Category Archives: antique quilts

Getting to know you…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I hope that most of you know our guild has decided to offer our fall seminars in alternate years, instead of annually as had been the tradition for 40+ years. Costs of sponsoring a national teacher continue to climb, and it seems interest from our members continues to decline. To give us some breathing space to raise some funds to offset cost increases and to work with our membership to reformat seminar to better fit current wants and schedules, we’ve decided to hold seminar in the same years as our quilt show. We’ll use the show as a publicity opportunity to both our own members and non-member visitors to the show.

That all said, I want to start making you aware of all that our next national teacher, Nancy Mahoney, is doing in the quilting world. Nancy has two quilts in the March/April 2015 issue of Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine. Ruby Sunrise on page 66 is a challenging quilt for those who love a complex piecing project. Electric Blue (pg 74) is more intermediate. Still lots of wonderful piecing in a classic blue and white color palette. Nancy is not just known for her piecing–applique is often featured as well in her designs. She doesn’t just design for the more advanced quilter either. Many of her books feature designs easily achievable by the newbie quilter.

Here are a few links to visit to starting getting to know Nancy.

Nancy’s own website

Nancy’s books at amazon

 

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Signing your work

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Do you label or sign your quilts when you finish them? I generally do except for table runners and toppers. I’m finding more and more when I change the “quilts” for the seasons or holidays that I like to look on the back to check when I made the piece. I’m often surprised-sometimes by how old the piece is and sometimes the reverse, by how recently I made it. I’m just checking for dates.

I do hope that all of my pieces will find good homes after I’m gone. What would those owners want to know when enjoying my quilted art works? Maybe I should be including more information. Isn’t it fun when examining an antique quilt to find the quilters name and date somewhere-even more fun if it tells where and why it was made? We should be adding those little surprises to our own quilts for their future owners down the road. I recently saw a tip for those of us with somewhat fancier machines which have the capability of stitching the alphabet–not necessarily an embroidery machine. Many higher end sewing machines can be programmed to stitch out words and phrases. The hint I read suggested stitching at least your name and date onto the binding near the fold before applying the binding to the quilt. She suggested you could then position the binding so that information ends up on the back sometimes, other times on the front. She also suggested stitching messages to the recipients-sometimes with a thread that is nearly, but not quite, invisible against the binding color and other times with a highly contrasting thread so the message stands out. That reminds me of a quilt I made for my softball playing niece when she went off to college. Each square’s quilting was a phrase I would hear when watching her games and practices. “Batter, batter, batter!” “Good eye!” “Go, Kara!” and many other of those “sporty” encouragements. Jjust one square had the message-“call your Auntie!” Kara is now 27, working in Washington DC and still has that quilt on her bed.

Generally when I sign my quilts I use a permanent pen and just write my name and date completed somewhere on the back along a line of quilting. I think I’m going to try this binding idea out on my next one. Here’s a link to some other ideas for labelling quilts. Click here.

How do you label your quilts?

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Eye on Elegance

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I come from a family of folks who spend their days immersed in math and science. Except for one. I have a niece who loves history, in all of its forms. She is currently living in the Washington D.C. area, discovered this exhibit at the DAR museum, and sent me the link.

Eye on Elegance is an exhibit of quilts from the Maryland and Virginia area. This “show” online is wonderful for those of us who will not be in Washington soon. There are video clips from the curator, and many photos of the quilts which you can explore. You are able to zoom in and look at the details of the quilts. If you are interested in the history of our art form, I think you’ll find this very interesting. So much to learn about the beginnings of quilting here in the US, and lovely things from an artistic standpoint as well. I am always amazed at what quilters with little mathematical education, and the most basic of tools were able to come up with geometrically. The star blocks are challenging for us now with all sorts of tools, including computers, to help us draft the blocks. I can’t imagine how they were able to plan the piecing the “old way”.

Enjoy. You’ll want a cup of tea, and some time to linger over this exhibit. Click here.

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Filed under antique quilts, applique, English paper piecing, eye candy, quilt history, what is art?

back again

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

The demo night at guild last month was a success as always. My only wish is that there would be a way for those who are demonstrating could visit the other tables and see what other fun things are being shared. As Roxie announced, I will be sharing more Christmas ideas here on the blog to continue with the Christmas in July theme. Can you believe that on some of the radio stations they are already doing a countdown of the shopping days left?!! No wonder the holiday has become so commercialized.  This first link I’m sharing is one of my go-to’s for free Christmas patterns of all kinds. There are ideas for quilting, sewing, crocheting, knitting, cooking…  If you like the idea, you can sign up to get e-mail notifications from them, but that is not a requirement at all. Try them out here.

Today I’m going to be working on a basket from the ladies at Aunties Two Patterns. Previously I  made a beach tote of theirs, and a similar smaller scale purse. Both were fun to make, and garnered compliments when I’ve used them. The basket will be for a series of Christmas demos at a local shop, but it will come home to my house when the demos are finished. I can confidently recommend the patterns from Aunties Two. I find them to be well written, with plenty of photos accompanying the directions. Not all pattern companies do a good job with the technical writing. Don’t you hate it when there are omissions or errors in the directions that you have to sort out?

(Pausing here for real life … several days go by …. humming Jeopardy theme to self)

Now here is a goldmine of patterns from Ruby McKim. Ruby was designing stitchery and pieced quilt patterns actively in the 20’s and 30’s. Those of you who are fans of redwork quilts are probably familiar with some of her designs, even if you did not know the designer’s name. Many of the antique redwork or penny square quilts still around are stitched from Ruby’s designs. I found this link at a member’s (Karen G.) Facebook page. In addition to all the patterns there is a section at the end of the “book” of patterns that were for sale with their prices. It’s fun to see what those cost back in the day. Amazing actually. click here

Spent the day at Fantasy Island with the kids yesterday. Back to the sewing machine today. Continuing on the basket I mentioned earlier in the post. The weaving will begin today!

TTFN!

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a milestone

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

This post is a milestone-my 250th post at this blog. I talk a lot I guess. If you read all the way to then end, I’ll tell you how to enter to win a prize from me to celebrate this “achievement”.

One thing you might know if you’ve read these posts for a while is what some of my favorite blocks are. Take a minute, can you name of few of my faves? … Drunkard’s paths should be in the list. Here’s a link (click here)  to a modern looking drunkard’s path. I think this one would be great for a fat quarter collection of some of those gorgeous, somewhat solid, fabrics that are now appearing in the shops. How about Grunge from Basic Grey? Love it!

Another favorite of mine … hexagon quilts, not grandmother’s flower gardens–bigger hexagons! I tried the English paper piecing needed for the old-fashioned grandmother’s flower garden and did enough to cover the yoke of a denim shirt. That was enough of that for me! I think I like quicker results. The new trend of cutting the hexagons in half making trapezoids, which makes construction of the rows so simple, is used in so many of the latest hexagon patterns. It does make construction of the hexagon look so much faster, and manageable for a beginning quilter. I don’t like how it distorts the proportions of the hexagons a bit though; on some fabric designs it also cuts right smack into the design which gets spoiled when a seam runs through it. If you want to leave the hexagons whole, the tops can still be pieced on the machine but it requires a Y seam. I don’t mind the Y seams myself, particularly on large hexagons. It’s a trade-off I guess. No seams vs. speed. Both methods are good to have in your quilter’s tool box so you have the option of either one depending on the project you’re making. Here’s a link to a collection of free hexagon quilt patterns. Click here.

If you’d like a chance to win a prize celebrating my 250th post, leave a comment to me answering one of these questions: What is your favorite quilt block or quilt style?  OR Who is your favorite fabric designer and why? On June 10 I’ll choose a winner at random from the comments received.

Thanks for reading my ramblings; I hope you’ll stick around for more!

 

 

 

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Maybe one of these…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

In my last post I wrote about a quilt I’d never make. In this one I’ll share some I might make. If you are a reader of the Fons and Porter magazine Love of Quilting you are familiar with the Pilgrim/Roy collection of quilts. There is an article each month about a quilt or two from that collection. If you’ll be in Boston this summer, you might want to make a stop at the exhibition described in the post at the link I’m including. It might even be worth a trip to Boston specifically to see these. click here

If you know of places that quilters would enjoy visiting while vacationing this summer, please share! A road trip is always fun.

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Sneak preview and true confession

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

You all know that Bonnie Hunter is coming to our seminar this fall. (You do know that, don’t you?) She has a brand new book about to be released and is showing sneak previews of the quilts in it over at her blog. If you leave a comment over there,  you have a chance to win a signed copy from Bonnie. click here

Now for a true confession. A few posts back I put out a challenge to join in Bonnie’s challenge quilt for this year, called Lozenges. I had said I had a plan to use up my stash of 2 1/2″ strips. Well that was before I thought it all the way through to needing to cut a whole bunch of 1 1/2″ squares to use as the flippy corners. I fess up that the cutting of all those triangles is not a task I want to take on right now. So…I’m going to use a different one of Bonnie’s patterns for my scrap quilt. I have made her Scrappy Bargello before (that’s the one my pup is sleeping on in the photo), but I’m going to see about a “string” quilt to dig into my stash of novelty scraps from my days of making kids’ Eye Spy quilts. I’ll report back soon on the pattern I settle on. Perhaps you would want to join me on this side trip from Lozenges. We’d still have quilts to share with Bonnie in the fall.

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a UFO completion

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

PHDYesterday I finished a Phd from 1999. How do I know that date? The issue of Miniature Quilts magazine (Do you remember that one? It was a favorite magazine of mine!) where I found the directions was folded up with the nearly complete project. All it needed was a binding. Fortunately I had not trimmed the backing off yet, so I was able to do a “faux” binding, wrapping the backing up over the edge to the front. Quick finish. I wonder why I hadn’t finished it back then when there was so little needed.

The project looks like a drunkards path project, with killer small curves but…it’s not. Squares were fussy cut from two fabrics: a black background with white polka dots, and a white background with black polka dots. The polka dots were about 1 inch in diameter originally, so the curvy portions on the “drunkard’s path” blocks are about 3/4″. Makes it look like I really worked hard at the curve piecing, but I had none to do. Just sewed my fussy cut blocks into rows and bam!, there it is.

Don’t you love projects that look like you really fussed, when you know how easy it actually was? The trouble is, too many of us give away the secret in a self-effacing way. “it was so easy, all I did was …” We should just keep quiet and let our admirers think we are genius quilt-makers.

Do you have a pattern secret you can share with the rest of us who are in the club? What pattern have you made that makes you look like a genius, even though you know it was a cinch?

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a little of this, a little of that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Were you able to spend any time at your machine during our recent arctic spell? I’m working on some Dresden plates for a class, and trying to come up with a fabric adaptation of a knitted shawl pattern for myself. It’s cold in my favorite reading spot and I’m trying to find the perfect shoulder wrap. If it works, I’ll be sharing it in a demo at the shop.  I love that classic Dresden plate pattern, but not so much in the classic way–with 30’s reproductions and lace. I’ve been exploring to find other ways to use the plate or fans and have found some that are “out of the box”. I’ve made a wreath with the blades in the past, but these are beyond that. The internet is such a great source for inspiration. I started with a google image search and then just started following links. Amazing how much time goes by before you even know it. Here are two of my favorites so far. click here, or here.

I get inspired to make soup when it’s cold and blustery like it has been. Nothing quite so comforting. Here’s a good-looking recipe that I think I’m going to try soon. I’ll have to make a good list for the grocery store first. The light clam chowder version that is in the sidebar looks worth a try too. Click here for the recipe.

Heading out for a walk now with my canine companion. It will seem like a heat wave!

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Simplify again.

Back again, it’s ME.

Yesterday since the selection of TV shows was so dismal, I started to go back through some of the things I’ve recorded on the DVR. I was way behind on the Sewing with Nancy shows and started there. I watched two episodes of a series where Nancy super-sized some of Grandma’s favorite one patch quilts. She did the tumbler block (thimble shaped) in one episode and Grandmother’s Flower Garden in the second. Those hexagon pieces are the latest pre-cut from Moda, joining the jelly rolls, charm packs, etc.  I’ll be interested to see how the designers show new quilters how to work with them. Usually the dreaded “Y-seam” puts people off. In Nancy’s technique she actually used half-hexies, (trapezoids to me the former math teacher), to completely avoid the Y-seam issue. You can watch those shows at her website I believe, since most of her past shows are archived there. Yep, I found it for you. Click here to watch Grandmother’s One Patch Quilts.

BTW, do you remember that at each of our guild quilt shows there is an award given specifically for grandmother’s flower garden quilts? Maybe you’d like to go for it; check out Nancy’s idea.

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