Posts Written On June 2010

Grandmother’s Flower Garden Process and a Gift

Steffi at Steffi’s Candy Quilts just mentioned on her blog that she has discovered a better way of sewing hexagons which she is going to reveal in her next post. I thought I would show a little bit of my process so we could compare. We both use a running stitch method (as opposed to English paper piecing), but I am interested to see what order she uses.

My process is pretty basic. I usually draw my patterns on grid paper first. A hexagonal grid paper pdf generator is available here from Incompetech– it’s wonderful and can be customized to just about any size (they also have all sorts of other grid generators). I design my pattern and once I am happy with it, I draw a new one where I outline and separate blocks (below is the pattern for the GFG doll quilt). I try to make most blocks the same, but I need to include each variation (sides, top, alternate rows, etc.). To the left I have drawn the most common block and outlined the way I put it together (in horizontal strips). I usually like to stitch the path hexes at the same time I’m sewing the flowers (if I have decided on a setting, which is not always the case).

I noticed that Steffi and I also press differently — her method is more complex (a technique I usually reserve for 6 or more intersections) and very good for removing bulk. Because vintage fabrics are a bit thinner than contemporary fabrics, this has not seemed to be a problem for me, but I’m going to try her method anyway.

Last, I want to show you the darling “sewing companion” that Steffi made for me. It holds a pretty scissors that she purchased in the Netherlands, and it’s going to be so nice to carry in my purse instead of the plastic baggies I have been using for years.


Grandmother’s Flower Garden Doll Quilt – WIP

Here’s a project I started a few days ago. This little quilt was inspired by an unbelievably tiny GFG doll quilt made by Steffi at Steffi’s Candy Quilts. I couldn’t imagine making a quilt that small, but I really wanted to try it — my hexagons are about 1/2″ wide.

The quilt is 21″ long — it will be a rectangle with five or six vertical rows. Steffi and I use the same sewing technique, which is a simple running stitch. Even though there are lots of little pieces, it works up quickly since there are only five tiny stitches on each side of the hexagons.

I have a scrappy Grandmother’s Flower Garden bed quilt in process that looks just like this, as well as several other Flower Garden quilts. I just love working with hexagons.


Cunning’s Perforated Stamping Patterns Catalog

A couple of months ago I purchased on ebay a catalog of perforated patterns from the M. J. Cunning Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. Included in the sale were 2 groups of actual perforated patterns — the holes are so tiny that I imagine the pouncing powder must have been very fine. Although there is no date on the catalog, I found an ad in a 1906 Home Needlework Magazine which states the company was established in 1880. Since the price on the advertisement (15¢) is the same as my catalog, I assume the catalog was published in the late 1800s to early 1900s. I looks a lot like the J. F. Ingalls pattern catalog.

The catalog is large at 10″ x 15″ and, although the 76 pages have become very dark with age, it is in amazingly good condition. The printing is not perfect and the designs are packed onto the pages — but this is a catalog, of course, and not meant to be a source for copying patterns.

It is a slow process to lighten the pages without losing detail on the patterns, but I am gradually working my way through the book. It’s something I like to do in bed late at night which my husband thinks is crazy. It can be tedious, but it’s also very satisfying. I hope my embroiderer readers will enjoy them — I think they are a treasure.


A Wedding

My daughter, Emily, and her boyfriend, Aaron, are engaged to be married, which is not exactly a surprise since they have been together since high school. Aaron is just like a member of our family already, and we are so happy to make it official. Although the wedding is not until next summer, Emily and I are engrossed in preparations.

Emily has always loved Depression glass, so we decided to use mainly Depression green (and some pink) as the wedding colors. We started collecting glassware (especially vases and pitchers, but also plates, candy dishes and candlesticks) for the tables, and we are having lots of fun visiting antique stores. Emily would have loved to put pink peonies in her cute vases, but unfortunately they will not be in season and are also pretty expensive. She has decided to use ranunculus instead, which I think is a nice alternative (smaller, but with a similar look).

I am in the process of embroidering 100+ napkins with their initials. At first I was going to stitch the solid areas in satin stitch, but after completing one napkin, I changed my mind and used a crayon. It’s not quite as nice, but the satin stitch was way too time-consuming. I have to make one about every third day from now until the wedding.

Another project I am planning is table toppers (circles or rectangles, depending upon the table shape). These are going to be simple, and we are thinking of this nursery dot fabric from Joann’s. If I use a 50% coupon, I can buy a whole bolt for $2.50/yard. I am also going to make lots of scalloped pennants out of the same fabric, and I’m thinking about bows for the chair backs. I know those can use a lot of fabric, so I’m going to have to make a few samples to see if it’s feasible.


More Jolly Rhymes of Mother Goose – Lois Lenski, 1922

I’m not sure, but it seems to me that many children today cannot recite nursery rhymes. This is certainly true at the elementary school where I work, but since more than half of our students are Asian, their parents may not be familiar with the whole Mother Goose thing. Maybe the rhymes are thought to be too old-fashioned and children aren’t interested anymore, although I still think a young child would love them. Anyway, I hope I am wrong about this, because I think they are wonderful.

Here are a few from this group that were new to me.

The Five Toes
“Let us go to the woods,” says this pig:
“What to do there?” says that pig;
“To look for mother,” says this pig;
“What to do with her?” says that pig;
“To kiss her, to kiss her, says this pig.

A Dog and A Cat
A dog and a cat went out together,
To see some friends just out of the town;
Said the cat to the dog,
“What d’ye think of the weather?”

“I think, ma’am, the rain will come down —
But don’t be alarmed, for I’ve an umbrella
That will shelter us both,” said this amiable fellow.

An Apple Pie
An apple pie, when it looks nice,
Would make one long to have a slice;
And if the taste should prove so, too,
I fear one slice would hardly do.
So to prevent my asking twice,
Pray, mamma, cut a good large slice.


A Wonderful Gift From Ann

One of my most favorite things in the whole world is a bunch of vintage quilt pieces. I also like old tops, blocks and scraps, but cut out quilt pieces that were never put together are the best ever. So….I was pretty happy when I came home recently and found a surprise package from my friend, Ann at Nifty Needle. Ann is an accomplished tatter, quilter, seamstress, and also (as it turns out) a pretty good thrift shopper of rare vintage textiles.

These fan blades are from the 1930’s and this is just about half of them — many of these prints have one or two duplicates. At first I was going to use them in my Endless Chain quilt, but I already have lots of pieces cut, and these blades were just a tiny bit too small for the EC template. I have so many Grandmother’s Fan and Dresden Plate quilts in progress that I wanted to use these pieces in something different, so I’ve decided to use them in two different quilts — Autumn Leaves (which I will cut out of the larger end of the blade) and Postage Stamp (the small end). It’s important to me that I use every little bit of these cute pieces.

I haven’t worked on the Autumn Leaves quilt in a long time, so I am going to make that my next project to carry around in my purse. All the leaves have to be turned under with basting thread, so I just keep a little bag of them in my purse and baste a few whenever I can. You would be amazed at how much you can accomplish just by grabbing a spare minute here and there.

Thank you so much, Ann — I love them.


Ladies Art Quilt Block #38 – Rose Album

Although this block doesn’t have nearly as many pieces as some of the other indigo blocks, it was probably the most difficult to stitch. I hand pieced most of the block, but the small domed muslin pieces around the center section were hand pieced (on the sides) and appliqued (around the top). It just seemed like an easier way of dealing with the sharp curves.

I reversed the colors in the center circle because I felt there was too much white in the block. I actually think this pattern would look better in three colors so you could see the curve of the small muslin pieces. Sometimes drawings of quilt blocks can be deceptive since the lines between same-colored pieces will not show up in the finished piece..

I don’t think I am going to use this block in the indigo quilt — for the reason stated above and also because all the other blocks are pieced with a circular background piece, and I am thinking I want to keep that element consistent. There are some other similar blocks in the Ladies Art catalog that could be drafted with a circular background.


Meet Elvis

For my birthday my son, Elliott, gave me a certificate for a kitten from the Humane Society. Business was brisk last Saturday when we stopped by — tons of people adopting pets, which was nice to see. There was only one very small kitten left, and we managed to fill out the paperwork quickly in order to be first in line for him.

Elvis is 9 weeks old now — he’s very affectionate and fearless (and so far, not a biter). This is his routine: run and climb around the house like a maniac for 30 minutes and then crash….maniac…..crash…..repeat. Lucy the dog (14) is tolerating him just fine (with a little extra attention for her) — Dinah the Cat (20) doesn’t like him at all, but she is Elliott’s cat and rarely leaves his room these days.

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a kitten in the house, and Elvis is certainly keeping us all entertained.


More Jolly Rhymes of Mother Goose — Lois Lenski, 1922

Here is a the next group of these nursery rhyme illustrations which includes  a sweet rhyme that is a little more obscure.


I love you well, my little brother,
And you are fond of me;
Let us be kind to one another
As brothers ought to be.
You shall learn to play with me,
And learn to use my toys;
And then I think that we shall be
Two happy little boys.


I Actually Won a Contest!

Sam at Feeling Stitchy selected my lion quilt block as the winner in the yellow category of the Feeling Stitchy Rainbow of Stitches contest. I entered a quilt block in almost every rainbow color, and I think yellow was the category with the least number of entries. So….better odds for my lion, which is good since the entries were all pretty awesome.

There is a little interview with me and a link to the finished quilt top. I hope my poor lion gets a few comments — the only comment so far is from a person who said “What about stump work stitches?” and I’m not even sure what that’s about.


Alice in Wonderland Quilt Block #3

Maybe I should have pressed this a little better because it’s looks a little wrinkly. I do like Alice’s eyes on this one — the facial features are always the most challenging, especially the eyes. There is still no plan for how I’m going to set these blocks — whether I’m going to make alternate blocks or some kind of sashing. I can never seem to completely plan a quilt ahead of time — I guess I am always too excited to get started.


Jolly Rhymes of Mother Goose — Lois Lenski, 1922

As many of my friends know, I am a big fan of Lois Lenski. My son, Elliott, loved the Mr. Small books when he was little — something about the simple stories and simplistic (but adorable) illustrations is just so appealing. Of course, one of the reasons I like her drawings is because they can be easily adapted for embroidery. I love all of her books, but some of my favorites are the early publications from the 1920s.

This is a small hardcover book (5″ x 7″) with two or three nursery rhymes on one page and an illustration of the first rhyme on the facing page. Although the book begins with two colored illustrations, all of the rest of the illustrated pages have a color picture alternating with a black outline picture. I am uploading them in order over several posts because there are over 60 pictures and they all need to be cleaned up due to page discoloration.

Jolly Rhymes of Mother Goose
Platt & Munk, 1922
Lois Lenski, Illustrator


Strawberry Fields Doll Quilt

The Strawberry Fields Doll Quilt is finally done. I decided to use feather designs — a continuous feather in the pink zig-zag, and some made-up feather designs in the blocks, side setting triangles and corners. I just drew all the designs as I went without a template, so they are a little primitive.

In retrospect, I wish I had selected a darker fabric for the background so the feathers would show up a little better — see Ann Champion’s wonderful version here where she did just that. I ramped up the contrast a little on the photos, hoping you would be able to see the quilting pattern a bit better.

This top was constructed with antique fabrics — the binding is a reproduction, and the back is one of my vintage French fabrics which is not nearly as old as the fabrics in the top, but I really like the look of it.

Thank you Lori at Humble Quilts for sponsoring this quilt-a-long. I enjoyed working on this cute pattern and am looking forward to seeing all the other quilts.

Strawberry Fields Doll Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2010
machine pieced, hand quilted
19″ x 26″