December 27, 2013

Sewing with the Ancestors

For the last few months I have been spending a lot of time with musty old photos and ancestry websites creating family trees and memories. 
TIP: To help out all future generations put names on your photos, both digital and print. I have piles of unidentified people and at my advanced age I have no elder around to give me any hint about them. I didn't even know the pictures existed until quite recently. 

 This is a quilt made by my great-grandmother, probably around 1900. It was said that she purchased the fabric especially for the quilt instead of using the usual fabric scraps and old clothing that was a common source at the time. This was her masterpiece.
Although I would have to say that the color choices would never have been mine, it is quite effective.

This is my great-grandmother on my mother's side of the family. They seemed to be the quilters in my ancestry although since I didn't know my Dad's side so well, they too were probably wielding the needle, too. It was pretty much expected that girls would sew. My grandmother on my Dad's side is the source of my favorite heirloom. See it in this previous post.

Great- Granny must have made a small error in calculation when buying her fabric because there are a few pieces that are not the same shade of green. I wonder if she agonized over it or subscribed to the Amish theory that only God could create perfection and so they always left something amiss. She was German-Catholic so I suspect her attitude was a bit stricter. But, I never knew her and it is only approaching my seventh decade that I have become curious about these people that preceded me.

Years ago I was really into quilting when I did it all by hand like this quilt. However, I never completed a full size quilt. ADHD, I suspect.

My hand quilting was never the quality of this. My grandmother could stitch with the best. Her mother must have taught her. Her quilts were all kit quilts, however and I don't have a single one of them. They were used and washed and worn out and not kept as well as this one.

Grandma Lizzie

This quilt has never been washed as far as I know. It has a few dark spots on it, but in great shape for being over 100 years old. In all of the books on quilting and patterns I have seen over the years I have never encountered this same motif. I guess you would call it a pineapple. I tried to duplicate it once and it was a complete failure.

Has anyone ever seen this design  before? Please comment and let me know.

Just for fun, I am adding a few of these great old photos I found. These are well-dressed unidentified ladies.

December 15, 2013

Fabric as Toys

Who needs a trip to the big box store at Christmas when you could just provide the kids with your fabric stash.
 The sewing/computer room became the playroom this morning. 

 I wasn't even going to write a blog post today but thought this irresistible.
Below are all the leftover hexagons from a recent project that were turned into confetti.
It's so cute when they play together...nicely. This did not deteriorate into a "It's mine!" from her.
I know, this room is a mess, but then so am I. They can play in it and it doesn't look any worse than it did before.
Yes, she is wearing the outfit I posted about previously but this time she did not try to take it off. Yeah! 

They are 6 and 2 years old. How long before I can have them sewing? She has already mastered cutting her hair (only a small strand) with blunt kiddie scissors. Luckily she has lots to spare.

December 6, 2013

Stitching by Hand

I have been remiss in my pledge to post EVERY week so I am posting before my usual Sunday this time. I have no excuses other than the lack of ideas and projects.

I spent way too much time on this pillow. I noticed a resurgence of interest in paper piecing and had done it years ago back when I actually taught some quilting classes locally. Everything was by hand then. An organization I was in produced a full size quilt to raffle out of these little hexies.
It worked well for the group as everyone could learn the process quickly. It  didn't require exceptional sewing skills. Everyone could work at home and then we could assemble them. It was all in the typical 70's shades of brown and oranges, as I recall.

I had made a few other pillows for my Etsy shop using some of the rare reds and greens in my fabric stash. I prefer this acid green and red to the more traditional Christmas green. With absolutely no plan in mind for how these would be arranged, I began cutting out paper hexies and hand basting them into the fabric hexes. If you have never done it this tutorial is very good. Mine were not nearly as neatly sewn. I just baste through the paper and tear out the stitches later.

I sewed and sewed and sewed these little buggers and my hand got achy from it. THAT never happened back in the 70's!  I would lay them out just to see how much yardage I had created and was dismayed by the measly supply. 

I had great visions of a fabulous never before seen pattern of amazement like this:
Or this:

Alas, not even close and I was only aiming for pillow size. I have 43 hexagons in this tree and I am tired, tired, tired of sewing them and looking at them and the result is questionable. I did put it on my Etsy shop, though. Why not? Maybe someone out there will love it and give it a good home.

Whether you sell your sewing or not, do you think that you should love everything you make before you offer it at a price to someone else? Please comment.