint Book — Little Boys.


Cog Wheels Block — Hand Piecing

Some quilters like to make their templates the finished size so they can mark the sewing line on their quilt pieces. I don’t do this — after adding a scant 1/4″ around each template, I draw the cutting line on the fabric and then just eyeball the seam allowance when stitching the pieces together.  Because the blocks Ann selected are complex, I thought they might be nice in just two colors.  Of course, I still want them to be scrappy, so I decided to use vintage indigo fabrics from my stash.  Also, because the suggested sizes were varied on the four blocks and one has way more pieces than the others, I decided to make them all 14″.  It’s probably not necessary to point out that this is a fairly challenging block, and would not be my choice for a first attempt at hand piecing.

When planning how you’re going to put a block together, you want to avoid any sharp curves or inside corners. On this block, I will sew together two basic units (AB and DEFF) and then combine them to make the three colored units you see below. This way I am always sewing a gentle curve when attaching these units to the center C piece. The sewing order will be blue (AB), pink (AB-DEFF) and then green (DEFF-AB-DEFF).

Sew AB (blue unit – make 6)


Sew DEFF (make 6)


Join AB to DEFF (pink unit – make 2)


In hand piecing, you never sew through more than 2 layers.  You get right up against the seam, make a back stitch, pass the needle through the seam, make another back stitch right next to the seam, and then continue sewing.  This is a nice perk to hand piecing — since the seams are never sewn down, they can be pressed in any direction and you don’t have to make a decision about this until the block is completed.


Sew 2 DEFFs to AB (green unit – make 2)

Now, it’s time to put the circle together.  Sew the six units above to the middle C piece, starting with the two blues, then the pinks, and finally the greens.

Finally, join the four corner pieces and stitch them to the circle.

There are several problems with this block that make me unhappy.  First, I meant to attach the 4 corner pieces so the grain in the middle C piece was vertical.  Second, although the points match pretty well, the center circle is not perfectly round (in my opinion, this is the worst problem).  Third, the design is not perfectly aligned vertically.  I hope to do better on the next block.


Ladies Art Quilt Company Pattern #41 – Cog Wheels

This quilt pattern is the first of four requested by Ann Champion.  Since I still can’t sit for very long, I drafted this on a board while lying on the couch. I’ll tell you what — it’s sort of tricky to use a compass when you’re lying down.  I left some of the extra lines in so you can get an idea of how it’s done.

The pattern sold in the catalog was 19″ — I would probably make it smaller so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding enough vintage scraps for that big petal piece, but I left the resolution fairly high so you could make it any size.  Adjust the size of the block, and print it out (you can do this in sections if your block is too large).  Next, lay your template plastic over the pattern and draw around each piece, adding a seam allowance.

As I was lying here thinking up how to write the hand piecing directions, it dawned on me that I should piece a block myself and take a series of photos. I’ll try to do that this weekend.


Vintage Fabric Gallery – 1930s Blues

Thank you for your concern about my stupid injury.  I am moving around a little better now, but still can’t sit or stand for very long.  I did manage to get up and take a few photos today for the vintage fabric gallery.  Although the size of my scraps varies wildly, I decided to take a photo of a similar sized rectangle from each piece for ease in determining the scale of the prints.  If you click on the thumbnails, you will see a 2 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ section of the fabric.  I am partial to blue prints with a little red.