Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week 22 - Jack's Delight

Questionable Humor  - ridicule actually - is the subject of this week's block. We saw many examples of jokes and cartoons making fun of the suffragists in the U.S. and England, including a link to a 6 minute Charlie Chaplin movie from 1914. It is never listed among the better films Chaplin made, and in fact, modern critics pretty much pan it as a bad take off on the better gags in Kid Auto Races. You can watch it at this link:

I found myself interested in the clothing worn in the movie and looked at one listed for 1913 on the same website. It was a Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand movie called Mabel's New Hero. In both the bad Chaplin movie and the New Hero movie, the comedic character wore bold stripes - everyone else wore solids. Since these were silent films, I am pretty sure that fabric choice was quite deliberate.  So I figured I'd have to use stripes in my block this week.

The choice of the bright lemons for the center was deliberate on my part.  After looking at the two movies referenced, I became interested in Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle and other films from the era and got lost clicking around in the Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia and Google Images. One of the chefs I occasionally watch on the Food Network likes to use lemons and lists them as essential to California cuisine. So, since I had spent a good part of my morning virtually in Hollywood, the lemons jumped out of the group of fabrics at me.

And now I'll just click my way back to Hollywood and look at more of the films and the ladies' dresses from a hundred years ago.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Week 21 - Parasol

January 21st this week was Dana's 26th birthday, and it was the 21st week of the Grandmother's Choice blocks. I hoped the design would be something special and I was not disappointed.  Barbara Brackman picked The Parasol and wrote about how it was used to carry the message of Votes for Women in great photos from the era. This is my version -

You can't tell from my photo - this block is based on the Double Wedding Ring. This illustration shows the piecing.

I printed the pattern on freezer paper, then drew a line from corner to corner on each of the eight pieces of the "fringe."

When I cut out the pieces, I lined my diagonal line up on one of the thin green lines of this lemon print, so that when I pieced them together, they made the chevron. This shows how I used the stripes of the print to get my effect.

I mentioned that this block is connected to the Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern.  To get a copyright free image, I drew and colored this illustration that more or less resembles the piecing design of these quilts.

Double Wedding Ring (DWR) quilts were very popular in the 1930's. I wanted to come back to the DWR pattern because the only quilt I know of that was made by my ancestors that was kept to be  passed down was a DWR, made by Alice Bruner, whom I mentioned in week 7, Alice's Flag.This is the best photo I have of Alice -

Alice Jane Bruner
My Aunt Alice used a similar photo of Alice Jane in the same dress in her book and said it was taken about 1900. Alice would have been 48 that year.  Alice lived until 1941, so she probably made her DWR in the 1930's. I have not seen the quilt. My mother believed her sister, my Aunt May, wound up with it so we assume one of her children owns it now. I enjoyed thinking about Alice Jane when I pieced my little parasol fringe.

I think this is the only picture I have showing me with Dana as a baby in 1987 when she was born. Her father, my brother Carl, took it outside the front door of the house Dana grew up in, where her parents still live. I think it was Easter Sunday. Dana was just big enough to hold her own head up!

 My hair changed a few times since then, but now it almost looks like this style.  Dana, however, has changed her hairstyle completely!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Shindig 2013 - My part of the piecing

It works out I can meet up with fellow Mountain Jam Circle quilters tomorrow, so I got my little bit of the piecing for the Shindig 2013 Raffle Quilt finished.

O.K. this is just a bunch of medium sized triangles pieced into squares and set up in random fashion on the design wall - but it shows the fabrics that will be in the quilt.  Alice and Ann plan to do the bulk of the piecing of the quilt at a retreat in a few weeks. I get to quilt it after that. This looks nothing like the finished quilt, which will be a modern, graphic design, chosen again to look good from a couple of hundred feet away.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Week 20: Memory Wreath

This week's history lesson was about Emily Wilding Davidson, one of England's more radical Suffragists. She was killed in her attempt to stop the King's horse at the 1913 Derby. Surprisingly, there are videos of the event available on YouTube. (you can find a link to one of them on Ms. Brackman's blog.) Emily Davidson had tried to commit suicide before and it's not clear whether that was part of the intention of her daring action in June of 1913.

The newsreel footage I watched saddened me this morning, so I just tried to make a pretty block.

I deliberately changed the value placement to make a dark/light/dark frame for the bird in flight. As we approach the half-way point in making these blocks, I decided to reuse two fabrics in this block. I still have many that have not been used at all, but repeating some of the ones I bought just for this quilt will help tie the blocks together.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


When I was still working, I pretty much stuck to one quilt project at a time.  I can't say that these days.  Here's my design wall today.

Across the top is my Grandmother's Choice  with the smaller Dixie Diaries block just stuck up there.  The blue and white columns are for four small quilts, and the red and tan squares off to the lower right are my share of the piecing for the next Shindig Raffle quilt.  Add to that:  the design wall doesn't contain anything of the Round Robin I'm working on. I've put almost as much time into that this week as these other four projects.  I had the parts for that one up on the wall, but had to take it down to make room for the blue and white quilts. But I'm not sewing anything on the Round Robin yet. 

I have a lot more space to organize these projects in this house - perhaps that is why I am enjoying them all so much.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month 2013 - Dixie Diary: Month 1 - Her Flag Flying

My Great Grandfather, John, was born on May 16, 1842 in Jennings County, Indiana, his parents' only son. Twenty years later, on August 7, he joined up with the newly formed 82nd Indiana Regiment. This regiment served in what became the Army of the Cumberland and participated in the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, the March to the Sea and some of the last fighting in North Carolina in early 1865.

Barbara Brackman has started a Civil War block series for 2013 using the diary of Sarah Morgan and a 19th Century sampler to recall events of this time 150 years ago. I am making the blocks for a quilt and will follow the 82nd Indiana Regiment's 1863 history as we go. Two of my grandmother Faye's great uncles, my great great uncles William and Shepherd, also fought for the Union. William was with John in the 82nd, and Shepherd served with the Indiana 52nd. We have first-hand testimony of what both Shepherd and William experienced in letters written to other family members that were preserved and used for the book From the Hayfields to the Battlefields, copyright 1986 by Rodger D. Ruddick (now out of print.)  I am also referring to the regimental history written by Alfred Hunter, brother of the 82nd's commander, Colonel Morton C. Hunter, who served as adjutant.

The first block is Her Flag Flying, which recalls Sarah's story of defiantly wearing the Confederate Flag pinned to her shoulder after Union forces occupied her native city of New Orleans.  I am using fabrics I used in Roger and Laurie's 2011 Civil War Block of the Month, Flowers for John Herman, so my block is not so markedly patriotic.

This Block of the Month is designed to be more accessible to quilters of varying skill levels. To make the construction a little more challenging for me, I'm making my blocks only 6 inches instead of 8 or 12.

By December 1862, the 82nd had been near Nashville for five weeks. Mid-month they started moving to Murfreesboro, first by rail, then on the march. While on the road, still in December, they had a close encounter with a small Rebel force already engaged with other units, but the 82nd only had to fix bayonets to convince them to move away. During the regiment's part in the battle of Stones River, January 1st-3rd, 1863, William wrote later, they were in the front line behind breastworks, but were never actually engaged, though their brigade's battery was very busy firing. On the 4th, they spent the day burying the dead and caring for the wounded from both armies. They then set up camp just east of Murfreesboro and remained there for the next three months. William wrote of coming through the battlefield where the last charge was made, "You had better believe it was a hard looking sight, men lying in the mud, torn to pieces by musket and cannon ball.  I don't see how civilized people can perform in such a way but I see they do..."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Week 19 - Old Maid's Ramble

My Grandmother Faye was born on January 7th, 1892. This coming week would be her 121st Birthday.  We are fortunate to have a baby picture of her, even if this one is only the reproduction in Aunt Alice's book.

We are also fortunate to have the shoes she wore to her 1913 wedding, two decades later. Joyce and her husband helped me out and took these photos of the now-worn shoes, beautifully staged on their Christmas tree skirt!

Joyce took clearer pictures, but we decided, like Hollywood does for older actors, a softer focus was kinder on these nearly 100 year old beauties. Faye may have used them for other occasions because they are well scuffed and missing a button or two. But I cropped one of the high quality photos so we can appreciate the beading that decorates the toes that would have peaked out from the skirt.

Fashion by 1913 dictated skirts that showed the shoe tips. I couldn't find any images that were not copyrighted, but I took a slightly off-kilter photo of a framed Butterick Patterns image I have on my wall to illustrate. Click on the image to see the ladies on the left who are from the Spring of 1913.

We don't know ahead of time which block will be featured each week. A week or so ago, I sent an email to my sister to ask if she would photograph the shoes for Grandma's birthday blog post. I knew that the block this week might be something that would prompt a completely different story, but I wrote all of the above yesterday.  This morning, I was astonished to read the history Ms. Brackman chose to share behind the choice of Old Maid's Ramble. It started by discussing women walking but being discouraged from physical activity. I already blogged about Faye playing basketball, but tying the shoes in to women walking everywhere? It gives me goosebumps.

When choosing fabrics, I decided to feature my grandmother's wedding shoes in the block.

I selected an area of the beading and gave it a slightly green-yellow cast, then duplicated and mirrored it for printing on cotton fabric.