Posts Written On July 2012

Laura Wheeler – Wreath Quilt Pattern

I have always referred to this pattern as Flying Swallows, but it actually has lots of names:  Falling Star, Flying Star, Whirling Star, and Circling Swallows.  Whatever you want to call it,  it’s a beautiful pattern.  Cathi (Quilt Obsession) has been piecing a slightly more complex block which has this star in the middle, and she has posted a wonderful tutorial on piecing the wreath (or swallow) sections.

I have kept the image at it’s original size of 20.5″ x 15.5″


1 comment

Twinkling Star Vintage Quilt Top

This old quilt top is kind of a mess.  The stitching in the blocks is not bad, but the yellow border is crudely sewn with many odd-sized pieces.  It will not lie flat.  I thought the blocks might have been sewn earlier by a different person, but upon closer examination, it’s clear that both the blocks and the border were sewn on the same machine.  At first I thought the pattern was Barbara Fritchie’s Star, but that pattern is made up of all HSTs, and since these blocks contain at least four or more parallelograms, I decided the pattern must be Twinkling Stars.

The thing I love about this top (which I plan to take apart, of course) is that it contains what I think are “double blue” prints in the blocks.  Before I saw this top, I had never even seen a double blue print, although I had heard of them.  There are three different examples of these blue prints in the quilt, as well as three different double pinks.


ABC Painting Reading Book, 1934

Here are the last two pages of my current favorite ABC book.  I’ve mentioned before how much I love the bold graphics in this book, but the unusual alphabet words are also pretty great.  To locate the other alphabet pages, click on the Children’s Books category on my sidebar.


More Antique Fabrics from 9-Patch Quilt Top

My friend, Patty at Petalier, pointed out that the first group of neon type antique prints I posted last week is from the 1890s.  It’s always a bit risky purchasing these very old blocks and tops because the fabric can be in poor condition without showing any obvious signs of damage.  To test the fabric, I have to grab the middle of each piece with both hands and pull as hard as I can in one direction, and then the other.  If it tears, I have to throw it away, and sometimes that makes me very sad.

Amazingly, I haven’t found any rotten fabric pieces in this scrappy top, even though it’s over 100 years old.  That makes me very happy.


Appliqued Cherry Trees and Robins Quilt – Ladies Home Journal

As I was looking through my 1924 Ladies Home Journal Pattern Catalog, I immediately recognized the quilt at the bottom of this page, probably because a copy of the original quilt appeared on the cover of the book, “American Folk Art Quilts” by Maggi Gordon (possibly made from the LHJ pattern).

I’m sorry I don’t have a pattern for this quilt.  It would be so great if we could still order them from this catalog; even better if they were the original price of 75¢.

The original quilt (Cherry Trees and Robins Bride’s Quilt), upon which this pattern was based, was made in the first half of the 19th century (1820-50), and was donated to the Art Institute of Chicago by the owner and quilt collector, Emma B. Hodge.

I was able to find a digital copy of the 1922 Ladies Home Journal magazine in which the original quilts in the catalog were featured before they were offered as patterns.  The article was a little difficult to read, and because I enjoyed it so much, I retyped all of the text to make it more readable (click to enlarge).


Baby Bunting Quilt Blocks

As I have mentioned before, I made several quilts in the 70s when I was in my twenties, and didn’t make another quilt for 20 years.  In 1995 a quilter came to our school and gave a presentation to my daughter’s 5th grade class in preparation for a class quilting project.  The speaker brought a lot of her own quilts, and also some beautiful vintage quilts.  She inspired me to dig out my old quilt projects and finish them.  Shortly after that I became interested in quilting with authentic vintage fabric, and this quilt was one of my first endeavors.  That makes Baby Bunting my oldest unfinished quilt.

It’s another one of those great patterns where you can utilize vintage Double Wedding Ring pieces.  I copied the pattern, right down to the same bright yellow,  from one of my favorite old quilt books, Creative American Quilting, published by Better Homes and Gardens in 1989.  The book is out of print, but it’s easy to find on ebay and also super cheap.   There are a couple of bright 70s patterns in the book, but all the others are beautiful vintage quilts.

The individual blocks finish at 5″; large blocks are 20″.  I am hand piecing the curved seams, but the straight seams are all machine pieced.  The quilt in the book is 80″ x 80″, but I might make mine larger.  When I was looking at these photos, I noticed right away that the blocks contain a few reproduction prints.  I’m more of a purist now, and like to keep the the prints authentic, at least all of the small pieces — borders and backing are often new since they require much more yardage.


Santa’s Follow The Colors Patterns

Finally, here are the pages from the two vintage coloring books I used to make my Santa’s Follow-the-Colors quilt top.  The small blocks finish at 6″ square and the large at 12″ x 6″ (pictures somewhat smaller).  When combining the two-page images, I sometimes made a few changes in the drawing.  The squares in the sashing are 1″.  If you want to make a quilt like mine using all of the pictures, each row needs to have a combination of two large and three small blocks.

UPDATE:  Here is a link to see a photo of the finished quilt.


Vintage Japanese Embroidery Designs

These three patterns are from a sheet of transfers stapled inside an old Workbasket magazine.  The sheets were printed with red ink on heavy newsprint type paper (like my old coloring books), and because the paper turns brown and brittle over time, they are usually very fragile.

Oops!  I forgot to add the little piece that was always attached on the other side of the staples.  Here are the transfers from that little piece.


Antique Fabrics from 9-Patch Quilt Top

The original antique quilt top was made with a large assortment of different fabrics you would expect in a top of this age — indigos, homespuns, shirtings, madders, double pinks and mourning prints.  The individual 4″ squares were wonderful, but the mix of all the colors and patterns didn’t really appeal to me, and it was crudely stitched.  If you read my blog, you know that I almost always take these tops apart for the fabric.

My favorite fabrics are these wild abstract floral designs, some with kind of lurid color schemes.


Anne Orr Mosaic Rose Quilt Pattern

Last year I talked about an Anne Orr quilt top project from 1937 that I purchased on ebay.  The quilter had done so much work drafting the pattern, calculating how much fabric to purchase, and beginning construction, that it seemed really sad to me that the project was never finished.  She only had a tiny clipping to work from, and I wondered where she got it, because I’ve never seen a copy of this pattern.  It might have been from a leaflet, or maybe she cut it out of an old Good Housekeeping where Anne Orr was a contributing editor during the 30s.

There may be a way to strip piece this top, but since I never use this technique, I couldn’t figure out an efficient way to do it.  The original quilter of my kit hand pieced her blocks and made each rose an individual block.  Sewing the quilt together horizontally rather than diagonally is much easier, so my plan is to rotary cut zillions of little squares and chain piece my 20 blocks, as shown below (numbers denote different block patterns).  Finished squares of 1 1/2″ will result in a quilt about 73″ x 92″.

White I was messing around with this design, I decided to make a couple of doll quilt patterns.  I will probably make my finished squares 3/4″ on these small versions, so the quilt will be a 17″ square.  You can use any simple charted design for quilt making, and this type of quilt is perfect for a beginner. So grab a sheet of grid paper, and maybe your favorite cross stitch book for inspiration or some of Anne’s designs, and make yourself a little mosaic quilt


Santa’s Follow the Colors Embroidered Quilt – quilting in progress

Finally, the quilting has begun on this poor, neglected quilt top that I finished almost two years ago.  The past two Christmases I have put this quilt on the wall as a top, and felt terribly guilty that I couldn’t manage to get it quilted.  Hopefully, I can complete the quilting in the next couple of months, and I’ll be able to display it correctly this Christmas.

Normally, if I were going to do diagonal quilting through this type of square sashing pattern, I would quilt through the patterned squares.  However, because this is an embroidered quilt, the predominant squares having a white background, I thought it might look better to quilt through the white squares instead.  I outline quilted the embroidered designs (because I didn’t want to quilt through them), and then extended the diagonal lines through the white squares.  I’m really happy with the way this is turning out.

UPDATE:  The finished quilt can be seen here, and if you would like to stitch any of these cute designs, the patterns are available here.



ABC Painting Reading Book, 1934

There are only two pages left to clean up in this book.  It turns out that the child who received this cute book decided to color not only the outline pages, but several of the example pages as well, which I hadn’t noticed at first and which was annoying because the crayon has to be erased and the image is more difficult to clean up in Photoshop.  At least it was crayon and not paint.

I think it’s odd that the illustrators (or maybe the publishers) of these old paint books from the 20s and 30s thought that children needed to be shown how to color the pages, but I’m glad they did because the example pages are usually untouched.  That looks like Benjamin Franklin as the uncle.



Royal Society Vintage Tiny Transfers

Thank you for the feedback on Marjorie’s owl dress.  I feel much better about the embroidery after reading your nice comments.  I have a tendency to be overly critical of my work.

Now for this weeks transfers, which are very small and so sweet — there are 16 tiny transfer patterns on one page of the book (10″ x 10″).  I think they may have been designed for children’s clothing or lingerie.  Some of the raised blue ink dots had flaked off, so I digitally replaced them, and I changed the color from blue to black to make the transfers easier to copy.


Barbour’s Standard Irish Flax Shoe Thread

Instead of vintage fabric, today I’m going to show you some vintage thread I purchased on ebay a while back.  I found an article in the NY Times dated January, 1886, titled The Manufacture of Linen Thread, How Flax is Grown — Barbour Bros. & Co., a Century of Tread Making.  According to the article, Barbour Bros. & Co. manufactured “all kinds of linen thread, including shoe thread, saddler’s thread, sewing machine and carpet thread, salmon and grilling thread, and also carpet yarn.”

My thread was probably produced by the New York or New Jersey mills operated by the Barbour brothers, with the flax imported from their original company in Ireland.  It’s heavier than quilting thread, still feels very soft, and appears to be in perfect condition.

My mother always stitched her braided wool rugs together with linen thread, and I’m sure she would have loved this stuff.  It’s a pretty weird purchase, but it was just so cool looking, cheap, and I thought maybe I could try it as a sort of big-stitch quilting thread, since I don’t know how to make a shoe.