Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Show and Tell

Last Friday I enjoyed a lovely antique quilt show and tell at Linda's home, the venue for the internationally acclaimed Quilts in the Barn. The Chester Criswell Quilt made its 21st century debut at Linda's last August and it was great to bring it along again.  This time Miriam and I had our CCCQ blocks as well and we had good fun matching the new to the old.  These photos are all Miriam's, I was talking too much and forgot to use my camera.
There were plenty of other quilts last Friday, you can see more photos on Meredithe's blog.
Block 11 will be flying through cyberspace tomorrow so check your inbox if you are on The First Year list.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

More on Signatures

I haven't seen this block yet but it is flying halfway around the world to greet me.  Nancy from Tattered Garden Quilting was concerned about signing a block for the first time, and this is her maiden effort. How good is this signature!  A few comments on her blog asked about the pen she used, and Nancy has done a post about her pen trials. Nancy used a Pigma Pro, I used the Micron pens.  I have been tracing my signature from the laptop screen, but I can see that it is time to lift my game.

The best book I've seen on signing blocks is Pepper Cory and Susan McKelvey's "The Signature Quilt".  I re-read the section on "Embellishing Handwriting" and decided to give it a go.  I started with lined paper and the first ball-point pen I could find.  I followed the hints in the book and started doodling.

It was quite enjoyable.  I haven't quite got the look I want, although I am happy with the 'Australia' in the bottom left hand corner.

I need lines to keep my writing straight.  If I have some sort of stabilizer on the back of the block I will rule some dark lines on that, then  use them as a guide to write on the front.

Patti left this comment on the last post about signatures.  Thank you Patti, it's just what I needed to hear.

I've finally stopped worrying about how I sign my blocks. My handwriting has deteriorated lots as I've gotten older and my hands get more arthritic. I used to agonize about my signature, but now I don't. I make sure the writing is legible, but that's it. I don't try to be fancy. Remember, your handwriting is individual and belongs to you alone. I'd much rather have the block creator's own writing on a signature block as it is a part of who she is - just as much as the fabrics she selected when making the block.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Signatures and Such

The quilt history books tell us that often the signatures on a friendship quilt were all penned by one individual.  Someone with the best handwriting was given the job, and she or he wrote each name on the appropriate block.

There is no way to be sure if Rachel signed her own name.  But I found another item which Rachel did sign.

This is the front page of the thesis that Rachel submitted for her medical degree in 1867.  I found it online in the archives of the Drexel University College of Medicine. Do you think the same person wrote both items?

Speaking of signatures, I'm going to the Southern Cross Quilters Retreat in Bendigo in July (HOORAY) and I need to make sixty signature blocks.  I will have to sign my name and location sixty times.  My handwriting is quite ... unremarkable.  I would appreciate some advice on how to make a nice, neat signature.

How do you sign your quilt blocks?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Photos of Rachel Dickey's Block

There are two fleur de lis blocks in the Chester Criswell Quilt.  This is the block by William and Mary Watkins of West Philadelphia.  There are a number of blocks from West Philadelphia.  All you history buffs out there, was West Philadelphia part of the Philadelphia city in the 1850s or was it a separate town?

William and Mary Watkins Block

I like the way the stripe runs diagonally through the block.  The pattern would have been placed on the bias.  I wonder if the maker folded the fabric on the bias and cut out the quarter pattern or if she traced the pattern onto a bigger piece of paper and then cut out the applique.

I hope you have enjoyed this block.  If you have a photo we all want to see!

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Block 10 Fleur de Lis

I have postponed doing this blog post.  Miriam did such a good job as guest blogger I was reluctant to bump her off the top of the blog!

Triva question - What is the plural of fleur de lis?

Block 10 Rachel Dickey's Fleur de Lis 

According to Wikipedia, fleur means flower and lis means lily, although the fleur de lis symbol is more like an iris than a lily.  The fleur de lis design can be "religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic"

The fleur de lis is certainly well known as an applique block.
Barbara Brackman lists it as applique block # 6.6.

Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Applique

The International Quilt Study Center has five fleur de lis quilts in their online collections.  I like this one the best.

"International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1997.007.0836"
This quilt was probably made in Massachusetts between 1840 and 1860, so it is a contemporary of the Chester Criswell Quilt.  Doesn't the pattern look different on point?  The applique work is striking, but it's the quilting which is phenomenal.

I have been asked how many people are making blocks from the Chester Criswell Quilt. I have seen photos of blocks from twelve different people, but I suspect there are more than that.  Have you finished a block that hasn't been shown?  We'd all love to see it!

Trivia answer: the plural of fleur de lis is fleurs de lis. Now you know.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rachel Dickey's Block and a Guest

As a newcomer to needleturn applique I love seeing how other quilters do it.  I approached Miriam from Yellow Roses to be a pattern tester and to show us her applique method.  I hope you enjoy Miriam's words and pictures!

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Hi, I am Miriam from Yellow Roses and I would firstly like to thank Sharon for inviting me to be her first guest blogger!
Today I am writing about making Block 10 of the Chester County Criswell Quilt; Rachel Dickey's block.

First of all I laid out some of the blocks I had already made and selected some possible fabrics for the block.  I chose the first fabric on the left.  It is a patterned ombre fabric from a Windham collection called Baltimore Album by Mary Koval.

When preparing my blocks I trace onto freezer paper which has been folded into quarters.  I use staples to keep the four layers stable while I cut out the design.

The freezer paper is then ironed to the right side of the fabric and I use a white pencil to trace around the freezer paper pattern. I cut out the design leaving a generous 1/4 inch seam allowance. I also leave cutting into intricate areas until I am stitching. This means there is less chance of fraying too close to a seam.

I then carefully tack the design onto my background fabric. In order to help with alignment I gently fold the background fabric vertically and horizontally. The large pins help to hold the design while I am tacking. If I need extra stability while I am stitching I use small applique pins.

I always use needleturn applique for my blocks. As I stitch I trim the seam allowance back to a generous 1/8 inch; even less in tiny spaces.

A close up of my stitching.  I try to come out in the fold of the fabric. My favourite needle is a size 10 Clover gold eye applique needle, but I love a very thin needle. For this project I am using a Superior Bottom Line thread, but I often use YLI silk for my applique.

The finished block.

Thank you very much again Sharon for inviting me to post on your blog!