Posts Written On September 2011

Feedsack Apron – Bartlesville, OK

One of the nice things that came out of our nostalgia trip to Bartlesville was a visit to our old elementary school and our church.  The former church community center across the street now has a sign that reads “Martha’s Task — Sew Original.”  The front of the building is a store where lots of handmade items are on sale, with an emphasis on aprons.   A nice woman came up and gave us a tour of the back of the building where a couple of women were sewing.  She explained that Martha’s Task is a non-profit business set up to help disadvantaged and homeless women.  Local businesses, the church and the community donated sewing machines, tables, fabric, trims and all the other supplies necessary, and volunteers teach sewing and other needlework classes.  The women who make the items receive a stipend for each completed project, and in addition they receive 100% of the money when the item is sold.   We were also pleased to discover that the former nun’s residence next door is now a women’s shelter.  After viewing the horrible condition of the downtown and surrounding homes in this old part of town, it was nice to stumble upon this wonderful organization.

Here is the statement on the  Martha’s Task home page:

Our emergency assistance and economic development programs provide training and/or contract work for women in poverty situations who need immediate funds to pay for utilities, rent, food, prescriptions, etc…  Individuals have the opportunity to earn money by selling their handicrafts rather than having to ask for charity.

And this is the cute apron I purchased. I love the retro design and the coordinating feedsacks with yards of yellow bias tape.



Vintage Transfers — Blanding, Utah

On our way back to tiny Bluff, Utah after hiking down to the Natural Bridges, we stopped at a second-hand shop in Blanding.  We have visited a couple of antique shops on this trip, but none of them had sewing items.  This store is called Transitions, and it provides vocational rehab to all of the people in the area who have disabilities.  In the back of the store clients were being trained on computers, and helped with filling out paperwork and paying their bills.  The store manager told me that many of their clients are either Ute or Navajo.

In a back corner of the shop, I found this old B.V.D. box stuffed with vintage transfers, tatting, lace, stamped linens, and newspaper clippings.  Rather than pay the ridiculously low price on the box, I just made a contribution.   My sisters and I had a similar experience in our old home town, which I will write about tomorrow.



Beads — Santa Fe, NM

In the 70s, my sister and I tried making drawstring leather purses out of shammies on which we had sewn glass beads in Native American patterns — a project from McCall’s Needlework, I think.  It was tricky to keep the lines of bead work straight, and the design became more and more wonky as we progressed.  Sally finished hers and it was pretty cute — I became frustrated and gave up.

After seeing all the lovely beading in Taos and Santa Fe, I got it in my head to give beading another try.  I thought I might make some of the beaded alphabet letters I posted in 2009, or maybe even another Native American pattern.  It might even be fun to try some of the smaller Anne Orr floral designs.  At home I have an antique Iroquois beaded flat purse from the late 1800s — a gift to my mother from her aunt — and it has lovely beaded flowers on both sides.  I’ll have to take a photo of it when I get home.

There was a great little hole-in-the-wall bead shop in Santa Fe where I found everything I needed.  The store owner, who was very helpful and friendly (as everyone has been on this trip), set me up with beads, a book, needles and thread.  The book was published in the 50s, but it is still in print — she claims it is the best book on the subject.  She also suggested I use size 11 beads which are slightly smaller than the size 10 beads used in all the fake Native American bead work produced in China.  “That way people will know you did it yourself” she said, although I found it hard to tell the difference in the two sizes.

There’s not much stitching happening on this trip yet because the scenery is so breathtaking that I want to spend all my time looking out the window.  I have managed to finish one Alice in Wonderland block and started another, but that’s all.

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Socks — Taos, NM

When I’m on road trips, I like to buy stuff. On Sunday we drove 10 hours straight through the Oklahoma panhandle to reach pretty Taos, New Mexico. The old plaza is so cute, but also a bit touristy, with lots of souvenir shops.  However, there are also wonderful galleries and many shops filled with beautiful items made by the local artists.  I was drawn to the gorgeous hand spun and dyed yarns. Although I haven’t knitted anything since I was in my twenties, I was inspired by Ann at Nifty Needle, who just learned how to knit, and who decided to make socks as her first project.  I always thought socks looked so complicated with all those double-pointed needles, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

This yarn is Merino wool and bamboo in beautiful muted shades of purple, and the book was recommended by the shop owner.


9-Patch Doll Quilt — Tulsa, OK

My sisters and I had a wonderful time visiting our family in Oklahoma.  It was so fun to see Jean Ann and her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchild.  I can hardly believe my oldest sister is a great-grandmother.

This is a doll quilt that I made for Jean Ann in 2002, when I first began using vintage fabric in my quilts. Most of the 9-patches are made with old fabric, but the brown alternate squares, some of the 9-patch pieces, and the binding are reproductions.

9-Patch Doll Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2002
hand pieced, hand quilted
18″ x 21″

We visited our childhood home in Bartlesville, which was pretty depressing since the entire downtown and the older homes surrounding it have deteriorated to an alarming degree.  It was hard to find a block that didn’t have several homes with old junk and furniture in the front yard, and our home was one of the worst.

On the bright side, we also spent an entire day at Woolaroc, a wonderful ranch, museum and lodge built by Frank Phillips that we often visited as children. It was gratifying to discover that it looked exactly the same.  Mary and I were especially pleased to see that our favorite display of Indian dancers in a big glass case were still there — and the mechanism worked perfectly when you pressed the button.


McLoughlin Bros. – Travel Paint Book

The wedding is over, and I am happy to say that Emily was very pleased with the decor.  It’s a lot of work bringing in all of your own linens, dishes, decorations, etc., but the end result was very cute.  The photographer just emailed me today and said the photos would not be ready for 4 – 5 weeks!   I was a little surprised at this, but I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about picture taking — there were plenty of other things for me to do.  The delay might have something to do with the fact that the photographer used both a film camera as well as a digital camera.

On Sunday, my sisters and I are leaving for Tulsa to visit our oldest sister, Jean Ann, and I have made up embroidery projects for all of us to work on during the visit.  I actually think Sally and Mary would probably be happy just relaxing and not sewing, but they put up with my obsessions.  I plan to work on my Alice in Wonderland embroidered quilt blocks.  I got frustrated because on block 6 I just could not get Alice’s face correct, so I packed the whole thing up in frustration.  Today I pulled it out and managed to do a decent face (sometimes you just need to take a break).

Now on to the real focus of this post — a new paint book just purchased on Etsy.  I am usually more interested in the coloring pages than the cover, but in this particular case, the cover is adorable, and the pictures are also very cute.  I love McLoughlin Bros. books in general, and this is one of my favorites.  I wouldn’t have known the date of publication, but fortunately the book was a gift and there is an inscription from Robert to Mary L. Price, Christmas, 1929.   I looked up the names of the hotels on the cover, and there are establishments with these same names, although I’m not sure the book was referencing actual hotels. The book itself is in mint condition — you would never believe it was over 70 years old.

In these old paint books, there is often a sample colored-in page, followed by an outline picture for a child to color.  Other pages have outline drawings on one side and a blank page opposite for the child to copy.  When I get back from my trip, I will scan all the rest of these pages, because they are all so cute, and would make adorable embroidery patterns.




Laura Wheeler Sunbonnet Girl Transfers

Emily’s wedding is tomorrow, and I am actually feeling pretty relaxed.   The entire living room is filled with boxes of glassware, plates, linens, candles, paper flowers, pennants, and numerous other decorations we have made.  Tomorrow it’s all about packing the cars and meeting my sisters, my mother-in-law, and Aaron’s mother and aunt, who are going to spend a few hours helping Gordon and I transform the venue into Emily’s wedding vision.  I think it’s going to be lots of fun.

Because there is no new needlework to post, here is Laura Wheeler Sunbonnet Kitchen Towel set (#897).   There are lots of sunbonnet sets, but I think this is one of the cutest.

My sisters and I will be traveling to Oklahoma after the wedding to visit our oldest sister, Jean Ann.  Then Gordon will join me for a long road trip back to Seattle, during which I hope to do a lot of sewing.  Maybe I’ll actually have something new to share when I get back.

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