Posts Written On January 2014

Laura Wheeler Design 688 — Cross-stitch Peacock

This peacock is different than all the rest because it’s completely done in two sizes of cross stitch. I spent several hours cleaning this one because cross-stitch patterns never scan very clearly. Since the thought of tracing all those tiny Xs freaks me out, an alternative method would be to print the design on water soluable transfer paper. It would have to be tile printed on 4 sheets, so I have added a lightened PDF version of the pattern here. Open the file with Acrobat Reader and make selections for full size and the poster setting in your print window. The instructions include several suggestions for different color choices. I think these large peacock patterns would make beautiful centers on medallion quilt.Laura-Wheeler-Transfer-688-Peacock



Vintage Style Valentine Apron

Vintage cotton organdy is the best fabric ever for making doll petticoats, and flocked cotton organdy (my favorite) makes a beautiful doll party dress. Unfortunately, the heart pattern on this remnant was a bit large for doll clothes. I was thinking of making an apron, but, since I just couldn’t see myself wearing a 1950s gathered hostess apron, I made it into a full apron backed with a solid white. It looks way better in person because you can actually see the organdy overlay. The red ties are leftovers from a 1950s organdy apron, the skirt of which I used to make a petticoat for my sister’s Shirley Temple doll.

This apron design is more my style, but the color and fabric are sort of impractical for a messy cook like me.





Laura Wheeler Design 664 — Peacocks

The third transfer from the Ethel E. Hughes collection is another group of three designs for “cloths, scarfs, pillowcases, towels and pillows.” The recommended fabrics are “linen, chambray, muslin, percale, or some similar material.” Sometimes there is a color key or a stitch guide; other times the instructions merely suggest floss colors and stitches for various parts of the design. In many cases, you simply have a transfer, and nothing else.  Just as in old quilt patterns, when directions are included with vintage transfers, they are more vague than contemporary patterns, so unless the publisher was a thread manufacturer, color numbers are generally not included.  Click on images for full size, or on these links for previous peacock designs, #7107 and #777.

Laura-Wheeler-664-peacocks-1 Laura-Wheeler-664-peacocks-2 Laura-Wheeler-664-peacocks-3




Laura Wheeler Design 7107 — Peacocks

This is the second peacock transfer in the Ethel E. Hughes series (the previous design is here). The peacocks on this sheet were designed for use on “towels, pillowcases, cloths, scarfs and pillows.” By cloths, I guess they mean linens to cover tables or furniture. My grandmother always referred to her furniture cloths as antimacassars, and I thought that was such a cool word. My grandpa was pretty much bald, so I don’t think he was in the habit of using Macassar oil on his hair, but the antimacassars did keep the backs and arms of her furniture clean, and they were always embroidered with pretty motifs.

There are eight peacocks on this large sheet, but only three different designs. Click until images are full size.

Laura-Wheeler-7107-peacocks-1 Laura-Wheeler-7107-peacocks-2 Laura-Wheeler-7107-peacocks-3 Laura-Wheeler-7107-peacocks-directions

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Laura Wheeler Design 777 — Peacock Panel

Ethel E. Hughes of Elwood, Indiana, loved peacocks — a lot. She must have ordered every peacock transfer Needlecraft Services published.  And she was organized, adding small floss and fabric samples to each pattern. I especially like the comments she wrote on the envelopes:  “I like this peacock best for the quilt”, “pretty peacock for bed sheet”, “this peacock is perfect for my bedspread”, “another large peacock for bedspread”, “I think I have another peacock almost like this one”, and “my beautiful new peacock.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Ethel managed to actually stitch any of her fabulous peacocks, because none of the transfers have been used, but fortunately, someone kept her collection intact. For those of you who are also peacock fans, here is the first of Ethel’s patterns (click until images are full size).  Check back tomorrow for another peacock pattern from the Hughes collection.

Laura Wheeler Design 777
Needlecraft Services, 1957
15″ x 20″




Priscilla Patchwork Book, 1920

There are some lovely applique patterns in this old booklet, which includes all the templates and quilting designs for each project. The covers on my book are torn and stained, so I have attempted to digitally restore them.

The pages were kept at their original dimensions, so enlarging each to its full size should allow you to both read the text and print the templates.  I’m sorry about the watermark, but it annoys me when people copy my images to sell.




Priscilla-Patchwork-Book-supplement-1 Priscilla-Patchwork-Book-supplement-2


Triangle Quilt Top

It’s hard to judge which took longer — hand cutting the 5,110 triangles, or sewing them together. Originally I had planned to put these triangles on a design wall, but that never happened because I soon realized it was a crazy idea. Other than including one light-ish and one-darkish piece in the two-triangle units, I made very little effort to coordinate or distribute the colors and patterns.

The top contains around 75% antique fabric, while the remaining triangles are reproduction prints, most of which were sent to me by two quilters (thank you so much Mickie and Meredith). Because madders do not hold up well over time, most of the those pieces are repros, as are some of the reds, double-pinks, purples, and yellows. All of the cadet, indigo, mourning, neon, homespun, and shirting prints are very old.

The quilt was inspired by an antique triangle quilt I saw on Jan’s blog, What a Load a Scrap. That quilt had larger triangles and was created with an amazing amount of beautiful madders, while mine is made with small triangles and is more scrappy. My quilt is large (84″ x 90″), and contains 73 rows, each of which has 70 triangles. I plan to use the zig-zag quilting design from the original quilt, which cleverly avoids having to stitch through the points.






210 Things To Do, 1942 — The Doll Family at Home

Since many of you are probably experiencing snow and freezing temperatures, here is a fun indoor activity for your children or grandchildren. My younger sister and I loved these activity books when we were little and, because this book was published about a decade earlier, it is even cooler than the books I remember (the couch and table cover are my favorites). The instructions call for a hat box, which you probably don’t have, but you could use any sort of tallish box. I have reduced the size of the images just a bit, so you should be able to print the pages on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper (click twice to enlarge, then save or print).
Note: Family, unfortunately, not included.

201 Things to Do
Puzzles, Games, Cutouts
Merrill Publishing Co., 1942













Needle-Art and the Transfer Book, Butterick Publishing, 1927

This is a great old Art Deco catalog, advertising needlework patterns and transfers for sale in 1927.


Because the illustrations are so small, I have scanned portions of the pages at a higher resolution than usual. Clicking twice on any of the images will allow you to view them full size (and read the text on the page below).


The transfers in #142 “for handkerchiefs, Covers, Boxes and Evening Slippers” are my favorites, so I scanned them at a crazy high resolution in an attempt to replicate the motif sizes on the original transfer sheet (between 1 1/4″ and 3 3/4″). Of course, the detail is probably not as nice as it would have been on the original transfers, but I think they are definitely traceable when you click twice to enlarge.


Numbers 138 and 139 contain one basic design in a bunch of sizes “for Stamping Vanity Sets, Scarfs or Runners and Curtain Motifs to match Bedspread Design.” Even though the fan girl is cute, stitching her on every item in the bedroom above is pretty weird. I enlarged her quite a bit, though, because I thought she might look sweet on a pillow.


Number 141 is an all-over transfer pattern “for Braiding, Quilting, Chain-stitching, Couching, Outlining, Running-Stitch, French Knots or Beading.” It’s unclear to me how you would execute this design using french knots or beading, but I think it would be wonderful as a quilting pattern.



Midnight Stars Quilt

It’s shocking to me that it was almost exactly 3 years ago that Lori (Humble Quilts) sponsored this doll quilt-a-long. It took me 3 months to finish the top, and then the poor thing sat in the queue for the longest time.  Of course, mine isn’t a doll quilt, but still . . . I have no excuse. I ease my guilt by thinking perhaps MS feels privileged to have been bumped up in the queue, since there are other tops that have been waiting much longer.

Midnight Stars Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2014
machine pieced, hand quilted
42″ x 52″

All of the pieced blocks in this little quilt are made with antique fabric scraps; while the alternate blocks, borders, binding and backing are reproduction prints. When I was cutting out pieces for the blocks, I wrote this post about my obsession with making quilts using vintage and antique fabric. You can see in the detail photos below that sometimes I was able to construct a block using only 4 different prints, and other times there are many more.


Coming up with a quilting pattern was a struggle, as usual. I wanted a design that would complement the pieced blocks, but would also look good in the alternate blocks. I’m pleased with the result, although it’s a little hard to see the stitching in the alternate blocks because of the busy patterned fabric.