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I'm glad you stopped by my blog. I am happy to share all the content with you and hope that you find something here that is helpful. However, everything here - text, photos, recipes, and so on - is my personal property and has my copyright on it. You may only copy and use any of it with my written permission. Ahh, but you already knew that, didn't you?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016!

Hello my quilty friends!
Yes, here we are half way through the first month of 2016.  I am just happy to be here.
Well, you are guessing that this is my first finish of the year.  Nope, actually finished it in December, but am just now posting it.  (Note: the background fabric is actually white, as shown below.)
Remember this?:
I have finished two quilts from this pile.  The little flower basket has been hanging around for years. It was time to finish it or pitch it.  So, I finished it.  Who can explain the design process or creativity for that matter?  For years I didn't know what to do with it and then in Dec., I sat down and in 15 minutes decided what to do.  Let me say that this quilt is the exception to the Portfolio Series.  Some background here.  I have been going through my notebooks and trying to get everything documented and tided up once and for all.  This series started in 2007 and there were rules.  All quilts would be about the same size, all would be hand pieced and quilted and appliqued - no paper piecing, fusing of appliques, etc.  All quilts would be made of antique fabrics.  The goal was to have a history of quilt making in America in miniature.  The flower basket center was prior to all this and was from my experimental phase. The hexies are EPP and the fans were partially foundation paper pieced.  So, as they say, every rule has its exception and this quilt is it.  The basket and fans are hand appliqued down, the squares were hand pieced and it is hand quilted.  It is 12" square with a 1/8" finished binding.  I am particularly proud of the fact that I managed to incorporate a feedsack into this quilt.  It is the lavender polka dot fabric in the plain borders. It is extremely difficult to find a feedsack with a small enough design for a miniature quilt.  Oh, yes, in yet another exception, some of the fabrics in the basket and fan are reproduction fabrics, although most are authentic 1930's fabrics.  There was a time when I considered mixing the new and old.  I ditched that idea.  
One more thing - New Year's Resolutions - I have one.  It is to spend more time reading my friends blogs and catching up on what they are doing.  
Till next time.....
Sheila 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays to all my quilting friends!  Gizmo didn't really care for the hat I made for him.  Have you ever seen an unhappier cat face?  Here's hoping all of you have happier faces for this Christmas.
The quilt in the background is an oldie.  It is made from a pattern that was in American Quilting and Patchwork Magazine a long time ago.  It was by Cindy Taylor Oates, I believe, and was for a crib quilt that I reduced by 50%.  It is a large doll quilt size or wall hanging size.  I machine pieced it and hand embroidered and hand quilted it.  I think I inadvertently swapped the red and white pieces on part of it, but I don't really remember now.  It was made before I ever thought about keeping an accurate record of my quilts.  It is cute to get out at Christmas time.  Although it looks off white in the large photo, it is actually a true white.


                          
Vern, Gizmo and I wish you the very best for the holidays and for the coming year.
Till next time....
Sheila


Monday, December 14, 2015

Documenting Your Quilts

My method of documenting my work.
 
While attending the AQSG Seminar this past year, some ladies saw my Finished Quilts Notebook and told me that I should blog about it.  I keep scrapbooking notebooks for both my design ideas and my finished quilts.  When some of your quilts finish at about 7.5" square, you are not going to be able to fit much of a label on them.  I use the same label for all my quilts:

 
 
This is a piece of vintage muslin that is stamped. I will add my name and the year the quilt is finished and then needle turn applique it onto the back of my quilt.  It is kept in my Finished Quilt Notebook.
This notebook contains plastic sleeve protectors with forms in it.  For a copy of this form, click on the upper right corner under Form #2 and you may print it out.  If it is something you think you might really like, right click and save it. 
 
Above is an example of what I keep in my sleeves.  The form shown is an older version, the one you are getting is a little prettier.  The sleeves contain a photo of the finished quilt and the filled out form.  It may also contain photos of whatever inspired it and samples of the fabrics.  Sometimes the pattern is put in there.  I don't have any hard and fast rules for this, other than the photo and the form.  Sometimes I have a sample block or sometimes fabrics that got changed for whatever reason. 

 

In my Quilts Designs and Ideas Notebook, I have a different form and some colored pencils.  (You never know when inspiration will hit!) I keep some graph paper notecards with common shape cut outs so that I can audition fabric quickly.  For instance I can lay a 1/2" triangle cut out over a piece of fabric and see if that fabric will work. This is just s quick way to determine if I am on the right track or if it is back to the drawing board.  The form is primarily to make some organized notes on my history quilt books and to make  notes of quilts I liked, what page they were on, and what I specifically liked about them.  Click on Form #1 in the upper right hand corner and you can have a copy of it.  This notebook also has clear plastic sheet protectors so that I can keep things handy.  Although it contains a color wheel (because Gerald Roy once told me I should have one) it seldom gets used.  Since my goal is to make miniatures that look like antique quilts, I just go with what worked for quilters in the years before us. There are reasons we like quilts, even if we don't always know why. A lot of times it is simply the color combo that appeals to us.

 

This notebook also may contain sketches, EQ drawings, magazine clippings, you name it.  Whatever will fit and whatever inspires.
Well, that's about it for now.  I hope this will help you keep your thoughts and quilts organized.
Till next time...........
Sheila

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Answers and WIPS

 
Hi to everyone out there in quilt land. To everyone that stops by and leaves a comment, I would like to say thank you.  Sometimes you feel like you are just sending stuff out into space and nobody reads it. On to questions:  Jill asked me what I was working on, since the hexagon projects are on hold.  Well, the above photo shows some projects.  I did a little cleaning and found some things that have been hanging around forever.  The Butterfly I am just now layering for quilting.  The little star quilt is one I started and didn't like, although now I think it might be o.k. and may finish it. The Streak of Lightening is awaiting inspiration for a border.  Sometimes I think borders are the hardest part. The flower basket is a real oldie. It  has hexagons that were English Paper Pieced and the corner fans were partially foundation paper pieced.  Whew - that was in my very early miniature days!  I may or may not do something with it. 
Judy D. stopped by and asked what the edging on the little fan quilt was.  It is just a scalloped edge.
But, funny you should mention rick rack, as I have been kicking that idea around for awhile as an edging.
Well, that's it for now.  I am still recovering from a vicious stomach flu and trying to get back into the swing of things.
Till next time........
Sheila

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The New England Quilt Museum

A miniature quilt I made some time ago.
 I made it for this sweet little antique folding bed.
 It is sitting on an antique doll quilt in my collection.

A close up of the bear I made from a Gail Wilson pattern.
My hand is actually resting on the bed, so that you
can get a sense of scale to the bed and quilt.





 
At the AQSG Seminar this past Sept., I met Pamela Weeks.  She is the curator for the New England Quilt Museum.  She asked me if I would let her show some of my miniatures for an exhibit that is going on now. I let her pick four of my quilts.  She chose these:


 
I sewed them onto a black drape and shipped them off to her. (That's scary business, as I never usually let any of them out of my sight!)  But Pam was such a nice lady and I enjoyed talking to her so much, I let her borrow them. The exhibit is called Small Wonders and is on display now.  I am honored to be part of it. (You can also visit the Museum's blog.)
The photos at the beginning of this post have nothing to do with this exhibit.  Seeing the cute little doll beds on line at the museum, made me dig this little guy out and take a pic. Miniature quilts are really at their best when they are on a little bed, I think.
Well, that's if for today.
Till next time..............
Sheila
 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Revisting Hexagons - Part Three

My newest "old" quilt.
 
Just found this treasure at a flea market this past weekend.  Couldn't resist it.  I love 1930's quilts and although this one has been used, it is still in really good condition.  The workmanship is excellent.
Plus, if fits right in with my Hexagon series.
O.k., you want to make one of these lovelies and you want to English Paper Piece it.  Where to start?
Well, let's start with the papers.  Paper Pieces is famous for their paper shapes.  They are pre-cut, accurate and ready to use.  Their website has a lot of info on it. I am not going to repeat all the info they offer here, so go there and read what they have to say about it all. 
There are other ways to get accurate paper pieces.  One is to buy a punch like one of these:
 
The white punch is fairly new and made by Fiskars.  You can find it at places like Jo Ann and Michael's.  The other punch is one I found at a flea market a long time ago.  The price is still on it.  Looks like it was $3.00.  You can punch your own papers and not have to worry about running out in the middle of a project.
Another way to get your papers is with a Sizzix machine.  Here is the one I have.
This one is an electric model, but they make hand crank ones as well.
You can visit the Sizzix website to see what they have to offer and how the machine works.  They are steel rule die cutting machines.  That means that you can not only cut paper, but fabric as well.  They are great machines. I have had various versions of them for years.  This past summer Hobby Lobby stores around here put their Fabi dies on clearance.  These dies are the same as Sizzix dies, but they put the new name on them and targeted the quilting market.  Guess it didn't work so well at H.L., as the were on clearance.  I bought these hexagon dies:
Don't know how well these show up.  They are on a box that has red handles.  The box has nothing to do with the dies.
Here are the sizes they cut:
 
The sizes of the sides are: 1/2", 3/4", 1" and 1 1/4".  This means that you can cut the paper with the 1/2" one and the fabric with the 3/4" one and so on.  Very handy. The dies are all the same outer dimensions, so the amount of pieces you get varies with the size.  You get 16 pieces with the 1/2" die, but since you can cut 8 layers at a time, one pass through the machine will give you 128 pieces.  Not bad.
 
I use inexpensive index cards that the Dollar Tree sells or magazine inserts for the paper pieces.

 
Above is a photo of the back of a feedsack project.  It is my summer project - something easy to do when we are RVing.  You can see both the index cards and the magazine inserts. I will put the project up for the winter. 
O.k., that about says it for obtaining your paper pieces. 
One of the reasons that I have changed my mind about EPP is the seam allowance problem I have with this project:
 
I have boxes and boxes of these hexies, stamped, cut out and organized.  The problem is that the piece is only 1/2" on the side and the standard 1/4" seam allowance is just too big.  I can either continue hand sewing them, and then trimming the seam allowance after fighting to get them ironed in the right direction - ugh - or switch to EPP where the seam allowance is at least split in two directions (so that it will be possible to quilt through them) and tamed somewhat.  Which brings me to a couple of points:
1. Some people just start with a scrap of fabric (not a hex shape) and baste the fabric down to the paper.  I am not a proponent of this.  I like a neat seam allowance.
2. I don't sew the fabric to the paper.  I just take a backstitch at every corner and  go around the piece.  That way the basting can remain in the hex and keep the seam allowance nice and flat.  Also, there is no need to remove the basting to get the paper out - it just slips right out.  I leave the papers in until the hex is completely sewn in to other pieces on all sides and then remove it. I just whip stitch all the hexes together.  There are different methods for this, but a whip stitch is the fastest way for me.
3. I like the fact that I can spray starch the pieces with the paper in and keep everything nice and flat.
Well, that's about it for this series. If you have any questions, let me know.
I leave you with this pic of an antique charm quilt I have.  The hexes are about 2" on a side.
 
Till next time...
Sheila 

 
 
 
 


 
 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hexagons Revisited Part Two


Before we begin, yet another photo of Gizmo!
So, after the first post you have decided you want to try hand piecing, but you have no interest in learning to print on fabric with your home printer.  There are other ways to get the pieces marked.
As previously stated, I am a proponent of marking both the cutting and the seam lines when hand piecing.   Marking both lines requires a window style template.  You can make your own out of various materials.  During the Great Depression, ladies used cardboard saved from grocery item boxes.  There was a time when bacon came on a piece of plastic that worked great for templates and didn't wear down on the edges like cardboard. Now, when I want a template, I print them from a computer quilt program onto cardstock.  Before cutting, I glue the cardstock to fine sandpaper to keep it from slipping when marking on fabric and then cut it out. I have used this method for many of my miniatures.  I usually make several of the same template and throw them away as they wear.  This is an accurate method, as long as you are able to be precise when cutting. 
Print out, glue to sandpaper and then cut out window style for templates.

Another method is to order a window style metal template with non-slip backing from Ardco Templates.  These templates are practically indestructible. Ardco offers a huge selection of templates.  Just be sure to order window style, so that you can mark the cutting and sewing lines.

Below  is a photo of an old  (c. 1979)  Quilter's Template that I found at a flea market.  I bought it for this post.  Here you can see that one plastic template would allow you to mark many sizes of hexagons.  Your pencil slips into grooves in the plastic.  It is not really my cup of tea, but thought it was worth a mention, as you might find one online, if you really wanted it.  I am not sure how accurate it would be. 
But the method that makes the most sense, time-wise, to me is to use a rubber stamp with a stamp pad and simply stamp the hexies out on the back of your fabric. Cindy Blackberg has a nice website that shows all the stamps she makes and gives a good explanation of how to use them.  Visit her blog as well. (The bottle shown below is a re-inker for the stamp pad.  That way you don't have to buy a new stamp pad - you can just add more ink to it.) Her website and blog will explain this method further for you.
 
Here is a small quilt top that I hand pieced using one of her patterns and stamp sets:
Someday I may actually quilt it!  Or maybe not.  



 
 It was fun, fast and accurate to use her stamps.  Plus, unlike computer printing, where you need an entire 8.5" x 11" piece of fabric, her stamps lend themselves to using small pieces of fabrics.  Charm squares or scraps would be fine, depending on the size of the stamps you are using. So, if you love scrappy quilts and want to hand piece, stamping might be the answer for you.
 
Note:  I don't sell any of these products nor am I connected to them in any way.  Just letting you know what is out there.
Well, that about covers it for marking hexagons for hand piecing.  In the last part, I'll talk about EPP and why I have changed my mind about doing it.
Till next time......
Sheila

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hexagons - Revisited Part One

More about these quilts later.
It has come to my attention that the quilting community doesn't measure hexagons the same way engineering people do. Time to clear up some confusion. When I posted about hexagons some time ago, I measured them this way:
(Note: All dimensions refer to the finished size.)
 
That is the way my drafting and design background taught me to think. I referred to the first measurement as point to point and the second one as across the flats. 
The quilting world views things a bit differently.  If you would order a 1" Hexagon stamp, template or die cut, you would probably get this:
The 1" measurement would refer to the length of each side.  The hexagons are the same in all the pictures above.  So you can see that although you are thinking a 1" hexagon is small, it really isn't, as it is actually 2" from point to point.  Whew.  Hope that clears it up, once and for all.  Just be sure to pay attention to the way the manufacturer of any hexagon product measures, and you will get what you expected to get.

 
There are many different methods of making a hexagon quilt.  I used to think that English Paper Piecing was a waste of time.  Yes, some of you out there are probably yelling at me about now.  My way of thinking was that basting all the way around each piece and then sewing them together was akin to making two quilts.  It was like sewing everything twice.  Also, after trying EPP for miniatures, I found it was much easier for me personally to just mark the sewing line and the cutting line, cut them out and then sew them together.  That is how I have made both the miniatures shown in the opening photo.  I did, however, EPP the doll quilt in the opening photo. It is made up of elongated hexagons.
The last quilt in the opening photo is an antique doll quilt and it is my guess that it was hand pieced and not paper pieced.
It is my belief that quilters should try every method available.  You never know what will work for you until you try it.  For the first method, let's just talk about plain old hand piecing.  If you follow my blog, you know that all my miniatures are hand pieced, hand needle turn appliqued and hand quilted.  For hand piecing, I am a proponent of marking both the cutting and the sewing lines.  Quilters that have gone before us, used to just mark the sewing line of hexagons and then eye-ball the seam allowance when they cut them out.  That doesn't appeal to me, although those quilters turned out lovely quilts in many cases.  My eye-balling technique is not that accurate.  So, how do you mark both the lines without taking forever to do it? 
 
 
One way is to use your computer. You can not do anything as accurately as a computer can.  I drew a sheet of hexagons in my computer.  They were drawn with the cutting line and the sewing lines depicted.

It was like the above drawing, except it was an 8.5" x 11 sheet.  Then I ironed freezer paper onto the right side of my fabric and printed out sheets of hexagons onto the wrong side of the fabric, using  my home ink jet printer.  Then I cut them out and sewed them together. Simple as that.  Inklingo is a company that specializes in this sort of thing.  I have never used any of their products, as they weren't around when the above quilt was made. (Or if they were, I didn't know it.)  I always just printed out my own stuff.   What the ink will do to the fabrics in 100 years is unknown. This quilt was washed several times in the washing machine (big gasp out there) until the water was clear. Just for the record, I would never advise anyone else to wash their quilt in the machine, but I suspect that I am not the only one who has done it in the past. Despite the ink and the washing, this quilt will undoubtedly last as long as I will. Anyway, if this is something you think you are interested in, visit Inklingo and spend some time there.  They have some freebies and lots of information for printing on fabric.  Also, you can print onto freezer paper and go that route, if you chose. (This is not a method I have used, but some quilters like it.)  Be sure and download their free idea booklet for lots of  design info.
Well, that's about it for part one of Hexagons - Revisited.  More methods to come in future posts.  Let me know if you have questions.
Till next time............
Sheila  

 
 
 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Anatomy of a Frame Quilt

The first part of this has been posted before.  Just bear with me and you will see the finished quilt.
Thought you might want to see a little of the process. Here we go:

Above is a photo of a piece of antique toile that I have. (Please ignore all the wrinkles, if you can!) It is a monochromatic pictorial cotton.  It was made at the Oberkampf  Factory in France in 1806, and
was designed by Jean-Baptist Huet.  In those days if you were rich and lived nearby in Versailles, you ordered all your toile from this factory.  The detail on this piece is incredible and the more you look, the more you see.  (You can see more of Huet's work on line at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)  These types of designs were printed in long panels and were used for bed curtains, window curtains, and other home (palace) decorating.  I have two pieces that someone had made into pillow covers.  My husband spotted them at an antique show in Nashville, TN.  Anyway, I am getting ready to cut into them to make a miniature and wanted you to see them first.  I am going to try to use only one panel and save the other one intact.  We will see how that goes.
You have to start somewhere, and here is the beginning of my Miniature Medallion Quilt:
My first border:
I chose to do an applique scallop for the first border.  The center toile piece was not the same height and width and squaring it up will make future borders easier and symmetrical.  The cardstock pattern is on the left, with one side cut off to use as a marking pattern.  I use a Pigma Micron no. 5 Pen for marking the turn line.  All the applique I do is needle turn. Also, the complete pattern is marked on the background fabric with a pencil, although you may not be able to see it.  The fabric diamond is from the late 1700's or early 1800's.  It is very old and I am lucky to have it.

There are still basting threads in all the motifs, so they may look a bit odd.  I thought the center needed more, plus I wanted to feature more of the toile.  It is not easy to incorporate large scale prints or pictorial motifs into a miniature.  It is a big challenge for a small quilt. The floral fabric is a stripe cut from a diamond that was used in the same quilt as the tan diamond that was used in the first border. (Note: this border actually disintegrated while I was quilting it.  The center was already quilted at that time, so I had to pick the quilting out of the border, remove the floral border, and applique another border in its place.  The fabric is plain and was disappointing after the tiny floral border, but it is all I had to use. People have asked me why I would try and use fragile fabrics.  There are a couple of reasons - 1. I don't have that much early 1800's fabrics laying around and 2. Sometimes you want the quilt to look not only antique, but used.)
 
Here it is with the third border added.  I introduced a sort of rust colored fabric that is consistent with the age of the others.  I used 3/8" squares of this fabric and put them on point. They need to be straightened up a bit, I see.

The next border is appliqued tear drops.  The one after that is hourglass blocks.  The next one is pieced diamonds that give a zig-zag look. This is followed by a larger hourglass border. What appears to be the last border is actually three: 1)a narrow plain border 2) squares on point and 3) another narrow border.  It gives the appearance of one large border. Whew.

O.k., let's just skip to the finished product.  Here is the finished quilt.  It is one of the hardest I have ever done. The backing is a late 1700's plain fabric that was saved from the backing on a disintegrating quilt. It is the same as the center background. Although I prefer a separate binding, this is finished with a knife edge (which is keeping with the time frame) and is due to the fact that I didn't have any appropriate fabric with which to bind it. It is 19.25" square.
It has been done for quite some time, but to tell the truth, I was so sick of it, I didn't post it!  I learned a lot during the making of this quilt.  I would like to go back and do a better job, but it is done.  It is what it is.
Till next time...
Sheila


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jill's Quilt for the 1825 Challenge

 
Here is a photo of Jill and her challenge quilt.  She was kind enough to email it to me. (People have requested pics.)  I have to say that both Jill and her quilt are prettier in person.  I love this quilt.  She used the fabrics to their best advantage, in my opinion. The small inner border next to the flying geese gives a real sense of movement to the quilt when you see it in person.  She can be proud of this piece.
Well, this is short and sweet.  We are getting ready to take another trip with our camper and today is pack the camper day.
Till next time......
Sheila