Friday, May 24, 2013


So where have I been all week?  At least some of the time, I've been outside!  The garden is taking all my time and energy.  I haven't sewn anything for days.
Here's some of the inspiration I've been seeing outside.  All of these plants have quilt blocks named after them.  Can you guess them?  (Answers at the end of this post.)
#3.  (The flower in the foreground).

In my last post, I was ready to start/work on a tulip project.  Here's what I finally decided to do:

I just couldn't resist a new piecing project.  All the other projects on my Pick Six list are at the quilting stage.  Plus I could use my scraps.
This quilt is loosely based on Eleanor Burn's book.  I'm making 18 blocks, 12 red and 6 yellow.  I'm setting them on point, with sashing.  I will definitely not use as many borders as the book does.

I have also changed the size of the block.  In the book, they finish around 10 in. square.  It was easy to scale it up to 12 in. finished.
If you'd like to make a 12 in. block, here's the recipe:
From a background fabric, cut 3 4.5 x 4.5 in. squares, 1 2.5 in. square, 1 rectangle 2.5 x 4.5 in., plus 4 triangles to make half square triangles that finish at 4 in. (I use the Easy Angle tool, and cut the triangles from a 4.5 in. strip.)
From the tulip fabric (in my case, either red or yellow), cut 1 4.5 in. square and 2 triangles to make half square triangles to finish at 4 in. (again, I use the Easy Angle).
From green fabric, cut 2 triangles to make half square triangles to finish at 4 in. (again with the Easy Angle), and cut a strip 1.5 in. x 7 in. for the stem.
Lastly, cut a 2.5 in. square for the center of the flower.  For red tulips, I cut a yellow square, and for yellow tulips, I cut a red square.
The first thing I do is add the stem to one of the background squares.  I carefully press the edges of the 1.5 in. strip under one quarter of an inch on each side, and top stitch the stem to the background square.  It's really helpful to use a hand crank machine for this step, because I can keep it loaded with green thread.  I can piece the rest of the block on the treadle, with neutral thread.

My helpful machine here is named Mrs. Harris (it's hard to see, but the decals used to say Harris No. 9).  She's originally from England, and the first hand crank I ever owned.  I bought her from a local lady who inherited her from an Englishwoman who brought her to America.  It was great to work on a project with her again.
The stem is actually the hardest part of this easy block.  For the rest, you sew the red and green triangles to the background triangles and press, then sew the 2 squares together and add the background rectangle.  Then all the sections are finished, and you can lay out the block and sew it together like a nine patch.
It was fun using scraps from my bins, and these were just the sizes I keep--1.5 for the stem, 2.5 for the squares and rectangle, and 4.5 for the squares and half square triangles.  I cut up some of my stash when I ran out of scraps in the right colors, especially the backgrounds, and I mixed and matched backgrounds when necessary.  (No fabrics were bought for the making of these blocks.)
I'm still deciding what to use for the sashing and the side/corner triangles.  I'm also thinking of quilting this one in sections, which I haven't yet done with a diagonally set quilt.  Should be fun!

Now for the quilt blocks based on the plants above!
 #1 is Sage bud.  Here's a link to the pattern:

 #2 is Bay leaf. Here's a picture of one on flicker.  This pattern is also called Tea Leaf.

#3 is Bleeding Heart.  Here's a link to an antique version:

Did you guess them?  Did they inspire you?  Happy quilting.

Monday, May 13, 2013


These three tulips (plus a peony bush that hasn't bloomed yet) are the only flowers I have outside.  They are blooming in what was once a rose garden.  After the trees grew up and it got too shady for the roses, I replaced them with red raspberries.  We have a nice little crop every year.
When these tulips bloom, I always think about tulip quilts.  There are so many good patterns, some for pieced quilts but most for applique.
I dug out my tulip projects the other day.  I have one spot left on my Pick Six list.  Which one of these should I decide to finish?
Candidate #1: Tulip Wreath
These nice little blocks were probably made in the 1920s or 1930s.  There are 10 of them, in various stages of completion.  I bought them on Ebay years ago.  Since they are made of solid colors and even the greens don't match, it would be easy to use scraps to finish the blocks and make a few more.  They are only about 10 in. square, so probably 9.5 in. finished.

Candidate #2: Eleanor Burns' Tulip Quilt

I made a quilt from this pattern in 1992.  These are the colors I used, pasted into the book like the directions said.  All the blocks were the same.  They were set on point with a pink/green/cream print.  The quilt was fast and easy to put together (of course!  it's Eleanor Burns!).  At the time I thought I'd like to make this pattern again, with scraps of reds and yellows for the flowers.

Candidate #3:  Purple Tulips
The picture above is how this project came to me, from Ebay.  There are 36 tulips appliqued by hand onto a piece of off-white muslin.  The stem is embroidered, and there are embroidered details on the tulips and the leaves.  I only paid $10.00 for it!
Here's what I started doing with the purple tulips.  I cut them out of the muslin, and added triangles from vintage fabrics.  The blocks finish at 10.5 in.  I'm not quite sure how I would set them, either side by side or with a solid purple sashing.  Or is that too much purple?

Candidate #4:  Pink tulips quilt top

Another Ebay find.  I bought the blocks years ago, and set them with green and cream.  I added a border made from the green.  All it needs is quilting (and binding).  But I think it needs to be hand quilted, and I already have a hand quilting project on my Pick Six list.

So, which one to do?  Isn't this a great problem to have?  However I choose, I'll end up with a pretty quilt.

What is inspiring you this spring?

Monday, May 6, 2013


On Friday, my husband and I went antiquing.  It was a perfect day for it, raining and cool, so we didn't feel guilty about not working in the yard or garden.  Above is the loot I bought.  DH as usual had fun looking but didn't buy anything.  (Somehow, that doesn't work for me!) 
I got the red cake keeper and red handled egg beater for my vintage inspired kitchen (still in progress).  That's a sad iron there in front.  It's just a solid hunk of iron with an interesting wooden handle.  In the old days ladies would have more than one base.  They'd put the irons on the stove (or in the fire), get them out with the handle, iron clothes until they cooled, and then switch for the hot one.  No temperature dials on these, you just had to figure out if you thought it was the right temperature, and then strike while the iron was hot.  I've always wanted one, and this one was cheap.  It'll be a neat book end.

But the best find was fabric!  Here's the stack I bought, after the pieces have been washed.  There is enough of the green print and the pink print for backings on charity quilts.  The Packers fabric will be great for either kids or adults (this is Wisconsin!) but I'm giving the Cowboys fabric that was bundled with it to a friend.
 This is a small section of Moda aliens fabric.  $2.50!  I might make toy bags for the grandkids with this.  Henry would love it!

 These are some scraps from a quilt someone was making with American Jane fabric.  I'm sure I can put it to good use.  It was priced at $1.50.  Seriously.
I'm always on the look out for feed sacks, and these were reasonably priced, though not super cheap.  I'm thinking about piecing another feed sack quilt soon.

After cleaning out all my bins of antique/vintage quilt tops and blocks, I was able to pass on most of them I saw in the antique store, but these caught my eye and came home with me.  I've never seen this exact pattern before, and I haven't been able to find it in any of my pattern books yet.  Which just goes to show how inventive quilters were and are.  The center circle is pieced into the background, and the skinny rectangles are pieced in also.  There were four of these blocks, in great fabrics, for just $3.00.  I'm planning a "pattern quilt" made from orphan blocks of different sizes and patterns, and these are the right time period.

It was a fun, productive day.  I saw several sewing machines, including a Franklin in a parlor cabinet, which I petted and left.  I love antique stores and flea markets.  They're like museums, but you can touch the items, and even take them home if the price is right.
Good hunting, everyone!