Posts Written On October 2015

Antique Log Cabin Quilt

My attraction to this quilt top probably has something to do with the fact that I am pretty particular about my piecing. Don’t get me wrong — I often substitute prints, and I don’t mind seaming a piece when I don’t have large enough scrap, but when I sew the pieces together, I like the seams and points to match. But that doesn’t mean I’m not drawn to a quilt maker who doesn’t play by the rules.

This quilter didn’t worry at all about the width of her log cabin strips. She hand stitched them to her muslin foundation and when she started sewing the blocks together, she just trimmed off whatever fabric was required to make them fit. Did she not finish the quilt because it wasn’t square, and was a little lumpy? I’ll never know, but I wasn’t going to let a little poor construction stop me. I adopted her carefree attitude and trimmed two edges to square up the top.

I think her addition of a few black and pink fabrics to the light sections of the quilt makes it more interesting. The original double pink fabric faded when I soaked the top (it had tons of surface dirt), so I replaced those pieces with a double pink from my stash of old fabric. There were also a few small holes in the indigo pieces, which I decided to darn, rather than replacing each piece.

The quilting is the same circular pattern I used on my last quilt, but this time I used Uki 10/2 perle cotton in red. The quilt is thick, cozy, and definitely wonky. It isn’t something I would have made, but I love it just the same.

Antique Log Cabin Quilt
Hand pieced by unknown quilter
Hand quilted by Martha Dellasega Gray, 2015
63″ x 75″




Halloween Embroidery & Candle Shade Designs, 1912


If you are planning for Hallowe’en festivities, you will be pleased with this appropriate design. It can be easily and quickly worked in outline, with heavy thread. The natural, bright colors of Autumn should be used. A table runner and sofa pillows would be novel and once made, could be used for several Hallowe’ens.


Candle shades made after this fashion will prove very attractive for Halloween, and as they are extremely simple of execution, it will be very little trouble to manufacture a number of them for various uses about the house for the Hallowe’en party. The stencil might be cut from heavy yellow paper and lined with black tissue paper. A number of the shades may be cut at one time, which will save trouble. The shade is especially pretty in shape when fastened with gum or mucilage at one side.

Here’s a drawing of a candle shade holder I think could be made out of wire.

candle shade holder


Halloween Costumes You Can Make, 1922

Do you think home sewers and crafty people in the 1920s could actually create these costumes with the unbelievably limited directions the publishers give in these articles?  I have my doubts. Still, the illustrations are pretty cute.

1922-Halloween-Costumes-1 1922-Halloween-Costumes-2 1922-Halloween-Costumes-3

Most of the costumes have no instructions at all (simply suggesting you apply fabric or crepe paper to a foundation garment), and there is no mention of a mail order pattern. Also, there was no hot glue!

Here are the individual directions given for three of the costumes in the last illustration.

Frog Costume:  A frog costume is unusual and distinctive. It may be made of cambric, chambray, sateen, satinette or poplin. This costume is suitable for adults, misses and juveniles.

Witch Costume: Witch costumes are always seen at fancy dress occasions. A 36″ bust requires 13 3/4 yards [this is not a typo!] of 36″ sateen. The lower edge measures 2 1/2 yards and can be worn by all.

Pierette Costume: A Pierette costume is pretty for women, misses and juveniles of 26 to 40 bust. A 36″ bust requires 4 1/2 yards of 40″ organdy for ruffles, etc., 5/8 yard of 40″ satin for sash and top of hat and 5/8 yard of 36″ satin for camisole. The costume, as can be seen in the accompanying drawing, is of peg-topped effect at the waist, tapering down to form to the ankle.

So . . . just pull out an old slip, grab some cambric, tulle, crepe paper or cheesecloth, and whip up one of these adorable costumes. Then send me your photos.

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Antique Circle Quilt

I’m so happy to have finished the quilting on this lovely turn-of-the-century quilt top which I purchased from my friend Patty (Patalier on Etsy). The quilter did an amazing job hand piecing the curves and matching points, and the top was perfectly flat, clean and crisp. I wish I knew the pattern name, but Patty and I both checked our quilt reference books, and neither of us could find a source for this interesting design.

Although the individual blocks appear to have circles in the middle, the circles are actually created by the four block corners, and the center of each block is a shirting or orange square. The quilter added partial blocks around the outside edges to complete the circle design, although the top edge is slightly different from the others. The original top had straight sides, but I added a border on three sides so I could extend my circular quilting design and create scalloped edges. I left the top edge straight, because of the way it worked with my quilting pattern.

The quilting pattern was stitched with navy blue Gutermann quilting thread, and it took three months and 320 yards of thread. It’s my first time quilting an old top as is — I usually take them apart and remake them.

Antique Circle Quilt
Hand pieced by unknown quilter, early 1900s
Hand quilted by Martha Dellasega Gray, 2015
75″ x 86″



Mother Goose Quiltie Pattern #20 — Little Jack Horner

Mother Goose Quiltie #20



Little Jack Horner sat in a corner,

Eating his Christmas pie;

He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum,

And said, “What a smart boy am I.”

Here we are to the very last corner and Little Jack Horner to sit in it. If you enjoy this apread full of Quilties as well as Jack did his pie full of plums, it will be a real treat. We hope you have not lost a single Quiltie and are now ready to set them together with strips of cloth colored like your embroidery thread. These twenty squares will be just enough for a child’s quilt.



Here is a Brooklyn Eagle clipping announcing the winners of the Mother Goose Quiltie contest. If you enlarge the image, you should be able to read the text.



Vintage Halloween Screen Instructions

I’ve had several requests from readers who wanted to make the Halloween screen I gave to my sister a couple of years ago, which I copied from an embossed 1920s Halloween decoration that I found online. Since my sister has the screen, I can’t provide detailed photos, but I can give you a pattern, a list of supplies, and some instructions. This is my finished screen.


It is 24″ wide and 20″ high, which is the same size as the original decoration.

One sheet of heavy black poster board (the Walmart/Dollar Store poster board is too thin)
8 24″ strips of 1/2″ x 1/4″ basswood (available at most craft stores)
small amount of black paint
orange flat fold crepe paper
Xacto knife
spray adhesive
white pencil
white glue
black electrical tape

Click this link to download the pdf pattern. In the Adobe print dialog box, select the poster setting. This will tile print the pattern on 9 sheets of paper (3 for each panel). You will need to trim two sides of each sheet of paper before taping or gluing the sheets together.

Paint the strips of basswood black.

Using an Xacto knife or small scissors, cut out the white sections of the paper pattern, then draw the pattern on the back side of your poster board with a white colored pencil  (if you have some white or light-colored carbon paper, you could use it to transfer the pattern, eliminating this step). Once the pattern is transferred to the poster board, cut out all the interior white sections of each panel with an Xacto knife, then cut the outside lines.

Cut three pieces of orange crepe paper slightly smaller than the three panels of the screen (iron the crepe paper if it is wrinkled — you want it very flat). One at a time, place each cut black panel (right sides down) on newspaper and spray adhesive on the back. Carefully place your cut piece of crepe paper on the back of each section, trying to keep them as flat as possible.

Using a razor blade or sharp knife, trim the strips of basswood to fit the sides and bottom of each of the screen panels. Apply a thin layer of white glue to one side of each basswood strip and position the wood strips flush with the outside edges of each panel — let dry.

Position the three panels face down, pushing them as close together as possible. To make the hinges, apply two strips of black electrical tape to the wood strips along both seams, attaching the two outside panels to the center panel.

I hope this makes sense — let me know in a comment if you have any questions.