Sunday, August 31, 2014

Threads of Memory - August 1864 - Jacksonville Star

A traditional star with many variations for the background gets a new one for our Underground Railroad theme -

The new element is the square on point behind the star. I have always liked this star and really like this design.

August 1864 brings sad news from the 52nd Indiana Volunteers  to Shep and Billy's family back in Indiana.  Shep died of disease in the hospital in Memphis.  He was buried with thousands of his comrades in the National Military Cemetery in Memphis.

The Department of Veterans Affairs website tells me which section of the cemetery he is in, but I would need more help to find him there.

Shepherd was 31 when he died. I miss his older-soldier measured view of the war.  You can revisit his portrait in uniform in my February 2013 post at this link.

At 18, the much younger Eli wrote a long letter to his cousin on September 1st.
I take this opportunity of disclosing to you my whereabouts I am well and the others also we got back here day before yesterday, now I will tell you where we went and what we done, (as near as I can) well we went away down in Miss – to a little town called Oxford and knocked around until Forest came into Memphis and had a good time and gone and then we came back here double quick, and now where we will go to from here is more than I can tell, some says that we are going to Sherman and some that we are going to come home and enforce the draft and then stay and vote, but it is uncertain what we will do, I would like to know what they done at the Chicago convention the other day...

Eli wrote an entire page relating a political argument with others in his command (Eli was a fierce Democrat), and speculating on the Democratic convention that took place on August 29-31.  He wound up needing an extra sheet of paper in order to write about anything else.

... if we make another raid out from here I do not think that I will go with them I shall get unwell and go to the fort and there try and get a discharge or furlough if I can, I think that we will get paid off before we leave here we mustered yesterday ... well Cal how does Uncle Hiram's folks take Shepherds death pretty hard blow on Company K sure.
"Uncle" is a term of endearment as Hiram, Shep and Billy's father, was not related to Eli and Calvin.  This was the longest letter Eli wrote to Calvin during the war, but to fill out the last part of the extra sheet, he did a bit of artwork.  In spite of what Eli wrote about getting out of duty with Army, he seems resigned to his life there since he asked about the wheat crop back home concerned with what they will be eating in another year.

The 82nd has been moving with the rest of the Union Army to take Atlanta. They were involved in fighting almost every day from the first to the 11th, suffering casualties, and from the 27th until the end of August were in the rear protecting the Union supply trains.  By that time, the Union forces were on the brink of taking the city. The 82nd's biggest action was probably a fight with the Confederate forces while cutting a section of rails out of the Atlanta and Macon Railroad in the vicinity of Jonesboro on the 31st.  Confederate General Hood evacuated the city on the 1st of September, but Allen Brown with the 82nd, was not aware of it yet when he wrote a letter to his wife on the 3rd of September.  He says they are all tired of the four months campaign and hopes that they will be able to stay in Atlanta once it is taken. He does not seem to be in any doubt of the Union victory there.

Friday, August 29, 2014

All Kinds of Cards

A week ago, my friend Judi hosted a small gathering to teach us to make collage cards. Judi provided all the supplies and an amazing variety of materials we could use to make the cards.  I have found I don't enjoy working with sticky or wet media as much as I do nice dry fiber, but I had a good time.  I took lousy photos of the results with my cell phone.

 There were five of us and we all had different ways of approaching the work.

Judi planned to keep just one card from each of us to use as samples for a class she has been asked to teach.  I think she was very smart to do it this way, letting us experiment and ask questions, and then winding up with a larger variety of cards than she might have come up with on her own.  I think she should keep them all until the class takes place.

One more photo shows the same cards, but I climbed up on a chair to get a better angle so I can point my three completed cards out.

Mine are the dark blue/green one top row center (I started with a magazine photo of peacock feathers), the Chinese horse in the second row toward the right (another magazine photo I'd saved for years) and the strange one with feathers just below the horse.  Do I have a feather theme going here?  Well, after our first two collages, Judi suggested it was time to try some paint techniques.  I was not happy with what I had done, then I decided the s-hook shapes could be swans.  Sadly, the only feathers I found to help with the suggestion I accidentally created were green.... well, it was my first try! 

I think my cards reflect my quilting background.  I also tried leaf-printing, but I was not successful with that. Clearly it takes some practice to get the paint the right consistency and apply the right amount of pressure on the leaf.  After rejecting what I'd done, I started painting over the fabric I had printed on and had fun mixing colors and creating new effects.

But I'm no painter, so I didn't save that with a photo - however, I do think I might try some more work with the water color pencils after doing this, perhaps I can use it for a future challenge quilt.  And I just might collage a card. Time to start saving more magazine ads.

And Judi's cloak? Here's a photo I took of the back before the quilting and lining so you get a better idea of the finished garment - this shows the hand-woven panel of silk prints Judi created.

Judi sent me a couple of photos of the completed garment - this view shows a little of  her delicious low-immersion dyed lining on the sides of the hood.  This last photo is "original size" so clicking on it won't give you any more detail.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Start of Summer

I know we are nearing the End of Summer - but I'm talking about a Challenge Quilt, the second in our Seasons Challenge series.

The block for Summer is a quirky Carolina Lily. I have rotated it so you can fully appreciate our by-gone quilter's original touches.

She has chosen that bold little black and white print for the vase or flower pot. I'm used to seeing baskets of flowers with little triangles at the sides for feet, with background to fill in the lower point and no little handles, but our version has been seen before, published in 1981, according to our favorite quilt block source, Barbara Brackman. Here's how it's colored in Blockbase, the software version of her catalog.

The block has also been cataloged as  Royal Dutch Tulip and Vase, and as Royal Japanese Vase - those names being older than Carolina Lily for this version, though the quilts I saw by searching the Quilt Index under all of these names have some version of the two smaller triangles at the sides of the vase rather than this one - is that maybe an unsupported triangle on a table?

What I thought was the most original innovation our quilter made, changing the base of the flower to pink and turn two of the petals into leaves, perhaps envisioning a tulip, has also been done before, I found in my searches for Lily quilts.  But a unique touch was her use of a deeper green for the stem (and handles) as she used for the leaves.

Her piecing is definitely quirky - there are some very interesting seam lines in those pieces she used for the background, I have decided to leave her block intact. 

You can see that it was probably intended to be a 12 inch block. It's going to take just a little trimming and an additional sliver of muslin or two to get it to quilt flat without putting pleats in the work someplace.

I'm going to celebrate summer and this block in my setting, which uses an original variation on a traditional block.  Nothing to do with Carolina Lilies, or Tulips, or any other flower.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Austen Family Album - Block 21 West Wind

This block was almost too easy, so I made it a tiny bit more interesting.

The triangle on the lower left was just one piece - I made it in two to miter that organic stripe. It would never match up perfectly, due to the uneven nature of the stripe, but I had fun trying to figure out which stripe to match and settled on the center part - it happily just worked out on the outer part as well.  The hand-dye is one I made at Judi's last winter.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - August - Winged Square

When I first saw this block I thought it was interesting, pretty, happily not too challenging.  But that was because I was looking at the thumbnail of the block  in the designers quilt. She used figured prints in the checkerboard element and I thought those 4 areas were each just one block of fabric -

-- whereas they are actually pieced of 72 little 1/2 inch (finished) squares. I know I could have strip-pieced, but I have found when piecing 1 inch squares, I'm more accurate if I cut the little squares and piece them individually, so that's what I did. 

I am really crazy about the look of Vicki Welsh's blue and red shibori!  The four squares and 1-inch strips are all from one piece of fabric that is mostly red with some blue - I cut my pieces from the blue areas. She also died the oh-so-pretty light blue center (which is also in the checkerboards.) 

This is not the first block where I switched the orientation when I added the applique. It's more common to find the long strips top and bottom, as I have them here. The designer put the long strips on the sides.  I don't guess it matters: when you set the block into the quilt it's a square either way, and it will be quilted as one continuous background.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Austen Family Album Block 20 - Best Friends

My block is not flat so the edges look pretty strange -

This block is just a bear's paw with the four patch in the paws and the proportions changed a bit for easier cutting in an 8 or 12 inch block (my block is 9 inches, so the small squares are 1 1/8th inch). It was fun to play with the lights and darks in the four patches to see how it changed the look of the block.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Three blocks for the Austen Family Album

I was working on the Birthday Banner for the couple of weeks before my Dad's 90th Birthday party, and got behind on this set of blocks.  Finally got two of them finished yesterday in time for today's installment.  Here they are - Water Wheel

Indian Star

and Cross Patch

My readers have asked if I know how I'm going to set this sampler:  no!  I had the collection of periwinkle fabrics for a scrappy Ocean Waves quilt and knew most of the pieces were too large to use up in that quilt, so I decided to make this one so I could have fun playing with the prints in different way.  (For the Ocean Waves, I'm not doing any of the fussy cutting I sometimes do with these blocks although some of my fabrics lend themselves to it beautifully.)  I'll figure the setting for this quilt out when we get closer to completing the series.

Another comment mentioned my lower level of enthusiasm with this set of blocks: I am enjoying making the blocks, but the stories behind the particular selection from week to week are not very interesting to me.  I've read some Jane Austen books because they were there, but I'm not a big fan, and although our leader, Barbara Brackman has done her usual research and has delightful illustrations to accompany the stories, the family relations themselves are not nearly as compelling as the stories she has told from the Civil War or the fight for equal rights for women.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Birthday Banner

When my sister planned my Dad's 90th birthday party, and my sister-in-law and her husband agreed to come and provide the food (pictures at ) I started to feel pretty bad - what was I doing for the party?

Since I am a far better quilter than cook I followed a model set by Dorry, and made a celebratory banner.

That above photo taken during set up doesn't show the banner's details so here are a few photos I took while working on it.

Each background piece was cut 8x8.5 inches. The font is sized so the largest letters fit with a good margin.  I fused the letters in place, edged them in a tiny buttonhole stitch, then rounded the lower corners with a template.  The two spaces in the message were filled with pennants - one has a trombone while the other is a print Dorry gave me of New Zealand postage stamps because Dad has collected stamps his whole life.

The letters were quilted on wool batting on a single piece of backing (Thank you Sherrye those glittery daisies were perfect for this application!)  The variety of dense quilting fills I used made the letters stand out in 3-D.

I took this next  photo for Joyce before I had the binding on so she could see she would have no trouble coordinating the party decor with my work.

I bought a handful of new fabrics to have a few very contemporary prints in the mix, but mostly I used my stash, looking for bright colors and good contrast with some masculine feel.  I selected lots of shirting stripes along with a couple of prints that reminded me of my father's pajamas.  I used shirt buttons Alice of the Mountain Jam Circle gave me to trim out the tops of the letters.

I attached the binding by machine on the front as I usually do, then wrapped it to the back and machine stitched in the ditch - which I have never done before.  You are looking at the back of one letter on the top, and the front of the one with the striped fabric. 

Attaching the binding went easily once I figured out I just had to use a lot of pins to make sure the edge stayed where my stitching could catch it.  I was having trouble picking the binding color till Flickr Friend "Pinkdeenster" weighed in - thanks for the push, the green stripe is perfect!

The hardest part of this project was working with the wild combination of colors and prints.