Monday, February 24, 2014

A Simple, Scrappy, String Quilt

Last week, Jim and I escaped the grip of winter here in Pennsylvania, traveling south to spend a few days with our daughter and her boys.  Experimenting with including fabric into her paintings, Barbara has been talking often about sewing, so Santa surprised her with a sewing machine.  Since decades have passed since she sat in Mrs. Schude's FCS class in middle school, and it seemed a sewing refresher and supervised sewing machine practice might be called for.  Hence, my excuse for the trip.  Jim's excuse was to be the long-distance driver, shopper when we got there (he loves doing that!), my trip buddy, and, of course, Grandad.

We arrived bearing a bin filled with fabric scraps, sewing supplies, and my mother's trusty Singer Featherweight. I had planned to practice by piecing a tote bag, but Barbara said, "let's make a quilt!" After a quick introduction to a rotary cutter and mat, we set about cutting fabric into to strips.

Followed by stacking and sewing the strips together,

which we then cut into 12 inch widths, and arranged into five columns to make the quilt top.

We backed it with a table cloth Barbara had on hand,  layered and trimmed the batting and backing...

turned the binding, mitered the corners, and stitched it in place.

Then we pinned all the layers, knotted them together with grey crochet thread

and voila'!  

An easy, colorful first quilt pieced and sewn together by this mother and her daughter in just two days!  It was really fun spending time creating and sewing with my daughter.  We decided to find ways to continue this collaboration, even though three states divide us.  

Both boys both tried it out and pronounced it good.  It certainly is...

Friday, February 14, 2014


 In honor of Valentines Day and in preparation for sewing with my daughter next week, I cut some strings of red...

...sewed them together, trimmed them into a rectangle...

made some handles and a pocket,

and now I have a new knitting bag!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Simple, Flannel Baby Blanket

I now have an alternate go-to baby gift. We were discussing baby showers at Curves recently, and I mentioned that my go-to gift is a bedtime book bag, books and my fav baby sweater (Lillie's Little Sweater).  Terri, our fearless leader, said her go-to was a gift bag with two handmade flannel blankets and a bottle of champagne for the parents.  Then she proceeded to tell us how to make these simple blankets. Terri's simple directions as told to me across the exercise machines:

Simple Flannel Swaddling Blanket

1 ¼ yards flannel ("good" flannel, she stressed. And I found some at a nearby quilting store.)
1 ¼ yards complimentary flannel
matching thread

Prewash flannel to make certain that it shrinks.  Cut both pieces of flannel to roughly a one yard piece, making certain the width and length match in both pieces.

  Pin right sides together.  Sew right sides, using 5/8 inch seam, leaving about 5 to 6 inches unsewn to allow for turning.  Clip corners.  

Turn blanket inside out.  Making certain edges match, pin together unsewn edges left for turning.  Top stitch, using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.

Press lightly. 

Voila'!  These really are wonderful blankets for mamas and their wee ones.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another Quilt Story

The phone rang Saturday morning just as I was dashing out the door.  My friend Mary answered my hello by continuing, "We are downsizing and I have a few things I thought you might like."  My interest piqued as she listed what she had set aside.  "I have a small stack of quilting books, sort of coffee table books, would you like them?"

Oh yes, of course I would.  Rarely do I refuse books from friends.

"And, I have an old quilt top, I bought at an auction, fifteen years ago, I think.  It needs quilted and finished. Would you like that as well?"

Most definitely a big yes on that one!  I love old quilts, fascinated by the fabrics, the designs, the workwomanship, and whatever stories the quilt may tell.

 I was not disappointed. The quilt top is glorious.  Mary was right--it was unfinished but only nearly so.  The quilter had finished piecing the top, some by hand and some by machine, as far as I can tell.  She had laid it out on batting and placed a goodly sized square of muslin underneath as backing.  It only needed to be secured by quilting or tying and then bound.

Since the fabrics seemed a bit fragile to me, I decided to tie it, rather than risk tearing it by machine quilting it.  And besides, I didn't want to detract in anyway from the majesty of the top...I figured the less I intrude, the more the quilter's artistry shines.

Using some high quality, fine wool yarn, I tied the squares at the corners. Delighting in the fact that not all corners matched, I celebrated the homespun honesty of this quilt.  As I tied the quilt, I examined each square, marveling at the fabrics and wondering when exactly these fabrics lived.  I am thinking maybe the 1950's.  There seem to be a lot of shirt fabrics, contrasted with small prints.  The red is exquisite, isn't it?  And the block pattern?  So simple but so effective.

The quilter left just enough backing so that I could simply trim the batting, trim ever-so-slightly the backing and turn it to the front, mitering the corners. Basically, the only things I added were the understated yarn at the corners and the thread used to stitch the binding.  While I now possess this quilt, it really still belongs to its maker.

I cherish this quilt and am honored by the gifting of it.  I loved working on this coverlet, thoroughly enchanted by to become part of the history of this art and part of the "herstory" of this one particularly beautiful quilt.