Friday, February 26, 2010

A Daring Scrap Rescue

What about this! LeeAnn in Seattle wrote:
 I'm one of your blog followers--"Nifty Quilts."  I wanted you to know that your latest post sent me straight to my trash bin to salvage the goods and sew up some greeting cards.  Fun project!  I just sewed directly onto the card stock.
Thank you for an enjoyable evening!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Postcard (Scraps Too Small IV)

Yesterday, I realized there were a few people I needed to send cards to. I'd rather send a fabric postcard than a store-bought get well or thank you card.

So I surveyed my scrap pile. Then I remembered I left scraps on my cutting table after trimming some of my Anna Williams blocks.

Woa! I picked up a string of those scraps and put it on a vibrant solid (I think a strong colored background makes these scraps look extra good).

I Liked it! I made a few of these - it was hard to stop. This is not a bad way to use up those too-small scraps AND share the remnants of your current project......

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No scraps too small III

Let's continue on this topic we started a while ago.

At the retreat, we often opined there are no scraps too small to save. You can imagine the eyes rolling back into the head that we got from some skeptics.

Above is a postcard I made with my tiniest scraps, how about that. I also made the little wall hanging (left). I arranged them on a scrap of wool and stitched them down, leaving many of the ends free. The wool was about 3" wide. Don't the frayed ends make this even more interesting?

Again, more heads shaking in pity/disbelief.

And then, who arrives but the amazing Mac! A male (minority) California quilter, he was there to visit some friends. Out of his bag he pulled this amazing block. Get this: it's made from 3/4" strips. Ta-da, we scrap savers are in good company!

So save those small scraps. Use them now to make a postcard. And hold onto them for a while, because I just finished work on a book that will come out this summer that will make you very happy that you saved those small scraps......

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A $72,700 quilt story

A few years ago, my brother helped me find KU basketball players to autograph a quilt we made for charity. He's a baseball fan too. So when he sent me a link to a baseball signature quilt going up for auction, I knew it would be good.

These quilts were made by Clara Schmitt Rothmeier, an avid baseball fan. Her father played for a minor league team and all his kids played and loved the game. Clara collected 304 signatures for the first quilt shown, "My Favorite Baseball Stars". Clara loved the St Louis Cardinals (the next quilt) and played for a Springfield, Illinois girls team (the last quilt). She died last year.
These quilts were auctioned yesterday in Missouri. Read more about the auction results here. The winning bidders spent $72,700. $62,500 for the top quilt and $10,200 for the Cardinal greats.
Autographs, anyone? Start your sports autograph quilt now. Your survivors will thank you!

And stay tuned, I'm editing a new book that will feature our basketball autograph quilt and MORE. It is due out next summer and you'll be surprised who the author is......

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Happy Birthday to me

My mom gave me this quilt for my birthday. Actually, she gave me two quilts. I'll save the other to show you on a bright spring day.

This one is cheering up our dining room now. When the quilt historian saw it, she opined it was an unusual pattern. One she had not seen! I checked the Encyclopedia and am amazed to find that is true. The little squares in it measure about 1 1/4" square. I notice each block begins with a pink square in the corner. In fact, the 2 outer rows on each pieced portion are consistent colors (with just a little variety in greens) throughout. The fabrics in this quilt are great. Some are large scale and some are small. There are a few large dots and some wonderful novelty prints.

The block size is 9 1/4" and there are 56 blocks in the quilt. I like the triangle border in colors that echo the center rows of each block. Another yellow border finishes the quilt, which is bound neatly with light green binding.

The quilt measures 81" x 77". It is machine pieced and hand quilted with a lovely circle pattern. Diagonal lines quilt out the border.

Mom bought it at a church sale in Green Valley, Arizona a few years ago. I'm delighted to have it now and Dad is happy to have more space in his closet.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blogging is My Reward

Because I make myself finish up everything on my to do list before I get to blog, you might say Blogging is My Reward (to myself).

Blogging also helped me get through a Valentines' Day that was a little bleak. There are a few sad things going on (as happens from time to time).

Leave it to a fellow blogger to cheer me up. Diane sent word that she had posted a picture of an English quilt from her collection.  She wrote: "Since we share a passion for antique quilts, I thought you might be interested." Check out the Feb. 10 entry - I love her antique red English log cabin quilt and I'm sure you will too. Best of all I fell in love with the little heart on it that shows a date. I made a few copies of it (above) for my favorite Valentines. Both fabrics used are from thrift shop shirts. Ah! Thanks, Diane.

Another cheerful discovery is the book Thrift to Fantasy: Home Textile Crafts of the 1930s-1950s by Rosemary McLeod, a New Zealand journalist. Kathe Dougherty discovered it during her recent travels down under. McLeod a kindred spirit for us. She collects textiles of the everyday variety and has great respect for the people  who created them. Her first chapter explains: "I did not deliberately set out to become a collector of these things, but when I was a child I did dream of becoming an's taken me years to realize this is what I effectively became, through collecting, without realizing it. ...Digging for the past is what I've done in junk shops as a break from that work (she is a journalist), and the themes I've seen emerging from the objects I've discovered have been a way of understanding the past through physical evidence."

It's a wonderful book.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A top about to be disassembled

Still sifting through my goodies from the week away....Here's a top I purchased in a silent auction at the retreat. No one else liked it, probably because of the overwhelming orangy-red & green fabrics added in the 1970s.

Those fabrics just don't go with the wonderful funky circa 1900 blocks they surround. I bought it because of those blocks - they are going to be rescued from their orangy-red & green prison soon.

The blocks are so great! Some are perfect 4-patches but most have a few strips added so they are all the same size.

Check out these polka dots, the plaids and the neons. Hooray!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Second Home

I was about to hang this up so I photographed it to show you.

We had a quilt challenge for the retreat I was at last week. We were to make an 18" square quilt of our second home, Pt. Bonita.

Imagine how cheery it was to put this together here in gray, snowy Kansas. I knew I wanted little houses sitting on a hill. I wanted to show the paths we love to hike and the beautiful ocean that is right there.

I collected fabrics (there are old shirts and fabrics passed on to me by others in this quilt) all year but didn't stitch this until January. I left a lot of the edges raw and assembled it by quilting the fabrics in place.

The colors seemed a bit wild but guess what? They weren't far off the mark. I really did watch surfers too (but they were wearing wet suits)......they were at the far end of the beach in the beach in this photo. Our second home was up the hill behind me.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Anna admirer's quilts

A while ago, I blogged about quilts by Anna Williams and heard from another Anna quilt admirer, Ethel White. Inspired by Anna’s style, Ethel made a series of quilts from her husband's discarded shirts. She has a passion for working with scraps of fabric and over the years she has saved about 50 of his shirts.

Ethel wrote that she started with the log cabin or housetop quilt above first. With scraps left over from that, she started to work on this quilt (below).

Ethel has not named these quilts yet. For this quilt she used the collars, cuffs, sleeve plackets and yokes from the collar. Once she sewed a row of strips together, she trimmed them to size (whatever was larger - example 3.5" or 5" strips). With whatever was left over, she would start another row. Her husband said this one was his favorite because it has a nostalgic look. (Ethel said she likes them all.)

Ethel said she worked with these shirts, “as if this was all the fabric I had and I tried to put myself back in the olden days to see how I would utilize what I had to make utilitarian quilt.”

“All of the quilts that I have made from the shirts except the shoofly and the nine patch I would start from the center and work my way out until I got the length and width I wanted,” Ethel wrote.

Here is the quilt she made with a traditional shoo fly pattern:

About her own style, Ethel wrote: “I'm a string quilter, our pattern is to take a square of any size and start on the diagonal of the block with a long string and sew another on top of that one, we call it sew and flip.”

Both Ethel and I have searched for the 1995 AQS book about Anna Williams. We’d love to see it republished someday: Anna Williams: Her Quilts and Their Influence. 

Ethel sent pictures of more of her quilts last week. Thanks, Ethel, for sharing with all of us. I'll post more soon. Thanks also to Ethel's photographer, Nadja.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My yellow 9-patch blocks

The sewing project I worked on at the retreat was one I have wanted to tackle for a long time.

I bought some old quilt blocks at an antique shop a while back. They were not fancy but the colors appealed to me. I wanted a quilt from those yellows, blues and pinks. Trouble was, the blocks were not the same size. I puzzled for quite a while over how to set them together.

As I saw pictures of more quilts made by Anna Williams, I decided her technique would work for these blocks. I could treat the blocks as the center, then add sashing, then add another border of scrappy piecing. I have been collecting fabrics to use in this quilt for a while (from my stash, garage sales, thrift shops).

I took them to the retreat and started to work. I didn't measure anything, I just cut strips to border the blocks. I pieced together smaller scraps and trimmed them into strips when they were long enough to become the next border.

The blocks went together more quickly than I'd hoped. I finished 9 of them so far, I plan to finish 12 total. I'll add sashing as I stitch them together, then figure out the border.

Here is my workspace at the retreat. I'm afraid it frightened a few of the more orderly stitchers. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Catching up after a week in the sun

I spent the last week at a quilt retreat in California, right by the San Francisco bay. Internet access there was so slow that I just shelved the blog and sewed. We hiked and ate very good food too, laughed a lot and enjoyed the company of about 70 other quilters.

I'll share some stitched things I liked in the next few blogs.

This was the view out the window from my workspace. It is the sign above the gate to the Y camp's lovely garden. A year ago raised beds were being constructed there - now it is full of all sorts of good veggies.

This sun is painted at one garden entrance.

Ice plant is common on the hills where we hike. Sunlight changes how it looks at different times of the day. It can look like the plant is glowing!

It is a very welcome break from a Kansas winter.