August 15, 2017

My Grandpa


Last week, I spent some time with a friend, researching her family on Ancestry, and finding some exciting things.  I was therefore inspired to do some more poking around in my own family files.  I discovered this delightful photo of my maternal grandfather in his senior yearbook at Purdue Univ.  He studied electrical engineering.  I have his Purdue class ring and other wonderful mementos.   He's the dapper fellow on the left.   I learned a few things - he played mandolin and his nickname was Mike.  Wonder how they got that from Maurice Henry?   He died when I was only 4, but I remember him clearly and the wonderful grandpa games he played with me.   I would go in their closet, he would knock on the door, and when I, being the housewife, opened the door, I never knew what kind of person he'd be portraying, milkman, window washer, salesman....   Such fun!  There's a 1950s game for ya!

August 6, 2017

Iowa-Illinois Quilt Study Group

I'm just home from my third happy visit to Kalona, IA, to revel in quilts and quilt history.  I highly recommend this group!  The 2-day meetings are graciously hosted twice a year by the Kalona Quilt & Textile Museum.  The photo above is part of the frieze of quilt blocks that decorates the front porch of the Museum.  (On the same grounds are the Kalona Historical Village and the Iowa Mennonite Museum & Archives, also well worth a visit.)  And the people who come are the warmest, most welcoming bunch I've ever walked into.

This time, the programs were presented by Margo Krager, proprietor of my favorite place to buy fabrics for my quilt repairs - Reproduction Fabrics.  I always say that one of my favorite things is to be in the presence of someone who has found their niche, absolutely loves what they do, and radiates that love and excitement to everyone around.  Margo is one such person!  She has been researching fabric history for 25 years, has tons of knowledge about fabric and dye history, and is super generous in sharing what she knows.

The highlight of it all was the opportunity to see, up close and personal as they say, some of Margo's collection of antique fabric swatch books.  When I say antique, I mean **antique**.  Her oldest book dates to c1830 - that's nearly two centuries old!  The fabrics retain all or much of their original color, having been shielded from light, use, and washing all these years.  Margo uses these swatches as inspiration for the line of reproduction fabrics she designs. 

Photos of pages from two of the books are on her website:  the Dargate book c. 1830 and the Delaines book dated 1849.  This is absolute treasure, folks!

The meetings always include a fundraiser silent auction, where folks bid on one another's donations.  Here's what I bought:

On the left, a quilt top that had been dismantled, now a bag full of triangles from the 1910s-30s.  On the right, a bag of assorted blocks and odds and ends of fabric.  In the back, my big splurge, a good-sized piece of a c. 1860 cotton, detail below.  Gorgeous! 

I came home happy and inspired, by quilts, people, and also the lovely Iowan farmland.  Just the thing, right? 

July 31, 2017

Color and Light

I do love walking around with my phone/camera, i.e. tiny magic box that can do anything.  ;-)

The other day, I was leaving my friend Julia's place, after picking up a big blue Ikea bag of full vintage clothes to mend for her shop.  This time, there's nothing tricky, a selection of wonderful items with just open seams, missing buttons, loose sequins, and such.

This little view caught my eye on my way out the door.  I've always loved the green stone pot, seeing as how I love green and have a pretty extensive collection of interesting stones that I pick up wherever I go.  The landlord's choice of planting this year is spectacular, and the low, late afternoon sun added its highlighting.

July 27, 2017

Signature Presentation Quilt

This sweet quilt is as old as I am.  This somehow makes me very happy.

The block is known as Album Quilt, with a white, center rectangle just perfect for showing off a signature.  It has a clever and interesting way to finish a quilt with blocks set on point, but it sure did make the rebinding process much trickier!

Here is the story of the quilt, provided by the current owner:

I've attached a photo of my grandma, Hattie Crane.  She and my grandfather, Samuel Crane, lived in Oakley, Idaho.  In 1951-1953, they went on a mission for the LDS church to Salinas, California.  While they served there, Hattie was so loved by the women in that area that they made her a quilt prior to their departure in 1953.  Hattie was involved in the making of the quilt, demonstrated by the square she stitched with her name, Harriet Emily Owen.  My granddaughter's name (who would be her great, great granddaughter) is named after her, Hattie.

Such a lovely story, right?  Here is Hattie's signature:

Happily, the fabric in Hattie's own block is still intact.

The quilt arrived at my house with one large rip through which a big chunk of batting had escaped, and many blocks with fabrics in various stages of disintegration.  I replaced the missing batting and then patched or stitched, depending on the severity of the disintegration.  Here are details of the blocks and fabrics.  

The large rip, before and after.  ("Before" repair photo courtesy of the quilt's owner.) 

Ruth M. Merrill certainly made a statement with her embroidery!  Here's a close-up of her technique.

Take a look at this really unusual print!  I see dollar signs, a pair of patched and ragged pants, and then what?  Music notes or keys with a mask and a hand?  Does anyone out there have any ideas or interpretations? 

For this block, which bears the embroidered date, I didn't have anything that worked well as that very faded black.  I ended up using the reverse of a black print.  It was darker than the fabric it was replacing, but not any darker than some of the original fabrics elsewhere in the quilt.  At times like these when I can't find a close replacement for a torn fabric, I look for something that echoes other fabrics in the quilt.

Here's another block in which I used the reverse of the patching fabric.  A few of the original pieces remain in this block, with underlays and herringbone stitching to close the rips.

A couple of pieces from my newly acquired stash of feedsack fabrics looked just right in two of the blocks.  The quilt isn't officially a feedsack quilt, but I'm guessing that many of these ladies had scrap baskets going back into the 40s, just a blink of an eye before 1953.  

As a final step in the repair process, I write a short report of the work I've done and include swatches of the fabrics I've used.  Here's what that report looked like for this quilt.  

July 21, 2017

Today is My Day

Ever since childhood, I've relished having my birthday as My Own Special Day.  So today is that kind of special!  It's also, as a friend of mine noted, my Beatles Birthday.  Can you guess why that is?

So I'm posting a few pix of my celebrations so far.

On Wednesday, I picked up a few fun items at an estate sale being managed by my vintage clothing friend Julia.  A graceful, slightly translucent, white glass serving bowl - two little tea cups marked Made In Germany.  I'm always drawn to a nice bit of tableware!

Yesterday, when my husband and I got home from a long, lovely conversation with a long-time friend, there were four and only four items in the mailbox - and they were all birthday cards!  How sweet is that?!

One of them is an intricate pop-up birthday cake, which will be the centerpiece of my table for the duration of the weekend, at least.

And here's my friend's sweet granddaughter.  We've known each other since our daughters were this age.  A Cycle of Life moment, for sure.

Last night, a late phone call from my son made the first official happy birthday wish at midnight.  And the best news of all is notification of my daughter getting last minute plane tix for the weekend.  She is making a wedding dress for a friend, and we will have our second intensive weekend of fitting and sewing.  The lace we will be using is from her mother's wedding dress, making it another Cycle of Life event.  Here's a photo from our first sewing weekend in May, bride on the left, mother of the bride in the center, my darlin' daughter on the right.

And then this morning, there was a lovely Joseph Campbell quote posted on Instagram by lostintime_archives.  It touches on concepts of flow and learning from life's ups and downs, which are concepts that I have given quite a bit of musing time of late.

So, all in all, adding in a movie and dinner out with my husband tonight, it's shaping up to be a grand celebration!

July 12, 2017

A Lovely Pile of Paper

Today, as I was filing the repair paperwork from the two quilts I recently finished, I was struck by the size of my "completed repairs" folder.  Just look how thick!  These are all the quilts that have received TLC at my house! 

The earliest pages are from 1984.  There are just a few from the 80s, as I was still mostly working through a shop (The Wild Goose Chase, now closed), and in the 90s, my full time job became parenting and homeschooling.  I really started publicizing myself when I started up my website around 2003 I think, and then started blogging in 2011.  It's really been just the last 5 or so years that my work load has really taken off.

The pile on the right are the papers from the beginning of 2014 until this very day.

Here's what my quilt repair form looks like.

On the back, I take notes as I scan the quilt to make the estimate.  I make hashmark counts of the various kinds of damage and think about how long everything might take. 

These are the notes for the Complete Makeover job. 

This then becomes my checklist as I do the work.  This page was for the wonderful 1930s sampler quilt.

I also keep two online worklists.  Ever since starting to blog,  I've had several quilts here at a time and a pretty decent waiting list.  I'd be lost without my lists!

One list is organized according to the status of the job: next to send - in the mail - estimating - sewing - job complete, waiting for payment - completed jobs.  The other is organized according to the date I promised to take each quilt in.  Each entry includes quilt pattern, customer name, email and/or phone, dates of contact emails.  Yes, it is double bookkeeping, but I find that both are useful, depending on what overview I want at any given point.  Plus, doing it twice somehow helps keep my head screwed on somewhat straight.  Hee, hee. 

July 8, 2017

Embroidered Memories

A short while ago, I received an email asking about the best way to clean this embroidered piece.  After getting some more info, I  suggested that vacuuming would be the safest and sent along the link to my post about how-to vacuum quilts.

I thought this unusual piece was worthy of being shared here, and the owner, Priscilla Friesen, graciously sent me the photos and story below to share here.

The quilt was made by Priscilla's mother, Lisbeth Koehn Friesen, and is a treasured record of family memories.

My family is Mennonite.  My mother always had a sewing project going.  There are other quilters in my family, but my mother did not do quilts.  Her projects were embroidery and handwork projects.  She cross stitched tablecloths, quilts, embroidered clothing, and created 78 embroidered carrying bags.  She did a major sewing project during each of her pregnancies. Mine was an embroidered tablecloth. 

This denim quilt is 45” X 65” with denim squares created from the jeans of my brothers and me.  Each square is uniquely embroidered with different themes or pieces of our clothing as abstract color designs. 

What was particularly unique was the time frame that the quilt was created.  The summer of 1967 was a very disrupted year in the life of the family.  Both my mother and father’s mothers died within a week of each other in July. My father’s grandmother died a month later.  The bulk of the initial squares were embroidered and stitched during the summer driving to and from funerals in Kansas, Minnesota and Ohio.  It was later that year that my mother’s cancer reappeared.  The more stark winter embroidered pieces were created during her cancer radiation treatments.   She gave the quilt to me as the oldest daughter before she died in l971.   It has hung in my home since.   

The embroidered red bird was the first piece.  The idea was taken from a magazine. 

One theme was the seasons as you can see in these four diagonal pieces representing winter, fall, summer and spring. 

The stark white embroidery on darker jean fabric were created during her cancer treatments.  Appliqué pieces of fabric came from pieces of the family’s clothing. 

My favorite square includes french knots on my jeans. 

I think this is a super clever idea for a take-along project.  It's really like doodling with needle and thread.  I, for one, always enjoy doodling - what fun this would be!  And in this case, it also served as a lovely way to hold the family close via needlework during tough times.