One Hundred Years To Make A Quilt

One hundred years ago my grandmother Irene started embroidering linens and doilies for her home. She made tablecloths with matching napkins, pillowcases, dresser scarves, hand towels and handkerchiefs.

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She also began collecting special pieces that were decorated by others she knew. Some of the linens were probably to be used in a quilt or bedspread and some were treasured gifts from treasured people in her life. All were spectacular and beautiful.

Sixty years ago my mother Peggy inherited the wonderful collection of embroidered linens from my grandmother. She used a few of them in the house we lived in.

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Over the years, she added a few pieces to the group. I remember a tablecloth with napkins for a card table and a liner for a bread basket. I know she made more but that’s all I remember.

Both my grandmother and mother were great sewers and made most of their clothes. My mother made many of my clothes as well as my two children’s when they were little. What they didn’t do very much was embroider, so everything they did embellish is just that much more precious.

The embroidery has become more than just a pretty attraction. It has become a symbol. It represents continuity – a connection over the years, the decades. It is a thread that binds my grandmother to mother to me. All the hours they spent are there. All the starts, mistakes, restarts and finishes are there. All the plans blossoming into beautifully decorated linens are there. There for all to see, appreciate and learn from.

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Forty-three years ago I became the recipient of the grand collection, which by then had become fairly extensive. After a few years of my own collecting, I began to try to plan a good use for the expanding treasure trove of embellished pieces of linen and cotton.

Last year I designed a quilt using as many of the antique and vintage pieces as I could. The center is the middle of a tablecloth surrounded by four hand towels and corners of two dresser scarves.

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Around that are the borders of a tablecloth. The mosaic panels are made up of all sorts of linens and doilies overlapping all around the quilt.

Doily Quilt5 It is a glorious mixture of all the types f embroidery, crochet, tatting and crossstitch.

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The final border is made up of handkerchiefs of every color and design.

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While sewing every seam, I thought about mother and grandmother, their love of sewing and their contribution to the quilt. Their enthusiasm and love of the art were with me every step of the way. What a lovely way to share with the generations.

One hundred years of hand work, collecting and loving special pieces of cloth, three generations of women and one quilt to show all the care. What a grand result!

I couldn’t have done it without you two!

 

A Full House

It’s quilting time again and off to retreat I went! The retreat center was packed to the rafters with wonderful women who love to quilt as I do. Thirty-five ladies went on the retreat and thirty-five beds were available at the center. Like I said, packed to the rafters.

It’s not just the retreaters that come to the center, but all the equipment, supplies, projects, notions, clothes, and miscellaneous that comes with them. I mean to tell you, we were packed in there.

IMG_1032Sewing machines were practically touching each other, to say nothing about chairs colliding with one another. A person could hardly walk down an aisle without turning sideways to fit through. It’s a good thing we all love each other!

Day One and the quilts were already going up on the design walls.

IMG_1033This quilt appeared in about three different versions. Turn the blocks around and you have a whole new quilt.

IMG_1034What a sweetie!

IMG_1035A similar pattern but different colors. Very nice!

IMG_1037The first quilt turned in a different way. Amazing!

IMG_1038Love those primary colors!

IMG_1039These blocks were done by several people in the Bee and given to one special person. How lucky is she!

IMG_1040How did this one get done so fast? Most have done some work at home before the retreat.

IMG_1041Love the drama of this one. Contrast makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

IMG_1042This illusion quilt is beyond description. Playing with value and hue makes everything look three-dimensional. The background fabric has printed words. Look carefully and don’t miss a thing!

IMG_1043Done by same quilter as previous. Again there are no words!

IMG_1044This one reminds me of the front of an office building. Again the three dimensional look. Aren’t these quilts spectacular?

Day Two was equally great. More quilts on the design walls. More projects, more humming of machines, more talking and laughter. How could it be any better? But it was!

IMG_1045Simple but dramatic!

IMG_1046Very interesting! Each elk head was cut exactly the same. Amazing!

IMG_1047Some people made astounding progress on their quilt by making many many blocks.

IMG_1048Some people made less progress and made only one block. They were busy doing other things. . .talking, texting, messaging, talking, blogging, talking, visiting, talking, and talking.

P.S. This block was joined by many other blocks and became a full quilt by Day Three and a half.

IMG_1049How about this beauty?

IMG_1050Can’t take my eyes off these colors. Very striking!

IMG_1052Don’t you just love this quilt? So much to see!

IMG_1053Very interesting version of Log Cabin. Love the colors.

IMG_1055Now here is a real scrap user! Every block is different.

IMG_1056Don’t the windows make all the difference?

IMG_1057Who doesn’t love stars? The black background really makes it pop.

IMG_1059This is some wonderful fabric I found at retreat. I love the philosophy! The rules of life as revealed in fabric. Bee-utiful!

IMG_1060Now here is a commitment to making squares! Rock on!

Day Three – more of the same and some different. Quilts were being produced faster than I could keep up with. My camera was smoking! Thirty-five women and three days – I would expect no less.

IMG_1062Squares galore! Can you believe it?! And the Bargello effect is stunning!

IMG_1063More squares and some really interesting fabric.

IMG_1065Love the chains! Very nice effect.

IMG_1066I feel like I’m at the beach, don’t you?

IMG_1067I feel like I’m in Paris, don’t you?

IMG_1072Interesting use of color and tones.

IMG_1070Closeup of an interesting border to one of the quilts. I don’t believe you can have too much color in any one quilt, as evidenced by this one.

By the end of Day Three we were all starting to pack up for the trip home. So much was accomplished by so many. Not just the quilts, but the friendships, the relationships, the bonding we made in such a short time. When that many women eat together, sleep together, and work together, magic can happen. And it did! Wonderful, magical things happened at the full house!

Small Group, Big Results

Our Appliqué Group went on a four day retreat recently. There were only eleven of us that could go this time. We were a small but mighty group of ladies. I can’t wait to show you the great things we did in such a short time.

IMG_0929First of all there is this grand illusion. Don’t you love it?

IMG_0938This baby quilt is so sweet. I love the faces of the animals.

IMG_0941IMG_0945It just makes me smile and I’m sure it will do the same for the baby.

IMG_0948Here is a strange looking one. It is actually the beginning of a beautiful quilt built from the center out.

IMG_0952This is my French General quilt. I finally finished it after three years of intermittent work on it. What a relief!

IMG_0962IMG_0966Isn’t this one interesting? Very simple to make but looks so difficult.

IMG_0968Completely random but organized. I love it!

IMG_0970The contrast in fabric colors is very striking. It makes a simple quilt strong.

IMG_0973This quilt was made for a young man who will soon graduate from High School. I think he will love it.

IMG_0976How gorgeous is this one? Love the fabrics!

IMG_0980This beautiful little gem is all done by hand with wool. The embroidery is exquisite! Do you see Noah’s ark and all the animals two by two?

IMG_0981The fabrics are grand in this one. The fish were cut by hand and applied to the quilt. Stunning!

IMG_0982This magnificent quilt was put together with 1″ squares! Unbelievable!

IMG_0984Oops! Out of order! A closeup of the Noah’s ark.

IMG_0989 Isn’t the handwork wonderful?

Can you believe what eleven women can do in four days? Never underestimate a woman with a sewing machine!

I Remember When

Here is my newest creation, entitled “I Remember When.”

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This quilt is made from doilies, linens and handkerchiefs collected from my grandmother, mother and aunt. It took me years to gather enough to finally make this quilt big enough              to cover a queen-size bed.

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There are tablecloths, tea towels, doilies, and handkerchiefs all over this thing. Some were in good shape and some were barely salvageable. The torn and spotted ones were perfect for such a project, which required much cutting.

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I remember many of these linens in their homes and being used. They bring back memories of good times, cozy gatherings, and sweet smells. They make the quilt that much more lovable and huggable.

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It was so fun to touch each piece and imagine how it would fit in the quilt. Turning it this way and that way, until it was perfect. Each fabric finding its right place. It was as though the quilt already existed and I just had to see it in my mind. And it turned out just right!

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This memory quilt holds a lot of history of the women of my family. History held in pieces of linen passed down from one generation to another, to be used and loved. I hope this quilt continues the tradition of passing on the story to the next generations.

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Miss Muffet’s Tuffet

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whey,

When along came a spider 

That sat down beside her,

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

If not for this poem, I doubt that any of us would even have heard of the word tuffet, let alone know what it is. Think of a footstool big enough to sit on. And as far as curds and whey goes – it’s basically cottage cheese.

But back to the tuffet. I can imagine someone long ago sitting on one in front of a big fireplace with sewing in hand and feeling very cozy and comfy. I’m not sure who thought of the tuffet, but they are cute and handy. In fact, I decided I needed one so much, I made one.

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This is my blue (of course, blue!) tuffet. It stands twelve inches high and eighteen inches in diameter. There are twenty-four different fabrics used and sixty-four stripes of fabric. Somehow it looks much smaller on the floor than it did on my sewing table and in my sewing machine!

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The little feet still need to be painted, but I couldn’t wait to show you the almost finished product. They will be painted blue, of course. How silly of you to ask!

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The tuffet now resides in the living room, with all the other blue things. It will make a nice stool or side table to put a tray on. I love it!

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But between you and me, I would not make another one. One is enough!

Mea Culpa

That’s the name of my new quilt. Strange, you say? Not really, if you know the history of its origin. Each block is an exchange – meaning it was made by another person in exchange for me making a block for them.

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At the time it seemed reasonable to ask someone to make one of these blocks for me. In fact, I asked nine people to make blocks for me! But it was a huge imposition, now that I look back on it. The blocks are very difficult to do and getting them all to look the same is even harder.

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I don’t know what I was thinking! Well, I was thinking I would get this quilt done. But really, I was asking a lot of everyone who got one of my blocks to make. They are beautiful, but all I could say was “I’m sorry!”

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So that’s how this quilt got the name “Mea Culpa”. I love the quilt and am very grateful to everyone who contributed to it. But all I heard was complaining and moaning from all the participants, so all I kept saying was “I’m so sorry!”

Blue Summer Dress

I’ve been in the mood to smock lately. So smocking is what I’ve been doing. Smocking a dear little summer dress, that is. It is very sweet, all blue (my favorite color), and perfect for summer. IF In fact, I enjoyed smocking the front of the dress so much, I decided to smock the back too. IF I used three coordinating colors of floss in the smocking design front and back. It is a design I made myself but very simple. Then I added dark piping around the front and back for contrast. IF I think the back looks as cute as the front. IF   I think this dress will make my friend’s daughter very happy. I know I would love one myself. Wouldn’t you?

Easter Egg Colored Dresses

Easter is here! And I’m making dresses. What a joy! I now make a dress for granddaughter and great-granddaughter. I can’t even tell you how much fun it is to make matching dresses for two such lovely, happy girls.

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The oldest one Marie loves dresses that have a big “twirl factor”. When she first gets a new dress, she spins around in it to see if the “twirl factor” is satisfactory. In fact, she has been known to wear three dresses at a time and spin around gleefully for more than an hour. Seeing that is all the thanks I need!

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Younger great-granddaughter Karla is just learning the ropes from Marie, but she definitely knows about “twirl factor”. The two of them together in matching dresses, twirling around a room are a sight to behold. And cute? Oh my goodness!!! It’s better than a hug!

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This year the dresses are the color of Easter eggs –  pink and lavender. The front lace panels were sewn one strip of lace at a time to another strip of lace or entredeau. The same with the bottom lace strips. They are time consuming, but definitely worth the effort.

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A piece of piping was added to the bottom of the front panel to finish it off. Puff sleeves and generous ties in the back make these dresses worthy of Easter photos. Oh and don’t forget the full skirts (two fabric widths) for dancing around a room.

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The dresses are done and ready to send off. I can’t wait to get my pictures of the two girls in their Easter finery with big smiles on their faces and skirts atwirl.

 

A Retreat Of Beginnings

Every October my quilting group has a retreat. We go to a special place, at a special time, for a special activity. Each time the retreat seems to take on a life of its own. This year, it seemed to have an aura of beginnings, of starts, of onsets. Sometimes people are finishing quilts or projects, binding, sewing on labels or putting on the finishing touches, but this time brought out new squares, not-seen-before projects, uncut fabrics and patterns to try out.  It was all very exciting and challenging.  New projects, new quilts, new ideas. What fun!

IMG_0890 This unfinished piece is a wall hanging made out of wool, in the Noah’s Ark theme.

IMG_0891Another closeup of the animals in wool.  What a great beginning!

IMG_0898This beautiful start of a quilt is made from handkerchiefs.  It will be spectacular when finished.

IMG_0897Aren’t these aprons bright and beautiful?  AND they are DONE!

IMG_0894This quilt was started just in time for Halloween.  What a cutie!

IMG_0895A closeup of one of the Halloween quilt squares.  What a hoot!

IMG_0896A witch to contend with!

IMG_0893This interesting piece is a pillow top made with a handkerchief and thread painting.

IMG_0892This adorable doll dress was the first of about six dresses made.  What a lucky girl and her doll will receive these for Christmas!

IMG_0905Doesn’t this quilt look like Argyle socks? I think it will be just as comfortable and cozy.

IMG_0904This almost done baby quilt is for a baby named Scout.  How perfect is that?

IMG_0903The shimmering cross made with all fabrics that have gold threads in them.  Gorgeous!

IMG_0902Won’t this one be beautiful when it is finished?  It’s certainly on its way!

IMG_0901This quilt is made of college colors and looks stunning.  I can hardly wait until it is all sewn together!

IMG_0900This will be one stunning Christmas quilt when completed.

IMG_0899How fabulous is this sampler!  The quilter worked all day attaching the piano keys border!

All of these projects were so inspirational.  Each one made me want to break out new fabric, new patterns, new thread, and to start new quilts.  The problem with all new beginnings is that they have to be finished eventually!

A Too Cute Tutu

How much fun is a pouffy, fluffy tutu! You can spin, twirl, dance, leap and sing in a tutu. It brings out all the make believe fairies and pretend princesses hidden within. Tutus are beautiful and magical and special. Nothing forces oohs and aahs from little girls like a tutu.

IMG_0885So, of course, I made a tutu for granddaughter Mary and great-granddaughter Kay. (They are only two years apart in age!). It was lots of fun and very very easy.

To make one: cut a 2″ wide ribbon the length of the child’s waist plus enough to make a bow (about 30″). Tie a double knot 15″ in from each end.

IMG_0887Decide how long you want the tutu to be (mine is 12″) and cut 6″ wide tulle into lengths twice that long i.e.. 24″ for mine. Then fold the tulle and tie over the ribbon. Do this from knot to knot until the area is full. Voila! You have a tie-on tutu!

IMG_0888Use any color combination you can imagination and it will look spectacular. I used three different pinks plus one glitter tulle. Add a crown and you have an instant costume.

IMG_0889I can hardly wait to get the photos of my two too precious girls in their too cute tutus!