Posts Written On April 2010

Vintage Flower-of-the-Month Transfers

This is a mail-away pattern (#7302) which was offered in newspapers in the 1940s from Needlecraft Services. The transfers were meant to be stitched as quilt blocks, and the instructions included a diagram of a quilt 3 blocks x 4 blocks with sashing and a wide border. The completed size was 72″ x 102″.

These designs would also look pretty used individually — I’m thinking on a pillow for a birthday gift.

I just managed to find the chart with flower names and colors which I have added as the last photo in the gallery.


Alice in Wonderland Redwork Quilt Block #2

I am really enjoying working on these redwork blocks. It’s challenging to get all the tiny details in each picture (especially the face, which I had to rip out several times just like in the previous block), but that’s what makes it interesting. Also, I like the way it’s looking with the darker thread.

This picture may be my favorite of the 12 different drawings in the coloring book.  Once again, most of the block was done in stem stitch, but the lettering on the marmalade and the spider webs were back stitched.  The picture for this block can be found in this previous post.




Ladies Art Quilt Block #177 – Rising Sun

Finally, the last of the blocks selected by Ann Champion. The curves are gentle on this block, and depending upon how large you decide to make it (mine is pretty big at 14″), it can be machine pieced. Ann and I have come up with several other blocks from the Ladies Art Catalog — patterns with a circular look that we thought would look good in the quilt. I’ll just keep drafting and sewing these blocks until I get enough for a quilt, or run out of antique indigo scraps.

Ann suggested making sashing like New York Beauty, which I thought was a great idea. I would probably have enough scraps to do the little points, but I would have to make the center long piece out of muslin or a reproduction indigo print. I’ve seen old NYB quilts done both ways and they all looked really nice.


WIP Situation – Out of Control

I thought this post would cheer up all other procrastinators and owners of unfinished projects.


Embroidered Wool Quilt
Embroidered Circus Quilt
Crayon & Embroidery Mother Goose Quilt


Ferris Wheel
Simple Objects
Hello Kitty
String Star
Ocean Waves
Mariner’s Compass (Doll)

QUILTS IN PROGRESS (at a minimum, pieces are cut and some blocks made — the maximum would be a partial quilt top)

String Star #2
Endless Chain
Baby Bunting
Cactus Basket
Letha’s Electric Fan
Wheel of Fortune
Lemoyne Star
Double Wedding Ring
Joseph’s Coat
Baby Aster
Texas Star
Seven Sisters
Fan Variation #3
Fan Variation #4
Flower Garden #2
Flower Garden #3
Spiral Feathered Star
Friendship Knot
Irish Chain
Appliqued Butterfly #2
Millie’s Quilt
Autumn Leaves
Diamond Field
Postage Stamp Variation
Miniature Baskets
Appliqued Scottie
Pieced Butterfly
Great Circle
Snail’s Trail


Ladies Art Sampler
Santa’s Follow-the-Colors
Alice in Wonderland

Here’s the closet in the sewing room where the unfinished projects and vintage scraps live.  You’ll notice that I have many ugly plastic bins and drawers, shoe boxes, Christmas boxes, and anything else I could scrounge.  I would love to replace these with more attractive storage (a summer project?), but for now it’s functional,  and I am just happy to have a room of my own.

I hope I have made you feel much better about your unfinished projects (and probably your sewing room as well) — sort of how watching that icky “Hoarders” program makes me feel better about my house.


Alice in Wonderland Painting Book – Pages 10 – 12

This is the last of the 12 Alice in Wonderland pages. I wish this small book had one more page, so I could set it with alternate blocks. What do you think about stitching the cover as a block? I could stitch the title and the drawing (the style is a little different, so not sure if that would be weird), and a “made by” with my name and date on the bottom instead of the publisher.

Since I used sashing to set the ABC blocks, I would like to do an alternate block on this one. Of course, the other problem is that these blocks are seriously rectangular, so the pieced block would have to be a rectangle and I’m not sure how that would look. I’m going to have to do some sketching and mull this over.


Vintage Bisque Dolls

One of my favorite events at St. John’s Catholic School was the fabulous annual Halloween carnival. In second grade I got to wear a beautiful blue Little Bo Peep costume which my mother had sewn — it even had a staff with a little stuffed lamb attached. My older sister, Sally, a seventh grader, was working in the Fish Pond booth. The congregation had donated all kinds of stuff to give as prizes in the booths, and when it was my turn, Sally made sure to put something really good in my bag. Here is what she attached to my pole:

A little box of “Made in Japan” bisque dolls dressed in costumes from different countries (well, actually just Spain, China and America, which is an odd assortment when you think about it). Unfortunately, this is a photo of a set which was auctioned on ebay several years ago that I did not win. I loved my dolls so much (which were exactly like the ones in this photo), and I played with them constantly until one by one they all broke — bisque being pretty unforgiving when dropped on a hardwood floor. I still look for them, and occasionally see one or two from the set. I can understand why very few survived.

Then last year while searching on ebay, I found this wonderful Mother Goose set, which I did win. I believe it’s around the same age as the original dolls, and they are in mint condition — looking as if they have spent most of their lives in this box. This time I’m going to be a lot more careful with my new toy.


Bluebird Houses

Barbara at Oodles and Oodles recently wrote about her newly renovated bluebird houses. Here’s one of her photos where you can see a potential new resident.

When I read about her bluebirds, I remembered I had a couple of cute birdhouse pages somewhere in my vintage coloring book collection — it just took me a little while to find them.

Favorite Paint Book
Whitman Publishing
Mary Alice Stoddard, Illustrator

Big Value Coloring Book
Saalfield Publishing, 1942
Uncredited Illustrator


Alice in Wonderland Painting Book — Pages 8 & 9

These blocks are going to be a nice project to work on over the summer — a little similar to the ABC blocks in that they are very detailed and stitched with one color. Because I have two months off each summer, I try to work on Christmas presents for my family, but I never get everything done. Evenings are always reserved for hand stitching, cutting quilt pieces, taking old quilt tops apart — anything that can be done in a chair.

It’s sunny and warm today, and the trilliums by our old stump are looking particularly nice.


Alice in Wonderland Quilt Block #1 and Painting Book Pages 6 & 7

Thank you everyone for your kind words regarding Jack’s death. It is hard to lose a pet, but I am feeling much better now.

This embroidered block was very enjoyable to stitch — the tiny outline work really appeals to me, although I did struggle with Alice’s face. The whole piece is stitched with one strand of DMC floss #498, using stem stitch and a few French knots for buttons and eyes. The color is a darker red than I have used in the past, but it seemed to fit the style of the old drawings. The embroidery design area is 6 1/2″ x 10″ and the pattern page is located here.

I just finished cleaning up two more pages in the book. Page 7 with the Duchess was horrible because the child had used black crayon on both the duchess’s face and the cat. I’m done with the really bad pages now, so the rest of the clean-up should go much faster.


Mourning Jack Quilt

Yesterday we had to euthanize our 14 year old cat, Jack, who was diagnosed last year with liver disease. I just finished this little mourning quilt, which is named for him.

The blocks were made with mourning prints and shirtings from this quilt top. The border is new, and the binding is constructed from antique cranberry scraps (I had to make 20 seams). The backing is leftover strips from the edges of a larger quilt back. Because I felt slightly guilty about disassembling the top, I decided to make this quilt in the original pattern.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mourning doll quilt before and it is rather odd, but I’m going to hang it on my wall because it will always remind me of that spunky and fearless little cat.

Jack is survived by his friend, Lucy the dog, who is 13, and Dinah the cat, 19.

Mourning Jack Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2010
18″ x 21″
Machine Pieced, Hand Quilted

Jack and Emily, 1996 (you can see here that he was a biter even as a kitten)


Alice in Wonderland Painting Book – Pages 3, 4 & 5

One might think this blog should be called B is for Book. I am working on several quilt projects now and should have photos soon — including a mourning doll quilt suggested by Kathi — sort of a strange idea, but I like it.

Anyway, these Alice images actually are quilt related since I have just begun stitching the first Alice quilt block. It’s looking lovely in redwork and I am enjoying it very much.


The Alice in Wonderland Painting Book

This Platt & Munk book is not dated and no illustrator is credited, but I am sure it is quite old. It’s smallish (about 7″ x 10″) and printed on very heavy stock. There are only 12 pages, the first 9 of which have been colored with wax crayons. It’s a very laborious process to clean up these colored pages — I sometimes wonder if there might be other techniques in Photoshop I could be using that would make it easier. The light crayons are not too bad, but dark colors (particularly black) are very difficult. I’ve just finished cleaning up the cover and the first two pages.

Alice in Wonderland illustrations are some of my favorites. My younger sister, Mary, did some wonderful ink and watercolor pictures from the Tenniel illustrations which I posted here.


Appliqued Butterfly Quilt

These butterfly wings and bodies were purchased on ebay in 2002, along with the Crazy Baseball blocks used to make this quilt. I assume they were made by the same quilter, since several of the fabrics are the same. The newspapers on the back of the Baseball blocks were dated 1943, so I guess that’s about the age of the fabrics in these butterflies.

The quilter did not tack or pin the 2-pieced wings to the bodies, so I matched them up for her. I didn’t have to re-cut them — just basted, pinned and appliqued the wings & bodies onto plain muslin, then embroidered the outlines and antennaes. There weren’t enough blocks in the group for my bed — to make it larger, the blocks were zig-zag set with a reproduction print. Quilting was done around each butterfly, with details added in the wings and a floral pattern in the muslin. Vertical lines were quilted in the setting triangles which form the zig-zag. I added prairie points in a grayish-blue solid.

I don’t often use this much reproduction fabric in my quilts, but I do like the look of it — in fact, I just pulled this quilt out to use on my bed because the sun is shining and it’s feeling very springy outside today.

Appliqued Butterfly Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2003
hand appliqued, hand embroidered
machine pieced, hand quilted
84″ x 84″


Elliott’s Hexagram Cookies

Elliott uses this hexagram as his logo — it’s the tattoo on his favorite GI Joe character when he was little (Snake Eyes), and Elliott also has it tattooed on his forearm. Whenever I use a GI Joe theme for his birthday, I try to incorporate this design. Last year we had hexagram cupcakes, but this year I had a new idea.

I was thinking of those sugar cookies in the tube that have the shapes inside so when you cut them there’s a little bunny or a pumpkin in the middle. It occurred to me that I could make the hexagram design with red and white dough by just layering the different colors and making my own tube. I’m pretty pleased with the way these turned out, even though the design is a little warped. It wasn’t all that hard, and I’m sure I could do even better if I tried this technique again (which I probably won’t). A recipe with lots of butter is best because it hardens well. Make the dough and color it — refrigerate overnight to harden — roll out, cut (I used a pizza cutter) and layer the design — refrigerate overnight — slice and bake. You could do this with any simple design — I was thinking an initial would be easy or a simple logo. We’re having them with homemade strawberry ice cream which really froze up quickly on this cold and rainy day.

Here are the cookies on Elliott’s hexagram quilt which I made for him several years ago.