Friday, December 14, 2018

1876 "Solar System" Quilt

What does a teacher do in 1876 when she doesn't have a poster of the solar system?  If she's astronomer Ellen Harding Baker, she makes a quilt as a teaching aid for her students. 

File:Ellen Harding Baker's Solar System Quilt.jpg
Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System Quilt” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons), work in public domain.

This quilt measures 89" x 176".  The background is wool.  She used embroidery and applique to create the planets and stars.

Isn't it stunning, striking, phenomenal?  How did she create it?  Where did she lay out the fabric?  I wish I could have seen this work in progress.

You can learn more about the Ellen Harding Baker and her quilt at My Modern Met, at Colossal, and at Wikipedia.

Can you imagine creating such a large quilt?!

--Nancy.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The First Half of a Goal

Well, I don't know. . . .

Block H Cacti for Linda Brannock's Flowers Quilt

I have trouble with floating flowers and vases, so for these blocks I've been adding either a different fabric across the bottoms of the blocks or a rectangular piece of fabric under the vases to give them a place to sit.  This is the first time I've tried a half-circle, imagining, maybe, part of a table.  Now I think it just looks strange.  But then these blocks are so unusual, so fanciful, so quirky that maybe that half-circle table cover fits right in.  On the other hand, maybe it should have been a little lighter, brighter, darker....

Then, the fabric for the vase itself has, I think, the perfect colors for this plant and block, but the fabric isn't quite right.  I think maybe a horizontal stripe with the dark blue, the light blue, and red might have worked better.  Unfortunately I didn't have any fabric that I thought looked better than this.

Sometimes I envy painters.  They can mix their colors to perfection and add embellishments to suit the whole painting.  But with fabric we must either have the fabric we want/need/that works, search for and buy the fabric, or make do with the fabric we have.  Yes, of course, we could dye it, but dying is such an uncertain process, one never knows exactly what the results of the dyebath will reveal.

So, this might be another block that will get a slight change.  Or not.  I doubt a quilt judge will ever see this quilt, nor will anyone else see it and evaluate its qualities as a quilt or a work of art.  So I'll leave it as it is for now and see how all the blocks look together when they're finished.

This is the first half of my goal for my One Monthly Goal in December.  On to the stocks.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Miniature Books - Really Random Thursday Post

For years I've been fascinated by little things.  Tiny toys, little books, miniature dolls, wee animal figurines -- if it's tiny, I want to see it and, if possible, hold and examine it.  But this post is about those littlest of books that I've found around the internet and a few that I own.

These are my own little, but not tiny, books.

Closed, they measure 1 12/" x 1 7/8".

I found them at an ocean gift shop about 45 years ago.

A friend's young son adored these books and carried them around whenever he came to visit.
My daughters were much less interested in them, which probably explains why they are still in such good condition.
. . . . . . . . .

I happened upon this blog post at Atlas Obscura and was fascinated by the size of the books there.  At least one is minuscule, smaller than the tip of a finger.  Go see!

How about this tiny Danish-Norwegian-French Dictionary? 
Photo by Tomasz Sienickim, © 2010.  Used with permission, from Wikimedia Creative Commons.
And it's legible, though perhaps only with great eyesight, with the use of a magnifying glass, or in a photo taken with the macro lens of a camera.  Isn't it charming?  It makes me wish I spoke Danish, Norwegian, or French.   From Wikimedia Commons.

And then there is this video of a young man making what may be the world's smallest flip book.  He begins with one that's regular size, then makes one 2" tall, then makes one that's oh-so-tiny.  It's amazing to see him make the tiniest.



And one more really short video of a collection of miniature books presented by British Pathé.



If you're interested in seeing other tiny book treasures click any of the links below.

Do enjoy miniatures, too?

--Nancy.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cactus and Stocks for One Monthly Goal


I'm still stitching away on Linda Brannock's Flowers blocks.  She called this block "Cacti."  (I usually think of two or more when I see the plural of Latin words.)  The green plaid is a stronger, richer color in real life.  I chose it because it reminds me of the the many cacti that have spines running vertically that look like stripes from a distance.  I still need to choose the fabric for the planter.  I have several possibilities in mind.  

One of the challenging parts of this block was making those narrow blue strips.  I had a length of 3/4" wide blue but when I folded it, it was still too wide.  I cut it to about 1/2" then cut a little more off.  They were small to manipulate but I'm pleased with them, for the most part.  They finish at about 1/4" wide.

I think I can get block this finished by the end of the week -- unless there are interruptions that take my stitching time.

After the cactus block is finished I'll get the pattern for Stocks, on the left in the photo below, and after that's finished, I'll get the pattern for the Pineapple, and finally the Marigolds and Blueberries on the bottom right.


So, my One Monthly Goal for December is to finish both the cactus and the stocks blocks.  And wouldn't I love it if I could finish the pineapple, too, but chances are slim, so I'll stick with a goal of finishing two blocks instead of three.

I'm linking this post to
> One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts
> BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts
> Moving it Forward at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Autumn Stars for Noah - A Finish

In a recent post I mentioned that my newest grandbaby was born before I attached the binding to this quilt.  Now it's finished.

adaptation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars

I began this quilt in September and finished it in November this year!  That's really speedy work for me considering that it's hand quilted.  The stars finish at 12" and are an enlarged adaptation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars.  I find the pattern positively charming.  Surprisingly, not a single piece of fabric in this quilt was a scrap!  (But now I have lots of scraps in autumn colors.)

adaptation of Kim Diehl's Barn Stars

The batting I used is Soft 'n' Crafty, an 80% cotton/20% poly blend.  It's not super thick but it's great for hand quilting and makes a warm quilt.

The top finished at 48½" x 60½".  After quilting, binding, washing, and drying it measured at 46¼" x 57½".  It's perhaps a little large for a baby quilt but I say, better too large than too small.     

Here's the little fellow who now owns the quilt nestled beside his sister.  She's a great helper to her mom.


Sadly, I did not get a photo of him on the quilt or with it wrapped around him.  I had forgotten how very tiny babies are, even ones that weigh nearly 8 pounds!  And they keep their little legs pulled up for a few weeks so seem even smaller and shorter than they are.  As a two-week-old in his nearly-fetal position, I know he could have fit into one of the stars!  He'll grow into it.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
> TGIFF at SummerLee Quilts
> Can I get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> finish it up Friday at crazy mom quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Eye of the Needle for Pins & Needles Day

Pins and Needles Day was yesterday and I missed it.  But I found this fabulous video a few months ago showing how needles are made so I'm sharing it a day late.  (Turn down the volume unless you like jazzy music.)



Pins and Needles Day really commemorates the opening of a pro-Labor play by the same name, but we quilters know it can be a day to honor a few of the tools we use.  Or, it could also be a day to commemorate the times your foot falls asleep and you feel pins and needles when you try to talk on it.

However you want to celebrate (late), enjoy!

--Nancy.
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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Quilts for Paradise, Another Way to Help the Fire Victims

There are so many needs in California because of the fires. It's tragic.

I know Lori of Humble Quilts is collecting quilting supplies and other items to take to quilters in Paradise and I highly recommend donating to her fund if you want to/are able.  We who create know the difference having creative materials can make in the life of a quilter.

And Lynn, of Sew'n Wild Oats, is raffling off her exquisite "Emelie Elizabeth" quilt to help obtain funds for those in Paradise. 

Another way quilters (or owners of quilts, or those who want to buy and give a quilt) can help is by donating a lap size quilt to “Warm Hugs for the Holidays” Camp Fire Quilt Relief Effort.  A friend posted this flyer on Facebook and gave me permission to repost here. 

I know the people of Paradise will appreciate any help they receive.

--Nancy.
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Friday, November 23, 2018

Little Baskets for Linda Brannock's Flowers Quilt

I finished the three little baskets for Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt.  They are really small:  the individual basket blocks finish at 3½" x 4".  They came out so out-of-kilter.

Block G, Baskets, for Linda Brannock's Flowers Quilt

















I've decided that perfection is highly overrated, especially when, no matter how much care I take, I just can't quite can manage to achieve it.

You can see the pattern at right.  It's not perfectly even or symmetrical -- just a primitive little basket.  And, obviously, I can't manage to follow a pattern exactly, either.  But the fact is, I don't believe I've ever seen a handmade basket that is perfectly symmetrical, nor two that are identical.  So I'm just going with my baskets as imitations of somewhat "realistic" little baskets.

Despite how catty-wumpus they are, I love them. 

These are the blocks I've completed for the quilt already.  There are four more to go.  It looks like I need blue and red with a dark background on the upcoming block on the lower left.  I know the triangle squares in the sashing will help balance the colors but I don't want to rely on them to do the whole job of balance for the quilt.


Sometimes I think having someone give me the fabrics for each block, or buying a kit, would alleviate the challenges I face with quilts like this that challenge my color placement abilities, but even I know I would just reconsider what was given to me and change things around anyway.

Sometimes, after I finish a quilt or part of a quilt, I think, "I should have used green there instead of blue" or "I should have used a print instead of a solid in that block."  Do you ever do that?

I would be thrilled to finish this top by the end of the year but there must be close to 150 triangle squares to make for the sashing.  Maybe, just maybe, I could get the top together by the end of the year.  Or maybe not....

This was my One Monthly Goal for November.  I'm linking to One Monthly Goal - November Finish Link-up at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

I'm also linking to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Thank you for hosting, Sarah.

--Nancy.
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