Posts Written On January 2016

WIP Wednesday — More Denim Coverlet Squares

It’s very slow work stitching through this denim, but I’m so happy with the look of it. I have to come up with about 60 more designs, and it’s getting more difficult. When I think of something, I have to make a note of it immediately or I’ll forget. If I get really desperate, I might use lower case letters (currently using upper case letters and numbers 1-10), but I prefer pictures. Let me know in a comment if you have any suggestions.

I have a lot a time for hand sewing these days. My father-in-law, Gordon Sr., fell last week and fortunately only cracked a rib. He will be 95 this year, and is dealing with arthritis in his hips and knees. His wife is 8 years younger, in great health, and still works part time. We felt that he needed someone to be there 24/7, but also wanted Gordon’s mother to be able to continue working at the job she loves. So while she’s at work, I’m spending time with Big G and making sure he uses his walker. We’ve been watching a lot of World War II documentaries while I sew.


WIP Wednesday – Denim Appliqué Coverlet

Although I’ve already completed a portion of this coverlet (16 squares), I’ve decided to change my process, and finish all the appliqué on the squares before I put any more of them together. Then I can lay them all out on the floor to decide where to put each one.

It’s a challenge to find subjects for the 6″ squares, since they must be an easily recognizable shape (there are no embroidered details), and they can’t be too narrow (difficult to blanket stitch). Some of the designs I drew myself, but most are adapted from online searches for silhouettes, die cuts and stencils. There will be 164 squares, so I need lots more designs — it’s something I think about as I’m falling asleep each night.

Once all the squares are blanket stitched (3 strands of floss), I’ll back them with a fabric scrap, blanket stitch the edges of the squares, crochet around each square, and then stitch them all together. There are more photos and information in a previous post.

It’s time for another trip to Goodwill to purchase some very large jeans. The best I’ve done is 32 6″ squares from one pair — usually it’s more like 26.



Vintage Rayon Quilt

My mother-in-law, Gail, recently gave me this quilt which she found while cleaning out her enormous linen closet. Although she was sure one of her relatives had made it, she couldn’t remember any of the details. The quilt was clean, had never been washed, and the fabrics were in wonderful condition. There was just one big problem — there were dark blue pen lines marking the quilting pattern. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get that ink out, and was afraid of damaging the quilt, but I had to try. Those blue lines seriously detracted from the lovely quilting pattern and the overall beauty of the quilt.

The fabrics appear to be rayon, not silk — mostly taffeta, but also some shinier satin rayon in the top and bottom borders with cable quilting. I soaked the quilt overnight in warm water and oxyclean, and by morning, most of the pen marks were gone, although there are still some faint blue lines. None of the fabrics faded during the treatment, and I think the quilting looks so nice all puffed up from the dryer.

I’m so glad Gail decided to keep this quilt all those years, and also pleased that it is finally being displayed. It’s sad I don’t know anything about the history of the quilt, but I’m guessing it was quilted no earlier than 1945, since that’s when the ballpoint pen was introduced in the states. That marking really looked like ballpoint pen to me. Of course, the top could have been constructed earlier.

I wish I had pressed those prairie points before I took photos — they are actually neatly done, but they are pretty wrinkly in these pictures.

Vintage Rayon Quilt
Unknown Quilter
unknown date, possibly 1940s
60″ x 75″



Scottie Dog Doll Quilt

Here’s my first quilt finish for 2016 — a miniature version of the WIP full-sized quilt I started years ago. My big scotties have a cute bow, but the design had to be simplified for a doll-sized quilt. The setting with blue and white stripes is just the same, although hopefully my big quilt won’t have wobbly scotties like this one does.

Each little scottie is cut from a 1940s fabric scrap. I kept the quilting pretty simple, using just straight lines 1/2″ apart. Normally I use a different quilting design inside the appliqués, but since these dogs are so tiny, I decided to quilt the vertical lines right through them.

Scottie Dog Doll Quilt
17″ x 21″
machine pieced, hand appliquéd and hand quilted
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2016



American Girl Dolls Dress Up as 80s Pop Stars

After my daughter watched the hilarious video of Conan visiting the American Girl Doll Store in Los Angeles, she wanted to celebrate her 31st birthday with her girlfriends at the Seattle area store. The fact that our AG store (unlike the one in L.A.) does not serve alcohol did not deter us, as there are many bars in the area where one can have cocktails before attending their party.

For this special occasion, I offered to make new outfits for Emily’s dolls, Molly, Kirsten and Addy. We immediately thought of 80s pop stars because they are Emily’s favorites. We weren’t sure how the staff would react, but they were wonderful, and we had the best time. Afterward, we took the dolls to sing karaoke. In fact, we’re all planning to go again next year and Emily has already picked a theme for the doll’s outfits — the movie Clueless.

Kirsten as Madonna — Emily made the jewelry
Kirsten has a hard time standing in those heels


Addy as Janet Jackson
It’s so hard to find tiny hardware, and I had to cut those pins out of sheet aluminum.

Molly as Selena
I found the perfect fabric online at Spandex House in NYC. I padded her butt a little.



Some Changes at QisforQuilter

Once again I’m going to attempt to mix it up a bit on the old blog (7 years and counting). There are several collections I want to share, and I’m just trying to figure out the best way to do it.

First is a large group of newspaper embroidery patterns created by Betsy Dean and published between 1922 and 1932. I had never heard of Betsy Dean until I purchased a shoebox of newspaper clippings on ebay. It’s unusual to see full-sized patterns published during this period — the heyday of newspaper pattern publishing was about 10 years earlier. Also, from 1926-1932, she published a pattern every single day. I want to share most of the 2,500 images, so I’m posting them to my Flickr account which you can access on my sidebar, and they will also be part of the Flickr group “Hoop Love Vintage Transfers.” My plan is to clean and upload a new transfer pattern every single day, just like Betsy Dean (although I only have to clean up the images, not draw them).

There are also some sweet McCall Pattern Company catalogs from the 20s, 30s and 40s, and I hope to post a pattern photo or two each week on “McCall’s Monday,” which is something I just made up.

Of course, there should be lots of quilty stuff going on as well. I think it’s going to be a good year for blogging.