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Monday, September 8, 2014

The secret is revealed

I happened to tune into Quilty Pleasures, the Quiltmaker blog, the day they called for volunteers to make samples for the Back To School feature. I applied and was one of the eight people chosen.  QM provided the pattern, the fabric, batting, and thread. We had to make our quilts exactly as directed. That was a challenge for me because I like to use a great variety of fabrics and I like to improvise. But it turned out well!

I got fabric from Clothworks called "In the Kitchen." I think the culinary print would be great for placemats.

Keep up with all the BTS quilts and meet the quiltmakers this week at

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Exhibit: Civil War quilts from Illinois

Civil War Quilters: Loyal Hearts of Illinois opened in May at the Illinois State Museum's gallery in the historic town of Lockport. It's an hour-and-a-half drive from here (or 79 miles -- Chicagoans tend to give directions in terms of time first, then distance) so going to see it takes a little more intention than just hopping in the car.  On Friday the library system board met at the headquarters in Burr Ridge, just 17 miles from Lockport.  The meeting ended at noon. A half hour later I was at the gallery. (It would have been just "22 minutes" per Google maps had I not taken the wrong exit off I-55.)

As the exhibit website explains, "The twenty Civil War-era quilts in the exhibition provide a passage through which to explore the lives and wartime support activities of the women who made them. Each quilt on exhibit has its own unique story and individual attributes, even though they were collectively created in the same time period. One is a particularly rare quilt that has recently received national attention: a Log Cabin quilt from Anna, Illinois, that was pieced together with fabrics including scraps from both Union and Confederate uniforms. The uniform scraps reportedly belonged to the maker's sons who fought on both sides of the war. An album quilt on display was made by Martha Jane Gourley (Gehlman), a close neighbor of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. Miss Gourley's friends and family, whose names adorn this quilt, are from northern as well as southern states, representing the range of families who settled the "West," as Illinois was then considered."

Other than the museum employee at the front desk, I was the only person in the gallery. The only thing better than this private viewing would have been to be in the company of fellow quilters who would be equally appreciative. 

Rose of Sharon, circa 1862, by Sarah Ann Massie Bateman, Morgan County.

Checkerboard, ca. 1865, by Hester Malone Wright,
 Marshall County. The yellow-green blocks were probably much greener originally.  (Green dye was notoriously unstable.)

This floral wreath, by Elizabeth Sutherland Jones of Long Creek and Mount Zion, Macon County, is beautifully appliqued and exquisitely quilted. Note that the green fabric has not faded.

Sarah Ohmart Traylor, Montgomery County, made this log cabin quilt. "Log cabin quilts emerged as a new piecing method around the time of the Civil War," reads the accompanying text.

Oak Leaf by Sarah Ann Dunn, Effingham County. Another example of exquisite quilting.

This quilt is quite small -- about 48 x 48. Made by Jane Gaunt Russell of Hawkins Co., Tennessee,  and later of Jerseyville, Illinois. Fabrics are pre-war.
 This scrappy star variation looks contemporary.  "According to family tradition, Lucinda [Taylor Conkling] sent [this and another quilt] to comfort four-year-old Frances as she departed Illinois in a covered wagon for western New York."

star block detail 
The Seven Sisters is my favorite quilt of all in the exhibit. I tried to take a picture of one hand up against a block to show the size, but the picture didn't work.  I swear I did not touch the quilt!  The blocks are about 4.5".  Made by Mary Ellen McLain James and her husband George W. James in Cass County, circa 1870.

 Made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war as a fundraiser for veterans in Harrisburg, Saline County.

This large log cabin quilt was most likely made by Sarah Reed of Anna, Illinois. It has pieces from both Union and Confederate uniforms.  It was not uncommon for families in southern Illinois to have soldiers fighting on both sides. 

It, too, looks comporary.  I also recognized it.  It's on the cover of Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War . It tops my list of Best Quilt Books. I would love to see the major exhibition that it accompanies. 

 I want to return to Lockport with my husband to see the other historic sites in this canal town.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Giveaway winners!

What fun it's been to read all the responses to Monday's post about quilty confessions!  It appears that the rule that most of us cheerfully ignore is "never sew over pins."  We all have SABLE syndrome (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).

Well, my stash will go down infinitesimally when I send two books-and-bundles to the winners of the drawing.  DRUMROLL!

#29 -- Jean, one of my Magpie buddies, who Runs With Scissors and a Sword when she's not traveling.

#76 -- Melissa, aka SewGreen, who blogs at  Sewcute's Creations .

Congratulations to you both.  And thanks to everyone who took time to post a comment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baptist Fans

#LC-RF-906 is the Good Shepherd religious hand fan.On Monday I went to a memorial service for a neighbor . He passed away suddenly last week. (He was just 72, which these days seems young (since my husband is older than that)). The weather was hot and so humid it could be cut with a knife. The church was not air conditioned. The funeral home provided old-fashioned fans stapled to sticks.
I thought about bringing one home and using it as a quilting pattern, but I didn't since the fan was shaped like this one.   In fact, the funeral home may have ordered the fans from this company.
I have never used the Baptist Fan quilting pattern.  It's one of those that I'd like to master get good at sewing by machine. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

DWM: Quilty confessions and a giveaway!

Melanie at  Catbird Quilts listed "ten quilty little secrets" and suggested that her readers do the same.

Of course, if we do that they are no longer secrets. Perhaps quilty confessions is a better description.

Here are mine.  You may consider me heretical.  I consider myself practical. :)

1.  I don't pin unless I need an absolute match.
2.  When I do pin, I sew over them.
3.  I iron more often than I press.  With steam.
4.  I use Gutermann poly thread for piecing and quilting. It comes in a huge array of colors and it is often on sale at Joann's.  It works just fine.  (I also use Aurifil. And Gutermann cotton. But mostly Gutermann poly.)
5.  I rarely buy fabric with a specific project in mind. I buy fabric because I like it.
6.  I rarely pay full price for fabric. (Actually, I avoid paying full price for anything. That is a practice that goes back decades. Purists may argue that buying stuff on sale and not using it is ultimately more expensive than buying stuff at full price and using it until it is consumed or worn out.  I combine on sale + extensive use and get good value.)
7.  If a design on a commercial pattern appeals to me I try to chart it out.  If I can't, and if it still appeals to me, I will buy it.
8.  I buy fabric at Joann's.  I avoid the truly flimsy stuff (and there is a lot of it).
9.  I don't always pin borders from the middle.
10.  Life is too short to spend hours hand-sewing bindings. I attach them by machine. I sew the binding to the back of the quilt, then pull it over to the front and top-stitch. I usually use a zigzag stitch as a "signature." I sew the side bindings. Then I sew the top and bottom bindings. I don't miter the corners.  No one who has received or bought a quilt I've made has complained.

Now it's your turn!  For your chance to win a book-and-a-bundle combination, reply to this post. In your reply list at least four of your own quilty confessions.  If you have more, that's great!  Be sure your reply links to your email address so I can notify you if you're the winner.  The drawing will be Saturday, August 30. The drawing will be Friday, August 29. (That way I can mail the prizes on Saturday.)  (I will ship to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.)
Autumn colors bundle

Cool colors bundle

I am linking up with other quiltmakers for Design Wall Monday at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Friday field trip: SC Johnson

On Friday we toured the S. C. Johnson complex in Racine (about 15 miles north of where we live).  H. F. "Hib" Johnson, Jr., commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Research Tower and the Administration Building. The tower was opened to the public for the first time this summer.  It is a museum (frozen in time: early 1950's). The administration building is still used for administration, but with only 80 employees rather than the 200 60 years ago.
Interior photography is forbidden and there were two tour guides with our group who kept a close watch on us. No sneak snapshots!
Golden Rondelle

The visitor center is built around the Golden Rondelle, the S. C. Johnson building at the 1964 New York World's Fair. 
The pioneering airplane 
The newest building, Fortaleza Hall, is a tribute to Johnson research:  a pioneering airplane trip to Brazil.  The company created plantations to grow carnauba palms, the source of carnauba wax which was the basis of natural waxes. 

Reflecting pools between the Research Tower and the Administration Building.

Wright-designed Native American figures, to honor the first inhabitants of the Racine area. 

After the tour we had lunch at a Thai restaurant in downtown Racine. We picked up a "tour Racine" guidebook at the visitor's center, and read about the Eco-Justice Center.  It took a while to find it, but we did. Lush vegetable gardens -- how wonderful to have enough space for the plants to sprawl -- free-range turkeys and guinea fowl, and alpacas!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: sixty years ago

A couple of days ago my husband pulled a book out of the bookcase. He had not opened it, let alone read it, for a very, very long time.  He said it was actually quite good, despite the warning he wrote on the flyleaf sixty years ago this fall.

[I googled Henry I. Christ  and Andrew Jackson High School. Christ wrote more than 100 books:  English and literature textbooks and adaptations of classics. AJHS no longer exists.]

 Third Form is the prep school equivalent of freshman.

And here is the student himself from the 1955 yearbook, published the spring of his Third Form.