31 January, 2012

Christmas Throughout the Year . . .

I have been reading here and there about the project at Quilting Daze entitled 'Christmas Throughout the Year'.  What a great idea!  I was inspired to start with the wrapping idea I used in 2011.  I made Christmas pillowcases to wrap gifts large and small.  I admit, shown above are three gifts from 2011, but . . .

I was inspired by this idea so yesterday I took a few minutes to use some of the Christmas flannel fabrics I purchased on sale, to make flannel pillowcases to fill with gifts for Christmas 2012. 

Let me take a minute, or two, to explain how I came up with this idea.  Last summer I started quilts to give our grandchildren for Christmas.  As always seems to happen, a couple of other projects interrupted my progress.  When visitng one of my regular fabric stops I spotted the stripe fabric that is the body of the pillowcases in the top photo shown above.  It remined me of Christmas ribbon candy.  I mentioned to Patty (who was cutting fabric for me) that I thought that fabric would make really cute gift bags for Christmas.  Remembering my PIP (Projects In Progress) list I decided to return the fabric to the shelf.  When would I ever get around to making gift bags?

A few days later Barb, a friend of mine, mentioned the pillowcase she made for her granddaughter.  As it turned out, Barb's daughters asked where 'their' pillowcases were, so she decided to make each of them a special pillowcase from fabrics chosen just for them.  Neat idea.  When would I ever get around to making pillowcases?

Another few days later while I was driving the car (I do some of my best thinking when I am driving) those two thoughts merged together into one idea.  Make Christmas pillowcases to wrap each of the grandchildrens' quilts in. 

I rushed back to the fabric store to purchase the stripe fabric.  I also picked up coordinating fabrics, lace and other goodies to make Christmas giftwrap pillowcases for each member of the family.  Even small gifts fit.  Whatever the size, slip the gift in the pillowcase, tie with a ribbon, add a gift tag and 'Voila!'  Christmas gift wrap that gives year after year.

The moral of this story: Whenever you try to talk yourself out of buying fabric - don't!

Thank you Cheryl and Darlene for being such inspirational cheerleaders!

26 January, 2012

Quilt Study on the Eastern Shore of Maryland . . .

Geese settling in on the Eastern Shore
Yesterday my daughter Brie (a.k.a. My Quilt Study Buddy) and I traveled over waterways and through coastal farmlands to Denton, Maryland.  Our journey of approximately 100 miles each way was well worth the time and mileage to attend an Eastern Shore Quilt Study Group meeting.  If you are not yet familiar with what a quilt study group is let me explain: Quilt study groups get together to share quilts, knowledge and friendship - though not necessarily in any particular order.

This group was originally organized by the late Cinda Cawley.  She was a friend, a mentor and a great lady.  This was my first visit to the study group since her passing last year.  For me Cinda's physical absence was at first overwhelming, however, Beverly and Julianne do an excellent job keeping Cinda's love and enthusiasm for quilt study ongoing.

Members of ESQSG bring some of the most wonderful quilts to share!  I am a long-time quilter and history buff, but i am new to 'blogging' so I didn't think to ask permission to share photos of quilts that belong to others here.  There is nothing stopping me from sharing my own.

The theme of this meeting was 'blocks without borders,' in other words blocks set side by side without sashing or setting blocks of any kind separating them. 

Of course, since it is the current topic of study on this blog the first quilts I thought to take were my Tumbling Stars quilts.  The diamonds aren't exactly traditional quilt blocks but they are set side by side.  I took only my favorite one rather than duplicates.  And guess what?!  One of the members mentioned she knew of a reproduction of a patchwork print that includes calendars.  Reproductions are inspired by original fabrics so I have a new lead that will need to be followed. Thank you Polly!
Four Patch T-shaped Quilt, c. 1870

I also shared an old favorite Four Patch quilt (c. 1870) that I found in New England several years ago.  Steven, my enabling dear hubby, was in the antique shop with me when I spotted this scrappy quilt.  I started to walk away when Steven asked me if the quilt was talking to me.  It's scary to think he can hear those voices too! :-)  I had to admit there was something about the quilt I liked in spite of its terrible condition.  I turned around to take a closer look and reconsider.

Can you spot the fabrics that don't belong?
First, while it was still folded I inspected the existing repairs (c. 1940 and later) thinking I would replace them.  I have since decided to leave that part of the quilt's history intact. I also decided that I would not feel bad about using this quilt to 'refresh' my repair skills occasionally.  Because the quilt has been so well-loved I don't know that it will ever be fully repaired.   The quilt still makes a nice display piece when folded.  It would fit nicely in a shabby-chic setting, however, with the ongoing renovations our home seems to be missing the chic!

Lane's Net and a Mint Green Polka Dot
Both of these fabrics original to the quilt.
As I explained to the study group, Steven helped me open the quilt to see just how bad it really was.  That was when the 'piece de resistance' feature of this quilt was revealed - it's a 'T-shaped quilt'! T-shaped quilts are made without the two bottom corners so that they fit around bed posts.  This unusual characteristic seems to be a New England feature, though I seem to recall reading somewhere that a few have been discovered with provenance that indicates they may have been made in other parts of the country also.  I can't pinpoint my source for that information - but when I find it I'll let you know. 
Chevron Quilting

As you can see the Four Patches are set to give the impression of diagonal lines running across the quilt.  It is quilted in al all-over chevron design.  When I found a second Four Patch with similar fabrics and block set in Pennsylvania a few years later I decided it was a sign that I needed to make one.  The story of that PIP ('Project In Progress') will be shared in a future post.

If you are not already part of a quilt study group may I take this opportunity to ecourage you to find one.  There are existing and new groups all over the United States.  One visit and you will be hooked.

Brie and I both would like to say 'thanks' to all of the members of the Eastern Shore Quilt Study Group for a such a wonderful afternoon.  Wij kunnen niet wachten om weer doen in April!

23 January, 2012

How do you doodle?

Do you doodle?  With pen or with needle?  I do both. 

After years working at a desk I find it difficult to talk on the telephone without a pen or pencil in my hand and a scrap of paper to doodle upon.  I still take a note or two when the conversation includes something I will need to remember.  These days however, instead of a note pad, usually any available piece of paper will do.  Sometimes those important notes are hard to find later!

Silk Eagle Doodle Quilt, 2008, 9" x 12"
More fun than doodling on paper, however, is doodling with a sewing machine needle set in my Bernina 150 or one of my 19th century treadles. In place of the scraps of paper, quilt doodles are done on small quilt sandwiches made from scraps of fabric  and batting  leftover from various quilt projects. 

I use these small sandwiches to set my needle tension, practice new quilting designs, or just practice machine quilting when I spend too much time away from my studio. I also make up a quilt sandwich to play with new fabrics, like a piece of silk a good friend shared with me.  These small pieces seldom become actual quilts, but they can!  My 'Silk Eagle Doodle Quilt' was the result of doodling on a piece of silk dupioni while working out some ideas for an eagle design I was considering for a larger quilt.

Dus, hoe maak je fantasietekening?

20 January, 2012

Batik Sterren Quilt

'Seeing Stars' is a quilt I am making for my 7-year-old grandson. 

I don't often work in batiks yet I have quite a few in my stash. Sometimes they are simply irresistable! 

This quilt includes 13 stars in 3 different sizes; 6, 9 and 12 inches. The stars are cut form a variety of yellows and golds and assembled into blocks. The star blocks are then surrounded by squares of randomly chosen colors pieced togther so that the stars are scattered across the quilt - something like stars in the night sky.

It is hanging in my studio waiting to be quilted. While it hangs I can contemplate how I will quilt it. The quilting on this will begin immediatly after I finish quilting the Zuster Quilts.

I hope I am not the only quilter with more than one PIP ('Project In Progress') at any given time!

Hier is te zien sterren!

18 January, 2012

Tumbling Star Fabrics . . .

By any chance did you count how many fabrics are included in the Tumbling Star quilt I posted on 13 January 2011? I have tried many times only to loose count when one, two, three, or more fabrics capture my attention. Clearly this quilt maker had either a very deep scrap bag or lots of friends with fabrics to share. Throughout this quilt there are too many fabrics to post them all so I will share just a couple of my favorites with you here . . .

  My top favorite fabric is a print that includes a single calendar month.  The print is faded but information contained in the calendar can still be identified.   Barely visible faded pink letters at top of the calendar read 'JULY'.  By looking at the days of the week we see July 4, 11, 18, and 25 were Mondays.  The lunar cycle printed at the bottom of the calendar indicates there was a full moon on July 11.  There is nothing visible to say what year the calendar is from.  Sooo..., I did a little research.  I first visited the NASA website to look for years the moon was full on July 11.  I then compared that very short list to calendars for those years to see which July 11ths were Mondays. 

I discovered that the only year throughout the 19th century that there was a full moon in the northern hemisphere on Monday, July 11 was 1881.  

From 1800 through 2025, the only other time July 11 fell on a Monday AND there was a full moon was in 1938, approximately 48 years after the circa 1890 date of this Tumbling Star quilt.    

That solves one of the mysteries about this quilt and creates another.  What about July 1881 was significant enough to warrant printing the calendar on fabric?  That is a question to be explored another day - perhaps when more of this fabric has been located and can be studied for more clues. 

Another favorite fabric is this 19th century patchwork print more commonly referred to as 'cheater cloth.'  From a distance it appears that these diamonds have been pieced to be diamonds.  In fact, that is the key feature of patchwork prints. They appear to be pieced (or appliqued) but in fact are printed on one piece of cloth to fool the eye. 

Patchwork prints eliminate the need to piece or applique a quilt top, or a section of a quilt.  Sometimes the use is quite clever when the cloth is fussy cut to create the look of a pieced section of a quilt like a border. 

I admire the way the quilt maker featured the dog and cat within these two diamond pieces. 

While I have seen large pieces of patchwork prints on the backs of quilts, I see them most frequently used within traditional pieced quilts as was done in this Tumbling Star quilt.
I find the variety of patchwork prints and their uses in antique quilts fascinating.  There seems to be so much yet to be discovered about them.  If you are interested in learning more check out Deborah E. Kraak's research paper presented at the American Quilt Study Group's annual seminar in September 2011.  Deborah's paper, 'Patchwork Prints in America: 1878 to 1900" is some of the best information I have read on this topic.  If you missed her presentation in person, as I did, you can read the printed version published in Uncoverings 2011: Volume 32 of the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group" currently available at http://www.americanquiltstudygroup.org/publications.asp.

To keep you from getting bored I will finish this post here.  I promise, if you are interested, to share more of the fabrics from this Tumbling Star quilt in future posts.

Gelukkig quilten!

15 January, 2012

Wat Splinters?

If you were wondering about the ‘Splinters’ in Splinters en Threads, here it is. . .

May I introduce my dear hubby Steven, a.k.a Mr. Splinters, shown hard at work building a toy chest for our granddaughters.

As of today the construction phase of the new toy chest is complete and the finish is being applied.

Like many of the quilts I have made, several of Steven's wood projects have found other homes.  Many years ago Steven built furniture pieces that we sold in our shop, Splinters & Threads.  Most of his woodworking projects are inspired by antique pieces, or made of  wood salvaged from old houses.

I cherish the few treasures Steven has made that we still have around the house.  I look forward watching more of them appear as we continue the renovation of our 1870 home.  That is a topic we will save for a later post.

Heb een fijne dag!

14 January, 2012

Antieke Tumbling Star Quilts

As I mentioned before, I love antique quilts!  I find lots of inspiration in them and I love to imagine what the maker(s) may have been like, what they were thinking as they worked on their creation and what inspired them to make the quilt.

Tumbling Star Quilt, c. 1890
Found in Lancaster County, PA

I have a few antique quilts that currently reside with me, some that are the topic of study for various reasons. Among them are quilts I refer to as 'Tumbling Stars'.  The quilts are made up of the same diamonds found in Tumbling Block quilts, however, the dark, medium and light fabrics are set in such a way that stars pop off the quilt when viewed from a distance.

My first, and favorite, of these Tumbling Star quilts was found in an antique shop in Lancaster County, PA.  It had been purchased at auction, however, the dealer had no additional information.  The provenance trail ran cold quickly.  
Note the 12 solid fabrics
located in the center of the quilt.

While studying my quilt more closely I realized it had an unusual feature.  Most of the quilt is made of a huge variety of late 19th century printed fabrics, however, the center star and its surrounding diamonds consist of only solid colors.  Why?  I don't know.  Do you? 

This feature made the quilt a little different than most of the Tumbling Star quilts found in books and online. That was until I visited the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA ("NEQM").  Their collection includes a quilt very similar to mine including the solids fabrics used in the center. (See, The New England Quilt Museum Quilts: Featuring the Story of the Mill Girls; With Instructions for Five Heirloom Quilts, by Jennifer Gilbert, published in 1999. The information given to the museum by the donor indicates the quilt originated in Lancaster County, PA.  The one obvious difference between their quilt and mine is that the NEQM quilt has a border.  A quick comparison of the two revealed that several of the same fabrics appear in both quilts. Further study is still needed to determine any other similarities and differences.  
This fabric is on the back of the quilt.
It is wrapped back to front for binding. 

When I returned home I scoured my quilt history books for more examples.  Clearly my quilt was not the anomaly I originally thought it was.  In addition to the NEQM quilt, I found one in Plain and Fancy; Country Quilts of the Pennsylvania Germans, by Anita Schorsch, published in 1992.  The caption indicates that quilt is Moravian.  This is a lead that needs to be followed!

In recent years a few additional Tumbling Star quilts have been discovered that also have solid fabrics that make up the center star.  So far there seems to be a one common denominator in that all seem to have originated in in Lancaster County, PA.  In future posts I will share more about this quilt and others in my collection.

A friend and quilt history colleague, Sandra Starley,  has joined me in this search.  You can read more about her Tumbling Star quilts at http://utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com/2012/01/pa-tumbling-block-stars.html. We are are always looking for more of these interesting quilts.  If you have information about them or happen to know the location of more Tumbling Star quilts with solid fabrics in the center, please let me know.  Thanks!

13 January, 2012

Zuster Quilts . . .

I love to study antique quilts! They are great inspiration for me when I am planning a new quilt, or two, like the ones included here.

Have you ever noticed how often quilts from the 1920s and 1930s seem so bright and cheerful?  Those characteristics seemed like the perfect jumping off point when I started planning two big girl quilts for our granddaughters.  At the ages of 3 and 5 it was time for them to move up to bunk beds in the room they share.  When little girls get new beds it gives Oma the perfect excuse to make them new quilts!

The cheerful prints of 1930's reproduction fabrics were perfect for these two very energetic young ladies. Their dispositions are always bright and cheery, except on the few occasions they are temporarily upset about something.  Their hugs are warm and make us feel wonderful, just like quilts.

My inspiration for these special quilts came the many 1930's era scrap quilts I have seen over the years.  While both quilts were made of the same reproduction fabrics, I opted to make them just a little different.  One quilt is made up of  six inch Eight Point Star blocks; the other quilt is made of Uneven Nine Patch blocks.  To link them forever, just like sisters, each quilt includes one block of the other.  Zuster Quilts! 

Both quilts are being lovingly hand quilted using a needle held by my Bernina 150 sewing machine.  The centers of the quilts are quilted with diagonal grids spaced just over one inch apart.  The scrappy borders are filled with feathers that have been dressed up with a variety of designs. Because sisters seem to always be going in opposite directions the feathers around the borders do the same.

These quilts were supposed to be completed in time for Christmas (2011), however, a few of life's little interventions made a timely delivery impossible.  With a little luck they will be on their way to the girls soon...

12 January, 2012

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

Here we are in the year 2012. Can you believe it?!! I can’t. My father was correct about many things including the fact that time goes by faster and faster with each passing year. Once it is gone all we have left are the memories and hopefully a few more quilts.

There are many ways to document time. This blog will be a new method for me. My goal is to share some of my quilting adventures with others. Not that what I do is extra special, you might not even find it interesting. But I love quilting, antique quilts and lots of other things that I would like to share with others who may have a similar or developing interest. So join me, won’t you, as we explore new quilts, antique quilts and other wonders . . .