Posts Written On May 2011

Nine-Patch Doll Quilt

Today I visited my younger sister, Mary, and I borrowed a couple of quilts I made for her so I could take some photos.   This doll quilt was made in 2003, only a few of years into my obsession with vintage fabrics.  It’s not a difficult pattern — just a simple nine patch.  My favorite part is the Baptist fan quilting.  I had always wanted to use this fan pattern, but I was a little uncomfortable using a quilting pattern that had no relationship to the piecing.  Of course, it’s a wonderful pattern that works with just about every quilt pattern, and I realize that now.

Nine-patch doll quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2003
hand pieced, hand quilted
19″ x 19″


Pillbox Hats

This adorable vintage bridal shower gift wrap ended up being the inspiration for our shower decor.  All the flowers will be peach, yellow & pink, and I found some small paper parasols in turquoise.  Since I am not a big fan of shower games, Emily suggested a craft; after a little brainstorming, we finally came up with “decorate your own pillbox hat.”

There is a video on youtube for making a pillbox hat out of what looks to be felt, but felt would be too soft for our hat.  I thought about painting the felt with a glue mix, but that just seemed like a mess.  In the end, I used suiting fabric and other heavy-weight cotton and iron-on interfacing.  The youtube pattern didn’t work at all — maybe because the fabric I used is not nearly as flexible as felt.  After 3 attempts, I was finally able to work out both the pattern, and the amount of interfacing for each piece (2 pieces on the sides — one on the top).  Two bobby-pins are sewn to the inside of the hat to keep it from falling off.  The inside is not lined, and they are not perfect, but this is just a silly craft and not meant to be a real hat or anything.

I’m looking forward to shopping the craft stores with Emily to look for all kinds of fun things for our guests to hot glue onto their hats.


Vintage-Inspired Apron – #22

This is the last apron I’m planning on making for the shower, that is unless Emily decides to invite more friends.  I have been hoarding this vintage fabric for a long time, and always thought it would be perfect for an apron.  It’s a never-washed Everglaze chintz with the most adorable tulip border; it just doesn’t get any better than this.

There is enough tulip fabric to make another apron, so I didn’t want to use it for the sash.  To make the binding and sash,  I managed to find a small piece of the green diagonal plaid left over from a quilt binding.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough to face the sash, so I had to use a scrap of a reproduction floral.  I never throw away scraps — ever.

Now that the aprons are done, I’ll be starting a new project for the shower (a craft activity for the guests).  Hopefully I’ll have something to photograph by the end of the week.


Vintage Inspired Apron – #21

Finally, an apron that genuinely deserves to be shown on an alleged quilt blog.  The spiderweb blocks were made with vintage fabric; the solid green and the sash/border are modern reproductions.  Of course, I had to add a piece of sheeting as backing on this apron to prevent the raw edges from raveling.   Top stitching the edges and a little machine quilting keeps everything sandwiched together, especially when the apron is laundered.

There’s only one more apron left to make, and I am having a hard time selecting which fabrics I’m going to use.


Vintage Inspired Aprons – #19 and #20

Today was a two-apron day!  This is partly because the designs are not as elaborate (no pockets), and partly because I’m getting faster at making them.  Now I officially have enough aprons for all of the guests, so I only have two more to make so the last person will be able to select from three aprons.

Coming up with a design for this first apron was tricky because I didn’t have much of either print.  The facing for the scalloped hem is a different fabric, and the sash is shorter than I would have liked.  This is a great project to use my large, funky floral prints, which I don’t often use in quilting.  That daisy fabric on navy is so great — there are strawberries in the middle of those daisies!

Vintage cheater quilt fabric is one of my favorite things.  I love the funny designs in these old prints, and this is one I’ve never seen before.  This was also an easy apron — I only added a little black bias tape on the ruffle and a left-over piece of ribbon to make the bows.

I don’t feel like I’m running out of inspiration for apron making, but it will be nice to move on to some other projects.



Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Feedsack Crazy Quilt

Whenever Amy does a new Blogger’s Quilt Festival, if I don’t have a new quilt, I try to select a quilt that I made before anyone read my blog. This is a quilt completed in 2003 when my daughter was leaving for college. She loved black and pink at the time, and of course I had to figure out a way to include some vintage fabric. I blanket stitched the feedsack and vintage fabric scraps onto 4 muslin squares using black floss, and then stitched them together to make the 8″ crazy blocks. I would just sit in the evening with a box of scraps cutting and folding and pinning and stitching. This was the first crazy project I made, and it was a lot of fun to make up different patterns. The border triangles were machine pieced and then blanket stitched.

The 8″ blocks turned out rather thick, so I purchased a heavy black waffle fabric for the sashing. I like the bright colors of the feedsack prints against the black. The quilt has a thin batting, but it’s still pretty thick, so I chose to tie it with pink floss.

When I was blanket stitching those pieces onto the muslin, I hoped that everything would stay put and not ravel. That didn’t turn out to be a problem at all because my daughter still uses the quilt, and it has received quite a bit of abuse over the years it spent at school.

Now I’m off to see all the wonderful quilts at the Festival — Thank you Amy!

Feedsack Crazy Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2003
Hand Embroidered, Tied with Floss
50″ x 60″


Vintage-Inspired Apron – #18

Thank you, everyone, for the sweet birthday wishes.  My daughter and I spent the day together getting our hair done and working on wedding stuff.  Then there was the fabulous party and a wonderful dinner — fried rock cod, tortellini with roasted vegetables, salad, and that amazing cake.  I was feeling pretty happy in that picture, but it wasn’t the Absolut vodka — I’m strictly a gin martini girl.

Now about the latest apron, which I really wish you could feel.  It’s made with a vintage Waverly chintz decorator fabric (36″ wide) that is marked “A Waverly Bonded Fabric – Old One Hundred.”  There is a little sheen to it, but it’s not highly glazed or polished.  The thread count must be very high, because it is extremely smooth and soft.  Not only that, but it’s also a beautiful floral print in that pinkish purple shade I love so much.

The pockets are made with 3 hemstitched and embroidered napkins from a set of 6 purchased on ebay (2 purple, 2 green, 1 pink, 1 blue).  They were all rolled up in a cute presentation box that proclaimed they were made from the world’s finest linen — Moygashel.  My mother had a Irish Moygashel tablecloth, and I remember her saying she thought it was the best.  I was sorry to have to cut into a third napkin to make the edging around the pockets, but they just faded into the background without the bias trim.


When I’m 64!

I turned 64 on Monday, and tonight my sister, Sally, hosted a fabulous birthday party for me.  A wonderful time was had by all, and I received amazing gifts from my family (more on this later).

This particular Beatles song was released when I was 20 years old, and I remember thinking at the time that 64 was practically ancient.  I just couldn’t imagine being that age, and anyway, it would be forever before I was that old.  Well, it’s finally happened — I am 64 and actually, I feel pretty good about it.  Here I am with the beautiful and delicious birthday cake made by my sister, Sally.


Vintage-Inspired Apron – #17

Amazingly, this is the first apron I’ve made with a sort of quilt-type design.  I’ve had these vintage petal quilt pieces for a long time, and an apron seemed like a good use for them.  The rounded petal shapes came in two sizes, but by the time you turned in a hem, they would have been pretty small.  Using the fusible web, I only had to trim a tiny bit to clean up the edges.  The raindrop fabric is by Alexander Henry, and I can’t remember why I purchased it.  I normally buy new fabric in small pieces for tops, or very large pieces for quilt backs.  Anyway, I’m glad I did because I think it looks cute with the flower petals.  This is a an original Martha design, and not copied from a photo.

At my daughter’s bridal shower, we’re going to play a Bride Bingo game from the 50’s.  As each person wins, they will select an apron (no stealing from others, as I think this causes hurt feelings).  I plan to make a couple of extra aprons so the last person will still have a choice.  Any aprons that are not selected will be given away on this site — they’ll be rejects, but they’ll also be free!


Petite Homes of Budget Appeal

When I was growing up, we lived in a traditional two-story house built in the 1920s, where you walked right into the living room with no foyer.  The living room and separate dining room were large, but they were the only public areas of the house.  When I was a teenager we moved from Oklahoma to Kansas and my parents built a new home.  My mother was obsessed with having a foyer and a “formal living room” that she could keep nice for special occasions.  She used to joke that she wanted to put a red velvet rope across the entrance to the new living room.  My mother really loved that room.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been thinking about our own house situation.  Since both of our children have been living on their own for some time, we only use about half of our available space on a regular basis.  Two of the bedrooms are used for storage of kid stuff they didn’t want to take with them (a not uncommon occurrence, I’m sure), plus all the wedding related items.  The living room and dining room are used only when we have company.

This vintage booklet from 1935, with its adorable illustrations of model homes all beginning with the letter “T,” contains lots of homes that are my idea of a good retirement home — a house just right for two people.  All of the homes have 4 or 5 main rooms, many have basements, and a few have an additional utility room or dinette.  When I was young, most of the older couples on our block lived in houses similar to these.

Until I can build my Petite Home, I have decided to at least put the rest of the rooms in our house to good use.   I spent the past two days reorganizing my sewing room and one of the storage bedrooms.  I moved the computer, printers and all the tech stuff to the bedroom, which freed up lots of space in the sewing room for my collection of old fabric and quilts.  Now I just need to talk Gordon into turning the 4th bedroom into a proper guest room, spending weekend mornings in the living room, and eating dinner in the dining room.  The first is feasible, the second is doubtful, and the third is just crazy.

This is just a small selection of houses (the Titus is my favorite).  Click twice on the gallery thumbnails to see the original image.


Vintage-Inspired Apron – #16

This apron was inspired by a pattern envelope I saw somewhere online and now cannot find, or I would give credit to the original.  The pockets on the apron are so cute, and although I thought they would be fairly useless, they actually aren’t that bad.  I would sure like to read the original pattern instructions to see how they did the binding on the pocket opening — I’m certain it would be different than the way I did it, but I think it looks fine.

The cute yellow fabric was a small feedsack tablecloth with pink rick-rack around the outer edges.  There were the usual needle holes in a couple of places — I patched them on the back so you couldn’t see through the holes (you can see this in the second photo).  I didn’t end up using the rick-rack on this apron, but I saved it for something else because it’s a great color.  For the bias binding I used an unusual print — a 1930’s bubblegum pink calico that is made to look like antique double-pink fabric.  I guess you could call this a very early reproduction fabric.


Elvis Gets a New Collar

Why didn’t I think of this a long time ago?  Elvis is always destroying his store-bought collars, which are made with some really horrible synthetic fabric that shreds like crazy when he scratches his neck.  I was going to pick up another collar at the pet shop, but this morning I decided instead to make a new collar with a couple of ribbon scraps.  It was so easy — just sew the two pieces of ribbon together, and stitch it all back together using the recycled hardware from the old collar.  Elvis didn’t really want to show it off (he is a completely uncooperative subject), but I finally managed to get a photo with his head up so you can see the collar.  I bet everybody makes these, and I am the last person to figure it out.



Vintage-Inspired Apron – #15

Emily wanted a longer apron because I made a short one for her last year.  For the most part I copied an old Advance pattern (4998) which I saw on Flickr.  I decided to take the zig-zag border up the back of the apron as well, because the bride and groom fabric is only 36″ wide and I didn’t have enough to add more to the ends.  The apron is pleated rather than gathered — I was pretty sick of gathers after the last apron.  Both of the prints I used are vintage tightly woven dress percales.

One of the fun things about making these aprons is deciding how to construct a design I have in my head or see in a photo.  It would be interesting to look at the original pattern instructions to see how my construction differs.  For some reason the designs are getting more elaborate as I go along — I doubt there will be any more posts with 2 apron finishes.


Vintage-Inspired Apron – #14

If we had a square dancing bridal shower guest, she would probably like this apron.  Somehow I had it in my head that each ruffle should be twice as long as the previous one, so the bottom ruffle is 5 yards, and the apron is quite a bit heavier than the others.  The green floral is a new old stock vintage glazed chintz that looks brand new.  The middle ruffle and sash is a cute vintage print made to look like gold ribbons pulled through eyelet — I love that fabric.   At least the construction of this apron went a lot smoother than the last one, but I don’t think I’ll make another one with this much gathering.

Yesterday I received the vintage fabric I will use for Emily’s apron.  It’s so cute, with what looks like a bride and groom, and reminds me of a Peynet illustration.  Here’s a peek at the fabric.