Friday, April 20, 2018

Ken Burns's Quilt Collection

Who knew Ken Burns collected quilts?  He commented that he makes films for others, he collects quilts for himself.  He has an exhibit at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, through May 5.

Here's a quick tour through some of his quilts.

And here's a slightly longer 5-minute video with commentary by Burns.

For more youtube videos of Ken Burns and his quilts on exhibit in Lincoln, look here.  In one of the videos (maybe one of the above) it shows that he stores many of his quilts by hanging them with several front to back in the same place.  I thought that was interesting.

I'm not an avid collector of antique quilts but when I find one I love and the price is right, it comes home with me.  I need to take some photos and share the ones I have.

Did you know Ken Burns collected quilts?


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This Crazy (Spring?) Weather, Health, and a Few Quilts

I think winter and spring are having a mighty wrestle this year.  Spring wins one day, winter wins the next.  We've has snow three out of the last six days.  The weather men tell me that we're to have temperatures in the 70s for the next three days, then back to early spring-like temperatures in the 40s or lower and possibly snow.  It's a strange year.

A few years ago I realized that despite all the ups and downs of life, the challenges, difficulties, and disasters, there are a few things that are always true.  One of them is that season follows season.  Spring, always comes, no matter what.  True as it is, this year I'm wondering when spring will come.  That little mister groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this year thereby predicting 6 more weeks of winter, but nine more weeks is just a bit too much, in my opinion.  I love a long, leisurely spring with temperatures in the 50s and 60s for a month or two.  But not this year.  We'll probably jump from late winter to summer heat and humidity.

I've been way under the weather:  I haven't worked on quilts, haven't read others' blog posts, and haven't posted myself -- until today, which is probably a first and last for another few days or a week.  I have a flu-like viral infection, so no real help to overcome it other than time.  And it's taking its good old time, too.

Since I don't have any quilts of my own to show, I'll share some from a tiny exhibit at a local history museum.  Most were folded into glass cases which made them hard to photograph the small sections of the quilts that showed.  Still, I found them interesting.  Maybe you will, too.  No makers' names were included.

On the quilt below there were no diagonal seams in any part of the quilt, which I find amazing.

I thought the blue appliqued on green was a subtle and interesting combination.

I fell in love with this star quilt.  It looked soft, well-used, and comfortable.

The little quarter-triangle squares in these stars were the tiniest I've ever seen used on a full size quilt.  They were less than 1/2" square!  I wonder how many the quilter had to make!

I hope, wherever you and and whatever you're doing, that you're feeling healthy and happy!

Take care,

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Utility Stars for One Monthly Goal (March's Finish, April's Goal)

Addition to original post to add One Monthly Goal for April 
To save my readers one more post about this quilt, I'm editing this older post of a few days ago to state my One Monthly Goal for April.  My goal is to:  cut the edges of this quilt, decide a binding width, find fabric for the binding, sew the binding to both the front and back of this quilt, and wash and dry it for a total finish.

From what I can tell so far, finding fabric for the binding may be the biggest obstacle to a finish.

Original post for finishing March's One Monthly Goal

The quilt's not finished but I met my One Monthly Goal for March.  There were two parts to the goal.
  1. Quilt at least 12 squares.  I had 32 to finish at the beginning of the month.  Now I have 3 left to quilt.  I quilted 29 squares in March.
  2. Quilt at least 12 stars.  I had 2 finished when I stated my goal, with 22 stars left to quilt.  All the stars are now quilted.

Hooray for a goal met even if it doesn't equal a finish.  There's not too much left to do to finish this quilt:  lots of sashing rectangles and those three blocks, then the binding.  Maybe those will be April's goals.

There was the little problem with thread.  (Yes, I did run out.)  I bought a spool of Guterman 100% cotton in a similar color (it disappears like the other spool).  While at the store I looked at a few other threads and I think the first spool I was using was rayon.  Rayon isn't exactly a natural fiber but it's made from natural fibers (cellulose from trees, as I understand it), which means it would burn to ash just as cotton, linen, and wool do.  Anyway, I'm hoping there isn't too great a difference in shrinkage in areas quilted with the different threads.  I'm putting pins in the blocks and sashing quilted with cotton so I'll know.

Have you ever put a wide binding on a quilt?  Perhaps ½" or 1"?  If so, were you satisfied with it?  I'm thinking of a slightly wider binding on this quilt from blue fabrics similar to those in the stars.  Since the quilt has no border I thought a wider blue binding would be a good finish for the quilt.

I'm linking this post to One Monthly Goal - March Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Patty.

Happy Easter to you and yours.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Little Red Crosses

I'm using little in this post as a diminutive word to express affection.  I like these little blocks a lot.  If you're thinking little in size, these are small only in comparison to the 9" blocks they'll be paired with as cornerstones. 

These will measure 4½" when sewn into Blue and Gray, the quilt I began making a week or two ago.  I wish I had a grand selection of Civil War era reds and blues but I haven't.  I've purchased a few but I'm also using not-quite-Civil-War-era fabrics.  I'm okay with that.  Only others who know about reproduction fabrics -- not many in my circle of friends -- will notice.

I need 38 of these blocks for the quilt.  I've made 26, so just a few more and I'll have enough.

Does anyone else like seeing a stack of finished blocks?  They give me a sense of accomplishment.

I'm linking this post to Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Myra.


Friday, March 23, 2018

Big and Tiny

Maybe it was a reaction but, more likely, a touch of impatience that stitching tiny red and brown 4-patch blocks made for slow progress for a large quilt that resulted in my decision to start a quilt with larger blocks.

I saw "Blue and Grey" somewhere on the internet several years ago and loved it but then forgot about it until Julie posted her version of the quilt six weeks ago, which reminded me of it.  I reserved the book, The Blue and the Gray: Quilt Patterns using Civil War Fabrics, from the library.

I love everything about this quilt except that 6" blocks result in a quilt that measures 40" x 47".  I want a larger quilt, big enough for a nap or a bed, so I enlarged the blocks to finish at 9".

I tell you, 3½" seem huge after stitching tiny 1¼" squares!

It's rare for me to follow a pattern exactly.  I change the size, I change the colors, I change one thing or other about the pattern.  This time I've changed only the size, which means I've been on a search for a few more Civil War fabrics.  It's been wonderful sewing with mostly all new fabric, but finding a variety of blues (in the shade I like), browns, reds, lights/mediums/tans/gold-ishes, and greys has been a little challenging.  One almost-local quilt shop had just a few of each color but nearly no blues and no greys at all.  Another less-local quilt shop sells mostly 1800s reproduction fabrics where I found several blue fabrics, two reds, and two lights. 

I was surprised that it's nearly impossible to find Civil War-era gray fabric, at least locally.  (Note my use of non-Civil War gray in the block above.)  I was hoping not to have to resort to using fabric from shirts but I may have to.  It will all be fine. 

I'm pleased to be starting a new quilt while I continue to cut, stitch, and press more blocks for Little Rubies.

I'm linking this post to Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Myra.


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

An Error in Judgment

I'm open to using a variety of thread for hand quilting.  If the color's right, the thread's strong, it doesn't smell like smoke or mildew, and it's all cotton or natural fiber, I figure it's good enough to use to hand quilt.  I found this spool of light brown/tan at a local craft shop where people donate their unwanted craft items for others to have (after a monetary donation) and brought it home. 

When I found it I didn't have an intended purpose but I knew the color would be useful.  I tested it by burning a section and found that it's a natural fiber because it turned to ash.  I don't know beyond that what fiber it is but it's too shiny to be cotton.  I also tested it before using by washing and drying it and by putting it under a hot iron.  All good.

The spool was full but there was no indication how much thread was on a full spool.  But then I never think about whether there will be enough thread to quilt a quilt, probably because in the past I've been able to get more.

Now I find that I have 15 squares and 8 stars yet to quilt and this (on the left photo) is what's left on the spool.

I was not exactly frugal while quilting.  If I had a few inches of thread left at the end of a row or block, I cut it off and threw it away and began with a fresh length, never thinking that I could run out.

My error in judgment is to use thread without considering whether there's enough for the whole quilt.  I may find I made a second error in judgment if, after tossing the finished quilt in the washer and dryer, I find that the thread has shrunk more than cotton usually does, or disintegrated, or some other untoward event happens to cause the quilt to need requilting.  Oh, how I hope that doesn't happen!

I suppose I'll use cotton quilting thread in a color as close as I can find to the one above if I don't have enough of this thread to finish the quilt.

Do you ever make errors in judgment with your quilting?  Do you always use the same brand of hand quilting thread?  Which kind do you like best?

Oh, yes!  I almost forgot.  It's the first day of spring.  Happy Spring!  Snow is predicted for our area tonight and most of the day tomorrow.  Those two groundhogs I saw eating greens on Saturday will probably be surprised.

I'm linking this post to
> Fiber Tuesday at The Quilting Room with Mel
> To Do Tuesday at Stitch All Things
> Let's Bee Social #220 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> WOW at Esther's Blog

Thanks for hosting, ladies.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Introducing Dottie

Dottie is a quirky little doll quilt I found at a thrift store in January.  She measures about 18" x 26".  I found her irresistible and brought her home.  When you find a quilt with so many polka dots what else could you call her but Dottie?

Other than the bow ties, the only repetition or pattern I can see are the red-dot fabrics between each block and the long strips of sashing between the rows of blocks. 

The hand-stitched blocks are approximately 2" finished.  Some are more rectangular than square. 

Lori of Humble Quilts uses the word "humble" to describe quilts that are less than perfectly made.  This is a humble quilt for sure.

In fact, when I look at some of the blocks and, really, the whole quilt, I have to wonder who made it.  Was it a child's early attempt at sewing bow tie blocks with five pieces of fabric (instead of the six commonly used these days) and set-in seams?

Or perhaps an aged grandmother with less than perfect eyesight made it for her granddaughter?  There are puckers throughout the quilt where one piece of fabric was gathered to fit against another.  Before rotary cutters and acrylic rulers cutting accurately was an art.

The ties feel like wool and have wool's fuzzy appearance.

The quilt was folded and probably laying where sunlight hit the fold.  There are sections of faded fabric.

As if red dots weren't enough, there are also blocks with turquoise dots.

You can see that some of the fabric had already been used in clothing.  It was unstitched but not all threads were removed.  There are several seersucker fabrics in the quilt.

The backing is a very soft flannel.  It is pulled around to the front to make the binding.  I suspect there is a layer of flannel between the top and back but without unstitching some of the binding I would have no way of knowing.

The stitches holding the binding in place are long with no attempt to hide them under the fabric.

I can't tell the age of the fabrics but I'm guessing 1940s and 1950s, possibly even 1960s.  Do you have a guess?

I haven't chosen a place for Dottie to reside yet.  For now, she rests on the back of chairs or lays on a little table.  She's not really my "style" of quilt but I love her for her quirkiness.

And that's Dottie.

Do you buy small, quirky quilts?  Are you sometimes unable to resist a quilt at a thrift or antique store?


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