New Orleans House Project

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pieces of the Past: Presidents, Patriotism and Sewing Machines

In honor of Presidents Day, I offer some sewing machine vignettes from the history of the United States.

Victorian trade card for Household Sewing Machine Co. featuring images of President & Mrs. Grover Cleveland, circa 1886.

President Cleveland married Frances Folsom in 1886 - the first wedding to ever be held in the White House.  She was 21 and the daughter of one of Cleveland's former business partners; he was 48 years old at the time and had never been married (although he admitted to fathering an out-of-wedlock child when the issue was dragged up by his opponents during the 1884 Presidential election).  Mrs. Cleveland proved to be a very popular First Lady and advertisers were quick to use her image to promote products - apparently without her permission.  So although this appears to be an endorsement of Household sewing machines, I doubt Mrs. Cleveland (or her staff) ever actually used one.

Victorian trade card for Weed Sewing Machine Co. featuring Uncle Sam.

Uncle Sam is demonstrating the Weed sewing machine (the company name and info is given on the reverse of the card) for a group of stereotypical foreign onlookers.  Weed sewing machines were manufactured in Hartford, CT from 1865-1900.  No date or specific reference to a particular "world's fair" is given.  We can speculate that perhaps the card refers to the World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893.  The image of Uncle Sam as a personification of the United States was frequently seen on Victorian trade cards.

Paper doll featuring a young girl sewing a US flag with a Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine.

This image is a die-cut design and has a stand-up support printed with an 1899 calendar.  I'm not sure of the significance of the word "Olympia" on the young lady's hat.  I always assumed she was meant to be a younger version of Columbia, a female personification of the United States.  Like Uncle Sam, Columbia was a popular image found in late 19th century advertising.

Patriotic postcard depicting sewing machine

Dating from the WW I era, this postcard promotes home sewing as a patriotic activity.  "What Can We Do For Home and Country?  We can economize by making our own clothes"

There you have it - Presidents Day is a perfect holiday to celebrate your sewing heritage!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Midnight Stars - Finished!

I came a little late to Lori's Midnight Stars quilt-along.  I'm not sure exactly when I started making my version of Midnight Stars, but it was well after Lori completed giving directions on her blog.  Regardless, I enjoyed making the quilt top and her instructions made it a breeze (thanks, Lori!).  The red and cheddar fabric combo really gives the quilt some sparkle!
I was inspired by Bonnie Hunter's free-hand fan quilting, so I decided to try that technique on this quilt.  I chose navy blue thread for the quilting.  Hmmm - not good choices!  I had a hard time seeing the stitches I had already made, so the visual guide for shaping the fans was just impossible to follow.  I gave up on making free-hand fans and used a guide to draw quilting lines with a chalk pencil as I went.  My hand quilting skills were rusty, and quilting through some of the seam lines was a pain, but I knew everything would look fine when the quilt was completed, bound and washed.  Now I just need to find a display spot for this cutie!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pieces of the Past: Romancing the Sewing Machine

In honor of Valentine's Day - some Victorian trade cards depicting the effects of the sewing machine on romance!
"Romeo & Juliet" are aided by a Singer sewing machine.
Cupid & Mr. Singer's machine share in the nuptials:
"What I have sewed together let no one rip asunder"
A heartfelt proposal is answered "Yes, on condition that you buy me a Domestic with new wood work and attachments".  Cupid expedites things by phoning "Hello - send a Domestic - quick!"
Newlywed bliss = new Domestic sewing machine!
Or, the painful alternative:
"I will have a New Home Machine!"
"A New Home or a divorce, take your choice Sir!"
I couldn't resist throwing in my own take on sewing machine romance:
Sunbonnet Sue & A Sewing Machine Named Desire.
This block was made as part of a group quilt project for Treadle On.
Sue is drooling over an antique sewing machine labeled "Desire".  
Hand & machine applique with gold thread embroidery.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Candy Conversation Hearts

Not long ago, I found and finished an old UFO - a wallhanging of mini pieced hearts.  I enjoyed the technique and results so much I decided to make a second version, using some pink fabrics from my stash.

As soon as I finished the first block, I realized the pink hearts reminded me of the classic Valentine candy conversation hearts!
Once I had the blocks completed and the sashing attached, I snapped a photo and played with some creative calligraphy using Pixelmator.
I had way too much fun picking out different fonts and using them to create my own Valentine conversation hearts!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

2012 Rainbow Scrap Challenge: Take Two

I thought I was through with this month's rainbow scrap challenge project.  I made my green blocks last Saturday and figured I'd have to wait a few weeks for next month's color before I made any new blocks.  But yesterday I was hit with new inspiration by Cathy Toms' Greek Square blocks.

I contacted Cathy (thanks Cathy!) and asked about her blocks, then went digging through the scrap bins.  It just so happened I had a huge assortment of already cut 3.5 inch strips in lots of colors and shades.  So by default, my Greek Square blocks were made from 3.5 inch strips and squares.  I pieced 4 green squares and 2 red squares; I've got two more red squares ready to piece during the week.
Mine are a little different from Cathy's in that I used light/dark fabric combinations and she used white for her light fabric.  Since I already had the light/dark fabric strips cut, I decided to use those rather than cut even more fabric!

As I was working on the scrappy rainbow blocks, I realized I could also use this block pattern for one of  my memory quilts.  I already had a big stash of half-square triangles and pieced light/dark squares.  I made a quick block on the design wall and was pleased with the result.  Now I only need to make a couple hundred more half-square triangles for the various memory quilts under construction!

There's lots more inspiration over at the 2012 Rainbow Scrap Challenge link up for this week - take a look and see if you don't get inspired!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ancient UFO Unearthed: Little Hearts Wallhanging

I unearthed an ancient UFO the other day.  Neatly packaged in a zip-loc bag were a few finished blocks, quilt block pieces, extra fabric and a page of instructions.  I immediately realized now was the time to finish this project, as the quilt featured pieced hearts, and Valentine's Day is nearly upon us!
The pattern is from a now-defunct magazine entitled Miniature Quilts.  I only have the pattern page, not the entire magazine, so I'm not sure of the exact date, but my best guess is 1995-1997.  If anyone has a stack of Miniature Quilts magazines, this is from Issue # 17.  The pattern was written to be made with plaid scraps, with black, white and red as accent colors.
I did my version with red scraps, some  of which are reproduction fabrics.  The blocks aren't too difficult to assemble, just a little fiddly because the pieces are small.  The strip of red fabric on the right side of the quilt is binding fabric I'm auditioning.
I thought it might be fun to use red embroidery floss (single strand) for the quilting.  However, after doing a little sample, I decided using red on the white sashing would make things look too busy.  I think I'll use the red floss to outline quilt the hearts and regular off-white quilting thread in the sashing.

Finishing this UFO was so much fun I decided to make another version in pink.  It's still a work in progress, but I'll share some photos soon!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pieces of the Past: Real Photo Postcards with Sewing Machines

Postcards (sometimes called "penny postcards") became popular in the early years of the 20th century.  Changes in US postal regulations allowed anyone to print postcards that could be mailed using the US postal service.  In addition, postcards could literally be mailed for a penny - the price of a postcard stamp!

Real photo postcards (RPPC) were a popular format.  One could even purchase cameras designed specifically for creating real photo postcards.  One of the most popular RPPC cameras was made by Kodak, beginning in 1903.  Popular photo topics included community sights (City Hall, Main Street, etc.), prestigious homes and family vignettes.  Advertisers also used RPPC, but we'll save those cards for another post.

Two seamstresses at work.  The back of the postcard is divided - the US Postal Service allowed divided back postcards after 1907.   The area where the stamp would be placed on this card indicates it was indeed made with the Kodak RPPC camera.  The sewing machine in the photo is labeled Wheeler & Wilson (I had to get out my magnifying glass to check that out!).
An RPPC from Italy.  There are no clues to the age of this card other than the fashions; possibly 1930s or 1940s?  The sewing machine is a Singer, although it's difficult to determine which model.
The setting of this card reminds me of my great-grandmother's house.  The wall calendar is showing March 1914.  I'm not sure which model of sewing machine is being used; not a Singer!
A hand-tinted RPPC featuring the "Regimental Tailor".  The sewing machine is a Singer Model 31, an industrial machine.  I have sewn on one these - I do believe it could sew through anything!
There are no indications of the actual age of this card, but my guess is 1920s.  Printed in Paris.  The text reads Passe-Temps de Jeunne Filles - La Couture.  Creant tout ce qui touche a la coquetterie, Des juveniles coeurs la couture est cherie.  After consulting several sources, my best guess at translation:  "Hobbies of Young Girls - Couture.  Creating everything related to the vanity, The young hearts of fashion are sweet."  The sewing machine is probably German-made.  

I hope you've enjoyed another look into my sewing machine-related ephemera scrapbook - I still have lots more to share!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 Rainbow Scrap Challenge February

February's color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is green.  I started pulling fabrics yesterday evening and was somewhat surprised to find that many of my greens lean toward the yellow end of the color wheel.  One stack of fabrics tended toward lime green, another toward olive green.  I tried to pick a spectrum of greens so the blocks would look as balanced as possible.
Some of these fabrics are close to twenty years old!
I went ahead and worked out the hourglass blocks to go with the green blocks.  I don't know yet if I will group the colors together or mix them up throughout the quilt. 

You can check out lots of other Rainbow Scrappers over at SoScrappy's blog.  Lots of great ideas and creativity - it's going to be fun watching all the scrappy projects evolve over the year!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Fun Fabric (Doxie alert!)

I had a few spare minutes today and popped into my local Hancock Fabrics store.  I've grown more and more disenchanted with their quilting fabric selection and quality, but hope springs eternal!

Today was the right day to visit, as I immediately spied two M'Liss Rae Hawley fabrics that needed to come home with me.
Black & white cats
Black & white dachshunds.
I have a small collection of cat and dog print fabrics.  I like to go for the unusual with these novelty prints, and these two certainly fit the bill.
Cat with fancy feline attire.
I know M'Liss is a dachshund lover - and I am, too.  These pups definitely tickle my fancy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pumpkin Juice Mini Churn Dash

I was (happily) seduced into sewing along with Lori's latest antique-inspired doll quilt project.  Lori's quilt was dubbed "Pink Lemonade".  I wanted to quilt-along, but I had completely different colors in my stash. So, in keeping with the beverage theme, I decided my quilt was best described as Pumpkin Juice!
Lori's doll quilt instructions are always clear and easy to follow.  This was a fun opportunity to play with some of my reproduction fabric stash.
I enjoy hand-quilting quilts of this size
I haven't decided on a quilting plan, and I have some other hand-sewing projects to finish before I start quilting this top.
In the meantime, I'll just enjoy my Pumpkin Juice!
Many thanks to Lori for hosting another great quilt-along!  Check out the Pink Lemonade Quilt Show at her website to see all the variations and color combinations created by other quilters.