Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Links to Enjoy #7

Here are another several interesting things I've found from around the internet.  Maybe one or two will be interesting to you, too.

Isn't Glass Gem corn beautiful!?  Wouldn't it be fun to find these gems in a leafy, green salad?

I thought this post about five women whose inventions changed the world was interesting.  I never knew!  But they missed Tabitha Babbitt, a Shaker who invented the circular saw.  Sadly, her religious affiliation prevented her from obtaining a patent and others are also given credit for her invention.

I love scrappy quilts, both seeing and making them.  I often think mine miss the mark, at least just a little, so I loved this post, Ten Tips for Making a Scrappy Quilt.  I can learn from these!

The photos at this post remind me of Caretakers of Wonder, a book by Cooper Edens.  When they were little, my daughters loved the caretakers with their bit of fantasy and magic.  The illustrations are beautiful (much better and brighter in the actual book than in this video) and led to some wonderful discussions.

See more than 1800 paper silhouettes cut by William Bache in the 1700s, 60 per two page spread.  Enlarge the pages to see details, click on a silhouette to see a close-up.  Most are identified.  I think what surprises me about silhouettes is that they are so identifiable.  I recognized Thomas Jefferson and George Washington right away.

I thought the variety of toys and miniatures in these flat lays, collected and photographed by Jane Housham, was fun.  Some of them reminded me of the little toys--real plastic toys, sometimes with moveable parts--found in boxes of Cracker Jacks in the 1950s and 1960s.  Anyone else remember those?  



Monday, March 27, 2023

She Does Go On

Occasionally, a topic of conversation will come up between my daughter and me that is the subject of a recent conversation.  These topics are never sensitive or hot topics, but things like a shared memory, a funny scene from a movie, or a recent event that one of us mentioned a few days before.  Sometimes we sense the topic coming up again and one of us will say, in jest, "You do go on."  And we'll both laugh, knowing what would have been coming.  (I don't how we came to use the phrase "you do go on.")

If you happen to have read two recent posts about this quilt and are now reading this one, you might think to yourself, "She does go on about making that quilt."  And I would laugh and agree.  Sometimes I need to write down  thoughts and share photos in hopes having a different view or of someone pointing out what I don't see myself.  So here I am, going on about this quilt.  No hard feelings if you're sick of it and leave before reading.

I finally resorted to taping a sheet to the floor in hopes of keeping the cats from playing on and with the blocks.  I thought it would prevent them from sliding across the floor and into the blocks.  It's helped but has not prevented the cats from being on the blocks.  Those cats just love fabric and quilts!  Ah, well....

Since I finished the blocks, I've been trying different possible sashing options.  I have several iterations to show.  You may have to look closely to see them.

I had decided I would probably use coral squares at the ends of the sashing to help create nine-patches, but then I saw these off-white pluses before I'd placed coral squares and had second thoughts.  They certainly give the eye a place to rest, even more so than the nearly-black sashing.  Then I put a few plaid squares in the centers (with several blacks near the top), just to see.  I don't think the plain pluses work well for this quilt.
25-patch quilt
 Below are the corals at the end of the sashing strips.  After looking at the white, these seem, maybe, a little too closed--too much of the same color.  Do you think the off-whites or the corals look more vintage, which was my original intention with this quilt?
25-patch quilt
And below, white with plaid squares in the centers.  I liked these when I first saw them but then I thought perhaps it was just an easy out from deciding which coral fabric(s) to use.  And grey centers or black?  Not coral centers because it would break up the diagonal pattern of dark plaids.
25-patch quilt
Scrappy coral fabrics at the ends of the sashing strips, and off-whites on the other side, for side-by-side comparison.
25-patch quilt
Below, there's one black center, and several different coral fabrics, including one bright red/orange near the bottom.  If coral fabric, all the same fabric (for as many as I have fabric, and then a similar fabric) or a scrappy variety of corals?
25-patch quilt
I've decided against that red/orange fabric in the photo above.  And I'm really having seconds and third thoughts about the corals in the sashing.  They don't really do what I thought they might, which is create a nine-patch secondary pattern.  I'm leaning toward off-white squares at the ends of the black sashing and black center squares.  But then again, plaids in the centers might be better....

The next consideration will be binding color.  There will be no borders on this quilt, just the 25-patch blocks with sashing.  Black binding?  Coral binding?  It's never too early to start thinking about that.  (The blocks in this quilt will finish at 10" and the sashing will finish at 2".  Before quilting and washing/drying, the top should be about 58" x 82".  Long and thin with plenty of length to tuck under to keep feet warm.

I know the decisions for a quilt are purely personal but I am interested in what you see and what you think of the possibilities in these photos.  Thanks for sharing, dear readers.

And now I'm done going on about this quilt, at least for this post.  Hopefully, the next time you see these blocks will be when they are sewn into a top.  Won't that be grand?!

I'm linking this post to
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Thanks for hosting, Cynthia and Judy.


Friday, March 24, 2023

Does Anyone Else Love Feed Sacks?

Feed Sacks by Linzee Kull McCray
I found Feed Sacks: The Colorful History of a Frugal Fabric by Linzee Kull McCray at the library.  I learned more than I ever imagined there was to know about those sweet cotton bags.

The book includes the history of feed sacks from barrel to bag; from growing and harvesting cotton to weaving cloth; from creating the print for the fabric through the printing and sewing of the sacks; and the transition from bags with company names to printed fabric and paper labels; and so much more.

This is a photo-heavy volume with images of advertisements, photographs of families wearing clothes made from feed sacks, photos of sacks from various times, advertisements, patterns, news articles, and, of course, feed sacks in all their variety.
Feed Sacks by Linzee Kull McCray
I was surprised to learn that pattern companies like McCalls created a selection of patterns particularly for use with feed sacks.  I was also surprised to learn that some companies that printed and made feed sacks also sold yardage of some of that same fabric.  Ideas for ways to use bags included aprons, smocks, pajamas, rompers, middies, mattress covers, handkerchiefs, dish towels, shoe cases, laundry bags, pillow cases, curtains, ironing board covers, bibs, and on and on.  Quilts were not at the top of the list but there are examples of feed sack quilts in the book, likely made from leftover fabric after making clothing.
Feed Sacks by Linzee Kull McCray
Bags were printed with all-over patterns, with border patterns, embroidery patterns, patterns for stuffed toys, aprons, and cloth dolls and their clothing.  The string used to close the bags was sometimes used to make crocheted doilies, as well as for other uses. 

Many of the photos in the book are placed on top of a photo of a feed sack, a great way to show more feed sack prints.  The last third of the book is of swatches of feed sack prints, many of them full pages.
Feed Sacks by Linzee Kull McCray
I was surprised to learn how much consumers influenced companies to sell products in printed bags and how responsive companies were to the desires of consumers.  Way to go, consumers!

I appreciated this statement from the book (on page 357):  "Reusing feed sacks was a way to survive, but it also allowed families to thrive.  Making use of what they had was not based on assuming some high moral ground; it was simply a way of life.  Feed sacks also proved to manufacturers that there was value in products whose reusability was enhanced."

I learned that at least 18,000 prints were created for bags.  One collector quit counting at that number and was still finding bags with prints she didn't have.

This book is a small 6½" x 8" but weighs a hefty two pounds because it's printed on beautiful paper.  My only two complaints about the book are that the font on many of the pages is small.  I reasoned that if they'd made it bigger, there may have been double the pages (and weight) or larger pages and still double the weight.  My other small complaint is that there's no index at the back.  Often when I read a book I'll remember something and when I want to go back to find it, I use the index.  Not possible with this book.

If you love feed sacks this book is worth the time to at least browse through it for the pleasure of the photographs.

I have a few feed sacks amongst my stacks of fabric.  I wasn't sure about these two, below, whether they really were feed sacks or not, but the book told me that one way to know is by the stitching across one end.  The needles and large string used to close the bags left holes that don't easily disappear.  It seems that these two were both used as pillow cases because they've been hemmed.
vintage feed sacks
The other three printed sacks I have are these. The two on the right are a slightly coarser weave than the one on the left, possibly used for meal or feed and not flour or sugar.  All three of these are still in their original bag condition with only the stitching removed from one end. 
vintage feed sacks
The bag with blue flowers is practically square, so it is probably a 5# meal bag.  Bag sizes and weights eventually became standardized.  I suppose that's helpful for collectors to know.
Feed Sacks by Linzee Kull McCray
If you love feed sacks you won't want to miss this wonderful book!


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Unifying a Scrap Quilt, Or at Least Making it Cohesive

25-patch quilt blocks of corals and plaids
My self-imposed challenge was--is--to use a group of black and grey plaid fabrics from shirts and a group of fabrics in the coral color-range to create a quilt.  The point is to use up those plaids!  I made a quilt using black plaids a year ago and learned that the plaids blend to grey when viewed from a distance.  (Yes, this quilt is using more of the same plaids from that quilt!)

On the other hand, I learned from this quilt that while the black plaid fabrics may look grey, their value also varies depending on the proportion of black and light in the plaid.  And also possibly depending on the direction of the plaid.  Plaids are so variable!
25-patch quilt blocks of corals and plaids
Add to the above the variations in the eight or so coral fabrics I used--varying from prints that look light to solids and prints that are brights and darks--and I have a busy mess of blocks.  But it's a scrap quilt, I tell myself....

Each block has 13 plaid and 12 coral squares.  My decision to make the plaid dominant was based on the fact that I had more plaids than coral fabrics.  I still have plaids left but not much coral fabric.

I am to the point of auditioning sashing.  In my original post about these blocks you readers left some wonderful comments.   Several of you suggested no sashing.  In person, all the plaids jumble my eyes which makes me think they need some space between.  So I'm choosing to use sashing.  Several of you suggested that if I were going to use sashing that black might be too dark/stark.  I had the same impression. 
25-patch quilt blocks of corals and plaids
I auditioned several grey shirt fabrics, none of which have enough fabric to make sashing for the whole quilt.   The greys seem to disappear.  After trying out several greys, I decided black might be the best option after all.  (See photos below and at the beginning of this post.)  I think the black or very dark grey sashing will give the quilt some unity, continuity, and structure and help it look cohesive.

The other thing about this quilt is that I'm trying to use up fabric, not buy more fabric, which means I'm hoping to use what I have, though I admit to stopping at the thrift store this afternoon....

This brings me to the next decision about this quilt, and that is whether to put coral squares at both ends of the black/dark grey sashing.  I like that it will create a secondary pattern across the quilt--a 9-patch in the center of the black sashing.  
25-patch quilt blocks of corals and plaids
At least that's what I think will happen.  I've cut and laid out only a few strips of black sashing.  I think the sashing will also give the eye a place to rest.

Another consideration is fabric for the squares at the ends of each black sashing piece.  Coral, I think, and  all the same fabric, if possible, for continuity's sake.  The fabrics below are possibilities, shown with with pieces of the fabrics I used to make the blocks.
The fabric on the left has less than enough for the squares, but I think it looks best of the ones I have.  The fabric on the right seems too dark, maybe a little too red/orange, and blends into the plaids.  (See top photo, center square.)  I'll cut black strips, then lay out the quilt and play a little.  

It does occur to me that I could choose a completely different color range for the sashing strips and squares but I don't know what color that would be....

Do you have any insights to share about how to unify scrap quilts to make them look cohesive?  Thank you if you do.

In the whole of human experience--even in the whole of my own personal experience of 70+ years--choosing fabrics and colors for a quilt is a tiny, brief fragment of life.  Insignificant, really, and probably not worth all the time and thought I put into it.  And yet, I'm continually striving for improvement--being better, doing better, making better--each next time an interaction or experience comes my way.  That being said, I have to remind myself that each quilt I make does not have to be better than the last.  And thank goodness for that!  (But even so, I unconsciously set that as one of my goals when making a quilt.)

I thought this Cara Cara orange was so beautiful that I should share it.  Citrus fruit isn't a favorite but I do love the smell and beauty of oranges. 
Cara Cara orange
I'm linking this post to
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

I hope you are well and thanks for sharing comments!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Slowly Quilting Flowers

If I slow stitch today, it will probably be hand quilting this Tulips block and the surrounding section of border on Linda Brannock's Flowers quilt.
I think the quilt is going so slowly because I'm quilting lines an inch apart.  What was I thinking?  I think you can see the quilting in the photo, below.  The background, sashing, and borders have parallel lines; the flowers, leaves, and pots are outlined with some echo stitching inside.
I've quilted six blocks:  on the top row, the two on the right; all three on the row below that; and the pineapple.  And about a third of the border is quilted.  Still to do are the tulips, top left; the little baskets, below center on the left; the three blocks across the bottom:  Cacti, Stocks, and Marigolds & Blueberries.
Don't bother enlarging the photos to see details.  My phone's camera doesn't do very well sometimes and my poor, dear, old Canon PowerShot A560 is having some problems and needs to go to a repair shop.  I think--and hope!-- it just needs an adjustment to the settings.

On Sunday I'll link this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Counting Zinnias - One Monthly Goal for March

My original idea for these baskets was to have them along the sides and the bottom of the quilt, surrounding center blocks, so they would be upright when on a bed. But after seeing them all together like this I'm reconsidering that layout.  It will be a while before these blocks become a top but every stitch is a little progress.  Two blocks are already stitched (but not shown in the photo below).
Because I still have two stacks of fabric sitting out as possible flower fabrics (and I need to put them away) my goal for March is to count the number of baskets, the number of zinnias, leaves, and stems I would need if each basket were to have three flowers, then count the number of zinnias, leaves, and stems I already have prepared or are in progress.  that will give me an idea how many more of each I need to make for the current number of baskets.  And then I can put those stacks of fabric away.  Finally.  Unless I need to make more baskets....

The blocks will finish at 10" x 12".  This is not my goal for March:  I need to decide on a layout and size for the quilt so I'll know how many more baskets to make and whether I'll need to make alternate blocks, sashing, borders, etc.  I think the baskets could use a little more space between them.

I'm linking this post to March One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Patty.

On Another Topic
Does anyone understand what Blogger's been doing by making us click to allow third party cookies on some blogs (my own included!)?  Why do some blocks ask this question and some blogs don't?  I haven't been clicking "allow" so my comments are Anonymous and I usually forget to add my name and email/blog url.  There are plenty of things I can do well but tech stuff is not one of them. 

I hope all is well with you!


Friday, March 3, 2023

Use It Up and 25-Patch Blocks

Edited to add: Commenting is open on this post now. Somehow the comments were turned off. So sorry because I love hearing from you, dear readers.
You know the phrase about money burning a hole in someone's pocket?  Money doesn't do that to my pocket but it seems fabric burns a hole in my... well, not my pocket, exactly.  Maybe my shelf, so to speak.  For the past few years, along about January, some group of fabric comes to mind that's been around too long and I decide I want to use it up.  (If you look at the stack, below, you'll realize that I might not be able to use up all that fabric in one quilt.)   
This year, a stack of black and grey plaids from shirts were burning a hole on my shelf.  I bought these years ago before I knew what shirts would work for quilting fabric.  The fabric is fine but I wasn't sure about putting the plaids together--the plaids themselves, the variety of plaids, and the shades.  But hey, they needed to be used up in a quilt or quilts.

Then there was the search for a pattern.  Plaids sometimes don't play well together and can overwhelm a quilt.  When I saw this pattern, Friendship House, at Shopgirl Quilts, my first thought was, Oh, I can use those plaids in place of sewing all the little squares together.  Of course I neglected to consider the size difference between the squares in the quilt pattern and the tiny squares in my plaids.  I chose red and tan for the alternate blocks and sewed a few.
Needless to say, the result was underwhelming if not downright awful.  Now I have four red and tan blocks to begin another quilt.  Maybe alternate blocks, either applique or pieced, will work.

Back to considering more options for the grey plaids.  Maybe a 16-patch block?  Or a 25-patch block?  With fabrics in the deep coral range?  I hemmed and hawed, indecisive.  I thought the colors would be fine together but I wasn't sure about the plaids together.  Except I knew I didn't have enough of any one plaid for a whole quilt.  So I made a few 25-patch blocks (because I decided I like the symmetry of them and they would be more versatile).
When I look at photos of old quilts online or in books, I admire the ones with exquisite, perfect applique or piecing, but the ones that touch my heart are the ones that look like the quilter scrimped and saved pieces of fabric, used what she had, and created something charming (even if not beautiful) to keep someone in her family warm during the winter.  Looking at the first three 25-patch blocks, they gave me that impression. 

I made some more and put them on the wall.  (And took a poor photo that shows inaccurate colors because it's been greyer than grey and rainy all day....)  I don't think the blocks work side-by-side.  I think they need sashing.
When I saw them at night, my heart sank.  They looked so dark and dull.  But I finished the ones that were in progress and took a look this morning.  Maybe the plaids will be okay together.  Maybe the mix of corals will be okay.  Maybe.... What do you think?

Then I tried a possible layout.
I think the blocks definitely need sashing, either pieced as above, or one piece.  Not black, though.  Maybe solid grey?  Or tan?  Or. . .?

Here are a few more blocks with different plaids.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about the combination of plaids and the coral colors, layout, sashing fabric/color, etc.

We had grey skies and drenching rain today.  Can you see the puddles of water in the lower left of the photo and in the driveway?  It was wonderful--a great day for a nap, an old movie, or a good book.   I sewed and took photos.  We have a flood warning tonight.  I wish I could send some of our rain to Utah and other states recovering from drought.
I also wish it had rained last night.  I love sleeping with a hard rain hammering the roof.

I'm linking this post to
> Finished or not Friday at Alycia Quilts
> Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More
> Oh Scrap! at Quilting is more fun than Housework
> Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
Thank you for hosting, ladies.

Wishing you all the best!

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Links to Enjoy #6

I'm sorry these link posts are so light on photos.  That's because I don't want to steal photos and violate copyright.   To make up for the absence of photos here, when you click through to most of the links, you'll be treated to bright beauty and delightful images. Enjoy!

These painted floors could almost be patterns for quilts.

I love the tones and tints and the arrangement of colors in these paintings.  They push me to consider other color combinations. 

Try the Chronophoto Photographic History Game:  guess the year the photo was taken.  Or just enjoy the old photos, taken between 1900 and 2020.  There seem to be more photos from recent decades than from the earlier decades of the 20th century.  You can enlarge the photos to see details. 

It's hard to believe these flowers and leaves were cut from paper in the late 1700s.  They look like modern prints to me.

I think Isobelle Ouzmann's altered blank books are amazing!

The Slant Book, published in 1910, shows the downhill ride of baby in a runaway "go-cart."  Curiously, the author and illustrator, Peter Newell, chose a rhomboid shape for that book to echo the slant of a hill.  But I think The Hole Book, by the same author, is funnier.  See all the pages of both books at the links.

I hope you find a link or two that you enjoy or that surprises or delights you.


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