Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:

September 2011 - Posts

Appliquers have joined the Club

Last night, I attended the first guild meeting of our guild year. Edyta Sitar was our guest speaker and she was wonderful. Her stories were a pleasure to listen to and her quilts were amazing. What a way to begin the guild year.

I also had the opportunity to introduce my idea for a premier Applique Club and the first project installment. I was apprehensive that members would find a hand applique project daunting and not sign up to join me in making my Heart Sampler quilt. I had hoped for 6-10 members to join. I was blown away when 26 members joined the club. The enthusiasm and interest in completing the project I had selected thrilled me.

So, I got to work today preparing handouts for the members. I had planned to just demonstrate the techniques for the blocks at each monthly meeting, but decided that some quilters would prefer written information to reference at home. I am also planning on utilizing some joiners, who are accomplished hand appliquers, to assist with the demonstrations. From some of the questions posed by members, my impression is that several of the joiners have not made anything using hand applique. I want to ensure that they will find hand applique as enjoyable as I do, so that they will want to stay in the club.

As one member signed up for the club, I expressed my surprise at the response. She stated, "you make things enjoyable and you have a lot of knowledge to share." I hope that I can meet the expectations of the group. Wish me luck as I pursue this new endeavor with my local quilt guild. And, check back regularly on my progess as I complete the Heart Sampler quilt. There are nine total blocks and you can see my previous blog post and subsequent blogs with the pictures of the Stained Glass Heart, Shadow Applique heart, Broderie Perse & Celtic Hearts, and Folk-art style hearts blocks.


Posted Wed, Sep 28 2011 8:39 PM by Pamela | with no comments

L'il Pumpkins Project Completed

Fall is my favorite time of year. Last week-end, my Sisters in Stitches & I got together to sew. One of the projects was stuffed, fabric pumpkins that my older sister organized for a group project. This week-end, we finished the pumpkins, so that we can each display them in our Fall decorations.

Here is my collection of pumpkins displayed on a table runner of Fall leaves that I made last year. The l'il pumpkins were such fun to make and very simple. My sister had cut out rectangles of several different orange fabrics. These were folded in half and stitched along two sides. The bottoms received boxed corners. The pumpkins were turned right side out and pellets added to the bottom to weight them before stuffing. Whole cloves were also placed in the bottom to scent them. After stuffing them, a running stitch was placed around the top edge, pulled tight, and tied around a cinnamon stick for a stem. Embroidery floss was wrapped around the body of the pumpkin and tied to create the ridges. Twisted floral wire and silk flowers were hot glued, along with the cinnamon stick. We each made five or six pumpkins, then exchanged with one another, so that we each had a pumpkin that the other sister had made.

We have already planned a sewing day in October and are planning another group project. Of course, we also each have Christmas projects and quilts that we are trying to finish, so the day will be filled with lots to do.

Posted Sun, Sep 25 2011 8:21 PM by Pamela | 11 comment(s)

Folk-art Style Applique Heart Blocks

If you've been following my progress, you know that I have written several posts on a guild applique club that I will be starting. The posts have shown pictures of several completed applique heart blocks in the quilt that the club will be making. Each block uses a different hand applique technique.

One of the reasons that I love applique, is that the same pattern can be done in so many different flavors. Just like a pieced pattern takes on a different look with a change in color or fabric choice, so can an applique pattern. Unfortunately, most of us do not trust ourselves to make the changes. We see a pattern, and like or dislike it, based upon the picture. A pattern you initially dislike might be tranformed into something desireable, if you could see the quilt in a different style.

Some of the guild members, that will join the Applique Club, are new to hand applique techniques. I want to be able to show them the possibilities of the design. So, today, I have posted pictures of the first two blocks in the pattern, done in different fabrics. As well, the layout is slightly different. Again, many quilters need to put aside the constraints of a pattern and take ahold of design freedom. Make the quilt your own.

I chose to use a black flannel for the background of these blocks. Felted wools, homespun plaids, and additional flannels are used for the applique pieces. I have also chosen a cotton fabric with a folk-art motif to use in later blocks. The intent is to create more of a folk-art style block.

Block #! - Buttonhole Stitch Applique Heart. This block uses felted wools for the hearts and #8 black perle cotton to complete the stitching. Because of the thickness of the wool shapes, the wool hearts were first appliqued to each other before appliqueing the red heart to the flannel background.

Alternate Block #2 - Decorative Running Stitch Applique Heart. This block is unfinished. It will have decorative running stitches around the edges of all the heart shapes. I again plan to use the #8 black perle cotton on the wool shapes, but may use 40 wt. black cotton thread on the flannel background heart. The block is in the initial stages, so that it can be used as a teaching tool at the installment meeting of the Applique Club.

I wanted to show both blocks together, so that you could refer back to the first applique blocks for comparison. Check out the blog post that discussed making the first applique heart blocks. Then, try out your own ideas and make an applique heart block of your own.


Posted Fri, Sep 23 2011 8:30 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Sisters in Stitches

My two sisters and I like to sew. We've been sewing since we were young, when our mother put us into a 4-H group. Actually, my younger sister would take offense; she was too young to take 4-H the first year. After learning to sew, we each spent a great deal of time sewing our own clothes. I must say, my older sister was the better seamtress.

Over the years, we have each developed our sewing skills differently. I have gone the route of quilting, while my older sister has mostly made clothing and my younger sister has done very little sewing, because she lacked a sewing machine. I got my older sister interested in quilting several years ago and we started getting together to sew. My younger sister joined us two years ago in the Spring when she finally bought a sewing machine. She vowed to complete a quilt she had started umteen years ago and give it to her first grandchild. We got together to sew at a local quilting house and spent the entire day together. Since then, we have tried to meet every couple of months at one or the other's house. We have also attended a retreat together and returned to the quilt house for a sewing day. We talk, laugh, talk some more, and dream about having some kind of business together that would allow us to use our sewing talents.

Last week-end was another one of those sewing days. We met at my younger sister's house at 10 AM. We planned a lunch, which included homemade potato soup, homemade bread in the bread machine and a broccoli & cauliflower salad. Yum!!  We set up our machines and started sewing individual projects. We decided to complete a project together after lunch. This is our first and involved making stuffed fabric pumpkins to use in our Fall decorating. They are scented with cloves and use a cinnamon stick for the stem. As usual, the day progressed much too quickly and we didn't get everything done that we had hoped.

Oh well, we have another sewing day planned in October. And, the first Saturday in October marks the second round of the Groovy Girls Club at our local quilt shop. We have all agreed to participate. Also, since none of us cares to shop on Black Friday and two of our husbands make us widows during deer season, we are planning a week-end sew-in for Friday & Saturday of Thanksgiving week-end. We have two additional group projects planned. The first is vegetable shaped pot holders, the second is an iron travel case that doubles for a take-along ironing mat, and the third is tote pattern.

Sisters are such a blessing. And, Sisters in Stitches is such fun! Here's to hoping you have fun sewing with your sisters.

Posted Tue, Sep 20 2011 9:13 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

More Heart Applique Blocks

I have completed the next two blocks in my Heart Applique Sampler quilt. The first technique is broderie perse, which I discusssed in my last blog post. I decided to use a different technique than the pattern suggested. I prefer to baste my applique shapes to freezer paper, kind of like doing English paper piecing. Then, after blind stitching the edges of the applique shape, I remove the basting stitches and pull out the freezer paper. This works well with leaf like shapes and I have been using the technique to make the honeybee portions of a quilt for my daughter. Shhh, she doesn't know anything about it.

Since the heart shape for the broderie perse block was a cut-out of the heart shape and was only about a third of an inch wide; I wasn't comfortable maintaining the shape while appliqueing it to the ground fabric. Using the freezer paper techinque proved easier. However, I made the mistake of adding fray check to the inside and outside points to minimize stray threads while appliqueing. When the fray check dried, it acted like glue and I had a difficult time removing the basting threads and the freezer paper. The appliqued flower fabric was from the same fabric used in the tip of the Stained Glass Heart block. Here is the finished block.

Block #6 - Broderie Perse Heart Applique

The next block was a Celtic knot design using a continuous bias strip. I again used the Gwen Marston technique for making bias. I have been using a variety of fabrics from my stash in bright colors for these blocks. I chose a Robert Kaufman Fusions fabric in green for this block. I had already used a mauve in the Stained Glass Heart block. I really like these fabrics and they can be purchased in every imaginable color. I haven't liked a fabric line this much since I fell in love with Moda Marbles by Patrick Lose back in the late 90's.

The block was simple to stitch, but I had to consider where the bias crossed and not stitch the edge where the strip needed to weave under later in the knot. This kept me threading needles, so that I had three needles stitching the shape at one point. I pressed the bias edge a few inches at a time to stretch and turn the bias into the necessary shape. Then, I pinned the bias strip for about an inch, with the pins lying across the top of the strip and attached to the ground on either side. This kept the strip in place to stitch without having to put a pin through the shape, which might distort the shape. Here is the finished block.

Block #4 - Celtic Knot Heart Applique Block.

Since these blocks will be used to demonstrate the techniques for the Applique Club I am starting with our local quilt guild, I am planning to make another set of blocks. In order to demonstrate how verstile the blocks can be, I am making the second set using fabrics that give it more of a primitive, folk-art look. The background fabric is black flannel. I am incorporating felted wool and homespuns into the blocks, but will also be using cotton fabrics. The colors are darker and more muted rather than the bright colors that I am currently using. Over the next week, I hope to finish a couple of these blocks.

Until then....Enjoy!

Posted Sun, Sep 18 2011 8:49 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Quilting instead of Blogging

I spent last evening preparing two of my heart applique blocks. My husband had suggested that I do my blogging before it was late, but I decided to quilt instead. I've found that I am spending more time on the computer than in the past, just surfing and reading. Besides QCA, I've been checking Facebook more often and reading various quilting blogs.

Barbara Brackman has a new blog featuring quilts from the early 1800's. She will be blogging through the end of 2012, to commemorate the War of 1812 and quilts from that time period.  She recently wrote about Medallion quilts and had a quilt with examples of broderie perse. That reminded me of my next heart applique block. It uses the broderie perse technique to applique a flowery shape inside the heart applique shape.

Chintz fabric was first popular in England before being imported to America. The fabric originated in India and had flowers, animals and other shapes printed on it. The words  "broderie perse" mean Persian embroidery in French. The applique technique refers to cutting shapes from the chintz fabric and appliqueing around the shape onto a ground fabric. Since chintz fabric was expensive, due to high import prices and England's refusal to allow America to manufacture it's own fabrics, women could only afford a small yardage. They cut out the shapes and appliqued them to a larger ground to make more use of the fabric. I envision young ladies sitting in their parlors in the afternoon embroidering cushions and stitching coverlets while someone plays the piano - Pride & Prejudice and Little Women style.

So, now that I have returned to blog, my quilting is suffering. I could accomplish so much more stitching if I spent less time blogging. My husband can think of other things that I am neglecting, as well. Blogging can be addictive; whether writing a blog or reading one. So, I will complete this post and spend a little time appliqueing my broderie perse heart. Then, I can say that I accomplished a little bit of quilting and a little bit of blogging.

Posted Tue, Sep 13 2011 8:46 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Silent Auction Baskets - Round Two

Today, I'm tired. Probably from sorting through boxes of MQN guild member donations for the silent auction baskets. My quilt friend NS and I sorted, folded and put together 13 baskets to use for our fund raiser at our annual Michigan Quilt Network gathering. My game room is still in chaos, with items strewn about in piles of "like" items for possible baskets. There are books, patterns, kits, UFO projects, scraps of fabric, yardage pieces of fabric, notions, and a hodge podge of quilty extras - note cards, tins, ecetera. Not all the donations are quilty items, but generally they are related to crafts. There are cross-stitch, felt, crochet/knitting, and other sewing related items. There are some scrapbook supplies and a few cookbooks. Someone even donated a sewing machine in a case. Both NS & I think that some individuals used the donations as a way to get rid of items they should have just thrown away.

Currently, two boxes of items are dedicated to "Garage Sale" items. One box contains kits that have not been opened. Another box contains UFO's of everything imaginable. There were a few quilt blocks. We both agreed that one could be put into the ugliest quilt and win. Probably why it was donated.

The completed baskets are themed and include a book, patterns, fabric, notions and miscellaneous items to make the basket attractive enough to purchase. There is a holiday themed basket for Halloween and three for Christmas including Snowmen, Angels and Santas. Someone donated a lot of Debbie Mumm fabrics. From these, we made a Debbie Mumm Christmas basket, a Tea Time basket, and a Gardner's Delight basket. There is a Strippers basket with strips and thangles, a Cook's basket with an apron pattern and food motif fabrics, a Patriotic basket, and a small Purple Lover's basket. Other ideas that haven't been completed include a Vintage basket, a Flower Garden basket, a Fall basket, a Charm basket and several "color themed" baskets.

Even with thirteen baskets completed, we still have more items than we can possibly use. We planned to only make 20 baskets, since there are only about 100 members attending the gathering this October. This will be the first year, since making them for a fund-raiser, that the event is not in conjunction with a quilt show open to the public. Therefore, we didn't want to make more baskets than we felt would be purchased by members. The remaining items will go into the "Garage Sale" section of the display. Some items went into File Thirteen.

Sometime, before the end of today, I need to reorganize the room so that it is passable and my husband is able to play pool. He kept looking into the room yesterday to see our progress and expressed his unlikely ability to play pool for a couple of weeks. He's trying to figure out where everything is going to go when the project is done. It fit so nicely into several boxes. But, now that it's in baskets, it takes up a lot more space. Oh well! The price of having a wife for a quilter.

Posted Sun, Sep 11 2011 2:29 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Shadow Applique Heart Block

I have completed the next block in my Heart Sampler applique project. The quilt, if you have not read previously, is for an Applique Club project I am beginning in our local quilt guild this month. I am a longtime member of the Mid-Michigan Quilters' Guild in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

I have not done Shadow Applique before, nor have I seen it in a quilt. The block is completed by placing the applique cut-outs onto the ground fabric and covering the entire block with a voile fabric. The voile is basted down around the applique shape before applying stitching. A running stitch is sewn through all layers around the inside and outside edges of the applique shapes using a matching color thread to the applique shape. Once the stitching is completed, the fabric color shows through the voile, but in a muted value, thus called a shadow. Finally, the voile fabric is trimmed to a 1/4" around the perimeter of the shape and basted down with white thread, so that it does not show.

The process was simple. I used a fabric that I had on hand, so I am not sure if it is actually voile. I placed some organza fabric over the shape, but did not feel the results matched the picture of the block in the book. By the way, the book is from Applique! Applique! Applique! The Complete Guide to Hand Applique, by Laurene Sinema, copyright 1992. Her instructions are very good and I like many of the projects in the book.


Block #4 - Shadow Applique Heart Block

Until the next block is complete....Enjoy!

Posted Sat, Sep 10 2011 9:17 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Another quilt book review

I was looking for information on a particular block pattern and pulled out so many quilt books, I found some I hadn't looked at in awhile. So, I thought that I would take a minute and look them over; then provide a review of a book for all of you.

One book that caught my eye was Quilts An American Legacy by Mimi Dietrich; copyright 1996 by Smithsonian Institution and That Patchwork Place, Inc. of Bothell, WA. I purchased the book in December 1999 for $4.98, but don't know where or what made me buy it. I don't recall anything in particular happening at that time. By the price I paid, I think that it must have been a bargain I couldn't pass up. The cover has a scrappy quilt and states that royalties paid to the Smithsonian benefit the care and conservation of the textile collection at the National Museum of American History. My eldest daughter just vacationed in Washington D.C. in August and, I believe that she visited this museum. I would certainly like to see the quilts in the collection.

The book is a collection of quilts from the Smithsonian National Collection with a contemporary interpretation by the author. Basic quilt-making instructions, patterns and templates are included in the back of the book. As I leafed through the book, the quilt that popped off the page for me was "Reel" made by Mrs. Annis Lawrence Curtis of Marcellus, New York, from the second quarter of the nineteenth century, measuring 80"X85" in blue and white. The fabrics and pattern are reminiscent of the Civil War. The pattern is also called "Hickory Leaf". You can view some of the quilts online in the The National Quilt Collection. A few of the quilts from the book are shown here.

Although I couldn't find a picture of the quilt in the online collection, I was able to find an example in The Quilt Index, a growing research and reference tool designed to provide unprecedented access to information and images about quilts held in private and public hands. The Quilt Index is a joint project of The Alliance for American Quilts, MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University and the Michigan State University Museum.

Quiltmaker: Troup, Nancy Marie (Grey)

[1850, Kansas Quilt Project]
Kansas State Historical Society: Kansas Quilt Project

This pattern also reminds me of "Order #11", which was a pattern named after an order issued during the Civil War in Kansas. The pattern was published in the Kansas City Star in 1929. More information about quilts during the Civil War can be found in books by Barbara Brackman.

I hoped you've enjoyed this book review. Check out any or all of these references for a history on quilts and quiltmaking in America.



Posted Wed, Sep 7 2011 6:59 PM by Pamela | with no comments

Stained glass applique heart block

I completed the next installment of my applique heart blocks. This one was not without frustration. It uses a bias strip over the edges of the block sections to obtain a stained glass window look. Unfortunately, the bias strip was not long enough to complete the circumference of the heart, so that I had to trim off at an intersection. Then, I trimmed too much and did not leave an end to tuck underneath the previous seam. I had to unsew, then restitch the bias tape. I was able to reattach without having to remove the entire bias strip.

The process of attaching bias strips with a blind stitch is fast, for me anyway. It's much like attaching a binding, which I enjoy. I think that I would enjoy making an entire quilt with appliqued bias strips. In fact, it made me think of my son-in-law. He really like Celtic images and I have always wanted to make a Celtic quilt design. I will have to search through my quilt books to find the perfect design to make a quilt for him. I mentioned the process for making the bias strips in the blog Summer is ending.... I learned the technique from Gwen Marston. Cut strips on the bias - they don't have to be at an exact angle. Make the first cut, then cut additional strips using a rulet ro measure the desired width. Stitch together several strips to make longer strips. Set your sewing machine to a basting stitch and use a contrasting color thread. Now, place the strip right side down. Fold over the edges so that they overlap on the top. Begin basting down the center of the strip, catching in the two edges. Contine to fold and baste until you reach the end of the strip. Several strips can be continuously stitched. After the bias strips have been stitched to the quilt, remove the basting stitches.

Here is a pic of the completed block.


The next block is a Shadow Applique Heart. This is a new technique for me, but I like the look of the block in the book. If I continue to complete one block weekly, I will be prepared for my guild presentation at the end of the month.


Posted Tue, Sep 6 2011 7:46 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Amish Quilt Auction & Flea Market

Labor Day Week-end - spent time away from home camping for the last two nights. We got together with a group of friends and went to the Amish Quilt Auction & Flea Market held in Clare, Michigan. The Amish hold the auction each spring before Memorial Day and at the end of summer the week-end of Labor Day.

Lots of gorgeous quilts were on the auction block. For those that are not familiar, the quilts are not all amish made. The Amish hold the auction, but individuals may place up to two quilts in the auction and the Amish receive a percentage of the sale. The quilts must be hand quilted. The highest selling quilt went for $1000 and was made by a woman from Canada. The auctioneer indicated that the woman has placed quilts in the auction for several years and they are always high quality.

My friend, KS, invited everyone to her summer house to camp and attend the event on Saturday. She has attended the auction for years and always spends Saturday watching the quilt auction. The storm, that blew through the area, came shortly after we arrived and went into the auction barn. The rain storm lasted for about an hour and brought everyone into the quilt auction barn and caused the amish to light lamps so that everyone could see the quilts.

Later, my husband and I walked through the flea market. There's always something to buy, if you know what you're looking for. I purchased several sewing items - rickrack, buttons, homespun fabric, a packet of quilt patterns, a quilted wallhanging kit, two embroidered dresser scarves not quite finished, lace, and a cookie cutter. I got all this for less than $30. I also picked up a lovely blue, plaid, pleated, wool skirt at an antique shop on the drive home today. After I felt the wool, I'll have about a yard of fabric for only $7.20, which is significantly less than buying it premade at a quilt shop.

With the decline in the U.S. economy, I am taking the recycling route for obtaining some of my sewing and quilting supplies. Can't beat a bargain!

Posted Sun, Sep 4 2011 9:25 PM by Pamela | with no comments