Q is for Quilter

Vintage Embroidery Transfers — Scotties

by Martha in Patterns

These Scottie patterns are pretty cute, but do they look a little mad?



Denim Applique Quilt — Progress

by Martha in Work in Progress

After much trial and error, I think I have finally come up with a plan for this quilt. The process of figuring out how to embellish and join these blocks required lots of stitching and almost as much unstitching. For some reason, it’s just about impossible (for me, anyway) to envision how embroidery and crochet is going to look on a project without actually doing the stitching. So, on with the plan . . .

Find and Fuse the Appliqués
Initially, I thought I would browse through some of my old coloring/paint books for patterns, but even the simple designs were too detailed. Because I wasn’t planning on adding any additional embroidery beyond the blanket stitching, the designs had to be recognizable just by their shape. I ended up using simple images I found online of silhouettes and die cuts.

With a light fusible web (something you can hand sew through), I fused the design to vintage fabric pieces and then to my denim squares.


Finish the Edges of the Appliqués
This is regular blanket stitch using a pretty big embroidery needle (to get through the denim and fusible) with 3 strands of floss.


Back the Squares with Cotton Fabric
For backing, I pulled scraps of new, mostly reproduction, fabric from my stash. I didn’t bother sewing up the small open area where I turned the fabric inside out — it’s closed up in the next step. And I know . . . my cat’s ears and tail ended up too close to the edge, but I’m going to try and fudge it.


Blanket Stitch Around the Squares
Using Pearl Cotton #5, I grouped three stitches together to make it a little more interesting.


Crochet a Border Around the Squares
The border is made with double crochets, although I need to maybe add some triple crochets to the corners to make the blocks more squarish, which should make them easier to sew together.

Because there’s a lot of black thread in this quilt, and Pearl Cotton is not cheap, I ordered a large cone of 5/2 mercerized pearl cotton (mostly used by machine knitters and weavers). I think the wpi (wraps per inch) is just a tiny bit less than the DMC#5 pearl, but it should be fine. When I get the new thread, I’ll rip out the borders on these two blocks and replace them.


Sew the Blocks Together (no photo because I freaked out)
Honestly, this was the hardest part of this project. Since there are about 50 little stitches on each side of the square, it’s a bit more like joining crocheted bedspread squares than granny afghan squares, and everything is black! I hate sewing black on black!

Eventually I realized, after trying about 8 different techniques for joining my squares, that just sewing them loosely wrong sides together with a whip stitch worked really well. Even though I’m not picking up every stitch perfectly, in the end, you couldn’t even tell because it’s all black.

I’ll include all the alphabet letters and maybe some numbers, but the pictures will be random — both in the selection and placement. Hopefully I’ll find be able to find at least one picture for each letter of the alphabet, but I don’t really consider this an alphabet quilt, so I’m not going to obsess about it.

This is a pretty fun project because there are so many different steps involved. It takes a while to make each block, but when they’re done, they’re really done. No batting or backing to add, and no quilting of any kind required.

Vintage Embroidery Designs — Fuchsias

by Martha in Patterns

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we struggle to grow a decent zinnia, but we have beautiful fuchsias in so many amazing color combinations, which are particularly suited to our mild climate. My husband says to be safe, I should wait until Mother’s Day, but today is a gorgeous day, and I couldn’t wait any longer to hang my new fuchsia on the porch.


These matching Art Nouveau designs are from 1910 newspapers, and meant to be used on a blouse and a skirt panel (hence the odd shapes). These are the only fuchsia embroidery patterns I’ve ever seen, and although they are quite large, I think you could just use small elements of the designs. As usual, click on the images to enlarge.



Happy Easter!

by Martha in Patterns

Butterick #190
Carriage or Crib Cover

Appliqué Quilt Blocks on Denim and April Apron Winner

by Martha in Work in Progress

I brought out an old project from my stack of cardboard boxes, and I’m having a lot of fun appliquéing these simple designs on 6″ denim squares I saved from our old jeans. I used a light fusible (one you can hand stitch through) to apply the pieces, then blanket stitched them with three strands of embroidery floss. I have to use my rubber needle puller to get the needle through the denim, but it’s not too bad.

My plan is to finish the squares with a quilt-weight cotton, making each one with finished seams like a little flat pillow. Then I want to blanket stitch around each block so I can use decorative crochet to connect all the blocks together — sort of like granny squares. I know I saw a quilt somewhere that was made this way, and I just hope I can make it work. Anyway, it’s fun looking for new designs in my old coloring and paint books and matching them up with little prints from my vintage fabric scraps.

denim quilt birdhouse

denim quilt cat

denim quilt dog

denim quilt gekko

denim quilt apple

And now on to the apron giveaway. Congratulations to commenter #9, Julierose, who is the winner of the two April aprons, and a big thank you to everyone who participated.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 9.37.31 PM

Easter Coloring Pages from 1930s Newspapers

by Martha in Children's Books

Lots of newspapers from the 1920s-1930s included activities for children: stories, coloring pages, paper dolls, how-tos, puzzles and games. Many papers devoted a page every week, and some even had whole sections specifically for children. I loved this kind of stuff when I was a kid in the 1950s, but my mother either purchased coloring/activity books, or my sisters and I created them for ourselves. I don’t remember our paper publishing activities for kids.

I re-sized these cute Easter images to print on letter-sized paper. Click to enlarge.




Vintage Embroidery Transfers – Designs for Children

by Martha in Patterns

Here are three transfer sets from the 1923 Standard Designer catalog. The images in the catalog are minuscule compared to the actual transfer sizes, but I have tried to scan them at a large enough resolution to make them usable. Fortunately, the designs are fairly simple.

It’s cute the way they arrange the different motifs in each transfer set — this was probably the way the designs were arranged on the original transfer sheet, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

I love the unusual combination of cross stitch and outline embroidery in the first set. I plan to use several of the Standard Designer children’s designs on one of my WIP quilts (simple appliqué and embroidery on denim squares), but they also would be cute as embellishments on toddler clothing.

Click on the images a couple of times — they’ll get really big.






Nancy Page Hand Quilting Patterns, 1930s

by Martha in Patterns

The Nancy Page column was syndicated in many national newspapers during the 1930s. Six of these quilting patterns were published full-size, although with only one quarter of the pattern to save space. I put the pieces together to show you the completed design, but the eight original patterns are below, which might be easier to print if you’re going to need a pattern larger than normal printer paper.

Some of these designs were created for the Nancy Page series quilts, and others were associated with one-block quilts. The group is interesting because, as expected, some of them look traditional, but the Ring-on-Ring and Leaf patterns would also look wonderful on a more modern quilt.

An earlier post contains more Nancy Page quilting patterns — small advertisements for mail-away patterns that I enlarged. Click any image to enlarge.








Vintage Embroidery Transfers — Small Baskets

by Martha in Patterns

These designs are from a 1923 Standard Designer Needlework Catalog, and the originals in the book are tiny — about an inch high. Fortunately, the printing is pretty good, so I scanned them at very high resolution and was then able to clean them up. The catalog has lots more patterns, including some really cute nursery designs, so I’ll scan some more next week. Click on the images to enlarge.


Vintage-Embroidery-Transfer-basket-6 Vintage-Embroidery-Transfer-basket-7





April Double Apron Giveaway — It’s Early!

by Martha in Other Needlework

Two aprons this time — one for you, and one for a friend. I wanted to get these done early because I’m going to be busy next month. The giveaway will be open until April 1st, so leave a comment below if you’re interested.

Probably nobody but me would look at this vintage chintz fabric and think of pairing it with a contemporary Alexander Henry print, but I’m weird that way. Like many of my friends, I often buy fabric that I like and then wait until later (sometimes a lot later) to figure out what I’m going to do with it. The main fabric in the first apron is a large scale Everglaze chintz, with the sash and trim in the Henry fabric (which is a little more magenta-ish red than it looks in my photos); the second apron uses the Henry fabric with pockets from the Everglaze, and sash/pocket trim from a vintage Waterly chintz.

Sometimes it can be tricky working with such large prints (especially if you only have a small piece), so I spend a lot of time thinking about how I’m going to construct the apron before I actually start cutting. I was very happy to be able to match the print in the pocket pieces to the main apron.  There was just a tiny bit of the Everglaze left, so I decided to make another apron using it again for the pockets, but this time on the Henry print. The Waverly was added because I didn’t have enough of the two other fabrics.

They’re pretty wild, but I like them, and I hope some of you do too.




Vintage Embroidery Transfers — Anthropomorphic Dishes

by Martha in Patterns

This is Butterick 10202, and I don’t know what year it was published, but it’s pretty darn old. I love anthropomorphic animals, but inanimate objects are even better. My favorites in this group are the brush family, the senior silverware, the plate parade, and the clothespins. I really need to stitch some of these on towels or an apron.

The transfers were a little rough and my digital clean up is far from perfect, but fortunately these are simple drawings, so I don’t think you’ll have any trouble tracing them. Ha! Looking at this envelope, I just realized I forgot to reverse the images. . .oh well, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Click each image for full size.


plates-on-parade rainy-day-glasses jump-rope stacked tea-for-two food-party coffee-time clothespins baking-cookies dinner-time birthday-cake


March Apron Winner

by Martha in Random Things

Congratulations to commenter 34, Karen F, who is the winner of this month’s apron. Be sure to check back next month for another big pocket half apron.


Vintage Embroidery Designs — Baskets

by Martha in Patterns

I hope you’re not too bored with these patterns. I’ve become a little obsessed with all the beautiful designs I’ve found in vintage newspapers. The images below are basket motifs from 1910 – 1915 (okay…one is more like a ribbon, but still . . . pretty cute). I love the last one — it’s buttercups.






Flying Geese Quilt

by Martha in Quilts

As a little break from quilting the String Star quilt, I decided to make a small quilt with some vintage plaid blocks I purchased last year from Oodles and Oodles. Each block was composed of just two triangles sewn together. I know the triangles were taken from a salesmen sample book because the plaids were all slightly different, the edges were pinked, and there was a tiny bit of glue residue on one side. Barbara had warned me that some of the pieces were thinner than quilting cotton, but that problem was solved with some iron-on sheer-weight interfacing, which I applied to the lighter weight triangles before I cut them out.

I knew I was going to have to use some additional solid fabric to make the quilt throw-sized, and that was actually just fine, because I’ve been wanting to use the perle cotton assortment I received for Christmas. The fronds are quilted in 10 different colors of perle, and the geese are quilted with vintage linen thread. The small triangles in the geese were cut from a stack of reproduction shirtings, so it’s an odd combination of 1950s and civil war, but I think it works.

As I’ve been quilting these fronds and the feathers on the String Star quilt, I am definitely rethinking my whole approach to setting scrappy quilts. I have always preferred busier designs, but now I’m remembering that solid spaces and alternate blocks are a great way to add more elaborate quilting, which is not only pretty, but so much easier to stitch since you’re not dealing with all those seams. And hey, if your fronds don’t quite fit the space, you can just randomly add a few extra leaves to some of them. That’s what I say.

Flying Geese Quilt
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2015
machine pieced, hand quilted
42″ x 54″



Vintage Embroidery Designs – Cherries

by Martha in Patterns

Less than two weeks until Spring! Seattle has been unusually sunny for the past several days, and the cherry trees are blooming like crazy. It reminded me of these old cherry designs, so as soon as I got home I cleaned up the images to share. Maybe those of you who are stuck indoors with snow storms might like to stitch up a little cherry motif while you wait for Spring to arrive.