Saturday, July 18, 2020

From Vintage Linen Stack to Quilted! Red and White Bliss

When I was a mere youth, in my 40s, I still believed I would live forever, so I bought a lot of vintage linens and embroideries at my favorite flea markets and thrift shops. Over the years, I accrued quite the collection. 
Now, a zillion years older, the pandemic quarantine gave me the time, space, and motivation to stitch some of my best old linens into this new 79" x 82" quilt. Front: 

The center is a spectacular linen tablecloth. I quilted around all the white foliage (but not close around every detail.)

At the center, I placed this cross-stitched (by anonymous, not by me) bouquet.

The other two embroideries on the front were found together, clearly made by the same person, stitched on dishtowels. In the lower left corner, I placed this scene of two kittens with a (Chinese?) vase: 
 In the upper right corner, I set this fabulous urn: 

The rectangle running across the top center - with teeny, intricate hand-embroidery on loose white linen - is a mystery. My theory was that it was made for a Greek folk costume, but my daughter thinks it looks more Eastern European  - your theory welcomed! 
Above that, I set a long rectangle made from an ultra-sweet apron print, from an actual apron. (You could call it meta-apron fabric.)
 Across the bottom, I set this brilliant apron. It's amazing how much fabric is in a mid-century gathered apron:
Down the right side is another formerly gathered apron. 

In the upper left corner, I put this hallucinogenic print, found in a bib apron. I'm guessing it's from the 1940s or 50s (Do you know?) 
 The back is sparser, but features linens that are no less adorable.
Below, the panel on bottom, with the crocheted tulips, was a pillowcase. I covered the crochet trim with monofilament thread zigzagging, so it didn't snag or distort when I quilted the top. The printed blue and green flowers are from yet another apron. 
There's a dishtowel with a dog embroidery, plus the pocket from another apron that I placed after accidentally cutting a hole in the back (don't ask). 
 Down the middle are two more aprons. 
And a giant linen table runner, mostly white but with one embroidery swoop in the middle, fills out the rest of the space.
This quilt is delicate - Vintage linens, no matter how gorgeous, are also often much less sturdy than new fabrics. They can tear easily. So this quilt isn't for heavy use. (Or if it is used that way, it just won't last forever.)

It was my second large quilt made from American mid-century linens. On my first, I also put a tablecloth in the center, smaller pieces in the borders - and then I scattered new English Paper Pieced hexagon blocks on top. 
A pattern with detailed directions for this quilt are in my new book, "Hexagon Star Quilts: 113 English Paper Pieced Star Patterns to Piece and Applique." More information about the book is here, and it's now in quilt shops, and on Amazon, here

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Need a Project? Take a New Look at an Old Quilt

Are you a loss for new projects? Quarantine is the ideal time to look at your finished quilts and ask yourself a melancholy yet potentially engaging question: Is this quilt really finished?

When I finish a quilt, I usually don't love it - I mainly see flaws. It takes a while to figure out whether it needs more. But this improv-pieced quilt was an exception. I just loved it when I finished it in 2017.

Then, the people I showed it to went "Very nice, meh, next."

Then QuiltCon rejected it. Dang, I was soooo not-understood.

I held my artistic ground, and defiantly placed it into my finished quilt pile (which happens to be the same as my unfinished quilt pile), where it sat until early February. I had just attended Road to California, and one of the costs/benefits of attending a show is that it makes you want to up your game. Could I add pizzazz?

What the heck, I went for it, quilting light diagonal lines between blocks. Then I appliqued puffy circles at the intersections. Now it looks like this:

I feel like I took an opera and turned it into a jingle. But that's not always bad - Bohemian Rhapsody, right?

The great thing about digital cameras is that you can take lots of pictures of every stage of your quilt's childhood. So, even though I destroyed the first version, I will always have Paris in the form of zillions of "before" pictures.

I originally called it "Eyeshadows," because the blocks look like eyes wide open, with rainbow mascara, Now, it might need a new name: "Round Pegs, Square Holes." The circles have batting inside, and the ones that hang over the edge have a finished back.  Each was quilted with a different design before being hand-stitched in place.

I'm not entirely sure if I ruined it or improved it, but it's definitely more fun than the original! And now, I sincerely hope it's finished!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Masked Hexagons, Part II: A English Paper Piecing Variation


I'm going nuts making masks! 
These are a few of my new masked hexagons, made from the scraps of face masks I've been sewing since March. In my last installment, here, I described how I made these hexies, using conventional English Paper Piecing techniques. At the time, I had only made about 35 hexagons. 

Since then, I've made many more masks to donate. So here's the finished quilt, with a total of 79 masked hexagons, all socially distanced. 

UPDATE: The digital pattern for this quilt is now for sale on Etsy, here. All money raised from this $1.99 pattern will go to my Los Angeles Regional Foodbank fundraiser, here

Here are some of my new favorite masked hexagons. The "faces" are cut from assorted solids; and the "mask" prints are from my vast stash of mostly novelty fabrics that I used in actual masks. Here's a bit of casino fabric that a friend gifted me.
The (mostly) round button eyes give them a startled look, appropriate for a pandemic. (Pandemic Pat?)

While making masks, I discovered that I own TWO radish fabrics. 

And numerous cat fabrics. This cat looks bored. 
Mighty Mouse intends to triumph over covid. The patriotic buttons almost look like eyes with red-and-white eyeshadow.

The red vintage paisley below is only nice in small doses.
Yes, that's matzoh fabric. 
Rainbow triangles go with everything.

A dandelion print reminds me that things more benign than viruses can blow in the wind.  
This awesome fabric features quilters' rulers:
Harry Potter is recognized universally as a symbol of meeting catastrophe with a great deal of anxiety (but triumphing anyway).
A truly horrible brown rose print made a remarkably nice mask for a hexagon. 

Bars - horizontal, or on an angle - keep the hexagons socially distanced. 
This next fabric -  the star - was from a print featuring Spongebob.  
A 1970's era flannel. So soft  and comfy. 
For quilting, I surrounded the masks with quilted covid viruses, and hypothetical pathogen-laden swirls

On the white area, I made more emanations
Again, the digital pattern for this quilt is now for sale on Etsy, here.
For a much simpler version of this quilt on a smaller scale, check out my previous post, here

Of course, I have hexagons and English Paper Piecing on my mind because my new book was just published by Landauer, Hexagon Star Quilts: 113 English Paper Pieced Star Patterns to Piece and Applique, available from Amazon (here) and wherever fine quilting books are sold! 
My mask-making resource page is HERE. Find my simple pleated mask pattern HERE. My roomy mask pattern is HERE