Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ballots, Babes, and Beer

 This evening the Lake County Women's Coalition  commemorated Women's Equality Day which is the anniversary of 19th Amendment, passed on August 18, 1920. 
(AAUW-Waukegan Branch is a LCWC member.)

The program was "Ballots, Babes, and Beer," about the suffrage movement in Illinois.  The presenters were Deborah Fandrei, curator of the Raupp Museum  Raupp Museum in Buffalo Grove,  and Katherine Hamilton-Smith, executive director of the Lake County Discovery Museum . 

Deborah explained the routes to suffrage -- the Seneca Falls event in 1848 is well-known, but it took 70 years after that to get enough states to pass suffrage laws and approve the 19th amendment for it to become part of the constitution.  Suffragettes were organized and networked.  The suffrage movement and the temperance movement were side by side, which didn't always please proponents of the one or the other.  Frances Willard was a suffragist and a temperance advocate who threw all her energy to temperance. 

Deborah cited one University of Chicago study that showed that saloons had one clientele (men) but beer gardens had another (families).  (My grandfather played the violin in a beer garden in Milwaukee when he was in medical school.)  Big business had a say, especially in an era of unregulated influence peddling by special interest groups. (Tammany Hall, etc.)

Pro-suffrage poster
The Lake County Discovery Museum houses an extensive postcard collection (actually, the largest such collection anywhere).  Katherine selected suffrage-related postcards to show us.

This poster shows states that had passed suffrage acts -- Illinois, 1913, is the most recent (right column).   Women could vote in the Illinois elections in 1914 -- and 250,000 of them did!

It turned out that the washtub scene was a setup. The reporter wanted a clever angle, and Clara Colby and her husband came up with his standing at the washtub.

This is a real-photo postcard. Rosalie wrote, "Very excited toward the end. Hope you all are well."  Written on the wagon are the names of the states that have passed the amendment.

 These Illinois women went on a five-county barnstorming campaign. They arranged to have welcoming committees in each town with like-minded women and supportive town leaders. They got great publicity because one of the women was married to a newspaperman.

A century later, each time we vote we are honoring the women (and men) whose dedication and sacrifice made the privilege possible.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

DWM: blackbird bordered, and bias

I am not a gadget person. I have splurged, sometimes, and have kicked myself for spending money on something I don't use.  At her workshop last week, Pat Sloan showed us how to use the Clover Bias Tape Maker.   I'm converted!

It is really easy to use!     Here is the gizmo propped up -- see the "tunnel" between the yellow and the metal?  You push the end of the bias strip through the tunnel and out it comes!  Be ready with spray starch and a hot iron to press the folds into place. 

I nearly cut up a yard of fabric into bias strips so that I could practice, but I restrained myself.

Instead, I cut up enough of this lime green to make the bias vines for Blackbird, Hello -- the wallhanging that was our workshop practice piece.  And here is the flimsy!  It's 40 x 40 and I estimate that it used 1-3/4 yards of fabric.  

See what other quiltmakers are working on this Design Wall Monday at Judy's Patchwork Times.

This week: anniversary and reunion

Friday was our 33rd wedding anniversary. The FB post got more than 100 "likes" and nearly 60 comments -- more anniversary congratulations than we have ever received.   We celebrated by going out to lunch.  I got him some "exotic" beer and ale.  (The hardware store, of all places, stocks specialty sodas.)

Ginger beer, ginger ale, birch beer, and another ginger ale

We went to Hosah Beach in Zion on Saturday afternoon.  It was another perfect day.
I went to Oaklane School from kindergarten to third grade. The school closed long ago when enrollment dropped. The building has been a Korean-American church for more than 20 years. Many Oaklane students have reconnected via Facebook and we had a reunion today (Sunday). There were about 30 people, some of whom I recognized (we went to jr. high and high school, too), and some of whom I didn't. Great fun! (Deli, in the picture below, and her mother still live in their house in the subdivision.) 

Penny, Deli, Laurie, and me

Monday, August 19, 2013

And in other quilting news....

I finished quilting Tam's Patch on Thursday evening.  That's finish #24 for 2013!  I about a quarter of the way on quilting Tall Sails. 

Friday I went to Geneva, IL, for the RAILS board meeting.  (RAILS = Reaching Across Illinois Library System.)  Two blocks up the street from the library system office I saw a sign that said "Sewing Center."   Look what was in the window!   

Sorry I didn't get the Singer model # -- a 403, maybe? It was a number I didn't recognize.
Update: it is a 320.

The gray machine is a Hamilton Ross.   Scottish/British, maybe? (I haven't yet looked up these manufacturers.)

Wilcox & Gibbs (mid-19th century)
Inside there were more!

Note mother-of-pearl inlay

 The shop is Creative Sewing (  I had a nice chat with Joe and Lisa Flyte, the owners.  He's been a sewing machine tech for more than 30 years.  (If it weren't 70 miles from where I live, I'd take my machines to him.)   I splurged and bought a dozen fat quarters ($1.50 each). 

[This was the second RAILS board meeting I've attended.  I bought fabric after the first one, documented here -- this board position may get somewhat expensive!]

Finally:  this week's beach picture, taken Saturday.  It was a PERFECT day.  DH was able to get down from the bluff to the beach, too. (He has trouble walking.)  The sky and water really were this blue.

DWM: Black bird, hello!

Our guild (  hosted the talented and prolific designer Pat Sloan this week.  She presented a trunk show at the monthly meeting on Wednesday, telling us about herself and about her approach to design.    Pat explained that she worked in the computer industry for more than 20 years, kept that job as she tried out the quilt business, and in 2000 went full-time in designing/quilting. Her husband Greg is the business manager.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to be a successful quilt entrepreneur.  Marketing is key, and here are some of the places she does that:
Here's her website:
Her blog:
Her radio show:
Her online store:

On Sunday (yesterday) Pat presented Easy Machine Applique (the link goes to her workshop description page; scroll down on her website to see the info).  Pat uses Heat 'n' Bond Lite for fusible applique. She prepares the appliques with the "donut method" in which the HNB is applied only to the edges of the piece. That keeps the applique supple.  She prefers using the blanket stitch for all her applique. 

If I am able to describe a 6-hour workshop into one paragraph, you might ask if it was worth it. YES!  We learned about  fusible webbing brands, about thread, and about approaches to designing.  Pat is a good teacher with a dry sense of humor. She connects well with the audience.

Here is HER class sample, which was the basis for our class project. It's called "My Little Blue Bird."

Here is my work-in-progress.   I made a red-winged blackbird--hence the title of this blog post.   I have fused these pieces but I haven't stitched them yet. The outer border will be magenta (as in the HSTs). I think I will use lime green for the berries and orange (or orange-red) for the stars.


This basket quilt hung behind Pat during her program. Is it the yummy colorway, the batiks, or the baskets that put this on my want-to-do list?  Now that I know Pat's applique techniques, I'm eager to try it.

See what other quiltmakers are up to at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

DWM: wonky stars

I basted and quilted the black-centered Heartstrings flimsy that I showed last week. It took an evening-and-a-half.   I used gray thread and just meandered. That's finish #23 for the year!

I'm stuck on quilting the tall sailboats, and rather than spinning my wheels, I basted Tam's Patch (see last week's DWM) and have begun to quilt it.  It's going much more smoothly than the sailboats. 


This month's Block Lotto features wonky red stars.  Here are my nine entries.  

DH and I were up EARLY Sunday to try to see the Perseid meteor shower.  We had to drive pretty far to find a place dark enough. I saw one shooting star, I think -- the challenge is that by the time the brain registers seeing a meteor, it's gone.  Apparently the viewing will be better at 2 a.m. Monday. I don't know if I'll get up for that.

Sunday afternoon  our  P.E.O. chapter had a picnic aboard the Nancy D., the boat (yacht) owned by one of our sisters and her husband.  Friendship, fella-ship (with our BILs -- that's P.E.O.-speak for brothers-in-love), good food -- and a two-hour cruise on Lake Michigan. 

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Design Wall Monday.

A happy camper!
Our hostess

Friday, August 9, 2013

Field Trip: Cuneo

14th century suit of armor
13th century Italian table in the atrium

I took a vacation day yesterday (Thursday, August 8) to join friends from the Zion Womans Club on a field trip to the Cuneo Mansion in Libertyville.  (See this post for my memories from a childhood trip to the property.)

 Our private tour was led by an excellent docent.  The mansion was built by Samuel Insull, who brought electricity to Lake County (and a lot of other places). It is in the style of an Italian villa, with a light-filled three-story atrium.  Insull's landholdings, continguous to the mansion, were over 4000 acres. He went bust in the Depression (see here -- an excellent example of why we should diversify our holdings). John Cuneo, Sr., bought the property.  From all accounts, the Cuneos were an unconflicted, *very* rich family. (Mr. Cuneo was a printer whose clients included, among others, Sears Roebuck and Hearst Magazines.)  The Cuneos lived/farmed/enjoyed the propertyuntil 1991, when the family foundation opened it to the public.  The foundation gave it to Loyola University in 2010--a gift valued at $50 million.

The special exhibit this summer featured the Cuneo ladies' clothing by Chicago designer Martha Weathered.  Timeless and classic!

Powder room -- with real gold in the wallpaper

Cuneo-printed books in the library (3000 vols.)

Monday, August 5, 2013


(My "Perspective" column in the Zion-Benton News, 7/25/13.)

Air conditioning must rank near the top of the list of the best inventions of the 21st century.  At least that’s how I feel in the midst of a characteristic summer heat wave like the one we’ve had this month.  

Home air conditioning was rare when I was growing up – some people had noisy, rattling window units, but we didn’t.  Commercial establishments that had “a/c” advertised it with signs in the front window saying “It’s cool inside,” with icicles dripping from the word ‘cool.”   

Of course we couldn’t hang out in restaurants or movie theaters all day, and the swimming pool didn’t open until 1 p.m.    Fortunately for us, the library was one of the air conditioned public buildings in town.  We could spend hours at a time in the blessed coolness before taking our books home to read in the basement family room (with a dehumidifier providing climate control).  

One of my favorite books about Midwestern summer was written many years ago.  Each year I revisit it because it is so evocative of the season and the place.  And, of course, it includes a story about the library.   

“Garnet thought this must be the hottest day that had ever been in the world….This morning the thermometer outside the village drug store had pointed a thin red finger to one hundred and ten degrees Fahrenheit…..It was like being inside of a drum. The sky like a bright skin was tight above the valley, and the earth, too, was tight and hard with heat.”    

So begins Thimble Summer, Elizabeth Enright’s classic story about Garnet and Citronella, two nine-year-olds in a small town in Wisconsin in the 1930’s.  

In the chapter titled “Locked In,” the girls get a ride into town on a Saturday afternoon.  “Finally they came to the library, an old-fashioned frame building set back from the road among thick-foliaged maple trees.  Garnet loved the library; it smelled deliciously of old books and was full of stories she had never read. Miss Pentland, the librarian, was a nice little fat lady who sat behind an enormous desk facing the door…..Many times the screen door of the library creaked and closed with a muffled bang as people came and went; other children and grown people, old ladies looking for books on crocheting and boys wanting stories about G-men….Garnet was thousands of miles away with Kotick, the white seal, and Citronella was in ballroom lighted by a hundred chandeliers and crowded with beautiful ladies and gentlemen in full evening dress.”   

The girls were so quiet and absorbed in their books that Miss Pentland didn’t realize they were still there when she closed the library – and locked the door!  “There was no telephone in the library and no electric light. There were gas fixtures but the girls could not find any matches.”  The girls banged on the windows but no one heard them.   Their fathers discovered them at midnight but Miss Pentland had to come (“her hat on sideways”) to unlock the door.  After fried egg sandwiches and apple pie at the diner – the only place open so late – the girls reveled in their adventure.   

75 years after  Garnet and Citronella’s adventures were recorded, and 50 years after my own experiences, the public library is still the COOLEST place in town.  Surely you agree – and I hope to see you at ZBPL one of these afternoons!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

DWM: Thrift store score, strings, and Tam's Patch

I went to Joann's on Friday to get backing fabric for the sailboat quilt (see last week's post).   Despite the temptation of the 25% off-total-purchase coupon, I was very good and got only that fabric and a clearance-bin roll of ribbon. 

Then I went to the Kenosha Salvation Army store.  I scooped up this piece of vintage Fiestaware. I'd never seen it before, and thanks to a Facebook friend I found out that it is a sweets comport .  It's 3-1/2" high.  Salvation Army price:  .94.  Underneath that price sticker was a garage-sale price sticker of .25. (Wish I'd been at that sale, whenever/wherever it was!)  I also succumbed to this fabric -- a Woolworth's flatfold. I'd say it's from the 60's, judging from the color and the 48" width. (It's what's called "bottom-weight," for slacks or a skirt.)  It would be good for Care Bags totebags, if I ever get around to using it. (It's been around for 40+ years, unsewn. Why hurry?)  Original price, as you can see on the label: $2.76.  Salvation Army price: $1.56. 

I attempted to make 10x13 rectangular black-centered string blocks. The black strips did not come out centered. I wasn't in a mood for wonky, off-centered blocks, so I trimmed them all down to the "standard" Heartstrings 9.5".   My other Heartstrings blocks have corners that are the same color as the centers.  This design does not.  It used up about 5 yards of strips, not counting the bedsheet I used for the foundations.

The Block Swappers swapped black-and-white Tam's Patch blocks recently.
Here's what became of those that I received.
The blocks are 8" finished and the flimsy is approx. 58 x 74. The setting fabric is a tiny floral (black on white) that reads as gray. I don't think I'll add a border -- instead, I'll make a wide black binding.

I've added three flimsies to the box.  I need to get back to finishing before I start anything new.

See what other quiltmakers are working on at Judy's Patchwork Times.