Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Something for me!

Last summer I bought 36 vintage blocks from a seller on ebay. I liked the double pink setting triangles and had an idea how I wanted to use them. So I began taking out the stitches. I wish now that I would have taken photos of the size of both the stitches and the knots. Most of the stitches were 1/4" long. The knots were the size of seed beads. There was no way these bad boys were ever going to come undone. The thread that the blocks were sewn together with was very thick and had three plies that were very tightly twisted. It is nothing I have ever seen used before. It reminded me of crochet cotton from DMC.
I have no idea of the age of the fabrics used in the blocks.
It would be interesting to learn how old the fabrics are.

Taking the blocks apart took me more than two weeks. I had to work slowly snipping the stitching threads so that I didn't clip into the fabrics. I had time to sit wonder about the hands that had stitched the blocks together so long ago. Who was the quilter who stitched these blocks? How old was she? The size of the stitches were 1/4" long and I wondered, was it her first quilt or her last? Was her eyesight failing her with age and was she old? Was she married? Did she live in town or on a farm? Did she have children? Why was the quilt never finished? What would she think if she knew I had undone all of her stitching?

After letting the blocks age just a bit longer, I finally decided what pattern to use. This is a Carol Hopkins Design. She has a wonderful line of patterns using reproduction fabrics. I am a huge fan of her patterns. I have too many to decide which one is my favorite. She has included directions for both handpiecing the LeMoyne stars, as well as a variation on the star for those wanting to piece the stars by machine. It is rare to find a pattern that will include directions for both machine and hand piecing. The patterns are well written and very easy to follow.

After hand piecing 9 LeMoyne stars that I bequeathed to Nadine, I have found myself in serious hand piecing withdraw. While the children were gone to the hockey games, I began tracing out the 1" diamonds for the stars from the brown and double pink vintage fabrics.
The background is a muslin and the setting blocks and borders are a pink reproduction fabric that I have tea dyed to help it look older than it is.

After tracing each piece I use scissors to cut them out. I find such comfort in cutting out each shape one at a time. I know that many of you would say "Oh, bother! Grab your rotary cutter and get it done!" But I love each step of the journey of hand piecing. It demands a
mindfulness, for if my mind wanders off the cutting line the scissors will make a poor cut and I will loose out on using that treasured little scrap. There are many fabrics that were only used once in the entire quilt. I wonder where the quilter who first pieced the blocks came across each of the fabrics. I'll never have the answer to each of these questions, but when I finish the stitching of this little quilt I will be sure to label and document it's making.

Here are stars two are three waiting to have their triangles and corners set in. Working from the center out has given me the best results when piecing the LeMoyne star. Working from the center out has helped me to align each of the points of the diamonds in the center of the block. Next to the feathered star, it is my favorite block. I hope to finish the stars tonight or tomorrow and move onto stitching the rows together. I am still trying to decide on the fabric to use for the inner border. I may have to make a trip to the fabric shop! Yippee!

This is the little book that waits patiently for me to find a minute spare minute or two. I came across these books while at a NQA show. They are called "The Teeny Tiny Traveling Tote." They are made by Froncie from Hoopla Patterns. There are four pages of fleece to store my pieces. In the back there is a little plastic bag for holding whatever notions I need. The top has pockets to slip a sandpaper backed cutting mat, rotary cutter and as my son refers to them, my grandma glasses. I keep a second book stashed away in my car filled with blocks to piece, in case I ever find myself out and without something to keep my hands busy. If you aren't familiar with Hoopla patterns, you should visit her site. She has a line of the most wonderful reproduction patterns. Froncie will be teaching a class at the NQA show this year. And if I would just put down the stitching and send in the class registration, I know I would learn a lot from her.

Update: This morning while not doing school because everyone is sick, I stopped over at Dawn's blog at Quilts and Pieces. She had a very cute coin quilt. The inner border fabric is just what I need for this quilt. Dawn supplied me with a link to a shop where I could find the fabric I was looking for. I love the way quilter's offer a helping hand to someone they've never met before. Dawn, thank you! I have ordered fabric for the border as well as finding perfect fabric for the backing.

Now I need to get busy while I wait for the mail car to come down the long driveway. The mail car only comes over the hill when they have packages. We very rarely have cars come up over the hill and when they do we know it's going to be something special.

Oh, and husband... since I know now that you are reading my blog, you can consider this fabric my Valentine's gift. Now you won't have to go out shopping!
Think of all the time I've saved you!
You don't even have to wrap it.