Posts Written On September 2013

1920s Halloween Fireplace Screen – My Version

My younger sister, Mary, is a freak for Halloween.  Unfortunately, she lives in a condo and doesn’t get any trick-or-treaters, which is a shame, because this girl goes all out in the decoration department.  Fortunately, she has a wonderful Halloween party every year where she is able to show off new purchases and creations, in addition to all the things she has been collecting over the years.

In 2010, I made her a Halloween table topper based on a vintage paper doily or coaster (the original was only 5″ in diameter), and the next year I embroidered a haunted house pillow.  This year I wanted to try something new, so I re-created a vintage German die cut fireplace screen that was produced in the 1920s.  The original is quite rare, and the few I’ve seen on ebay have sold for over $500.  Although everyone seems to refer to this as a fireplace screen, it was actually smaller than you might expect (around 20″ tall and 24″ across).  I’ve seen some recreations that were enlarged to the size of a modern fireplace screen, but I decided to make mine the same size as the original.  Even though there was no way to reproduce the cool embossed details on the antique screen, I still thought I could make a cute facsimile.

Update: Instructions for making this screen are located in a later post.

Vintage Inspired Halloween Screen
24″ x 20″



Make it With Sheets, 1952

Sheets have been a mainstay fabric of mine since I first began to sew in the early 60s.  Vintage 100% cotton muslin and percale sheets are still one of my favorite fabrics for hand piecing and embroidery.  They have a nice feel and are usually easy to needle since the thread count is not as high as modern sheets. I’ve also used sheets to make curtains, aprons, toddler dresses, pajamas & nightgowns, tablecloths & napkins, bed skirts, and rag rugs (and I’m sure there are other items that I’ve forgotten).  I never thought of making an outfit for myself out of sheets, but the “dance frock” and play suit on page 19 are pretty cute.

When I was growing up, one of my older sisters had a kidney shaped vanity with a ruffled chintz skirt that I loved.  I think the vanity fell apart, because I remember the piece being sort of rickety and I know it didn’t make it to my teenage bedroom.  There are seven pictures of vanities with skirts in this Cannon Mills booklet (including one kidney shape), and some of the skirts are amazingly elaborate.  Click the thumbnails a couple of times to view the pages full size.


We Have a Winner!

Wake Up!  It’s time to find out who won the quilt.


And the winner is .  .  .  .  .

Number 8.  Congratulations, Joyce!  I hope you enjoy the Dean’s Cloth Book doll quilt.


Dean’s Cloth Book Doll Quilt — Giveaway

This morning I finished quilting my Dean’s Cloth Book doll quilt, and I think it turned out just fine.  It’s been many months since I have done any hand quilting, and I’m so excited that I was able to stitch without problems.  I am becoming accustomed to quilting with a wrist brace, and I think it’s helpful to wear it when I’m quilting, as well as sleeping.

So . . . to celebrate my return to quilting and a pain free quilting session, I am giving away this doll quilt.  Here’s how I described the top in an earlier post:

For this little top I used two vintage cloth books published in the UK by Dean’s Rag Book Co.  The company began in 1903 producing small books printed on muslin that they advertised as “safe and washable” for baby.  Later they expanded into stuffed bears and cloth dolls.  Dean’s Rag Books were still being made as late as the 1960s, and I think my two books are from the later period — probably the 1950s.  They were both illustrated by Josephine Wilkinson, as you can see on the front page of each book, and neither of them has a title.  After looking at lots of Dean’s books online, I think Josephine’s graphics are my favorites.

The six blocks on the left are from one book, and the six on the right are from the other.  The quilt blocks (or pages) are set with sashing and border in printed gingham; the backing is a vintage diagonal plaid; and the quilting pattern is hanging diamonds.

If you would like this little quilt, just let me know in a comment below.  A winner will be selected on Saturday using a random number generator.

Dan’s Cloth Book Doll Quilt
machine pieced, hand quilted
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2013
21″ x 22″



Sewing Room Makeover

No, I have not been vacationing at some exotic locale.  During this latest hiatus from blogging, I have been on a binge of fixing up a few rooms in our house — the sewing room, family room, and our bedroom.  When one of these moods hits me, my husband generally just stands back and lets me do my thing.  There is more furniture stripping and painting left to do, but here’s the list of my projects so far:

Reupholstered a chair and ottoman
Painted several pieces of furniture, lamps, frames & baskets
Recovered my sewing chair and a couple of lampshades
Made a new bedskirt and polished my childhood brass bed
Assembled two pieces of Ikea furniture
Made a curtain and an ironing board cover
Cleaned out and reorganized my sewing room

The only room that is actually finished is the sewing room, where I made good use of one of the bolts of fabric I purchased at the Goodwill.  Did you notice the porthole?  It’s real — one of two installed in our bedrooms by the previous owner of our house (over 22 years ago), who worked in the fishing industry.

Here’s the view if you’re standing in the doorway.  I covered my ironing board with the Goodwill fabric, and spray painted the wicker chest.



I removed the closet doors long ago when Emily moved out of this room (her walls were purple!).  Here’s more of the Goodwill Waverly print made into a curtain to hide some of the ugly plastic storage boxes at the top of the closet. This is where I store most of my vintage yardage and scraps, quilts in progress, and fabric for aprons and the little girl dresses I make from vintage patterns.



Another view of the closet, and my cutting table.  The storage below is still kind of messy.



The cutting table again, some of my doll quilts, and the cross stitch pictures made for me by my mother and my sister, Mary.



Here’s the cute crib quilt I purchased from Barbara at Oodles and Oodles (see her post here about this quilt), and the sewing chair I painted and recovered.



This is the wall across from my sewing table.  I wrote a post ages ago about this Sailor Dog Quilt that Gordon’s grandmother made for him when he was a baby.



I hope you enjoyed my little tour.