Saturday, March 24, 2012

Just a little over the edge. . .

I think all the rain this week is getting to me.  I recently purchased this absolutely cool set of bobbin threads in a bobbin saver called a "Frosted Donut."

I just love all of the colors, all in one place, and so wonderfully arranged.  And in a clear plastic bag to allow me to gaze and fondle, but not disarrange or dirty the threads. 

I have taken it back and forth to work with me all last week and had it on my desk while I was grading papers or working on class lesson plans.  Then it came home with me and sat on my desk, near my computer, where I could look at it whenever I needed some inspiration. 

When I get upset about something I look at it and I calm down.  What is it about a little ring of 35 L-style bobbins with Masterpiece thread on them that gives me such incredible peace and satisfaction?  Am I starting to stroll down that path toward senility? Or do I just need a color fix every now and then when the weather gets gray? 

Confession -- I had to stop and fondle my bobbins at least twice while typing this post.  Is bobbin fondling a sin?  Will it make me go blind? Should I hide my bobbin fondling from my friends.  From my husband and the dog?  

I just don't seem to have any control over this compulsion.  In fact, I just ordered a second Frosted Donut from Superior Threads with another 35 colors of MassterPiece thread!  I know, its that extra-long staple Egyptian cotton!!  I have been carrying it around the house with me today.  Is that sick or what?  Should I call my therapist and tell her I am having bobbin overload?  A bobbin fetish?  Bobbin mania?  Obsessive Compulsive Bobbin Disorder?  Is there a cure?  

Please leave a comment with any advise you have for me.  Gosh I love these bobbins!  

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Found an Old Collection of Vintage Blocks

BOM Block 6 is posted! 

A few years ago I bought several CD's on Ebay that contained scanned images of old blocks from vintage newspapers -- the the Kansas City Star -- and other newspapers and magazines.  Someone had gone to a huge amount of trouble to scan and edit all those old clipping.  In addition there were a number of catalogs and booklets with designs which could be mail ordered.  I was thumbing through one of these called The Farm Journal and found some interesting blocks.

Now I digress for a moment because I remember growing up and seeing The Farm Journal in our house.  My dad, a fruit farmer in northern Ohio for many years, used to get The Farm Journal.  And I recall that they had quilt and embroidery patterns for women "back in the day."

This was a catalog which both contained some patterns and then offered others for sale by mail order.  I believe this was from the late 20's or early 30's but perhaps some of my readers may be able to help pin down the date better. Check out this blog for a clue to the date.

Block 6 of the Vintage Sampler is the Purple Posey.  But as you can see it looks a great deal like this Prairie Rose block from the Farm Journal Magazine.

The Farm Jornal called this a May Apple, but doesn't it look remarkably like Block 5 - All Thumbs?
Clearly, the quilter who made this block for This Old Quilt had to have the May Apple block in mind!  Oh, there is more!!

This is the June Lily and it looks a whole lot like the block I am calling Blonde Tulips.  The stem and leaves look remarkably similar and the flowers are much the same.  Only the small set of upper leaves on the central stem is missing.  I have read that some of these patterns are not really paper patterns at all, but actual fabric blocks.  They were made and distributed as patterns and many of them found their way into quilts.  But they were made up from a master pattern and sold as "patterns" to guide the quiltmaker.  Wow do we ever have it easy today.
This is the Rose of Sharon block and strangely, I used the same name for it when I drew the block.  Uncanny how it resembles it, complete with the little buds in the corners.

This Tiger Lily applique block is very similar to this block I am calling Tulips.  But it might not be tulips after all if we believe this old illustration!  Don't you just love how the patterns have evolved in the hands of quilters?  The new block I have drawn (on the right, above) is an exact duplication of the one in This Old Quilt, which likely dates from the same time as these old pattern illustrations.  Yet each quilter made them uniquely her own.

The next one is the closest of them all.  It is a practically identical verion of the Tulip Crossing block.  It is called the Tulip Circle in The Farm Journal.  Scarey, huh?
WOW!  When I discovered these pictures I was so excited and couldn't wait to share them with you. Now I am motivated to go digging some more to see if I can find some more old blocks that could have been models for This Old Quilt.

My theory is that one of the organizers of this Friendship Quilt must have had this old catalog.  I can picture the quilters sitting around the kitchen table in their aprons drinking tea and planning this quilt.  They hauled out their patterns and catalogs and paged through them and selected these designs.  Then they went home and made up their own versions of each block for the gift they planned to give to some lucky recipient.  The owner's name is losts, but the names of all 42 of the friends who planned this quilt are memorialized on the quilt, embroidered in each block.  WOW.

This old Poppy Block is quite similar to the one in This Old Quilt.  It was one of the few patterns in color in the Farm Journal pattern book.  I expect that these pattern were fairly popular at the time and widely shared from quilter to quilter.

The last block I found is called the Rose Wreath, and it shares a lot of similarities with this rosey wreath in This Old Quilt.  No not exact, but those funny blue blobs look alot like the three buds that appear on this old drawing.  I can see how the quilter simplified the block and made their own hand-made templates.  Not being a good artist clearly did not deter the quilter who made this Rosey Wreath block (on the right, below).

Ahhh, it was so fun to discover these.  I hope you enjoyed seeing the similarities between thes old Farm Journal magazine blocks and the blocks in Vintage Sampler.  I will post more if I find them.  Always on the trail of a mystery.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Blocks

It seems like the only way I can get any real sewing done is to go to a quilting retreat!  LOL  I can be totally focused for a few days and actually accomplish quite a lot in a short time.

My project at the retreat I attended last weekend was to get a start on my set of Vintage Sampler Blocks.  I gotta tell you, I had a blast working on these blocks, and never got near a sewing machine until I got home!  Look what I got accomplished:

I did the first four rows of blocks (there are seven rows) in three days!  Now before you get all impressed, I did raw edge fusible web (machine applique) and didn't stitch down any of the edges at the retreat.  I just traced, fused, cut, and pressed all the parts onto blocks.  Also, they are not in order, so don't panic that you didn't get any of the blocks in the top row yet.  Those are actually row 4 blocks but I didn't have room on the design wall to put them below row 3 so I stuck them up above!

I used Moda Bella solids for my blocks.  I wondered if they might prove a bit dull with just the solids, but as you can see, they came out looking pretty vivid, and that is before edge-stitching or embellishment!  Whooo hooo, I am so pleased with how they are coming together.

Once I got home, I started blanket stitching the edges down, and have a few blocks completed.  If I do a little bit each night I should be able to get them done and start on the next three rows over my spring break in March.