New Orleans House Project

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Inspiration Strikes Another UFO

Quilt Sampler is one of my favorite quilting magazines.  I look forward to new issues and constantly revisit old issues for inspiration.  I enjoy being able to travel to quilt shops all across the country without ever leaving home!

A quilt in the most recent issue caught my eye, as it was made from bow-tie blocks set in the Xs and Os pattern.  That set off the little lightbulb in my head - didn't I have a stack of bow-tie blocks from a Treadle On Block Exchange?

A few moments of hunting through the stack of UFOs produced a packet of 24 origami bow-tie blocks in reproduction-type fabrics and unbleached muslin.  Origami, or 3-D bow-tie blocks are made with 5 squares of fabric and no set-in seams.  The center bow-tie on the block winds up being three-dimensional, like a real bow-tie!

The plan for this block exchange was to use a pre-1900 sewing machine to create the blocks.  Mine were made on a Singer VS 3 that was made sometime around 1894.  She is a well-loved handcrank machine who sews a fine, smooth straight stitch.  

The VS part of her name means she uses a vibrating shuttle mechanism to create stitches.  The shuttle moves back and forth in an arc, passing through a thread loop made by the needle action and creating a lockstitch.

Here's a close-up view of the shuttle and its bobbin.  The bobbin is approximately 1 inch long.

I didn't have enough blocks to make a satisfactory arrangements of Xs and Os.  And rather than get caught up in making more bow-tie blocks, I decided to go with a simple arrangement.  Once I make a 25th block, I'll have a nice square group of bow-ties.  I've been dreaming of applique border treatments, so maybe that will be the finishing touch for this quilt.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Civil War Doll Quilt

Another doll quilt top added to the pile for hand-quilting.  The alternate blocks and side triangles went together easily.  I had to ease a little with the borders, but it's not as wavy as it appears in the picture.  I snapped this picture looking out over the dock at our camp.

Album Quilt 
The Civil War Sewing Circle by Kathleen Tracy
Various reproduction fabrics, finished size 36" x 36"

While I had the camera handy, I grabbed a picture of the figs on my fig tree.  Two years ago we got a nice crop of figs in late June/early July.  Last year drought slowed up the production of figs, and the birds ate all the fruit before they had a chance to ripen.  This year I'm hoping for another crop of figs; the weather has been dry, so I've been watering the tree, but now I'll be gone for two weeks, so who knows what will happen.  If I was really energetic, I'd put a net over the tree to keep the birds out!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Interlude: Civil War Inspired Doll Quilt

I bought Kathleen Tracy's The Civil War Sewing Circle several months ago. There were so many projects in the book I wanted to try, but other projects always seemed to take priority.

Then, several weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a surprise birthday block gifting that required a 6 inch block in reproduction fabrics. I chose to make the album block featured in The Civil War Sewing Circle. I played with different fabric arrangements until I found a happy combo. But I couldn't stop there! The blocks were fun and quick to make and before I knew it, I had a batch of blocks made. There was nothing for it but to go ahead and make the entire album quilt!

The birthday block was sent on its way, and soon i had pieced together the nine blocks required for the quilt. Today I assembled the blocks and the plain squares and triangles; tomorrow the borders and more pictures.

If you're not familiar with the book, you can take a closer look at Amazon. The book contains some Civil War history and a variety of projects, including full-size quilts, doll quilts and small sewing projects such as pincushions.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Sunshine of My Life

It's been a blogging-deficient week - although not quilting deficient!  I'll try to get caught up on some posts this weekend.  In the meantime, I'll send out a last little bit of May sunshine for all the Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilters:

I needed a new Leader-Ender project and since I still had lots of 2 inch strips and squares, I decided to start creating some 9-patches.  These will eventually work their way into a 9-patch chain type quilt.  I was able to go back and get caught up on most of the previous Rainbow Scrap Challenge colors, so now I've potentially got 4 quilts to finish up at the end of the year!

Go get some extra sunshine from SoScrappy's Rainbow Challenge link-up today!

Wishing all my American readers a happy Memorial Day weekend!  My dad always liked to send email reminiscences of Decoration Day - as the holiday was known during his childhood.  I enjoyed hearing about those observances from "back in the day" and saved them all.  They are cherished memories of my dad, who I am remembering today.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spring 2012 Blogger's Quilt Festival: Split Nine-Patch TOBE

Spring Quilt Market is happening this weekend in Kansas City, which means it is also time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival - Spring Edition!  If you're not familiar with the online festival, take a hop over to Amy's Creative Side for a wonderful exhibition of quilts by bloggers from all over!

My entry for the festival is a colorful quilt that resulted from an online block exchange.

The quilt started with a batch of blocks shared by members of the Treadle On mail list.  Treadle On is dedicated to the use of antique and vintage people-powered sewing machines. Treadle On  has been around for 15 years, nurtured under the benevolent dictatorship of Dick (Captain Dick) Wightman.  The list has inspired countless sewing machine rebirths, as Captain Dick and list members encouraged folks to actually sew with treadle and hand-crank machines.

Group block exchanges among list members have become popular ways to utilize favorite antique machines.  Nicknamed "TOBEs" - Treadle On Block Exchanges - the swaps usually involve a pre-ordained block which is also inscribed with the stitcher's name and the type of sewing machine used, along with the machine's birth year, if known.

After I received my exchange blocks, I started playing with placement on my design wall.  The original blocks from the swap didn't weren't quite enough for the design I had in mind, so I started piecing more blocks.  It was almost like eating potato chips - once I got started I had a hard time stopping!  Even after I had a satisfactory number of blocks, I kept going with half-square triangles to add even more color and movement to the quilt.  

During the quilt construction, the blocks kept falling off my design wall.  I didn't think anything of it, until I noticed (gasp!) one of the blocks had been chewed by my dog, Bailey.  Not only that, it was a block from a special quilting friend, Annie, who has free-motion quilted (on a treadle sewing machine!) several quilts for me.  Determined to salvage the block, I saw the damage could be repaired with judicious use of fusible interfacing and a little bit of dog paw applique.  I guess Bailey wanted to "autograph" the quilt, too!

Two of my favorite things about this quilt are the amazing variety of fabrics used by the swappers and the memories of wonderful friends I have made through Treadle On.  It's great fun to use this quilt and admire all the fabrics and remember all my sewing machine friends!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Saturday: Walkin' on Sunshine

The venerable Greek Square provides this week's yellow scrap happiness!
I was thinking of placing these blocks on point for the final quilt.

But when the blocks are placed together, there's an interesting secondary design where the corners meet.  I think I like this arrangement better!

One week of yellow scrappiness left for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  Do visit Soscrappy's blog to see what other RSC quilters are up to!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Elsie's Medallion..or, Quilting til the Cows Come Home

I have had this printed panel since the early 1990s.  In fact, I have two of them, along with additional panels of cows, pigs and chickens to cut out and applique.  Designed by Joan Kessler for Concord Fabrics, you can still find these gems on eBay!

I originally collected this panel and a host of cow-themed fabrics to make a quilt for a well-loved kindergarten teacher.  Imagine my dismay when she let me know there was no way she would appreciate a cow-themed quilt (despite having a huge collection of cow-kitsch in her classroom).  On to Plan B for the teacher and the cow fabrics!

I decided the beautiful bovine panel was just begging to be the center of a medallion quilt.  Elsie in the middle, surrounded by lots of cow fabric borders.  I've experimented with several different borders, but only recently settled on the current incarnation:
I added the flying geese border this weekend.  It's not stitched down yet, but it's definitely a keeper!  The next piece in the medallion puzzle is a batch of Ohio Star blocks.  They were created several years ago, and I love the blocks, but was never happy with their placement on previous incarnations of the quilt.  My plan is to add another plain border before adding the star blocks.  The border only needs to be 3 inches wide to keep the size consistent for the Ohio Stars.

Here's what I'm envisioning - a border of gold or green, then the border of Ohio Stars.  I've tried some other approaches and they're just too busy.  Of course, I don't have enough of the gold fabric I'm experimenting with here (Subtle Solids by Thimbleberries), so I'll have to do some shopping to see if I can find a fabric that will work.  In the meantime, I'm leaving this on the design wall in hopes Elsie will give her moo of approval.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

The local weather forecasters have been busy telling us about all the gloomy weather we should expect this weekend. So much so that we have postponed plans for a bike ride and opted for some flea marketing (indoor) instead. Fortunately, this month's scrappy color is yellow, so I've got plenty of sunshine to keep me happy!

Today's blocks, brought to you by the color yellow and the ever-popular Granny Square. I am really enjoying basking in all this wonderful yellow!

As I have been working on these challenge blocks, I have been thinking of possible recipients for the finished quilts. I have come up with several ideas, and now the personalities of those friends/family members are starting to influence the quilt blocks! I am very excited to eventually be able to share some colorful quilts with special people. How about you - are you thinking of sharing your rainbow quilt(s) with anyone special? How is that affecting your quilt as you go forward?

Don't forget to visit Soscrappy's blog to see all kinds of sunshine today!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Prodigy Parrothead Project Revisited

I hope y'all will indulge me while I go back and take a second look at a quilt I blogged about last November.  After posting my limited and uninspiring pictures of the Prodigy Parrothead Quilt, I emailed the owner and asked if he would loan the quilt back so I could make documentary photographs.  Our ties of friendship have stayed strong over the years, and he happily shipped the quilt to me and told me to keep it as long as I wished!

I've spent the past couple of weekends taking photographs of each quilt block and reminiscing about the people and places represented.

The block on the upper right was hand-beaded with the owner's name - Carmen M - and bunches of grapes!

I had completely forgotten this amazingly vibrant fabric was on the back of the quilt!

I had also forgotten the label on the back.  

And here it is on temporary display at Camp Kilowatt.  It's hard to believe this quilt is almost 20 years old!  Many thanks to my friend Gary for being such a great guardian and graciously loaning the quilt back to me for awhile!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Feathered Star Wall Hanging

I'm still experimenting with blogging from the iPad - trying to decide if I like it, or it's just too much trouble.

Feathered star quilts rank right up there as one of my favorite quilt styles. With so many varieties of stars, one could make a career out of playing with them - kind of like Marsha McCloskey (I really want to make that sunflower variation on her home page!)

This wall hanging was inspired by an early book by Marsha McCloskey, Christmas Quilts. I can't remember if I used Marsha's pattern for the entire quilt, or just for the feathered star. Regardless, I had a blast hand-piecing the star! I did the piecing during the summer, while waiting for my kids at swimming lessons.

After assembling the quilt, I knew I wanted to hand quilt it as well. The quilting was done that fall as I waited for my kids at soccer practice. For the border quilting, I just meandered around, using the lines of the flowers and tendrils for inspiration. I was able to enter the quilt in our local guild show the next year and was quite surprised to win a ribbon for hand quilting!
I've tweaked the color a little in this picture to show the quilting better. The quilt was made in the early 1990s and measures about 34 inches square. It lives with my mom in Florida.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rainbow Scrap Challenge Goes Mobile!

It's Saturday, so that means It's time for more Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks. I thought I'd challenge myself a little further today and see if I could publish an entry using my iPad. I'll give feedback on the process in another post.

The challenge color for May is yellow. I have developed an affection for the color yellow over the years. It's not a color I can wear, and I think that hindered my appreciation of yellow for a long time. But how can you not enjoy the color yellow? Just thinking of the color invokes images of warm sun, baby chicks, lemon meringue pie - sunflowers!

I snapped a picture of my yellow 16-patches using my iPad. That was pretty slick and the camera doesn't take bad pictures. I probably should have done some photo editing before using the picture in this post - there's limited photo editing allowed through the blogging app I'm using.

There's more yellow-hued inspiration at Socrappy's blog, so please stop by and check out this week's links.

One Scoop or Two?

Chocolate?  Peppermint?  Pistachio?
Does this quilt remind you of ice cream?
The ice cream connection was a happy accident that occurred as this mystery quilt was put together.

I participated in Bonnie Hunter's Orange Crush Mystery Quilt back in 2008.  Bonnie's color choices for the quilt involved lots of orange, accented with blue, red and black.  I wanted my quilt colors to go in another direction, and started with a collection of chocolatey browns with pink and green thrown in for contrast.  Since the project was a mystery quilt, I wasn't sure how my color choices would work out until the quilt was fairly well under way.

As more and more elements of the quilt were assembled, I became more and more pleased with the results.  Although not as obvious in the photos, the variety of green fabrics add a lot of visual interest.  And I love how the pink and brown dots add some punch!

Here's most of the quilt, hanging from the balcony at the camp.  I opted for a plain chocolate brown border to visually frame all the blocks.  Of course, that border is also great for showing off quilting - and that's where the fun really begins!

When I took the quilt to my local longarm quilter, Cindy Braiwick, I didn't have any specific ideas for quilting.  We talked about the genesis of the quilt and how the results reminded me of ice cream or candy.  Cindy used my thoughts for inspiration and quilted ice cream cones all over the quilt!

Of course, being a New Orleanian, Cindy couldn't use just any ice cream cones.  Her cones referenced Brocato's, a legendary New Orleans confectionery, beloved for Italian ice cream!  

Brocato's was severely damaged in the flooding caused by failed levees after Hurricane Katrina.  When the store opened about a year after the flood, it was heralded emotionally as another sign New Orleans was on the road to recovery.  So while this quilt reminds me of one of my favorite treats, it is also a symbol of the love and hope New Orleanians (native-born and transplants!) have for their home.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pieces of the Past: Antique Store Finds

This past weekend, DH and I spent some time poking around some nearby antique stores.  Usually the only textiles I find in these shops are vintage table linens, but on this trip I found two interesting quilts!

The blocks in this quilt look a little like bow-ties, but the block is constructed of only 3 pieces: two cones and the center bow.  I checked Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns where there were some similar blocks called Drunkard's Trail.  

Best of all, the bow-ties are string-pieced!

Next find was this basket quilt made with vintage plaids, checks and indigos.  It's not a true quilt, as it has no batting and no quilting.  The blocks were sewn together and a backing and binding were attached.  I don't know why one row of blocks is upside down!

I love the vintage indigo fabrics as well as the plaid & check shirting-type fabrics!

I'm kicking myself for not examining these blocks more closely.  In retrospect, they appear to be appliqued to the background fabric.

Neither of these quilts came home with me, but I promised myself I'd go back for the plaid & indigo baskets if they kept calling out to me this week!