Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Gift of Memories

This hand appliqued quilt is a beauty.  The finished top was given to me by my Great Aunt Mary (I've shared other quilts by her previously) who appliqued it herself.   This large queen size quilt top was conveniently already marked for quilting so all I had to do was put the layers together and start hand quilting.

I had not hand quilted a quilt this large with this much quilting on it before, but since I didn't have to worry about marking it and what design to do it went really fast. I found that quilting a quilt top with a sparse pattern and lots of open space is so much fun because you get it in your hoop and off you go.  There isn't a lot of stopping and starting.  I think someday I really want to hand quilt a whole cloth quilt.

I love the bright colors Aunt Mary used in this quilt.  I am assuming it was a kit and the fabrics probably came pre selected but I don't know that for sure.  I tried to follow up with the bright color theme on the back of this quilt.  I found a great bright fabric that was full of tulips.  This quilt really looks nice on either side of the quilt - I guess you could say it's reversible.  It's a great quilt for Spring time, it really brightens up the room. 

I love that this quilt is queen size.  Most of the older quilts that I have acquired were square and hardly fit a double bed.  This quilt top was probably made in the 60's or 70's as a guesstimate.  So to make it this large was a great feat!

Every time I sit down at my machine to piece a quilt, I think of the women who pieced their quilts by hand.  I know some fellow quilters still do.  I attempted this once very unsuccessfully.  I guess I like the built in 1/4 inch on my machine foot - that keeps me on the straight and narrow. 

I feel like I'm always crammed in a "nook" (hence the name of my blog) of our house somewhere and don't have room to spread my creative wings but maybe some day I will be able to have a dedicated space to release that inner creativity.    I find I love to browse other quilter's blogs and see their "studios" or work spaces, although I admit I do get jealous occasionally.  However, I remind myself that perhaps that quilter started in a "nook" as I did.  I also remind myself that generations of women made quilts in one room cabins and their workspace was probably a chair and a basket.  We sure have come a long way!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving with lots of yummy food.  We stayed in Vermont for Thanksgiving this year and ate at a friends house yesterday.  It was really nice to be with some friends.  However, we want those left overs so I will be cooking our version today!  With everything negative going on in the world today, it's so nice to be able to sit with people you love and be thankful you even can have a day to do this.  There are so many more people visiting food shelters and food banks just in our area alone, I pray that they find warmth and peace during the holidays. 

Next week we travel to Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families for a week.  It will be so nice to see family and friends for a whole week and not some short long weekend trip.  We are very excited to go, but are not excited about the drive (12 - 14 hours) and the hubby doesn't like to spend the night - so it's straight through on the way down.  I'm thinking of taking a small quilting project to work on - I haven't done that in the past trips, perhaps I can quilt in the car and it will make time fly by fast and I would get a project done! 

So this weekend's to-do list looks like this: in addition to preparing for travel, gather and wrap all of the Christmas gifts we are taking, decorating our house for Christmas, making our Thanksgiving meal today, run a few errands, AND get a wall hanging project ready to be quilted!  No problem!

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving again and hope you have a great countdown to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What To Do With Old Jeans????

... I have an idea - make a quilt!

My husband ALWAYS wears jeans (including to our wedding).  He had the idea he wanted his mother to make a quilt for him from his old jeans and wala this is the quilt she made for him back in 1993.  

This quilt is so large it fits our queen sized bed really well.  It is SOOOO heavy that it's hard for me to handle by myself.  Because of the heaviness of the jean material, she tied this quilt instead of quilting it, can you blame her?  On the back and continued as the binding you will see she used WARM blue and black plaid flannel material.  This quilt is a perfect quilt for our bed during the winter months here in Vermont.

My husband LOVES this quilt - it's his favorite.  As you can see he wore different colors of jeans and that gives this quilt a lot of character.  Our son Jack doesn't believe us that these use to be Daddy's jeans, he thinks we are making it up.

I have recently seen quilts that are made using fabrics from little girl's dresses.  I think that is such a neat idea.  Since I don't have any little girls, I am saving my boys special t-shirts to make them each a t-shirt quilt some day.  I also am hoping that someday I can be blessed with a little granddaughter and then I can make her a quilt using her dresses!  I have also heard of quilts made out of handkerchiefs.   How creative!

I love the recycling mentality and what awesome memories these make.  Part of quilting, I believe, is the recycling factor.  Early quilters re-used fabrics from feed sacks and clothing to make quilts to keep them warm and give as gifts.  I think over the generations many quilters have gotten away from that and purchase all of their fabrics (including myself).  In these days of saving money and saving the environment I think we should try to go back and recycle fabrics and create warm and meaningful memories!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kids To The Fabric Store? Oh My!

So this is what happens when you take your sons to the fabric store.  By the way side goes my own Christmas projects - and "right now" comes his projects.  

Wyatt fell in love with this fleece Christmas cat fabric and wanted a pillow.  As we went back to the pillow forms he picked of all things, the oval pillow.  I've never done one of these so it was quite a challenge.  I tried to find directions online and even though I did what it said -- well, mine still didn't turn out right.  It took me about 2 days to get this done.  It isn't "purrrr fect" but it will do for an 8 year old.  

So there was fabric left over and I offered to make another pillow - this time of my choice (square) and it only took about an hour and looks so much better.  I had considered even putting a ruffle on it but remembered why I even went to the fabric store in the first place - Christmas projects - oh that's right - so no ruffle.  Wyatt loves the pillows and I have a feeling they will be on his bed year round.

It's getting cold outside here in Vermont!  Great time for quilting!  I love the snow and where I am in Vermont we haven't had much.... of course we are the only part of Vermont that hasn't had much snow, we are city dwellers.  We did have about an inch on the ground Saturday morning (the mountains got feet of snow) and the boys rushed out to shovel off the porch, sidewalk and driveway.  We live in a town home community so they did the neighbors driveways as well seeing as an inch is very quickly moved by 2 little boys.  They love it!  They really wanted to sled ride but I didn't think it would go well since you could still see the tops of the grass.

I didn't get any sewing done this weekend, ug, but I did get a lot of other household stuff done.  We are staying home for Thanksgiving so no packing to do but we will be traveling to Ohio next week for a week and that will be our Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday with all of our family.

Hope your home smells as good as mine does - Pumpkin Pies were done today!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

26th Annual Quilt Show

This past Saturday, Beth, the Kids, and I went to "A Kaleidoscope of Quilts" presented by the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild of Vermont located at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont.

First off, let me explain that the Guild began in 1979, now has 250 members, and now does some amazing work! Tight seams, small stitch size (for those that actually hand quilted), and great themes. We'll take a closer look in a bit.

Now that praise is outta the way, let me gripe: with artwork of these sizes, WHY, WHY, WHY would you display them in such tight quarters?!? Come on ladies, you need to find a better solution than the Coach Barn. The racks were spaced at most five feet apart and sized just to fit the quilts. Ladies were bumping into each other, you couldn't take in the entire quilt at once, people flow was non-existent, and don't get me started on how hot it was inside. If these were paintings or photographs an art gallery would never consider cramming them so tight. Come on Shelburne Farms, give these works of art the space they deserve.


I spoke with a volunteer coordinator upon entering the show and made sure that photographing the quilts was allowed, and thankfully it was. Upon entering the display room, I found myself one of may with cameras snapping pictures. The spacing was so tight that even with my widest angle lens I couldn't get many of the quilts completely in a frame. So, I had to settle for some closeups... which is fine as it shows some of the very fine work these ladies do.

You can see all my shots
here, but these are not all inclusive by far. There were too many quilts with too many people in front of them to get shots of them all.

"Baltimore Album" by Patricia Egan and Carol Egan is quilt meticulously hand quilted with the straightest lines I've ever seen. Certainly lines were drawn then removed, but even the stitches are parallel. It was really elegant.

"What Made Your Childhood Shine?" by Jane Massenas is the first quilt I've seen that is three dimensional. Jane sewed little tabs with inscribed with things like "love" and "kiss" along with fabrics that gave this quilt texture. Very busy, and very unique. I like it!

"Wool Bees" by Hope Johnson caught my eye due to it's hexagonal shape. Getting closer, it is indeed wool fabrics and just screams "WARM!". Sized smaller, it certainly wouldn't fit my 6+ foot frame.

Lastly, as advertised in their brochure, is the "Ground Zero" quilt. This commemorative quilt depicting over 600 images of people lost during the attacks of September 11th, 2001 was created by Lois Jarvis of Madison, Wisconsin.

Sorry, this quilt isn't as grand as it sounds. Visually unstimulating and creatively drab, the only thing of note about this quilt is the faces printed on the pieces of fabric.

Sure, Lois's heart was in the right place, and sure, piecing the star shows her technical ability, but come on, it looks like she just threw on the gray border! I don't think I'm alone in this opinion either, as when I encountered this quilt, it was all alone without a single admirer.

I encourage you to take a look at the pics I shot and keep in mind that I didn't get the best shots, nor complete coverage of all the works. And if you are in the area, or need a vacation in New England, you should really try to stop by next year and see the show. These quilts were, in my opinion based on many evenings of using quilts and being pulled into many quilt stores, simply stellar examples of this art form. BRAVO LADIES! You all should be proud!

Great Grandma's Flowers

According to my Mom, this quilt was appliqued by my Great Grandma Cooper.  As a child, I remember Mom and Dad had this quilt on their bed during the summer a lot so it is well loved.  I love appliqued flowers on quilts - although I have not done any myself.  Perhaps some day I will get around to it.  I'm not sure if Great Grandma Cooper quilted this quilt - it seems my Grandma and Great Grandma just did the applique and and then had it "sent out" to be hand quilted by someone else in the tiny town of Smithfield, Ohio.  

It's quilts like this that continue to inspire me to create.  As I've stated before I just love the history of quilting and thinking of all these women sitting every night working on their quilts.  That was their entertainment - as well as practicality of staying warm and making their bed coverings.  They also made wonderful gifts (and still do!) 

I know that when I quilt I think, sometimes I watch a movie or TV or a NASCAR race while I am creating - but I still am thinking about things.  I know what I think about, I wonder what these ladies thought about?  Even though it was so many years ago that this quilt was made - I feel a connection to it, as though it's all the love and thoughts and memories of my family that no longer exist.  I feel it my duty to preserve those thoughts, feelings and memories - I just hope I can instill in my children or grandchildren the same love of quilts and family memories so they will take care of my collection!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Champlain Valley Quilters Guild - Quilt Show

This past weekend, much to my delight, was the Champlain Valley Quilters Guild quilt show at Shelburne Farms, in Shelburne, Vermont.  My hubby and I and 2 boys in tow set out to go to the quilt show Saturday morning.  Shelburne Farms is so fascinating.  I had not been there before even though I have driven by it so many times.  It is a working farm that a family donated to be used for educational purposes.  The buildings on this property are huge and it makes you wonder how a family could have had that kind of money way back when.  Anyways, the actual quilt show was being held in the coach barn (bigger than most houses) and was an awesome setting.  This is a very large quilt guild which I may someday have to become a member of.  They had so many quilts and they were so beautiful.  It was crowded with lots of people and tight display areas, but the quilts were all the rage.  I could have spent a very long time in there going from quilt to quilt had I not taken my hubby and kids.  All the kids did was complain and get in people's way.  I learned my lesson!  

There were a couple quilts that really jumped out at me.  My hubby took lots of photos but doesn't have them on the computer yet to show you.  As soon as they are up I will post them and share them with you.

One special quilt on display was a tribute quilt to those who perished 9/11 at Ground Zero.  The quilt is by Lois Jarvis of Madison, Wisconsin.  It was so touching.

There were a few demonstrations, a quilt raffle, silent auction, merchant mall and food.  It could have been even a better experience, had I not taken the kids, but I really loved going.

I must admit I love finding flaws in other people's quilts.  Is that crazy or are there more quilters that do the same thing?  I'm not doing it to be critical of their quilt - I do it because I want to know that everyone has flaws, that I'm not the only one!

I didn't get any quilting or piecing done this past weekend, even after going to a quilt show and being inspired.  It was a very lazy weekend.

For more information on the Champlain Valley Quilters' Guild of Vermont you can go to their website at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Antique Double Wedding Ring Quilt

This is a beautiful, scrappy double wedding ring quilt from my mother's closet (hidden treasure talked about previously) and it was probably made by my mother's grandmother. I really like this quilt with all the vintage fabrics in it. No reproductions here - this is all the real feedsack fabrics. This quilt is square, just like the other hidden treasures I found and done by the same quilter. I had previously asked if anyone knew why they made these quilts square - and still haven't had anyone answer so I guess it will remain a mystery.

I have this particular quilt hanging in my bedroom. I love looking at it. I have only attempted to piece curved pieces and didn't succeed - had to give it to a more experianced quilter. So I totally appricate the work on this quilt because of the fabric that was recycled and cut out of feedsacks, the time and effort into piecing the curved pieces, and the fine hand quilting. I would love to know all the stories behind these quilts and the family members that made them, but unfortunatly I won't get that information since no one who knows anything about these quilts is still alive. I just have this vision of a hot summer day or a cool winter night and my presumably Great-Grandmother making this quilt with the scraps of fabric she had after a long day of working around the house. Sometimes I wonder if I were born in the wrong generation, maybe I should have been born back in those days. I would love to have quilting bees and so forth, but I don't believe many women my age are interested in those types of things these days. What a shame. I guess the best I can do is put my own heart and soul into the quilts that I make and hope that the generations after me can appricate what I have created.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Aunt Mary's Quilt

This is a beautiful quilt that I inherited from my Great Aunt Mary.  I didn't even know that she quilted until just before her passing.  My Grandma had given me a quilt top which she said was pieced by Aunt Mary and I took it and quilted it.  Upon her passing, though, I had the honor of being able to take this quilt which was being stored in a cedar chest, which I was able to have as well.  What an awesome surprise finding this beautiful quilt inside the chest.  The white blocks are embroidered which even adds more to the quilt in my opinion.  I'm not sure when this quilt was made but I would have to guess between 1930 - 1990's.  

I am so lucky to have these beautiful quilts in my possession.  Some day I want to be able to properly display them instead of tucking them away in a cedar chest.  All of these quilts have deep meaning to me and give me a sense of warmth and love from each person that made them.  I know that most quilts back in the early 1900's were made for utilitarian purposes, they didn't have the luxury of turning up the furnace like we do, but the time and effort put into these quilts is incredible.  I guess I can appreciate that because I make quilts.  I know that problems, the frustration, the time, the effort, the thought, the heart that it takes to put a quilt together.

This weekend I have been working on some wall hangings for Christmas.  I love seeing it come together.  I made and arrangement with my mother-in-law Vicki to quilt them for me.  She is a much faster hand quilter than I am and can whip one of these babies out in no time.  I think I am just going to start making an inventory and perhaps next craft show season see if I can sell anything that I make.  My first real leap into the world of making quilted projects to sell.  I just am really nervous about turning something I love into a job.  I would love any advice, comments or hints from other quilters who sell their works.