Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: May 17, 2022

Happy Tuesday!

May is my favorite month and to be honest, I'm spending more time outdoors than indoors.  But as I hunted around the internet for some news, I found an interesting site that had a few articles I thought I would share.  The site is called "Curated Quilts" and I like it because it shares recent quilts.  

Claude Debussy once wrote that "music is the space between the notes."  In art and quilting we call this "negative space" and it is just as important as whatever we feature with our pens or needles.  One of the articles on Curated Quilts features quilts that celebrate negative space.  

Another post I enjoyed featured quilts that represented solidarity with Ukraine.  

The last article I studied featured Temperature Quilts--if you haven't seen one of these or know someone that is doing one it's an interesting concept.  A few quilters I know have done these.  Each day of the year, a different block or piece is added to the top to represent the temperature that day.  A good article on these quilts is also here.

Now I am off to walk the dog and get out into the garden...it's seed planting day!

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Bluebells for Sandra


Memory flowers.  For many people a specific flower can stimulate a memory of childhood.  Sandra recently wrote to me about Virginia Bluebells.  She wrote: 

"I enjoy my patch of Virginia Bluebells each year.  Some came from my grandfathers woods  the floor of which was covered with them in the spring…a sea of blue.  We would go in search of the pink ones or the occasional white ones."

Today I thought I would share a photo of my bluebells quilt.  I thought I had featured it before but when I did a search of the blog, I couldn't find a photo of it.

The quilt was called "Blue Bells" (yes that was how it was spelled) and was a kit quilt offered by Paragon in 1939.

The background of the quilt is a peach percale and featured these elegant bluebells that reflect a soft art deco style.

I've never seen another quilt like this.  The quilting on this piece is exceptional and the quilt shows little wear.  I have often wondered it if had ever been used at all.  

What flowers stimulate childhood memories in you?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Flower Friday: May 13, 2022

 Happy Flower Friday!

It's been a glorious week here in the north east part of the country.  I hope you have had some time to enjoy the great outdoors too!

Libby sent these wonderful photos:

Rhododendron by the lake!

Libby's Annabelle hydrangea is ready to bloom!

Secret garden with viburnum and iris!
What a magical place!

Sue sent these photos:
Solomon Seal

Shooting star.

White violets!

Rock Cress Iris.

Sue wrote, "I forgot what these are 😁"
But of course she knew they were forget-me-nots!

Here in my garden I continue to weed but also did some pots with annuals.  It's a never ending battle with the squirrels versus Michele and her pots.  I go inside for a second and when I come back out, they have dug up my pots.  My usually benign and sweet Nana used to sprinkle red pepper in her pots with the comment:  "I'll burn their little a**es off!"  That never worked well for me so now I just put rocks in my pots.

Some of my allium are blooming but half of them were really burnt during the cold weather snaps we got this spring. 

The gorgeous irises that Lorraine gave me are in full bloom.  

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022


 This season, my Mayapple plants have really taken off!   

I got my original plant from my friend Pam years ago.  I don't think I've ever seen them offered at a nursery.  The plants have a tropical appearance and although I appreciate that, I actually like the plant for sentimental value...

A woodland plant, I first encountered it when I went to Girl Scout summer camp.  It certainly wasn't a species I'd see in my Nanas' city gardens or our suburban garden.  When I was a teen, I was a counselor at the same camp.  Counselors earned a whopping $1 per day for our efforts.

Every part of the plant is poisonous except for a brief period of time when the fruit ripens and is yellow (it sometimes is referred to as Wild Lemon).

At Girl Scout camp, we never got to really see the flowers or the fruit.  The flowers and fruit appear in spring and by the time we attended camp, both had faded.  Last year I was delighted when my plants actually flowered:

In 1922, this pattern appeared in the newspaper and celebrated the best part of the plant--the unique umbrella like leaf structure:

I couldn't find an actual example of the pattern used in a quilt.  To me, the pattern isn't just unique, it reminds me of the Art Deco period and also reminds me of a poinsettia quilt offered by Grandmother Clark in the 1930s (here).

The ad for the quilt pattern states:  

"Have you ever walked out into the orchard when the trees were in blossom, and wished that you might carry their fragrance back into your own bedroom with you, and keep it forever?  I believe that the person who designed the May apple quilt pattern must have felt this way about those fragrant spring blossom, and sought out a way to be reminded of them, even when the ground was carpeted with snow.

Any dainty color might be used when making up this quilt.  Think how pretty a soft pink would be with a touch of green, and these on white background!  Blue, yellow or lavender maybe substituted for the pink, if you prefer them.  One could not wish for a prettier quilt."

Barbara Brackman did a whole post on Mayapple quilt patterns (here).  Her article focused on the flower.  For me, the magical quality of the plant is actually the umbrella like leaf structure.

A later article featured women in Missouri who adored working on a "May Apple" quilt but the pattern does not resemble the one I featured:

Do you like this pattern?

Tomorrow I am taking a day off to garden and take my mother to the doctor's.  If you have anything to share for Flower Friday, please email me at allentownquilter@gmail.com!

Have a safe and happy Wednesday and Thursday!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Going Back to Basics

 Have you ever lost your quilt mojo?  I have lots of friends who have lots of advice but recently I got one piece of advice from a friend that I've decided to take.

He said, "Go back to basics."

A simple statement but he meant my quilting and it's what I've decided to do.  I won't go into the long list of things I do for others these days or how exhausted I often feel.  I will say that I've been afraid to tackle any major project because I was afraid I would mess it up.

So yesterday I pulled out some charm packs and turns out, I had some Kona white packs as well.  I went waaaay back to the most basic patchwork.  It's a simple checkerboard and it felt good because it was a project I could handle.  I should have a quilt top by the end of the week if nothing else surfaces this week.

If you are feeling as ragged as I am, then maybe this piece of advice can help you.  I hope it does.

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, May 9, 2022

Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls, and Charms

 Happy Monday!  

How was your weekend?

We had a good soaking rain that lasted from Friday through Saturday and we needed it!  Everyone's garden and grass are looking fresher and happier!

Happily, I got a call from the sewing machine hospital on Friday that my machine was repaired and I spent Friday and Saturday finishing a quilt top for my cousin's grandson (sorry no photo yet but it's a simple square in a square quilt).  But then I wondered, what I had planned on working on next and couldn't remember until last night.  Oh yes, I wanted to use up some more charm packs.  And all that got me to thinking about you and what your opinions.

Today's topic is...Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls, and Charms.

Do you buy them?  Do you use them?

The idea of pre-cut fabric isn't really that new.  I know that some retailers (like Sears) used to sell sample packs of fabrics.  I have a doll quilt that is made of one of those packs:

I even have examples of the fabric samples sold in the 1930s that I found at an antique store once:

I admit I was first seduced by the idea of charm packs, jelly rolls, and layer cakes.  I especially liked charm packs because they were affordable and gave me the variety of what was offered in the line.  I've only bought 1 or 2 jelly rolls which are still in the drawer and only one layer cake--because the merchant didn't  have yardage of the fabric.

I find that the pre-cuts limit my imagination and often (in the case of charms) are not cut accurately.  Recently I finished these baby quilts for the twins and had to cut the charms down to 4.5 inches because the sizes varied so much.

The bottom line is I generate enough scraps to fill a full deep drawer with 5 inch scraps, 2.5 inch scraps and 2.5 inch squares.  This is just the charm drawer:

Yes there are some charm squares in there but 99 percent of the squares are leftover fabrics I sized a la Bonnie Hunter.

I'm more inclined to buy a fat quarter or half yard pack (or both) if I fall in love with a design line.  That way I have enough of it to make something or two from the fabrics.

What are your thoughts on the matter?  Have you noticed that charms and jelly rolls are being offered on sale regularly from your favorite fabric shop?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Flower Friday

 Happy Flower Friday!

Libby sent these photos from her garden:

Irises blooming by the lake:

Peonies all set to bloom!

But just look at her azaleas! 
This is her view from her sewing room--wowsa!

Everyone's azaleas seem much farther than mine!
Sue sent this photo.  Several years ago she stopped by a friend's house who was weeding and complimented her friend on her beautiful azaleas.  Her friend said, "do you want one?"  And plucked a 4 inch baby to share.

This is that azalea now!  It's so nice to have plants that remind of us friends!


Sue also has this German Iris blooming.  Another Pass-along Plant, it was from her sister's garden in Maine:

We are supposed to have a good soaking rain for the next two days.  I'm hoping it will help our gardens.  We have been very dry and the flowers are all in holding pattern right now!

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Azalea Patterns

 Breaking News...

Remi Joanna was born at 5:21 p.m..  She is 8 lbs just as I predicted.  It was a tough and long birth and we are so proud of our Maggie!

We thought they would have done a C-section but Maggie had to  do it naturally.  In a new switch, her mother was allowed to be in the room during the birth with Maggie's husband Matt.  I was pretty surprised by that but relieved.  The epidural had failed and I am sure she needed her Mom as well as Matt.  

Rema, Maggie's Mom holding Remi.

Back to our originally scheduled post...

Spring is azalea season and often while I'm puttering through my day, I wonder--is there a quilt pattern for this or that?

In our neighborhood, there is one pinky purple azalea that blooms in early spring.  

The other colored bushes don't display their flowers until much later.  In fact, my white and red ones only have small buds on them.  So of course I wondered, was there ever an azalea quilt pattern?

I only found two examples to share with you, this one which was published in the late 1930s by Nancy Cabot; I also found this to be the only in Brackman's applique encyclopedia:

The other was an embroidered quilt pattern offered by kit quilt company named Mayfair.

I don't see any examples of these patterns on the internet but if you need some azalea inspiration, stay tuned tomorrow on Flower Friday!

If you have anything to share for Flower/Friendship Friday, please email me photos at allentownquilter@gmail.com!

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Break Day

 I'm having some trouble concentrating this morning.  My niece Maggie has been in labor since Monday and our poor girl is still at it.  The epidural has failed, the pain is terrible, and the baby was in some distress overnight although she (the baby) is doing better.   I've already written tomorrow's post so I think I am just going to take a hiatus today. 

I'm going to putter around the house to keep myself occupied.

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: May 3, 2022

 Happy Tuesday!

This week's "This and That" features conversations with Sue!

On Monday, Sue emailed me and pointed out something really important.  

Note the colors of the children's clothing:

The boys ware donned in pink, the girls in blue as was the style.  I know I've written about this before but this is such a great example!  Sue pointed out that the boys are donned in pink, the girls in blue as was the fashion in the 19-teens and 1920s.  In fact, a 1917 Ladies Home Article article pointed out that pink was appropriate for boys because it was such a strong color while blue was more "delicate and dainty" and suitable for girls.

The embroidered pieces I originally featured are from the 1930s and feature opposite colors:

By the 1940s, most manufacturers were marketing blue for boys and pink for girls.  

As Sue rightly pointed out, earlier in the 19th century and very early 20th century babies and toddlers were dressed in white.  White was perfect and bleachable when the children messed their clothing.  Her example was this photo of FDR:

When I received this email from Sue, I laughed so much.  It reminded me of this family photo:

I told my aunt who gave me the photo that I loved this picture of Nana Elsie (seated in front).  She looked so much as she did later in life.  My aunt responded, "That's my father."


Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Good Questions

 After I posted the Pictorial Review post (here), Nann asked some good questions!

"Have you ever tried transferring those really old transfers?"

Yes I grew up using old transfers that had been my grandmothers' and even my great-grandmother.  But for experimental use, I thought I would do an example for you.

Okay the results are not perfect but well enough that I can fill in the gaps with a frixion pen.  Not bad for a 100 years old.  You may or may not be able to tell that the image is created from a series of little dots of ink that were pressed through a stencil.  I suspected this one would transfer because the dots (which you can feel) were still raised.

Of course, it all depends on how well the transfers were stored.  Patterns that had already been used rarely left a decent image.

Nann also asked:

"I wonder, what is the technology/chemistry of the ink that makes the transfers?"

I never found an article on this but I know why.  This was proprietary information because the process was patented.  In fact, in the U.K. where the technology was developed, there was a huge patent war between Briggs and Company--the company that was most successfully marketed in North America and Deighton Company.  Although Briggs won the battle, Deighton one the war.  Deighton's company lived on much longer than Briggs' and in fact, Deighton Needleworks is still in business.

Now about those toddlers that I shared from Pictorial Review--I found an actual coverlet that used them on Etsy (here):

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Happy May Day!

 Why yes, it's unusual for me to post on a Sunday but I wanted to wish you a Happy May Day!

I'm going to guess that many of you remember growing up during the Cold War when May Day wasn't celebrated because it was considered a communistic holiday.  Although it was celebrated as  "the International Workers Day" in communistic countries, the actual holiday has been celebrated--and still is-- for centuries in most cultures as the first day of spring.  I have elderly neighbors who remember dancing around the May Pole when they were young.

May Day is often featured in early 20th century textiles.  I don't own a single piece that features this holiday but found some on Pinterest and online auctions to share with you:

Tablecloths include this beauty found via pinterest on another blog.

It's my favorite season and favorite month and I hope you get to enjoy a wonderful warm day to celebrate!