Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Decking the halls

I haven't done too much Christmas decorating, as we'll be visiting relatives. Why decorate an empty house? I found this banner at a thrift store a few years back, and I love the retro look! God Jul, I believe, is Swedish and/or Norwegian for Good Yule, or Good Christmas. Since I'm 25% Swedish, I somehow can relate to it. Isn't the cat just too cute??! Below is the bottom half of the banner.

The photo below are some aprons that I've collected over the years, mostly from thrift stores. When Christmas is over, I'll put up some different aprons. The middle one, which isn't specifically Christmas, has feedsack and 1930's/1940's fabrics, and even some older fabrics in the waistband. Maybe I'll replicate it someday....it is just made up of squares and bound with rick-rack.
Shopping thrift stores for these types of things has a few advantages: First of all, there are real bargains. In addition, you can find some really unique things. You won't find Scandinavian banners or vintage aprons at Walmart! These kinds of things have real character. Third, trolling Thrift Stores is cheap entertainment, at least for me. You just never know what you'll find. It's downright addicting!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Carolina Christmas taking shape

This is step #5 from Bonnie Hunter's mystery, Carolina Christmas. http://quiltville.com/carolinachristmas5.shtml

The top photo is the block Fox and Geese, and the bottom one is Poinsettia Star. I'd prefer more contrast with the Fox and Geese blocks, but I'll wait and see how Bonnie put them all together. If mine looks too "muddy" because of inadequate contrast, I may consider making two smaller quilts, perhaps adding sashing to create more definition.

I do like the vintage and snuggly feel of the colors, however.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Carolina Christmas, part #3

I've been working on part #3 of Bonnie's Caroline Christmas. There are lots and lots of units like these, and I can't wait to finish them all so I can look at part #4! I originally planned to use a medium blue for the center part, but there just wasn't enough contrast between that blue and the red, so I found some light blue shirts. I like these much better! I can't wait to see how it all comes together!

While looking in my bins for the right shirts, I realized I have more than enough shirts for now! I'm still going to look for black (or dark indigo) shirts and orange shirts, however. I saw a photo of an antique quilt using this combination and it was very striking! I'm thinking of a future Halloween quilt, with an antique feel!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Carolina Christmas, step #1 and #2

I've been working on Bonnie's Carolina Christmas. I'm using light neutrals where Bonnie is using gold and I got brave (or impulsive), and decided on using red as my background. I love the look of antique quilts that have a red background, and that's my inspiration. Once I got going, I didn't see much contrast between the red and the green, but as the smaller units turned into bigger units, the look of the subtle contrast grew on me. I'm really curious how this will turn out! I'm using green for Bonnie's green, and blue for Bonnie's red. The photo shows step #1 and the finished product of step #2.
Well, more sewing to do to get ready for step #3!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Carolina Christmas

Bonnie Hunter is starting her new mystery, Carolina Christmas, tomorrow. Do I really need to start a new project? Of course not. But, Bonnie's mysteries are fun and I want to participate.

I've challenged myself to use only recycled clothing for this project, except for the batting. For several months now, I've been picking up 100% cotton clothing from thrift stores really cheap, mostly from their clearance sales or from bag sales. I now have a few bins full of clothes, so I really need to do something to pare down my supply!

Below are my choices...red, blue, green and a light neutral. My cat approves, too! I don't know how I'll position each color yet. I'm so tired right now after hours cooking Thanksgiving dinner, but tomorrow my only plans are to start on this quilt.
I'm looking forward to giving myself a mini-retreat and getting some sewing done. Does anyone else feel guilty and selfish if they sew all day? I do sometimes and don't know why. I think if I got more UFOs done I'd feel better about starting a new project. Heck, I'm just going to have fun tomorrow playing with fabric!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dressing up

I haven't posted anything for almost a month....where oh where does time go?! I have two projects I'm working on, and they both have deadlines.

The first is a Halloween costume. It's been several years (or a few decades!) since I've dressed up for Halloween, and it's been fun making this costume.

I'm making the apron and the hat from this "pioneer" pattern (circa 1989), which I found at a thrift store. The fabric (shown behind the pattern) was from Joanns. It's a reproduction fabric that I had in my stash, but is a bit too thin for quilts. It must've been really inexpensive because I bought several yards of it, which I need for this pattern! I'm making the apron and the hat from that fabric, and I found a black dress at a thrift store to wear under it. I'll be adding a ruffle on the hem of the dress to lengthen it (cut from a pair of thrift store pants) and I'll be embellishing the dress with lace from a thrift store blouse. Can you tell that I'm no stranger to thrift stores? It's fun to try to be creative (and cheap!), and it will be a unique costume, unlike what the chain stores are selling. I'm glad I'm enjoying sewing this, because I've put several hours into it, and it's still not done!

I love anything old, so I think I'll really like this costume, providing it all comes together as planned! You never can tell with garments, though.....that is one of the reasons why I quit sewing my own clothes. I don't like to "tailor" things to get them to fit right.

In the spirit of Halloween, here is an old photo of my Grandma, from about 1920, all dressed up in a clown costume looking very sweet. I would love to know the story behind this photo!

I'd love to see other old "costume" photos if anyone has any.

My other project is for our upcoming Quilt Show, but I really can explain it better when I have a photo of the finished product. I'm almost done with that one.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Sewing all day

I spent most of today sewing. I sandwiched 3 quilts and sewed a pieced backing for a 4th one. It feels so good to make progress. I need to make time for these short sewing "retreats" more often.

One of the ones I sandwiched was the string quilt pictured above. I used up some thin, lower-quality muslin to foundation piece them. These blocks were fun to make, but looking at my still-overflowing string bin, I don't think I used up any of the strings! I'd also like to make a military string quilt using blue centers.

The quilt below was made around 1900. It has a hole all the way through it a few inches wide, and other area in need of repair, which was probably why it was so inexpensive. It should be easy to fix. I have a small assortment of antique scraps that I can use. I intend to applique a small square on the back the same red as the backing, nestle a little cotton batting on it, applique a small piece on the front to match the fabric, then put a few quilting stitches on it to pull it all together. If I'm careful, it should blend in just fine.

I just love these 1900 fabrics, and antique quilts really inspire me. This one has a lot of black mourning print fabric. The pattern is not simple, but it's possible. It's full of diamonds and set-in seams, so might be easier to hand piece than machine piece.

I have a few other older quilts I'll share from time to time. I keep them in my "cat free" guest room. My cats have the run of the rest of the house!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sunbonnet days

Well, here it is noon already and I'm playing on the computer when I have lots of other things to do! I have dozens of old family photos stored in the computer, and this is another one that I really like. I believe it was taken in the San Jose or Mountainview area of California, about 1904. The first five people are my great-grandparents Silas and Ellen Grable, and their children. The little girl is my grandmother Gladys. Silas and Ellen were born in KS and IN, and settled in California around 1900. The bought several acres of ranchland and planted orchards. In fact, it looks like there is a small seedling just in front of them, if you look closely. (Photo will enlarge if you click on it.)

Old photos can give us a glimpse of life in the past. The hills in this photo is pretty bare, but today the California hills have beautiful oak trees generously scattered around. I would guess that at the time of this photo all the trees would have been cut down for the wood, or perhaps the cattle had eaten the seedlings. Today, this same area is probably dense with housing developments.

This is a close up of the same photo. I just love the photo of my grandmother, the little girl in the white dress. With the sunbonnet hiding her face, she looks just like Sunbonnet Sue! Her parents look so proud of their little brood.

Well, back to my chores! I'll reward myself with some sewing time tonight and will try to get something quilt-related posted next time!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer lily

I was really surprised to find this gorgeous lily blooming in my garden today! I think they usually bloom in the spring, but I admit I'm a haphazard gardener and planted these bulbs really late.
In my working life, I lived in a Condo in Southern California and dreamed about an yard with room enough for a beautiful English flower garden and a bountiful vegetable garden, like in the magazines. Now that I'm not working, and have a large yard, I am just not motivated. I wish I was!
At least the previous owners had the property well-landscaped, and my husband really does like doing the yard work.
Nothing quilt-related to show, but I have been working on a few things. I just wanted to share this beautiful lily!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Made with love

I found this sweet little wall-hanging, priced at $3.00, while browsing at Salvation Army.

It's well done and hand quilted, and the fabrics are just yummy.

It has a very small hand printed label on the back that says "Made for Leish Love, Mom 2005".

Of course, I had to bring it home with me. However, I didn't walk away thinking what a good bargain I got.
I walked away wondering.....How did this charming little quilt that was made with love by "Mom" end up in a thrift store? And...why did the thrift store think it was only worth $3.00? A nice Fat Quarter costs nearly that!
I'll make a place for this gem, and I'll appreciate it for all the work (and love) that "Mom" put into it. When I look at the label, I'll think of my own Mom, who I lost nearly two years ago.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hanging up laundry

I discovered Carol's blog recently and found it interesting. Carol shares her old family photos and writes stories about the people in them. Although I'd like the focus of my blog to be on quilts, I think it would be fun to occasionally share some of my old family photos.

This is one of my favorite photos, and I don't even know who she is! Her face is obscured and she just doesn't look familiar to me. Her clothes are from the 1920's or 1930's, so she could be a friend of my Grandma who was born in 1901. The original is a tiny snapshot that was in with my Grandma's photos.
I love casual photos like this, that provide an unstaged glimpse into the past. I imagine that this woman was just routinely hanging up her laundry when someone got the camera and snapped her picture.

I think I'll get a larger copy made of this one, put it in an old frame, and hang it in my laundry room. It would fit in perfectly there. I have vintage knick-knacks above the cabinets, and some old aprons all pressed and ready to hang.

My next post will be more quilt-related. I've been working on things, but have nothing finished to show off.


p.s. This blog entry took over two hours, to get everything how I wanted it. I'm sure it was only my imagination, but it sure seemed like I would have it all good and then everything would change on me! I'm also frustrated that this photo won't enlarge when you click on it. See the next blog entry if you want to enlarge the photo. I have so much to learn!

Hanging up laundry, post script

On this draft, the photo does enlarge when you click on it. I won't even try to understand the mechanics behind Blogger!


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Christmas Lights

I've started Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt called "Christmas Lights", featured in Quiltmaker Magazine. Step #1 is finished, and I couldn't resist doing at least one block each from Step #2, from the hint given here:

I'll be getting the actual magazine soon to see the entire step #2.

I've shown my version below. Everything came from my stash, and it's very scrappy.

I absolutely love Bonnie Hunter's quilts, and you can see most of them on her website: http://www.quiltville.com/. Bonnie is very creative and generous, and offers dozens of quilt patterns for free on her website. If you love scrappy or traditional quilts, and you haven't discovered Bonnie's site yet, you are in for a real treat. I only wish I had the time to make all her patterns!

I haven't listed all my UFOs on the side like I've seen on other blogs. Honestly I don't think there would be enough room for that! I may choose about 15 or so to list, but I'll have to figure out how to do that first. I also want to figure out how to post my signature in a script-like form.


A beautiful day

We had a great side trip to Indiana, and I did manage to find all the headstones on my list.
Some were very hard to read, erosion having taken it's toll.
The two smaller tilted headstones above belong to a set of ggg-grandparents who died in the 1860's/1870's.
The headstones on the left, for a different set of ggg-grandparents who died in the 1870's/1880's, were easier to read but were broken into pieces.
Fortunately, in the 1950's some ladies from a DAR chapter made the effort to transcribe all these headstone inscriptions and record them in a book, which I found on the web a few years ago. I'll have to rely on the DAR's interpretation for a few of these!

I'm so glad that I had the chance to visit this area to see where my ancestors actually lived and worked. It truly gave me a whole different perspective on their lives.
Looking at the dark sepia photographs, I imagined that their environment was dreary and dark. In reality, however, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, with a gentle breeze blowing, and the countryside sparkled with color and life! This area was beautiful to me when I visited a week ago, and it was probably beautiful to them over 150 years ago. They lived hard lives, but I like to think that they had joy and contentment in their lives as well.
We looked for the old farmhouse referred to in my previous blog entry, but didn't find one with those exact characteristics. A local librarian told us that most of the old farmhouses in that specific area were gone. Over time, many of the small farms were bought up, replaced by a few much larger farms.
This trip was really an adventure for me, on many levels.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Strolling through the graveyard on a fine summer day....

DH and I will be traveling over the next 10 days, & as a side trip we'll be spending a day or so in rural Indiana. My objective is to find and photograph the headstones of my gg-grandparents and their parents. I already know what two cemeteries to look in, thanks to delving on the internet.

Some people think cemeteries are spooky or morbid, but I find them very peaceful. The residents are at rest now, I feel.

If we have time, we'll drive around the area. I want to get a feel for the place they lived, and I want to look at old farmhouses in search of this house, which was owned by my gg-grandfather around 1895. Both photos are probably of the same house, taken from different angles.

The close up below is of John Mason and Sarah Watson Mason, my gg grandparents. I don't know much about them, other than what I obtained through research. Sarah was born in Indiana in 1840 and married at age 18. She had 10 children that I know of, with 5 of those dying as children. She died in 1899 of heart disease at the age of 58.
I've heard the expression "the good old days", but life was really tough for women like Sarah! They had no electricity and had to work very hard to keep food on the table. If their kids were seriously ill, there wasn't much they could do to help them. Most of the property belonged to their husbands. If a woman had a kind and respectful husband, that would make all the difference in her quality of life. Sarah would have thought I had the life of a princess!
On the other hand, however, Sarah's neighbors and relatives lived the same way, so I suppose it's all relative. I don't know that I could live her life, though...I'm just too spoiled, sitting here in my air conditioned home with plenty of food in the cupboards.
I like the way they have all their plants lined up on the porch. I wonder what they were growing? Maybe tomatoes, maybe herbs? I think there might be some parsley in one of those cans, and perhaps some dill to use in canning.

The bow ties above are my take-along handsewing project. I've been working on it for about 10 years, only when I travel, and I have blocks made in New England, Hawaii, and even New Zealand. There are probably about 50 completed blocks, and some day I'll put them together. Then I'll start on a handsewing project that is a little more challenging. As you can see, these are in 1900 reproductions, which are my favorites along with Civil War and 1930's.

I found the faux tapestry bag at a thrift store. It's not old, but to me it looks old and is just perfect to store all the pieces in.
Well, time to get off the computer....thunder and lightening approaching fast!
p.s. I learned today to be really careful with the delete button on my blog entries, when I'm anywhere near a photo. The photos just disappear if I delete too much and it's such a pain to reload them!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

1900 String Quilt

Well, this is my very first blog post, so here goes......

Like many quilters, I possess lots and lots of UFOs. I dug an old one out today, and I think it'll be one of the next ones I work on. I started it in July 2004, in a Gwen Marston workshop at my former Guild. It's a string pieced quilt from Gwen's book, Liberated String Quilts. Gwen's creativity is inspiring and she helps to make quilting an adventure!

My quilt will be done in 1900 repro fabrics. I love the fabrics from that era.....black mourning prints, clear reds, claret reds, indigo blues, royal blue (I think it's called "cadet blue"), and of course I can't forget the yummy double pinks and the shirting prints, and some yellow and golds for a bit of sparkle!

Here's my string quilt UFO spilling out of it's box, and of course my cat (Tiger) had to make herself comfortable! So typical.

I'm proud of myself for getting this first post done and figuring out how to get the photos on the page. Hopefully, future posts will be more fine-tuned.

This has been fun!