In Oklahoma, my mother grew lily of the valley plants on the north side of our house where it was a little cooler. In the Pacific Northwest we don’t have that problem — you can grow lilies of the valley just about anywhere, and mine are just blooming.
The prompt for the first border on our Gwen Marston inspired quilt is “childhood.” I had to think long and hard to come up with something that both reminded me of my childhood, and would go with my already completed center basket and the scraps I’d selected.
I grew up in the 1950s in a small town in Oklahoma. We lived in an old neighborhood of modest homes, where there were no fences and children were free to play wherever they wanted (with a few exceptions, like flower beds and vegetable gardens). There were lots of kids, and quite few retired couples, some of whom were almost like grandparents to me and my siblings. Sometimes I complained because we weren’t allowed to play in the house unless the weather was bad, but I consider it a pretty idyllic childhood.
Although there were newer homes being built in developments on the outskirts of town, I didn’t envy the children who lived there. We had something in our neighborhood that they didn’t . . . trees . . . huge trees. Every house in our block had at least 2 or three very old trees — we had four (one with a treehouse). In spring and summer the trees on the parking strip would form a beautiful, shady canopy over our street. There were oaks and maples and a catalpa on the corner, but mostly there were giant elms. In 1966 we moved away, and I didn’t go back for a long time. When I did, most of the elm trees were gone — killed by Dutch Elm disease — and the neighborhood was almost unrecognizable.
So, for my childhood inspired border, I chose elm leaves (with an nod to Anne Orr’s Autumn Leaves quilt). The fabrics are early 1900s chambrays, checks, plaids and stripes. Now back to work!
I’m sorry about the quality of these images, but the original illustrations in my 1936 McCall’s Designs for Needlework catalogue are only 1″. They are scanned at a fairly high resolution, so hopefully you will be able to print and trace the designs to fit blocks up to 12 inches. The first block has a nice matching border. Click images to enlarge.
Even though it is not even mentioned in this catalog description from 1936, I think these feathers would also look wonderful on a quilt. I haven’t attempted trapunto quilting, but it’s on my bucket list. Click images to enlarge.
No. 306 – Transfer Design for Quilting. Price 30 cents. With scatter motifs in this graceful feather design, you can trim coats, dresses, bed jackets, negligees and boudoir pillow and bags most attractively. The work is Italian quilting. First stamp the design on cheesecloth and baste it on the wrong side of the material to be quilted, then sew along the lines of the design through both lining and material, and for the stuffed effect pull yarn through the paths thus formed. 8 cross feathers, from 3 1/4″ to 8″ to 6″ x 6 1/4″, 12 single motifs, about 2″ x 5″, 24 fronds and 3 1/2 yards of 4″ banding.
Recently, I’ve been doing some traditional appliqué — a project with Lori at Humble Quilts that we are not quite ready to reveal. I always think of myself as more of a piecer, but working on these blocks has made me realize I’ve missed doing this type of appliqué. Anyway, since I kind of have appliqué on my mind at the moment, I thought I’d share two different Coxcombs and Currants patterns from a 1982 Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts magazine — one a little more complex than the other. I’m going to need more practice on my small circles before I tackle a pattern with all those currants.
Both patterns will work with either a 17″ or 18″ block. Clicking on the images below will link to the corresponding pdf pattern, which can be downloaded and printed on letter-sized paper.
No. 349 — Transfer for Vegetable Tea Towels for Applique and Embroidery. Blue. Price 25¢
These tea towels are guaranteed to chase away the “blues,” with the everyday vegetables in appliqué performing new roles. Reproduce the vegetables in their exact colors, making sure that the materials you use are fast colors. With outline and running stitches the designs are completed. The patch pieces are applied with invisible stitches. Very pleasant work — entirely simple to do. Pattern includes 6 designs, the largest 5 1/2 x 8 7/8; smallest 5 1/2 x 6 3/8. Full Directions.
The denim quilt is moving forward slowly, because I’m working on 4 projects at once. They’re all very different, though, which is nice when I want a break from sewing through denim.
It took way longer than I thought to match up each appliquéd block with a back. If I were only using one color of thread for the edging, I wouldn’t have had to coordinate the block and the back. But since I’m using many colors, I wanted the thread to look good on the back as well as the front. I try to have 5 or 6 blocks sewn together on my machine during the day, so I can blanket stitch them in the evening.
For the edging I’m using perle cotton which I wind on craft sticks (tongue depressor size) and store in fishing tackle boxes. It feels good to have all the fabric selected and cut . . . now I just have to get busy getting these blocks ready for the last phase — crocheting them all together.
For me, this pattern includes all the things that are enjoyable about hand piecing — curved seams, set-in seams, and an interesting design that works for a scrappy quilt, which is just about the only kind I make.
This pattern was part of a large “quilting ephemera” lot I purchased at a tiny thrift store. I believe these pages were cut from one of the earlier Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts magazines, since the patterns at the back of those early issues were on darker paper. Because there’s no photo of the quilt (she seemed to only cut out the patterns), I put four of the blocks together so you can see the secondary design.
Clicking on the first two images below will link to a pdf version of the pattern, which you can view, download, and print on letter-sized paper. The pattern makes an 18″ block, but you could print it at a lower percentage if you prefer a smaller block.
Update: I’ve added a stitch guide at the bottom of this post. There are many ways this block could be put together, but this is how I would do it.
I came across this small article in a 1947 issue of McCall’s Needlework magazine, which sent me looking for more information about Grace Snyder and better photos of her quilt. These types of grid designs have always fascinated me, and I’m a huge fan of Anne Orr’s pieced quilt patterns. Grace, though, takes the grid idea to a whole new level by adding the “tiny piece” element.
Grace’s Flower Basket quilt, as well as another tiny pieced quilt made with hexagons, were included in the “100 Best 20th-Century Quilts” by Quilters Newsletter Magazine in 1999. There is much more information about Grace and her quilts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the UNL International Quilt Study Center and Museum. You can zoom in on the color photo below the article to see the quilt close up — this image was also on a UNL page, but because the image links in the article are broken, I have included it here.
On a completely different subject, I have had to disable my email sign-up and notifications. The plug-in is having a conflict with my server, and I am working on a fix. Thank you for your patience.
Sorry I didn’t post anything this week for McCall’s Monday — I was celebrating my birthday!! It’s not over yet, either (more celebrating tomorrow), but I have at least managed to post something for Free Pattern Friday.
Click on the cover image to view, download or print the pdf version of this booklet.
Lori, Wendy, Cynthia, Cathy and Katy are hosting this quilt-a-long inspired by Gwen Marston’s work, and I am excited to join in. I especially love the liberated element of this project, because I’m sure the quilts will all be very different. It’s not too late to join in — just visit Lori’s site (Humble Quilts) for details.
I chose to adapt one of my 1920s Betsy Dean embroidery transfer patterns as my basket design (the same patterns I post every day in my sidebar), and the fabrics I’m using are chambrays, checks and plaids from my collection of antique scraps. The fabrics are very early 1900s, so they’re earlier than my pattern, but what the heck — it’s a liberated quilt!
My basket is a 12″ block, and it’s not needle-turned because I never learned how to do it. I’m an old quilter, and use the techniques I was taught when I was young. My method is to pre-baste all my pieces by rolling the edge in with my left thumb as I stitch — no freezer paper for me, although I did use cardstock circles to make the flower centers. There’s more prep work, but I like being able to pin my pieces down and see exactly how the finished block is going to look, and the final stitching goes really fast.