Posts Written On April 2016

My Humble Quilts Swap Quilt Arrived

Yesterday I received this wonderful little quilt from Marian Edwards, who lives in Australia. Marian is a prolific quilter, who makes tiny quilts as well as great big ones. She is just finishing up a gorgeous Dear Jane, and that is no small feat.

Enlarge the photo to see the adorable prints and the teeny tiny hand quilting stitches in every piece. It now holds the record for the smallest quilt I own. Thank you, Marian (and Lori, for hosting the swap) — I love it!

Nine Patch & Sawtooth Quilt
Marian Edwards, 2016
machine pieced & hand quilted
11″ x 14″


McCall’s Monday — Embroidered Bird Motifs for Kitchen Towels

Does your partner help with household chores? I am lucky to be married to someone who does almost all of the cooking and lots of other things I won’t mention, because you would begin to wonder what I contribute — besides quilts, of course.

Anyway, it’s fairly unusual to see men (even bird men) participating in these days of the week type designs. To make the designs representative of my relationship, the male bird would need to appear alone in some of the motifs.

No. 238 – Transfer Design for Bird Motifs for Kitchen Towels. Blue. Price 25¢.
Perky little birds cheerily decorate this set of “Day of the Week” dish towels. It is to be observed that both members of this delightful pair are efficiently co-operating in their work. The designs are adorable worked in red and blue outline stitch on red or blue bordered towels. Or in any other color combination you wish. The edges of a plain towel are smart when finished with buttonhole stitch of matching color. This set of seven motifs illustrates how a week’s work might be planned. Mottoes are included which may be worked under the designs, such as Monday — Wash, Tuesday — Mend, etc. Includes 1 each of 7 different designs about 3 x 7 inches, also 7 titles.




Tops From the Trunk — Antique Flying Geese

Since I first began using vintage and antique fabrics to make my quilts, my sources have been old tops, blocks and scraps that I carefully pick apart. Most of the tops I purchase have issues related to condition and construction, so I never feel guilty about taking them apart. Until last year, only one top I purchased was kept intact.

Then I got the bug. I like to blame Ann Champion and Tim Latimer, who each have amazing collections of vintage and antique tops. As a result of their inspiration, there are now a dozen old tops in my trunk that I plan to quilt. Of course, you might think that someone who already has a pile of her own tops to quilt would hesitate to go down this path, but when I find a beautiful old top at a reasonable price, I feel like I have to save it.

This top is one of two purchased from the same estate sale. It is all hand stitched using very small flying geese units (2 1/2″ wide) in strips separated by a gorgeous dark blue print (not quite as dark as indigo, but darker than cadet), and it has a chrome yellow design that reminds me of a neon print. It’s crisp and clean, and big at 74″ x 89″.

Anyone have an idea of the decade this top was made? Click on the photos to see the individual prints.





Free Pattern Friday — Embroidery Designs for Baby, Winifred Worth, 1920

Designs-for-Baby's-FrockIt’s unusual to see geometric or “Egyptian” embroidery designs for baby clothing, but I love the way these patterns look in the article’s cute illustration. Here’s what Winifred Worth had to say about her design.

Anything for baby finds a ready response in every needleworker’s heart, and the daintiness of this design should especially appeal to you. The border [the last design] is given in motif so arranged that you can transfer it any length you wish while the collar and body decorations [the first three designs] are shown complete.

The Design is worked out in more or less Egyptian style using outline for the angle lines and solid stitch for the leaves and auxilliary squares. Nothing could be more appropriate for a baby’s birthday gift than a daintily embroidered dress.


Designs-for-Baby's-Frock-design-1 Designs-for-Baby's-Frock-design-2 Designs-for-Baby's-Frock-design-3Designs-for-Baby's-Frock-design-4a


WIP Wednesday — The Last of the Denim Appliquéd Squares

I’m relieved that the creative part of this project is over, because I seriously could not think up one more design.  There’s a replacement sun in this group  —  you might remember that I already made one, but my daughter nixed it. I have one more square to make, but it will be the quilt label, and I’ll probably just appliqué my initials and the date.

I purchased a charm group of 1930s reproduction 6″ squares to back the blocks, because I didn’t want to use my vintage fabric. The appliquéd blocks and backing are sewn right sides together, and turned inside out just like a pillow. I don’t even have to whipstitch the opening because it’ll be sewn up when I blanket stitch the edges with perle cotton in the next step.



McCall’s Monday — Transfer Designs for Basket Motifs

No. 169 – Transfer Design for Basket Motifs. Blue. Price 25¢.
These little basket motifs are lovely embroidered in delicate colors on finger tip towels, scarves, pincushions and other boudoir accessories. You’ll want to use them on children’s bibs, rompers and dresses, too, as well as on tray cloths. Two of the designs are for cross-stitch; the others are done in outline, satin stitch, chain stitch and such simple stitches. 20 baskets included in the pattern, all about 2 inches high.




Free Pattern Friday — Vintage Monogram Letters

These monogram letters were published in two Sunday issues of the Oregon Daily Journal in 1917. The designer suggested that the letters would be suitable for for marking sheets, pillow cases, table cloths, buffet and dresser scarves, and that they should be padded heavily before working in satin stitch. There are no instructions — it’s just assumed the reader knows how to pad satin stitching. Fortunately, we have access to this great Mary Corbet video to learn how to make perfect padded satin stitches.

Oh, and some of those really tiny holes . . . I’d fill them in. I’m looking at you, A, E K, and L.

To print, click on each of the 2 images to open a full-sized pdf file. Scroll to the bottom and click on the download button. Open the downloaded file in Acrobat Reader, and select “poster” in the print dialog box. This will allow you to tile print the original pattern size on multiple sheets of letter sized paper in portrait mode, which you can then trim and tape or glue together.




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WIP Wednesday — Old Italian Block Doll Quilt

This isn’t actually a Work in Progress anymore, since the little quilt is finished, and these photos were taken before washing and drying, so the quilt is a bit more crinkly now. I think you can make out the hand quilting if you click to enlarge the photos.

I’m excited to send this quilt to its new owner, to receive my quilt, and to see all of the quilts made by the other 89 participants in this year’s quilt swap organized by Lori at Humble Quilts.

Old Italian Block Doll Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2016
machine pieced, hand quilted
15″ x 18″



McCall’s Monday — Anthropomorphic Kitchen Transfers

I have a thing for anthropomorphic utensils, dishes and pots and pans. There are more in earlier posts here and here.

No. 771 – Transfer Design for Tea Towels. Blue. Price 25 cents.
If you like variety and new ways of brightening up the daily tasks, don’t overlook these! Each motif has an amusing title, to be worked, like a design, in outline stitch. For anyone setting up housekeeping — particularly young brides — this set of six will make a gay gift. 6 designs, about 5 x 14 inches.



Free Pattern Friday — Hand Quilting Patterns for Alternate Blocks

Here are four hand quilting patterns cut from vintage magazine pages — part of a large box of quilting ephemera recently purchased at a thrift shop. The published patterns gave only a portion of the design, but I have put the pieces together so you can get a better idea of how they look. The first three patterns are  15″, while the feather design is 12″.

To print, click on the images to open a full-sized pdf file. Scroll to the bottom and click on the download button. Open the downloaded file in Acrobat Reader, and select “poster” in the print dialog box. This will allow you to tile print the original pattern size on multiple sheets of letter or legal sized paper, which you can then trim and tape or glue together.






WIP Wednesday — Old Italian Block Doll Quilt

This is the doll quilt I am making for Lori’s (Humble Quilts) annual swap — the completed top can be found in an earlier post.

When I’m creating a doll-sized quilt, the most important thing for me is scale — in the design, prints, and quilting. Although I know it’s practically impossible to make a doll quilt that looks exactly like a full-sized quilt in miniature, that’s always my goal. So, I try to make quilts no larger than 18″ x 24″; draft blocks that are 3″ or less; select prints that have a smallish design; and make the quilting stitches as tiny as I possibly can (this is the hardest part — so many seams!).

My quilting pattern is pretty simple — double footballs in the diagonal pieces, a tiny circle in the center square, and 2 nested circles in the triangle pieces. I am using my 10″ Edmunds half hoop, which makes hand quilting edges so much easier (Edmunds also makes a larger version for big quilts).




McCall’s Monday — Appliqué Animal Designs

I was so pleased to see this pattern in my catalog, because I was able to identify 15 vintage quilt blocks I had purchased in this pattern.  Later I found the original pattern, so for this McCall’s Monday I’m able to provide scans of the actual transfers. The pattern instructions from the envelope back are located here.
McCalls-1069-applique-animals McCalls-1069-description

The quilt I made with my vintage blocks was one of my earliest posts back in January of 2009.

“I bought these cute vintage applique blocks on ebay. Because the blocks were small, I used some old scraps to make a crazy border around each block to enlarge them — also I thought this would look better since two of the animal blocks would be in the corners. The alternate blocks are also vintage scraps stitched to a muslin foundation. My Bernina 1000 is a mechanical machine that works perfectly well, but it only has a few stitches and blanket stitch is not one of them. I know blanket stitch would have looked much better, but I’m not buying a new sewing machine just for that. I’ve done this type of crazy pattern before, and it’s lots of fun and a good way to use up small scraps. I added an embroidered outline to the animals (to make them stand out a little more) and quilted the top with 2 strands of black DMC which I thought would show up more than quilting thread and would also match the rest of the quilt. This was the first time I tried using embroidery thread for quilting and it was easier than I thought. Just for fun, I made a sort of crazy binding.”