Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quilt camp in a hotel

I highly recommend sewing in hotel rooms. I live with a frequent traveler. Occasionally, I go along on the travels. Hotel rooms provide the perfect backdrop for personal quilt camps.

You get the space all to yourself. After the maid makes up the bed, it's a great place to spread out a quilt project. There is always a nice iron and ironing board. Someone else vacuums up the threads,

This afternoon's project: stitching together 1930s blocks. I'm stitching blocks signed with names like Osa Nolder and Effie Jones and Della Barr....I'm musing about why these blocks never got stitched together. Did something go wrong? Did Fannie throw up her hands in disgust when Opal's block turned out a little wobbly? Did someone offend someone else, or run off with her husband? It's not going together perfectly but it's not THAT bad.

And what would they think of this? I'm sewing this together in a hotel room 80 years later, listening to free 1970s music on the internet courtesy of about time warp....

Meanwhile, I'm occasionally checking email, reading Aunt Betty's story about my dear Grandpa dressing up like a chinaman (so politically INcorrect now but not in the late 1930s I bet) for the Layman School (Beason, Illinois) winter play.
And tomorrow: another project.....................

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stop by the Spencer in Lawrence

We got to the Spencer Art Museum the other day to see their summer show Quilting Time & Space, on display until August 29 in the museum's Central Court.

I was eager to see Michi Miike's Playing with Cloth quilt. I love it so much. The colors are somber but there is such wonderful improvising. I noticed most blocks have a large nearly square piece but then they just go all over shape-wise from there. Michi signed her quilt with embroidered stitches.

A nice surprise was a vintage crazy quilt by Lillian Hutter, dated 1880-1910, called Crazy Quilt with Hot Air Balloon. We especially liked the rounded tabs extending from the sides of the quilt.

 It is dated circa 1880-1910.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Call for Quilts

Every so often I get an email from Kansas City Star Quilts. They are putting together another one of their My Star series books. They send out a notice of the quilt blocks they are seeking examples of. If your quilt is selected to be in the book:
1. It's photographed and published.
2. You get a free book.

I always check the blocks and see if I have any quilts that might qualify. Usually, not.

Today, I have two that might (might!) be considered. OK, my britches quilt is NOT EXACTLY like the block they show. But it was a good reason to pull it out and photograph it to show you here.

I found this quilt top in Wichita several years ago. I am a sucker for quilts that are mostly plaids. I loved the mostly soft colors and the different ways this block is put together. The blocks measure 13" square and the quilt measures 77" x 85". It is hand pieced and Lori Kukuk machine quilted it in a spectacular way. The centers are circles, which will likely disqualify this quilt for the Star book. But isn't it a honey! The Encyclopedia lists these names for this block: Mississippi Daisy, Britches Quilt, The Breeches Quilt (Workbasket 1939), Dutchman's Puzzle and Dutchman's Breeches (Progressive Farmer 1949). Apparently the Star published it too.

I have more blocks that might fit the bill. Look at the rain drop block at the bottom. It looks like this, doesn't it? The Encyclopedia calls this one Endless Chain, True Lover's Knot, Martha and more. A friend gave me 30 blocks of this design last week. All have a name embroidered on them and one stitcher (Roda Hayden) kindly added the year, 1932. I think I'll stitch them together next week and see if they make the cut! Wish me luck.

And if you have a quilt with one of these blocks, here's how to contact the Star.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scrappiest baskets

I found this quilt yesterday in Abilene, Kansas and I couldn’t leave it behind because:

It draws on the wildest scrap bag ever.
It definitely tries to follow a pattern but takes many liberties
I like the bold choices the quilter made.
The pattern is May Basket, a 1947 Kansas City Star pattern, according to the Encyclopedia. Those basket blocks measure 9” square. The total quilt measures 68” x 80”. It is hand pieced and tied. The orange plaid that is used for the sashing is also used in 2 side borders. The quilt is bound with wide pieces of fabric turned over from the backing. There is no batting. Some of the hand-stitched seams have pulled loose and I'll be repairing those.

The fabrics! I found one little scrap that was definitely from the early 1900s, lots of pieces from every decade from 1930 through the 60s. There is polyester and there is cotton, there are blends.

Monday, June 21, 2010

When you travel alone (on the longest day of the year)

When you travel alone, you get to stop and take a picture whenever you like. For instance -
When you admire the receding clouds of a quick summer storm (in Lawrence, Kansas)....

When you see a billboard that looks like it has been defaced by the Chick-Fil-A cows (along I-70 near Paxico):

When you notice a new pixelated Ike in Abilene:

At any Historical Marker you please!

I shopped too, more on that soon.....

A Strangely Unsigned Friendship Block Quilt

My friend Carol brought this quilt to sewing the other day. She got it at a garage sale here in Lawrence MANY years ago.

We fell in love with the fabrics. They are pure 1920s. But there is only one signed block on the quilt.

We are considering what to do with it - perhaps having people make a donation to sign it, with proceeds to go to a favorite local charity. Then it can go to a lucky raffle winner....we'll see.....

The block was called Cracker by Woman's World in 1931, according to the Encyclopedia. The blocks measure 4 1/2" and the total quilt measures 66" x 83". It is hand pieced and tied. It's in great shape and is very soft and cuddly. Carol thought someone should start using it.

Check out the backing fabric!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mother's Oddity

Here's a classic one-piece pattern quilt.
The encyclopedia has a gazillion names for it. Some of my favorites: Double Bit Axe, Jigsaw and Mother's Oddity. I'd been calling it Apple Core. The earliest published example for this block is ca. 1875.

It was purchased by my mom at a church garage sale near Tucson, Arizona. I appreciate the great collection of '40s and '50s fabrics used. The colors are so bold and clear. It MIGHT be a charm quilt - I have it up in my dining room and have yet to find a repeat fabric patch.

It measures 72" x 84" and is hand pieced and hand quilted. The skilled quiltmaker finished it with scalloped binding brought forward from the back.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sonie Comes to Town

My friend Sonie Ruffin was our guild speaker this week. She taught a workshop for 20 lucky guild members.

We each got a packet with several piece of fabric dyed by a group of children living at Saint Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood in Kajjansi, Uganda. A friend of Sonie's often brings back items when she visits the orphanage. Sonie bought the fabric for us to use.

She also provided templates for 2 improvised style blocks - one made of triangles, one of rectangles.

Sonie showed the group how she made the blocks but she stressed there are no rules. That's my kind of workshop!

The rectangles blocks look like this:

Sonie made a quilt with her triangles blocks (to be finished).....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kansas road trip #1

Several quilt exhibits have just gone up in our area. It's time to make a Kansas road trip.

We visited the Beach Museum of Art at Kansas State University in Manhattan today to see Pieces of Time, an exhibition that features a selection of  American quilts (1840-1950). They are from the Historic Costume & Textile Museum in the College of Human Ecology (Home Ec in my era).

The flag quilt shown here is spectacular. You can see about 15 other swell quilts. There's a little something for everyone. A highlight for me was an 1885 Crazy Quilt with incredible stitchery.

Other fun things to do while you're in Manhattan:
It's a great road trip! This exhibit is up through September 12.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Springtime Obsession

You know I hold on to little scraps. One week at sewing I didn't have a handwork project with me. But I did have a bag of scraps, needle and thread. I picked up the scraps and started piecing them together by hand.

I found I really enjoyed working that way. I pulled out scraps that seemed to go with the springtime colors outside and just kept adding them on. When I got to a  point where I had to add a long strip, sometimes I would just stitch that on the machine. I blogged about it when I just started in March.

Imagine what someone in the future might say if they examine this quilt. You know how we examine stitches to see if an old quilt has been hand or machine pieced. With this one, they could check one spot and confidently say "hand". But if they examined another seam they could just as confidently say "machine."

I'd better make a good label for this one!

A little more about it. At this point it measures ~24" x 46". I'm thinking of leaving the edges rather freeform instead of squaring them up. I'm still deciding.

This detail shot shows how small the pieces are. This small piece measures ~5" x 7".

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gardens are lovely distractions

This is the best time of year to garden here. Our vegetable garden is growing wildly. And my flower beds are being filled in with new plants, some on sale as the summer weather heats up.

Here's a look at our garden a month ago. We had just planted most of our seeds. The biggest plants then were herbs that came up on their own: sage and chives. The Mexican oregano went wild - I had to transplant it elsewhere.

Look at it now! We're eating lettuce, radishes and swiss chard. We're looking forward to lots of tomatoes, basil for pesto, peppers and zucchini. I need to get the tomato cages out before they get out of control.

The flowers have been lovely this year too. I just planted more lillies and a rosebush. Look at how the front flower garden is's taking a little time away from quilting but it's inspiring in its own way. Shown here are coneflowers, larkspur, red yarrow and a few asiatic lillies in the back. I can't wait for the bee balm to bloom.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Great Way to use Tiny Scraps

I was high bidder on this great little Chinese Coins quilt in our guild mini-quilt auction. The proceeds went to GaDuGi, a safecenter for women, children and men affected by sexual violence. It was made by Nancy Ann Huyett Brown. It definitely qualifies as a great way to use scraps too small to save.

Nancy said she was using fat quarters to cut 3 strips 18 1/2" x 5 1/2". She used the leftovers to make this little quilt. It sounds fun. She didn't have a pattern, just the scraps. She stitched it in a motel room with a friend. She said they both had their featherweights along and were sewing on a table smaller than a card table.

Nancy's pieced strips are 1" wide. Depths of each piece vary - some are 1/4" up to 5/8". The sashing measures 1/2" wide. The total quilt measures 10" x 9 1/2". It hangs in my office and I like seeing it every day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cass County Quilts

Cass County, Missouri folks will be documenting quilts on Saturday, June 19. They're looking for those made before 1960 with some connection to that county.

If you've got one, bring it to the Harrisonville Library that afternoon, 1-5 p.m.

You can register your quilt early too. There are 45 registered already.

Go to for a registration form. They'll photograph your quilt too!

The quilt in the photo is in the collection of the Cass County Historical Society, sadly without information about the maker. See you there!