Saturday, December 21, 2013

Almost Christmas

Isn't it good when you get a chance to work on an idea that has been buzzing around in your brain.  

Summer Tulips

I have been wanting to make some six inch blocks based on the Chester Criswell patterns.  This is the first one.  I've used the small flower pattern from Block 14 and added some cheddar too.  I like the colours but I like just red and white too.  I'm not sure which colour scheme to continue with for the next blocks.

It's three sleeps until Christmas and I am looking forward to Christmas afternoon.  After church we will be driving to our Christmas rendezvous. No cooking for me, hooray!  We have three grandchildren and one more on the way so Christmas is a great time to be with family.  

Hope your holiday plans are just what you ordered.  See you in the New Year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Inspired by Quilts in the Barn

When I visited Quilts in the Barn in September I bought about a dozen fat quarters.  I was inspired by the fussy cut hexagons and hour glass blocks on display and I decided to make my own little quilt.

I made the hexagons first, and then I made some hour glass blocks.  I was stuck with how to get started when a quilting friend mentioned Di Ford's Antique Wedding Sampler.  I used Block 15 from that quilt as a beginning, then just kept adding rows.

Fussy cut hexagons are great fun.

This star didn't make it on the front, it had to settle for the back of the quilt.

This blog is going to be quiet for a little while, Christmas does seem to take a lot of energy.  Block 17 will be on time on 1st January 2014.  In the meantime, enjoy what ever the Christmas season brings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Block 16 Adaline Gibson

Block 16 is on the website now.  It's nice and easy, just right for busy December.

You can find it here at Two Bits Patches.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

We have a winner/s!

I've won a prize in the Blog Hop - I can't believe it!

Thank you all for adding a comment to my Blog Hop post.  The random number generator has chosen Leonie from Germany, Cheryll from New South Wales, Debra from Oklahoma, Renata from South Dakota and Janet from Yukon Territory, Canada. Congratulations to the winners, your patterns are on the way.

A big thank you to Michelle from for organising the party, I'm looking forward to the next one.

To everyone else - don't despair, the patterns are all available at  The Australian dollar is losing ground at the moment, so it you live in the USA the patterns are even cheaper for you.

The new pattern is Adaline Gibson's block and it will be on the website on Sunday 1st December.  It's a quick one to make ... which is just as well, Christmas is 27 sleeps away ....

Blog Hop Party - You are All Invited!

This is my first Blog Hop Party, come and help me celebrate!
Thanks to Michelle at the Quilting Gallery for organising it, must be a lot of work Michelle!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

My Giveaway

this giveaway is now closed

I am giving away five single patterns of the Chester Criswell Quilt.  The patterns are applique reproductions of my red and green signature quilt made in 1852.  15 patterns have been released so far and are available at  my website Two Bits Patches.  If you are one of the five winners you can choose any one pattern from the fifteen available, or you can chose to have the pattern for Block #16 which will be ready on 1st December.

Block 1       

Block 2     

Block 3    

Block 4    

Block 5   

Block 6  

Block 7  

Block 8   

Block 9  

Block 10

Block 11

Block 12  

Block 13

Block 14

Block 15

The patterns are downloadable pdf files, so you don't have to wait for the mail.  Each pattern has the template and instructions and a story about the wedding guest who signed the quilt.

To enter, leave a comment with the pattern number you would like to win, and tell us where in the world you are from.  One entry per person. The five winners will be chosen at random after the blog hop finishes on 26th November.  I will contact you if you make your email address visible, if I can't get in touch with you by the end of November I will chose another winner.

HINT:  Block 1 is free on the website, so you can go to Two Bits Patches now and download Block 1.  I can send the winning patterns to any email, so you can chose to have a pattern sent to a friend or even as a Secret Santa gift or Kris Kringle.  I'm good at secrets!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Photos of Mary Wilson's Block 14

Have you finished Block #14?  If you have we would all like some show and tell.

Block 14 Mary Wilson

I was working on this block while DH and I were away on a short holiday break.  Whenever I see it I think of the beach we walked along and the lovely bed and breakfast accommodation (complete with sauna and massage).  This block makes me smile.

Do you make associations with quilts you are working on?  I know a lot of women take hand sewing along while waiting for children's swimming lessons or sporting activities; some women are sewing in hospitals or sickrooms.  How does the context of your stitching make you feel about your finished project?

If you have posted about Block #14 just follow the instructions below.  If you haven't a blog you can send me your photo and I'll add it here.

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Quilting Bee Part 1

I enjoy buying books about quilting almost as much as buying old quilts.  My latest is Ruth Finley's "Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them".  This is an ex-library copy, but it is a first edition from 1929.

It's a surprising interesting book to read.  Finley was born in Akron, Ohio (just like my sister) and became a journalist and a collector of quilts.  There is a fascinating article about her here at She did many interviews with women about their family's quilts, trying to capture the social context as well as the quilts.

I set Alice McClellan's story at the quilting bee where the CCCQ was being quilting.  I was quite pleased to then read about quilting bees in 'Old Patchwork Quilts'; especially about quilting a bridal quilt.

"The quilting (bee) was in those days considered the most solemn and important recognition of a betrothal." 
"The dower chest of the old-time bride was supposed to contain at least a "baker's dozen" of quilts.  Twelve of these were fashioned with a view to every-day use; the thirteenth was a "bride's quilt", a piece de rĂ©sistance so elaborate of design in both pattern and quilting that it was to all intents and purposes a counterpane.  The bride's quilt was planned and executed only after a girl was definitely engaged.  The others, so far as piecing went, were the work of the years of maidenhood.  And, as top after top was finished, they were laid away to await quilting.  There were several reasons for this latter custom, the most important being that the real cost of a quilt came only when the wadding and back had to be supplied.  This expenditure was pointless until such time as a new home was about to be furnished.  So to invite guests to the quilting of a girl's "tops" was the equivalent of announcing her approaching marriage."
I guess UFO's weren't such a problem as they are today!

Ruth Finley also writes about the friendship medley quilt.  This was a surprise party, often organised for a newly engaged woman by her best friend.

"At such a party the guests arrived early in the afternoon.  Each brought her own material, and the first thing to be decided was who would piece which pattern.  This was a merry task, for no two blocks might be alike and some were far harder to construct than others.  The rivalry though was for the intricate designs rather than the simple; it was an occasion for displaying one's deftness with the needle.  But there was not too much delay; for it was etiquette that, by the time supper was served, the blocks should be both finished and set together and thus the entire top done.  The material for the set was furnished by whoever it was that got up the party.  Of course, the boys put in an appearance for the feast.
"It was obligatory for the girl honored by a surprise medley to give the quilting bee that must follow to the same list of guests.  I have never seen an unquilted "Friendship Medley" top."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Photos of Alice Criswell's Block 13

Block 13 was a big one, wasn't it.  But I know that a few are finished now so it's time to share your creations.  It's easy to share your blog entry, the instructions are below, or you can send me your photo and I will add it to the post.

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Block 15 and a Winner

Block 15 Alice McClellan

Block 15 is available at It's a fun block and not too hard.  I've called it Oak Leaf Pinwheel.

There were a lot of buttons in the jar - 253 buttons in fact.  Sandy O is the winner of the Second Year patterns, well done Sandy.  You have one week in get in touch with me.  (Your Blogger profile is set to 'do not show email', so I can't get in touch with you.)  To everyone else, thank you for your guess, better luck in the future.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Block Round Up

Here are some photos of CCCQ blocks that have recently been finished.  It doesn't matter if you are working on Block 3, or if you are completely up to date with Block 14 - the quilt has been around for 160 years and another year or two won't make any difference.

Carole at Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus has been sewing in tropical far North Queensland.

Wendy from Legends and Lace has finished Block 9.

Quilting at the Farm's Chris also finished Block 9, but she gave it away.  Chris finished Block 1 and she gave that away too!  Visit Chris's blog to get the whole story.  Here is her Block 4.

Scrap Happy Wanda has a gorgeous Block 12.

And this is the block I'm working on.  I'll tell you more in a few months.

If you haven't entered the competition to win The Second Year patterns, be quick!  You've got one extra day to guess the buttons.

Block 14, Alice McClellan's block, is about to jump into cyberspace.  I wonder what Alice would think to see her handiwork flying though the ether?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Win!! Free!! (have I got your attention?)

Now that The Second Year of the Chester Criswell Quilts is underway, it's time for a competition.

This competition is now closed and we have a winner. 

Block 13 - the centre of the CCCQ

The prize is easy.  The winner will get all eleven patterns of The Second Year.  Blocks 13 and 14 are already released, Block 15 will be available on 1st November and the rest of the patterns will be sent on the first of each month.
If you are the winner and you already have already signed up for The Second Year, you can nominate to have the patterns sent to a friend's email address.

Now, how do you enter the competition?  I'll look around the house for inspiration (mind the dust...)

Okay, I'm getting warmer...

Here we are.  It's a guessing competition.

How many buttons in the button jar?

In the jar pictured there are a number of buttons.  One clue - it is more than 100. The person whose answer comes closest without going over is the winner.  If more than one person is correct then each winner will get a pattern prize.  

To enter, comment below with your numerical guess.  You can also tell us about one of your current projects.  That won't help you win but it will make the comment list more interesting.  The competition closes at midnight 31st October.  You can only enter once, your first guess is your only guess. 

I will contact the winner after the 31st October.  If you are registered with Blogger or Google it's easy, I can send you an email.  If you comment as Anonymous there is no way that I can contact you; I will post on the blog that you are the winner but you will have to contact me within one week.  If  I don't hear from you I will choose the next best answer and so on.


I almost forgot the free part.  Block 1 of the quilt is always free.  You can get it here. You will need to register on the website, but you don't have to make any payment.  Don't hesitate to share the free link with your friends, it is

I have been asked about printing the downloads in Australia and the USA.  Paper sizes are different around the world.  Australia commonly uses A4 paper which is longer and narrower than the US letter size.  This can cause real headaches if you are printing a pattern designed on the other side of the world. 

The Chester Criswell Quilt patterns have been designed with this in mind.  You can happily print the patterns anywhere and the size will be the same as the original. When I print the pattern here in the Land of Oz there is extra space at the bottom of the page; if you print it in the USA there will be extra margins on each side. 

On your mark, get ready, Go!  Hope you win!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Family Treasures

I sent an email to my aunt in Tennessee telling her about the work I was doing with the family heirloom quilt.  She sent an email back - she had an old photo album with pictures of the Criswell family, was I interested in looking at it?

Was I ??!!  I didn't know these photos existed.  I had some from my maternal grandmother's father's family but none from her mother's family. We organised to post the album to Australia.

While I was waiting I tried to imagine what photos the album would contain.  Would there be any wedding photos?  What would Mary Smith nee Criswell look like?  Would she be as lovely as the Long sisters from Kansas City? Maybe she would even look a little like me.

The album arrived the other day.  It is quite heavy.

Full of promise

The album front-piece

The recipients of the CCCQ

Mary McClellan Criswell

Well .... I'm happy to say that I don't look much like my g-g-g-grandmother.  I don't know how old Mary was when this was taken, I hope she was a schoolgirl in this photo and not a bride-to-be.  Not the most flattering hairstyle.

There are about thirty photos in the album, fortunately all labeled in my grandmother's handwriting.  I like this photo of Mary's daughter Alice Smith.

I wish I know what colour the dress fabric was.  The dress must be homemade because little sister Hannah Mary has the same material.

Good looks aren't everything.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back to Block 14

Block 14  Twin Tulips
Mary Wilson was 16 and living with her mother when she signed her block for Mary Criswell's quilt.  Mary Wilson then disappears from the census records.  She probably married but there isn't an easy way to trace her once her surname has changed.

I decided to follow Mary's siblings to see if there were any clues to Mary's timeline.  I used one of my favourite genealogical sites, and discovered the grave-site of her sister-in-law Elizabeth Wilson.  Included with a photo of the tombstone was this intriguing historical snapshot.

"Elizabeth was the mother of Martha (Ella) Long, wife of R. A. Long, the lumber baron, who started his Long-Bell Lumber Company in the small community of Columbus, Kansas.
She was a Quaker and a woman of great courage and foresight. She moved her nine children from Pennsylvania to the new and primitive town of Columbus, Cherokee County, Kansas following her husband's death in 1868."
Martha Ellen (Ella) Long nee Wilson

I googled 'R A Long timber baron' and was introduced to the R A Long Historical Society.

Robert Alexander Long grew up in Kentucky and migrated to Kansas as a young man. He tried his hand at a number of enterprises and failed at each.  R A Long spent one season making hay which he stored in timber sheds; the hay was cut at the wrong time and proved worthless.  Long consequently dismantled the sheds and sold the lumber at a profit.  Selling timber led to buying a sawmill, then a coal mine, then a railroad and the successes never stopped.

R A Long built his home Corinthian Hall in Kansas City Missouri.  It now houses the Kansas City Museum.

Corinthian Hall

R A Long also built Longview Farm, a model farm of 1,780 acres with 60 buildings, a chapel, a hotel and 175 employees.  Longview Farm was famous for its show horses.

Show Barn at Longview Farm

R A Long married Elizabeth Wilson's daughter Ella in 1876.  Their first child, a boy, lived for only a few weeks.  Robert and Ella Wilson then had two daughters, Sallie America and Loula.

Sallie America Long

Sallie America Long went to finishing school in Washington, D.C. and then went on a world tour.  She met and married Hayne Ellis, a naval officer, and established a home in Washington D.C.  When her husband died she returned to Longview Farm to live with her sister Loula.

Loula Long

Loula Long was a horsewoman.  She was one of the first women to compete against men in horse and carriage events. Loula was well known for the horses she bred at Longview Farm and for her hats.  She married Robert Combs lived with him and her children at the Farm.

Loula Long Combs driving Capitvation

I found the story of the Wilsons and the Longs fascinating, I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse into their amazing lives.