Friday, May 27, 2016

Novelty, Novelty, Novelty

"There are three things which the public will always clamor for, sooner or later: namely, novelty, novelty, novelty."  This is a quote from Thomas Hood (1799-1845), an English poet  whose works include "The Song of the Shirt", which immortalizes poor women of the 19th Century struggling to make a living sewing clothes by hand.   (You can find the entire poem here.)
I think what Mr. Hood meant by novelty was newness.  I can certainly agree with him when it comes to quilts.  Is there anything like starting a brand new quilt?
Finishing is pretty exciting, too.  My "finish" this week is a top for charity.  The wonderful long arm quilters in our guild will quilt it so it can go to a child.
 I used a pattern from Quiltmaker magazine to make this top.  The quilt has the uninspiring title of Block by Block, and is from the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue.  It finishes at 54 in. x 71 in.  The designer is Heidi Pridemore.  For more details, click here.
From the web page, you can order a kit for the quilt, but apparently you can not order the pattern, even though there is a link.  I got the usual 404 page not found error message.

Here's what the pattern page looks like.  The quilt is bright and cute, and uses lots of novelty prints.  Novelty prints are defined as "fabrics printed with a theme motif".  The print has little pictures of something identifiable (but not flowers--those are floral prints).
Before I started, I made myself a kit.  The directions are for strip piecing, but I prefer to just cut the squares and rectangles and sew them together.  Hey, I like sewing!  And I don't like wasting even small amounts of fabric at the ends of strip pieced sections (call me a fabric miser).  Plus my strips tend to wiggle a bit.  I had to do a little math to cut things my way, which is why I wrote all over the magazine page.
I changed some of the colors to suit the fabric on hand.  I didn't have enough of the green for the long strips between the rows, so I substituted a yellow print and used the green in the rows.
I chose novelty prints from my "collection" for the squares.  I am starting to really have a thing for novelty prints.  I absolutely love this one--Monster Trucks with real monsters!
More trucks, this time  with a construction theme.
Check out the tools!
And even more monsters!  I kind of have a thing for monsters, too.  Must be from all the Sesame Street I watched when my kids were little.

It's funny how things happen.  Just at the time I was playing with novelty prints and thinking about them, I ended up with this little quilt to bind.
Some nice person in my guild made it as a charity quilt.  Our long arm-ers quilted it, and I volunteered to bind it.  It's sort of an I Spy quilt.  What a fun collection of novelty prints!
Everything from cats and frogs to Batman!
Sports prints, the Cat in the Hat, hilarious bats, and even Pegasus.
And don't forget dinosaurs.  I have always loved dinosaur prints. 
This quilt will be so much fun for a child.

 I've been using novelty prints in most of my children's quilts over the years, but I've never made an I Spy quilt.  What if I cut a rectangle from each of the novelty prints in my stash?
I almost can't believe how many I have.  And how great they are!  Star Wars! Sharks!
Dragons, fish, dogs!
Pirates, space, Batman!
This is going to be fun.

Novelty, novelty, novelty.  Let the clamor begin.

I hope you have what you clamor for this week.

Friday, May 20, 2016

How to Make a Terrible Quilt

Before you make a truly terrible quilt, you need an idea.  You don't want to think it through, just go for it.  For example, the idea could be "I want to make a quilt as you go quilt with no handwork".  Make sure the idea is only about half-baked.
Don't do any research on how quilts like this have been done before.  (Remember, you want this to be terrible.)
Choose your fabrics randomly, based on what you like and what you have on hand.  Feed sacks are often loosely woven and can be stretchy, so they are great for this. 
A walking foot or the equivalent is absolutely necessary for this kind of quilting.  Make sure you DON'T use one, just use your regular sewing machine foot.
Be sure to use different fabrics for the back of each quilt block.  That way, if things don't go well, it will be very obvious.
Make no attempt to square the backings to the same size.  If the corners happen to meet, you lose points.
On the front of the quilt, force the corners of the blocks to meet, even if they don't want to.  This will make lovely speed bumps of excess fabric, and will guarantee the quilt won't lie flat.  Just quilt over it with your machine.  It won't make it any flatter, but it will make it even more noticeable.
The edges will have waves like the ocean, a sight that gives quilt judges fainting fits.

Eventually, probably before the quilt is finished, your sanity will return, and you will realize how really terrible the quilt is.  At this point, you can store it in the closet (way way back in the closet).  If any of your quilting friends find it, you can make up a story about rescuing it from a dumpster and keeping it around for laughs.  Or you can just sigh, pull up your big girl pants, and finish it.

Adding fancy borders and special quilting to it would be like putting lipstick on a pig.  The pig might be flattered at the attention, but in the end he's still a pig.  A simple finish will get this thing out of the closet.
Once it's finished, you can start adding memories to it.  (Dog hair will probably improve it.)
The baby can play on it, and you won't even care if he spits up.  You can take the quilt on picnics in the park or to the beach.  The grand kids can run their cars on it.  You can throw it in the washer and dry it on the clothesline and not worry about using it up.
It is, after all, just a terrible quilt. 

I'm wishing you good quilts and happy finishes this week.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Yesterday I took my show on the road, to the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts.  These lovely ladies went with me, to help with my lecture about the Scandalous History of the Sewing Machine.
I took my prettiest and most unusual handcranks.  Naturally that included the German machines with mother of pearl inlays ...
and of course my Willcox and Gibbs.  I had a wonderful time, visiting with the participants and sharing my love for the old machines.
I also got to use this beautiful Singer treadle owned by the museum.  It's a model 27, with the pheasant decals, in an amazing cabinet.  She dates to 1902-1903, and sews like a dream.

Speaking of sewing, I have managed to get some done this week.  I'm still working on baby quilts, using the fabric from the baby shower.
Here's another one finished!  This one has adorable Jungle Babies print.  It was tough to find the right colors to go with it, until I tried brown.  This one seems to work.
I had a nice big piece of blue with white polka dots, so that went on the back.  The binding is the same fabric as the brown squares.
It was all ready to go to a charity when my daughter (who loves this fabric) asked if she could have it for her baby.  How could I say no?  I'm happy to make as many as she would like.

 I have 4 more tops to quilt that can go to the charities (see the photo above), and there is still LOTS more fabric.

So I guess I'd better get to work!

Have a lovely week.

Monday, May 9, 2016


I went to an amazing quilt show a week or so ago.  I can't show you the photos of the quilts I saw (against the show rules, of course), but I can show you some of what I bought.
Here's what my pile of loot looks like out of the packages.  I bought all this at a part of the show called "Granny's Attic".  The members of the guild that puts on the show donate fabric, which is then packaged, priced, and sold.
Most of what I bought is quilting cotton, either as scraps or yard goods.  Above is an interesting set of samples of flannel fabrics.  These will be great in a scrap quilt.   (Did I mention I have tons of flannel?)
In addition to the quilting fabrics, I bought some materials for other projects.  This is oilcloth, and I got a huge hunk of it for $1.
Here's some heavier cotton.  I'm thinking about making a couple of grocery bags out of it.  Cost:  $2.00.

Take a look at the price tag on this one!  They had lots of bags like this of scraps, for terrific prices.
Here's what it looked like, dumped out on the table.  One whole dollar, for all of this!  I haven't decided what exactly to do with it yet.

This is another item from the show, that happens to be completely free!  The guild hands out two free patterns at every show, and invites participants to make quilts from them to show next year.  They call these patterns "seed packets".  Isn't that a great idea?

Seed packet patterns from past years are available for free online, at the following address:
Shows--It's a Stitch Quilt Guild  Scroll down the page to find links to the patterns.  As of today, the 2016 patterns are not online yet.

I go to this show every year, and I usually just look at the seed packets, think about the patterns for a while, and then forget what I was going to do with them.
Not this year!  I started this quilt when I came home from the show.
This is my adaptation of the Cabin Steps pattern.  The original is a 12 in. finished block.  Mine finishes at 9 inches.  As you can see, 3 of the 9 squares are plain white, while the other six are made of 2 rectangles each.  The rectangles are cut at 2 in. x 3.5 in.
I'm sewing the rectangles together as leaders and enders, while piecing baby quilts for charity.

We had a family party here yesterday for Mothers Day, and my granddaughter Evie and I spent a little time playing with my fabrics.

She went through all the strips in this bin, telling me which ones she liked.  She's the most adorable four-year-old ever.  Her mother is giving her a good start in sewing, helping her make Barbie clothes.
Long, long ago, in 1959, my baby brother was born.  When my mother came home from the hospital, she brought two dolls, one for my sister and one for me.  The doll above is mine.  My daughters played with him when they were little, and what clothes he had were lost.  Yesterday, my granddaughter and I found him naked in the basement.
We took pity on him.  My daughter sewed a shirt for him on my electric machine, while my granddaughter got her first lesson in treadling.  We broke the top thread right away, of course, so we weren't really sewing, but it was just as much fun for Evie just putting the fabric through.  She kept her fingers away from the works, and learned to raise and lower the presser foot.
Evie named the doll Dave, no one know why.  We made a bed for him from a crate fruit came in, and cut some more flannel scraps for covers.
I think Dave needs a quilt.
But I think everybody needs a quilt.  Don't you?

Keep smiling and sewing this week.

I'm trying some new link ups this week.

Click Here to go back to Em's Scrapbag.

Click Here to go back to Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt.