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!

January 15, 2018

All About Love


Here's a sweet quilt that came to me carrying this very moving story.

My husband was in a terrible accident 11 years ago and was very close to dying. His church made him a quilt that they put on him when he was in the coma. He loves this blanket so incredibly much. Our black lab ripped parts of it when she was doing that circle nesting thing that dogs do before they lay down.

I was able to put three patches on the torn back, including a pretty large one.

I mended the tears on the front by reverse appliquéing some solid navy patches.  I also closed quite a few open seams in many areas.

I didn't put on any actual patches for two reasons.  The first, because a new fabric would almost certainly not be an exact match, and in a two-fabric quilt like this, would be pretty obvious.  And the second, and more important I think, is that the original fabric carries all the love and prayers that make this such a special keepsake quilt.

This quilt has been so well-loved that the fabric is super soft and getting quite weak.  I recommended to the owners that it only be gently hand washed from here on out.  It is so precious!

The faded label reads:

This quilt was made for ------- with love, hope, and prayers.
Each knot represents a prayer that was said for you.
First Reformed Church, Sioux Falls, SD
A member of Prayers and Squares, The Prayer Quilt Ministry.

January 3, 2018

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I took this photo of my design wall last March, to celebrate being able to walk around enough on my healing foot to get back to pacing around while creating in my sewing room.

Here are the four quilts, from left to right, that were in progress then and are finished now.  They are all new members of my Something From Nothing series. The series is my own challenge project, based on a pile of decorator fabric samples that was given to me years ago.

5.25" x 5.25"

Faded Photograph
32" x 33.5"

16.5" x 16.5"

32" x 44.5"

I am really eager to finish this series in 2018.  Here's the current set on the wall.  I think I've got 7 more to do.  That'll be quite a challenge for 2018!

1.  The blueish fabric peeking out on the left, under the squares, is the background for a farm scene.
2.  The grid of squares and rectangles that is covering up that blue is a combination of fabrics with mostly plant oriented designs.
3.  The little blue stripey one on top is finished, but has a companion piece in the back of my mind.
4.  The sort of magic carpet style one (Oh! I think I just named it!) is a completed top.
5.  The brown and cream fabrics are two of four colorways of the same style that I will use together somehow.  They are a super, super soft cut velvet.
.....And there are two piles of fabrics that have not been started yet, aside from having nebulous directions.
6.  One pile is fabrics with diamond-shaped grid designs.
7.  The other pile will, I hope, somehow end up looking like an Oriental-style three-panel screen.

My eventual goal is to find a gallery to show the whole set of quilts together.  I've never put on a show before - so another major challenge awaits in 2019.

Happy Quilty New Year to one and all!

December 18, 2017

Reproducing an Antique Quilt

I bought this quilt years ago when I was working at an antique quilt shop.  (It was a heavenly place to spend my time, I assure you!)  Whenever the pickers would come in to sell their finds, we had the option to buy things, too.  (Heavenly and then some!)

I bought this quilt from one of those pickers.  The back fabric is in rough condition and there are some tears in the borders through all the layers.  (The faded-looking upper left corner is due to the light coming in my window, though).  Here's why I fell in love with this quilt:

1.  I love the color combination.  I love how the stars really twinkle in the night sky.

2.  I have not yet seen this exact pattern anywhere else.  I have dubbed it Starry Night.  These are 9-patch blocks with a star in each corner, set on point with alternate setting blocks.  Does anyone out there know a name for this block?  There's a similar block called Star in a Nine Patch (Brackman #1711) which has five stars in the block, one in the center position also. 

Without those center stars, the setting creates an overall pattern of interlocking circles, very like the look of a Double Wedding Ring.  Identifying an actual block becomes quite difficult!

3.  The indigo background is a print with tiny white stars, thematic in other words.

4.  The stitching is very well done.

Here's the delicate design of the back print, and some of the damage along the border.

I decided to reproduce the quilt and bought the fabrics way back in the 1980s.  I finally started to work on it a little over 2 years ago as my carry-along project.  Up until then, something about having kids kind of slowed me down, and then writing a book....  I'm really glad I bought the fabrics when I did though, because I don't know if I'd have as much luck finding them now. 

So far, I have made 7 blocks.  This is now my carry-along handwork project of choice.  It has been to Philly, Seattle, Paducah, Kalona IA, Sugar Hill NH, and Cleveland.  I also work on it around home now and then when I am somewhere that entails a lot of sitting time. 

You can see how different a modern navy is from an old faded indigo!

I am using two different double pink prints, because I have them and couldn't decide which I liked better.  This is my own addition to the design.  The four stars in each block have one using each of the pinks and two alternating the pinks.

Here are the pieces cut for my next two blocks.  Slow and steady wins the race!