WIP Wednesday — Grandmother’s Fan Quilt Top, 1930s Prints on Black

At the beginning of 2016 I made a resolution — No New Quilts!

I’m sure many of you will not be surprised to hear that things did not work out quite as I’d planned, just like most, if not all, of my previous new year’s resolutions. However, even though I am currently working on two new quilts (basket medallion and denim coverlet), I finally delved into the closet of WIPs, and I’m determined to tackle those old projects, one little bin at a time.

The first project I selected contained 20 Grandmother’s Fan blocks made with 1930s scraps from my stash — they’re a little different because my usual scrappiness is more controlled with the mostly two-color blocks. To make 36 more blocks, most of my time was spent searching through my scraps looking for just the right prints. Sometimes I didn’t have enough scraps to make 4 matching blades, so I substituted — other times the scraps weren’t large enough, so I pieced the pieces. It’s all part of the process when you become addicted to working with vintage fabric.

I haven’t done a black background in a ages — not since the feedsack crazy quilt I gave my daughter when she went to college — but I like it with these pastels. I used one of my son’s old sheets (from high school, because I never throw fabric away), which has been washed so many times that it’s more of a very dark gray.

The quilt top is 52″ x 67″, and I want to use pastel perle cotton to quilt it. What do you think . . . one color (which one?) or multiple colors? UPDATE: After reading the comments from Dottie, Virginia and Joyce, I took their advice and auditioned a few different thread colors. I realized right away that I didn’t like the colored stitching on black, which seemed busy and distracting. I’m still planning to use the perle cotton, but with black on the black and pastels on the fans. I want to keep the quilting pattern simple — maybe a variation on Baptist fan.




McCall’s Monday — Embroidered Bunny Quilt

Okay . . . it’s actually Tuesday and I’m late, but these transfers were in bad shape and had to be redrawn in Photoshop, which takes way longer than the usual clean up. They’re pretty cute, though, and I hope you enjoy them.

I made a quilt using these designs for a co-worker before I had a blog, so no pictures. Why didn’t I take pictures back then?!? I did the embroidery in pink, but used a different setting than indicated in the pattern. You’ll have to take my word for it that it turned out really cute.

I don’t have any templates for this pattern, or a pattern envelope — just the transfers and a scaled drawing. The construction is not too difficult, so I think you’ll be able to figure it out, or you could change it up like I did. Click images to enlarge.

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Free Pattern Friday — Antique Embroidery/Quilting Design

Sometimes I come across these very old embroidery designs that I know would also work for hand quilting, but seem like they could be adapted for continuous line machine quilting as well. Disclaimer:  I have never used a continuous line quilting pattern, so please do not hesitate to tell me this is a dumb idea. Actually, the patterns for braiding are even better for quilting (I will post some of those later), but today’s patterns are simple embroidery designs from the Chicago Daily Tribune, 1914.




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McCall’s Monday — 1920s Toddler Dress Pattern

This is my favorite style of dress for little girls — no bodice, just free and loose, gathered at the shoulders or yoke. They’re comfortable for the little wearer, easy to make and fit, and can be worn with pants when they become too short. Another plus is that when sewn with today’s fabrics, they can look very modern.

These 1920s McCall’s patterns with their adorable illustrations show up pretty regularly on Ebay and Etsy, but they are crazy expensive. Sometimes the sellers include a photo of the pattern back, which can be helpful when trying to draft your own pattern. As you can see in the photo, there are usually only a few pattern pieces which are illustrated, although the scale never looks quite right to me. Drafting the pattern probably requires a child’s dress form or, even better, a real little girl. I’m going to try making this one, and if it turns out okay, I’ll write a tutorial.

These little dresses often have tiny embroidered details, which is the best part.





My New Singer 15-91

My sister and I stopped by our favorite Goodwill last week, and I spotted a vintage Singer machine in a cabinet that I recognized as a 15-91 because of the distinctive potted motor on the back. It was a little dusty, but otherwise looked super clean. There were lots of accessories and bobbins in the drawers, and the price tag read $30 — I freaked out!  When I got home I removed all the hardware attaching it to the cabinet, because I don’t have room for another piece of furniture in my sewing room, and Gordon used the wood from the cabinet to make a base.

Although it looked good and was running nicely, I’ve read enough to know it needed to be completely re-wired. Gordon ordered the items we needed (round terminals, new motor brushes, grease wick material and wires), and then we set about taking the machine apart. I was a little nervous (especially when we broke open the motor), but fortunately we were following this amazingly detailed, 20-step online tutorial that walks you through every step with gobs of photos.

After the wiring and greasing was done, I took apart the bobbin and tension assemblies (following directions in the 15-91 manual), and oiled the whole machine. The only thing left to do is polish the two chrome pieces. It sews like a dream and, a fun factoid —  it was made in 1947, the year I was born.

I still have 3 sewing machines (Bernina 1000 Special, Bernina 540-2 Favorit, and the Singer 15-91). Last year I gave my Bernina 830 Record to a quilter I met online whose 830 had just died, and she could not afford to buy another one. I found that even though the 830 was a wonderful machine, I was so used to my 1000 (which I’ve been sewing on for 25 years), that I wasn’t really using the 830, and I didn’t need both of them since they are very similar. Plus, it felt great to be able to help out another quilter.



And, because it’s still Free Pattern Friday, here is a cute cottage which was part of a small lot of British transfers purchased on Ebay. The pattern was too rough to clean up in Photoshop, so I just ended up tracing it. Click the image to enlarge.



Liberated Basket Medallion Quilt-a-Long — Log Cabin Border

I freaked out when I read the theme for this border. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to make log cabin blocks when the vintage scraps I selected for this project are all small squares and triangles, with only a few larger pieces, and No Strips!

Then I remembered the good old pineapple block with its short strips — my pieces were just long enough that I could pull off a 6″ block. I gave them green centers and plain muslin lights to coordinate with the rest of the quilt. With this border, the top is 34″ square.

I don’t think it’s very Gwennie-looking, but stitching a wonky pineapple block is beyond my capabilities. Since I don’t paper piece, these blocks were sewn without a foundation, and most don’t match up perfectly. Also, I mixed in a few newer stripes and plaids. I guess that’s as liberated as I’m going to get.

Now I’m excited to see all the other wonderful borders on Lori’s blog (Humble Quilts).




Tops From the Trunk — Antique Nine-Patch Variation

This is one of two tops that I recently purchased from a seller who bought them at an estate sale (the other top was featured in an earlier post). She thought they were made by the same person, and I suspect that’s true. The hand piecing is similar, and several prints are repeated in both quilts. Like me, this scrappy quilt maker made up some rules for her design — 9 patches containing 4 darker and 4 lighter squares with a double pink center. Of course, the eye-catching detail in this top is the colorful cheddar cornerstone in the unusually wide double-pink sashing. The top is 73″ x 89″, and there are two narrow double-pink and cheddar borders on the sides of the quilt, but no borders on the top and bottom. I like to think this was intentional, and not because the quilter ran out of fabric. Either way, I intend to keep it like this.

There is a huge variety of brown, madder, double-pink and shirting prints in the nine-patches, and the fabrics appear to be stable. There are 3 small nine-patch squares with stains, which I plan to replace, but it won’t be noticeable because this is a true scrap quilt, with many fabric substitutions.





McCall’s Monday — Kitchen Revue, Six Designs for Dish Towels

Turn dish drying into a rollicking show with glassware, dishes, pots and pans staging a gay outline-stitch revue on your dish towels. Here are saucy dancing girls (plates and teacups), an urbane vaudevillian with high hat and cane (the pot), a boy and girl dance team (glasses), the scatter-brained comic pair (skillets), and the sure-fire fat comedian (tea kettle). Work trims mainly in outline stitch in bright colors. Finish towel edges in fancy buttonhole stitch in a contrasting color.

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Free Pattern Friday — More Mother Goose in Filet Crochet

From the Winnipeg Tribune, 1923

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall can be adapted to a variety of uses in making gifts for the little ones. This motif can be developed in either filet crochet or cross stitch.


Little Bo Peep

The little Mother Goose shepherdess, whose picture in filet crochet appears here, will be very much at home in nursery or play room, and will make herself useful on bedspread, curtains or cushion.


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McCall’s Monday — Wrap-Around Apron with Rick-Rack Trim

These politically incorrect “squaw dresses” were a fad in the 50s, and my mother made elaborate versions for me and two of my sisters. This involved sewing yards of rick-rack on blouses and 3-tired skirts made with vibrantly colored wrinkly cottons marketed, of course, as “squaw cloth.” When I was growing up in Oklahoma, and living in a neighborhood where all the streets were named after Indian tribes, I didn’t realize that this was an offensive term. I still like the style, though.