February 28, 2018

Dutchman's Puzzle - Puzzling Fabric Choices

The repair of this Dutchman's Puzzle quilt was especially meaningful to me.  The owner is a daughter-in-law of a woman I became friends with during my college days.  I wrote about her quilt collection in a previous post.

This is another quilt my friend found in Kampsville, IL, made in the 1960s or so.  She had gifted it to the current owner.

Finding fabrics that blended in comfortably was a bit of a challenge here, so I thought I'd show some of the decision process I went through.

The solid blue needed the most patches.  I had a blue in my stash, on the left, that looked great, but there wasn't enough for the 20+ triangles that were needed.  I bought a new blue, on the right, slightly to the purpler side.  Once it was in the quilt, I think it worked pretty well.

I also needed a 1/4" lavender gingham.  I buy ginghams at estate sales whenever I see them, but haven't found much in the purples.  The closest thing I had on hand was a darker purple plaid.  Had I ended up needing to use it, I would have used the reverse (tiny swatch on the right) to soften the colors some.

Instead, I opted for a new gingham, even though it is a blend and not 100% cotton as are most of the original fabrics in the quilt.  I decided it was still preferable to the reverse of the purple plaid.  I did try a quick dip in some tea, but found that even a super quick dip made the white too brown and also, surprisingly, faded out the lavender.  Here are all three swatches, from left to right - tea dipped gingham, original gingham, reverse of purple plaid.

The real trickster was the stripe.  I had a navy on light blue pinstripe shirt in my stash, little swatch at the upper left in the photo.  I also had a striped remnant in somewhat the same colors that didn't look too bad, at the lower right. 

The issue with that stripe was that I would've had to piece several pieces together to use only the narrowly striped section of the print.  I wasn't sure that I could make that look very good.

So, I bought this red white and blue stripe, even though it looked much too bright.  It had a wider section of tiny stripes and the colors were at least kind of the same, and I was at the point of trying absolutely everything.

I tried tea dye on this, too, and got the same results as the gingham.  It turned to brown too quickly.  Tea dipped fabrics are the lower ones of both pairs.  I could therefore relax into using it at is.  It grew on me.  I started thinking it looked surprisingly good.

Then I spent a lot of time of looking at my two top picks.  I looked at them in lamplight and during the daylight.  I looked close up and I looked from far away.  I asked everyone who came into the house to vote.  It was when my husband noted that the pin stripe shirt, on the right, ended up looked mostly like a solid blue from a distance and therefore really stood out that I really warmed up to the new striped fabric.

Also, these photos are of a block with a red background.  When I put those two sample triangles on the block with a bright yellow background, the new stripe obviously won.  The bright yellow really emphasized the "only blue" aspect of the shirt.

So here are photos of the finished blocks with these fabrics that took so much thought.

And here are a few other fun fabrics in the quilt.

February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day Dance

I thought it'd be fun to share one of my darlin' daughter's videos today.  She is a dancer, and in 2017, created a new dance video each month.  This is the dance she made last February, all about love and sweetness.  It's title: "jam and jelly."  I hope you enjoy it!

Her words that are under the video itself explain a bit about the content and process.  Music is by her guitarist boyfriend, who also appears in the video.

Also, you can access her other 11 videos for the year on Vimeo (thumbnails on the right) or her website.  Each dance has a unique theme and ambiance, and I, personally, am super fond of the whole set. 

She's got more projects in the works for this year.  Check it out if you like to explore dance --- The Moonbelly Healing Project.  You can follow her further projects on Facebook and Instagram (@themoonbellyhealingproject) and the website.

February 5, 2018

Schuster Mansion, Milwaukee


My friend Nancy invited me to come along to sample a Victorian high tea in Milwaukee.  She is in the midst of  researching sources for Victoriana artisans, B&Bs, and such to be listed on a site called Victorian Heart Shoppe.  Nancy's own gift shop, Roses and Teacups, carries all sorts of flowery, feminine, speciality items to make life sweet and beautiful.  Of course, I said yes without a second thought!

This is definitely a place to remember!  The Schuster Mansion is spectacular.  Look at this woodwork!  The current owners have done, and continue to do, all the restoration, both structural and decorative.

The mansion is a B&B and event venue.  They also host a selection of teas and special dinners, and have a lovely gift shop.  They are super busy people!

Here's the chandelier that hung above our tea table.  The house was still bedecked for Christmas as you can see (we went on Epiphany).  The more-is-more Victorian esthetic is taken to heart here!

The tea was fabulous!  I just had to eat all of it, and honestly wasn't hungry again until dinner the next night!


The tea includes a presentation by the owner about Victorian customs.  For example, did you know that it was considered impolite to blow on one's tea to cool it to drinking temperature?  Instead, one should pour a bit into the saucer, then pour that back into the cup, and repeat until the desired temperature is reached.  Who knew?  And wouldn't everyone give you A Look if you did that now? 

January 29, 2018

Come Home Soon

Quilts can carry so much love and so many memories.  Here's one such quilt that came to me for repair.

The owner told me:

My mom bought it from an Amish lady she knows in Lancaster Pa. She owns a really successful shop there. She bought it for me while I was away on my Mormon mission. It’s called “Come Home Soon.”

The quilt was made in 2000.  

The pattern is a series of wonderfully executed appliqué vignettes, representing all sorts of doors and all sorts of waiting.

There were some really big rips in the quilt, plus just generally weak fabrics.  The goal was to bring the quilt back to a safe condition.  I mended and patched the large and what I call structurally necessary places, meaning missing fabric and open tears where batting is visible.  I also replaced the ragged outer narrow border and original knife-edge finish with a wide binding.  The smaller worn spots were left as is.  Patching all that wear would have been a humongous job, plus it would have added too much new fabric to a memory quilt.

The biggest tear was mended by patching both the front and back and adding new batting.

A lot of the worst problems were with the white background fabric, either missing altogether or very seriously torn and weak. 

I added batting where necessary, and carefully appliquéd the patches  into the space around the doors.  

Sometimes, depending on the fabric the background was joining, I used a ladder stitch (right) and sometimes I used a herringbone stitch (left).

I patched some of the little squares in the sashing with new fabric, and mended some with herringbone stitching.  I also patched over a red stain, possibly nailpolish.

I mended some of the places with tears big enough to show the batting by putting an insert of new fabric below and then herringbone stitching through the old fabric and into the insert to hold the edges together.  (Step-by-step photos of this process on a different quilt.)

Here are photos of more of the doors, all so different and all so clever.

January 23, 2018

German Quilt Magazine!

The other day, I received the most wonderful envelope:

It contained, yep, copies of the January 2018 issue of Patchwork Professional, a German quilting magazine - with a long article about:

The title and subtitle translate to:

There is a Mystery in Every Antique Quilt:  
This American quilter brings the story of these precious things to life again.

Isn't that a lovely title?

The article is 8 pages long, and because it's just soooooo cool, here are all 8 pages!

Thanks to Dorothee Crane for putting it all together, and to Patchwork Professional for finding me!