Monday, December 29, 2008

NYC-Folk art quilts and more

Having a wonderful, busy time in NYC...just walking along the avenues in Manhattan is such a treat...very crowded however. I'd forgotten how many beautiful Art Deco buildings there are. That's my daughter in the white hat and her co-worker in front of their office building-I love the numbers and the grill work over the entrance.This is the painted ceiling in the entranceway-Dutch New Amsterdam and the skyscraper NY skyline!

I did get to see the Christmas windows at Lord and Taylor (Victorian scenes of favorite Christmas stories, songs, etc. just wonderful-the best windows by far-the attention to detail and workmanship of the clothes is amazing) but I couldn't get any pictures to come out, I kept getting me and the crowd reflected in the windows :( but no loss-you can see the windows here If you're ever in NYC at this time of year-don't miss the windows at Lord and Taylor-Macy's are ok, Saks Fifth-ok but even as a kid, I knew the Lord and Taylor windows were the best (that's at Fifth Avenue and 39th street).

We ate at Ellen's Stardust Diner-real singing waiters, met friends and family , caught a movie and stopped in at the Morgan Library and Museum to see the manuscript of the first book of Milton's Paradise Lost.

I went to the quilt exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum...very interesting. The theme was recycling and resourcefulness and there was one very odd quilt made of bits of old sweaters, scarves and even a 1920s bathing suit! Actually, I don't get it-why not unravel the sweaters, knit vests, etc and reuse the yarn? (ok, you'd still have the bathing suit!) I think the intention was to make something different and humorous more than to recycle...again, no picture taking allowed, you can see a selection of the quilts here but unfortunately not the sweater quilt. The postage stamp quilt was very beautiful-3/4" squares sewn into 5" blocks, creating "new fabric". The alphabet quilt was also a bit wacky-A-J was just as expected and then oops, lost some letters there but liked the H so much there were 5. I loved the Sunbonnet Sue quilt-she wears many styles of hats!

I'm off to Philadelphia tomorrow-lunch with friends and to the Philadelphia Art Museum for the Afro-American quilt exhibit...This is so much fun!

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Native American historic dresses

It took 7 hours to drive from Boston to NYC on Saturday because of the snowfall-we postponed visiting the quilt exhibit in Hartford, CT till later in the trip. We spent yesterday close to "home" with rainy and sleety weather but today, Manhattan beckoned-lower Manhattan to be exact.

In the old Customs House down near Wall Street is a branch of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian-I definitely recommend a visit-not only for the exhibits but for the building itself. This is the chandelier in the cloak room!

The present exhibit was perfect for me: woman's clothing! While I was familiar with the beaded dresses from animal hides (even in old westerns, the costumers got that right) I was struck by these muslin dresses and their painted decoration (both dresses are Sioux from South Dakota circa 1890).

I also liked these woolen dresses-the fabric made in Gloucestershire, England was called "saved-list" which was a corruption of "selvage"-the favorite color was red but blue was also used, often with the white (undyed) selvage left on as a trim...very clever!

After this, we walked over to Ground Zero to pay our sad.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New England Quilt Museum and Lowelll Mills

We went to Lowell today, first to the New England Quilt Museum-where they were having a special exhibit of quilts recently donated to the up the stairs and there they were...beautifully familiar Pennsylvania quilts and not the new-to-me New England quilts I expected! Happily they did show some quilts from their permanent collection-an interesting group of Connecticut quilts. Wish I could show you some pix but no go-the main thing I noticed about the Connecticut quilts was that several were two color quilts (a blue and white single Irish chain) or three color quilts (a green and mustard sawtooth star with black plain blocks from 1800 and all the wool fabrics were home dyed with native plant dyes! ) and the blocks were fairly large-at least 12". I don't want to generalize too much here but these were my initial impressions...hope I get to see some more New England quilts while I'm here.

It was then on to the Bootts Mill-definitely worth a trip...a wonderful tour inside the mill with the roar of the looms and wonderful explanations by the US Park Rangers. No pix because my battery died :(

I bought some of the fabric made now in the mill (I chose the green stripe towelling because that is what we saw being made on the looms during the tour ) and two bobbins that went into the loom shuttles. I'm planning on using the bobbin thread for some outline embroidery on the towelling.
I got the camera battery recharged just in time for Holiday greetings from Lowell, Massachusetts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quilting Adventures

We're off on a month long visit to Boston, NY and Philadelphia on Tuesday. We'll be visiting family and... quilt exhibits.

Our first stop is Boston and from there we're planning a day trip to Lowell, Massachusetts to the New England Quilt Museum and the oldest textile mills in the US. The Lowell mills were famous for employing young women, known as the Lowell Mill Girls.

Then its on to NYC and the American Folk Art Museum and their exhibit- Recycling and Resoursefulness: Quilts of the 1930s. This is one of the quilts I expect to see!!
Then its on to Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art's exhibit of African-American quilts. This is the Hands quilt-ooh, I hope to see this too.

There'll be other quilty outings too: I may take a side trip to Baltimore. I've heard that the Baltimore Museum of Art is showing Baltimore Album quilts this month and next...a rather rare event and only a train ride from Philadelphia! And then there's always fabric shopping :)

Since I'll be staying with family, I'll have access to a computer and will post my quilty adventures and some others too...I can't wait to see Rockefeller Center and the big tree in NY, the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia and new places I don't even know yet in Boston.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Vintage Jewelry

This is a 1950's crystal necklace and clip-on earrings set that my mother gave me. I was going to a family wedding in the 1980's and when I showed her my dress (strapless with a full skirt) she said " I have the perfect jewelry". I haven't had an occassion to wear them since! I take them out and try them on but they never go :(

This is a pearl choker that I also got from my mother. I love this necklace- if they aren't "real pearls"-what's that thing about biting them-then they must be Bakelite! :) I get much more use out this necklace than the crystal-when I wear them DH calls me Marion the Librarian but personally I think they're more June Cleaver!

I love vintage jewelry-when I wear it I feel like I am experiencing something from another age. For example, I can tell you that those clip-on earrings really hurt, so now I understand why in 1940s movies, women were always taking their earrings off to talk on the phone-any momentary relief was welcome!

There are lots more VTT treasures to see at Coloradolady.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Original Chanukah Stitcheries

These are some fun-rather silly-Chanukah stitcheries. I've called them Fashionista Girl (poor thing, is she worried her hat will fly off or burst into flames?) and Chanukah Top - a very happy fellow!

She's so cute and tiny, she fits perfectly in this 4 x 6 picture frame.
I made him (I can't help it! he's a boy to me!) into a gift bag-his smile just seemed to suggest "goodies".

I thought I'd share these stitcheries with anyone who would like to make them for themselves or a friend so I made my drawings and stitch guide into Pdf files (and the gift bag instructions too).

Go here to download Fashionista Girl (then click on the button "click here to start download").

Go here to download Chanukah Top (then click on the button) and here for the Gift Bag instructions.

Drawing and making these was alot of fun-I would love your input, let me know what you think. This is the first time I've ever gone "public" with my stitcheries.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Black and White Quilt Challenge

I'm very excited-I just joined the Black and White Quilt Challenge hosted by Jackie. I found out about the challenge when Eileen posted about it.

This is going to be a bit more of a "challenge" than I expected-this is the rather paltry state of my black and white stash. I always thought I had alot of b&w fabrics until I went to collect them all. Many of my "b&w" fabrics I discovered have another color or several other colors there -just the black is rather predominant. The challenge does allow for another color but I think I want to add that separately. So now I am going to be "challenged" to buy b&w fabrics! I do have lots of white :)

This is a year long challenge but lots of people are already in full swing and you can see what's happening here.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie:Elegant Aluminum Candlesticks

These aluminum (yes, aluminum!) candlesticks were made by the Wendell August Forge in Pennsylvania. I had never seen aluminum used this way before I got these.(mostly just as pots and pans!) I am now on the lookout-I would love a bud vase :)

I love the design, especially of the candleholder part-it looks like a curled leaf. The floral pattern on the dish part is raised as you can just see in the pix. They are quite small, about 2 1/4" tall and the dishes are 4" across.

In 1928, James McCausland became the chief designer at the Wendell August Forge which had opened in 1923 . By 1929 he was already working with hand wrought aluminum. By 1932, the first known catalog for Wendell August featuring items such as these candlesticks was produced. I don't know when these were actually made-there is no date on the bottom but stylically I think they are from the 1930s.

Wendell August Forge is still in business and they still have aluminum pieces but nothing like this: mainly commorative plaques and plates for businesses.

For more Vintage Thursday treasures, visit Coloradolady.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plaids, plaids, plaids-quilt top finished

It was great getting back into my sewing room after the oven drama, Thanksgiving and on Monday, our youngest's 21st birthday.

I finally finished the plaid quilt top-and I'm very pleased with it. I like the way there is a lot of different things going on-all this from just one block!

I had finished the half blocks for the sides
when I realized I had to make quarter blocks

for the corners so out came what was left of the plaid stash once again.

I kept the orange block and used the last of that fabric for one of the half blocks too. This is a special fabric for me-years and years ago I made a quilt for my Mom. It was my third quilt ever and the first machine pieced-I even took her with me shopping for the fabrics and she picked them out. I completed the quilt, she took it to Florida for the winter and just didn't match her decor!! :) What to do...I went to a local quilt shop-a wonderful shop called Country Quiltworks now in Montgomery County, Pa then in Bucks, and they suggested buying 1/8 of a yard of each fabric I planned to use in the next quilt, keeping half the 1/8 yard and sending half to my Mom. It worked (on that quilt I used a rotary cutter for the first time! we are talking a long long time ago :) The orange plaid is what was left of one of those 1/8 yards.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Adventure

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving week-end with 16 for dinner and several friends staying over with us or in the area and returning for breakfast and longer the next day. We were very happy and a bit surprised how well it all went-we had had some suspense: my oven died while I was baking pies the day before.
I always start baking the pies a day early because the turkey completely fills my European oven! I had two pumpkin pies cooling on the racks and was about to take the apple pie from the oven and put in the blueberry when I noticed that the pumpkin pies while perfect on top, looked very pale on the sides-I looked closer, picked one up and looked at the bottom-totally uncooked! I looked at the apple-same thing, I stuck my hand in the oven, hot on top and cool at the bottom. What was I going to do! I pulled out the electric frying pan, turned it on, popped a pie on it and tried to "bake" the bottom-hey, its an electric oven that wasn't heating from the bottom, so I thought I'd supply the bottom "heat". 45 minutes later-no change in the crust. So I tried a frying pan on the gas range-that actually worked better...but wait, how would I cook the turkey-stewed turkey?
Then DH came home-"Lets go buy a new oven." But how can we get it delivered today?

Nothing is impossible for my Rock-he called a local appliance store-no problem they say come on in-in we go and an hour after we bought the oven it was in our house! Problem solved...well, not quite-we couldn't turn the oven on! We call the store-oh you need a technician to come...Next morning at 8:00am we were told a technician would be there-promised-by 10:00 and he was...truly remarkable. Here is my lovely new stove with a small top oven and a "large" (at least turkey sized) bottom oven.

Now if I can only learn to turn on the gas ...there's this safety feature that keeps turning off the gas so the flame goes out...hold for 5 seconds... release the button gently...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plaids, plaids, plaids continued again

I finished all the blocks and laid them out on the bed in the guest room.

I played with block placements (I'm not sure this is the absolute final spot for every block but its close) and then decided to check out what went best in the corners: plaid triangles or half blocks.

I didn't cut all the triangles in case I didn't like it -just enough to see what it looked like- and placed them on the left side.

I then did the same thing trying out the half blocks-I had left over blocks so I just folded them in half and laid them out on the left side.

Definitely the half blocks! Wow-they really look good-so its back to the sewing room to cut and sew the half blocks. I will cut these extra blocks and then just sew half blocks for the rest.

I almost never used to take pictures of my quilts finished let alone in progress but this is actually very helpful-there's a distance that helps me see the quilt more objectively. Maybe its because most quilts I look at on a computer screen aren't mine!

Looking forward to your comments...don't forget that orange block, what do you think?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie:Thanksgiving Hooked "Rug"

I don't think this is really a rug but a seat cover and no, I don't think this is really a turkey but a rooster but it is the only hooked rug style piece I own and I love it.
Look at how much brighter the colors are on the back where they were protected from the light.

It usually sits here on our antique deck chair-late 19th century (which you can't sit on because its been repaired twice and we were told can't survive anyone else "plopping down" on it. The other Guardians of the Chair are my handiwork and not vintage.)

In this season of thankfulness, I am thankful for both Lisa and Suzanne.

For more Vintage Thursday Treasures, click on the button and it will take you straightaway to VTT's new host: Coloradolady.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Plaids, plaids, plaids continued

I got a little sidetracked machine quilting but now I'm back working with the plaid fabrics. I've sewn some more blocks and just couldn't resist trying out settings a bit.

These are the original blocks-definitely better on point-I don't know why the colors have changed a bit-that fabric really isn't orange.

Here are the second type of block-the X blocks and I think they look better on point too. That actually surprises me-I thought these would be more interesting set straight.
It certainly makes things easier if both blocks look good on-point-I wasn't sure what I would do if one was much better straight set and the other much better on point! Now I just have to finish sewing blocks and think about what will I use in the triangles: plaid fabric or half-blocks?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Fall Garden 9-Patch Quilt

This is another quilt I've finished for Finn's New Year's Eve Challenge. It hasn't been in the closet as long as the earlier ones I completed; I chose it because I want to use it-the nights have turned chilly and I wanted a new quilt for the sofa.

Its machine pieced and machine quilted with diagonal lines through the 9-patch blocks and a swirly, feather-like flower in the green squares.

The flower design is from Pepper Cory's book "Quilting Designs from the Amish" (a great collection of quilting designs, but like her other book of quilting designs from antique quilts -I took the border for the Stacked Bricks quilt from that book- this book too is out of print - if you can get a copy, do.)
I quilted a cable in the border-I have alot of different cable designs, this one is interesting because, like the 9-patch variant in this quilt, all elements are not the same size.

I like the fabric I used on the back of this quilt so much. It is a kind of Colonial Children at Play. See the boys fishing, the girl and boy "playing house"-she's holding her doll, and two boys with a bird.I often use the backs of quilts for displaying favorite fabrics. (I then I have the leftovers for cutting up.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Lingerie Bag

This net lingerie/hoseiry bag belonged to my mother-in-law who lived in Paris and Berlin for several months in the late 1920s .

I don't think it was anything especially fancy in its time: it is machine made and is decorated mainly with tambour work. Tambour work, which looks like chain stitch embroidery, began to be machine made in 1834!I find the idea that this was just a practical item to hold your stockings or lingerie all the more enchanting: beauty should be part of everyday life. Even the back is lovely!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Exciting news

I'm so thrilled. I've been given an award by Maggie of Magpies Collectibles. It is so generous of her and I can't say thank you! enough times. Make sure you stop by her wonderful blog-there is lots to see there!

And now its time for me to pass this award on. The Rules of this award are :

1. 5 People are allowed to receive this award
2. 4 dedicated followers
3. 1 New follower to your blog who lives in another part of the world.
4. Please link back to the person who gave you this award.

And I'm passing it on to these blogging friends:

1. Susan at
2. Linnea at
3. Susan Lewis at
4. Ulla at
5 Kris at

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Plaids, plaids, plaids

Last week the weather turned cool and rainy (it rained for 4 days straight!) and it made me think Fall had arrived and turned my thoughts towards making a quilt from plaids and stripes. (The weather has since turned again back to short sleeves but at least we don’t need the air conditioner :)

I started making this easy 4-patch/9-patch block.
I like the “bow” effect when the block is on-point.

It’s a great block for scraps as all the pieces are the same width. I decided I wanted a 9” block so I cut strips 2 ¾” . The squares are cut 2 ¾” x 2 ¾” and the rectangles are cut 2 ¾” x 5”. Strips that are 2 ½” make 8” blocks with the squares cut 2 ½” x 2 ½” and the rectangles cut
2 ½” x 4 ½”. If you start with 3” strips, then the blocks are 10” in the finished quilt (squares cut 3” x 3”, rectangles 3” x 5 ½”).

Then I started experimenting with different placements of light and dark. I made this block which is a little boring

and then this one which is… I don’t know what... (ugly?)

Then I tried having both the light and dark squares making an X.

I’ve decided to make half the blocks the original "bow" way and half with the light/dark X and see how they look together. For me that’s the fun part-I always want to jump ahead to the setting before I’ve even made enough blocks to play around with!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vintage Thursday Thingie: Vintage Leaf Quilt

This is a vintage applique quilt from the late 1940s in the Leaf pattern with an unusual center medallion of three "leafy" flowers. I love the variety of fabrics, including feed sacks in the leaves.

It is hand appliqued and hand quilted in an overall diamond pattern and around the applique leaves and stem.

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