December 30, 2019

Charm Quilts

Well, I think this is a great topic for this put-a-new-calendar-on-the-wall and make-those-happy-wishes time of year.

Charm quilts, as the name indicates, are made with thoughts of good luck in mind.  I'd heard the folklore that the magic happens because each piece is a unique fabric....but if one and only one fabric has been used twice, the quilt has a special magic.  So that's what I did.  My charm quilts were made for my babies because, as a quilter, I of course had to make them each a very special quilt.

December 17, 2019

Just Wanna Quilt Blog

I'm starting something new! I've put up my first post as a contributing blogger on the Just Wanna Quilt blog. Just Wanna Quilt is: a research project to investigate all the who-what-why questions of the quilt world, a research project to clarify copyright and other legal aspects of creating art and craft, a super fun quilt adventure, and a great group of vibrant and interesting quilters. There's a podcast (which I've been interviewed on) and sewing challenge projects and lots of great discussions in the facebook group, and etc. etc. Woo hoo!  Thanks to Prof. Elizabeth Townsend-Gard for brainstorming this wonderful adventure!
Here's my inaugural post:

December 2, 2019

Yo-Yo Flower Basket


This lovely quilt came to me for washing - it had met with a disaster or two that had left stains.  I'm happy to say that I got the stains out.

The quilt is huge, about 112" square, so the full quilt photos were especially tricky.  So was laying it out to dry, because it was not much smaller than the plastic drop cloth I use at drying time and had to be positioned just-so.

Isn't this quilt lovely?  Springtime personified.  A good thing to post here in the Chicago area where winter snow came early and we are clearly into the time of grey winter days.

November 14, 2019



This year, maybe because of our super long and wet spring, the fungi group has flourished in my yard and neighborhood.  Such variety this year! 

The one pictured above is probably the most stereotypical mushroom of the bunch.  The variety beyond that seems to go on forever.

This is an interesting community, seen in a nearby parkway.

October 29, 2019

Quiltin' On The Road - Retreat!

How many of you have had this experience - a group of people take a class or workshop together, get along well, trade contact info, vow to get together.....and it never happens?  Well, this is a wonderful group of people who have made it happen!

And we've been having such a good time, we decided to try our first retreat, a week ago.  Here's a view on the road.  It wasn't taken on the retreat property, but is such a perfect symbol of driving to a peaceful, joyful place. 

October 18, 2019

More Embroidery for the Social Justice Sewing Academy

I wrote about the Social Justice Sewing Academy in a post last fall, and showed these first two blocks I worked on.  You can hear a great interview with SJSA founder Sara Trail at the Just Wanna Quilt podcast.


A quick summary:  Blocks are designed and created (pieces glued on) by young people to express their social justice concerns and dreams.  The blocks go to sewists like me who embroider them to attach all the pieces securely and add texture and depth.  Then the blocks are made into quilts by more volunteers and sent to galleries and shows.  The final result is a bunch of young people who learn that art can express who they are and that their concerns can be heard.  It's simply wonderful!

I kinda forgot to keep posting blocks, so here are the next four that I've done.  The project is both fun and extremely fulfilling.  It is a true blessing, tapping into the great emotional depths and wonderful visual expressiveness of teens who need to be heard.

October 4, 2019

Family Heirloom Needlework

This is a spread made by my paternal grandmother.  I believe the needlework technique is called net darning.  If anyone knows differently, or can tell me more about the technique, I'd love to hear from you.

My grandmother's name was Martha Nathansohn Wassermann.  She was born in Stargard, Pomerania.  Pomerania is a region that is currently split between Poland and Germany, but the border has wobbled over the centuries.  She had five sisters and one brother.  She and my grandfather Karl Wassermann lived in Bamberg, Bavaria, Germany.  They had two sons, Heinz my dad (on the left), and Kurt my uncle.  This photo was probably taken around 1914-15. 

September 24, 2019

I'm Loving Visible Mending

So, my jeans which are a little big on me and thereby super comfy (I'm a fan of baggy clothes), split at one knee.  I keep a stash of the good bits of discarded jeans for just these times.  Usually I make a basic rectangle patch and stitch it on.  But I've been bitten by the visible mending bug now, so a basic rectangle just won't do!

I thought about how it was kind of like a blinking eye with my kneecap poking out, and boom, decided to mend it with an appliquéd eye.  I enlarged the eye I used for my Eye Contact project for the Sacred Threads show.  I used a variety of denim colors, and here's the result.  I am, as I'm learning to say from my internet friends across the pond, chuffed. 

Here's the Eye Contact quilt I made last spring.



There's now a catalog of the exhibit.  I highly recommend it.  I always love a good challenge project with all the myriad variations on the theme.  This collection does not disappoint.  So many varied techniques and interpretations!

September 16, 2019

Dog Meets Quilt. Visible Mending to the Rescue!

I highlighted my first foray into the fun of visible mending just a few months ago.

Visible mending is all the rage these days in the reduce, reuse, and recycle community.  It's a way to mend clothes by adding stitching that adds to the fun of wearing them while keeping them out of the landfill for as long as possible.  It also helps the clothing tell the story of its long life and expresses the appreciation of the person or people who have worn it.

Here's visible mending of a quilt.  A repair student of mine had her dog chew a hole in her own bed quilt while I was guiding her through repairing and re-backing a Victorian crazy quilt for a friend.  She sent the story and step-by-step photos so I could see, and agreed to let me share them with you here.  Thanks, Pam!

September 3, 2019

Polka Dots!

I made a small polka dot themed quilt as part of the copyright study at Just Wanna Quilt.   The basic question is to find the line between what's unique enough to be copyrightable and what is considered too common (eg., basic polka dots).  (By the way, any and all are welcome to join the project and make all sorts of things.  Visit the facebook page to sign up.  It's a great group, lots of interesting and fun discussions on all sorts of quilt-y topics.)

That may sound all highfalutin (which I discovered is actually in the dictionary and I spelled it right!), but actually I'm just using it as a reason to play with my stash.  You know, always so fun!

So, the background is white satin from a wedding dress that was too badly damaged to be re-saleable, but good in places for fabric and trim salvage.  And the polka dots are reverse appliqué, with machine zig-zag and invisible thread.

July 29, 2019

Remember Me


There used to be an antique quilt gallery here called the Wild Goose Chase, and I used to work there.  That's where I got my start in repairing quilts.  (Photo from 1980-something.)

My mom, though not a quilter, found and bought an intriguing quilt there every time she visited.  This is my favorite of the ones she bought.  I think she was drawn to this one because she did lots of embroidery, and because she loved good novels.  This one has a such sweetness to it and surely held some meaningful stories.

July 16, 2019

Quilts by Aunt Betty

I've recently had a lovely woman visit me with her collection of family quilts.  These two were made by her Aunt Betty.  The owner says she only met Aunt Betty a couple of times, but remembers her as a very happy women.  We both think that Betty's quilts display her spirit quite clearly!

This one is a basic LeMoyne Star block.  What I love about it is the happy mix of colors, and the way Aunt Betty played with color placement and combinations in a most enjoyable way.

July 10, 2019

A Special Guest in Chicago

I'm happy to say that I got to spend an afternoon (almost two weeks ago now) in Chicago with Elizabeth Townsend-Gard, her grad student Madison, and her daughter and friend.  Elizabeth is the creator of the Just Wanna Quilt podcast and community.  She's a gem! 

She is a law professor at Tulane University.  She's blended her love of quilting with her skills in copyright law and business entrepreneurship by creating programs that use the quilt world as a case study for her students.  The podcast is a series of interviews with quilters from all the myriad aspects of the quilting world.  It's simply the best thing to listen while quilting, and the info she is gathering is super useful!  Brilliant, and a boon to everyone involved!  It was so great to meet Elizabeth in person and talk face-to-face, the old fashioned way!

Chicago contributed super wonderful weather (a rarity here in this year of very wet and very cool weather with little blips of super hot and humid every now and then).  We talked quilts and quilt biz over lunch, and continued talking during a visit to the mosaics at the Chicago Cultural Center and a wander through the Art Institute, especially the Thorne Miniature Rooms - two of my favorite Michigan Avenue places since my childhood.  Beauty and quilt inspiration everywhere!

July 6, 2019

Beautiful Stormy Skies

We've had a super wet and cool spring and early summer here in Chicagoland.  Super duper wet and cool until just the last week or so.  Lots of rain and sometimes fog.  My ferns have been outright joyous!  Interesting mushrooms have sprouted.  

Sometimes, the rains have come as heavy but short bursts, moving on eastward, out over Lake Michigan.  The cloud formations have been gorgeous. 

When this happens in late afternoon and early evening, the sun peeks through the clearing skies to the west and lights up the view to the east in a most wonderful way.  The greenery shines against the slate blue storm clouds.  Such a great color combo!  It grabs my attention every single time!  Thanks, Mother Earth, I never would have thought to put those two colors together.

And a short while later, storm clouds are long gone, and it's a clear blue and white sky again.

Then, a few days ago, we saw the same situation looking towards the west.  We were driving home to Chicago after spending a couple of days in Ohio.  The storm clouds were spectacular to begin with.  Having them lit from behind by the setting sun was simply amazing.

Lovely clouds at the leading edge of the storm system.

Driving towards grey rainclouds on the horizon.

And here's the rain, dead ahead.

The rain slows down, and we're approaching, and then under, clear skies.

Approaching the next line of storm clouds.

And it's raining dead ahead of us again.

Just before the rain started, we pulled over for a rest stop and some food.  By the time we were done eating, the rain had stopped again.  We were treated to a colorful, near solstice sunset to the far northwest, under clearing skies.  A magnificent trip home, indeed!  My camera and I were very busy!

June 26, 2019

In the Press

Thanks to Barbara Burnham for writing a kind and thorough review of my book on her blog, "Baltimore Garden Quilts".  There's not much pleasanter than a great and unexpected review!

Barbara shares stories and photos of some really beautiful quilts to illustrate the questions that can arise about how to care for them.  And she ends with this lovely sentiment:
I will highly recommend Ann’s book to everyone with a quilt! Give our quilts the special care they deserve, and help preserve them for the years (and generations) to come.

Lots more information about the book - ordering information, other reviews, FAQs, etc. - can be found on my website

Barbara has written a book, too.  Baltimore Garden Quilt, provides patterns, instructions, and lessons to recreate an amazing 1848 Baltimore album style appliqué quilt.  Any of you who are looking for a PhD in appliqué, here's your chance!

Barbara also told me about the Baltimore Appliqué Society.  This is a group inspired by the beauty of these antique appliqué gems.  They focus both on keeping the appliqué traditions alive and in supporting museum collections and antique quilt preservation in general - two noble goals.

June 18, 2019

Antique Wedding Dress, 1872

This dress was worn by Margaret Jane McCornack at her wedding to Myron Gage on May 14, 1872. The dress has been passed down in her family, and is now in the possession of her great-granddaughter.  She told me that the McCornack family came from Scotland to the Elgin, IL, area in 1835 for religious reasons.  Margaret’s father Alexander McCornack was born in St. Luce parish south of Glascow.  The Gage family came to the US in the 17th century.

The dress is now headed to the Elgin History Museum.  Margaret's great-granddaughter brought it to me for mending before it goes to the museum.

To add to the fun, here's a family portrait taken the day after the wedding.  Margaret is sitting on the far left side in the second row.  Her father and mother are seated on the right of the second row.  

The dress is a textured silk, in one of those colors that just won't stay put in any one category.  Is it an olive-greeny grey?  Or is it a greyed olive green?  We shall never know for sure!  It is lined with a medium brown polished cotton.

June 3, 2019

Tree Sisters


A Facebook group called Tree Sisters put out a call for 12" blocks to be joined into a quilt to be displayed next year, the "Year of the Tree".  An idea popped into my head, so I went for it.   

(Submission deadline is July 1. And there's room for some more blocks. Here's info on making and submitting a quilt block. )

I remember being fascinated when I first learned that trees and other plants have just as much size and spread under the ground with their roots as above ground with their branches.  Up until then, I guess it was kind of out of sight, out of mind.  So my design represents that.  And by showing a more complete view of a tree, I've also included the earth and all those underground process of growth and nourishment.

May 26, 2019

I See You

I finished this little quilt a few days ago.  It is now en route to the Sacred Threads exhibit, to be held in Herndon, VA, July 11-28, 2019.  From the website:

"Sacred Threads is an exhibition of quilts exploring themes of joy, inspiration, spirituality, healing, grief and peace/brotherhood. This biennial exhibition was established to provide a safe venue for quilters who see their work as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their spiritual journey."

This year in addition to the main exhibit, there is a special project called Eye Contact: Creating a Connection

"There is a famous quote by Cicero (106-43 B.C.). 'Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi' (The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter). 'The eyes are the window of the soul' is a variant form of the proverb..."

I find the whole idea so intriguing.  That, coupled with the small size - 23" wide x 5" high - made the decision to make an entry so easy!  The only direction is that the quilt show "two human eyes looking at the viewer".

The project also seems to have a secondary name (it's in the link to the Eye Contact page) of "I See You".  I've been studiously avoiding political comments on my posts, but in this case, I touch in with politics just a bit, as this is a big part of what drew me to participate.  The desire (necessity) to be truly seen seems to me to be so crucial to the divisions and angst that currently plague our political/social discourse.  Everyone on both sides of the aisle seems to be clamoring to be seen, heard, honored, represented.  "I see you" may be the most powerful tool we have to mend our interrelationships.

I had so much fun creating this little quilt!  It was one of those wonderful flow experiences where the right fabrics were at hand, they interacted just like I wanted, and little flashes of extra inspiration kept appearing.  I even made up a way to indicate my curly grey hair with thread!  I used white, metallic silver, and iridescent threads.

I worked from a selfie, isolated the eyes, overlaid a grid to enlarge to the required size, cut and stitched appliqués, embroidered facial lines and eyelashes, quilted around the appliqués and to attach the curly thread/hairs.

 I See You!