all the colors

June 30, 2008

Quilt Stuff

Jo and I went on a little shopping spree market research trip over the week-end to the Wasatch Front Shop Hop, a tour of 15 quilt shops in Utah from Logan to Springville. We really did critique the shops as best we could. A couple of them seemed to be mired in the past; one was even using scissors instead of a rotary cutter on the fabric and a calculator to add up purchases! Our favorite shops were ones in which the staff was friendly, the fabric was current, and the display quilts were inspiring.   Each shop had games, prizes and treats carrying out the theme of the event, which was “Once Upon A Time,” with each shop assigned a certain classic child’s fairytale.

I did pick up just a few items.

No, this is not what we were driving, but we did see it as we were passing the Great Salt Lake on our way to Tooele. The license plate identified it as a ’34 Ford.

Fairytales and antiques naturally remind me of two old baby quilts I have.

I got this baby bear quilt for a pittance once in an antique store here in town. The bears are done up in flannel for texture, and it’s all hand appliqued and quilted. I’d say it’s circa 1940.

Awe, the “Sheldon” quilt, with the charming quintessentially 30’s fabric.

I guess baby Sheldon would be about 75 years old now. Too bad for him, I have his quilt.

I adore the redwork in this quilt.

I think each of these quilts is worth less than $200, so not a whole lot of monetary value in them.  I feel sentimental about them anyway, even though I didn’t know either baby and I didn’t make either quilt.  Lots of work and craftsmanship went into each one, and I honor that.


February 5, 2008

Appliqué Tutorial

Filed under: applique,quilting,sewing,tutorials — Kathy @ 4:22 pm
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Recently Jo asked me to teach her how to hand appliqué so she could make a pillow, so while we were at it we decided to snap some pics for a tutorial. I’ve tried a lot of different methods of hand appliqué, and this is my favorite because I like the precise, sharp look it gives me. If you’re not into handwork, you can use this exact preparation method for machine appliqué too.

Supplies for hand appliqué: freezer paper, paper cup, heavy spray starch, pressing cloth, iron, Q-tips, applique needles, Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It, scissors for paper, Sharpie ultra fine marker, scissors for fabric, appliqué fabric, foundation fabric, thread

Draw or trace you appliqué pattern onto the dull side of a sheet of freezer paper.  If your design is not symmetrical you’ll need draw it on reversed.  You can buy flat 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheets at quilt shops.

Layer your drawn pattern shiny side down over a second sheet of freezer paper, also shiny side down.

Press the two sheets together, creating a 2 layer sheet. Peel it up from the ironing board.

Cut out your pattern piece exactly on the line. Be precise because the shape you cut will be the exact shape you end up with in fabric.

Press the freezer paper pattern shiny side down to the wrong side of your applique fabric.

Cut out the fabric around the pattern leaving about a 3/16 inch seam allowance.

Clip into the inner point, right to the paper.

Spread your pressing cloth out to work on. It will protect your ironing board from getting all starchy and scorched. Spray some heavy starch into a paper cup, or the lid of the starch can. Or mix up you own starch from concentrate if you prefer. With a Q-tip, paint the seam allowance of the appliqué fabric until it is saturated, all the way around the piece.

Now you are ready fold and press the seam allowance. Start with any points and corners. Fold the edge up straight against the point. This photo is kind of blurry, but I think you can see the angle that I folded the bottom point up against the pattern piece. Press with a dry iron.

Now fold the sides up over the point, forming a miter. Press.

Continue folding the starched seam allowance up against the pattern, smoothing out any wrinkles and bumps to make the front edge look the way you want it to, and pressing until dry.

When your piece is all pressed, check it from the front to make sure the edge looks right. Re-wet and press again any part that doesn’t.

When you have the edge looking the way you want it to, gently peel the freezer paper pattern away from the fabric.

The starched seam allowance should stay exactly where you have pressed it.

Position your pattern on the foundation fabric to make sure it will looks the way you want it to.

With Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It, make a small bead of glue on the wrong side of the appliqué piece around the seam allowance. Stay slightly away from the very edge of the piece.

Position the piece where you want it on your foundation fabric and gently press it on. Now you are ready to start stitching. You can do this by hand or machine, but here I’ll show how to do it by hand.

Use thread that matches the appliqué piece, not the foundation fabric. I’m using red thread for visibility purposes in this tutorial. Thread the needle, knot the thread, and starting from the back, sticking the needle up just through the edge of the appliqué piece. Start on a straight part of the edge, not a point, if possible. Pull the thread all the way up.

Go back down into just the foundation fabric only, very near where you first came up.

Without pulling the thread all the way up, guide the needle up a short distance away and up into the edge of the appliqué piece.

Pull the thread all the way up and repeat the stitch all the way around the piece.

At an inner point like at the top of this heart, take a stitch right on the point.

Take two more stitches, one each just a hair on either side of the first stitch in the V. Three stitches should be enough at that spot. Then continue on in the normal manner.

When you get to the end of you stitching, knot the thread on the back in the foundation fabric underneath the appliqué piece without coming through to the top. Then admire your finished product!

One last photo to show you how choosing matching thread, in this case white, can make your stitches invisible.

The beauty of this method is that there is no messing with the seam allowance as you stitch along because you made it look right at the pressing stage. Another advantage is that there are no pins to get in the way as you sew. It is also highly portable once it is glue basted on, and you can take it with you to places where you might have a few minutes to stitch, only needing to pack your needle, thread, and scissors along with it.

January 21, 2008

Project Patience

Filed under: house,quilting — Kathy @ 6:25 pm
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The building project is in a deep freeze, but the audio installers came anyway and had a walk-through with me to make sure everything they put in is going in the right place. Everything takes so long that I can’t hardley imagine what it would be like to actually live in the house–right now it just seems like an ongoing project.

11 am in the morning, this is why there are five fireplaces in the house!

The idea of a long winded project inspired me to get out this quilt top. To say I’m taking my time with it is an understatement!

I’m embarrassed to say how long ago I started this quilt. It was before I had a stash, before I knew you should only buy your fabric from your local quilt shop, and it was also before I understood the world of longarm quilting like I do now. It was the first big quilt I ever pieced and it is intended for my son Andy, who is now 21 but I think he was maybe 8 years old when I started it. You do the math, I’m not going to!

I got the directions from a book called Quick & Easy Quiltmaking. One of the authors, Sara Nephew, developed a method of piecing the tumbling blocks pattern without any set in seams. She is the inventer of the clearview triangle and still one of my favorite quiltmakers. I think I did a good job with the light, medium and dark values, and I still like this quilt, even though it’s been so long since I put it together (and even though the borders look like they are going to be wavy.) I even started marking it for hand quilting at one time, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now.


Here’s a closer shot.There are no flowered fabrics in this quilt because that’s what Andy wanted, but there ARE leaves. I have to laugh a little at some of the cheap fabrics, but hey, they work, right? I guess I should find someone to quilt it for me. Otherwise Andy might never get this quilt.

November 13, 2007

Lilli’s Little Quilt, Part 2

Filed under: antique quilts,quilting — Kathy @ 4:32 pm
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Lilli’s doll quilt measures 23 1/4 inches by 14 1/2 inches

I purchased the little quilt at auction in the summer of 2005 in a neighboring town.  In the spring of 2006 I hadn’t thought seriously about Drusilla Hillman, or Lilli, and her little quilt for months because I was in some serious physical pain and was on some strong pain killers that made me a little fuzzy in the head. My sister had invited me to go to a family history class at the local center for such. I could barely walk, couldn’t think clearly enough to put a coherent sentence together, and had no plans to start a family history project of my own just then. I probably agreed to go just to get out of the house and spend some time with my sis.

She picked me up and we walked into the class and I sat down in front of one of the computers used for research. I was not thinking about Lilli and the little quilt. I was not thinking about much of anything. I wiggled the mouse to erase the screen saver image, but did not type anything on the keyboard, and was immediately rendered speechless by what appeared on that moniter! It was the name which the last user had typed in, and it said, “Drusilla Hillman Ames” and gave her address and telephone number, which were right here in my own town! I was so stunned I almost fell out of my chair. I wish now I had taken a picture of it. I knew that this person had to be related to MY Drusilla, but how? It also seemed like the little quilt was on some kind of mission, whatever that might be. And needless to say, I didn’t get anything else out of that class.

To keep things straight now, I’m going to call my Drusilla Hillman “Lilli” from here on out in the story, because that is what she was known as. I’m going to call this new Drusilla Hillman Ames by her given name, Drusilla.

I mentioned the story of the crazy coincidence of the family history class to my mother and father, and my father said he knew who Drusilla Ames was, and that she was the mother of a lady that I KNEW personally, named Thedora. Thedora was the school secretary when I was in high school, and everyone knows her. This is a very small town, after all. I didn’t call Thedora right away, because I took some time out for major back surgery just a few days after the family history class, but it was only about 4 months until I was feeling better and I saw Thedora in town. I explained to her about the antique doll quilt and asked her about her Drusilla and my Lilli. She said she did not know of Lilli, and had never heard about an ancestor who had died young, and she didn’t think she was connected. I felt so disappointed!

A few days later, to my delight, Thedora called me to say she had found some information for me. She actually brought a folder over to me and amazingly, in it was a copy of a handwritten family group sheet for Lilli’s family, a copy of an old photograph of Lilli and her siblings in which she appears to be about 11 years old, and a 2 page history of Lilli’s mother and father! It was a goldmine of information!

In this written history, I learned that Lilli died of typhoid and that she was buried in the Oxford Cemetery. Then Thedora told me a story that her mother, who is in her 90’s, had told her and is an oral story passed down but not written out: Lilli fell ill and was dead within a week. Her family was heartbroken and blamed the doctor somehow for her death. Lilli’s father, Ira King Hillman, (the “D” on the note on the quilt was a mistake. It should have been an “I.”) was a small man, but he took his rifle and went on horseback so as to appear intimidating, to pay a visit to the doctor. He told the doctor, “This town is not big enough for both of us, and I’m not going anywhere.” The doctor, being duly warned, reportedly left town shortly thereafter, never to return!

Drusilla, at about age 11, and her siblings

The connection between Drusilla Hillman Ames and Lilli is this: Lilli’s oldest brother Ira, standing behind her in the picture, grew up and named his first daughter after his late sister. That daughter is now in her 90’s and is Thedora’s mother, Drusilla Hillman Ames. Lilli’s little sister Pearl, the baby in the picture, grew up and had a daughter who eventually inherited the little quilt and was the lady who’s estate was being sold at the auction I went to.

Lilli was starting to feel not quite so far removed from me!

Close up of Lilli, her oldest brother Ira, and her baby sister Pearl

In my next post, my visit with Drusilla Hillman Ames and my search for Lilli’s grave.

November 12, 2007

Lilli’s Little Quilt, Part 1

Filed under: antique quilts,quilting — Kathy @ 11:56 am
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I found this little quilt at an estate auction in the summer of 2005. It had been wadded up in the bottom of a box of sewing scraps for who knows how long. Amazingly enough, there was a note pinned to the back of the quilt with a safety pin, which read:

“Great Aunt Lilli Doll quilt, 75 years old in 1960, owner & maker Drusilla Hillman, daughter of D.K. Hillman & Drusilla Hendrich”

I got quite excited because I realized the note dated the quilt to around 1885, and other boxes of sewing scraps at the auction were going for $5. I waited all day almost to the very end of the auction for the box to come up. I was the only one nervously watching that box. As the auctioneer looked through the contents, he saw the little quilt in the bottom and pulled it out and held it up for everyone to see. Then he saw the note on the back, and read it as best he could, but the part about the age of the quilt he could read just fine. My heart sank because I knew then that I was not getting the box for $5, but I decided I was still going to win that box. Several people were bidding against me, and in the end I paid $75, but I got it! Still, I didn’t feel like I had paid too much for the little quilt.

After a little research on the internet (I am so glad that Google corrects spelling errors. I thought the note said “Dausilla.”) I had located records that indicated that Drusilla Hillman was born June 20, 1875 and died March 27, 1892, at the age of 17! I realized that “Lilli” was indeed Drusilla, and she had made the little quilt around the age of 10, but had then only lived a few more years to the age of 17! I felt sad for Drusilla and wondered who she was and what had caused her death. I thought about Drusilla Hillman a lot and wondered about her short life so long ago. I realized that the little doll quilt had been saved as a memento of her, and that it spoke of the love her family had for this child.

At this point in my research on Drusilla and the little quilt, I began to have health problems and put it aside until April of 2006, when it bullied its way back into my consciousness. Come back tomorrow to see a picture of Lilli herself, and learn the rest of her story and the journey of her amazing little quilt!

November 7, 2007

With guacamole on top

Filed under: food,quilting — Kathy @ 11:35 am

This is a top I started in a class to learn Jeana Kimball’s method of appliqué. The Whimsicals pattern is pictured all in browns and muddy colors but that’s a palette I’m not crazy about so I made mine pink. It’s all ready to quilt and I would really like to hand quilt this one, probably because I’m too embarrassed to send it out to a professional!

For dinner tonight we had one of our favorite simple meals, tacos. Cook it up in 30 minutes and everyone has a customized dish. I like everything on mine, but the picky eater in the family takes meat, cheese and one single shred of lettuce.

November 5, 2007

P’s and Q’s

Filed under: quilting — Kathy @ 11:06 am

I make quilts. I’m especially good at starting them. I’ve finished a few and I have plans for thousands more. I usually have several going at once, in different stages. I have a small collection of antique and vintage quilts. I love quilting books and quilting tools. I love fabric and thread. Oh, and I love quilt shops. And quilt shows. And other quilters. I also belong to three different quilt guilds. My new house will have a large quilting studio right next to the kitchen and the laundry room. I don’t scrapbook, knit, or make jewelry. I make quilts.

My main machine.



The library.

A crib quilt that I pieced and machine quilted.


Paper pieced star block.


Tops waiting to be quilted.

Hopefully blogging will motivate me to get these tops quilted one way or another. I do have quite a few other irons in the fire right now though, so I’m making no promises. I’ve never sent a top out to be quilted by someone else. They’re my babies and I’m a little too posessive to do that right now. I really should get over that, but in the mean time patience is the key word here.

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