Join me as I discover and share new quilting techniques

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pins and Needles

The quilt pictured above is not one of my creations....what a beautiful quilt from the late 1800's! This photo is from

Here are some "quilting quotes and notes" from the web I have hanging in my sewing space - hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

"I made quilts as fast as I could to keep my family warm, and as pretty as I could to keep my heart from breaking." - from a pioneer woman's diary.

Old quilt patterns went west with the pioneers, and new ones were made and named for the milestones of the journey. Kansas Troubles, Road to California, and Oregon Trail are pattern names that reflect a growing nation and the diversity of the patchwork tradition. Cherished souvenirs of life in the East survived the trip west, especially signature quilts, since they sumbolized ties to distant family and friends.

"I have found nothing so desirable for summer covers as the old-fashioned scrap quilt of which our mothers were so proud. Every girl should piece one at least to carry away to her husband's house. And if her lot happens to be cast among strangers, the quilt when she unfolds it will seem like the face of a familiar friend, bringing up a host of memories....too sacred to intrude upon." - Good Housekeeping magazine, 1888.

Scrap quilts are perhaps the most beloved quilts! The patchwork quilt was created out of need - the need for women to keep their families warm. They were made by a generation of quilters who spread out over the prairies after the Civil War. Times were tough everywhere, but the West offered new beginnings and opportunities for all. The railroads moved both people and goods, encouraging settlers with news from home and bits of calico and thread!

"It took me more than 20 years, nearly 25 I reckon, in the evenings after supper when the children were all put to bed. My whole life is in that quilt...All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces...I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me." - Marguerite Ickis, quoting her great-grandmother.

The 1920's are known for prosperity and change. Women achieved the right to vote, and modern technology - electricity, gas, and water lines - liberated them from household chores. Women pieced quilts for enjoyment, more than from necessity. At the same time, magazines and newspapers began to publish quilting patterns. They fueled women's drive to quilt. Magazines, such as Successful Farming and Ladies Home Journal, and newspapers, such as the Kansas City Star, were sought after by farm women who were the most devoted and productive quiltmakers in the 20's and 30's.

Hope the quotes inspire you to keep on quilting! I love studying the history of quilting as much as I love the quilting.

I have been quilting so much (and work has been so busy) I haven't taken time to post in quite some time! Soon I should have some new pictures of works in progress. Hand sewing has become my latest passion.... good old needle and thread. I discovered how much more control I have over piecing accurately with a needle and thread vs. the speed of the sewing machine. I am content with the portability of hand sewing and the soothing pace of work in progress. There are several advantages to hand sewing and quilting:
  • Power outages won't affect my work
  • I can quilt while I travel or watch TV
  • Ripping out mistakes is a whole lot easier
  • Precise alignment of seams is really possible
  • I never have to stop and re-load a bobbin
  • Most importantly, it connects me to the women who came before me and created beautiful quilts with only needle and thread
Have a wonderful quilting day and you will be amazed at what you can do with just a needle and thread!
from the Carousel Quilter......

Monday, January 18, 2010


Just some first thoughts this morning. Bless Dr. King for opening our eyes to injustice. May he rest in peace. I send a quiet and tearful prayer to all Haitians who are suffering through these terrible days, and most especially the Haitian children.

A few months ago, I visited a wonderful small quilt shop that has opened here in town. The owner has very limited space, but she has stocked her shelves with very nice quality quilting fabrics! I bought two Moda "charm packs" which are precut 5" squares of coordinated fabrics. I finally opened the packages, laid them all across the dining room table, and started matching the squares up in pairs.

Some of the pairs I have sewn into "half-square triangles".... with the help of that most magical gadget, the Fons and Porter quarter inch ruler.....just for the fun of what patterns I can think up. These charms may become a table runner.... not sure yet.

Aren't these cheerful? I love the retro cherry print.... maybe it should go in my kitchen as a wall hanging.

I fell in love with the color combinations in these prints. They are all happy hues!

Turquoise and red cherry print. I love this color combination.
When I took the quilting class in the fall, my teacher said these charm packs can just be sewn together for a beautiful small quilt. She also warned us that charm packs are addictive!! I believe her now....I love the fact that there is NO cutting, NO measuring, just sewing and designing. For those of us who work full time, this is the ultimate instant quilting gratification. Now that I see how easy they are to use, I'm sure I will be using them quite alot. I am still completely fascinated with needle-turned applique and all its creative implications. I think that charm squares, in muted background fabrics, will be a quick way to piece a four-patch or other patchwork design for an applique foundation. Happy Quilting from the Carousel Quilter!

Monday, January 4, 2010

My first day back at work after a TWO WEEK break... I need a bumper sticker that reads "I'd rather be quilting!" But it wasn't so bad... so thankful to have a job in this economy. The break was a great time to "practice for retirement" and understand how much fun I'm going to have when my schedule (someday) becomes my very own. The new washing machine is washing away tonight and I see empty laundry baskets in my future... the joy!!

The applique of "Spring Snowflake" is done! Not layered and quilted yet but the applique by hand was a great learning experience and I really enjoyed working on it while I watched TV (re-runs of The Tudors on Showtime started last night...the BEST)!! My plan is to quilt and finish just this one 12" block and frame it in a scrapbook frame. The new magazine I bought last week "100 Quilt Blocks" featured this pattern and suggested that any of the 12" blocks will fit a scrapbook frame. What a quick project for some new art work!!

Here's a little applique practice I worked on last week.... one white snowflake against the red fabric. This one is also done by hand - practicing my (almost) invisible stitches. I have some other snowflake templates that I will probably add to this piece.
Another churn dash block ... I call this one "Farm Town".... the details include cute little canned jellies and a hen..... the back of this is green polka-dot. I hand quilted this one but it still needs its binding completed...another rainy day project! One of many rainy day projects in my quilting corner. The picture below is a little close-up of one of the details that made me love this fabric... it was a fat quarter set from the Wal-Mart and cute as pie, I thought! It occured to me last night that I need to start NOW on Christmas quilt projects for December. I have some ideas brewing.....
See you again soon and thanks for stopping by!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The washing machine died yesterday (motor burned out) so I spent today shopping for the new washer. It is scheduled to arrive on Sunday morning thank goodness. Still working on the "Spring Snowflake" project tonight (applique tulips) and staying warm against this bitter cold weather and wind. I hope to post more photos tomorrow! Happy Quilting and counting my blessings for the resources to buy the new washing machine!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Works in Progress

Happy New Year 2010! I will definitely learn more this year about quilting and practice, practice, practice! I just bought the "Quilting Answer Book" which will stay by my side through all my quarter inch adventures! After my traditional (and wonderful) southern New Year's Day lunch of collards and black-eyed peas and a long afternoon nap, I will be back to my quilting tonight. Applique is now beginning to intrigue me...
My first needle-turned applique attempt...still in progress. The pattern is called "Spring Snowflake" and I will be adding pink tulips to the other five "stems". I just loved the name of the pattern and thought it would be an uplifting project for long and cold winter days. I'll post it again when it's all done and quilted!

This is what I learned to make in my quilting class last September - the churn dash block. I did it in Christmas fabrics and used it for a table topper during Christmas. I had a really wonderful teacher.... she was really patient with all of us beginners. I learned to make a template, use an accurate 1/4" seam, and do a hand quilting stitch.

This was my first attempt at machine quilting on my home machine. I loved the variegated thread for all the many colors going on in this twin-sized contemporary quilt. It is still a "UFO" (unfinished object) in my quilting corner. Machine quilting is ALOT more work than I ever imagined. I'm not sure this quilt will ever be the gift it was intended to be.... but I learned alot and had fun! Isn't that why we quilt?

Here's a quilt block with the top folded to show the bright yellow backing fabric which was the same bright yellow fabric as the center square. Had lots of fun making this one... all hand quilted. Still needs its binding. Practice makes perfect! All the graphics were done with red thread so I could really see the imperfection of my stitches but loved the results anyway!

A little of the red thread hand quilting.... keep on shining!!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve 2009 and I finally decide to publish my journey as a beginning quiltmaker! I am a true beginner, having taken only a beginner's quilting class September - November 2009. I hope to share my passion for the creativity I have discovered on the canvas of fabric.