December 18, 2017

Reproducing an Antique Quilt

I bought this quilt years ago when I was working at an antique quilt shop.  (It was a heavenly place to spend my time, I assure you!)  Whenever the pickers would come in to sell their finds, we had the option to buy things, too.  (Heavenly and then some!)

I bought this quilt from one of those pickers.  The back fabric is in rough condition and there are some tears in the borders through all the layers.  (The faded-looking upper left corner is due to the light coming in my window, though).  Here's why I fell in love with this quilt:

November 29, 2017

Treasured Family Hierloom, part 2 The Rings Question

Most of the story of this crazy quilt is in part 1, but I wanted to separate out this question in hopes of hearing some helpful information.

There are several patches decorated with sets of interlocking circles.  The only symbolism I know of for this kind of image are the three chain links of the Odd Fellows.   

But on this quilt, we see these configurations:

The owner is wondering if there is any tradition of representing the people in various branches of the family this way.  Any ideas, anybody? 

Treasured Family Heirloom, part 1

There are many different ways to put a value on a quilt.  Sometimes, like with this one, it's the artistry and the family history that makes it a treasure.  This poor quilt has definitely seen better days.  The silks are pretty much totally shredded.  But even so, the spirit, variety, and skill in the embroideries are notable.  Add to that a wonderful family history, and the quilt becomes something to honor and stabilize as much as possible.

November 21, 2017

Teapots and Butterflies

I found two fun fabrics on a pieced squares scrap quilt.  This is another from the family collection that I have been repairing.   See - Whirling Hexagons and Log Cabin and Capital S.

Fabric number one - turquoise teapots.

November 18, 2017

Capital S

A while back, I posted about a Capital O quilt that I rebuilt.  (And when I say "rebuilt", I really mean rebuilt.  It's quite a saga.)  I'd never come across an O block before.  And now, along comes another initial quilt block I've never seen, a Capital S.

November 13, 2017

More Quilts in the "Something From Nothing" Series

Here come the next three Something From Nothing quilts.  The series is all made from unwanted materials, primarily out-of-date decorator sample books.  (To learn more about the whys and wherefores of the series, visit Something From Nothing, and also follow the links at the end that will take you to other posts about quilts in the series.  You can find the whole set on my website.) 

Cathedral - 32" x 44.5"
This was shown in last weekend's annual Fine Art of Fiber exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  (Photos of all the entries in the show are on the FAOF website.)  All the fabrics in this quilt are different colorways of one print, no other fabrics have been added!  It was one of those quilts that mostly fell right together as I started playing with the fabrics.  Yes, there were a few sticky, problematic places.....but once the work-in-progress had hung on my design wall for long enough, the sticky places seemed to find their way to coming unstuck.


November 7, 2017

19th Century Toddler's Outfit - Addendum

Here's to the wonders of social media, especially in the hands of antiquers!

I recently posted about this mid-19th century toddler's outfit, and now have added info to share.  

November 1, 2017


A quickie little post to share just this one fabric.

I found it on a 1960s scrap quilt.  As I've written before, I'm not in love with the mid-century modern look in quilts, furniture, clothing, etc.  But now, I'm getting lots more quilts from the 1950s-70s showing up here for repair.  So I need to like them!  I discovered one aspect of the era that I totally enjoy - the wealth of conversation prints.  Like this one, they are so very clever.  If I saw this at a store, I'd buy some!

October 16, 2017

Sweet Butterscotch Quilt

This quilt belongs to a friend of mine.  It's a late 19th century quilt.  I found the block in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  It's called New Album, published by Ladies Art Co., pattern #36 (LAC started publishing in the 1890s, and 36 is a fairly low number).

(Note: There is info on finding the book on Brackman's blog.  It's now available as an eBook.  It's an invaluable resource!  It's also available on paper via my favorite used book resource, AbeBooks.  I have no connection to AbeBooks.  So far, I have found their condition notes to be accurate.)

The quilt is a great collection of mid- to late 19th century prints and colors, including a great butterscotch yellow print in the alternate squares. 

October 4, 2017

It's a Wedding Dress!


My daughter Katrina came to me last spring, asking me to be an advisor for a wedding dress one of her best friends had asked her to make.  Of course I would!  We have known Hannah, the bride, and her family since the grade school years. 

What ended up happening was two long and intense and super fun weekends of dress planning and construction.  And after that, a most wonderful wedding! 

September 23, 2017

Creative Quilt Ties

What really intrigued me about this quilt were the "ties".  Instead of the usual yarn or thread knotting, this quilter "tied" her quilt with oversize lazy daisy stitches!  Sometimes, she used a contrasting thread that lets the stitches really show.

Here's the stitching, front and back.  Very clever, don't you think?  And the brocade on the back is really lovely! 

September 21, 2017

A New Family Member

Well, if my beloved Bernina 830 is my first child, which it undoubtedly is, I am proud to announce the addition of its twin to the family.

A short while ago, I joined a Facebook group called Vintage Bernina Sewing Machines.  I soon became aware that lots of people are as in love with this model as I have been.

September 17, 2017

Look at These Cool Buttons!

I did a tiny bit of repair on this jacket, and fell in love with the buttons.  It's a cropped polar fleece jacket from the late 1980s or early 90s.  (And for sale, if you're interested, at my friend Julia's Etsy shop.)  The jacket is by Spanish designer Celia Tejada.  And let me tell you, she had quite an eye for choosing buttons!

Has anyone out there ever seen a button styled like this?  I haven't!  I mean really, how fun is this?!

There are appliquéd red rectangles at the buttonholes, so when the jacket is closed, these clever buttons get the spotlight they deserve!

Here's to those who step out of the box!

September 13, 2017

A Glimpse of the Past

Today I've been mending vintage clothes for Basya Berkman Vintage Fashion.

One of my "patients" is a 1960s-70s dress that needed a new hem.  I found a nice coral hem tape in amongst my stash of vintage sewing supplies.

The reason I'm telling you this, really, is because of the label on the package.

September 1, 2017

Mushrooms 2017

As I've mentioned, I do enjoy walking about taking photos.  It's a kind of meditation and mindfulness for me.

We let our yard grow fairly wild, very wild in places.  The lawn area has so much "other" besides grass that we've taken to calling it a meadow.  There is lots of clover.  Lots of violets.  There is Queen Anne's Lace, which we let grow up tall in some places and mow in others.  There is oxalis.  There is usually plantain, though as I write this, I'm thinking that I haven't seen much this year.  This time of the year, there are little Black Eyed Susans in amongst the Queen Anne's.  For several years we had an expanding fairy ring of mushrooms.  I planted wild geranium and ferns when we moved in, and those have expanded.  There are many other things that I can't name.

August 23, 2017

Eclipse 2017

Eclipse. I saw it. Totality. So amazing! More amazing than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be amazing.

We picked Paducah, KY, for our eclipse watching destination, as any self-respecting quilter would do.  The exhibits at the National Quilt Museum are so thoughtful and beautifully displayed.  It's so heartwarming to have this institution preserving and promoting the creativity and successes of our dedicated quilt artists.   

August 19, 2017

19th Century Toddler's Outfit

Well, so, a friend told me she'd found a box in the attic with this long forgotten outfit.  Her mom gave it to her more than a few years ago.  She got no information from her mother about it.  It's in pretty sad shape, so .... she thought I might want it.  Hee, hee.

It's so hard for me to say to no to an antique gift!  So I said yes.  I think super fragile pieces like this still have value in the "study collection" realm, as examples of clothing construction techniques of the past.

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.

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!

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.

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! 

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.

July 3, 2017

Catching The Moment

For the past few years, I've been using photography as a means to mindfulness and awareness.  I've been taking daily photos of little things that catch my eye - things that either are artsy or symbolic of what I'm doing with my day and my self, or sometimes both at once.  A subcategory has been watching the light and sky out my front door.  I live across from a park, so have great sky views!  Also, I have a huge front window that lets all the changing light into my living room.  It's where I sit to hand sew.

Yesterday, I glanced up right after a small but heavy rain came through.  The clouds were amazing.  I grabbed my camera, but didn’t get to take the photo, because my neighbor was coming up the walk to return my sewing machine which she had borrowed for a couple of hours.  As she left, the clouds were still great and the sun broke through up above.  I quick snapped the photo, all smiles and excitement. 

I’ve always loved that odd combination of sunlit yellowish green leaves against dark blue-grey storm clouds.  It’s a color combination I’d never have thought of on my own, so I find it fascinating that it looks so cool.  It also speaks to mindfulness quite strongly, as these moments pass in an instant. 

I've been thinking to share some of my daily photos just for fun.  So perhaps this is a beginning of that aspect of this practice. 

June 24, 2017

Another Perfect 1930s Double Wedding Ring

The Double Wedding Ring pattern was sure popular in the 1930s!  This spring, I've had two here for repairs in the same month.  When I blogged about the first one, I called it a perfect quilt - hence the name of this post.

Both have the same characteristics, including a huge variety of pastel print scraps and great needlework.  Here they are side-by-side, so you can see how they are alike and how they differ.  I always think it's great fun to compare and contrast the design choices that make each rendition of a pattern unique.

June 14, 2017

Two Conversation Prints

A fiber friend is going through the sad process of clearing out her ailing aunt's home.  The aunt was quite a crafter, and had amassed a huge collection of craft supplies over many decades.  My friend found it was way too much for her to take on, and offered us the chance to choose some goodies for ourselves.

I always take a moment at times like these and at estate sales to thank and honor the person who loved the same things I do, and who found such fun ways to express her personality!

June 1, 2017

Busy, Busy Month of May

This week takes a prize of some sort for having three newly-finished quilts signed, sealed, and delivered in just one short week.

My hometown of Evanston holds a month-long arts celebration every June called Evanston Made.  There are exhibits and programs all over town.  This year, I'm exhibiting in two events.

This quilt will be in the main show at the Evanston Art Center.  It's a new member of my Something From Nothing series called "Symmetry."  It's 16.5" x 16.5".  The opening is this Friday 6/2 5-8pm, and I'll be there.  The show runs for the entire month. 

May 23, 2017

Cozy 9-Patch

This lovely little 9-patch came for a few small repairs to the top and remedy for the very worn edges.  Originally, it had a knife-edge finish.  I added a binding as a way to cover all the wear along the edges most efficiently.

This quilt was made by Etta Metott Weaver, the current owner's great-grandmother, in the 1950s.  You can see another of her quilts in a post called A Complete Makeover.

May 15, 2017

It's Mend It May!

The other day, I discovered via Instagram that there's a tag for #menditmay where people share their mending adventures!  So, I'm taking this moment to pass along the links about mending that I've been coming across.

Mending used to be much more the norm back when many things were made by hand and were much more precious.
I love investigating old repairs.  Here's some old darning on a lovely Edwardian day dress.

May 4, 2017

Amish-made Sampler Quilt


This quilt was a wedding gift, much adored, and came to me in need of some patching.  The needlework is marvelous, which after all is something Amish quilters are famous for.  This is a quilt made for sale, not at all in the traditional style of the antique Amish quilts.  Repairing it required that my needle skills stay on par with those of this great quiltmaker!

April 30, 2017

There's A First Time For Everything

So yesterday about noon I was sitting at the computer doing Stuff when the doorbell rang.  There stands a delivery guy with a huge bouquet of flowers.  I'm all prepped to direct him to whichever house he's really looking for, because there are a couple of addresses that always get confused with ours.

And then - he said my name!  How bizarre!

I brought the flowers in, and found this card.

April 25, 2017

Fun With Stripes

If I was writing a catchy newspaper headline it might read something like this:

Local Quilter Inspired by Late Night Stitching Session!

I'm working on another little piece for my Something From Nothing series, this one to be part of a show you'll hear more about soon where the size limit is just 12".  I'm making this piece using just this one really cool striped fabric.  (You can see that I used a little bit of it in a previous quilt in the series.)

April 19, 2017

A Perfect 1930s Double Wedding Ring

I call this a perfect quilt, because it is just what a 1930s quilt is all about.  There's the popular Double Wedding Ring pattern.  There's the wide range of 1930s prints and soft colors.  There's great quilting. 

April 13, 2017

A Complete Makeover

This poor little quilt has been "through it".  The quilt is currently owned by the great-granddaughter of the quiltmaker.  She sent me this history:

The quilt was made by my great grandmother, Etta Metott Weaver, most likely in 1950 or 1951. She made a quilt for each grandchild (including the grandsons) when they got married. My mother, Jane Weaver, was Etta's granddaughter and she married in 1951. Therefore, I imagine the quilt was made for my mom in 1950 or 1951.

I couldn't find a name for the block, so I am dubbing it Capital O, at least until I learn otherwise. 

She sent these photos of the quilt's condition.  Yes, this is just a top and back, no batting.  It looks to me like someone took it apart to fix it up, and then realized they didn't quite know how to proceed!

March 30, 2017

A 1930s Sampler Quilt

OK, folks, I totally love this quilt!

It's a super fun collection of well-loved blocks, other more uncommon blocks, and a couple of wonderful appliqué creations.  The fabrics are pure 1930s style.  One really fun detail that you can watch for in the photos is that the ties are placed according to the design on each individual block.  There were some previous repairs here and there, including a new binding.

I just couldn't help myself, and took a photo of each block.  You can click to enlarge them.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

March 20, 2017

Things Are Looking Up

After a long dry spell due to a broken foot, I am finally able to stand and walk long enough to get back into my sewing room and back to playing with fabric!  Phew!!!

It's amazing to feel the creative flow again.  And let me tell ya, it's whoosing after being pent up for so long!

The in-progress quilt in the Something From Nothing series got finished, thanks to my friend Julie who came and helped me with the basting.  It's 10" wide and 8' (yes, feet) long!  It will hang vertically.  The orange polka dot fabric is an old sheet as foundation fabric, and is not part of the finished effect. 
Working title:  Right Side / Wrong Side

Now, three more are now in various stages of planning. 
Working titles:  
left - Faded Photograph
center -Petals
right - Cathedral

I've got about four or five more in my mind's eye.  I am determined to finish the series in not too much longer!  You can read about the process in some previous posts, and see all but the four most recently finished quilts on my blog.

March 14, 2017

Card Trick Quilt

This quilt is about 25 years old.  It was purchased on a Pennsylvania Amish farm.  I recently repaired a couple of tears it had acquired over the years. 

The quilt is based on a block called Card Trick.  This pattern is called Star Spin Quilt, published by Oregon Treasures in 1988.  These rows use the basic block.