Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Quilts from Old

Doll quilts from the past were often plain and simple, constructed from easy blocks. Don't you love seeing photos of antique doll quilts? Sometimes I get to see real ones up close. Because they're so simple they're not too difficult to reproduce. A few of the quilts in my book  Small & Scrappy  were inspired by antique doll quilts.

This Flying Geese doll quilt, for example.

A few years ago I taught a workshop and met Chris L. who brought a few of her doll quilts to share with me. I took a photo of one and saved it, knowing I was going to reproduce it one day. Chris came upon my new book recently and e-mailed me so I asked her to send some photos of the original doll quilt that inspired me a few years ago -

Like the cute conversation print label I "slapped" on the back of my little Flying Geese quilt? I say slapped because it was difficult enough to finish all of the quilts on a short deadline, much less sew intricate labels on all of them. Sometimes, when I'm in a hurry,  I just press a piece of fabric that's been backed with fusible web onto the back of a quilt and sign it. I always tell myself someday I'll do better  : ) 

Here's another quilt from the book that was based on an antique doll quilt I purchased (bottom) - 

Actually, I bought it thinking it was a real antique doll quilt but it appears to be a block from a larger cutter quilt  that was made into a doll quilt. Oh well, still cute. And inspirational enough that I knew I wanted to reproduce it with new fabrics. 

My Honeybee quilt was inspired by yet another antique doll quilt. 

I changed the colors and gave mine a little more of a scrappy feel with many different reproduction prints.

Once, years ago, at a different workshop, I met Tricia whose passion was making quilts from leftover vintage or antique quilt blocks. No reason you can't make simple doll quilts from these blocks. Another great idea.

I have a stack of old hand-pieced blocks with plans to become a simple doll quilt one day.

Still in the UFO pile after five years . . . . Too many other things to work on.

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Get ready, Quilters! The next clue for my Welcome Home Mystery quilt will be posted in the Files section of my Facebook and Yahoo  groups on Saturday, April 1. No foolin'. Hope you're keeping up. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Celebrate National Quilting Day

Happy Quilting Day! We're quilters and we get our own day, how about that? Whatever you do to celebrate today, have fun. Since I have quite a few new blog and Facebook followers, I'm re-posting my free pattern for a cute mug quilt that I made to celebrate Quilting Day a few years ago. I've already made these mug quilts below so today I'm going to work on one of my three (!) remaining Dear Jane blocks for the center of my quilt.

So, if you have nothing better to do, I'm inviting you to sew along with me today. Aren't these mug quilts cute? You know I love making small projects and sometimes it's just the thing to get your creativity going.   A mug quilt is something I'll always use and it's always nice to have a few extra lying around just in case. What fun to serve someone a cup of tea with a cute mug rug and see them smile and say "Oh, how sweet!"
Here's how to make this one yourself.

I have to say I got a LIFT from making these.

Ready? First, you'll need some good scraps. Choose some of your favorites and put them aside for cutting. You know how partial I am to blue but if you're not, use another color for your theme. Or, just make it all scrappy. If you prefer lighter colors, then make yours with a light print instead of the black background. I hope some of you do this and show me. I'll be waiting for pictures.

Scrappy Star Mug Rug


For the background of the star (I used black prints), cut 
           4 squares that measure 1 1/2"  x  1 1/2"
           4 rectangles that measure 1 1/2"  x  2 1/2"

For the star points (colorful assorted prints), cut
           8 squares that measure 1 1/2"   x   1 1/2"

For the star center (purple), cut
           1 square, 2 1/2"   x   2 1/2"

For the side borders (blue), cut
           2 strips, 1 3/4"   x  4 1/2"

For the backing, cut 
            1 piece of fabric, 6 1/2"  x  8 1/2"

For the binding (brown), cut
             1 fabric strip, 1 1/4" wide

Piece of thin cotton batting, 6 1/2"  x  8 1/2"

Make the Block 

1.  Draw a diagonal line across the back of each 1 1/2"  x  1 1/2" scrap square you've picked for the star points.

2.  Place one 1 1/2"   x  1 1/2" scrap square on top of one end of a BLACK print 1 1/2"  x  2 1/2" rectangle, right sides facing. Sew on the line and trim to a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the triangle toward the corner.

Place another 1 1/2"  x  1 1/2" scrap square on the other end of the rectangle, right sides together, and again stitch on the drawn line. Be sure that the diagonal line is oriented in the opposite direction from the first piece. Trim to a 1/4" seam allowance and then press the triangle toward the corner. Make four of these flying geese units.

3.  Sew a black 1 1/2"  x  1 1/2" square to each end of two of the flying geese units and press the seams toward the squares. Sew the remaining two flying geese units to each side of the 2 1/2"  x  2 1/2" center square, and press the seams toward the square. (Here's a sample I just stitched up using a red center square.) Sew all of the units together as shown below.

4. Trim your star block to 4 1/2"  x  4 1/2". Sew a blue fabric strip to each side of the block. Press.  

5.  Layer the quilt top, batting and backing, and baste or pin the layers together.

6.  Quilt as desired. I quilted an X through the block and a square in the center. Then, I divided each border into 4 segments with a washable white marking pen and quilted an X in each segment for a diamond motif. 

7.  Add 1 1/4" binding using your favorite binding method. 

These were so much fun I had to make two. Have fun! When you're all done, sit back, put your feet up and have a cup of tea or coffee and say "Ahhh, I love being a quilter." 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In Love with Old Fabric

As I mentioned in my previous post, I fell in love with nineteenth century reproduction fabrics shortly after I began my quilting journey. I collected smaller cuts since my passion was making small, scrappy quilts. The more reproduction prints the merrier. I didn't have much room to store it anyway so small pieces in a huge variety of colors and prints seemed the way to go. The problem was that I ran out of some of my favorites. (Oh no! Yes, I actually USED some of my favorite fabrics!) Recently, I stumbled across a group of fabrics for sale that included some of the same prints I owned when I first started quilting so I grabbed them up. Don't know why but I was thrilled to see some of these again and can't wait to mix them with my newer fabrics in a quilt.  I'm not really interested in collecting antique fabrics. Reproductions are fine with me.

Do any of you remember these? They're early reproductions of antique fabrics from when reproduction prints first became popular.  All of them are out of print and date from the 1990s I believe. Some were designed by Judie Rothermel, Harriet Hargrave, or have The Shelburne Museum and The Smithsonian noted on the selvage. 

I remember a long time ago I had some of that maroon one on the left in blue and would love to have more of it. I have only one tiny strip left. Love it and am hoarding it.

Doesn't it make a sweet dress for Addie?? (Seen on Etsy, not made by me.)

 Of course, once the old fabric arrived in the mail I was smitten and had to buy more.

It may seem silly to be so excited about old fabric when there is so much glorious new fabric out there (and believe me, I buy my share of that too) but there you have it. It's just my sentimentality showing again. I suspect it's the memories of learning about quilting and feeling that rush when I used certain fabrics to make quilts for some of my early books. 

Last year at a quilt show I came across some of that old pink print, above. I used to have some, loved it but then, suddenly, it was gone. Now I'm good to go with a fat quarter. That may be what started my old fabric search. You mean they're still out there?? 

The wheels are certainly turning now. There's nothing like playing with fabric, new or old, to inspire you. I know I'm going to have fun stitching them into some small projects and also using them in my Dear Jane quilt.

And, lest you think I only buy old fabric, don't be absurd. Recent purchases are filling up a drawer, awaiting a slow day  for sorting . . . . 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Favorite Fabrics

Which one of us doesn't have an attachment to certain fabrics? I know I'm not alone here. I developed a love for 1800s reproduction prints shortly after I started quilting in 2001. At that time it was often difficult to find many in the shops I frequented but I grabbed them when I could. Since I was pretty much already set on making small quilts I never bought yards and yards of one fabric. What on earth would I do with that much? I was making simple little quilts from scraps.

I tend to use a lot of my favorite prints over and over in my quilts, mixing the old with the new. When I started collecting, some of it was just fabric I liked and not necessarily authentic reproduction prints. Soon I started hoarding some of them because as you all know fabric gets discontinued much too soon to make room for new lines. You fall in love with a certain print after you begin using it in your quilts (which is usually never right after you buy it) and suddenly you like the way it "plays" with your other fabrics - then six months later you can't find it anymore. Grrrr.

This is my favorite "old" fabric right now. I fell in love with this blue print YEARS ago. Who knows why? Perhaps. like real love, it just grows over time. This fabric has to be at least 10 years old, maybe more, and is not an actual reproduction print but one that plays well with my other fabrics. I have no idea of the designer or company since I only had a fat quarter to begin with. For some reason, every time I used it in a quilt it made me smile. It calmed me. So I began to incorporate small pieces of it here and there whenever I could. A soft blue like this one often works well for me to "neutralize" some of the brighter colors I like to use in my quilts. Also, I really love the way it contrasts nicely with red.  I know I will never find some of these prints again because they're so old. Makes me sad when I'm running low so I always use them sparingly to make them last.  

There it is.

There it is again.

And again.

I had only a very small piece of this blue print left. Don't even remember where it all went! Probably used it to back a quilt and gave it away before I realized how much I loved it. I decided to use some of it in my Welcome Home Mystery quilt. But I still wished I had more.

Imagine my delight when I came across some of it recently! Last month I taught a workshop in Bloomington/Normal, IL.  I like to walk around and chat with students and get to know them by looking at their fabric choices for whatever quilt we're making.  One of the class members, Lynne, showed me her fabrics and OMG - there it was! She had a whole yard of it! I began to shake with excitement and asked her if she could spare some. It appeared that my favorite fabric had no particular pull for her so we traded - she gave me 1/2 a yard and I gave her one of my patterns. Each of us thought she was getting the better end of the deal, which is the way it should work. So, now I have enough to use it in my Mystery quilt. Yay! A half yard - I'm so happy! It's probably going to last me a looong time. 

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Speaking of Mystery quilts -  are you still following along with me? In March we put a border around the house block and yours should look like this by now - 

Join the Facebook group or the Yahoo small quilt group (see sidebar of blog) to get the directions.

You should also be working on making some of those square in square blocks for later. No telling exactly when you'll need to put them in the quilt - it's a MYSTERY. (Oh, look, my favorite fabric has made an appearance here too!)

I'll be back in a few days to tell you more about some of my other old fabrics. If you follow me on Instagram then you probably already know what silly thing I've done . . . . And, yes, I buy NEW fabric too.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Winds and Pinwheels

March is always such a windy month here in Chicago.

That's why I chose my Scrappy Pinwheels quilt for this month's small quilt challenge -  it reminds me of gusty, windy days. Twirling, swirling pinwheel blocks made with all sorts of wonderful scraps.

I look at this quilt and I think of those twirly propeller hats. Ready for lift off!

You know I love Civil War era and 1800s reproduction prints and so yes, that's what I used to make mine.  From some of my favorite scraps. But you can pick your own colors to make your quilt. That's the rule. Make what you love.

Have fun playing around with your scraps. Join my Facebook small quilt group and show us a picture when you're finished.

Also, I'll be posting another Mystery Quilt clue on Friday, March 3. You'll find the directions for my free Welcome Home Mystery Quilt sew along  in the Files section of the Facebook group (access the files from the group home page) or in Files in the Yahoo Small Quilt group. We're making this quilt a little bit at a time and we'll finish them in August or September.