Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas and Surprise News.

 There is always such a build up of events leading up to Christmas and then it seems to be over very quickly. We had a lovely time at our DD's place and I didn't have to do a thing. We were very spoilt but she is hoping I will return the favour next year.
   Now that I have met up with all the family and given them the news I can tell you that we have bought a home in Ferntree Gully, a suburb on the outskirts of Melbourne and only 10 mins from our DD and our son-in-law. We were viewing houses while we "cat sat" for them while they were on their honeymoon. We decided to use our time there as a holiday but we were so busy house hunting we didn't have time to do many tourist things, so that will be on the list for next year.
    We have bought a 4 BR home but it is considerably smaller than our current home, which is what we needed to down size. Fortunately we were able to buy and make a gradual transition from living here on the farm. Downsizing after 30 years of living here has been challenging and tiring but we are making progress and although I am losing my very large sewing room, we will have plenty of storage. Luckily I didn't sell my quilting machine as we have room at our new home.
  I made a new Christmas wall hanging from a panel so we were able to welcome Christmas in our new home. We have moved enough basic furniture to be able to stay there and after Christmas we will continue to paint and pack. I hadn't wanted to announce it until we told family and I have asked them not to tell my Dad yet as he is 91 and would only worry about us moving away. It might take us some time to sell and we will return frequently for visits but there's no need to worry about that at the moment.
  I finished one more skirt for DD2 but didn't get time for a photo and have more sewing plans while I take a break from quilting for a little while. The weather is suddenly so hot and humid that sitting near the AC is a much better option at the moment. The cat quilt is one made by one of my quilting groups and I only had to quilt it before donation. It's very striking when seen in a photo or at a distance.
  I hope you all had a lovely time with family and friends as well as time to re-charge the batteries. Here's hoping 2017 brings us peace and many blessings, as well as good health.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, December 22, 2016

This and That.

 Life still seems to be busy as we race towards Christmas. Or at least it feels like we are racing. I have quilted another donation quilt but forgot a photo so that will be next time. I may or may not have purchased some more vintage quilt tops needing repair.
 I am in the process of sewing skirts and dresses for DD2 and this is the first skirt. The second is almost done and the third will be cut out tonight. I also have a couple of dresses to make for her but we have been painting so I have less time and I'm more tired than I anticipated. We were going to pay for painters to do the work but once we emptied the room we realized that was the hard part done. We have thought we would start with one room and see how we go. Now that we have finished the first room we are getting the second ready for painting. We find it's manageable if we work for a few hours take a break and then do some more.
 When I need some time to take a rest, I have been attaching a new backing to an antique quilt from 1860-1880. The backing had completely shredded so I have been stitching a new one using a stitch similar to a big quilting stitch and it will give it more strength. Then I have some repairs to make to the blocks and a new binding to attach. Then she badly needs a good long soak in the bath.
She will be a treasured addition to my growing collection of vintage and antique quilts and I can't wait to take some photos once she has been cleaned. I have really enjoyed working on her as it gives me a chance to study her up close. She was quilted with white thread in the pink blocks and black thread in the pieced blocks. I hope she'll have another 100 years of life after my repairs, and I need to decide which one to work on next.
    It's been good to take some time for my own projects as I delivered the last donation quilts yesterday. Four of the larger QAYG quilts went to the homeless teens group and they were very happy to receive them.
I'd better get back to the dressmaking while I can.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

There's Still Time.

Thanks to my very generous blogging friends who have sent QAYG blocks, there was time to put together another QAYG quilt for the homeless teens. These blocks are 12.5 inches in size and I still have enough to make another one. Whether or not there is time to do it though I'm not sure.
   I still have Christmas shopping to do and I have packed up my sewing areas apart from leaving some of these blocks ready to access in spare moments. There might be time to finish another 1 or 2 before Christmas but if not, I have 4 large quilts ready to deliver. Thank you all for your help with these quilt projects throughout the year as we have blessed many of the needy with quilts again this year.
   The weather is getting warmer and summer is finally here. This means some lovely relaxing days watching the cricket on the TV while I do some hand stitching. I've found that my interest is drifting toward working on some redwork or cross stitch, which will be cooler options than hand quilting. In the meantime I'm still packing boxes and getting ready for painting some of the rooms. I haven't decorated for Christmas as our DD's cat has sustained injuries twice by climbing the Christmas tree and it's not worth the risk again, as it's a very expensive exercise.
   I hope you are all getting ready to enjoy some relaxing time with family and friends.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Having Fun With the Past.

 I have decided to try to get some of my rescues finished now that I have handed over almost all of the donation quilts for the year. This little blue quilt was a remnant of a quilt top which i rescued and hand quilted. It was imperfectly pieced but I love it anyway.
 This quilt was from the 1940s and I only needed to add a new binding. I didn't realize that the sashing and outer borders were originally pink and are now very faded. The binding was darker pink initially but I added a paler version to suit the softer colours of the quilt as it is now.

 The embroidery is still in very good condition and it's a cute little cot quilt for my collection.

 This quilt is from the 1880s to 1890s and was originally a pretty quilt with a very shagged backing. The owner then cut up this fabulous Seven Sisters quilt and tacked it along two sides of the first quilt to make a larger batting for another quilt. It was rescued from the innards of a tied comforter.
 I am removing the worn and partially cut block parts along each end and will add a false backing to strengthen the quilt. I will tack it and unfortuantely you won't be able to see the quilting on the back but at least it will prolong the life of the quilt.
 Wouldn't you love to have the original Seven Sisters quilt? I know I could never cut it up to make batting for a newer quilt but I guess if it's cold enough and money is tight, you do what you have to do.
In the meantime I'm havinbg fun repairing and restoring these old lovelies.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Plain Needlewoman's Vintage Quilts

 I had a quick trip to Melbourne again to attend my Melbourne quilting group's meeting and to deliver 20 quilts for Peter Mac Cancer Clinic. Our meetings are always enjoyable and we had a real treat with a visit from Janette McInnes who showed her vintage quilts.
 It's always a pleasure to see vintage quilts and hear about their finer features and Janette's talk was very good. Her blog is The Plain Needlewoman 
If you have time check it out as you will see much better close up photos of some of her quilts.

Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Almost Christmas.

 The year seems to run away from me once it reaches November but I have managed to finish another couple of donation quilts as well as more hand quilting. The hand quilting is a lovely change from working on a sewing machine all the time.
 Last week I delivered 20 quilts to Impact to be distributed to those affected by domestic violence. Tomorrow I have 21 to deliver to Peter Mac Cancer Clinic. I still have 3 left which will go to the group which helps homeless teens. I think that will be the end of this year's donation quilts as we are starting to get busy with work and family commitments.
   I really appreciate all of your support throughout the year with these donation quilt projects. Every quilt a needy person receives reminds them that they have not been forgotten. I have another new project to share very soon but in the meantime I'm back to repairing vinage quilts and more hand quilting- very good as a stress relief.
Hugs and grateful thanks, Jan Mac

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hand Quilting.

 Apart from more packing, I've spent my leisure time watching the cricket on TV and hand quilting a couple of vintage quilt tops. The Sunbonnet Sue is the top I repaired and you can see that originally it had yellow binding and no sashing at the top of the quilt top.
 I repaired the blocks and replaced the black thread button hole stitching which had worn on two of the blocks. The remaining 4 blocks had black button hole stitching but it had pulled out of shape so I couched it back into place with fine black thread.

 Below you can see the blocks which I repaired.

 I decided to honour its history by hand quilting the top using Baptist fans, without a hoop, to avoid stress on the vintage fabrics and without marking a quilting design. I free hand measured with a tape measure as I went and quilted up to where I had placed pins. The label and binding are done and I think it's a lovely little vintage cot sized quilt now and should be good for at least another 70 years. It took me less than a week to hand quilt it and I really enjoyed quilting the Baptist Fans so I can see I will be doing more of them in the future.
 As well as repairing and hand quilting tops, I have been doing some research into some of the vintage tops I own and I'm finding it's a wonderful insight into life in the 1930s and 40s. I am currently hand quilting another quilt fragment and will share its history soon.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Little Things

 As I'm busy packing up my sewing room I have made time to work on some smaller projects which won't leave so much mess. This small wall hanging is 9" by 11" and the blocks are 2.25" finished. It was an easy job to join the blocks and, quilt and bind it and it will hang in our new home. I love Log Cabin quilts as there are so many variations you can make for the block layout.
 This Lemoyne Star is one I bought from an antique dealer and I quilted and bound it so I can hang this one and enjoy its lovely fabric. It was made using Madder fabric in 1870 and measure 8".
 I also bought this remnant of a quilt from 1830-70. It measure 13 inches and it had an extra inch along one side so I removed that and used that fabric for the repairs.


 The back had a hole up on the top left hand side and the bottom part was a bit tattered, which is expected due to the age. Below you can see the repairs in the same place as the photo above.
I bound the piece with reproduction fabric and it will also make a nice little wall hanging.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Top Day.

    In between cleaning, I decided to work on some of my vintage quilt blocks and make them into tops. I bought these 5 Dresden Plate blocks in Houston in 2014. They were from a quilt as I can see the stitching along the blocks but no quilting marks show so it might have been a tied quilt. It looks like it's from the 1930s or 40s and was most likely a gift for someone leaving the district. I plan to use the names to do some research and see if I can find any information.
   Rather than making a square quilt I thought I'd make a long piece which can be a wall hanging or a table runner. The fabric is lovely and soft and the stitched names are still in good condition. Wouldn't you love to know the story behind the quilt? As some of the names are unusual it should be possible to find them on Ancestry.

 If you remember the Sunbonnet Sue blocks I shared last week, I can show they are now finished. I decided not to replace the stained pieces and honour the history instead. These were appliqued onto feedsacks as you can see the stitching on the background. They were unwashed but some had been joined together. The machine stitching was poorly done and the edges would have frayed if left that way and washed so I moved some of the pieces so that the raw edges were covered. It was a fun little project and each block only took an evening to stitch and embroider. I had some vintage fabric from the 1940s so used that for sashing and it's now ready to be quilted.
 Sunbonnet Sue seems to be featuring here lately. This was the other quilt I rescued and I have decided to hand quilt both of them. I started free motion hand quilting a Baptist Fan design on another small piece last night and really enjoyed the process. As it's a piece from the 1860s it was best not to use a hope which would put strain on the fabric. I'll show that one tomorrow.
Time to get back to some stitching and perhaps there will be time to quilt another donation quilt tonight.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, November 11, 2016

Only Two

 It's been a  busy week of going through books to donate, paperwork to throw out and magazines to cull. We have one bedroom ready for painting so we are making progress but there is still a lot to do. I donated a large pile of books and patterns to my quilting group to be used for raffle prizes, gifts etc.
   I've been trying to quilt at night a couple of nights a week so I can get more tops finished and donated for Christmas and it will mean less for us to move later. At our Monday meeting of AQA we donated 20 quilts to Peter Mac Cancer Clinic and I brought home a lot more tops to quilt which should keep me busy.The first quilt top was made by Marg C., of AQA, and it will be going to a child in care.
The second top was another donation and it is a lovely soft and snuggly flannel one which I backed in flannel too. It will be going to Peter Mac as the volunteer I spoke with on Monday said that some children with solid tumours have an anaesthetic daily for 7 weeks while undergoing treatment and a quilt will comfort them as well as the parents who sit with them throughout the treatment. Sorry I can't remember who donated the top but be assured they are all going to be finished and donated on your behalf.
   Now I am back working nights again so I hope to get some more quilts finished after I recover as I have more basted and ready to go .
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Another Sue To Restore.

 I was very lucky to be gifted this cot/doll sized Sunbonnet Sue quilt by someone who knows I love to repair vintage and antique quilts. It's from the 1940s and had been finished as a quilt by turning the backing over to the front. It's been sued and really is a utility quilt which must have been well loved in its day. There was quilting around each of the figures and outlining the sashing, with a flannel batting.
 The button hole stitching on the two centre blocks had worn away and there wasn't a lot of stitching keeping them in place. The button hole stitching was replaced on this block and the next one shown.

 The button hole stitching was intact on the rest of the blocks but had stretched out of shape so I stitched it back into position using thread and working from the back after I took the quilt apart.
 The quilt had sashing between all the blocks and around the outside with the exception of the top of the quilt where the backing had been stitched down over some of the applique. The sashing and blocks varied somewhat in size and I recut them and removed a rust section on one of the sashing pieces.

 I didn't have enough fabric to make complete sashings for all of the top so I cut the sashing in half lengthwise for the top and bottom sashing.

You can see the finished blocks I've repaired here. It's ready for quilting and now I just have to decided whether to hand or machine quilt it. I have decided to use plain white homespun for the backing and save the vintage yellow fabric for more repairs on other quilts. If the fabric is fragile I often machine quilt so I don't add stress to the fabric.
 It's been a fun little project to bring her back to life.
Many thanks for your kind comments on my last post. Jo, I am giving it some more thought as to whether or not to remove the fabric with stains. The pieces all need to be restitched by hand so I will be removing them anyway but will give some thought as to whether or not to keep their history.
Hugs, Jan Mac