Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 CCCQ Revisited - Block One

Happy New Year - I hope some of your wishes come true in 2016.

Today is the start of the Chester Criswell Quilt Revisited Quilt-A-Long. Jane Wilson's Block 1 is the first one to revisit.  Each week one of the CCCQ blocks will be featured, and you can quilt along or just admire everyone's progress.

If you don't have the pattern you can download it from the Two Bits Patches website.

You can visit the Chester Criswell Quilt Pinterest board, I've pinned pictures of blocks that were made three and a half years ago when the first block of the month began.

You can view three blog posts from 2012 when it all began:

I finished my project for December, so I can start something new. Excellent!

Inspired by 19th century Ohio sampler quilts

Saturday, December 12, 2015

End of the Year Projects

December is always busy.  We own a retail store that sells, among other things, remote control cars and helicopters, so business is brisk.  I'm also in a brass band that plays for the Christmas carol evenings, so my spare time is spent on the drumkit. But I also make time to get to the sewing room; it's amazing how making a block or two can reduce the stress.

Here's my CCCQ today.  Rows 1 to 4 are hand quilted, row 5 is quilted and ready to join together.  I still have to quilt five blocks of row 6.

The Chester Criswell quilt-a-long starts in 3 three weeks when it will be next year! You can join the quilt-a-long by following the blog, or you can sign up for the weekly emails.

The 'Round is the Ring' e-book sales are progressing; I'm working on two new books for next year.

I finished a quilt for my granddaughter's fifth birthday.  The pattern by Elizabeth Hartman is called Aviatrix Medallion, so we thought it was a good choice for Amelia.

Our patchwork group makes blocks each month with a predetermined colour scheme, and then at our Christmas breakup we each get a set to make a quilt (or to leave in the cupboard for future use).  My present this year was made in Gelati colours (for non-Australians, think citrus and sherberty colors).

I have a lot of quilts on beds in my house.  When visitors come I have to move piles of quilts to access the beds.  So my thoughts for next year are to make some tiny quilts for the walls of my sewing room.  This month I have been channeling my Ohio ancestors and making some sampler blocks.  It should finish about 24 inches square.

How do you cope with the busyness of December?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

2016 CCCQ Revisited

What's the CCCQ and why does it need another visit?

The CCCQ is the Chester (County) Criswell Quilt.  This quilt is a reproduction of an antique quilt that was a Block of the Month beginning in August 2012.  Signing up for the project required a major commitment; with 33 blocks in all it took 3 years to get to the finish! It wasn't impossible and a number of sewers finished the quilt and are at this very moment quilting the result.  You will probably see some of these masterpieces in 2016 at quilt shows in USA, Canada and Australia.

Not everyone finished all the blocks and a few people have asked for another chance for a fresh quilt-a-long. I like the idea and am personally looking forward to revisiting the blocks.  It won't be a three year project this time, at a Block of the Week we should finish about the end of August 2016 (when there will be a brand new old quilt pattern launch, God willing.)

If you are new to the Chester Criswell quilt ...

 ... let me tell you a bit about the CCCQ.  The Chester Criswell Quilt was a signature made for my g-g-grandmother Mary McClellan Criswell for her wedding in 1852.  The original quilt was used to draft new patterns for each block, and the names on the block were researched to create a story to go with each pattern.  The 33 patterns were divided into The First Year, The Second Year and The Third Year.  The patterns are all available as downloads on the Two Bits Patches website.

The blocks are 12 inch finished with the large centre block 24 inches square.  To make the whole quilt you will need 4.5 yards of backing fabric and about 4 yards for the applique.  The patterns are full size and ready to print on your computer.  The patterns are designed for needleturn applique but could be done by machine; they would suit a quilter with some applique experience as detailed sewing instructions are not included.

Block No.1 is a free download, you can get that one pattern and see if this project would suit your skills.  To get an idea of how the finished blocks look at the Chester Criswell Quilt board on Pinterest.

If you already have your patterns for the quilt ...

... but haven't completed all the blocks then this quilt-a-long is for you. You can pick up the blocks you need to make, and share photos of the ones you have already finished.  The block of the week will rotate through the Year patterns - one block from The First Year, next week a block from The Second Year, the following week and block from The Third Year and then back to the first year.  If you finished Years 1 and 2 but not 3 then you can do one block every three weeks (sounds like a plan..)


If the last thing you need is another project for 2016 ... 

... then that's fine too, you can still follow along. You can still read the blog and sign up for the emails.  You can still Like the Facebook page.  You can watch the video on YouTube.  You can get the e-book Round is the Ring That Has No End: Stories from the 1852 Chester Criswell Quilt

So, what do I do now?

You can add your name to the email list.  Starting 1st January I will send a weekly email to let you know which block is featured each week.  You don't have to sign up for the emails; if you follow the blog or The Two Bits Patches Facebook page you will still be in the loop.

If you need to buy the patterns you will find them at the Two Bits Patches website.  You can purchase them as The First Year, The Second Year and The Third Year.  Each pattern is also available individually but it is cheaper to buy a whole year.  Please respect my intellectual property; you could copy a friend's pattern but a lot of time and effort has gone into making the patterns and the prices are kept as low as possible.  The website is in Australian dollars; if you are buying with US dollars, euros or pounds you will get an even better deal.

You can click Like buttons and share this post.  Each time you 'like' on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest or any other social media site you send the post around the internet again.  The more Likes, the more people see our quilts and the more interest raised in our fascinating, time-consuming, wouldn't live without it hobby. 
 Here's to 2016 and the CCCQ Revisited!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Quilt-A-Long in 2016

It's official - there will be a quilt-a-long for the Chester Criswell Quilt in 2016.


This will give you a chance to catch up with some of those unfinished blocks, or to join in if you have just discovered the Chester Criswell quilt.  The details aren't finalised yet, more information to come.

I have made a button to put on your blog or page.  If you copy the html text below and add it to your blog you can have a button share the quilt-a-long with your friends.  This is new for me, please let me know if the button works or not.

<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="" / /></a></div><br /><a href="">Come quilt-a-long with the CCCQ</a><br /><br />

 P.S. My Kindle e-book made it up to #33 on Amazon, thank you for your clicks.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

#87 on Kindle

I'm very pleased to say that my e-book "Round is the Ring That Has No End: Stories from the 1852 Chester Criswell Quilt" is currently in the Top 100 Quilts & Quilting in the Amazon Kindle Store.

Happy dance. Go me!

Helpful hint: You can still be the first to review this item. ;)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Visit to Castlemaine

I've been quilting these two blocks - Elizabeth Cummins Block 26 and Maria Criswell Block 29.  I have two thirds of the quilting finished on the Chester Criswell quilt.  I was hoping to finish before the end of the year but that's not going to happen.

We traveled to our son and daughter-in-law's home a few weeks ago.  We only visit once or twice a year but we used a long weekend to stay a few days. 

Fortunately for me their house is near Castlemaine, an old gold mining town between Bendigo and Ballarat.  The Castlemaine area has old buildings and trains.

Castlemaine has a lot of nice shops but my favourite is Threadbear. Threadbear stocks a wide range of reproduction fabric; I've done a workshop with Di Ford Hall at Castlemaine too.

I bought some nice things to play with.

I also had a conversation with another quilter at the shop.  I don't usually strike up conversations with strangers, but quilters aren't really strangers - strange maybe, but not strangers.  I gave her one of my new postcards.

I later discovered this stranger's name was Robyn because when I arrived home there was an email waiting for me.

I met and spoke with you briefly when shopping for material in Threadbear on Monday and you gave me your card.  When you mentioned the Chester Criswell quilt it seemed familiar to me and on returning home I looked up your website.  I realized I had previously read about the blocks on a blog. I am so in awe of your history and that you retain the original 1852 wedding quilt with all the signatures. ... I now wish I had asked more questions of you.
How nice!  It was so lovely that someone had made that extra effort to get in touch - it made my day. Thank you Robyn for taking the time to write and all the best with your Baltimore blocks.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A New Family Soap Opera

A few weeks ago I spent some pleasant hours looking online at quilts for sale.  There were a few signature quilts to admire and these blocks got my attention.

Who was Grandmother Reeve? And who was Grandmother Schlenker?  These two ladies were side by side but their signatures suggested that they were two very different women.  Fortunately the price of the quilt didn't stretch the budget (very much) and I opened the parcel on Monday.

The quilt is in good condition, one block has some wear.  I assumed 1930s without looking too closely at the fabrics.  There were a number of Reeves on the quilt including Grandmother Reeve.  I jumped onto to make a start.  I had no location information so I searched for the most unusual name on the quilt.  Unfortunately I found a possible three different Fidelia Hollingsworths.

I tried a few other names without a lot of success but got a hit with this one.

Only one Allo Reeve.  I was then able to locate a few other names on the quilt.  It appears that a previous generation, Quakers in Indiana, relocated to Amarillo, Texas and kept up contacts with the folks back in Indiana.

I choose Esther Reeve O'Rear to get some details.  Esther adopted the common American practice of making her maiden name her middle name so I knew she was married and could search both her single and her married records. 

I found Esther's death certificate.  Hooray!  A death certificate gives plenty of information to fill in the gaps.  I was quite pleased until I found her cause of death.

Carbon monoxide intoxication (self inflicted) sitting in an automobile inside an enclosed garage with motor running.

I wasn't so excited now.  I felt like an intruder into someone's private life.  I finished with the computer and didn't search any more that day.

I took up the search the next day.  Esther's death was over fifty years ago and I was hoping to find out more about her and her family.  I went back to the quilt to transcribe all the names (which I should have done before I started on the computer).

I discovered dates!  There were two 1916s and a 1896.  There were ages too - 22 years, 27 years and 74 years.  1916 seemed to work with the ages of the writers so I looked again at the fabrics.

I spy shirting prints.  The quilt seems to be 20 years older than I first thought. I've never had a quilt from 1916, this purchase is looking promising.

(I just double checked Esther's age .... Esther was 7 years old in 1916 so the quilt can't be this old)

I am now pretty certain than Grandmother Reeve was Ethel Reeve nee Hadley, Esther Reeve O'Rear was one of her daughters and Allo Reeve was one of her daughters-in-law.

But who was Grandmother Schlenker?

to be continued ...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Going Once, Going Twice

This quilt is up for auction next week.  It is dated 1886 from Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

Hand stitched Album Quilt

No, I'm not going to bid.  By the time I add the buyer's premium, wire transfer fees, the dollar exchange rate and freight to Australia I would have a tough time justifying it to my spouse.

However I did buy one (or maybe two) other quilts online recently.

My first purchase arrived today.  From Texas, dates of 1931 and 1939, and lots of names to explore.  Can't wait to hit and see who I have.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Which do you prefer - the movie or the book?

I've made a promo video for my e-book, Round is the Ring That Does Not End: Stories from the 1852 Chester Criswell Quilt.

Do you like it?  The music is Hanover Hymn, played by the Sale (Victoria, Australia) City Band.  I'm playing the tympani.
The e-book has a rating on Amazon now, it's #490 in Quilts and Quilting Kindle e-books.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rising Sun Rises

I purchased a sampler quilt last year which has a late 1800s / Ohio look about it.  My favourite block on it is this Rising Sun.

Rising Sun

The Rising Sun block can be pieced or appliqued.  Ruby McKim says the pieced block "is an intricate pattern, but not enough so to daunt the quilt maker who aspires to a design that is both lovely and unusual."  Fortunately mine is an applique block, all the white space is the background fabric.

I started to make my own Rising Sun last week.  I printed the pattern from EQ7 - BlockBase 3390.  I made plastic templates and traced the pieces, then used my light box to get the positions right.  Everything started quite well.

My original block has the yellow centre circle and the yellow triangles on top of the red segments so I did the same.  Not so good now.

The red peeks out between the two triangles.  I can see that I need to turn under the outside edge of the red segments before I add the triangles. And I need a lighter thread colour - which I have to buy online and the postage is more than the thread. I have put the whole block aside for the moment ...

My granddaughter spent a few days with us this week, a treat for all of us.  We made a quilt for Emma's teddy.  Emma choose some orphan blocks and matching half triangle blocks and arranged them.  She did the pinning and handed them to me to sew and press.  We are both pleased with the result.

If you look at the blogs listed on the left side of this post you will see some Chester Criswell quilt finishes.  Hoorah!  I know that not everyone got through to the finish; some people made The First Year blocks but would now like to make some more. Some folk have just recently bought the patterns and have missed out on the blog posts and photos each month.

I have been considering running another quilt-along for the Chester Criswell quilt.  I'm thinking one block every two weeks, starting with Block 1, then the first block of The Second Year, the first block of The Third Year, then back to Block 2 and so on.  There would be no commitment, just a chance to share your progress and see what others are making.

What do you think?  Love to see your comments here.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Now Appearing at Amazon

My new e-book is now available for your Kindle reader.

If you would like to share this news with your friends, I won't mind at all!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Photos at the Finish Line

The final block of the Chester Criswell Quilt was certainly a challenge to make.

There are two of these blocks in the quilt, one made by Jane Trayner and one by Martha Turner.  I wonder if they chose a difficult block because they wanted to contribute their best to the bridal quilt, or if they were a bit inclined to show off.

I certainly found this block daunting.  I keep putting it off because I was uncertain if I could do it justice.  Fortunately applique is just one stitch at a time and once I started I found that it wasn't impossible.  You can hardly tell that my circles aren't quite evenly spaced around the wheel (that's part of the charm, I tell myself...).  At the end of this post there is a place for you to share your pictures of Block 32 and Block 33.

Have you downloaded a copy of the e-book yet?  It's now in my Etsy store in US dollars as well as the website in Australian dollars.  If you choose to suit your location you can save a little in exchange rates.


Here is the place to share your photos.
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.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Quilt As Desired

I knew when I started my Chester Criswell blocks three years ago that I wanted to quilt it by hand.  I also knew that if I waited until the top was finished and then started to hand quilt it would take another three years to complete the project.  So I chose to Quilt As You Go - quilt each block as a single block, and then join them together.

Signature quilts weren't over quilted - the blocks and names were more important than the needlework.  The CCCQ has each applique block outline quilted, and then a second quilting line on the inside of each applique.  Each block is also quilted around the edge.  Only the centre block has additional quilting, a feather design filling the background space.

All the quilting on the original was done with white thread.  I didn't like the look of my white stitches on the red fabrics so I have used three colours of Superior Threads King Tut - white, Romy Red and Avocado.

I finished quilting my centre block not so long ago.  The block is four times larger than the other blocks but it took ten times longer to do.

The drawback to Quilt As You Go is joining the blocks together.  I machine stitched the two top pieces together, then overlapped the batting so there would be no gaps and slip stitched one back over the other.  That was okay until I tried to quilt around the block edge.  The overlapped batting was too thick and I couldn't rock the needle unless I made my stitches twice as big.  I have now undone all the backing and batting stitches, very carefully trimmed the batting to meet the next piece and sewn them side by side.  I am happy with the result and can get on with the job.

The official date for the e-book launch is 1st September.  But some of you may have noticed that the e-book is already on the website.  I couldn't wait, I was too excited.  So you can purchase 'Round is the Ring' now.  The prices are in Australian dollars but don't let that scare you.  The Aussie dollar is at a six year low so if you are buying in US dollars you are getting a great deal.  There is a currency converter link on the website so you can check your cost before you commit. Or look at it this way - the e-book is cheaper than a Big Mac.

You'll find the e-book at Two Bits Patches.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

1st September - E-book launch Date.

It's official now.  The e-book "Round is the Ring That Has No End: Stories from the 1852 Chester Criswell Quilt"  will be on sale 1st September.  27 more sleeps!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Antique Show and Tell at Quilts in the Barn

Early this month I attended an antique quilt Show and Tell at Linda Collins' home Quilts in the Barn.
In the morning Janet O'Dell brought some of her vast collection of quilts, particularly English quilts.  I spent more time looking and less time taking photos - which isn't a bad thing.

I love the interesting cut off borders.  I'm a bit of a slap dash quilter myself so I feel validated when I see missing points and not quite right angles.

 A zigzag border and fluro orange centrepiece.

At the other end of the spectrum, a very carefully calculated diamond border corner.

Waste not want not.  The square on the right has three bits of fabric pieced together to make the square.  Some squares had up to seven little fragments.

Some fragments are a closer match than others.

 A young Queen Victoria - probably amused.

After lunch there was more Show and Tell.  Lots and lots of antiques and reproductions, but my favourite came at the end of the afternoon.

Miriam from Yellow Roses brought along her FINISHED Chester Criswell top.  Miriam used the same fabric as me for the infamous Block 33.

I think that Miriam's CCCQ is the first finished top - my blocks are Quilt As You Go so they aren't joined together yet.  I know there are a number of Almost Finished, I wonder who will be next?  Why not add a comment and let us know where you are up to.