Posts Written On January 2012

One Patch Triangle Doll Quilt Top

This is another sample for a doll quilt kit.  It’s a 17″ square and, in keeping with many pieced quilts of this period, I don’t think I will add a border, although you certainly could if you wanted.  I’ve used this same set before on a table topper (with a border), but for the topper I used multicolored stripes.  The reasons I picked triangles are simplicity and  flexibility in arrangement.  It’s also nice that I can lay out and photograph the pieces, and a potential buyer can actually get an idea of how the finished quilt will look.  This particular triangle set must have a name, but I couldn’t find one in my reference books.

The cutting for this is very simple, of course, but it’s the prep work that takes so much time.  Selecting each little print; cutting up the old blocks or tops; and finally soaking, pressing and cutting.  Although it’s pretty time consuming, I am excited to share my passion for making little quilts with authentic vintage and antique fabric.


Scrappy Snowball Doll Quilt Top

This will be my sample quilt for a new kit — a simple Snowball pattern in authentic 1930s fabrics.  Well — the 2″ plain square blocks are certainly simple, but maybe not the 164 tiny hand cut triangles.  Anyway, I do like this pattern, and it adapts easily to other types of fabrics.  Right now I am cutting a 2-color version with scrappy antique indigo fabrics.  I knew I would have to make up a sample of each of the patterns, but I am hoping that any interested parties will be able to imagine this quilt in other colors and periods, like the indigo or muted antique fabrics.  It’s tricky, because patterns can look so different depending on the fabrics selected, as you can see from this similar 9-patch and Snowball quilt top I made last year.

The top finishes about 17″ x 20″.  All fabrics will be pre-cut (including the off-white), and I am thinking of adding backing and binding in reproduction fabrics plus a little piece of white flannel for the batting.  That way the quilter would have everything she needs to complete the little quilt.


A Lovely Apron That Girls Can Make

Barbara (Oodles) recently introduced me to her neighbor, Patty, who has just started a blog (Petalier).  Patty and I have a lot of the same interests, including quilting, sewing, and vintage fabrics.  Today on her blog, she shared a simple apron pattern as a fun project to teach a young girl how to sew.  I wish I had thought of this when my daughter was little.

Patty’s apron project reminded me of the first real garment I tried to make.  It was in 9th grade Home Economics (one semester of cooking, one semester of sewing).  After spending what seemed like forever stitching holes in notebook paper (first lined, then graduating to unlined), and eventually making a pillow, our teacher decided we should learn to make a flat fell seam.  For my FFS project, I chose to make capris — tight capris — I’m talking the ones like Laura Petrie wore, and mine were so tight, the pattern called for little zippers at the ankle so you could get your feet into them.  The fabric I purchased was a red plaid cotton.  Seriously, my mom couldn’t believe it when I brought home the capri pattern with the plaid fabric and the little zippers, but when I told her I had to make flat fell seams, she started laughing so hard that she kind of freaked me out.

I made those pants (with my mom’s help), but I never wore them.  The leg seams were a mess since I was sewing the second seam inside of this deep tube of fabric where I could barely see;  the plaids didn’t match of course; and I accidentally put the zippers on the inside of the legs instead of the outside.  Why couldn’t I have just made a nice little apron.

Here is a 1926 apron pattern which seems not nearly as simple as Patty’s, but it has such a cute illustration (which I had to trace because my digital image was so poor).


Vintage Tablecloth Aprons

Here are two more items for the future Etsy shop.  It’s pretty fun to come up with different aprons made with the same vintage fabric piece, in this case a small linen tablecloth that had a few holes in the border.

My favorite part of the process is designing the apron, and this can take almost as long as stitching it together.  I always challenge myself to use only fabrics I have in the sewing room, which actually helps with inspiration, especially since most of my fabric pieces are pretty small.  I cut the tablecloth into two sections, the center piece with small flowers, and the cute flower pot border.

On the first apron I wanted to incorporate the whole border, including the corners.  Because I used part of the cutout center section as a little mini-apron, I filled in the missing center of the underneath skirt with a piece of vintage muslin.  The green is a leftover piece of polished cotton I used in the Cross-Stitched Tulip Quilt.

For the second apron, I wanted to highlight the yellow in the tablecloth.  There wasn’t as much tablecloth fabric to work with on this one, but I like all of the yellow prints (even though they’re new instead of vintage).


Recovered Dining Room Chairs

Today we had a big snowstorm, and I finished recovering my six dining room chairs.  There are several upholstery projects on my list, and this was by far the easiest.  The fabric I used was a mint condition vintage barkcloth slipcover for a couch with three cushions, purchased on Etsy for $50.  The 3 cushions were perfect for recovering our chairs, because each side had been carefully cut from the same section of the hibiscus design.  Because of the shape of the original cushion pieces, I had to turn the flowers upside down to fit my seats, but I don’t think it’s too noticeable.  The cream background was a little dingy, but it brightened right up with an overnight soak in Oxyclean.  I was also able to repurpose the piping on the cushions to use around the bottom of the new seats.  The best part is I have tons of this fabric left for couch pillows and other fun projects.

Note to future DIY upholsterers:  staple removal is absolutely the worst part.  I don’t know about other furniture makers, but I think the upholstery workers at Ethan Allen could easily ramp back on the amount (and length) of staples they put on their chairs.



Umbrella Bouquets Applique/Embroidered Quilt Pattern

This was a series quilt from Stitch ‘n Sew magazine in 1978.  Unfortunately, I only have the Mar/Apr and May/June issues, which means I only have full-sized patterns for the first 5 of 16 blocks.  Fortunately, I was able to scan, clean and enlarge a small drawing of all of the patterns (although the detail is not as nice as the full-sized images).  Also, since blocks 1 – 5 are the only ones with color suggestions, you would have to wing it on the other 11 blocks, unless you happen to have some late 1978 Stitch ‘n Sew magazines in your collection.

There are lots of umbrella with flowers embroidery patterns, but they are usually more frilly.  I like this big, plain umbrella.  Although the pattern instructions call for appliqued umbrellas (using a print) and appliqued flowers (using solids with embroidered details), I think just embroidery, or crayon and embroidery would also be nice. To see the images at their full resolution, click twice on the gallery photos.



Vintage Violet Chintz Aprons

I’m pretty excited about this post, because these are the first two items for my new Etsy shop (opening as soon as I manage to create at least one page of inventory). These aprons are constructed with vintage 36″ wide fabric from the 40s and 50s.  I am pretty proud of myself for figuring out a technique to add the slit pockets, which I think work well when you want pockets, but don’t want to distract too much from the design of the main print.

It has not escaped my attention that there are tons of really cute hand-made aprons available on Etsy.  Most sellers decide on a pattern and produce variations in different prints.  I can understand that this is an efficient way of producing a product, but it just doesn’t appeal to me.  Each one of my aprons will be completely different, inspired by a particular vintage fabric remnant.

The skirts of both of these aprons are made with a glazed chintz border print featuring violets.  The first apron has a green geometric border in a 1950s percale and a large bow in the back.

The second apron has a scalloped hem and is trimmed with vintage French fabric formerly used as a duvet cover.

Thank you so much for your compliments and encouragement in the whole quilt kit making fiasco.  I have not given up on this idea, and hope to have some new (less complicated) kits made up soon.  For those of you who were game enough to try my RPTPP quilt kit, we do have a winner.

The winner is Lori from Humble Quilts.  Lori is a very accomplished doll quilt maker (maybe you have participated in one of her doll quilt-a-longs), so I’m sure she will have no problem with this little quilt kit.  Congratulations, Lori!


Vintage Doll Quilt Kit — Rob Peter to Pay Paul

Last year I mentioned in a post that I was thinking of selling kits to make doll quilts with vintage fabric, and talked about what the kits would include. Several readers commented that my plans seemed overly elaborate (with pre-cut blocks and a sample block). Let me just say right now that everyone who said that was so right.

I have spent the past two days selecting, pressing and cutting the 42 8-piece blocks for this quilt, a scrappy Rob Peter to Pay Paul variation of the Drunkard’s Path pattern, which finishes about 19″ x 22″.   Although I went through the process just the way I always do, it was pretty surprising to me how much time I actually spent on these tasks.  Some readers suggested, in an effort to increase cost effectiveness, that I only provide the fabric and templates, but that’s tricky when you’re dealing with odd-sized vintage scraps and quilt pieces. Another issue was the challenging pattern with all those curves in the tiny 2 1/2″ blocks and the 1/8″ seams, which would probably only appeal to more advanced sewers or quilters.  Long story short, I decided that this is the one and only kit of this pattern I will ever put together, and I am just hoping there is someone out there who would actually be interested in making it.

There are 42 cut blocks plus two extra (just in case, but not included in the photo — sorry). These fabrics are vintage 1930s/40s tightly woven cottons (no feedsacks) in small prints, and I included some cute novelties. Each block is composed of two prints (a few have one solid fabric) and I have matched up the prints that I thought looked cute and provided enough contrast, although you could certainly make changes. I have included a sample block for reference, and a piece of blue vintage fabric for the borders. I didn’t bother to include any instructions, because I’m never going to do this again, and I figured any quilter who could actually put this together wouldn’t need instructions from me.

If you are interested in making this RPTPP doll quilt, please leave a comment on this post letting me know, even if it’s only to say “I told you so.”  If there is more than one interested party, I will select a winner on Sunday, Jan 15.

The cut pieces below are 1 5/8″ on the longer sides.

A photo of the second doll quilt in this pattern that I made a few years ago.


Charley Harper Water Drop Quilt

It’s done, and I’m so happy to finally have all my Christmas presents finished.  The inside of the drop is pretty tightly packed, so I decided to quilt little amoebas between the organisms.  For outside the drop, I was going to quilt wavy horizontal lines, but after stitching a few, I changed my mind and decided to echo quilt around the drop.

There are a few things I’d change if I were ever going to make this quilt again (which is highly unlikely), but overall I’m really happy with the way it turned out.  I love the process of turning a fabulous illustration into a quilt.

Charley Harper Water Drop Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2012
illustration from The Giant Golden Book of Biology, 1961
hand embroidered & appliqued (with a little painting), hand quilted
48″ x 62″