Posts Written On July 2010

9-Patch and Snowball #2

When I read Ann Champion’s post about her scrappy Antique One Patch, I told her I would take it apart and remake it. It reminded me of a quilt top I purchased that was very similar — 1 1/2″ squares with the same types of fabrics (indigo, shirting, homespun, mourning), random placement and rather crude construction. The big difference was that mine had a lot more red in it and fewer of the lighter fabrics. I wish I had a photo of the original top, but I have managed to misplace that flashcard.

I decided to take my own advice and cut that baby up — and I did cut it as opposed to picking it apart, because it was machine sewn with those tiny stitches that destroy the fabric and are practically impossible to remove. Once again, I soaked, starched, re-drew and cut the pieces in preparation for their new pattern. The top was so large that I have enough patches left to make another quilt.

I wanted to do another 9-patch and Snowball because, although I love my original scrappy version, I have always been a little disappointed that I set it on point. At the time, I thought putting blocks on point always made them more interesting, and it wasn’t until the top was completely finished that I realized all the Snowball blocks were lined up horizontally and vertically. When the pattern is set straight, the Snowball blocks are offset, which I think looks better. I added the outside row to complete the star-like look of the Snowball triangles.

The maker of my One Patch quilt top used lots of some fabrics and not so much of others. If you look closely, you can probably tell that I had to make quite a few fabric substitutions. The double-pink in the Snowball blocks is from a different antique quilt top, and the off-white is a vintage muslin sheet. This quilt is smallish because I wanted some throws to put in our family room. We try to keep the heat down in the winter, and it suddenly seemed stupid to me that we were using fleece throws when there is a perfectly good quilter living here.

9-Patch and Snowball Quilt Top
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2010
machine pieced
60″ x 66″


Cactus Basket Quilt Top

Most of the blocks in this quilt were purchased on ebay, and I made an additional 20 blocks to complete the top. The fabrics are all vintage 1930s dress percales in typical colors and floral prints. The neatest thing about this quilt, in my opinion, is the careful fussy cutting on many of the floral prints (some of which are pretty large). I loathe to fussy cut vintage fabric because there is so much waste involved. I love the technique, though, and am always pleased to purchase fussy cut blocks or pieces.

Of course, I took all the blocks apart — soaked, starched, re-cut and re-stitched — replacing the dingy muslin with a new fabric. I kept her blocks intact with the same prints and solids that she used. I think she did a fabulous job with the colors, and I tried to match her blocks as much as possible when making my own.

Cactus Basket Quilt Top
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2005
machine pieced
75″ x 75″ (without border)

Today I worked on the border for this top. I thought this would be a great pattern, since it mimics the diamond pieces in the blocks, but now I’m not sure because I think it might be too busy. What do you think?

After hearing some of the comments, I decided to try and show how the whole top would look with the border (with and without the extra solid border).  Please excuse how primitive this looks (my poor Photoshop skills).  Now that I see it like this, I definitely like the addition of the solid border —  I might  just add the solid border and a floral binding and forget about the pieced border.

Okay….now I get it.  Ann at Nifty Needle just sent me a photo with her idea for a border and I love it!  So….this is the final plan for the top — THANKS, ANN!!


Vintage Shirley Temple Doll Makeover

When my sisters and I were growing up, each of us had one special doll. I don’t remember the name of Jean Ann’s doll (she is 12 years older than I), but I vividly remember Sally’s Toni doll, my Miss Revlon doll, and Mary’s Shirley Temple doll. Sally made wonderful doll clothes for all three of these dolls, which were the envy of all our neighborhood friends (even the ones who were spoiled and generally had nicer toys than us).

My Revlon doll was lost in the panic of my parents’ move to Seattle when my dad became ill. Sally kept her Toni doll for a long time, but eventually tossed it because she was in pretty bad shape. Mary, who is crazy for dolls, managed to hold on to her beloved Shirley Temple doll and all of her clothes.

Several years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to fix up Mary’s doll so she could be displayed. Her Shirley is a 1957 Ideal 19″ “Twinkle Eyes” model with Saran hair and an unusual blue version of the “Stand Up and Cheer” dress. The doll was very dirty, her hair was a mess (although intact), and her original dress was totally unrepairable. It took almost a year to find the fabric for a new dress — a vintage white cotton organdy with a blue flocked coin dot.  I was ecstatic because it was exactly the same fabric as the original. I purchased a copy of the original Simplicity pattern that Sally used, and adapted the short dress pattern to make a reproduction of the manufactured dress. I’m very happy with the way this turned out.

I found the solution for the rooted Saran hair on a blog somewhere. First I cleaned her hair by spraying it with 409.  Then I rinsed it, rolled up the curls on pieces of plastic straws, and fastened them to her head with straight pins. Next I wrapped her rolled-up hair in cheesecloth and dipped it (avoiding the face) into a pan of near boiling water for a few seconds. Finally, I placed her on a towel and let her hair dry completely before removing the straw rollers, which took a couple of days. I wish I had a photo of the “before” hair, but I do have the “before” dress.

Now here is the updated Shirley — all cleaned up with her new hairdo and her new clothes which I made from the same pattern.

 UPDATE:  More Shirley Temple clothes here and here.





Our First Grandchild — Cross-Stitch, 1982

This is a picture I stitched for Gordon’s parents when Elliott was born. Gordon, Sr. (“Big G”) just turned 89 and Gail was 81 on the 4th of July. Big G continues to play golf every week, and Gail works part time at the Bellevue Square Mall information booth. We just celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary. I hope I am as healthy and active as they are when I’m in my eighties.

Back to the cross-stitch….I used 18 count Aida with DMC floss. The design is a combination of motifs from two different DMC Library Leisure Booklets (Small Figures and Garlands) published in the late seventies. These are such cute booklets, and although they are no longer in print, you can still find them on ebay.

I feel a little guilty about this picture, because I never made anything similar for Emily. I also finished an Elliott birth sampler on linen which is very sweet, but I never framed it. Emily did get her own stitched ABC Book, but no cross-stitch from me, although my mother cross-stitched a cute baby blanket for her. I guess that’s the way it is with the second child.



More Jolly Rhymes of Mother Goose — Lois Lenski, 1922

This is the last of the Lenski nursery rhyme pictures, and there were a couple of rhymes here I didn’t know.

This one is very sweet….

Bossy-Cow, Bossy-Cow

Bossy-cow, bossy.cow, where do you lie?
In the green meadow under the sky.

Billy-horse, billy-horse, where do you lie?
Out in the stable with nobody nigh.

Birdies bright, birdies sweet, where do you lie?
Up in the tree-tops, –oh, ever so high!

Baby dear, baby love, where do you lie?
In my warm crib, with Mama close by.

And this one is very strange….

There Was a Man In Our Town

There was a man in our town,
And he was wondrous wise;
He jumped into a bramble bush,
And scratched out both his eyes;

And when he saw his eyes were out,
With all high might and main,
He jumped into another bush,
And scratched them in again.


1 1/2 Years – 300 Posts

When I started this blog….

I only knew a couple of quilters — their quilts and methods were very different from mine.

My sisters were the only other people I knew who did hand embroidery.

When I shopped at the local quilt store for binding or backing fabric, the staff would make comments like “Why would you want to hand stitch a quilt?” or “I can’t believe you are using that old fabric.”

I didn’t know anyone who made quilts by hand, or shared my love of vintage fabric…….

but now I do, and it’s so nice.

Thank you, everyone.


Happy Animals’ ABC, 1946


Happy 4th of July!

Because I rarely buy new quilt fabric, I only recently discovered that this vintage book has been reproduced as a fabric panel for making a soft book or quilt, but their book doesn’t have this cute patriotic cover.

Tiny Tots Object Book
Whitman Publishing, 1942
Illustrated by “C.E.J.”