Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween 1916

Last year my mother had a question for me. She had some costumes that my grandma had made when she was a school teacher, for her to dress up in to entertain her students. She asked me if I would be interested in taking them. One of the costumes was for Halloween.

My grandma was a schoolteacher in rural Kansas, who began teaching, as far as we can tell, as early as 1916. Below are two of the "school souvenirs" from 1916 and 1917, listing her as the teacher and the list of students in each grade.

1916 School Souvenir, Meter School, Republic Co., Kansas

1917 School Souvenir, Dry Lake School, Republic Co., Kansas

Here is the costume she made for Halloween. It has a lot of raw edges, but even so, it must have taken a lot of effort to make. It also has a black "Little Miss Muffet" type hat to go with it.



We think this may be a photo of one of her class of students:


I'm also lucky to have my Grandma's postcard album. The postcards are all from the early 1900's. One of my favorites, is a Halloween postcard featuring a witch, a black cat, and a pumpkin boy. I scanned the postcard, printed the scan onto cardstock, and decoupaged the print onto a black box, so that I can enjoy the image without light damaging the original postcard.



As you can see below, my cupboard is filled with all kinds of vintage inspired Halloween fun stuff! My friend, Ingrid, had a party for friends one year, where she planned crafts for us to make. It was so much fun! She had all of the supplies all ready to go for us.  The "Boo" banner, the little candy baskets and the pipe cleaner figures were all made that evening.




My "Boo" banner made its way into my "Party Girl" punchneedle, too.


When my youngest son was in first grade, I threw a Halloween party for him, with a variety of games for he and his friends to play, one of which was Bunco. For this Bunco game, I made Halloween themed dice, using purchased stickers with vintage Halloween images, and wooden blocks, which I painted in orange and black to contrast with the stickers.  The box was purchased years before at a gift shop and I love it!


Halloween Bunco

Like they said in 1916, Happy Hallowe'en!

Martha

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Quilt Patterns! Free Spirits and French Reel

My fabric line with Henry Glass Fabrics & Co., Sentimental Stitches, will be shipping to quilt shops next month, and I have two new quilt patterns which feature the line!

Free Spirits quilt pattern
Free Spirits features some of my favorite elements:  birds, flowers and berries. The big 24" appliqued block is surrounded by a dogtooth border and finished with prairie points. I've included a full size applique placement diagram, so placing your applique pieces will be a cinch!

http://www.wagonswestdesigns.com/shop/Patterns/p/French-Reel-x4392535.htm
French Reel quilt pattern
French Reel is another small quilt, which features the beautiful Sentimental Stitches striped border print.  The French Reel blocks are 6" square.


Here is one of the blocks in the process of being appliqued by machine.

 
Getting closer!  Do you remember my recent post about making my pressing station? I have really been enjoying it - it makes a huge difference. Above you can see some of my other pressing tools. An iron, of course. This is a Reliable iron, which is great for quiltmaking, as it has an auto shut-off override, and it steams really well, without spitting. Yes, I steam my seams! I use the scrub brush to brush off threads and lint from the fabric covered board. I was using a lint roller previously, but I was going through too many rolls of tape, so this brush works just as well. And finally, the strip stick, just barely visible in back, is wonderful for pressing seams open, without distorting other areas of the quilt. I like to press seams open when joining flying geese together for dogtooth borders to make them nice and flat, and also when joining two dogtooth borders to each other..

Henry Glass Fabrics is having a great giveaway on their blog every week, and this week, starting today, you can enter to win my French Reel quilt pattern, along with a bundle of Kim Diehl fabric! Follow this link to enter!

http://henryglassfabrics.blogspot.com/2014/09/happy-fall.html

Good luck and until next time,

Martha

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quilts From Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Fall 2014

My quilt, "Tuscany", is featured in this newest edition of Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Fall 2014.

"Tuscany"

I used fabrics from my fabric line, Elementary for Studio e Fabrics.  The block I used for "Tuscany" is the block I designed for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 8, "Martha's Basket". I machine appliqued the handle elements, which made this twin size quilt assemble very quickly.

"Martha's Basket"

The Fall 2014 Quilts from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks is on newsstands now!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shopping in Missouri

I just recently returned from a nice ten day visit with my mother in Kansas City. Oh, how I miss my mom! She was kind enough to indulge my need to go to my favorite antiquing town, Greenwood, Missouri, so I could shop for things I don't need...hee hee. I brought an empty suitcase, just in case I found a few small treasures to bring home with me. 

It was just the right time of year to visit, as one of the shops, Greenwood Mercantile, was all decked out with Halloween displays.





If this white cabinet could have fit in my suitcase, I would have taken it home with me!






There is also a wonderful area in Greenwood Mercantile that has bountiful stacks of beautiful hand dyed wool.  Heaven!


Here is one of the little goodies I did bring home with me, this wonderful heart shaped make-do, found in the wool area above. I love hand crafted art!


I also paid a visit to a few quilt shops in Missouri. Our first stop was Quilter's Station in Lee's Summit. Here I am in front:

Quilter's Station, Lee's Summit, Missouri




 And here I am inside with Rita, owner of Quilter's Station. They have the BEST selection that I've found of woven plaids and stripes, and if I remember right, she said they have 16,000 bolts of fabric to choose from. Again, heaven!


Quilter's Station also has kits for two of my patterns, Broomstick Hollow and Pumpkin Party:


Broomstick Hollow at Quilter's Station
Pumpkin Party at Quilter's Station

Our next stop was Missouri Star Quilt Company, which, I learned, is actually a series of 4 or 5 different shops, each with a different theme, in the town of Hamilton, Missouri. It was a beautiful day, with fluffy white clouds - here is picture of main street, which is lined with all things Missouri Star Quilt Company.

Main Street Hamilton, Missouri

One of the Missouri Star Quilt Shops is devoted to reproduction fabrics, and with permission, I was allowed to photograph this wonderful redwork quilt, which hangs in the shop.

Caldwell County Subscription Quilt c. 1890



 
I think the design of this quilt is just so wonderful - the way the lines of embroidered names are oriented, and interspersed with botanical images.

Until next time,

Martha


Monday, August 18, 2014

Scaredy Cats and String Stars

Writing new patterns kept me busy for the better part of July and early August, but, Yay!, they're finished!  I had so many requests to publish my pattern, "Scaredy Cats", that I finally got it done!

Scaredy Cats quilt pattern
It's now up on the website!

I have always had a fascination with string piecing, and have done quite a bit of it. One thing I had been wanting to try for many years, was to make a giant size string star. I was also thinking it might help to make a dent in my fabric stash. I finally drafted and cut out the foundation diamonds last Fall.

As I was moving back and forth in my studio writing my patterns, those foundation papers kept getting in my way. I finally decided to just take a break, and make the big string star, just to get those papers out of my way, at least!

It went very quickly, and I was so happy that my math was correct. The setting squares and triangles fit just perfectly! I'm really happy with how it turned out. I can report, however, that it did very little to reduce my fabric stash, although the background squares and triangles did take almost 2 yards.  I'm hoping to teach how to make the giant string star to fellow string star lovers in the future!

String Star
 
With the 4 1/2" borders added, the quilt top is approximately 73" square.

I'll have more new patterns to post soon!

Until next time,

Martha

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Machine Applique Versus Hand Applique

I've been using my strike-offs to get a start on making my Sentimental Stitches quilt in both colorways (free pattern download).


Sentimental Stitches Quilt - Green Version




Sentimental Stitches Quilt - Red Version

I love both colorways, so my plan is to try to make both after I receive more fabric. Each quilt is about 56" square with 6" appliqued blocks, so I'm hoping I can get both done.

Here are the blocks I've completed so far. Three blocks for the red version and one block for the green version:




Just for fun, I decided to have a little competition between machine applique and hand applique while making the blocks. I timed how long it would take to make one by machine with turned under edges, and how long it would take to make one with the needle turn hand applique methodI held out a little hope that needle turn by hand would reign supreme, but unfortunately, it really lost big time. Of course, I have to admit, I was watching a movie part of the time, but during the parts when I had my nose to the grindstone, I would have already finished one by machine.

Why did I want needle turn to win out? Most importantly, I find it so relaxing, and love working with a needle and thread. Second, the preparation of needle turn is a breeze. But, I added the preparation time into the total time, so unfortunately, it didn't make up for the difference in how fast a machine can stitch around the shape versus my hand!

Luckily, they all look nice in the end. Can you tell which one I stitched by hand?

Until next time,

Martha

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Do-it-yourself Pressing Station

I have long yearned for a larger pressing area to press my quilt tops in the making. I had never seen anything that quite fit my needs, until recently.

In the new August 2014 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine, fellow Henry Glass designer, Jill Finley, is featured, and she shares her tips for studio storage. One of her wonderful ideas is a fabric-and-batting covered board atop a bookcase on wheels.

Her moveable pressing station was perfect for my needs. I have a small studio, and storage is a must for any new additions - my ironing board had a lot of unused space underneath, so a bookcase was perfect! And to have a pressing station on wheels, so that I could move it out of the way if need be, was another plus!

The first step was to find a bookcase that would work - the right height and on casters if possible. After much hunting on-line I never really found anything I was happy with.  I decided to go to the local antique mall to see if I could find a second hand bookcase that fit all of my parameters.

I was in luck! I found a beautiful solid maple cabinet that was perfect. And I liked the fact that it had doors, because I prefer to have everything behind closed doors to keep my studio calm and uncluttered. And it has two drawers, too! Here is the cabinet after the casters were added to the bottom:

The cabinet after casters were added


A look inside
Next, I needed to create the pressing surface. I purchased a 24" x 48" piece of poplar at the hardware store that was 1/2" thick. First, I sealed the wood on one side to make it waterproof for steam pressing. Then, I glued two pieces of 16 1/2" long pieces of wood (the depth of the cabinet top) to the bottom of the wood, so that the pressing surface would be more secure on top of the cabinet (actually there are 3 pieces because I made a mistake, but I only needed 2). The pieces are spaced the width of cabinet apart.


I bought 1 1/2 yards of cotton flannel for the padding, and 1 1/2 yards of lightweight cotton twill for the cover. I used a staple gun to stretch and staple the two pieces around the wood separately.

Bottom of the pressing surface after the flannel and fabric was stretched and stapled around the wood




The pressing surface can be removed at anytime, such as when not being used and I need the extra space, or if I ever want to revert the cabinet to being a piece of furniture.

Here is a view of the top of the pressing station. One of the first things I pressed after it was all put together was some recently pre-washed yardage. What a difference it made!


I'm so excited to put it to further use in my quilt making this week! And I haven't even loaded the shelves yet ... it won't take long, I'm afraid.

Until next time,

Martha