Monday, July 31, 2023

More Patriotic Needlecraft


Happy Monday!

Well I found some more interesting patterns featured in Needlecraft ads during World War 2.  I'm wondering if you find these things as interesting as I do.  I am and most of you are too, baby boomers who grew up after the war ended.  But World War 2 was definitely in our social culture.  We had relatives who fought or volunteered during the war.  Television shows, movies, and books reminded of us of the horror and valor that occurred.  We may have not grown up during the war but it was definitely in our social consciousness.  

April 1942

Slippers that could be made and were "unrationed footwear" published in November 1943.

Star quilt pattern, December 1942.

Douglas MacArthur embroidery pattern.  A unique pattern, I couldn't find any other general celebrated in this way.  April, 1942, shortly after MacArthur's famous speech to the Philippines: "I shall return." 

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Flower Friday: July 28, 2023


Happy Friday!

Well the dog days of summer are upon us and many of us are hibernating indoors near our air conditioners.  This week, Sue sent us two lovely photos from her garden!

Beautiful phlox and lily!

Gorgeous gladiola!

Many of you expressed interest in chaos gardening.  I suspect you have more area to garden than we do but I'm glad you are thinking of doing that next year.  If you do, please send us a photo of the results!

Stay cool and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Royal School of Needlework: Overlord Embroidery


Happy Thursday!

One last World War 2 post (at least for a while) and it involves the Royal School of Needlework.  The Royal School of Needlework was founded in 1872.  The term "Royal" was used when Queen Victoria agreed to become a patron.  The original school was founded to help women avoid poverty.  During the centennial of our country, the school had a special exhibit displayed.  Candace Wheeler was so charmed by this idea that she founded the NY Society of Decorative Arts.

Both organizations continue to this day and are dedicated to preserving hand embroidery and needlework techniques.

Recently I stumbled upon an article published a year ago that relays one of the projects the Royal School completed.  The Overlord Embroidery panel depicts D-Day and is...well 272 feet wide (longer than a football field) and took 5 years to complete.  You should really study this and I am sharing links here and here and here that you can peruse.

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and I am hoping that some of you have photos from your garden to share.  Please email photos to me at

Have a safe and happy day!

Chaos Gardens


Lately I've been reading about chaos gardens.  Some of you may be asking what is that?  Well essentially, one takes leftover seeds or buys new packets and deposits the seeds willy-nilly throughout the garden to see what takes.  Space between plants is discouraged because it is a good habitat for wildlife and insects.  If you google it, you will find lots of websites about this kind of garden.

The idea originated from a book written by Mirabel Osler called A Gentle Plea for Chaos.  It's on my list to read this winter.

In a way, this type of garden is not unlike creating your own "wildflower mix" that you can buy at the garden center.  Some of the photos I've seen don't look chaotic at all but well planned (like Osler's as a matter of fact).  Other borders show that one hardy flower (like coneflower) is gradually overtaking the space.

One reason that a particular flower or two might take over a garden is the actual germination process.  I can tell you as a person who started about 80% of the flowers in my garden by seed that the germination process depends on more than throwing seeds on soil.  Some seeds need darkness to germinate (like delphinium),  some need heat, and some are fine just thrown willy-nilly (larkspur, foxglove, and balsam).

Still while I am reading about chaos gardening, I inadvertently look outdoors to my borders.

Oh yeah, soooo chaotic.

It's nearly August and it's that time of year when I get a bit frustrated with the garden.  Once we got rain plus summer heat, it became a jungle out there.  There's hardly any place to rest one's eye while looking at the flowers and plants.

I don't like when the plants begin to crowd each other.  It often encourages diseases to spread.  I just plucked a number of rudbeckia because of powdery mildew or rust and I don't want that spreading.

But I do keep one bed fairly thick (at least for the summer).  I always have rabbits that hide in there when they feel threatened and I want them to be safe.  But the rest of the beds, I thin out as much as I can in the summer heat.  I started doing this last weekend to this bed.

Of course summer temperatures challenges this kind of endeavor.  There's a reason why we garden more in early spring and autumn.  It's better for the plants and us.

My last objection to chaos gardening is that my own life is chaotic enough.  It's hard to juggle all the facets of my life.  I would love that at least my gardens be a respite from the world.  I fall short of that goal nearly every year but I can dream right?  

Would you ever consider trying chaos gardening?

So how is your garden doing?  Please email me photos you would like to share at

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Designs Still Worth Doing: Rhymeland


One of the most endearing designs for children that Ruby created was "Rhymeland" published in 1935.

The characters on the quilt are some of the most charming patterns Ruby created; the children are chubby cheeked and most are adorable.  The designs are unquestionably still worth doing.

circa 1935 quilt close-up
The quilting motif was of a whimsical baby goose.  To be honest, I don't think I've ever seen the quilt without this quilting design:

I've chosen two Rhymeland patterns to make wall hangings.  The first was meant to be a gift for my sister-aunt who loves tea and loves cheerful fabrics.  She'll finally get it now that I've retired the program.

Another project I made was a wall hanging for all the baby showers that happened in our family a few years ago.  All the 20-somethings seemed to be having kids and since lots of them like the color grey, I used a grey themed fabric.

There are other patterns from this series that I hope to use some day.  Like the Rain Go Away motif.

Also love the Twinkle Star design:

This was a very popular pattern and the series ran in a number of states and territories (like Hawaii).  Multiple contest were sponsored by newspapers.  In Paducah, Kentucky, quilters competed for prizes of five, three and two dollars.  Over in New Jersey, winners earned twenty-five, fifteen, and ten dollars.

Do you like this pattern?

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: July 25, 2023


It's hard to believe that July is almost gone!

Life has been particularly crazy this past ten days.  Two trips to the ER for family members:  my husband who then had his gall bladder removed and my mother who had to undergo two surgical procedures for a problem she has periodically.  

Plus mom's dog, Kerry, moved in while she was in the hospital.  Kerry is young (only going to be 3) and keeping her from jumping on Brad (and his incisions) was a real challenge as well.  I know I'm one of the lucky ones.  I have a brother who helps a lot in these situations.  It was just a lot for one 10 day period.

Everyone's out of the hospital and recovering.  And of course, I just want to sew and garden.  

Saturday morning I took some time to finish Katie's quilt.  Mom's hospitalization meant I didn't finish her quilt when I had scheduled and I missed Katie's wedding shower all together :(

Yellow is Katie's favorite color.  The color of the quilt in the above photo is off because it was cloudy.  Her fiancee is in the army and the stars are in honor of his service.  It's a fairly large couch quilt.  I love the backing; it reminds me of when Katie and Helena (my granddaughter) played and dressed up as flower fairies.

Before this I had completed a number of tops.  Years ago, I made this quilt for my neighbor's daughter Keeler who loved all things hippie and boho.

I had a packet of strips left from the quilt and made this lap quilt from the scraps:

This quilt or the one below I will be giving to my neighbor Molly.  Molly loves anything boho or as she put it, "hippie-ish."  

The quilt pattern is called "Lofty" and I just wanted to use up some batik pieces I had.  I think I am going to have this quilted in navy thread; I don't think I have ever done that before and am interested in seeing how that turns out.  The top was an experiment.  I wanted to see how easily the pattern went together (very easy) and am considering doing a two fabric quilt with the pattern.

I found some more pinwheels in my stash and because they were smaller, made a baby top to use them up.  It's a smaller version of the quilt I made for Karen a few months ago.

It isn't the pastel type of quilt I usually make for babies but I figure if women are requesting grey quilts for kids, someone might want a teal one (the background isn't black but dark teal).

I'm playing with more of that bird fabric now.  Not sure what will come of that yet.  I'm still playing with layouts.

What are you sewing these days?

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, July 24, 2023

Clues in Patriotic Needlework


Happy Monday!

There was an interesting tidbit in the Los Angeles Times in the 1940s.  "Your Needlecraft" appeared frequently in the newspaper in the early 40s.  However it wasn't a column, it was an ad created to look like a column.  People tended to believe what they read in the newspaper (back then) and I'm sure it gave the advertisement more credibility.  It was a ploy (albeit a good one) used by Needlecraft:

"Warm Knitted Socks for Servicemen."  

Now you are thinking, why is this so interesting to ol' Michele? Well it isn't the ad layout.  Instead I'm interested that there was a call for knitted socks for servicemen.  Women knitted socks for servicemen during the Civil War, World War 1 and all the skirmishes and smaller wars in between.

I was interested in this ad because it was published in October of  1941...before Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War 2.  I know the historical summary: "Americans wanted to remain our of World War 2 and it wasn't until the bombing of Pearl Harbor that we declared war."  

Ads like this, provide insight on what folks thought and prepared for during this time.

On the very day this ad was published, the headlines of the paper discussed the torpedoing of the U.S. destroyer Kearney off the coast of Iceland.  The attack was perpetuated by a German submarine and 11 servicemen lost their lives.  It was the second attack of an American destroyer.  The Greer had been shot at in September of that year.  The attack of the Greer prompted Roosevelt to declare a "shoot-on-sight" policy to the navy:

Any German or Italian vessel that appeared "in any waters which America deems vital to its defense constitutes an attack. In the waters which we deem necessary for our defense, American naval vessels and American planes will no longer wait until Axis submarines lurking under the water, or Axis raiders on the surface of the sea, strike their deadly blow—first."

There were other clues in the needlework advertising that signaled what people thought and foreshadowed our entrance to the war:

October 13, 1941

Yes this could be considered support of the British and the Allies, but note the USA and eagle as part of the motifs.

October 6, 1941 and republished in 1942. 
Although many "God Bless America" needlework patterns were made before and after the war, this one has a definite menacing eagle (warning) to it.

Studying popular culture is important because it provides a broader look at history and the thoughts of folks at the time.

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Flower Friday: July 21, 2023


Happy Flower Friday!

Here in the garden we have a variety of flowers to brighten our day!

Cleome is beginning to bloom and below, the last of the hostas is blooming:

Above pink phlox is blooming and the bees are enjoying that and the swan hydrangea below:

Happily, the pink salvia has self-sown again! Second year in a row and more coming!

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Child's Patchwork Quilt


Today I'm sharing another Baxter and McDonnell quilt pattern, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The bear is missing, whether it was published or not, I'm not sure but is not available in the publications I can access.  Still the patterns would be easy enough to make with basic patchwork:

January 19, 1930

January 26, 1930

February 9, 1930

February 16, 1930

February 23, 1930

Tomorrow is Flower Friday!  If you would like to share any flowers blooming in your area, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Designs Still Worth Doing: Patchwork Parades


One pattern I frequently forget to mention is the Patchwork Sampler Quilt.  Collectors keep an eye for quilt with this pattern.  They tend to go for a lot of money at auctions.  You can see a wonderful piece here.

In 1931, McKim published not only her book (last week's entry) but also a new pattern called Patchwork Parade of States which was syndicated in many newspapers.

Washington State Quilt Pattern

"Mohawk Trail" was the pattern for New York state.

In 1931, the McKims published a new catalog called Designs Worth Doing.  It offered mail order patterns and kits for a variety of needlework.

One of the patterns I loved in this catalog was the Animal Alphabet Monograms.  I was excited when Merrily offered this and the floral monograms at McKim Studios.

Quilt patterns offered in the catalog included many of the patterns she had previously designed and some new ones like Bonnet Babies that featured Little Boy Blue and Mary in search of her little lambs.  It's not my favorite sunbonnet but every designer seemed to make at least one type of sunbonnet:

In 1932, the Fruit Basket Series was syndicated in newspapers as well.  A flower basket version (using the same basket) was also later offered:

In 1933, The Toy Shop Window pattern was introduced:

And in 1934, The Three Little Pigs pattern was published.  

I don't think I would ever do the Toy Shop Window.  I'm not impressed with the motifs.  I know I wouldn't do the Three Little Pigs.  Although the pigs are cute, I can't see putting a big wolf in the middle of the quilt.

One of the best series quilts was the American Ships pattern.  This was a perfect pattern for a boy and could easily grow with him as he aged.

I have a top of this pattern but the design focuses simply on the ships.  I still liked it and the woman who embroidered the blocks was disabled.  Her daughter assembled the blocks.

Things were about to change for the McKims but we have a few more patterns to review.  

Wishing you a safe and happy day!