The Lost Ships – circa 1890s

img_4742Seventy-Two  Lost Ship Blocks are set diagonally with a red and black print to create this stunning quilt. The blocks are pieced using a different fabric design in each block.  These fabrics are complimented with a lovely cream and brown design.

 

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The quilt contains a block where the maker found herself short of one print and pieced a section of the ship with a different but similar colour.

 

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The fabrics used consist of florals, plaids, geometric designs and a few very unusual patterns.  The maker had a good supply of scraps as well as the red and cream.  The quilt displays 75 print fabrics. The scrap pieces may well have been dressmaking fabrics but obviously the red and cream was purchased for quilt making.

 

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The piecework and quilting is very well executed.  I presume this quilt was made by a talented and experienced needlewoman.  The quilt is finished with the quilt front neatly rolled over to the back to create the binding.   It is stitched in place with tiny, neat stitches. The backing is a plain homespun.  The quilt appears to have never been washed.

The quilt measures 66 inches by 84 inches and the  block measures just under  5  inches.

 

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In Ruth E. Finley’s book ‘Old Patchwork Quilts and The Women Who Made Them’ published in 1929, Finley refers to this pattern  “A pattern that was popular below the Mason and Dixon Line was called Rocky Glen though in the fishing villages of the Seaboard, where it was frequently employed, it was known as The Lost Ship.” So this is the name I shall use for this wonderful quilt which I am very happy to have to add to my collection.

Thank you for visiting and best wishes for your quilting endeavours, very warmly, Janette

The Plain Needlewoman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Learning Curve

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Curved piecing is considered more difficult to accomplish than geometric designs. But with so many beautiful patterns to choose from it is worth attempting to learn to sew curves. There are many fine quilting books available that provide step by step instructions for piecing the curve.

I have made a few curved pieced quilts including two Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilts, a Double Wedding Ring and a Mill Wheel quilt. I have recently hand pieced a quilt in memory of my mother which I have named “Marjie’s Star”. It is a six pointed star set with melon shaped pieces. It was a challenging design but enjoyable to hand piece.img_4676img_4681img_4677

Amongst my collection of old quilts, I have a Friendship Circle quilt.img_4641

This quilt is pieced from woollens, old suiting fabrics, velvets and silk. The block measures 17 inches. There are 16 full blocks and 4 half blocks to finish one side of the quilt. The seams are stitched with feather stitching and the quilt is tied. The backing is a paisley flannel.img_4685img_4684

Curved designs were popular during the 1930s and 1940s. These included the Double Wedding Ring, Drunkard’s Path, Fan and Dresden Plate quilts. Two unfinished projects that I have recently acquired both contain curves. The first project consists of 14 Dresden Fan blocks pieced and appliquéd onto a white background and set with hot pink. Also included with my purchase is extra hot pink fabric and the start of a scalloped border for the quilt. There is certainly enough to complete this 1930s beauty.img_4665img_4664img_4666

The Maker of the second project hadn’t progressed very far along with her piecing. There was a paper pattern with the partial blocks which I have identified as Mohawk Trail.img_4667

There are pieced blocks, partially pieced and many wedge sections cut.img_4668

I have re-drafted the pattern and will stitch a couple of blocks to see if it is going to work out. These sweet old pieces have sat undisturbed for many years and may have to wait sometime yet.

As this year is fast coming to an end, I will add these projects on my list of quilts to finish in 2017. Meanwhile I am busily hand quilting, and hope to finish a vintage Trip Around the World quilt before we bid farewell to 2016.

Happy Quilting, Janette – The Plain Needlewoman.

Piece by Piece

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Two new additions to my postage stamp quilt collection arrived recently.

Pieces of Irish chain quilt

Pieces of Irish chain quilt

One piece is an incomplete Irish Chain quilt top. The maker had nearly completed the top when something caused her work to be discontinued. Fortunately all the pieces were kept together, including an incomplete row, many extra squares, the little cardboard template and a large piece of muslin.

Blocks and plain fabric for finishing the top

Blocks and plain fabric for finishing the top

I will complete the row, tidy up some of the piecing and appliqué work and finish the top.

Love the plain red.

Love the plain red.

I have enough of the plain fabric for the borders and possibly enough cut squares to add another narrow pieced border. The patterned fabrics include florals, plaids, stripes and novelty prints.

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The maker of this assortment of tiny pieces hadn’t progressed beyond stitching some of her one inch squares into rows.
The bundles of pieced sections were rolled into sets and a number was written on the last square to record how many squares are in the row.

Pencilled Number on the wrong side of fabric

Pencilled Number on the wrong side of fabric

It appears the maker was planning a particular design but the pattern is not clear to me. The basic square can be arranged in many ways. This could be a simple grid of continuous squares or a more complicated pattern such as Steps to the Altar or Trip Around the World.

Two strips of cardboard were sent with the piecework and there is a name written on it, but unfortunately it is too faded to read.

Faded writing

Faded writing

The squares measure 1 inch finished size and were hand stitched by an experienced seamstress. The fabrics are dress weight cottons and include novelty prints, floral designs, checks, stripes and geometrics.

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My two Postage Stamp projects demonstrate how the quilters of the Depression era were able to create beautiful quilts out of so little. It is my intention to complete the work they started – Piece by Piece.img_4419

Happy Quilting from Janette, The Plain Needlewoman

Doll Quilts

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Every so often I make a doll quilt or two. It is a nice change to work on a small project that can be finished quickly. Doll quilts were often made by children to teach them sewing and were usually made from scraps.

Log Cabin made from tiny strips

Log Cabin made from tiny strips

When I start a new project I cut and sew a few more patches that I need and these extra pieces often find their way into a doll quilt. This is also a good way to trial colours and techniques. Children love playing with the little quilts and spend happy hours tucking the dolls or teddies into bed.

Here are a few of my doll quilts – hope you enjoy seeing them and that you may be inspired to start a doll quilt for your collection.

Great books  for inspiration

Great books for inspiration

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Happy doll quilt making, Janette

Sweet Old Things

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I have recently acquired a couple of very sweet old unfinished projects.The first of these is a house block quilt top. It is predominately made from feed sacks and contains plains, florals, plaids and one polka dot.

Florals and plains

Florals and plains

House block

House block

A deliberate mistake perhaps!

A deliberate mistake perhaps!

The quilt was not particularly well made and is slightly wonky. Despite this it has a certain charm and as I love feed sack fabrics and house quilts I couldn’t pass it by.

I am stabilising the edges by stitching narrow ribbon to the outside edges and easing the blocks onto the ribbon to bring them back to size.

Ribbon stitched to outside edge of each block

Ribbon stitched to outside edge of each block

I am hopeful that I will achieve a flatter, straight quilt that I can then quilt and finish.

The second project that I am working on is a collection of signature blocks.

Album Blocks

Album Blocks

The fabrics used to piece the blocks are typical of the 20s or 30s.Some of the blocks are complete with an embroidered name while others have been signed but not embroidered. The piecework ranges from basic stitching to an expert level. The blocks were not all exactly the same size. With a little trimming I have a working measurement of 12 3/4 inches. I am setting them together with lattice and setting squares cut from feed sack fabric and adding these to each block. When joined this will create a nice scrappy design.

Lattice and setting squares

Lattice and setting squares

On the design wall.

On the design wall.

The blocks are very charming and include interesting fabrics. These friends made use of fabrics they had on hand and the cream backgrounds include calicos, taffeta and a heavy linen.

Nellie ran short of fabric!

Nellie ran short of fabric!

While peacefully stitching these two projects I am reflecting on the lives of the ladies who made the original pieces. It is lovely to finish a quilt started many years ago. While contemplating the lives of these quilters I am also giving some thought to another little set of blocks.

More Feed sacks in these gorgeous blocks

More Feed sacks in these gorgeous blocks

I am waiting for inspiration of how to set these adorable blocks together into a quilt.

I will keep you posted. Peaceful Stitching from Janette, The Plain Needlewoman.

A Fine Old Quilt circa 1870

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Basket Quilt

Basket Quilt

This basket quilt consists of 30 blocks set on point with alternating cream homespun fabric blocks. The quilt is a large one measuring 205 cms by 230 cms. The baskets are hand pieced and the handles are hand appliquéd.IMG_4171

Madder dyed fabrics are used throughout the quilt – mostly copper toned browns, a purple and an orange. The border fabric is a typical copper toned Madder stripe.

Border stripe fabric

Border stripe fabric

Baskets were a popular design in the 19th century and baskets represented prosperity. The quilt maker appears to have been prosperous, as she had a good supply of yardage available to her. The quilt is extremely well made. The piecework, appliqué and quilting are of a high standard.

The quilting design is a simple but lovely design. It may have been adapted from a folded cut work appliqué design. I have three old Madder Red appliqué blocks in this design.IMG_4231

Hand quilting

Hand quilting

Madder Red Applique Block

Madder Red Applique Block

The backing is a plain homespun and the batting is an uncarded cotton.

The Basket Quilt came from California but no other information was available. As in so many instances there is no label on this quilt so the identity of its’ maker is lost in time. I can only wonder at the life of the maker and enjoy her wonderful quilt. Hope you enjoy seeing this old treasure. Happy Quilting, Janette

Busy Days in Winter

Detail of Album Quilt

Detail of Album Quilt

The Winter months are the best time to catch up on quilting projects. The cold days and longer nights provide the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and stitch. To make a start I made a list of jobs to be done, then set to work.

First up I put the old Album quilt into a gentle bath for a soak in Retrowash.

The Album Quilt having a gentle soak.

The Album Quilt having a gentle soak.

I had been working on blocks for a new quilt and having completed 25 blocks I have started to stitch the blocks together. This gorgeous fabric that I found at my local op shop ties the blocks together beautifully.IMG_4225

Windfarm Quilt - work in progress

Windfarm Quilt – work in progress

I made up cushion fillers for these lovely vintage cushion covers and added satin ribbon bows for ties.

Vintage cushion covers

Vintage cushion covers

After it’s bath the Album quilt was ready for a gentle machine wash and some fresh air. With a good wind blowing the quilt dried quickly. It is now fresh and beautiful.

Album Quilt circa 1870

Album Quilt circa 1870

Cold nights are perfect for hand quilting and I have started quilting an old Trip Around the World top from my collection. It is a large quilt, so I expect to be working on it for quite a few months.

Hand quilting Trip Around the World. Circa 1930s.

Hand quilting Trip Around the World. Circa 1930s.

Centre of Trip Around the World.

Centre of Trip Around the World.

I hope you are finding time for Stitching, Happy Quilting, Janette – The Plain Needlewoman

Nanna Good’s Ocean Waves Quilt.

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This Ocean Waves Quilt was made by Nanna Good in Orrick, Missouri, USA. It was passed down to her daughter Kathryn Sue Bogart McAfee. Kathryn was born on the 21 December 1922 and died in 1982. The quilt was then passed onto her only ancestor – a grand daughter. Her grand daughter decided to sell this quilt as she has a number of quilts made by her mother and grand mother that were made specifically for her. This one was not one of them.

Detail of fabrics

Detail of fabrics

This lovely, scrappy version of the Ocean Waves pattern epitomises a Thirties quilt. The fabrics include florals, solids, stripes, juvenile prints and a couple of pieces from an earlier era. The placement of the solid red creates the effect of pinwheels across sections of the quilt.

Red Pinwheel

Red Pinwheel

The backing is a wonderful Thirties green and the binding a pretty pink. The quilt is quilted by the piece with a simple design in the plain areas. The batting is an uncarded cotton. The seeds are clearly visible when the quilt is wet.

Quilt backing and binding

Quilt backing and binding

Ruby Short McKim published a pattern for an Ocean Waves Quilt in 1931, although we see many earlier examples. It is a very effective design in a two colour combination as well as a great scrap quilt.

I have been busy with hand quilting and have just completed my Courthouse Steps quilt.

Courthouse Steps made with mid 19th century fabrics.

Courthouse Steps made with mid 19th century fabrics.

I am now settling in for the Winter months and have commenced the quilting of another of my old quilt tops. This one is a Trip Around The World – a very large quilt made of very tiny squares.

Trip Around the World.

Trip Around the World.

I hope your quilting is bringing you much pleasure. Thank you for stopping by, Warmly Janette

Darting Birds

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I purchased this charming old quilt as a ‘cutter quilt’. This is the term used for quilts that are in a very sad condition and can be cut up for small projects with out feeling guilty about cutting up an old quilt. I could see it had potential for salvaging into small keepsake pieces.

A heart shape cut from the Darting Birds quilt .

A heart shape cut from the Darting Birds quilt .

When the quilt arrived in the mail, I realised I could not contemplate cutting up this beautiful old quilt. I identified the block pattern in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks as Darting Birds designed by Nancy Page.

The maker of this quilt had a good collection of fabrics dating from the 1880s to 1900s, including the gorgeous double pink used in the alternate blocks. The birds are pieced from reds, blacks, indigos and browns. The patterns are florals, checks, stripes and polka dots. The backgrounds of the blocks are mostly shirtings.

Detail of fabrics.

Detail of fabrics.

Darting Birds block

Darting Birds block

The beautiful backing fabric used on this quilt was a pleasant surprise as the seller had not mentioned this. The majority of old quilts have plain muslin backings.

Gorgeous backing fabric on display.

Gorgeous backing fabric on display.

Obviously made by a skilled needlewoman the piecing is neat and accurate. The hand quilting stitches are tiny and even and the maker chose cross-hatching for her quilting design.

Most of the wear on the Darting Birds quilt was on the outside edges. I decided to cut the outside rows off the four sides of the quilt. Removing the damaged area has provided me with some scraps for cutter quilt projects. I stitched a new binding – nice and narrow in keeping with the original. Even though some of the remaining blocks are worn, I can still admire and enjoy this old and obviously much loved quilt. I hope you can too!

Softly aged and worn.

Softly aged and worn.

Swans on Lily Pads circa 1930s

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From Fairy Tales to Ballets, swans have provided ideas and inspiration for many artistic pieces.

Swans certainly inspired the creation of this unique quilt. Using fabrics from her feedsack scraps and her fine sewing skills the quilter produced a magnificent example of folk art.

Detail of Swans on Lily Pads

Detail of Swans on Lily Pads

Searching through my books and magazines for a pattern source I have been unable to find any patterns for appliqué swans. However, there are many patterns for embroidered swans. Swans were popular motifs for fancy work and examples can also be found on redwork quilts. The maker of the ‘Swans’ may have drawn her own design or found her pattern in a newspaper, magazine or embroidery booklet.

The maker had a good collection of feedsack fabrics. There are 21 different patterns used in the quilt and the yellow solid backing fabric may be a plain feedsack fabric. There are 25 blocks. The quilt is finished with three borders – two of feedsack prints (also used for swans) and the final border is plain homespun.

Detail of quilt backing

Detail of quilt backing

The swans and the lily pads are appliquéd with turned under edges and embroidered with stem stitch. Further details are embroidered. The embroidery and quilting is very well executed. The maker used a soft batting and the quilt displays IMG_3537IMG_3538 traditional quilting designs. Cross-hatching was stitched across the blocks and a beautiful feather design was chosen for the border.

As a collector of old and vintage china swans this quilt is a favourite of mine. I hope you enjoy seeing it.

China Swans

China Swans

More swans from my collection

More swans from my collection

Wishing you all a wonderful year of stitching. Janette – The Plain Needlewoman