Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making Vintage Quilts

There is no doubting that winter is here, from coast to coast. And with that comes staying in doors if you can and enjoying the cozy feel. I love the sound of rain drops falling on the skylights. Listening to the rain fall is so rare, I sit or work in silence while it is happening to take the sound and sensation it in when I can. But after a week of fairly non-stop raining and dreary skies I want color back, not to mention the sun and warm temperatures.

I don't know about you, but I think 1930s when I think about colorful happy quilts so I went to my bookshelf for some quick relief, and pulled down Link to the '30s, making the quilts we didn't inherit written by two sisters living in Texas, Kay Connors and Karen Earlywine.

The sisters are vintage style quilt and pattern makers. They design their quilts using period  newspaper quilt columns that offered mail order patterns and old quilts. Small photos of the original newspaper column pattern or quilt adorn each of the 9 quilt patterns featured in this book.

The patterns are from the columns  Nancy Page Quilt Club and Household Arts by Alice Brooks, and one is a McCall's wedding ring pattern., as seen on the book's cover.  Two signature quilt patterns are reproduced. One is from a 1931 quilt with embroidered names, and the other one is made into a contemporary quilt minus signatures.

The quilts chosen are familiar but I seldom see them reproduced at shows or on exhibit, which is nice. The patterns range in difficulty from beginner to experienced quilter. Most of them are mid range to advanced. The more difficult quilts contain curves, applique, and bias edges.

A variety of border treatments were made popular in the  Colonial Revival period between the World Wars  and are reflected in these patterns. Borders include the ice cream cone, prairie points, scallops, tiny half square triangles and the curved vine of petals (think of one Dresden plate petal).

Kay and Karen wrote a quilt stitch pattern book recently, Fancy to Frugal, authentic quilt patterns of the '30s. Here they are describing quilting  from the same time period, although Link to the '30s shows suggested quilting patterns for the borders and white or plain fabric blocks in the quilt.

These two books give you access to excellent patterns and ideas to pull from to make your own combinations of borders and blocks or to reproduce your own favorites. The templates are arranged on pages without overlapping each other for easy tracing, and illustrations are easy to see and understand. Their strip or rotary piecing directions are also easy to follow.

Please post your comments by clicking here  if you are receiving this as a subscriber. Scroll down to "comments" below the post, click, and a comment box will appear. If you haven't read the great comments about Remembering Adelia, take a peek, even the author wrote in! Links top other

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Remembering Adelia was more than a book to me

Oh it is a busy time of year! I hope you too are enjoying the myriad delights of the holiday season. I do more and more each year. I think it's because I value my family and my friendships, new and old, more deeply than I did when I was younger. I love giving gifts, cards, and coming together for parties and meditations for the new year.

I was drawn to Kathleen Tracy's book "Remembering Adelia" the first time I saw it. In glancing over it I saw that  it was a book of small quilts with patterns and diary entries written by a young woman named Adelia, set in mid-19th century.  I set it aside to read nearly a year ago. During a recent rain storm
I read the book.  It's an easy cozy read in one sitting. The diary narrative of Adelia Thomas is real. She was  a young woman living in the year 1861 in northern Illinois.

My eyes lit up and my jaw dropped by what I discovered!! I grew up and still have dear friends in the same towns  Adelia writes about in her diary. There are also original photographs of the countryside, houses and people living  there in the later part of that century.

It's unique  for this to happen when I'm reading a quilt history book. These are not historically important places today or then. I was born in Minneapolis and raised in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago until I left for collage after high school and to live out west.

Adelia lived in the town of Woodstock, IL, which I have only visited a few times, but it is the other towns that she and her family visited frequently that were my stomping grounds and may be yours too: Des Plaines, Algonquin, Elgin, St. Charles,  Chicago's Michigan Avenue and State Street, and Park Ridge, where she raised her own family years later. Oh the memories!  Dear friends and family are still there  and new memories are made there because of their children growing up in the same towns.

Although the year of diary entires is during the start of the Civil War as Adelia's male friends and family were leaving for military duty and there was change and sadness in her life, the book was a joy to read for me and I think you would also enjoy it if you like diaries of 19th century women who quilt!!

The quilts Kathleen shows are scrappy style made from reproduction fabrics. She picked patterns with significance to the time period.  The quilts are adorable ranging from doll to lap size with fourteen patchwork and two applique quilt patterns and housewif and journal cover patterns.

This is a pattern and story book of historical relevance a beginner would enjoy as much as the more advanced  quilt history enthusiast. I think it would be a lovely gift for a friend, daughter, or yourself, OR for someone who lives in Illinois.

I know there are other diary inspired quilt books with patterns, including Kathleen's first book on Prairie children quilts. If you have a favorite, please tell us about it, the title, author and what you liked about it, or what made it stand out for you. I'd like to have a list handy and I'm thinking some of you would too.

Please post your comment on the blog by clicking here  and scrolling down to the comments box, or clicking on the word comments. You can read about others favorite diary books there too.

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