1930’s Curves and My Favorite Book

Several years ago, we were living in Virginia and a woman from my church gave me a box FULL of 30’s reproduction prints.  It was all fat quarters so there were lots of different prints.  Her mother was a quilter and had passed away and since she didn’t sew, she wanted the fabrics to go to a good home.  30's fabrics

I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do with this treasure for some time.  I really like the slightly-off pastel colors that are so distinctive from that time period.  I thought it would be fun to make a quilt from a pattern that was popular in the 1930’s and I’ve always loved the “Glorified Nine-patch” or the “Improved Nine- patch” so I decided to use these fabrics to make a quilt like that.

I wasn’t totally sure that the Improved Nine-patch block was from the 1930’s but I came across an article in the Aug 2005 American Patchwork & Quilting magazine that said that the first possible printing of the pattern was in a 1931 booklet.  Apparently, the Improved Nine- patch blocks from that era were quite small.  I thought it would be best if I made mine bigger just to make it easier!  I came across a pattern that I liked in the June  2011 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine called “Embrace Your Curves”.  It was designed by Becky Cogan.  It’s a Glorified Nine-Patch quilt with nice, big 9″ blocks.

Slightly off 9 patch

First, you sew the blocks together into Nine- patch blocks.  As you can see, they’re not even rows.

Glorified 9 patch

Then, using a template or pattern, you cut the block into the stretched out version.

Glorified 9 patch completed

Then add the background pieces to the sides.  (This is the tedious part with all the curves.)  Now, the original patterns for the Glorified Nine patch had a football or an eyeball-shaped piece on the sides.  The same idea as the Double wedding ring.  For some reason, I thought this pattern would be easier.  I guess I saw the straight seams in the middle and it looked easier but now that I’ve completed a dozen or so, I can see that I’ve actually added more seams to be sewn.   Hmmm.  The pattern in the magazine uses different background fabrics so possibly, she just wanted to add another dimension to this quilt and she wasn’t going for easier.  Also, making a quilt like this the old fashioned way gives you a scalloped edge and the way I’m doing it, I’ll just have straight sides.  I guess I could add a border.

Glorified 9 patch in the works

Here are some of the blocks laid out so you can see how the quilt will look.  It’s fun to work with these fabrics and they seem so Summer-y to me.  They make me think of one of my very favorite books of all time, “The Persian Pickle Club” by Sandra Dallas.

Favorite Book

This book is about a group of quilters who call themselves the Persian Pickle Club.  It’s set in central Kansas during the 1930’s amidst the backdrop of the Dust bowl and Depression.  It’s about the friendship of women, quilting and getting by in hard times and it even has a murder mystery to figure out.  I’ve read this book over and over and I love it every time.

When I look at these green fabrics, I remember the line from the book when they’re all cutting pieces of their fabrics to give to a newcomer who is just learning to quilt.  “Forest Ann handed her a sliver printed with windmills in what we called ‘that green.’  It was the color of the enamel trim on my stove and Mrs. Judd’s double boiler, and it was in all the new material nowadays.”

I’ll post pictures when I get this one done!

Mini Mariner’s Compass

The quilt guild I belong to is getting geared up for their quilt show the end of this summer and have asked for mini quilts that they can put in the silent auction to raise money.  I thought it would be fun to putter around with a tiny project that I could finish quickly.

Mini Mariner's Compass

I pulled out some fabrics that I thought would go together.  My husband was skeptical about purple & green but I think it looks nice together.  I paper pieced the compass part and then just kept adding borders until I thought it was big enough.  It’s around 16 or 17 inches square.  Can you tell I didn’t do a lot of planning/measuring for this one?  I did straight line quilting but still have to add the binding.

May KC Star Block of the Month

May BOM

Here is the May block of the month from the 2013 Kansas City Star quilt.  I have one thing to say about this month’s block – inset seams.  I don’t like them.  I understand how to do them in theory but somehow, they never work out for me.  This block came out a little crooked and my seams were not very match-y; maybe it was because of the inset seams or because I was in a hurry.  It was just one of those days.  I don’t think it’s too obvious so I’m hoping that when I put the whole quilt together, it won’t be noticeable.  I’m really liking how all the blocks look when they are put together though – all the red and white is so pretty.

Fabric Field Trip

I took a little trip this week to see a well known quilt shop that’s not far from me…

quilting field trip

Maybe you’ve heard of the Missouri Star Quilt Company and all their fun online tutorials?  Well, I found out that they are just an hour away from me so I decided to check out their actual store which is located in Hamilton, MO.  It was a beautiful day so I packed a picnic lunch and headed out.  Hamilton is located about 12 miles off of I-35 north of Kansas City.  I can report that there isn’t a lot to see there besides the quilt shop.  It’s a sleepy little Missouri town with some actual horse & buggy traffic!  (I guess they have some Amish residents.)

The store is fairly large and smells new.  They have a nice selection of fabric but I didn’t see many patterns or tools.  The staff is super friendly and they told me that there are sometimes busloads of ladies that visit them.  I had decided before I got there that I would limit myself to a yard or so of some background fabric for a US map quilt that I’m working on.  This meant, of course, that I had to look over ALL the fabric so I could make a good choice.  I found my fabric, looked around town and headed back to Kansas City.  I would say they do most of their business online and they have those awesome tutorials which I love.  Check out their website here.

Some Quilts for my Family

A few quilts I’ve made have been gifts for members of my family for special milestones in their lives.  I was thinking about this the other day when I realized that my daughter will be starting her final year of high school in a couple months and I need to start thinking about making her a special quilt.  We’ve saved t-shirts for years from different activities and schools that both my kids attended.  Two years ago, I made this quilt for my son with some of those t-shirts.

Quilt for Gunnar

I thought, how hard can it be to cut up some t-shirts and stick them together and make a quilt.  Well… there were some challenges.  The t-shirts were all different sizes and some of the logos were different sizes.  He became a rower in high school but he didn’t want me to cut up any of his rowing shirts.  I struggled with this one.  I had a pattern with a square that you were supposed to try to cut the t-shirts to fit into.  Then you have to iron the shirt squares to some lightweight fusible interfacing.  I decided to use a background fabric to try to fit everything together because many of the shirts just wouldn’t fit into the pattern square.  Then I added some quilt blocks in between to even things out.  I had recently attended a workshop with Bonnie Hunter where we made wonky letters so I thought it would be neat to put his name on his quilt in wonky letters.  That didn’t quite go across the quilt so I added a rowing applique.

When the top was finished, it was thick and I wasn’t sure about quilting over the t-shirt designs so I decided to just tie the quilt.  For some reason, I used flannel for the backing so it’s a heavy quilt.  I swore I would never make another t-shirt quilt but my daughter keeps adding more t-shirts to the pile so I think I kind’ve have to.  This time, maybe I’ll know what I’m doing.

I also made a retirement quilt for my husband last year.  This project was so fun to think about and design and sew.  He also saves everything so he had lots of his old uniforms and all his old unit patches.  I used pieces of his old uniforms as the center of gold stars and then sewed his unit patches onto the stars.  I looked everywhere to find some fabric with the Army symbol on it but I just could not find the size and quality that I wanted.  He said he wanted an eagle in the middle so I put together an applique eagle.  (Applique is not my thing so I was pretty happy with how it turned out.)

Army retirement quilt

The corner squares have his branch insignia and then I quilted the oath of office around the border of the quilt in gold thread so you really can’t see it unless you look at the back.  It was a fun project and I think my husband really likes it.

Kansas City Star April block of the month

April 2013 BOM

Here’s the Kansas City Star’s April block of the month.  This is block #4 and it’s called “Ruby Slippers”.  It looks more like spools to me but whatever.  This block called for using a template from the newspaper so we’re mixing it up a little.  I think they look really pretty together.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this before but I’m going to make this a Christmas quilt and try to add some green fabrics in somewhere.

String-pieced Spider Web

I started on a new project this past week.  I loooove starting new projects!  It’s only after I make the same block 20 times that I get sick of a project.  This is one I’ve been wanting to try for a long time.  It’s a Spider Web quilt that’s string pieced with scrap pieces.  I still have tons of scrap pieces left over from the Rocky Road quilt I finished earlier this year so it’s perfect.  Here’s a picture of  my organized scrap keeping system.box of scraps

The pattern I’m using is from a book that I’ve had forever called “Scrap Quilts from the Depression” published by Oxmoor House.  I got the book for another pattern called Kansas Sunflower that I made for my daughter (it only took me 14 years to finish that quilt) but I’ve been wanting to make this quilt as well.  I looked around on the internet to find some other similar patterns and found that most patterns piece the quilt in such a way that you put a strip of background fabric in the middle of a triangle and then string piece the other two corners.  In this way, you end up with pieces of two different spider webs.  It’s a very efficient method of sewing but it looks like your quilt has half spider webs around the outside.

This pattern uses a triangle piece which all the strings are sewn onto and then a background triangle sewn to the top.  Then all those pieces are sewn together for a complete 16 inch finished block.

Spiderweb blockThe bad thing is that I have to trace the pattern onto paper to use as a foundation for the strings – 8 for each block.  Then, of course, I have to rip that off at some point.  The nice thing is that I can use light and dark fabric scraps.  Also, I decided to use up some of my selvage pieces because I thought that would be a cool way to use them.  Not sure if you can see in this picture that I used several selvage pieces.

The last string pieced project took me two years to finish because it does get a little tedious.  Hopefully this one won’t take that long.  I’m already imagining quilting it with a spider web design.