Tag Archives: quilting

A Redhead With A Leopard-Print Handbag

Colored glamorous shot of Lucille Ball and Arnaz standing.A true blast from the past has been lurking in the back of my brain lately, an episode of I Love Lucy© from December 17, 1955 titled: The Passports.

If by some strange turn of events you’ve never-ever seen this episode (perhaps you’ve been off-world on an exploratory trip to Alpha Centauri), this is the episode where, after finagling a tag-along trip to Europe with Ricky, Lucy finds that she doesn’t have the necessary documents to get a passport. In addition, she’s somehow misplaced the only blood relative who can vouch for her… her mother.

Long story short, after finding that there is no record of her birth in her home town, she goes through the motions of trying to find someone older than her, who knew her as a child.

Lucy locates Helen Ericson Sears Kaiser, the woman who babysat Lucy as a child, only to be stymied when Helen won’t admit her real age in front of her husband. With Helen explaining the situation to her husband in some truly irritating baby talk, all the while calling him ‘daddy’ (Ack! I’m sure I coughed up a hairball during that scene!), the story gets twisted around until Helen and her husband decide that, of course, Lucy was the babysitter, and Helen the child.

[Lucy Trivia: the leopard-print handbag in the photo above made appearances in several I Love Lucy© episodes. Sometimes it belonged to Lucy. Sometimes it belonged to Ethel. But I think that I would luv to have that handbag most of all.]

Determined to make the European tour by any means possible, Lucy decides to stowaway on board the ship in Fred and Ethel’s old vaudeville trunk – a trunk that had been purchased from a man with a seal act, ergo the handy air-hole for ventilation. Lucy tries the trunk on for size, and of course the trunk locks, and of course the key to the trunk is in the pocket of the skirt that Lucy is wearing.

Just then, the doorbell rings, and who should walk in? Why it’s old Doc Peterson, the man who delivered Lucy in (West) Jamestown, NY.

At last, somebody who can identify Lucy! But Lucy’s still locked in that darned trunk…

  • Dr. Peterson: (speaking to Ethel) I couldn’t sign anything until I’m sure that she’s really Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Lucy: (from inside the trunk) Oh, no.  I am, Dr. Peterson, I am. I’m Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I don’t know. Uh, I thought she (points at Ethel) was you at first.
  • Ethel: Oh, no, now, you could see her. (points to the hole in the trunk) There’s a hole right there in the trunk. You look right through there, you can see that that’s Lucy.
  • Dr. Peterson: Well, I’ll take a look. (Bends down and looks through the hole in the trunk) Hi… I can’t tell a thing.
  • Lucy: Oh, now, wait a minute, Doc. Wait a minute. (from inside the trunk, Lucy puts one eye up to the hole) Here’s one of my eyes. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth. Put them all together and they spell Lucille McGillicuddy!
  • Dr. Peterson: All that is, is an eye, an eye, a nose and a mouth.

Realizing that she’ll never get her passport, never go to Europe, and likely spend the rest of her days locked in the trunk, Lucy bursts into tears. Doc Peterson cheers her up by remembering a song that he taught her when she was a child.

And so, with Lucy singing ‘Skip to My Lou‘ from inside the trunk, and Doc Peterson dancing a jolly little jig, a perfect opportunity presents itself for Ricky to burst into the apartment with a classic, “What’s going on here?!”

And I was going where with this?

Skip To My Lou quilt: by way of sample blocks with an assist from Lucy Ricardo.

ribbon swirl quiltingI’ve spent a lot of time lately – when not rerunning old sitcoms in my head; cleaning the sewing room, and culling and organizing fabric, including some much needed rearranging of storage furniture and worktables. The cleaning, sorting and organizing went fairly smoothly.  I’d reached the point where I could stand back and admire my hard work – all except for three boxes.  What was in those boxes you ask?

Stuff that hadn’t been unpacked since we moved to Oklahoma (cough… thirteen years ago). If pressed to admit the truth, those boxes had been packed up when we left Texas and relocated to Colorado, and then from Colorado to Oklahoma. A time capsule of quilting ‘stuff’, untouched by human hands for centuries… um, maybe let’s just say years.

applique orphan block doodle quiltingThere were orphan blocks and sample blocks and vintage coverlets, but mainly lots of sample blocks.  Sample blocks from my earliest quilting days when I still regularly made sample blocks.  And I clearly remember saying to myself, “Save these, you’ll be able to make an entire quilt with a stockpile of sample blocks someday.”

Well, that someday never came until those blocks and I had traveled down a long, long road together.

I had two choices: pitch ’em or use ’em. Of course I went with the opportunity to procrastinate, and so the cleaning, and the culling, and the organizing, and the generally satisfied feeling of a job being well done went right out the window.

orphan block sampler quilt checkered doodle quiltingSometimes when faced with orphan blocks, the blocks seem to stare right back at me through an (imaginary) hole in an old vaudeville trunk, saying, ‘Here’s my eye. Here’s my other eye. Here’s my nose. Here’s my mouth’, and I can’t see enough of anything that will suggest a way for the blocks to come together.

But making this little quilt was one of those moments when the blocks and I didn’t end up in a standoff, they very nearly jumped into place themselves.

And the truly amazing part of this sampler?  Only one – count ’em one – inset seam. How ever did that happen? Dunno. Some days, and some quilts, just go skipping along like that – even quilts made by a crazy lady who can take a life lesson from an episode of I Love Lucy©.

orphan blocks sampler little quiltstars applique doodle quilting

Whimsy: It’s Icing On The Cake

In my book, someone who turns down the opportunity to let a little whimsy brighten their day is as sad as a lost ball in high weeds.

I’ve been making headway on the patches I salvaged from the scrap bin – haven’t had the time or the energy to cut any more scraps, but I’ve got more than enough to finish up the current project.

pinstripeThe lightweight gray suiting?  After spending too much time dithering, and doing my best Jimmy Durante imitation trying to decide whether to use the right side or the wrong side, I finally decided to go with the pinstripes.

I had so few stripes in the scrap bin – florals I’ve got, with some checks, and a few dots, but I was definitely stripe poor.  I love geometrics and have a tendency to use everything I have quickly, so pinstripes were the only way to go.  You know the rule of five, right?  Large floral, small floral, check, stripe, dot.

Lately, Edyta Sitar has been claiming the rule of five as her formula, but truthfully, decorators have been using it for decades.  And that’s fine; Edyta is a quilting goddess, and I can forgive goddesses quite a bit if they keep the eye candy coming.

Oh, that was kind of off topic.

As I was saying, the 32-patches were stacking up as a result of staying with the leader/ender method, and I had the suiting already cut into rectangles to fit, so I decided to start slapping parts on the design wall.  Then, when I wasn’t looking, this lil’ guy popped in.

Applique Swallows

And before I knew exactly what was going on, he whistled up some friends.  I suspect that these five are outriders for a whole flock, and that makes me just about as happy as a boardinghouse pup.

Whimsy… gotta love it.

Outriders of the flock

 

Oh, Why Not?

So Many Scraps

Everybody is doing it apparently.

It’s being done at Temecula Quilt Co., and they’re doing it over at A Quilting Life, too.  Repro Quilt Lover is doing it in my email inbox – thanks to a well meaning favorite SIL.  Even my friend Katell is doing it over at La Ruche des Quilteuses, but with a slightly different twist.  Yes, it’s that time of the year when every quilter in cyberspace has announced the same pesky resolution, the one that I try to sidestep most every year, because the message is the same as always: LET’S USE THOSE SCRAPS!

All through January, I heard the catechism about organizing and reducing the size of my scrap bin.  As if I don’t carry enough guilt already about the mountain of scraps that sits idle in my sewing room.  Since the first of the year, my mantra has been: I can ignore it. I have ignored it. I will ignore it.

And it’s not as if I haven’t got yardage to work with.  Come on… I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to the Houston Quilt Festival.  When it comes to yardage – I’m flush.

I can be mule stubborn when it comes to not doing something just because I’ve been told that I should do it, but my goodness, that bin fills up with offcuts faster than I can use them.  After much internal debate, I’ve decided (again), that the pile of fabric must lose the contest of wills this year.

But actions always speak louder than words.  It took me a full day to translate a bit of this…

scraps

Into this… so neat, so tidy.

Scrap Tin

Folks,  that’s a whole lot of ironing and single cuts inside that not-quite-filled tin – but a rough estimate tells me that there are about one thousand 2.5″ patches in there.  And that pile of remainders in the upper right corner?  Those will be cut down into even smaller, usable patches.

{{Sigh}}  Why didn’t I start doing this years ago?  Wait.  I did.  But then I gave up after one of my “ooh shiny” moments and moved on to another project that didn’t involve cutting up itty-bitty scraps.

I’ve no plans to drop everything and start another quilt – the last thing I need is one more UFO (unfinished object) cluttering up my design wall.  The master plan is that I’ll use the patches as leader/ender projects.  For you non-quilters out there, that is when you run a few sets through the machine before starting in on the main event, namely the current project, and before you’re finished for the day, you run a few more sets through.  Leaders and enders.  All the while you’re gradually sneaking up on an extra quilt finish.

It’s been a week since I’ve begun taking a whack at the contents of my scrap bin.  So far, I’ve completed nine of these 32-patch units simply by using the leader/ender method.  Where am I going with these?  Dunno, but I’m sure something will occur to me.

Leader/Enders

pinstripeIt’d be nice if the “something that occurs to me” includes this gray pinstripe.  It’s 4 yards of vintage summer suiting that was gifted to me by, you guessed it, Miss G.  But which side should I use?  The right side pinstripe is very nice, but the wrong side has a shot cotton effect that is equally intriguing.

However it works out, I’ll keep one thought uppermost in that fluffy little brain of mine:  this is not a resolution, it’s simply another episode in my quilting adventure.

Crazy lady here, saying toodles and happy trails!

 

 

Still Life With Donkeys

Earlier today, my favorite SIL posed the question: What are you working on?

Honestly?  I’ve been having a love affair with 9-patches.  This weekend I put a check mark on a reproduction quilt top begun ten years ago.  I had the field of blocks complete, and the cheddar sashing mostly done, when I began cutting the wholecloth borders.  Then… full stop.

Now there’s this thing about the fabric I used in the border.  It’s kind of ugly.  But I kind of love it for all of its ugliness, and it was a millennium fabric done for Quilt For The Cure, so it was kind of like guilt free spending at the time.

Sort of.

I had long suspected that it was a reproduction fabric, and I’ve since found the likely source – the backing fabric used on a pineapple quilt, supposedly dating to 1876.  The website where I found the quilt listed is called 1stdibs; a site self-described as “the world’s leading online marketplace for the most beautiful things on earth.”  And the price tag for the quilt?  $4,995.00.

(yowza)

lady liberty 1876 1stdibs

Lady Liberty 1876 1stdibs

A little artistic license was used in recreating the Quilt For A Cure fabric.  We still have the beehive, cornucopia, and wheat – all symbols of prosperity and abundance – but the corn has gone AWOL.  Lady Liberty, her shield, and anchor remain, but Anno Domini and MM were added to the anchor… and that leads us right back to where we started: millennium fabric so ugly only I could love it.

Quilt For A Cure Millennium Fabric

Rewind to ten years ago: I botched the border cuts.  Devastated, I folded everything up – toe-tagged it, bagged it, and forgot about it.

Fast forward to early yesterday morning: I was flipping through an old quilt magazine (American Patchwork & Quilting – February 2005), when I stumbled across the pattern for the not-quite-forgotten quilt.  The pattern is called Civil War Soldier Patch, by Julie Bragg.  What originally caught my attention ten years ago, was that the quilt was based on the dimensions for a U.S. Sanitary Commission cot quilt.  During the Civil War, hospital quilts and blankets were made long and narrow to cover the body, but not drag on the floor, and that translates into a perfectly sized quilt for a couch potato like me.

Imagine this: any Saturday night, with something on TV that is probably too violent, too graphic, likely something by Quentin Tarantino.  The floor is littered with candy wrappers, spilled soda and popcorn.  But my nifty new quilt never has to brawl with movie night detritus, it hangs nicely above the muck.

And I remembered why I’d buried the quilt top – those pesky borders – but I gave myself a stern talking to.  “Get over it, it’s a utility quilt, get it done”, I told myself.  So back up on the design wall it went.

I thought that this morning I’d try snapping an interesting photo or six to share, but real life, in the form of my pair of donkeys, got in the way.  Some photos have just noses.  Some photos have just ears.  But most of the set-up shots have a stealth attack involving one or more donkeys.

Still Life With Donkeys

“Oh.  You wanted to take a photograph of that old thing?  Really?”  So I settled for a standard “let’s spread it out on the grass” shot , sans donkeys.  See the cotton field across the road?  A few more weeks and it’s picking time.

The soldier’s quilt finished at 54.5″ x 84″ (app. 138×213 cm).

Soldier's Quilt

Still Life With Donkey

I’ve also been playing with Miss G’s bag of orphan blocks, fifty two of which are 9-patches.  Let me tell you about those blocks – Miss G, being a housekeeper all her life couldn’t gift me with (probably) old and musty fabrics.  She laundered them all.  And yes, they frayed, but her heart was absolutely in the right place.

So after much blocking and pressing, I cut all fifty two blocks down to uneven 9-patches, and that’s when they began to take on a life of their own.  I decided that a riff on the Sister’s Choice block would be a good place to start, and I knew that I wanted to use two different blocks in the quilt.  But the second block eluded me…  time to go stash diving for inspiration.

When I surfaced, I had found four fabrics: a black gingham, plus three more fabrics that had been given to me (again, from my favorite SIL).  One was a red/white check that reminded me of growing up on the road, seeing the Purina logo on storage silos in the rural towns we passed through.  The second was a bit of gorgeousness: an entire vintage feedsack in blue with a ditzy fan and flower motif.  Lastly, a good green.  Love me some green in everything!

The gingham became points for the Sister’s Choice blocks.  The red check, blue feedsack, and that good green became Hens & Chicks.  The blocks finished at 14″, and the entire quilt top is 70″ (177.8 cm) square.

Twelve of Miss G’s orphan 9-patches down.  Forty to go.

Sister's Choice/Hens & Chicks

Sister's Choice & Hens & Chicks

It Was A Scrappy 4th of July

A typical 4th of July for me?  Long hours anticipating the pyrotechnic portion of Independence Day.

I did my best to dodge all thoughts of mundane chores – mowing being one that could be put off – managing to stay distracted until the time when my in-house grill master could work his magic with the all-American hamburger.  Then, just a short wait for the crump, crump… crump, of fireworks.

Sitting up on our little bit of a rise in a flat terrain, I anticipated good views from both the back porch and the front porch – yay!  If you can imagine me trotting through the house from porch to porch, greedy to see all of the fireworks, then you’ve got a true picture of what a little kid I can be.

In the meantime, the clock would be ticking incredibly slowly, not at all like the biological clock of Mona Lisa Vito (My Cousin Vinnie): “My biological clock is [tap-tap-taps her foot] TICKING LIKE THIS and the way this case is going, I ain’t never getting married.” – so I pulled out some scrappy bits and pieces to fashion a quilt with a patriotic theme, it was the 4th after all.

Inspired by a timely post called Olde Glory, a free pattern from Temecula Quilt Co., our flag and American roses would be my starting point.  Then I stumbled across a few miniature spool blocks left over from an older project.  I had almost all of the components ready to while away the hours.

Mission accomplished – the doll-sized quilt will finish at 18.75″ x 21″ (47.625 x 53.34 cm).

A Scrappy Fourth

Hey – I Found My Stuff!

Miss G, who incidentally happens to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 92 to 96 years young – depending on who’s asking –  has long enjoyed going to estate sales and auctions.  When it comes to hauling her loot home, Miss G gets it there by way of her Fire Engine Red Dodge Ram pickup truck.  She drives it well enough while peeping over the top of the steering wheel (Miss G is five foot nothing, after all), and she does drive it straight as an arrow, if really, really, really slowly.

Coming from a generation that shies away from throwing things out, she sorts through her purchases, then tries to find suitable homes for the items she doesn’t need or can’t use.

Over the last several months, Miss G has decided that I was the candidate mostly likely to use some of the goodies that she’s been saving up from sales: all things quilt related plus sundry items she thought might interest me.

Cereal box templates that were shared between quilters and sent via the US Postal Service.  When could a person mail a letter for three pennies?  The answer is anytime between 1851 and 1958 – but judging by what was stamped on the envelope above, 1940 would be today’s correct answer.

There’s even a wee treasure, a 2½”x4¼” envelope in beautiful condition that’s chock full of Peter Pan fabric samples – colors that go by the names of Copen, Orchid, Canary, Cameo and Coral Bell.

There also seem to be enough pre-cut fabrics ready to be rocked into a Dresden Plate quilt.

Scads of patterns cut from newspapers and magazines, yards of vintage 1920s fabrics (about 90 years old!), with all of the motifs for an Oriental Poppy quilt cut out and many already basted.  You can see in the photo below that even the original pattern has been preserved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then there are the orphan blocks.  Lots and lots of orphan blocks.  I’ve got a stack of Nine-Patch, a veritable tower of Improved Nine-Patch, blocks that I don’t recognize and haven’t identified yet, and so many hours went into making these blocks – they were all hand pieced, the stitches small and even.  So how can I ignore them?  Can I leave them to languish in bins and boxes?  Or should I simply pass them along to another quilter?  The answer to all of the above is, I can’t.

Stacks of orphan blocks

Whaddaya Mean You Didn’t Use Templates?

To kick off my latest personal challenge, I’ve made a quilt out of a few of the orphan blocks.  The maker of these particular blocks knew how to stitch, but was maybe new-ish to quilting.  She or he didn’t bother to use a template, and as a result, few of the circles were actually… um, how will I phrase this nicely?  Circular.  When assembled, there was only one block that was within miles of being circular.

Not a problem – a few down and dirty stitches embroidered onto the top to give the impression of circularity, and “hey presto!”, a primitive style little quilt.  A phrase springs to mind, one I heard while watching White Men Can’t Jump when I was binding the quilt, and when I heard it I barked with shocked delight.  “You can throw a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit.”  So here’s a photo of my Biscuit Quilt – it’s not symmetrical, it’s not traditional, but it’s a quilt.

The finished size of the Biscuit Quilt is 45″x54″ (114x137cms).

Biscuit Quilt made from orphan blocks by JoT in 2014

I’m Really Not Changing Horses In Mid-Gallop

Miss G didn’t limit herself to traditional quilting fabrics when she was piling up treasure for me – she also included vintage fabrics from the Key West Hand Print Fabric Shop that began operation about 1960 (think Early Jet Set Chic).  For today’s bonus round of fabric trivia, you should know that the Queen of Prep, Lily Pulitzer Rousseau, had many of her fabrics designed and printed at Key West Hand Print Fabrics.

Just for grins – a short history of the shop can be found here, a pictorial history of the shop is here, and an overview of Lily Pulitzer Rousseau’s link to KWHPF is here.

I am completely open to suggestions when it comes to these fabrics – I think that they will be my biggest challenge to date… smiling pink monkeys kind of creep me out.

Thanks Miss G.  You are a pip!

Key West Hand Print Fabric Leaflet

Key West Hand Print Fabric Cutting Room Floor

Key West Hand Print Fabrics

 

Everywhere I Look, I See Stars

Closeup of Summer Stars 2012 by Temecula Quilt Co.First official finish of 2014 – and is it really the end of June?  The year is half over already.

This little quilt began as a free summer sew-along pattern by Temecula Quilt Co. from 2012 titled, Summer Stars.  I usually begin at least one red, white & blue project in the summertime – and 2012 was no exception – but I didn’t want this one to scream RED, WHITE & BLUE.  Burrowing into my scrap bin I turned up a group of reproduction fabrics with definite possibilities, fabrics with softly faded personalities, and they gave the quilt just the look that I was after.

While I enjoyed making the star blocks that summer anyone who knows me, knows that I’m often compelled to put my own spin on the overall design.  An idea for setting the blocks didn’t spring immediately to mind, so the eight wee star blocks ended up languishing nearly forgotten on the design wall for nearly two years.  Two years!

Inspiration finally clobbered me over the head a few weeks ago and the star blocks came down off the design wall.  I’ve added 9-patch setting blocks plus borders from another repro fabric.  The star blocks finished at 3.25 inches, and the finished quilt measures 15″ x 23″ or 38.1cm x 58.42cm.

Variation on Summer Stars 2012 by Temecula Quilt Co.

First Star To The Left… but of course you know the rest of the J.M. Barrie quote.

Canada Star by Barbara BrackmanAnd if you’re wondering yes, I’m still living in a dream world, a world where I really and truly believe that I can demolish my pile o’scraps.  This has become quite the funny ha-ha joke in my sewing room, and I think even the dogs are laughing at this point.  So clap if you believe.  But clap for me, please, not Tinkerbell.

In the continuing saga of my scrap quilt challenge, first up is the Threads of Memory project by Barbara Brackman.  I’ve pulled every red, white & black scrap that I could find – there are quite a few of them – and the group of star blocks has begun to remind me of a setting for a summer picnic.

I hate to admit what a complete slacker I am, but as of this weekend, I’m two months behind in the Brackman project.  I’ll get off my bigoldfatone soon and get caught up.  Right after the next round of visits from family.  And then there’s the Saucier Family Reunion July 19th.  Right after that.  Maybe.

Do you wonder if I really have a Master Plan for the destruction of the scrap bin?  Certainly, and the following photo will give you an idea of where a major portion of the scraps will find a home.  But scraps aren’t the only items in my sights this year… idle yardage will also get used up wherever and whenever possible.  Example?  I’ve had some American Jane Alphabet fabric in my stash for years, and that fabric is in the process of becoming a border of words that evoke summer for me… a perfect coda for this summer’s string pieced star quilt.

String Pieced StarsPulling together a summertime words border from American Jane Alphabet