A place for me to journal and post pictures about my quilting adventures.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Design Wall Monday 7-30-2012 Beachy in progress

Last week my version of Karen Stone’s Beachy re-emerged from the UFO pile. It was started with 2 other quilty friends – we were all making one, in 2004. It was on the design wall until 2005, but then we started building this house, moving into this house, getting married, life in general. It’s now making a comeback

I decided to make it larger than the pattern. All the blocks were finished, with some of the sashing as well. I think I will make additional sashing to make the first border. It is supposed to have a row of 1” squares for the inner border, but I think it will be easier to make the sashings and 4-patch cornerstones. There’s one more pieced border – cut wavey, but it will be straight until after I quilt it.

Thanks to Judy L for hosting DWM.

Happy Quilting,


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Design Wall Monday 7/23/12

The string blocks are finished to flimsy (top) stage. The inner border of yellow print is an eBay find, followed by the same aqua solid that forms part of the blocks. I cut it 5" wide, but I don't know if I will leave it that wide. That much solid leaves a lot of room for quilting, and that isn't my strong suit.

I pulled a practice top, an apple core top of 30's fabrics (originals) that I'm going to load on Black Bart. I think I will practice doing various freehand fills, and see if DH can help me adjust the machine so the wheels move easier. Someone on the Nolting group described a problem like I have, so we will see if the same fix will work.


Happy Quilting,


Monday, July 16, 2012

Design wall Monday 7/16/12

I’ve made a total of 96 string blocks. There are no scraps left. I’m now into the stage of joining them into 4 patches, then 16 patches. I have these 4 of 6 total finished. It will have a small yellow 30’s fabric border then more of the aqua to finish it off.

The previous post has more information about this UFO of my grandmother’s.

Hopefully I will finish piecing this week.

Happy Quilting,


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Story of Grandma Dunn’s String Quilt

My mother’s mother was a quilter. Most of her quilts were utility quilts, made to be used. She made a lot of quilts! There were about 50 grandkids, and she made us all quilts. She had a total of 13 children, 10 that lived to adulthood. She lived on a farm, had a treadle sewing machine, and must have made a lot of clothes as well as quilts.
Grandma died in 1968. My mother lived in California then, but flew back to Missouri and helped with the disbursement of Grandma’s things. One thing she did was clean up Grandma’s sewing area. I don’t know how she managed to pack everything up, but I’ve been amazed at all she had.
In 1998 my mother decided to share Grandma’s blocks with me. She had asked me to make her a top out of some earlier, but I didn’t have any idea how to work with the odd stuff then. I’ve gained some experience, read some books on finishing antique blocks, and have periodically worked on some of Grandma’s UFOs.
blocks 2One quilt top that was in poor condition was one made of string blocks. I didn’t take a picture of it before I started taking it apart, but, believe me, it was in bad shape. The blocks had been sewn on paper, most by hand, and when someone washed it, they fell apart. Many of the blocks were made with little, tiny pieces of fabric in the points, and with all the seams coming together, were a mess. Grandma hade evidently tried to set in the blue squares with the treadle machine by sewing around all four sides, turning the blocks at the corners. In 2007, I started ripping it apart, at first just removing the blue setting squares, and trying to preserve the string blocks.
IMGP1361As I unsewed the corners, little bits of newspaper were still present. In this picture of some of them, you see dates of 1924-5, and also a reference to Japan, although it doesn’t have a date on that one. I think this shows that it was a long term project, from early 1920’s (or before) to World War II years.


After the top was apart, I realized that the string blocks were in bad shape. There was a lot of staining, some fabrics had shattered, and the blocks just needed to come apart. I did save some of them as they were, but most were dissected into their parts. As I took these apart, I noticed the different stitching on them.


Some were sewn with small running stitches, some with “toe catchers”. I think that many of the blocks were made by my aunts, and perhaps uncles, as something to keep them busy, such as when they were sick, or inside in the winter. There were also plenty sewn on the machine. It must have been hard to manage the tension well on a treadle machine, but it made them easier to take apart when the bobbin thread ran flat across the fabric .

I individually washed pieces, grouped by color,and soaked them in vintage quilt soak. If I couldn’t get a fabric to stop running (color), it was discarded. There was a lot of white fabric in the blocks, but it was obviously used, damaged fabric, and most was discarded, although I did manage to salvage some of the whites that were evidently sugar or flour sacks. Some still had writing on them.

Then the process of ironing all those itty bitty pieces started. I did them in stages, but there were still a lot of them. Even though they seemed like a lot, I knew there wasn’t enough to remake the quilt at about the same size. I purchased some unfinished blocks from the same era from eBay, and repeated
IMGP1350the process, unsewing, soaking, drying, and ironing.

By this time, I was tired of the project.  I carefully placed all the small fabrics in a plastic box with some other vintage fabrics I had reclaimed, and put them all away for a few years.

Happy Quilting,

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Miscounting, UGH!

IMG_1366Don’t you just hate it when you miscount blocks?? The night before last, I finished what I thought was 80+ string blocks. I put them in stacks like in this picture. I went to the computer, opened EQ7, and tried out different designs using up to 80 blocks. I had some small pieces of fabric left, but not much.

Yesterday evening when I started sewing again, I decided to recount those stacks, making sure I only needed a few more blocks for my design. I only counted 71. How could I have miscounted that much? I checked the other stacks, looked around on the table, on the cutting table, and then decided to just start making more.

I had enough foundations cut to make another 9 blocks, to bring it up to the 80 I needed, so I started in. I finished up the cut foundations, doing a lot of joining of small crumbs to make up the blocks. I added a few pieces of fabric from another 20-30’s UFO, but the last block I made had 27 pieces.These are the last 4 I made. You can see how much piecing was needed to make enough fabric for these blocks.




I counted, I had 80, then I looked up and this is what I saw! Now I have 91 blocks to play with. When I was taking down the blocks to count them the first time, I hadn’t moved the table enough to reach these last blocks, but had counted them. Obviously I missed counting them the second time through the stacks.

Here’s hoping your math is better than mine, or at least your eyes look up instead of just on the sewing tables.

Happy Quilting,


Monday, July 2, 2012

Design wall Monday 7/2/2012

The last few days I have been working on taking the scraps from the pile and making them into the string block parts on the right.This fabric is from a quilt top I disassembled that was in my grandmother’s things when my mother passed them on to me in 1998.

blocks 2

This picture is of some of the original blocks and the center fabric. These strings were originally sewn on newspaper, by hand, and Grandma had tried to put them together on her treadle machine by sewing around the square center without stopping. Before I received the top, someone had washed it and it all fell apart. I’m using the same fabrics plus some from an eBay buy of the same vintage. I know from the bits of paper still attached when I took it apart that it was started in the 1920’s, and was still being worked on during WWII.

I don’t know how big it will be, or how it will be set. I’m just making blocks until the stack of fabrics is gone.

Happy Quilting,