Sunday, October 11, 2020

Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along

My Schoolgirl Sampler book was released last week. If you ordered a book from me, you should have already received your copy. Or, it may be on the way! 

Thanks to all of you who purchased a book. I'm really excited about this one. Love how it turned out and hope you do too. I just sold out of copies but ordered more and they should be here sometime this week. If you would like a book, Amazon has copies, Martingale has copies and your local quilt shop may have copies too. If they don't, ask them to order it for you and you can save on shipping. International friends -  someone told me you can purchase a book from The book Depository. Apparently, they ship worldwide. If they're out of stock, don't worry, they'll be ordering more within a short time.


I'll be starting a Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along in January for those who want to make the sampler quilt and sew along with like-minded quilters. I'm creating a new Facebook group just for this sew along and I'll let everyone know when I open it up so you can join. Waiting until January to begin will give everyone a chance to get the book and get past the holiday rush. 

I'm working with a few quilt shops to supply you with a variety of reproduction fabrics for making these little blocks. The quilt was made using 72 blocks and if you want to use a different fabric for each block, then you'll need a nice variety of scraps or prints.  I made most of the blocks from scraps or fabrics I already had. Charlotte studied the book and said she thought I didn't repeat any prints in the blocks. I'm sure I did but I didn't actually check, LOL. Just make it however you like. I heard someone say they might make it in 2 colors and blue and white or red and white would sure look wonderful, wouldn't it? 

I know some of you will be eager to get started before January and that's fine. Everyone can work at their own pace.  But remember that the organized sew along with suggestions for making blocks each week won't begin until January. And the info on where to buy fabric will be posted in the Facebook group soon. We'll use the coming weeks to get organized and prepare. 

When I began working on my Dear Jane quilt it was an on-and-off kind of thing for years. Hard to get motivated and stay on course at times. So many other things to do. It wasn't until I created an online group with other quilters who also wanted to make that quilt that I made a lot of serious progress. Sewing along with others and sharing your progress really motivates you to make these larger projects. I may sew along on that quilt while you make your blocks.

So, when we do this in January, I'll give suggestions for making certain blocks along with tips every week and we'll sew along together. Everyone will work at their own pace but making a few blocks each week will still give you time to work on other things as well and not feel overwhelmed. It took me all of last summer to make my quilt. 

And, as far as the applique goes, if you don't do applique you can make the sampler quilt without it.  I designed it so that the center portion can easily be replaced with nine little 4" blocks and sashing if you prefer to make it that way. 

It will be a journey but a fun one, I predict. Using up a variety of my favorite reproduction fabric scraps to make a rather simple sampler was so much fun and I knew it was something other quilters might really enjoy as well. Both beginners and those with more quilting experience. The book includes lots of tips for making small blocks if you're used to making larger ones. I think you'll find it's an enjoyable project and the 4" block patterns can also be used to make a variety of little quilts or other quilted items.  I hope some of you will join me in this sew along. Grab some of your reproduction fabric pieces and whip up a nice collection of 4" blocks that are easy to stitch and start your own Schoolgirl Sampler quilt. 

If the sampler quilt is not for you, there are six charming little quilts made from some of the 4" blocks that are also included in the book. Get ready for some fun!


Thursday, August 27, 2020

A Few Small Finishes

Making little quilts is a whole lot of fun. But it drives me nuts when I have so many unfinished ones stacked up. It's satisfying to design and make them for my groups but then they always seem to pile up - unfinished - as I constantly move onto other things.  Most of them are simple enough - don't know why I have such a problem finishing them. Last week I decided enough was enough.  I want to work on so many other quilts (large ones, mostly) but I knew if the small ones kept hanging over my head I'd probably never get anything finished. There will always be new projects and ideas pulling me in but sometimes it's good to sit down and just complete something, am I right?

I feel like I've done a FEW little things this year.  For a change, I actually finished a monthly challenge - the small quilt for August. 


And my Tumbler/Thimbles doll quilt - 

Lately, I get giddy when I finally finish something, even something small.  

Other quilts that needed to be finished - 


I pulled out two and kept them on my sewing table. Made a plan - 



                                                                         Here we go -


Yesterday, I finished the other little one. Honestly, it took me all of an hour and a half so I don't know what the problem was that kept me procrastinating so long, LOL. 

All of these quilts are free patterns in my Facebook group and the other small quilt group. Now I've moved on to quilting my little log cabin quilt that was started last year.  Another easy finish I keep putting off. 

              More to do. Maybe I'll get this one finished before NEXT Valentine's Day -   



Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Schoolgirl Sampler Book

In case some of you have not heard (!), my new book will be released shortly, in October. It's called Schoolgirl Sampler and I know you'll love it. I think it will be a terrific reference book for those of you who love making small quilts. For years to come. So many small blocks, so little time . . . . 

I even love the back cover! I found that cute antique photo of a smiling mother and daughter last year while combing through the booths at an antique mall.

My Schoolgirl Sampler quilt is really fun to make. There are directions in the book for 72 simple little blocks (4" x 4") and they all go together easily. Honestly, what could be more fun??

Mine was hand quilted simply for an antique look.

There are also patterns in the book for six scrappy little quilts using some of the blocks. Here are a few (made by friends Sue and Marian) - 

Mini Sampler doll quilt

Pinwheels doll quilt

Patriotic Stars doll quilt

Whirly Bird doll quilt

The possibilities are endless . . . . .

Schoolgirl Sampler is coming out in early October and I'll be pre-ordering my copies from the publisher soon. Hopefully, it will be available at your local quilt shop as soon as it's released. If you don't care about a signed copy, ask them to order a copy for you and you can avoid shipping costs. If you ARE interested in purchasing a signed copy, I am taking pre-orders on my website and also in my Etsy shop  (Pre-ordering is always recommended since it gives me an idea of how many books I need to buy from my publisher before it comes out. So I have them ready to send out. Copies of books for those who pre-ordered will be mailed out first.) 

There will be plenty of copies available, don't worry,  but keep in mind that there is always a rush as soon as a new book comes out and so if you wait until October, please allow a little time in case I have to restock and order more. I never have a good sense of how many of you want signed copies until you tell me. International quilters may want to visit the Martingale website to purchase an e-book version when it become available. 

*  *  *

In other news - Have you made the little challenge quilt for August yet?  I actually finished mine early for a change. Such fun to sort through my scraps and then sew these small squares and triangles together into an easy little doll quilt. The free pattern is in the group Files. Still need to work on finishing at least three other small quilts I started this year. Sigh, I'll get to them eventually. 

Oh! Thanks for all of your little needle case kit and pattern orders. Kept me busy last week. I did restock and now have more of that lovely brown floral print for kits. I hope you have fun making these and I look forward to seeing some of them in the FB group or on Instagram. 

Stay safe and eat healthy. These are crazy times. Take a walk if the weather permits. It's finally a little cooler here in the Chicago area and it feels good to get back outside. It's cool in the woods if you can get to a forest preserves or find a nature trail. 

Next time I'll try harder to find one that allows dogs on the paths. Puppy is still reeling because I didn't take her with me last time. I told her the sign said - NO DOGS ALLOWED. This means you, my pet (who thinks she's a human) . . . .  

If looks could kill . . . 


Friday, July 31, 2020

Nineteenth Century Needle Cases

A few years ago I taught at a quilting retreat and someone brought in her collection of antique sewing kits from the 19th century. I've had needle cases on my mind lately and so I thought I'd show you a few pics of the antique ones she showed the group.

This case is made of leather with a green silk lining. Exquisite. A beautiful assortment of threads.

The needle holder on this one is embellished with a small blanket stitch and embroidered flowers. So sweet.

Since all of an Early American household's cloth items had to be sewn by hand, hand sewing was an important skill for most females in the 1800s and earlier. These skills were of necessity passed down from mother to daughter at a very early age. Thus, young girls (some as young as twelve) were often very accomplished at needlework. In addition to sewing and mending garments for the family,  we can see many of their skills evidenced in needlepoint samplers of the time period and other fancy work such as embroidery.

Sewing kits were often very personal items and women took care with their contents. Needles, pins and scissors had to be carefully wrapped to protect against rust. Sometimes women ran their needles through the natural oils in their hair to protect them and make them easier to pass through fabric. (We wash our hair much more often than women did in earlier days so I don't think that would work well today!)

This small case is called a Lady's Companion and the other one next to it is also lined in silk. Some of the kits contained bone crochet hooks and stilettos and even a tiny pocket knife.

This purple case came with a note saying "Made by Miss Abby Buckingham and given to me by my mother - 1839." Made of purple velvet and silk with a patent leather outer case.

See the tiny hiding place for the thimble?

Here's a page from an old newspaper folded up into a small packet, unfolded to display some pretty antique glass head pins.

This sewing roll-up contained needles organized by size. Numbers are embroidered in the different sections so every needle has a place. What an organized sewer!

It would be fun to collect some of these antique sewing kits, wouldn't it?  For now, I'll just have to content myself with making sewing kits of my own to cherish and perhaps one day they will be passed along and kept among someone else's treasured possessions. 

After looking at these pictures, I pulled out a few of the needle cases I've made for myself and friends over the years. FYI - There's a cool pattern for a "huswife" needlecase in my book Remembering Adelia. 

There are some simple fabric envelopes in The Civil War Sewing Circle book that you can make to hold sewing things.

 There's even a pattern for a small needle book in my first book American Doll Quilts.



After looking through some of these I decided I wanted to make a roll up sewing kit. After a little experimenting, I came up with this - The Civil War Ladies' Sewing Case. 

During the 18th and 19th centuries, these needle cases or sewing kits with pockets were called "huswifes" or housewives. Used to hold needles, scissors, buttons, thread, they were the essential ladies' home accessory. Soldiers carried them in their knapsacks during the Civil War in order to quickly mend their uniforms or sew on a lost button at camp. 

If you're interested in making one of these roll up needle cases, I just listed this as a pattern in my Etsy shop. There are a few kits available as well in a separate listing. I have lots of patterns but limited kits in several different colors to choose from. All are made with assorted reproduction fabrics. The listing on Etsy shows more pictures and gives a description of the kits. E-mail me if you have any questions. (My e-mail is in my Blogger profile.)

A reminder that my older books are out of print now but you can purchase an e-book of any one of  them through my publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place. Some quilters print them out themselves at a place like Staples or other office supply store from the downloadable .pdf file.

Have a nice weekend!