Posts Written On June 2012

Independence Day, 1914 – Votes for Women

This image is not actually from a vintage children’s book, but I hope you don’t mind.  It was drawn by Beatrice Stevens, and published in the Milwaukee Sentinel in July, 1914.  The illustrations in the Sentinel are some of the best I’ve seen in old newspapers, there were tons of them, and they were large — this one was one whole page.

The quality of the newspaper scans, however, is not that great as you can probably imagine.  The papers are very very old, and newspaper doesn’t scan that well, even when it’s new.  I spent a couple of pleasant hours cleaning up this darling illustration (can you believe the size of that firecracker), and I hope you like it.

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Vintage Fabric Gallery – Red, White and Blue

These elongated triangles were part of a lot I purchased on ebay several years ago.  There were some vintage quilt blocks and cardboard templates, but the real prize was an old shoebox packed with about a zillion different triangle swatches in three sizes.  Today, in keeping with the theme, I have picked out a few patriotic prints to share.

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Toddler Dress with Appliqued Linen Apron

A couple of years ago I purchased a bolt of Irish linen manufactured by Belfast Mills.  The linen is off-white with a beautiful feel and nice light weight; probably produced in the 30s or 40s, but possibly earlier.  I’ve been hesitating to cut into it, but I finally got up the courage.

The machine appliqued apron motifs were cut from a piece of vintage novelty chintz, and the dress was made with new fabric that I think has a vintage look.  It was a nice surprise that my local Joann’s has begun carrying some good quality cotton fabrics.  There were several designs I liked, and it gave me an opportunity to use some of those ubiquitous coupons.

This dress and apron were made using a vintage size 3 pattern, although I made a few changes.  The pattern pieces (dress and apron) were lengthened by several inches, since contemporary toddler dresses are worn a bit longer than their vintage counterparts, and I added the scalloped edge.  The entire yoke is faced so it has a finished look inside, which these patterns almost never call for and which I don’t understand at all.  There is a 4 1/2″ hand stitched hem.


Belfast Mills Label


ABC Painting Reading Book, 1934

This is my new book, and I love it so much.  Each of the ABC pages has a companion outline page to paint, but they are all colored or painted and would be nearly impossible to clean up.  Fortunately, the example pages are in good shape.

ABC Painting Reading
Whitman Publishing, 1934


Royal Society Embroidery Transfer Book

This booklet was in the box of old transfers and lace I found at a thrift shop in Utah during our road trip last year.  According to, Royal Society sold thread, yarns, kits and needlework pattern books from 1915 through the 1920s.

“In the early 1920s the company produced a series of hot iron transfers in book format. Each book had a theme (bedspreads, baby motifs, etc.) and consisted of assorted embroidery motifs printed on tissue sheets and staple-bound together in a heavy cover. These do come up for sale from time to time, but it can be difficult to find one that is both intact and has not been folded down the center.”

My booklet is in pretty good condition, with beautiful covers and just a few missing motifs.  I’ll continue to scan and clean the pages for upcoming Thursday embroidery transfer posts.



Eastern Bluebird Applique Pattern

This pattern is from a 1985 Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts magazine, which featured quilts and quilt patterns from New York state.  If I were going to make this block, I think I would redraw the bluebird to make him just a little shorter and chubbier than the one in this pattern.

After reading Tina’s comment, I thought maybe I should go ahead and redo the bluebird.  The original version is first, followed by the revised version below.  He’s not perfect, but I think he looks more like the photo now.


New Yorkers are proud of their successful efforts to bring back their beautiful state bird, fast disappearing only a few years ago.  This one should fit on a 10″ block, or with a little more greenery could be used on a 12″ block.  His back and tail are dark blue, with black lines of embroidery.  His underside is an orangy pink, slightly lighter back toward his feet.  Use bias for the branches and embroider his legs, feet and eye.  Trace each part of the pattern and add that tiny turn allowance that you always need for applique.


Emily’s Doll Heart Quilt

Originally I planned to do more detailed quilting in the border of this quilt, but in the end I thought it looked better just to repeat the design in the sashing.  It’s kind of hard to do elaborate quilting on doll quilts because of the small scale and all the seams.

The binding and backing are the same vintage 1930s floral.

Emily’s Doll Heart Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2012
machine pieced, hand quilted
18″ x 22″


Cross Stitched Birth Sampler

Do you have any of those embarrassing projects that were almost done, but then somehow never made it to the finish line?  My sampler should qualify, having been made for my (now 30 year old) son shortly after he was born.  I finished the sampler in a reasonable amount of time, but it has languished in various drawers and boxes all these years.  I not only didn’t manage to get it framed — today is the first time it’s ever been ironed.

I did finish and frame a little Elliott birth sampler for his grandparents, but since I didn’t make any samplers for Emily (the poor second child), I would have felt guilty about displaying this one.  Also, after it was finished, I realized it looked awfully girly for a little boy.  It would have been a good choice for Emily, who loves bows.

The sampler was made from a Better Homes and Gardens mail order pattern, which was still in the bag with the sampler.  The pattern called for floss colors that were more muted with much darker blues; I wanted something brighter.  The design is 10 1/2″ square, stitched on ivory linen.

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