Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Two Quilters: Four Quilts in Three Weeks & Two Days

On November 5, 1847, Anna Bentley wrote,
[Alice] took in 5 bed quilts to quilt.  In 3 weeks and 2 days we quilted 4 (which amounts to 7 dollars), have another ready to put in tomorrow which is to have considerable work on it.  It will be 3 dollars more.  Another she has to peice [sic] and quilt will be 3 more.  And she has 6 ready to quilt for herself.  She owes 3 dollars on her bureau, but the remainder will help get some little articles needful, and she has a fine cow worth 12 dollars which she expects to sell.

This quote comes from American Grit:  A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier, a collection of letters Anna Briggs Bentley wrote beginning in 1826 after her move from Maryland to the Ohio frontier.  Anna's daughter, Alice, was preparing to marry and was earning and saving money.  I can only guess that these were bed-sized quilts, not little crib or doll quilts.

I think I'm a slower quilter than many.  It takes me three or four months (or more) to hand quilt a twin-size quilt.  Granted, I don't spend all day every day quilting (my fingers couldn't handle it) but even if I spent more time quilting I know I could not quilt as fast as Anna and her daughter, Alice did.

In the 40 or more years' worth of bright and lively letters Anna penned, she detailed many of her daily activities.  But she wrote of quilting only several times, almost in passing, while mending clothes and knitting socks are oft-mentioned topics.  How I wish Anna had written more about quilting and had given a description of the quilts they quilted. 

I mentioned Anna in a previous post where she requested that her mother and sisters send her needles.

What about you?  Could you and a friend hand quilt four quilts in 3 weeks and 2 days, along with your other 1840s-era chores and responsibilities?

--Nancy.
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Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Little Slow Stitching

I quilted for about an hour as I listened to and watched the Christmas Devotional tonight.  Doing something with my hands that requires very little thought seems to help me concentrate on what I'm hearing.



This quilt is slowly coming along.  I have 1½ squares to finish quilting, but then I have the sashing and borders to quilt, too.  I thought about claiming this for my One Monthly Goal this month but that might be just a little too much pressure for December.



I'm not thrilled with how the plaid fabric is not aligned on this block but obviously it didn't bother me enough to change it before I stitched the blocks together.  There's a strange kind of symmetry to it, though -- if one looks carefully and long.


As Lori, of Humble Quilts might say, it's a humble quilt.  It will keep some baby warm, or cover a table for Christmas, or hang on the back of a chair, or....

I hope you had a good Sabbath.

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.
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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bleeding Blue

We always read or hear the horror stories of red bleeding, but blue?  It looks like this little flower has a blue halo.  It's crazy because...


...the same blue fabric, used in the flower below, was washed the same way, stitched the same way and did not bleed.  I guess I should throw what's left of that fabric into the washer with some dark jeans and other navy fabrics and let it bleed away.


These flowers are on the primitive basket blocks made for Cheri Payne's Baskets of Plenty sew-along.   I took them off the wall again today, arranged them on the floor, decided that several backgrounds were too light and sprayed walnut dye on them.  When I rinsed them out, there was that blue bleeding onto the background.  I guess that little round flower is just going to have a halo.

Have you had experience with blue fabrics bleeding?

--Nancy.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

For National Pins and Needles Day

pins in a pink silk pincushion


safety pins and packages of needles in a Shaker-style box


CAT needle-book cover

CAT needle-book with needles inside


two stacks of Dritz plastic needle boxes


ball of crochet cotton used as a pincushion for pins and needles

I take pins and needles for granted:  I can buy either or both whenever the need arises, or even before I need them.  It hasn't always been so.  In 1826, Anna Brooke Briggs moved with her husband and children from Maryland to Columbiana County, Ohio, when it was very nearly a wilderness.  The family members in Maryland who received her letters saved them and they have been published in American Grit:  A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier, edited by Emily Foster.  This section of Anna's April 5, 1835, letter to her sisters and mother reminds me to be grateful for how easy it is for me to buy pins and needles.
There is one thing—would be much obliged to some of you, for I cannot get any good needles at any of the stores nor never could since I came out.  My stock has given out except the numbers 9 and 10; I have plenty of them.  Now, if Mother and each of you would stick 3 needles, No. 6, 7, and 8, in your next letter, why it would make a dozen—and it would accommodate me much.

"Pins and Needles" was a Broadway play produced by the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union in 1937.  You can read more about the "holiday" and a little about the play here.

Happy National Pins and Needles Day, 2018.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!





I wish you
a healthy
and happy
Thanksgiving,
surrounded
by those
you love
and who
love you.

--Nancy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Missing Baskets

One of my "design wall" areas (using masking tape to hold blocks in place!) is in a room at the end of a long hall.  The door opens to a view of this wall above my computer where my Baskets of Plenty have been hanging, a new one added each month through August.  I've grown accustomed to seeing those baskets with their big flowers hanging there.  They were an invitation to come in as I walked down the hall.  They brightened my mornings when I walked into the room.  They entertained me as I pressed fabric and blocks.  They had a benevolent cheerfulness about them.  And now they're gone.


There is a blank wall opposite the door and above the computer.  I didn't realize how much I enjoyed the baskets till they weren't there and I saw an empty wall as I walked down the hall.


Now they lie on the floor with possible sashings around them, patiently awaiting play time.


Before I can move forward I want to consider and then decide on several things, listed below in no particular order.  I think most of these considerations will resolve themselves as I play and try out ideas.
  • Layout.  Tall ones in a row, short ones in a row, or some other arrangement?
  • Sashing colors/fabrics.  Which colors/tints/shades will look best with these blocks?  I think black is too strong but perhaps the others are too bland.
  • Will I make them look more "primitive" by adding walnut dye (similar to but more permanent than Cheri Payne's tea/coffee dye)?  I think most of the backgrounds are very light, maybe too light.  And if I turn them "primitive,"  will the black still be too dark or just right?
  • Do I need to make another basket block or can I fill in with pieced blocks?  I don't really want to make another basket but it's more about what the quilt needs than whether I want to make another basket.
  • Width of sashing.  I want a quilt that's large enough to nap under.  Seven of these blocks are 10½" x 13½" (with one horizontal), and one is 7½" x 10½".  That's a lot of sashing to make the quilt larger.  Of course, the other option is to make more blocks.  Or add a border or two....
  • And does that horizontal block with the dark background and the coral/peach/salmon blocks look too out of place?

There are so many considerations when creating a scrappy quilt.  These baskets and fabrics have only been on the floor since Saturday and I gave them no attention until late last night.  I'm just beginning to play with layout, sashing, etc.

That large white section at the very top is a paper angel I think I will use.  Cheri created it to go with a different sew-along but I really like her and think she could be perfect at the top of this quilt.  I enlarged the original pattern 200% which makes her about 20" wide.


My family will be coming into town next Wednesday so I either need to hurry and decide or take lots of photographs and keep the fabrics together.  I think this happened last year when I had to take up the medallion quilt.  Sometimes I bemoan my slowness.... 

I'm linking this post to
> Moving it Forward at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
> Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies!

--Nancy.
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Friday, November 10, 2017

A Scrappy Finish


How I wish my photos did justice to this quilt.  No light seems quite right.  Indoors with a flash the colors look just a tad warmer than they really are.

Outdoors the colors wash to white or grey.


You'll have to trust me that its true colors are lights, naturals, warms, and creams with hints of coral/peach/pink and just a few scraps of light yellow and a few whites/off-whites here and there.


This quilt began as scraps cut from behind applique pieces on another quilt.  The pieces were too large to throw away but the largest measured only 4".  There weren't enough by themselves to make a quilt but I had lots of small, light/neutral scraps to sew together.  (But not quite enough.  Susan from DesertSky Quilting sent some to help me finish.) 


For a while they became my leaders and enders and sometimes my purposeful sewing, leading and ending each other until I had a nice stack.  I put them together into blocks with coral/peach sashing and red centers.  Once sewn together I added the circles where four blocks met, but only in alternate squares.

The top measured 61½" x 77½".  The back is scrappy but with only several large pieces of fabric.  The batting is Soft 'n' Crafty 80/20 (cotton/poly).


As much as I loved the top I wasn't sure how I could hand quilt through all the seams.  Some 4" blocks have as many 10 pieces of fabric.  One of my readers, Martha of Q is for Quilt, suggested circles and sent a diagram of her idea which I adapted and altered, then created my own templates.  (I used Prismacolor pencils to mark the circles.  I'll post about that a little later.)


I knew I lacked the skill to make fine, small stitches but I also knew I didn't want do "big stitch" quilting with embroidery floss or pearl cotton.  I finally chose Americana brand quilt thread in a color called buttercream, which was a delight to use, and managed about five stitches/inch.  Big stitch with quilting thread, I guess.  The seams were a challenge.


After quilting it measured 61" X 76".  After washing and drying it measured 58¼" x 72".  I was surprised at how crinkly and puckered it became.  It's easy to imagine how the air caught between the layers will add warmth to someone sleeping under the quilt.  In the photo above you can see the crinkles and also the quilted circles and lines that connect them, creating a diamond box around the red cornerstone.  I used masking tape as a guide for the straight lines.

Out in the sunshine.

And on the floor inside ... because I'm not ready to fold it and put it away yet.  It is just such an inviting quilt. 


I loved the process of creating this quilt, from sewing scraps to sewing binding.  And I love the finished quilt, perhaps more than any other I've made.  My only regrets are that it's not larger and that I wasn't able to/didn't try to take smaller stitches.  Even so, I love it.

I'm linking this post to
> finish it up Friday at crazy mom quilts
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> Can I get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> TGIFF at Celtic Thistle Stitches
> ScrapHappy at Tall Tales from Chiconia

I'm also linking this post to One Monthly Goal - November Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Finishing the binding on this quilt was my goal for November.

Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Not Quick and Simple

I wanted a quick, simple back for this quilt.  Nothing fancy because, after all, it is a scrap quilt.


I had a piece of fabric that was wide enough for the quilt itself but didn't have four extra inches on the sides.  I added a strip of fabric to make it wider, layered it, and pin basted it.  Then I started to quilt it.  Ugh.  The fabric looked like it should be easy to quilt but it wasn't.  This style of plaid/homespun has been around for a good while and I've always loved it but I'll never try it for quilting again.


Back to the drawing board, but I knew it would not be a simple, easy, quick back.  I didn't want to shop for fabric or buy fabric (time, money) and I didn't have any other red piece large enough.  So I pulled some fabrics I thought would work together.   


Yes, pieces of shirts.  In retrospect it would have taken less time to go buy fabric if I could have found fabric I thought would work for the quilt.

After a few hours I came up with this.


Now the quilt will be scrappy, both front and back.  I layered and pin basted it today and have already started quilting it.

It's hard to describe how satisfying it is to sit and hand quilt for a while each day, and how unsatisfying it is not to have a quilt ready after finishing one.  I rarely have a next one ready but I think it should become one of my goals for next year.

We visited our somewhat local historical farm, Slate Run, last week.  They had this quilt in the frame.  I thought it an interesting pattern.


All of those blue/grey squares are set in, not sewn as triangles.  I was in awe.


The farm is set in the 1890s and they try to keep thing accurate to that time period.  I don't know if they succeeded with these fabrics but even if they didn't, this will be a great quilt.

Happy sewing, quilting, or whatever you're doing.

--Nancy.
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