Q is for Quilter

Vintage Embroidery Transfers — Initials

by Martha in Patterns

Something quilty coming soon — I promise. Until then, here are some sweet initials designed by Sarah Hale Hunter, and published in the Portsmouth Daily Times in the early 1900s. Below the alphabets are six designs meant for use with initials. Additional designs and one more set of initials can be found in an earlier post. Click images to enlarge.













Vintage Embroidery Transfers for Pillowcases

by Martha in Patterns

My second favorite article to embroider, after quilts, is pillowcases. Although I’ve stitched lots of them for gifts, I have never made any for myself, and I hope to correct that situation soon. For each set I always use two different designs, and a similar color palette. If I tried to make two matching pillowcases, I would probably never finish the second one.

My family has always used the term “pillowcase” — are you a pillowcase or a pillowslip person?

Here are some simple, but sweet patterns from the early 1900s, most of which are meant to use with initials. As always, continue clicking on the images until they are full-sized.







pillowcase-transfer-4 pillowcase-transfer-3


A Lace Paper Valentine to Cut Out and Color

by Martha in Vintage Finds

“Think hard about who is the very nicest person you know, and then plan to send this valentine.”

Here is a valentine activity from a 1924 Montana newspaper, The Billings Gazette. I have cleaned and re-sized the image, and you should be able to print the outside and inside of the valentine on letter-sized paper — card stock for the valentine, and plain paper for the verse. The original instructions suggested you color the card lightly with crayon or diluted watercolor paint (I used colored pencils). Next, you were to cut out and then tie the two sheets of paper together with a narrow ribbon through holes on the fold (I decided to do a little extra hole punching around the outside of my card, and added a piece of red card stock).

“The best way to put your ribbon through the holes so that it will have the appearance of a book tied together is to use a quarter of a yard of red ribbon, very narrow. Draw one end through the bottom hold from the outside to the inside. Draw the opposite end through the top hold from the outside to the inside. Then bring both ends through the center hold from the inside to the outside and tie a neat bow.”






Click to enlarge the images, save them, and then tell your printer to scale the images to fit your media. Click here for an earlier tutorial to make a vintage scented valentine.

Valentine-to-Cut-and-Color Valentine-to-Cut-and-Color-Inside-Verse

Vintage Quilting Stencils and Stencil Giveaway Winners

by Martha in Random Things, Vintage Finds

First I want to show you some of the vintage quilting stencils from my collection. This wonderful group was sent to me by Gina Bailey (doecdoe on Instagram). The stencils were traced and cut from what looks a lot like the cardboard that used to come folded inside my dad’s laundered shirts. When we were young, my sisters and I used that cardboard for all kinds of activities.

I repaired breaks in a couple of the stencils, and one has a few missing pieces, but it still works. I just love these.



And now for the winners of The Stencil Company Giveaway.

Stencil Giveaway Winners 1-2

Congratulations to Amanda Best and Cathy L.  You are the winners of the first two feather stencil assortments. For those of you who didn’t win, there will be two more giveaways in future posts about my progress on this quilt.

Vintage Heart Embroidery Designs

by Martha in Patterns

These designs are from the early 1900s newspapers. The first pattern was meant for a pincushion, while the second is for a small lingerie pillow. I have kept the resolution fairly high, just in case you want to make something larger. Click images to enlarge.

vintage-heart-design-for-embroidery-1 vintage-heart-design-for-embroidery-2

Vintage Valentines to Print

by Martha in Vintage Finds

Vintage-Valentine-1 Vintage-Valentine-7 Vintage-Valentine-5 Vintage-Valentine-2 Vintage-Valentine-6 Vintage-Valentine-3 Vintage-Valentine-4 Vintage-Valentine-9 Vintage-Valentine-8

Quilting the String Star Quilt & a Stencil Giveaway

by Martha in Work in Progress

I wrote about this top several years ago . . .


This top was made with a box full of quilt scraps from the 1940s and 50s. All of the pieces were 1 1/2″ wide in varying lengths, but none longer than about 15″. I thought perhaps the quilter had planned to make a log cabin quilt, but most of the color values were the same. My other thought was a string quilt of some kind, which seemed to work better with the fabrics. 

I didn’t use a foundation, but just eyeballed the strips and cut them to fit my big diamond template. They don’t match up perfectly (and I don’t think they need to), but they are fairly close since all the strips were the same width. I used all of her scraps and had to add a few of my own, some of which were newer fabrics. For the border, I used the little leftover ends of the strips. 

I made this top a long time ago, and I’m not sure why it ended up at the bottom of the pile. I think it will be fun to quilt a nice wreath or something fairly elaborate in those white spaces.

My string star quilt blocks are large at 18 1/2″, which makes my diamond template approximately 10″ x 4″. You can easily make a Lemoyne Star block in any size using a simple drafting technique (Laura at See How We Sew has created a wonderful tutorial here). I had to paste a few sheets of grid paper together to get a big enough piece of paper, and then I traced (adding the seam allowance) and cut the 3 pattern pieces out of template plastic.

Now, many years later, I am finally getting around to the quilting, and I am excited to be partnering with The Stencil Company to offer an assortment of 4 feather stencils — both of the stencils I am using for this quilt (10″ feather square and 5″ feather wreath), plus the 8″ triangular feather for corners, and the 5″ large curved feather for borders. I especially love the 10″ feather square, which would also work well in an alternate plain block.

If you are an experienced hand quilter, you are probably familiar with The Stencil Company products. If you are a beginning hand quilter, I think you’ll be surprised how easy it is to transfer a quilting pattern to your top using one of their stencils, especially for complicated designs like feathers. I want to also mention that I am not being paid to advertise these products — I just really like their stencils, and I’m always happy to do anything to encourage quilters to try quilting by hand.

In the photo below, you may notice that I don’t use many safety pins to baste my quilt. Until recently I thread basted all my quilts, but I took Tim Latimer’s advice (who also uses a hoop), and now I just use safety pins (and not very many, either). It’s worked out great — I haven’t had any problems with puckering, and thread basting was such a drag.

A little masking tape holds the stencil in place, while I use a mechanical pencil to transfer the quilting design to my pin basted quilt top. Next I fill in the tiny missing lines where the stencil was connected, and use a fabric eraser on any lines that I feel are a little dark. It’s pretty great to be able to draw just one area at a time. Tracing the entire quilting pattern on the top is a problem for me, because I prefer using a pencil instead of a marking pen, and the pencil lines sometimes disappear before I get to them. I have cut some of my own stencils, and I have some great vintage examples made from cardboard (Thank you, Gina!), but it’s tricky and time-consuming. If you can find a pattern that works, I recommend pre-cut stencils.




For the stars, I repeated the diamond shape three times in each diamond, with quilting lines 1/2″ apart.


Stay tuned for two more updates on this project, because for each post there will be two more winners of the feather assortment stencils. Just leave a comment below if you would like to enter, and I will use a Random Number Generator to select two winners on Monday, February 9.

January & February Apron Winners

by Martha in Random Things

Congratulations to the latest apron winners. Commenter #4, Mickie, is the winner of the second January apron.



And Commenter #5, Mallika, is the winner of the February Valentine apron.



February Valentine Apron Giveaway

by Martha in Other Needlework, Random Things

It’s early, but I wanted to have time to get the apron to the winner in time for Valentine’s Day.

This apron reminds me of hostess aprons from the 1950s, and like many of the fancy aprons from that period, it is made with sheer cotton organdy. The fabric is from the Goodwill — a Pottery Barn Kids embroidered curtain panel that I initially thought was vintage, because you don’t see cotton organdy much anymore. I added the bound heart pocket to make it Valentine-ish, and a 3-inch hem with vintage trims (thank you Patty). The rose print for the waistband and sashes is a vintage dress percale. The waistband is 25″, the ties are 35″, and it’s 21″ long.

The instructions on the curtain panel said it should be dry cleaned, but I put the fabric through the washer and dryer on delicate, and it came out looking just fine. Of course, if you win this apron, you’ll want to iron it with a little spray starch to get the organdy nice and crisp.

You could wear this apron while you cook your partner a romantic Valentine dinner, or give it as a gift, or maybe just wear it around the house. Leave a comment below if you’d like to enter, and I’ll announce the winners of both the child’s embroidered apron and the Valentine apron on January 31st.




January Apron Giveaway, Part 2 — Child’s Apron

by Martha in Other Needlework, Random Things

This was going to be next month’s apron, but then I realized I really wanted to make a Valentine apron for February, so now this is January Apron Giveaway, Part 2.

The apron includes the pocket from the newspaper illustration I posted earlier, but I used a 1970s pattern from my collection for the shape. The pattern is a size 3, but I have shown it on my size 3/4 dress form, with a size 4 dress, and I think it could be worn by little girls size 2 & 3, and maybe 4 as well, if they’re small. The dress is not part of the giveaway — I just thought the apron looked weird on the mannequin without some clothing underneath. I purchased the apron fabric from the Goodwill; it is heavy-ish like canvas, and it feels like cotton to me, but it could be some kind of blend. The binding is a tiny Michael Miller printed gingham.

The closures will be large buttons in a color that coordinates with the apron. I’ll have to go to the fabric store for those, and I wanted to take these photos today.

Just let me know in the comments below if you would like to enter to win this apron. I will use the random number generator to select a winner on Saturday, January 31.




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Embroidery Designs for Feeding Bibs, 1908

by Martha in Patterns

Three of these 1908 patterns (the angular ones designed by Grace B. Cross) remind me of Ruby Short McKim’s 1930s Quaddy patterns, although I wonder if, by 1930, anyone would have thought it appropriate to suggest a cock fighting motif for children’s clothing.


     A preference for bibs, like that for olives, is an acquired taste. I don’t know the child who instinctively loves a bib. Some stern mama will say: “What matters it whether the child likes it or not? It is right that he should wear it and that ends the matter.”
     But why make duty more stern and uncompromising and unattractive than need be? There is no virtue in doing things the hardest and most disagreeable way. “Tis love that makes the world go round,” so why not make the baby love his bib by giving it to him — like the dreaded dose of medicine — with a sugarplum?
     Now, who could resist “Wilhelmina Feeding Chickens”? Who could fail to be interested in the “Goose Chase” or excited over the “Cock Fight” or curious about the “Cats of Kilkenny”?
     If your stamped bib, with red or blue cotton, your long-eyed needle, your thimble and scissors are all handy, you might feel inspired to stitch now and then. Then, if you yearn for more work, put a pretty finish around the edge of the bib. Feather stitch or cat-stitch the hem in color to match the outline, or even scallop the edge.








Small Vintage Embroidery Motifs

by Martha in Patterns

These sweet little motifs are from newspapers dated 1909-1911. You probably won’t want to stitch them for their original intended uses (lingerie bags, handkerchiefs & corset covers), but wouldn’t they be perfect for a yoke on a baby’s dress, an apron pocket, or a little pillow. I especially love the “baby” motif which is so unusual. Click on the images to enlarge.













Nancy Page Hand Quilting Designs

by Martha in Patterns

Since I have begun hand quilting my first WIP finish for 2015, I thought it would be appropriate to post some vintage quilting designs. These were published in late 1930s newspapers by Florence LaGanke, using the Nancy Page pseudonym. Unlike the Nancy Page series quilts which were free patterns appearing weekly in a full-sized format, the individual quilt block and quilting patterns were mail order only (3¢ for the pattern, plus a return addressed envelope with a 3¢ stamp).

Because these were actually newspaper ads, the illustrations were tiny and crudely drawn — they were just meant to give you an idea of how the finished product would look. I thought they were unusual, though, so I have tried to clean them up, hoping that someone might actually be able to use these interesting geometric designs. They would be wonderful in an alternate solid color block.

Click on the gallery images to enlarge.


January Apron Winner

by Martha in Other Needlework

Congratulations to commenter #11, Laurie aka Giddy99! You are the winner of the January apron.


Next month I am going to do something very different — make a little girl’s apron based on the clipping below from a 1907 newspaper page entitled “For The Home Dressmaker.” The instructions are pretty specific about fabric suggestions (blue denim on the left, and natural-colored linen on the right) and embroidery colors, but there is no mention of how the aprons are constructed. This is similar to old quilt patterns — the writer assumes a level of sewing ability that most women no longer possess. Fortunately, this apron (at least the sleeveless version) is pretty simple.

Although these were meant to be Christmas gifts, they don’t actually have a holiday theme, so the apron could be worn year round. Click on the image to make the text readable.



Gallery of WIP Quilts

by Martha in Work in Progress

Thank you again for all of your thoughts and advice on my New Year’s Resolution post. It was certainly reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one struggling with this issue.

Here are some suggestions readers gave to help me keep my NO NEW QUILTS 2015 resolution.

Make a List of WIP Quilts
Below are photos of 15 quilt blocks from projects I have previously written about. There are many more that I have not written about, so the total is more like 35 WIP quilts in boxes. Most of them have all the pieces cut; some have just a few blocks finished, a few are almost done, and the rest are somewhere in between.  I do think this is a helpful way to keep track of my progress, and I’m going to enjoy checking them off the list, or at least moving them to the “quilt top” list.

Machine Quilt the Tops (or have someone else quilt them)
This is just not something I can do. I’ve seen some gorgeous machine quilting, but I’m not good at it, and I don’t enjoy doing it. However, I love hand quilting (both the look of it and the actual stitching), and I think I’m pretty good at it. I guess I agree with Robin on this point — I’m so attached to my quilts after spending months on them that I don’t want anyone else working on them. Instead, I am going to make a serious effort to quilt at least two tops this year. If Tim Latimer can hand quilt what? . . . 50 quilts a year, I should be able to handle two.

Sell Some Tops or Unfinished Projects
I gave my sister two of my half-done quilt projects which she is now finishing for the twin beds in her guest bedroom. I loved both of them, but I am fine with the decision, and it’s been fun watching her do such a great job on them. I don’t think I’m at the point yet where I feel the need to sell stuff, but that’s always a possibility if I lose interest in a project.

Cut Back on Fabric Purchases
This is critical and something I should have been included in the resolution. The less time I spend hunting for vintage fabric that I do not need, the more time I have to work on quilts. Also, it should help curb my desire to make new quilts.

Clicking on the blocks below will take you to a post for that project.

Pieced Butterfly

Around The World

Alice in Wonderland

Friendship Knot

Appliqued & Embroidered Scottie

Baby Bunting

Strippy Tulip

Letha’s Electric Fan

Embroidered Wool Quilt

Appliqued Butterfly

Scrappy Nine Patch

Crayon & Embroidered Mother Goose

Joseph’s Coat

Flower Garden Star

Ladies Art Two-Color Sampler