Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Designs Still Worth Doing: Defying the Design Odds, Part 1


Today we continue to explore the quilt patterns of Ruby Short McKim!  What's worth doing this week?  How about designs that defy the norm?  This is a 2 part series and tomorrow we will show a second pattern that exemplifies my theory.

1922 brought changes to Ruby's life.  She became the art editor of a new magazine for children.  Child Life magazine began in 1922 and continued for another 50 years.  It became very successful and many of us remember the magazine from our youth.  Ruby worked for Child Life for the next 16 years.

She introduced a new quilt pattern in this magazine, the Alice in Wonderland series.  Each month, one or two patterns were included in the issues and children could embroider their blocks.  And yes, it was another angular series.  But even if you think that angular patterns are dated, some things transcend styles.  Alice in Wonderland will always be a beloved children's book.  And yes, I think this one is worthwhile a second look.

A few years ago, a friend was having a tea party for her granddaughters.  

My friend wondered what she could use as favors.  I suggested placemats and used the pattern for each mat.

Sorry the above photo is so yellowed, I couldn't figure out how to edit the color properly. 

If you decide to do this kind of project for a child's party, please be advised--ALL the little girls want to be Alice.  You'll have some tears if someone has to be the Queen of Hearts or the Gryphon!  😂

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: June 6, 2024


Happy Tuesday Friends!

Yesterday's post was late (I plugged in the wrong date) but I wanted to share Nancy's comment and you can read it here.

Sending Nancy hugs!  We all have tales of things that were tossed that we wish we would have claimed from our parents and grands.  

My husband is recovering well from his hand surgery.  Actually he is recovering too well.  I can't believe the mobility he has and the physical therapist on Monday said he can't believe it either.  I'm happy he isn't as uncomfortable and I was but dang it, some things just don't seem fair!  😂😂 Of course my husband is enjoying his speedy recovery and can even turn a door knob already!😕

What's going on in the sewing room?

I'm making 16 patches with a jelly roll and some 19th century reproduction scraps.  I have no idea what the layout will be yet.

I hung a new addition in the sewing room.  When my paternal grandmother, Nana Elsie, moved out of her house, my maternal aunt bought her house.  This is the aunt that is my age.  I apparently once told her if she removed Nana's kitchen wallpaper, could she give me a piece to keep?  I don't even remember asking that (she bought the house nearly 40 years ago) but Kathy remembered and sent me a piece a few months ago.

I don't remember much about Nana's old kitchen but I remember when the new one was being installed.  It was so pretty compared to other kitchens in the family.  Anyway, I framed a piece of the wallpaper and hung right aside of where I sew:

One other thing from the sewing room.  Why the heck did I buy this red and white polka-dotted fabric?  I truly have no clue at all but purchased earlier this year.  Have you ever done that?  Sheesh!

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, June 5, 2023

Tender Keepsakes


Good morning!

Well today's post is called "tender keepsakes" because there are just some quilting things that touch my heart.  Maybe they will touch yours too.  

For those of you new to the blog, I like quilting ephemera.  Ephemera defined is:  1.  Items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.  2.  things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.  Today's look is at quilting stencils and templates.  I have a whole wooden box of them.

The pieces are worn, thin and floppy from use.  The edges have remnants of  pencil marks on them.  Yet I cherish them and the quilters that used them.

In 1937, Florence La Ganke wrote a whole Nancy Page article on the importance of making one's own stencils:

La Ganke points out that cardboard templates can be used for the patterns to do one's quilting--or use for applique templates.  She suggested using light weight carboard and a razor to make the quilting lines or dots.

Of course quilters had already been using this technique for decades.  And that brings me to these tender keepsakes.  We love our quilting, love our quilting tools and patterns and so did our foremothers.  Every piece of ephemera I have in my collection was from a woman who couldn't bear to part with her ideas and patterns.  In a sense they tell a story of her thriftiness.  The idea that she saved these pieces all her life...possibly even after she could no longer quilt reveals her love for sewing. 

I also think that it's significant that the family didn't just throw the paper away.  Most of the pieces I have were purchased at auctions or estate sales.

Some of the templates/stencils even have small pieces of fabric  clipped to them.  As if the maker was working on with the project and suddenly got interrupted.

I enjoy seeing what is on the other side of the templates as well.  Here is a pattern that used a notepad front page.  It's not even cardboard, but undeterred, the quilter used it.

The back of the template also reveals what was in the maker's house.  Sometimes it is cardboard boxes but I never did figure out what this box was from...the actual piece seems too big for the back of a cereal box.  

Of course some women bought quilting patterns and I occasionally find those as well:

But I much prefer the home made versions that women made.

I often wonder what my kids are going to do with my "paper junk" as they might call it.  I suspect the younger generation won't treat these things as reverentially as others before them.

For now, I'm just the keeper of these treasures.  Would you feel as sentimental about these items as I do?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, June 2, 2023

Flower Friday: June 2, 2023


Happy Flower Friday!

I'm sorry to relay that our friend Sue P. took a fall in her own garden last week and broke her hip.  She's hoping to get home from the rehab on Saturday.  We all send lets of love and hug to Sue!!!  Get well soon!

Barb S. sent some lovely photos of her honeysuckle, "Scentsation."  She says it does have a lovely fragrance!

Barb pretty much summarized what most of us gardeners are doing around here these days:  "All I've done this week is water and check the weather forecast."  The Lehigh Valley where we both live had officially less than a quarter inch of rain for the whole month of May.  Even with the watering I've done, the soil makes it impossible to weed:  the consistency is like concrete.

Nann from With Strings Attached told me that they are officially in drought where she lives in Illinois.

How is the weather where you live?

Despite the dryness, the garden continues to look okay.  I took a photo of my foxglove the other day and realized you can see the Irish moss blooming.  It looks magical to me:

I told you last week that the pretty Missouri primroses were taking over the beds.  Here's an example:

The cleome is doing okay despite the dry conditions:

Wishing you all a happy and weekend!  Take care Sue!

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Peony Thursday


Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and I'm wondering how your garden is faring.  We still need rain and hopefully we will get some this weekend.

Hubby had his hand surgery yesterday and all went well.  It will be a while until he heals (he had the same trigger finger surgery I had last November).

Despite the lack of rain, the garden is filled with flowers, particularly peonies.  Here's a look at an old pattern from 1945.  I made a similar wall hanging years ago (can't find it now, I must have given it away).  I think the pattern was from Eleanor Burns at that time.

If you have any flowers to share, please email me at!

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Designs Still Worth Doing: Jolly Circus and Nursery Rhyme Quilt

In September of 1921, McKim's quilt design for the Jolly Circus Quilt was published in Woman's World magazine.  This was a coup for the designer.  Woman's World magazine was one of the most popular women's magazine at that time.  
Apologies--the magazine is tall and I couldn't get the full image to scan.  Here's another look at the quilt:

What I like about this quilt:  The images are joyful and I love the design of the quilt with the two horizontal stripes flanking the top and the bottom.  It's a different look and appealing!

Is this a design still worth doing?  Well I loved the pattern and even bought fabric to make this one:

But the problem is that none of the younger generation was interested in having a Jolly Circus Quilt.  The truth is that circuses have not been popular for some time (and evidenced by the closing of Barnum and Bailey in 2017).  

But as an historian, I know very well how popular the circus used to be.  In the first half of the twentieth century, it was a big deal when the circus came to town.  Even the arrival of the circus by train was an event.  Animals and performers would parade and perform en route to the venue (a clever marketing ploy) and if a child was too poor to attend...well schools closed that day so all the children could see the antics and magic of the circus.

So I have to ask...would you make a Jolly Circus Quilt for a child in your family?  How well would it be received?

In 1922, another series quilt designed by Ruby was published throughout many newspapers.  This one featured Nursery Rhymes:

Things were about to change more for Ruby and we'll talk about that next week!

Have a safe and happy day!


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: May 30, 2023


Happy Tuesday!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday weekend!

My husband is home and getting hand surgery tomorrow so if posts are sporadic this week, that's why.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly.

I had some finishes over the weekend!  I finished Karen's bird quilt:

Finished 4 quilts for Christmas that are based on the "Out of the Blue" quilt pattern that was a free tutorial at Riley Blake's blog.

Three of them were blue and white like this one:

I had a long talk with Beth on Saturday.  We always make sure to chat at least once a week for at least an hour (usually longer).  At one point, Beth considered getting rid of some of her Civil War reproduction fabrics.  My advice this week was to use them up.  The price of fabric is so high these days and there are always people that like muted tones.  Don't you agree?  

I'm actually working on using some of mine up right now.  I have a jelly roll of Barbara Brackman's "Baltimore Blues" that I won a few years ago and am using them up to make a gift quilt (not even sure the recipient yet).

What are you working on?

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, May 29, 2023

Happy Memorial Day!


Happy Memorial Day! 

Taking time today to remember and give thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country!

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Flower Friday: May 26, 2023


Happy Flower Friday!

Today Nann shared photos from a recent trip to Volo Bog.  The bog is in Illinois and looks fascinating!  Nann shared all the names associated with each plant!  You can read more about her visit at her blog here.

Water arum, calla palustris.  Also swamp lily, water-dragon, bog arum:

Cleft phlox, phlox bifida: 

Golden Alexander, zizia aurea:

Purple pitcher plant, sarracenia purpurea.  Also Huntsman's Cup, Side-saddle flower, Turtle Socks:

Over here in Pennsylvania, my garden is in full bloom.  I was concerned about my Nikko hydrangeas, they are still slowly starting leaves on the woody branches and I wondered what was wrong.  I'm wondering if the hydrangeas struggled during our winter (often warm but occasionally cold) because the bushes at the rose garden are similar in their stunted growth.  Hopefully we will be getting some flowers later in the season.

But what is blooming:

Sundrops and Missouri Primroses are beginning to bloom:

Both of these are in the evening primrose family and both tend to take over the garden.  (the pink Missouri primroses invaded the lavender).  I always have to pull some out after they bloom.

Astrantia with Japanese painted fern in the background:

Foxglove with more primroses in the background:

Black lace elderberry:


Wishing you a safe and happy holiday!