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Friday, June 27, 2014

Vintage quilt treasures

           Like many quilters, I love older quilts. The beautiful, intricate works of art that we see in museum are wonderful, but so are the homely, worn, tattered utility quilts that have somehow managed to survive.
            I am lucky to come from a long line of quilters. My mother was a wonderful sewer, and while she didn’t quilt a lot, she did make some quilts. She also made most of the clothes for herself and three daughters and did beautiful embroidery and crochet. In her senior years, my grandmother constantly pieced quilts (including the one I am quilting now). While I am not lucky enough to have any of her quilts, I know my grandfather’s mother also quilted.
          This brings me to my treasure box. I am not sure where the items all came from, but my sister gave them to me and they had been at my mother’s house. I am sure that some of the items came from my grandmother, but it looks like my mom added some items.
          First there are stacks of piecing and quilting templates.

                     Some, as you can see are cut from old boxes. One has the name of my grandfather's sister, who died before the mid-1950s. Others have instructions, like "two white" or "place on fold". Many have been well used and have frayed edges.

 There are also other patterns, like a sunbonnet pattern from Grit magazine , which was a weekly newsprint magazine targeting rural families. There are quilt patterns from newspapers and advertisements to send for pattern books. Unfortunately, there are none of the pattern books.
          There is this large tissue paper pattern, which I assume is for hand quilting.
                There are also a variety of quilt squares. I am not sure who made them, but I am sure, from the sewing, that they are the work of several people over a number of years.

There are a good many nine patch and other small blocks
This looks like pretty old fabric. Notice the one square is a different fabric.
                           There is this beautiful, but torn, cut work cloth and this stained applique.                               The stitches on the applique are tiny

This is obviously a beginner' try at Drunkards Trail,
There are gathers in the curves.

I am not sure what I am going to do with these treasures. I would like to put together and quilt some of the smaller patches. Someone has suggested to frame some of the templates, which I think is a great idea. Maybe I could include some of the fabric pieces. Anyway, I am just glad they were not thrown away and that I can try to save them for future generations.

Monday, June 16, 2014

It Won’t Be Long Now!

Quilters from all around the world have been talking… geniethey need supplies… hand quilting supplies, and they don’t want to have to go to multiple online quilt shops to find them.  You asked… and your wishes have been granted!

I am proud to announce that will be the official sponsor for the Celebrate Hand Quilting blog and Facebook group.  The online shop caters to hand quilters, and will be open by the end of June, 2014.

Please keep in mind that this is a BRAND NEW store, and we are in our infancy and will be growing.  You should also know that this is one of very, VERY FEW promotions that you will ever see for the shop, as our focus on this blog is to allow hand quilters to really CELEBRATE their hand quilting and share it with others.  You will see a small version of the logo below on the top right of the blog.  Other than that, this blog will not be used for advertising.  If you want to know what is happening at the shop, sign up for the HQS Newsletter on the store site. 


Please bookmark the shop’s address: and check back every few days.  We will be up and running very soon, and look forward to your visit!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hand work basket

      I’ve just completed the hand-sewing basket for my quilt guild’s silent auction. I started with the idea to make a hen pincushion and needle case (I purchased the pattern which was designed by Janet Locey). It was suggested that it should be part of a larger group of items, so I decided to put together some items for hand work.
     The hen is the star of the group. She is sewn by hand, with some hand quilting accents and stuffed with fiberfill and sand. The smaller hen needle case has a felt square for needles under her wing.

   In addition to the hen pincushion and needle case, I made a small chick pincushion (for traveling) and a thimble egg. I first made these thimble eggs when I was young and gave them as Christmas gifts to my grandmother and aunts. It is just three cardboard inserts covered in fabric (I sewed half the egg, turned it right side out and then blind stitched the other side: the three sections are put together with small blanket stitches). I made the small pincushion, because I often travel with handwork and knew the hen would be too big.
   To the basket I added small scissors, a variety pack of needles, hand quilting thread and three fat quarters.

   I have to admit I may be trying to make a subtle point by using a hand sewing theme.  I just joined the guild a few months ago, and I am finding the predominance of machine work a little daunting. I am sure there must be a few hand quilters in the group but I haven’t met them. And it’s clear from the stacks of finished quilts at show and tell that I have chosen a somewhat slower path.
  Joining any established group is difficult and quilt guilds are no different.  When you are a newcomer, it seems like everyone knows each other. The first time I thought about joining the guild, I went to one meeting and felt uncomfortable enough that I didn’t go back. This time, I promised myself to give it two years and to try to get involved. Luckily, I ran into some one I know casually and she and her friends have been very welcoming. I also thought the best way to get to know people is to get involved, so I’ve volunteered to help at the show and have made the “prize” for the silent auction.
   I guess it is hard to please everyone in a guild, and I don’t envy the people who plan the programs and activities. I was a little disappointed when a group “mixing” activity was vetoed by some group members and when another presentation was a sales pitch for fancy and expensive rulers. But I am only one (new) member. I know that there are a lot of great people in the guild and I just hope I get to know some of them.
  By the way, do any of your guilds have special ways to welcome newcomers or to help everyone meet new people?


Monday, June 2, 2014

Hand Quilting for Beginners: Marking

This is the eighth article in a series of articles by Caron Mosey geared for the beginning hand quilter.  If you have NEVER hand quilted before or just dabbled in it with no instruction and want to know how, this is for you!

So, you made your quilt top, you have your backing,  the batting and thread are both ready and  waiting… but how are you going to quilt the thing?  What designs are you planning on using?  How will you get the designs onto the quilt top so they stay for the duration of the quilting, AND so that they wash away when you are finished? Until you make those decisions, you’re not ready for quilting.

Let’s think for a moment about tools for marking.  There are many choices available to you, but two major things to think about:

  1. Whatever you use for marking must be able to be washed out of the quilt when you are finished.
  2. Whatever you use for marking must not damage the quilt now… or in the near or distant future.

OK, number 1 seems pretty basic, doesn’t it?  Our ancestors used a variety of tools to mark their quilts.  They used chalk, sharpened soap slivers, and plain old everyday pencils.  The chalk easily washes out, as does the soap.  In fact, both items can come out of the fabric before you are even finished with the quilting!  But it’s the pencil that needs special attention. 


I made the mistake early on of taking a traditional Number 2 pencil and marking my quilts with it.  To my surprise, the pencil did not all wash out.  In fact, a few quilts I made in the late 1970’s still have pencil marks to this day, though they are faint.  The problem was not the use of pencil, but the use of a heavy hand for marking. If you press too hard, it just might not come out.  We see some antique quilts today with pencil lines still on them.

BIC-Mechanical-Pencils-300x300I still mark with pencil, however I use a mechanical pencil with a hard, thin lead and a light touch.  I’m not one to spend more than I have to on anything, and I have found that an inexpensive mechanical pencil works just as well for me as an expensive one. I’d rather same my money for fabric, thread, etc.

Pencil works great on light fabric, but if you want insurance that the markings will come out, I would use a blue wash out marker. Before you panic, you will hear quilters advising you that the blue does not come out. I have been using blue wash out markers since I began quilting, and have never ever had a problem with the blue rinsing out of my quilts. The word “rinsing” is the key. You can’t just spray a light spray of water on and expect the blue to come out. Leave all the marks on the quilt until you are completely done quilting and have the binding on your quilt. When that is finished, put your quilt in a cold water bath and let it sit for a few hours. Don’t be shocked, but I fill my washing machine with cold water and put in my quilt to agitate for about 15 minutes. Then I turn the machine off, leave the quilting in the machine, and walk away. A few hours later, I drain the washing machine, put it on rinse cycle, and let it finish the process. Then I toss the quilt into the dryer. VOILA! No clover_white_penblue. And my quilt has not been damaged in the least.

What about marking dark fabrics? I like using chalk, but I will only use that to mark as I go on a quilt. I won’t mark the whole thing at once, because it’s CHALK. Chalk rubs off. My marker of choice is a Clover White Marking Pen. Like the blue marker mentioned above, it also needs to come out with cold water using the same process.

A tip about the Clover pen: When you first use it and make your first line, you may think it doesn’t work. But stare at the fabric where you made your mark for 30-60 seconds, and presto! You will see the line appear.


You have probably heard about the FriXion pens.  The line that you make on your fabric is supposed to disappear when exposed to heat, like an iron.  It also disappears when the sunlight shines on the line.  Or when your item is left in your car, or near a heat register.  I won’t use them.  I have no idea what chemical is in the pen, and I won’t expose my quilts to something that hasn’t been around for decades to prove itself worthy.  Judge for yourself.

Those are my opinions on marking tools. But ask another quilter and you will get another opinion. There is a fantastic book on marking quilts, written by Pepper Cory. It’s called Mastering Quilt Marking. Pepper goes into much more detail than I can in a short blog post, and the book is well worth the money spent. Not only does she cover tools to create the marks, but stencils and designs for quilting. The book is available on Amazon by clicking here.

Have you read the previous articles for beginners?

1) Fabric  2) Needles  3) Thimbles 4) Thread 5) Hoops 6) Frames 7) Batting