Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grandmother Quilts, Part 2

Here are a few more of the quilts from my husband's family, as promised.

This Grandmother's Flower Garden is probably pretty modern because I think it has some cotton-poly blends, but we're not sure who made it. It is hand pieced and hand quilted. Ten years ago I would have called it an ugly quilt, but I guess my tastes have changed (matured?) because I think it is quite charming.

Around here this yellow quilt is usually called Star of Bethlehem. This is also hand pieced and hand quilted. I hope that if you click on the picture you can see some of the quilting detail. It's interesting because the quilting has many different motifs that appear without any apparent plan all over the plain blocks. It is very closely quilted. I keep picturing this set up on a frame and several people working on it.

The eight-pointed stars surrounded by blocks called Hands All Around is one of my favorites of all of them. Unfortunately it looks like this took a hit from some bleach in the center. It has a lot of wear, and many of the individual blocks are damaged. The sashing is a gray check material. It was hand-pieced and hand quilted with diagonal lines about an inch apart all the way across, even through the pieced blocks. Some of the backgrounds of the blocks were made with feed sack material because you can still see the faint pink from the labels. The red, pink, and blue fabric is the same throughout the quilt, so this wasn't a scrap quilt. I find it interesting that the blue material looks a lot like the reproduction indigo fabric I'm using to make my blue and white quilt. The back is definitely feed sack because it is still possible to see the whole label, although I can't quite make out what the label says.

These two block patterns are some of my favorites. I'm in the process of piecing some eight-pointed star blocks just like these! I tried the Hands All Around block a couple of years ago, but couldn't make one that would lie flat. Maybe I'll give it another try, now that I have some inspiration.

I hope you're not too bored looking at these. I find antique quilts fascinating, and these are doubly so because of the family connection. And there's more. I'll put up some more pictures later on.

Its been a busy week. School is out early next week and there are about a million things to do before the doors close for the summer, so I haven't had much time for posting and I am very behind in my blog reading. I hope to get all caught up when summer vacation starts next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Impromptu Quilt Show

I hope everyone had a good weekend. We did here. My daughter and her fiance came down to visit and to get a little more wedding prep shopping done. Between the shopping and all the meal prep for the family I didn't get much sewing time in. My husband and I are so used to just throwing stuff together to eat that it seems like a major production to produce a sit down meal for four or five, although I certainly spent many years doing that. It's fun, though, when everyone finally sits down around the table.

Yesterday we had a treat. My sister-in-law stopped by with some quilts that belong to my mother-in-law. My SIL has become the family keeper of the quilts since my in-laws moved into an apartment. Most of the quilts were made by my husband's grandmother but a few were made by his aunts. Unfortunately, since none of them were labeled we're not sure which is which. We really need to get my MIL to tell us what she remembers about the history of these quilts.

My husband suggested taking pictures, so we hung them up one by one on the clothesline and snapped away. I thought I'd share them over the next few days. I love having this record of family history.

This is one of the prettiest ones and it's in pretty good condition. The flowers are appliqued on using a blanket stitch. We think this is one my husband's grandmother made. Some of the flowers are appliqued with black thread, but others with red thread. I couldn't tell if the blocks and lattice strips are hand or machine sewn, but the quilting is all hand done. And no, your eyes aren't deceiving you, the flowers are a little wonky. Maybe they were made by different people? If you click on the picture you can see some of the quilting. The quilting designs are done all over, with no regard to the lattice or the blocks. Different quilting motifs show up in different areas, so this might have been a group quilting effort. My guess is that this was made sometime during the thirties, just based on the block design and the use of the solid colors. The back is a coarse cotton, almost like a feed sack material. It is very thin, almost as if no batting or a very thin batting was used.

I'm not sure what this pattern is called; I've seen a modern version of it using HST's, but this one is done with diamonds. Again, I couldn't tell if it was machine or hand pieced, although I suspect that it was all hand pieced. This, too, is hand quilted, but not as closely as the one above. This time the quilting is more organized--even in this small picture you can see the lines of quilting going through the squares diagonally. It has much less wear than the flower appliqued quilt and appears to be a bit more modern. I love the way the sewer solved the problem of making this rectangular by adding the checkerboard blocks in the corners. It is also thicker and softer than the first quilt.

I'll post some more pictures later in the week; Picassa is giving me fits tonight. If you have any information about these quilt designs, I'd love to hear about it.

I also think I am caught up on my quiltalong nine patches, although that won't last for long!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Almost There!

It's funny how I always forget how busy the end of the school year is. I'm knee-deep in quarterly assessments, end-of-the-year assessments, student portfolios, reading assessments, catching up on grading papers... Test much? And all with a group of kids who are done with school, even though the calendar says we have one more week and a day to go.

I'm pretty tired out and I've felt that way all week.

This weekend I'm hoping I can squeeze in a few hours of sewing, especially since I made such good progress on a couple of projects last weekend.

I hope everyone has a good holiday weekend. (Memorial Day here in the states.)

BTW--my in-laws were able to move back into their own apartment on Wednesday! That was a very good thing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thunder Storm and a Mini-retreat

This weekend started off with a big bang. Literally.

Friday evening we had a strange thunderstorm. Here where I live we had lots of intense lightning and a little bit of rain. One town over they had three to four inches of rain in about 20 minutes.

The retirement community where my dad and my in-laws live is in between the two towns. They seem to have gotten the worst of it. As they were eating dinner they heard a huge boom. They all thought that a tree had fallen on the building, which would have been bad enough. A few minutes later, though, when all the servers from the dining room were called out suddenly, they realized that something much more serious was going on.

One apartment in the complex had taken a direct hit from the lightning. That started a small fire which triggered the sprinkler system in one section of the building. The servers had been called out to help evacuate the people from the affected wing.

Thankfully no one was hurt, but part of that wing was damaged from the fire, the sprinklers, and the zap of lightning. That's the wing where my in-laws live. My dad lives on the other side which was not damaged at all.

Friday night no one knew the extent of the damage, so my husband took his parents to stay in a motel, just for one night, we thought. My MIL has severe arthritis and can't get up the stairs into our house, so we couldn't put them up over here.

In the meantime, I was packing my things to go to a mini-retreat with some quilting friends. I was a little hesitant to leave, but my husband and I both assumed that his parents would be back in their apartment sometime Saturday, since their apartment wasn't damaged. It was not to be. Now it looks like it will be a few more days until they can move back.

Some of the other nursing homes in the area have very kindly offered accommodations to those who are affected, so my in-laws are camping out in another retirement community waiting for the okay to move back. They are also getting the nursing services they need, which had been a big part of our concern for them.

Of course, I didn't know any of this before I left for my retreat or I probably wouldn't have gone, even though there was really nothing I could have done except worry. (I'm really good at worrying.)

Did I mention that the retreat was held IN a quilt shop? The building the shop is in has a large apartment on the second floor. We sewed in the shop classroom and spent the night in the apartment above. We had lots and lots of sewing time and shopping time and eating time, all without having to leave the building. I did get a lot of sewing done, in between phone calls checking on my in-laws' situation. And worrying.

I am caught up with my nine-patches for the quiltalong with Crazy Mom Quilts. I think I may be a few ahead, in fact. I also picked up a few brightly colored fat quarters, since my stash of brights is a little thin. I cut out and organized about half the fabric for my Blooming Ninepatch project and got quite a few of the blocks sewn.

I also found some background fabric for the eight pointed star project which I seem to have taken on. The apartment above the quilt shop was decorated with quilts hung on the walls, and on one I found the same star I've been working on, which had been done in the thirties. (No picture, I'm afraid, since I forgot to take my camera.) I really like the setting, so I may try it with some of the star blocks, when I get a chance.

Hopefully we'll all be back to normal some time this week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I'm Working on Wednesday and a Retreat

I'm still playing around with this star design.

I decided to try some brighter fabrics to see how it would look. So far, I'm liking it. What I'm not liking so much is the yellow as a background. The picture here makes everything look darker than it really is; we're having another dreary rainy day. But even allowing for that, the yellow just doesn't seem right. I would like to set the stars against something light, maybe a blue? I guess I'll keep auditioning.

Unfortunately the two diamond units of this star are the sum total of sewing I've accomplished this week. It's been another busy, crazy week with work and family stuff to take care of. By the time I finally get home I'm usually too tired to do anything but veg out in front of the television set.

This weekend I'm going to a mini-retreat with some friends at a LQS that offers overnight accommodations for small sewing groups. I am so looking forward to this! In fact, this retreat has been my light at the end of the tunnel for weeks. We sew together almost weekly, but this is the first time that we've arranged for a weekend retreat. The one thing I really want to work on is my Blooming Nine-patch. I am also taking along the star project (what better place to audition fabric than a quilt shop?) and the nine patches for the Crazy Mom Quilts quiltalong. I've cut out lots of fabric for my nine-patches so I can zip through those in no time. I've also kitted up a couple more of the indigo blocks, so there will be lots of hand sewing, too.

After this weekend we only have two more weeks plus a bit until school is out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I took a day off today to take my dad for a dental procedure which both of us were a little worried about. To our immense relief everything went okay, easy peasy, as the kids would say. So after dropping him off back at his apartment, I found myself with a couple of extra hours this afternoon. After running a few errands (without having to fight rush hour traffic) my car just sort of naturally headed over to the fabric store.

I found this beautiful piece of fabric printed with the distinctive William Morris honeysuckle design.

I was able to snag the rest of the fabric on the bolt (over 4 yards) because it was HALF price!

A while back I ordered a fat quarter selection of William Morris prints online (not the same line or manufacturer as my new piece, I think). I've just been waiting for the right pattern before I cut into those luscious fabrics. Having this large piece with the same kind of design gives me lots and lots of latitude in design possibilities. And did I mention it was HALF price!?!

These pictures don't really do justice to the subtle colors of the fabrics because today is such a dull, gray day.

This bundle of fabric is going back up into my sewing room until I can find a way to showcase these lovely prints.

On my way home I stopped in at the thrift store. Lately I've been admiring the quilts that Lynn at klein meisje quilts has been making with thrifted plaids. At the store, I ran into a sale on men's shirts, HALF price (!), and I was able to find five really nice ones in beautiful plaids for around ten dollars. There is a lot of material in each of these shirts, but I'm going to have to collect a few more in order to have a good variety of prints.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nine Patches, More Nine Patches, and Spring Cleaning My Car

I joined the One a Day quiltalong over at Crazy Mom Quilts. I've got 11 blocks done so far--the idea is to make one nine-patch a day and then, by sometime this summer, have enough blocks to make a quilt. I've banked some blocks because between work and everything else there just isn't always time to get to the sewing room. I like the idea though because it gives me a reason to get up there and then, who knows, I might find an extra few minutes to work on one of the eleven bazillion projects I've got underway.

I've decided to use my bright scraps. Lately I've been feeling a need to branch out from civil war prints and the more muted colors I'm usually attracted to. The arrival of spring, maybe? And if I run out of my brights, it will be a good excuse to shop in a different aisle in the LQS. Heh.

Saturday I took a class with a couple of friends and got a good start on a Blooming Nine Patch, from Traditions with a Twist. The sewing is simple, nine patches again (!), but the trick is in the fabric selection and the setting. So far I really love the way it's shaping up, and I'll show some pictures when I get a little further along.

This morning after dropping my father off at church I decided the moment had come for me to clean out the back seat of my car. Back in the days when I was hauling around little ones, the back seat stayed pretty clear, but since the little ones have grown up and moved on, my back seat tends to accumulate lots of stuff. Maybe it's a teacher thing? Most of my teaching friends seem to have the same problem.

Anyway, here's the haul: my middle weight jacket (40 degrees and above), a denim workshirt with the school logo, a three-ring binder and a large folder filled with Destination Imagination paperwork, a copy of the Reading/Language Arts standards for Indiana, an arts and crafts book for fall, a jar of peanut butter, a bag of pretzels (unopened), two hats, a scarf, two umbrellas, 53 cents in change, the long-lost recipe for Amish Friendship bread, Obama's Dreams from My Father, and a tote bag containing a sock I've been knitting for my son.

If I had ever run out of gas on some lonely desolate highway, I'd have had the wherewithal to feed and entertain myself for days!

I hope everyone has a great week!