Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Special Gift

 I am always surprised to know that someone is reading my blog and even more surprised that I have lovely readers who stop by regularly. I guess I don't think what I do is of much interest to anyone but me so it's always lovely to receive so many lovely comments on my blog.
Even more special is the number of very generous quilters from around the world who have continued to make and donate quilt tops, QAYG blocks and fabric, so that I can donate many more quilts to the needy. I show those quilts over on my other blog, at Oz Comfort Quilts, and you can see how generous my lovely quilting- blogging friends have been.
 Ann Birch is one of my lovely blog friends and she sent me a lovely surprise in the mail- a piece of pink fabric dated from the 1930s so that I can make more star blocks to add to my Sawtooth Stars blocks from that era. The fabric will be a perfect fit to go with the other blocks. Thank you so much Ann for your lovely gift and it will make several star blocks as they are only 5.5" in size.
  I also finished putting the embroidered quilt top back together again. It was a kit from the 1930s or 40s and as you can see from the third photo, it had been well used and the top was quite tatty. I have taken it apart and cut the blocks to a smaller size so that I could remove the worn pieces. I will most likely quilt this one using a simple crosshatch to prolong its life. I'm really pleased with how it has turned out and will get it quilted as soon as this next lot of paid work is done. I'm working nights again tonight for a few days so there will be a lot of sleeping done (I hope) and not a lot of stitching, or at least not as much as I would like. lol!
Thanks for your lovely gift Ann, and thank you all for stopping by again.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mail Bounty and a Finish

 Today was very humid but I was determined to finish off a WIP before I work nights again tomorrow. The three-sided hexagon shapes make a striking geometric quilt and I started this pattern in a class with Lessa Siegele at the end of September this year. I really wanted to get it finished before it became another UFO stacked in a growing pile. lol
  It is going to be donated and I adapted the pattern and I'm happy that it is finished. My DH thinks it would look better if it was the same at the top and the bottom but I didn;t want to make more blocks so I decided to call it done!
  I also received a lovely large parcel from Maria Wilson and Linda Moore from WA. Maria sent two beautiful quilts to donate and you can see them over at my other blog. Linda sent these beautiful quilt tops and I plan to get them done ASAP. A very big thank you goes out to Maria and Linda for their ongoing support with donation quilts.
I also quilted another donated top today and will put more photos up on the other blog soon.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Week of Ups and Downs

 This week has been mainly taken up with paid work and as it is all night duty there has been a lot of sleeping happening. I did manage to finish stitching the yellow buttons on the tulip top and then when I washed it the dye ran and ran. I managed to remove the excess dye but the dark green fabric has mainly shredded and as this was the main offender with the dye run it is a bit of a disaster. I have out it away as more repairs will be needed now.
Some success was made with two other projects when I also stitched the binding on my 1940s Stars quilt and I have almost finished that. I've also trimmed down the embroidered flower blocks to remove the tatty pieces and now it's being remade into a smaller quilt with a new border.
  I'm off to work nights again for the next few nights so there won;t be much stitching happening then either. I'm looking forward to a break from paid work so I can work on more stitching projects, but it does pay the bills. lol
Hugs, Jan Mac

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh Dear, Don't Look Now!

 I'm just back home after a lovely weekend with family in Melbourne and I didn't get a lot of time to stitch but I did get the chance to attend my Melbourne group's Sit and Sew. I seem to be working on many UFOs at once now and most of them are up to the quilting stage, or almost there. I am still piecing the vintage Sawtooth Stars but as I didn't take my sewing machine I also needed another hand piecing project. I'm up to hand stitching the Joseph's Coat blocks to the borders and also making the half square triangles for the outer border.
   I have been inspired to make a red and white quilt since I saw the Red and White quilt show that Linda recently held at Quilts in the Barn. I wanted to make a Pickle Dish quilt in red and white and started the piecing shown in the second photo. I realized that I can probably stitch that one on the sewing machine and I also wanted to work on the more intricate pattern by Chris Serong, shown in the first photo. This one uses diamond shapes and it will be much easier to make by hand-piecing. I couldn't help myself and just had to start piecing some of the arcs. It will be a long-term hand piecing project but I'm already loving the crisp white diamonds against the red of the arcs.
 As we arrived home, my paid work rang to ask if I could work an extra night shift tonight so I'm off to bed soon and the quilting will have to wait until I have some more awake hours. In the meantime I think I can work in some time for more hand piecing so check back to see my progress. I know I didn't need any more WIPs but I stitch for pleasure and I'm really enjoying the hand piecing projects I'm working on. Now I need to focus and not start any more new projects. lol!
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Late Night Stitching

 Last night I got the Sawtooth Stars out again and made 14 more blocks. I was so happily sewing that I worked until 11.30pm and could have kept going but common sense prevailed. You can see the new stars compared with the old ones which had frayed seams and they were coming apart. I should have counted the number of stars before I took the quilt apart but I expect to end up with almost the same amount. I'm also using some of the sashing pieces to make more stars to replace those beyond repair and you can see one in the 4th row, second from the right. I'm also going to use some of the backing fabric to make stars and I am using some of the white/cream background fabric from the original quilt as well as cutting more pieces to replace those which are too small to use.
  I'm pleased with my progress and will probably use a much narrower sashing and may even set them on point. This is a "make the blocks and see what happens" project and I think it will be worth all the extra work to remake the quilt into something pretty and functional again.
  Thanks for stopping by and a big thank you to those lovely readers who have left comments. Everyone loves some feedback on their blogs. I usually comment on blogs too but have given up commenting when I have to type in two nonsensical words as more often than not, I get it wrong and it just wastes time I could use stitching. lol
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, November 16, 2012

Another UFO in Progress

 This UFO is one that I purchased from an antique dealer in the US and It seems to be from the 1940s or 50s. It is in very good condition and has never been washed but there are some fade marks on the top where it has been folded. It is entirely hand pieced but the points where the stems of the tulips intersect were not stitched and they varied quite a bit in size which made it difficult to finish them off.
  Finally I decided to applique a button over the intersecting stems to disguise their irregularities. I had planned to use the colour of the tulips or the green of the stems but it was difficult to match the right shade so I decided to use a soft yellow, typical of what was used at that time and I think it will make them look as if they were planned that way. Then I will be able to quilt it and get it finished to display.
   I've also finished quilting my 1940s star quilt top and just have the binding to hand stitch in place before I show a final photo. Oh and I need to make a label too. I'm also working on the Sawtooth Star blocks that I'm re-making using the vintage fabric so there's lots happening and I hope to have more finishes to show soon. I also have more UFOs and WIPs as well so I won't be short of things to stitch for quite awhile.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, November 15, 2012

While I Was Sleeping

 This week seems to have disappeared while I was sleeping and working night shift. I enjoy the work but it does cut into my quilting time. On the other hand it does pay for a lot of the donation quilts and I've been ordering more books to enjoy.
 Luckily while I was sleeping other lovely quilters have stepped up and have been very busy sewing and knitting for the needy. The first large parcel came from Kerry Shelberg (NSW) and she was also the very generous quilter who sent the mystery box a week ago. Kerry has been very busy and sent more fabric, many pieces of which were sewn into long strips for Chinese Coins quilts, as well as more large pieces for a top and backing. They will make more lovely quilts so a very big thank you for your help, Kerry.
 Ruth Crocombe from New Guinea has also been very busy with more knitting for the needy. She sent a lovely knitted vest for a child as well as two more knitted beanies. I can imagine how hot it must be up in New Guinea so I really appreciate all your lovely knitting for the needy too Ruth.
 I have also finished taking apart the embroidered 1930s quilt so I can make some repairs and then re-quilt it using a new backing, which will prolong its life. The top of the quilt was quite ragged and I will be replacing the borders as most of the fabric is too worn to be used again. I'll be checking the blocks too to make sure they are all in good repair.
  The last few days have been busy with family commitments so i hope to get some more stitching done very soon before I have more paid work.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Retreating Weekend

 I had a lovely couple of days retreating with my local quilting group. I have recently re-joined and received a lovely welcome so attending the retreat allowed me to renew old friendships and get to know new members. It was beautiful sunny weather and the tables and lighting were ideal for sewing. We went to a lovely camp amidst farming country, just 30 mins from home which made it very convenient.
  I took far too many things to work on but was happy to have a variety so I could change from machine quilting when I needed a break. I have almost finished quilting the 1940s vintage star quilt and have finished deconstructing the 1930s /40s Sawtooth Star quilt blocks.
  I also started taking apart another vintage quilt I'd bought some years ago from the US. It is also from the 1930s or40s and the top has worn away with the fabric being shredded from use. The batting is also quite patchy in places and the backing is very thin. It was quilted in Baptist Fans and it was OK but not that close together that it would be a shame to remove it. There is also a large burn mark on the top. I'm taking it apart and will repair the blocks where a few seams have frayed, and I'll remove the outer border which is quite worn and use the better pieces to replace the fabric with the burn mark. Then I'll make a new border using reproduction fabric from that time but I will probably choose a print as it will be hard to match a plain blue as the fabric has faded. The embroidery is in very good condition and repairing it will help to prolong its life, so although it's a slow and somewhat tedious job, it will be worth it.
 I enjoy doing some hand work so it is a nice project to have when I need a break from the sewing machine.
  I had a lovely time and it was great to spend time with such a friendly group. I'm working night shifts again for a few nights so I hope to get back with more progress soon.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, November 9, 2012

Still Deconstructing and Secret Donation

 The mail man brought another lovely parcel of fabric for backing as well as more beautifully pressed and sorted strip pieces for more QAYG blocks. I can't thank the sender as there was no note or return address so I hope you are keeping an eye on the blog so that you know it arrived safely. These will be used up quickly as I want to get more quilts delivered/donated for Christmas.
 I've had a busy couple of days with family commitments but I have also managed to almost finish taking apart the Sawtooth Stars quilt. You can see the amount of thread I've removed and this is the second container of thread from this quilt. I also found a shredded piece of fabric in the centre with the petticoat and this is probably a used sheet. It has just fallen apart as I've removed it so this piece will go into the rubbish.
 Now I'm off to my local quilting group's weekend retreat. I'm still trying to decide what to work on and I should be appliqueing the borders for my Baltimore but I'm also tempted to remake the Sawtooth Star blocks now that I have almost pulled them all apart. I'll probably take a mix of projects to work on so I don't get bored and in case the lighting or seating isn't comfortable enough for using my sewing machine.
 The weather is lovely and sunny and I'm looking forward to some more stitching and chatting time.
Hope you all get some time to stitch too.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Unexpected Discovery

 I've continued with de-constructing this vintage quilt and almost have all the star blocks removed. As you can see they are in a state of disrepair with frayed seams and worn blocks. The quilting thread had mostly disappeared as well and there was a stain which looks like coffee on some of the quilt.
    Within the quilt I was very surprised to find a petticoat with some pale blue embroidery on the bodice. There were two layers of calico or a mixture of pale fabric and one of them was the petticoat. The batting had disappeared as well and it seems that the cotton batting may have been sandwiched between the two layers of calico or pale fabric. I'm guessing the cotton batting was uncarded as the quilting was quite close together but only a very few remnants of batting remain and must have disappeared with heavy use.
    This was a utility quilt and as you can see by the new blocks I've made, there is a hidden gem under all that mess of frayed seams.  I'm really enjoying rescuing the fabric and making it pretty again so keep an eye on my progress.
   For now I'm back to washing and re-cutting the fabric into its new pieces.
 Hugs, Jan Mac
 PS I did finish taking apart the suffolk puff piece and will use the fabric to repair other quilts from that era.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New Beginnings and Finishes

 Yesterday and today have been spent in sewing more blocks for Joseph's Coat as well as sewing on more buttons and it's nearing completion until I make the half square triangles for the border.
  I've also been deconstructing more bits and pieces that I've bought over the years. The first pink quilt was in poor repair and it looks better in the photos than up close. This is the one which I've been taking apart  and then re-making the Sawtooth Stars for a new/old quilt. The backing has some tears and the batting has disintegrated but I'm going to use some of the backing to make new star blocks to match the others. Some will be too worn to re-use and I'll use up the better parts to construct new blocks.
  I also found some suffolk puffs joined together in a small piece and as it was poorly made I'm taking them apart so I can use the fabric to repair quilts from that era.

 The last blocks are from 1880 and they were originally from a tied quilt as some of the ties were still intact. I'm washing the blocks prior to using them to make a new/old quilt. The hand stitching on these blocks is very well done and I'll have to be careful when I'm joining them and quilting the top as the fabric is not as robust as modern fabric. One block need repair but the rest are in good condition apart from some age marks. I've also washed a 1930s quilt top and plan to quilt that one next but as it's still drying that photo will have to wait until tomorrow.
 I love to make old quilts come to life again and I still have some tops and blocks from the Civil War era to finish off as quilts which I'll share with photos soon. I bought them all from the US over the years and as they are not historically significant, quilting them will help to prolong their life.
 More to come tomorrow.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happily Regressing

 Lately it feels like I have regressed in my quilting journey as I am now back to using templates for hand piecing, pinning quilts for quilting on my sewing machine instead of loading it on my short arm machine, and planning my next projects around lots of precision hand piecing. I guess after quilting for so many years the need to make lots of quilts quickly is not as pressing. Don't get me wrong, I still love to make lots of quilts to donate as well as making quicker ones to give as gifts where people love the fabric but don;t necessarily appreciate how much time has gone into the project.
  Now I'm spending time working on my long-term UFOs which consist of vintage quilt tops and blocks that I've bought with the intention of finishing them off into quilts. Some of them need to be recut and sewn as they have seams which have come undone or there were problems with the piecing. I love to re-make these and make them something lovely I can enjoy so today I pinned my 1940s vintage star quilt top and I've started the quilting. It was funny to be pinning a quilt again as I used to pin up to 6 in a day and haven't done that for probably 6 years since I bought the quilting machine. I'm enjoying that stage of quilting again as well as it gives me time to enjoy the vintage fabrics in each block.
  The mail also brought some lovely books for me- more blasts from the past, with two older books by Edie McGinnis from the Kansas City Star book publishers, and one by Susan Jenkins and Linda Seward. All three contain lots of lovely patterns for antique quilts to make using templates and hand piecing for accuracy.
I'm planning a big weekend of stitching and  hope to have at least one quilt finished by Monday, after being called in for work with my paid job yesterday.
  Have a great weekend of stitching everyone and  check back to see my progress when you have time.
 Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Just a Little Brag

 These stars are fiddly as they will be 5 " when finished and the frayed edges have meant that I've had to use smaller seam allowances but overall I'm pleased with the progress. I have almost finished deconstructing the old blocks and made 6 stars last night. I've had to substitute new fabric for the white pieces between the half square triangles as that fabric was too small to be used. I'm using the original fabric for the white corner squares, where possible, so there will be a variation in the whites but I think it will add to its charm and authenticity. I'm not worried about being true to the original as it was of no significant historical value and will last many more years when it's finished. I took it apart a few years ago and had forgotten that it was originally quilted but the quilting stitches were not finely done and many had disappeared over the years. The original star blocks were about 6 " square but the pieces were cut a bit irregularly and I needed to make my blocks a bit smaller so I could avoid some of the frayed seam allowances.
  I'm very happy with how the new blocks are looking. My other little brag is the dress I made for our beautiful youngest DD's ballroom dancing awards night. The dress is fully lined and the bodice is boned. She wanted it to be well-fitted and I only had 3 days to make it. Even better- she won her category on the night so we are very proud and happy for her. I'm happy to be a dressmaker as well but making quilts which don't have to be fitted to the body but will fit anyone is much easier.
 Hugs, Jan Mac