31 January, 2014

Winter Sunrise

It seems this winter has been one of the coldest
we have experienced since living in Pennsylvania.

Morning view from our dining room.

From the warmth inside our home 
I have been taking a few photos I would like to share. 

Icicle ornaments on the wisteria just before dawn...
Same icicles reflecting the pink shades of the sunrise
Same icicles later reflect the warmth of the risen sun

Only 47 days until spring sunrises start!

 Winter sunrises

bloom with such a variety of colors
how could one not be inspired
to create something beautiful.

❅ Gezegend zij


29 January, 2014

Treadle Machine Quilting

Do you do any type of quilting by machine?

'Rosie' is a New American Treadle c. 1910
Have you ever thought about, or maybe even tried, using a treadle machine?  I have and I enjoy the process as much as machine quilting on any of my electric machines.  I also enjoy quilting by hand but since there are so many more quilts I would like to make, doing them by hand will take several lifetimes.

Getting the hang of treadling while moving the quilt sandwich under the needle takes a little doing.  When I started treadle machine quilting the first thing I did was experiment by quilting two yards of this cheater print.

My first treadle machine, 'Rosie', is a New American treadle manufactured about 1910.  She is named for the neighbor I adopted her from. We worked on several quilt projects together before she was adopted by a quilting friend who wanted to explore the world of treadle sewing machines. 

Rosie helped me with this project too!
Another quilt project that I treadle quilted took two very different machines.  Rosie and a Howe treadle machine c.1871 (shown below) contributed to both the construction and quilting of a quilt that was included in the AQSG 2008 Quilt Study of 19th Century Red & Green Quilts. 

An original 19th century quilt used as inspiration for one (or possibly two) of my own.
My inspiration was a quilt owned by a friend.  This quilt came to their family by way of a long-time housekeeper who believed the quilt had been made by her grandmother sometime after she had been freed from slavery.  After a good bit of research there is no clear evidence to support the housekeeper's oral history, but research is ongoing.

The fabrics that appear to be brown are probably faded greens; the red is a woven chambray.  To date I have not found another block design quite like this one, though there are many that are similar.  It is a striking quilt.  All of the applique was done by hand.  What really inspired me was that parts of the top were assembled by machine and the red shapes in the middle of each block were machine quilted.

My quilt blocks were hand appliqued before assembling and quilting the top using two treadle sewing machines.
I chose early 19th century prints for my quilt rather than the brighter tones that were popular later. My blocks were all hand appliqued.  I assembled the top by machine and machine quilted the entire quilt following the quilting designs used in the original quilt. The guidelines of the quilt studies require the perimeter be 200 inches or less so this quilt is small.  However, a bed-size version is on my 'to do' list.

'John' is the first Howe treadle machine I adopted.
John, my c.1871 Howe, also contributed to my 2008 quilt study project. As you can see this particular model does not offer a lot of space to work. Even as small as they are quilting with these cute little Howe machines is a very noisy process.  They make a very loud, mechanical sound as they work.  So much so my dear hubby brought in earplugs to wear when I sew with either of the two Howe machines in my collection

Rosie and a Wilcox & Gibbs machine I use are significantly more quiet, but the most quiet of all is my Wheeler & Wilson 8.  It is almost as quiet as any of my electric machines, it sews like a dream and has become the treadle I use most often. More information about other sewing machines in my collection will appear in a future post. 

Each of my sewing machines, whether electric or people powered, have personalities of their own. Isn't that true about most machines - including computers?  

I don't know if machine quilting on treadles will ever catch on like it has with electric machines.  I doubt it.  But if you are interested I strongly encourage giving it a try.

If you would like to adopt a treadle sewing machine I have something of a check list of things to consider when you first meet one.  Especially if you plan to use your treadle machine for more than just decoration.

  • Sit down and try out the machine to see how well it works, if at all.  Many seemingly non-working machines will work with a good cleaning and a new leather belt, but some need more than that.  If you have a friend who has some knowledge of treadles that is willing to help you get acquainted take them with you if possible. 
  • Do a little homework to find out what attachments should come with the machine.  THE MOST IMPORTANT ACCESSORIES to look for are needles, bobbins and the bobbin case/shuttle.  Without them there will be no sewing.  Find out what type of needles the machine requires.  Antique machines don't always work properly with modern needles so availability of good needles could be a problem.
  • It's usually pretty easy to identify treadle machines that have been abused.  Adopting them is OK if you, or someone you know, can help them through their recovery.  Just beware, if parts or accessories are missing, finding the right ones can be very difficult, expensive and sometimes just plain impossible. 
  • Try to find out the history of the machine if at all possible.  I name my machines after their original owners when their histories are complete enough to know.  If not, I name them after the earliest known owner or person I purchased them from.  I make copies of all paperwork that comes with the machine and its history to keep with the machine - something like putting a label on a quilt.  It's nice to know where these creatures come from. 
In this modern age we have access to some excellent resources to learn more about antique treadle machines including:

The Smithsonian Libraries online @ http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/.  I have found literature and owner's manuals for several machines here. 

ISMACS (International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society) @ http://www.ismacs.net/booklist/index.html.  The Society maintains an excellent archive with copies of manuals, early advertisements, patents etc. All are available to members.

TreadleOn.net @ http://www.treadleon.net/.  TreadleOn is dedicated to promoting the use of antique and vintage human powered sewing machines, i.e. treadle sewing machines and hand crank sewing machines.

Happy Quilting!

20 January, 2014

Now I lay me down to sleep . . .

Several years ago I purchased this child's 'quilt'
through an online auction.

The appearance improved greatly after being laundered.
I was the only bidder.
It is not the type of quilt 
I normally consider purchasing.
Being a relatively new grandmother at the time
I guess the odd collection of multicolor, 
line embroidered blocks charmed me.
Most of them appear to have been stitched
using a child's artwork as patterns.

Unfortunately the workmanship in the assembly
of the quilt didn't live up to the charm of the blocks.
The backing was a chopped up old sheet
folded to also serve as a partial batting.
The quilt pulled and puckered so much 
that it could not lay flat.
Parts of the quilt were sewn together by machine.
Other parts were hand sewn 
with white embroidery thread.
It was stained and smelled terrible!

Sooooo...I did something I don't usually do.
I took the original quilt apart
and used the blocks to make a new one.
That clown has to be one of the creepiest I have ever seen.

None of the blocks were square
or even close to the same size.
Most needed to be trimmed down.
A few blocks were too small
and needed to have fabric added.
Leftover fabric trimmed from the larger blocks
was added to the small ones.

Three different 1930 reproduction greens 
were selected for the sashing and outer border.
My goal was to have the quilt appear as though 
there had not been enough of the green
used first to complete the quilt
so others were substituted.

Scraps from all of the green fabrics 
were used for the applied binding.

The white inner border is made from
fabric salvaged from the back of the original quilt.

The cornerstones are small 9-patch blocks
made with the green sash fabrics and
a variety of 1930 reproduction prints
in multiple colors 
to accent the colors in the embroidered blocks.
A good stash of fabrics is handy for projects like this one!
One block has the classic children's bedtime prayer:
"Now I lay me
down to sleep,
I pray the Lord
My soul to keep."
That block can be found in the lower right corner.

Another block is embroidered with the name
"Shelly Gay" 
and a heart shape filled with 'love'.  
That block can be found in the lower left corner.
The finished quilt fits a twin-size bed nicely.
The quilting is an allover diagonal grid.
My goal was to keep it simple
so that these charming blocks
so lovingly embroidered and set together
for Shelly Gay
will forever be the focus
of the new quilt they have become such a major part of.
A small floral print with small orange flowers and green leaves was used on the back.
The print serves as a nice compliment to the front of the quilt.

This special quilt keeps my grandchildren warm
when they visit.

Happy quilting!

16 January, 2014

Life's Journey

OK - here goes . . . I don't usually speak openly about things going on in my life.  I suppose I am not a big 'social media' type person. I started my blog to share material things, like quilts, via a method that is easily doable from home. So far the experience has been great! I have had the good fortune to 'electronically' meet some very interesting people. 

Blogging has also been something of a challenge because 'life' sometimes gets in the way of posting as regularly as I would like.  As such, there have been some long periods of time when I have not posted anything.  I trust that readers will understand. :-)

Last fall I challenged myself to get into a regular blogging routine by posting something at least once each week.  All was going well until . . . my husband was admitted to the hospital on November 1 with a massive infection in the lining of his left lung that was severe enough to cause the lung to collapse.  The initial prognosis not a good one, yet by the grace of God all of the medical tests have come back without revealing even a single cancer cell.   We may never know what caused such a massive infection but we feel extremely blessed that there has been no need to consult an oncologist.  (No offense to any oncologists who might be reading!) 
As you can imagine our family's world has been nothing short of topsy-turvy these last few months.  It turns out that recovery from such in infection (empyema being one of his many official diagnoses) takes a very long time, especially when surgery is required as part of the healing process. There have been more than a few bumps along the way to a destination called 'Full Recovery'.  As of today we have confidence we will get there, or at least close enough to be in the same zip code.

Throughout this most recent life journey, my calendar has reminded me each week to write something for my blog. I tried a few times, but found it very difficult to think of things to share while I was consumed with being a full-time caregiver for two.  Yes two.  My dear husband is not the only member of our family I have the responsibility to care for these days. We have an adult daughter with special needs as the result of a massive prenatal stroke.  Those of you I have met in person may have also met my 'quilt study buddy' as she often accompanies me to various quilt studies and shows. All things considered, Brie does incredibly well but she still needs someone to look after her 24/7.  So you see, this caregiver is at least temporarily outnumbered 2-1!

I hope that by adding this new element of sharing to my blog that others who may be in a similar situation will know they are not alone.  I have certainly benefited from reading about the experiences of others. Life as a caregiver isn't easy but it is doable . . . one day at a time.

As the old saying goes, "When life gives you scraps, make quilts!" More about that topic in other posts . . .


01 January, 2014

Happy New Year!

The title of this post pretty much says it all . . .
what more can I say?

I have never been one to make
 New Year's Resolutions.

Instead I set goals.

In 2014
One of my top goals is to
spend as much time as possible making quilts.

Lots of quilts!

I hope that you too
will be able to spend as much time as possible
doing whatever it is that makes you happy too!