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. 

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..."

May 11, 2019

Visible Mending

Generally, whether repairing clothes or quilts for my customers, my goal is invisible mending.  But with visible mending being all the rage these days and I enjoy embroidery, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I've been looking at all sorts of mends that folks are posting on social media.  I've decided that what I like best are mends that neaten up the tears and holes.  And what I like even better are mends that make something artsy and fun out of the patches and mending stitches themselves.

April 10, 2019

Garden Paths

Here's the quilt currently on my work table:

Quite honestly, Grandmother's Flower Garden is not one of my favorite patterns.  And I do get quite a few of them coming in for repair, so I spend quite a bit of time looking at them. 

If I ever make one, which is not at all likely, it'd be like this one.  I like the addition of the tiny diamond paths between the flowers.  These hexies are about 7/8" inch on a side, and the piecing and quilting are quite nicely done.

Also, I really love this particular print.  Firstly, it's green.  And secondly it's got curvey, viney lines.  My favorite kind of print in my favorite color! 

April 1, 2019

A Fun Couple of Weeks

I've had a bit of a lull between repair projects these last couple of weeks, and have been enjoying working on projects that are mostly for me, meaning they mostly don't have anyone waiting at the other end for me to finish them.  So relaxing!

Here's what's been on my worktable:

March 20, 2019


My friend Julia of Basya Berkman Vintage (the person who supplies me with all the fun clothes needing creative repair solutions that you see in these posts) has told me that I need to do this bit of shameless self-promotion.  This is not in my nature.  At all.  But I am following Julia's advice.....

Firstly, my book has celebrated its first birthday.  And there is Big News here in the land of self-publishing:  My book is now on the shelves at both the museum shop of The National Museum of Quilts in Paducah, KY, and the shop at the Museum of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, DC!!!  I am absolutely thrilled!!!  And I am very grateful to these organizations for their votes of confidence in my work.

A Book With My Name On The Cover.  It's still a source of much amazement for me. Wow!

March 19, 2019

Buttons in Boxes and Baskets



Well, let's just say that when a button collection gets so big that buying two new storage boxes isn't enough, well then, that is a big button collection.  Guess how I know.

March 11, 2019

Recent Vintage Clothing Adventures

There's always something new and interesting when repairing vintage clothes for Rare Jule Vintage! I'm sharing some highlights of the last few months of creative repairing.  From buttons (of course there will be buttons!) to darning to alteration to a fun accessory. 

February 25, 2019

Improved 9-Patch

I really enjoyed working on this quilt.  It's a kind of quilt that I have dubbed a "quilt-y quilt" - meaning it personifies what lots of folks think an old quilt ought to look like.  A traditional pattern, scrappy, cozy and bright.

The pattern is called Improved 9-Patch, and with all the curves and narrow points, probably not a beginner's quilt.  The stitching, both the piecing and the quilting, is very well done.

Well at any rate, when I first laid it out to study it and make an estimate, we became friends right away! On top of that, the quilt is still in the family, and the current owner shares info and photos of the maker below.

I thought I'd let this quilt illustrate making fabric selections for repairs.  I was pretty pleased with the fabrics I found.  Sometimes I'm not quite this pleased, so yes, I am showing off a bit.

February 9, 2019

The Melrose Quilt - Statistics and Stories


Now that all the excitement and preparations around the exhibit have come and gone, I'm publishing the compilations of statistics and stories I discovered about life in Melrose, MA, at the end of the 19th century.

A previous post describes the exhibit and events.  Links to many chapters chronicling the research process can be found below.  I hope you enjoy the saga as much as I enjoyed it!

Here are links to the data.  (Depending on your browser and browser settings, you may see the pages here or you may find them in your downloads.)

List of Names on the Quilt - Includes names as written and more complete names when found

Census Records Closest to 1895-1900 - Household members, ages, professions, stories

Census Data Used to Date the Quilt 

Summation of Interesting Facts and Stories

Names Listed in Order of Street Name and Number - In case you visit Melrose and want to look for houses where these people lived

Age Chart - Ages from census records closest to 1895-1900 

Here are all the previous posts:
Part 1 describes the quilt and the initial research.  Part 2 details how I narrowed down the dates, and relates some of the interesting family stories I began finding.  Part 3 tells the story of the Phinney, Dyer, and Hersey families.  Part 4 has general observations on life in the late 1890s.   Part 5 sums up my research.  Part 6 shares the first information from librarians and historians in Melrose.  I wrote a little aside about the fun of being able to look at original records online.  And, since the quilt did initially come to me for repair, and I did eventually stop reading census forms and do the repair work, and wrote up the techniques and choices involved.  And then I went back to the research, and continued to find lots of great information.  After the events, I described the homecoming experience and the exhibits, and wrote about the little quilt I made that was inspired by the historical quilt. And a very astonishing coincidence with another quilt and a family tree.  I was given a photo of one of the people named on the quilt. 

January 29, 2019

Two Family Quilts

Here are two heirloom quilts that came to me in need of some TLC.


At some point, someone affixed typed labels that identify the quiltmakers and the quilts' histories.  This is what's called "provenance" in the antiques biz, and is always a good thing!

Quilt #1

January 21, 2019

A Happy Tale: Returning Lost Quilts to Their Family



My friends are very good to me.  Every time they see or hear something about quilts, they forward it on to me.  Thanks, y'all!  It always brightens my day. 

A friend sent me the link to a story one of his friends had written.  It's a heartwarming tale of family quilts lost and found.  I asked for permission to share the story with you all.  And she said yes!

Studying the Quilts
Quilts Go Home

The author is Suzanna Leigh.  The internet surely has become a marvelous tool that makes this kind of story possible.  I hope you enjoy the story as much as I do.  Brava, Suzanna for finding and caring for these family treasures!