Thursday, April 28, 2016

an idea

Yesterday I was happily printing away, and had an idea. I thought it would be interesting to print a long, narrow piece of fabric in turquoise on white, using my "Accidental Tiki" block print. Maybe I could use it to make a simple quilt.

A quick survey of my stash produced a long, narrow section of vintage bedsheet material, sent to me recently in a big bundle from Mom. The piece I found was very soft cotton, washed hundreds of times in its life. It had some wear and a few small imperfections, but that's what made it so perfect, in my opinion. The fabric having a life of its own attracted me to it. There was also a straight seam line, which I could use as a guide.

When it was time to stop for supper, I had a 60-inch length printed, but there's room for more if I like. Maybe I'll do something with it, but for now I'm just having fun.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Accidental Tikis

Accidental Tikis inspired by an art deco tile
On Saturday, I took a Block Printing on Fabric workshop with Valori Wells, and it was superb! The workshop was hosted by Portland Modern Quilt Guild at Dishman Community Center in Portland.

a sample of the mess I made in class, experimenting
Admittedly, I was kind of a disaster in class and was messing up everything I did, so I stopped a little early and spent the last hour or so looking at what everyone else was doing. There was some really great work!

Sam Hunter's print
Kristin LaFlamme's print
Petra Anderson's print
Elizabeth Hartman's print
It's probably a good thing I didn't excel in class. I went home wanting to do more. So, I did.

The design was directly inspired by an art deco tile. I had to modify it since my carving skills are a little rusty. I did it many years ago in college, but that was almost 30 years ago. Things have changed.

Upon returning home, I started drawing on the two pieces of leftover tracing paper. On Monday, I went to the art supply shop, got a few things, and tried them out this morning.

It's a lot of fun, and I have some space in my garage where I'm thinking of setting up a little area dedicated to block printing. That's saying something, considering I don't really have a space in my home dedicated to sewing but have made a few quilts.

Maybe I should set up the machine in the garage, too! A big thank you to Valori Wells, an excellent teacher! If you ever have an opportunity to take a class with Valori, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


As some people know, I like to refer to myself as a Quilt Magnet. There's a good reason for that. Here's one. A couple weeks ago I received an e-mail from LeeAnn of Nifty Quilts. She was cleaning out a closet, and wanted to know if I would be interested in a quilt she'd found at Goodwill about a year ago. She wanted to give it to me. How could I say no?

The quilt arrived yesterday, and it's sensational! I took a photo of it right away and sent it to LeeAnn as a gesture of thanks. The quilt was made in the first half of the 20th century. My feeling is it's from the 1920 to 1940 period.

It is tied, approximately 78" x 80" and features a square center medallion made of wedges radiating from a circular center, surrounded by 12 large strip pieced blocks. The center medallion could be called a "Thrifty Wife" pattern among other names, and the border around the medallion could be called a large Rail Fence design.

The blocks are all framed with a narrow sashing, and there is a narrow outer border in green. A wonderful selection of fabrics. There are a few fabrics that didn't hold up as well as the others, and they could be repaired, but you could hang this quilt on the wall as-is and heads would turn. Thank you, LeeAnn!!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sensational Velvet Crazy Quilt

This sensational c. 1900 velvet crazy quilt came from an eBay seller in Hartsdale, New York. Enthralled with velvet lately, I had to have it.

The quilt is approximately 54" x 84" and is made with crazy patch blocks pieced on cloth foundation, set on point and surronded by a crazy pieced border on all four sides. Colorful embroidery outlines each patch and the binding is most intriguing. It is pieced from velvets in a variety of colors. What a great find!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Velvet Love

This wonderful velvet quilt just arrived from a seller in El Prado, New Mexico. It is 70" x 71" and each of the 64 string pieced blocks is approximately 8 & 3/4". It is backed with flannel and tied, the backing brought to the front for binding, and it appears to be pieced on cloth foundation. Sometimes I see velvet in Victorian crazy quilts, but I don't see all-velvet quilts often. It is even more uncommon to see one with such an original design that is not a crazy quilt.

The other all-velvet quilt in my collection is pretty well known. It is the 1920s Fans, on the cover of the first edition of "American Quilts: The Democratic Art, 1780-2007" by Robert Shaw. That quilt came from Laura Fisher in New York. It was part of the exhibition at the Whatcom Museum when I bought it, so I had to wait for the exhibition to end to receive it.

Laura gave me her best deal, but it was still a high-end purchase. The velvet quilt from New Mexico, on the other hand, was an incredible bargain. It is appealing as the fans quilt; perhaps more so, depending on who's looking. The colors are rich and earthy, and the design is so graphic.

I love the design; such a simple idea to place stripes in four directions, neatly organized and alternating direction by block. It creates an illusion of space and depth, and the velvet is supple and luminous. There's something about the way velvet catches the light. What a great find! Now I have an eye out for velvet.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Guest Blog @ Sew Mama Sew!

I am lucky to meet a lot of talented people here in Portland, and Kristin Link is among them. We're in the same guild, and I am in awe of her blog, Sew Mama Sew. Along with Managing Editor Beth Wilson, Kristin maintains this incredible blog, and has been since 2005!

Recently, Kristin invited me to contribute a guest blog post, and it is now available at Sew Mama Sew. Thank you to Kristin and Beth for all your hard work, and for inviting me to contribute. My guest blog is about how I do my photography, and you can read all about it here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

quirky old crib quilt

The first time I saw this quirky old crib quilt was December 25th, 1999. It was a housewarming and Christmas gift from Mom and Dad, the year I bought my first house. The quilt came from an antiques dealer in New England, and it was made somewhere in the eastern United States in the first quarter of the 19th century, around 1825.

There are 54 appliqué blocks, brown on white, and the design could be described as an abstract, four-branched, paper-cut snowflake. No two are the same.

The quilt is in fair condition with fading, loss of the glaze on the brown fabric, stains and fraying of the binding. Otherwise it is in good condition.

It is all done by hand and the materials appear to be linen and cotton. The brown fabric is a lovely chestnut color, with variation due to fading.

Quilting is sparse, about five to six stitches per inch, with lines running through the sashing and diagonal zigzag or chevron rows around the border.

The backing is solid white, and it has a wonderful patina from age. There are some small brown spots, and you can clearly see the quilting design.

It is bound with the same glazed brown fabric used in the top. More of the glaze is intact on the binding, but it is fraying. Conservation can be done to stabilize the piece, but at this point it remains in original condition.

The quilt is 32" x 46" and is oddly shaped and roughly rectangular. The blocks are about four inches square and the sashing is a little less than an inch wide. I love this quirky old crib quilt! Thanks Mom and Dad!