Posts Written By Martha

Embroidered Christmas Ornaments

We just got the tree up over the weekend and I was reminded of all the old Christmas ornaments I made when I was young.  When Gordon and I were first married, we used to buy these cheap, flimsy natural Douglas Fir trees from Chubby and Tubby that were sort of sweet.  We didn’t have any ornaments and couldn’t afford to buy many, so I made ornaments each year for us and also for my extended family.  My husband prefers glass ornaments, so sometimes I would add sequins or beads to make mine more shiny.  Each Christmas I am delegated to hang up these “homemade” or “soft” ornaments, but I don’t mind — they’re my favorites, and I don’t care what anyone thinks.

I made a bunch of these in 1981.  I found a pile of satin moire squares in pastel colors at the Goodwill and embroidered them in satin stitch — I can’t remember where I got the patterns.  These three were made for my daddy, mother and little brother — when they died, the ornaments came back to me.  The photos are pretty busy, but I wanted to use my vintage Christmas wrap in the background.





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Scottie Quilt Blocks

Several years ago I saw a darling scottie quilt for sale on ebay.  It was a bit worn and stained, but I loved the pattern.  I saved the photos from the listing and was determined to make one of my own.  After drawing the pattern, I began to collect vintage fabric to make the scotties.  Because the blocks are large and the dog pattern is one piece, it took me a few years to accumulate enough fabric for 72 different dogs (I generally buy little quilt pieces and scraps).  I figured out that I could piece the dog at the neck since the seam is hidden behind the collar, and I did that on several scotties when the scrap didn’t quite fit the template.  The dog is appliqued (I don’t do needle turn — I always baste-press-pin-sew) and then the details are embroidered in 2 strands of black DMC.  I especially like the ones with big flowers.

The scottie is positioned on point without sashing.  The original quilt had an interesting border which I plan to duplicate.  After thinking I had been so clever, I saw a new book in the fabric store with this same pattern — Mary Koval’s Antique Animal Quilts.  Of course, I knew it was an old pattern, but I was sort of bummed to see it in a new book — even a cute book like Mary’s — but that didn’t stop me from buying the book.

Here are a couple of photos of the original quilt I saw on ebay


Dresden Plate Doll Quilt

This quilt was made with tiny scraps of vintage 1930’s fabric left over from larger quilt projects.  I never throw away any little scraps because they can be used for doll quilts (and vintage fabric is precious).  This little quilt was pieced and quilted entirely by hand — even the binding.  The back is a vintage solid yellow — the same fabric used for the binding — and the batting is thin cotton.  It’s a nice break to work on a doll quilt since they take much less time than a full-sized quilt, and they are much more portable for piecing and quilting in the car or in the doctor’s office.  I always keep some kind of quilt piecing or embroidery in my purse just in case I have an extra few minutes to sew.  My family tells me I’m obsessed.

Dresden Plate
Martha Dellasega Gray, 2004
hand appliqued, hand quilted
19″ x 24″


Mother Goose Quilt Block

Here is my second attempt at a Mother Goose quilt block from the book I posted on the 9th.  I’m pleased with the way this turned out.  The black embroidery outline is nice, I think,  but you can’t travel much on the back because the floss shows through the lighter areas.  It requires lots of tying off, but I’m happy with the colors and it doesn’t feel stiff.  I am using Crayola crayons to color the blocks, and  I’ll post more as I get them colored and stitched.

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.


The Very Young Mother Goose

I rewrote this post after actually attempting to make one of these blocks.

Vintage Mother Goose and ABC books are my favorites and I just found this used book on Amazon.  I saw some photos of another one on ebay a while back and thought these illustrations would be perfect for crayon colored quilt blocks with a black embroidery outline.  I love the simple shapes and the stained glass look of them.  Every illustration in this book is so cute, I had a hard time deciding which ones to post.

I read somewhere that you could iron freezer paper to the fabric back to stabilize it while coloring — I tried this and it worked really well.  At first I colored the block – ironed – colored again – ironed again to get a really saturated color.  The colors did look great, but the fabric was unpleasantly stiff.  Then I tried it again last night with only one application, but trying to cover well and being consistent.  I think it turned out pretty cute the second time and the outlining is going well with 2 stands of DMC.

The Very Young Mother Goose, Illustrated by Margot Austin                      Platt & Munk, 1940 (Revised 1964)

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Simple Objects Quilt Top

After viewing some pages of this fabulous old coloring book on doe-c-doe‘s blog entry for June 25, I sent her an e-mail and asked if I could possibly talk her into scanning the other pages in the book and sending them to me.  I had looked all over for a copy of the Simple Objects coloring book without success, and I really wanted to make an embroidered baby quilt with these designs.  Well…she scanned every image and sent me a DVD right away.  I was thrilled.

This quilt is made using an old candy box of vintage triangle quilt pieces purchased on ebay and a new old stock muslin sheet, also purchased on ebay (those old percale and muslin sheets are perfect for quilting and embroidery).  The triangles are swatches from the 40’s and each one is different.  The quilt pattern is a variation of a 9-patch and snowball design — a variation made necessary by the fact that I had so many triangles (and just a few squares).   The top of the quilt has a small, pieced border row which I will repeat around the entire top.  I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to quilt it.  Thank you Gina!


Japanese Felt Mascots

These Japanese books are available at the Kinokuniya Book Store (which is located in the Seattle Uwajimaya) for around $16.  You can also buy them on ebay, but those sellers charge over $25.  Although the directions are all written in Japanese, the diagrams are extremely detailed and easy to figure out.  If you want to try this, I would recommend either 100% wool felt or a wool blend.  It’s more expensive, but the cheap acrylic felt squares sold in many craft stores are too thin and will not hold their shape.  I am making these for my daughter, Emily, and her boyfriend, Aaron, for their first little Christmas tree.  I used 100% wool felt, embroidery floss and a few beads and buttons.  They are really fun to make and you can complete one in an hour or two, depending on the size and number of pieces.


A quilt for Julie

This is a doll quilt I made for the new American Girl doll, Julie.  I related to this doll since the year is 1974 and she is a hippy like I was  (or at least as much as any AG doll could be).  Julie was also the name of my sister-in-law who had long blonde hair just like this doll.  This pattern is one I remembered from an old quilt book I had from 1977.  The original pattern was an appliqued twin bed quilt and I always thought it was a great example of the “flower power” type designs.  Because the smallest blocks on my quilt are only 4 inches square, I decided to crayon tint and embroider the doll quilt rather than applique.  This type of heavy crayon tinting was new for me, especially since I crayoned the whole block, including the background.  I also changed the colors a bit from the original pattern (below) and added green sashing strips.  To finish off, I hand quilted around most of the elements with colored thread to match the background tint.

I also used wall stickers to decorate the outside of a trunk which I already owned, and wallpapered the inside with butterfly scrapbook paper.  The outside was then painted with a couple of coats of acrylic to keep the stickers from peeling.  Now I just need to make her some cute 70’s style clothes.