Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WWI Block of the Month Block Four - Ladies Delight

I have been spending a lot of hours on the Shindig quilt this week but managed to piece the block for this project.

Only the stem of the applique is actually sewn in place - the star is just placed there for photography and the leaves and blue circle are just fused. I'll finish the sewing when the quilting is done.

The Ladies Delight block is another one I have never made. I toyed with the idea of swapping some of the white and blue pieces, but then realized it was done this way so the leaves cover only the background and none of the colored areas. Almost entirely Vicki Welsh's hand dyes (the streaked dark blue is actually a print), I think this makes a pretty block!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dyed eggs and other creations

I spent a couple of very pleasant hours at friend Judi's house with a group of creative women who came up from Florida for a week at one member's cabin in nearby Maggie Valley.  Judi hosted a lovely brunch for all eight of us, then we headed to her studio to tie-dye Easter eggs.  We actually tied them up with men's silk ties that had been purchased at thrift stores and deconstructed.

It was really amazing to unwrap the egg and see the tie printed on the eggshell.  All we did was tie them up with rubber bands then wrap again in other fabric and secured that with more rubber bands. The eggs were pre-washed with vinegar, then boiled as you would for hard-boiled eggs.

I tried to be a little more creative and put a smaller piece of one tie on an egg then wrapped it all in a second tie before finishing up with the mummy wrapping.  A careful selection of prints and placement could result in a patchwork effect.

I had seen onion-skin dying on a blog yesterday, so we tried that, too.  We used both red and yellow onions - here's a close up of one where I tried a resist technique with a flower cut out of plastic. My design is lost, but the effect is still interesting -
Here's my little carton of eggs all together- it shows the foulard print of the two-fabric egg you couldn't see much of in the first photo.

Aren't those fun?  And the technique couldn't be easier since there was no mixing of dye solutions. You don't know which colors will transfer from the silk ties. 

Back home after a walk, I made up my Austen Family Album block of the week, a Cross within a Cross block.

I seem to have a periwinkle and golden yellow theme going on today.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sister's Choice - Austen Family Album week 2

I have always liked this one -

Both the shibori stripe and the periwinkle are hand dyes from the fabulous Vicki Welsh.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mug-rugs for Cindy and a new block of the week

We had a birthday party for Cindy on Friday. It was suggested we could bring gag gifts, but I'm not good at those so I made her a pair of mug rugs in her black bird theme that go with the black and tan accents in her house -

The bird was an image labeled for non-commercial reuse with modifications. I printed it on a treated organza and used a low-contrast tan and white Japanese tree print to back it. The mug rugs are about 6x8 with minimal straight line quilting and a single fold binding to finish them off.

I started a new block of the week program by Barbara Brackman today that I won't be blogging about in detail. The theme of the weekly stories is Jane Austen. I'm not really an Austen fan - I read some of the books because they were available in recorded book format from the library but otherwise I probably would never have read them.

The block was called "Bright Star" on the blog, but I've always seen it as "Rosebud" - a block I don't care for. The two contrasting small triangles always just look awkward to me, so I disguised them with my choice of floral prints. The stripe doesn't go with the flower theme but I think gives the pinwheel a little energy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A new Challenge Series begins

Dorry is always the one to come up with these great ideas and organize groups of quilters to stretch and create quilts beyond our comfort zones! We finished the June Bride series when the Bride finally had her day, so now we're on to a one-year-long/four quilt project that will also have vintage quilt blocks as the starting point.  This series is based on the seasons, the first being Spring.  I got my block a week or two ago.

We are to include the color Green in these quilts. I thought I might be able to use some of the green and yellow fabrics I had for Dana's quilt, but that was before I saw this particular pink. Except for the fabrics than included black, most of the fabrics I had looked too toned compared to this coral sort of pink and I didn't want black for spring.

I looked at my floral prints that included bright pink. Since pink and green are a common combination, I get a feeling that for me, starting with these would take something away from the challenge. I've taken that approach before, with two of the fabrics in this group, actually. The roses on the left would be a challenge if I were to incorporate all the tonal browns, so I was leaning that way, but I'm not sure the combination would read 'spring' very loudly in a 24"x24" quilt.

You might rightly protest that the peony on the lower right is not a fabric.  It's a card Dorry sent on another recent occasion, a print of a watercolor by Great Falls Studio Artist Linda Jones. The bright pinks with the dark green is a winning combination. Linda's palette adds a touch of orange and a hint of purple to the mix -- but I used that in my Reston quilt based on the fabric just above it.  I haven't quite decided yet, but have spent some time on color-palette websites to get an interesting and challenging combination that might not be found in my fabric collection.

After the colors decision, the problem of how to incorporate the vintage block in a quilt remains. I have made no secret of the fact that I prefer geometric fabric shapes just make geometric patterns without trying to represent real objects like a boat. I cut up the last of the June Bride blocks to use it like fabric - but only because I hadn't done that before and wanted to try it.  I think for this quilt I will try to use the original shapes, if not all of the original piecing. We are as always supposed to use just about all of that vintage block for the challenge. Hmmm.... I wonder what kind of block uses that boat-bottom shape?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Threads of Memory - Month 3: New Garden Star for Catherine White Coffin

Our Threads of Memory history stories are from the Underground Railroad. Today's  block honors the Coffin family from North Carolina who moved to Newport, Indiana to operate a way-station that offered shelter and clothing to escapees.

New Garden Star

They operated out of a meeting house they named New Garden for the place in Guilford County, North Carolina they left behind.

I have no soldier letters from Shep and Billy for March. After the Meridian Campaign, according to the regimental history, veterans, which Shep would have counted among, were absent on furlough during March and April, leaving Vicksburg on March 4th and arriving home March 17th. I hope that Shep was able to enjoy some time with his family while the newer recruits went on the Red River campaign.

The 82nd was still in the vicinity of Chattanooga.  The regimental historian, Colonel Hunter's brother Alfred, wrote that their duty after the battle was to guard the area of Ringgold, an important point for the eventual march against Atlanta.  Alfred tells one story from March:

"During our stay at this point, some time in March, a snow six inches deep fell, and two Ohio regiments formed in line of battle some distance apart facing each other, and opened a snowball battle. It was real exciting to see them charge and counter charge, and finally commence capturing their enemy and carry them to the rear. The men became as earnest in the battle as though it was an actual enemy confronting them. There was much blood spilled principally from noses and all appeared to enjoy it very much."

Alfred also tells a complicated story about getting an extra ration of potatoes for the 82nd that were shipped in barrels to the Indiana troops.  It sounds as though potatoes were much appreciated and not part of the rations.  

from the Library of Congress collection: Boxcars and depot with Federal cavalry guard beyond, Chattanooga Tennessee.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four Identical Little Memory Quilts

When my family was going through my mother's clothing to sort what some of us wanted to keep and what should be taken to the local thrift store, I came across a blouse made of a fabric I instantly recognized. My father had brought it back from a trip to Egypt decades ago.  I had personally not seen my mother wear the blouse, but based on the frayed parts around the collar and sleeve seams, she had worn it quite a bit. Because I lived away from the area, I asked my geographically closer siblings if they had seen our mother wear it, and they did.  The blouse was a great example of her excellent sewing skills, but, with its large boxy shape and kimono sleeves, was out of style and too worn out to be useful as apparel -- indeed, based on its location in the closets, she had not worn it for some time herself. The blouse seemed too precious to me to turn over to the thrift store, where no doubt, it would be thrown into a stack of items for sale by the pound to the industrial rag industry.  The fabric is a very fine Egyptian cotton plain weave - what was a quilter to do?

I turned into not one but four quilts, one for each of my siblings.  I thought the hieroglyphics lent themselves to this classic strippy design with a simple on-point nine patch block. A current fabric line called Legacy, with Egyptian motifs in blue and gold gave interest to the setting triangles, and very thin cuts of a classic stripe separated the original blue and white cotton from the pieced areas.  The size of the quilts (about 25 inches square) was determined by the length of the strips I cut from the fronts and back of the blouse.

I had long ago planned to make an Egyptian-themed quilt and collected several prints in fat-quarter and full-yard pieces.  The two largest of these wound up on as backings.  Carl got this one, because his living room has long had a print of the mask of King Tut on display. 

These quilts were finished several months ago, but the other three waited in a dark closet for a couple of months here in North Carolina, while Carl's quilt went on display in the "Something Blue" exhibit Dorry curated for Art Space in Herndon Virginia.  Dorry has sent Carl's quilt on to him.

Jeff's quilt got this camel print for the backing. I thought it would appeal to his wife, Joanna.

Joyce and Roger's quilts got another print from the Legacy fabric line - I thought I took a photo of the two quilts with the back of one and front of the other showing, but I can't find it right now. Here's a swatch of the print -

Some parts of the sleeves of Mom's blouse are already in a quilt that granddaughter Jenn made for her sister Lyn last year (pictured at this link) and I have a few more of those sleeve pieces in my collection yet. My family members do not have to display the little quilts on their walls - they can use them on a table, or put them in a drawer, but I feel much better that the fabric that my Dad personally brought back and that my mother worked with and wore might stay in the family for a few more years.

Monday, March 17, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - Block Three: Dog Tooth Violet

The story and photos that went with the block this month were interesting, but I missed the connection between the Dog Tooth Violet block and the soldier's experience.  Perhaps these blocks were chosen merely for their patriotic flair.

I have not made this block before, but it is a pretty one. The wreath is intended to overlap the piecing, and I'm getting used to that. I put the block together yesterday, but didn't even get a start on the applique, even though all the pieces were ready to fuse and stitch.  I have found that glue-basting the stem is the best way to hold it in place for the machine applique. The fusible I was working with does not hold.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Never too early ....

.... to start planning for summer. The Mountain Jam Circle quilters met several weeks ago and purchased the fabrics for this year's Shindig on the Green quilt. We are following an Eleanor Burns pattern that requires some assembly before the cutting is completed, but Alice got the first part of the cutting done.  We met for a yummy lunch at her house last week so that I could get some of the remnants to make a block for the center.

This block includes all the fabrics that will appear in the quilt.  I used the basic idea of the block Eleanor Burns used, but made it slightly more complex to incorporate all the shades of blue in what I hope looks like a transparent overlay of a light blue frame on point set over a Missouri Star.  I have found two related blocks "Noon and Light" and a version of "Royal Star"  - but surprisingly, no traditional pattern that is exactly this combination of squares and triangles.

This is a 12 inch block. Alice and Ann will be piecing the rest of a lap sized-quilt around it.  Should be a beauty!

Monday, February 24, 2014

A hat for Marvin

When Marvin saw the hat I knit for Norris, he said he wanted one just like it.  "Just like it," I wondered, "the same shape, the same texture, the same color?"  NO!  Not the same color!

Marvin needed a KU Blue hat. This blue was the closest I found in an easy-care worsted weight. Marvin's hat is a slight improvement on the earlier model, for which I was short of yarn. There's more room in the crown.

I mailed the hat off last week - it arrived on Friday when Marla and Marvin were getting ready to leave on vacation. They went to the beach in Florida. I don't think Marvin needs the hat there - and this winter is probably over in Chattanooga. But he'll have it for any chilly weather next year.  Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk!