Thursday, July 5, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Oh, My Stars!

I can't believe it's time for TBT again. (I probably say that every month.) As you might recall, this year I'm doing a series of Throwback Thursday posts about quilts that I worked on during the 1980's and early 90's when I had a tiny quilting career. You can read more about that career in any of my posts labeled "my tiny career."  In honor of my country's birthday this week, I'm sharing star quilts. The tops were all constructed by Becky Schaefer from antique fabrics or blocks. You can read more details about her work in my previous posts. I did all of the quilting by hand with off-white cotton thread. Usually I'll show the fronts and backs. The backs show some of the quilting better or show fun samples of antique prints. For documentation, I'm recording any information I have available about sizes, quilting dates, and amount of thread used (because that determined my pay, except for base pay on the smallest ones). 

So let's get started. Lots of photos here. Please excuse the quality of some--they are all scanned from pre-digital photos. 

First up, some variable stars. I think I showed slightly bigger versions of these earlier.  These minis are maybe 9 by 11 inches or so. I forgot to record the size when I quilted them. They make me wonder why I've never tried pink and brown in a quilt. They are quilted about the same, but for some reason I used 10 yards of thread on one and 7 on the other. Perhaps I found a more efficient way of moving from one area to another on the second one. Either way, the pay was the same on these smallest quilts because there was a base rate for them. I finished the quilting in July 1986.

Here's a different colorway. I like the alternation of the contrasting stars and background and no sashing. This one is 9 by 10 7/8 inches. It has very little quilting--just little hearts in the centers, and only 1 2/3 yards of thread. Notice that border with its loose threads. It looks like the fabric was removed from another quilt top or project. I love how the inner border was fussy cut from a striped fabric. I finished the quilting in August 1989.

Here's a quilt with no documentation, which means that I quilted it near the end of my tiny career. I still had the gumption to photograph some quilts but not to file the photos away with details. The size is close to the others in this batch. Isn't that blue border luscious? It looks like I just outlined in the background in this one. 

How about some Ohio Star quilts? This sweet one is set on point. It's 10 by 13 1/4 inches and quilted with tiny feather circles. 4 1/3 yards of thread. Finished in July 1989.

And a much bigger Ohio Star. It measures 56 by 70 inches. It used up 200 1/2 yards of
thread! There is some grid work, a sort of fleur-de-lis in the triangles and rope in the border. More fabric cutting wonder in this quilt in the fussy sashing and inner border.

Here's a close up in a photo that almost looks like an accident. I didn't include a photo of the back because it was really indistinct. I finished the quilting in January 1988.
Here's one more Ohio Star. I have no information at all. Can't even see the quilting (I'm guessing outlining and feathered circles) and there is no photo of the back. It's probably one of my last ones. Sheesh. What a way to end a career. I'm thinking about 20 inches square. 

Let's not dwell on that. Moving on...

I finished quilting the next couple of blocks in the summer of 1988. Each was approximately 18 inches square. I loved doing the feather circles on these very old blocks. The rest of the quilting was a simple outline, carefully done on such fragile fabrics. Each block took 28 yards of thread. 

A long time later, Becky sent me this quilt, which must have come from the same batch of blocks. I have no certain information about it. I'm thinking it must have been about 64-66 inches square. I wish I had close-ups of the quilting. I think it is grid work and an abstract floral. The backing was especially fragile. Based on old invoices, I'm thinking that this quilt used 208 yards of thread and was finished in November 1990.

Ooh, there were even some tiny Lone Star quilts. This first one is 11 inches square including the border. Amazing! Quilting was minimal--parallel lines in the background. 4 yards of thread. Finished in April 1989.

This one is slightly bigger at 11 7/8 inches square. I'm not sure if that's grid work in the background or vertical lines. 4 yards of thread. Finished in May 1989. Old fabrics, but very 80's colors!

The original blocks of this quilt were T's that Becky reworked by flipping the outer corner blocks to make stars. I like the calming browns and homespun fabrics.. It is 33 1/2 by 26 1/2 inches. The quilting is fairly simple, with squares on point in the centers of the stars and some outlining and parallel lines on the diagonal in the background. It took 48 1/3 yards of thread. I finished the quilting in the summer of 1988. 

Yup, there are still a few more...Here are some Lemoyne stars. I don't have the details on this one. It couldn't have been more than 15 by 20-some inches.Quilting was outlining and a rope in the border, likely finished in 1991. 

And a tiny one. 10 by 12 inches, maybe? There's that pretty blue fabric again. By this time I was cranking out minis by the batch. I don't have photos of a lot of them, likely because they were all so similar. I think Becky and I were both speeding toward the end of a era. She had labeled the last batches with some sort of identification code, which is the tag you see hanging there. Pretty sure this was also 1991.
Simple outline quilting.

One more small quilt--a star sampler. I think it's the only photo I have of this type. I do know that I finished this one in July 1991. It's probably about 11 to 12 inches square. I don't have a back photo to show the quilting--it was simple outline in the background patches. 

I wasn't sure if this last quilt should go with star quilts or not, but Becky referred to it as Disappearing Stars, and really, it's my favorite of the whole batch, so here it is. I sometimes catch a glimpse of the stars, but it's really hard for me to hold onto them. Hmm...I guess that's why it's called Disappearing Stars. It's 38 by 48 inches. I absolutely love the colors and the make-do piecing of this quilt and the shirtings used in the background. The quilting includes some outlining, stylized flowers and leaves in the centers of the blocks, and a cable in the border. 117 yards of thread. Finished in the spring of 1986.

Well that was a lot to include, but I'm trying to divide these up by theme so that I can get most of them documented this year. I hope you enjoyed them. I think they have a lot of potential to inspire modern quilts. I'm linking up with Sandra at mmm! quilts for Throwback Thursday and am forever grateful to her for hosting this party for the oldies before bloggies quilts. 

One more thing. Thank you to Kaja (for the link to Fun with Barb--thanks to Barb, too!),  Louise, and Rebecca Grace for all the help getting me back on track with comment emails on my blog. Blogging will be fun again, and now I'll have time to look at everyone else's blogs, and comment on them, too.  Yippee!!

If you are in the US, I hope you had a fun birthday celebration!

Saturday, June 30, 2018


Well, hello! It's been awhile. I've been on vacation, both in real life and in blog life. But I managed to squeeze my RSC18 (Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2018) blocks in during a couple of marathon string sessions before I left. 

I was excited about Turquoise month because I love the color. My collection of turquoise fabrics is not extensive, but I do have more modern pieces than I have of other colors. Can you guess which strip is my favorite in this block? 

Yes, there are modern fabrics, but do you see that dark fabric with the pink flowers? It made its first appearance in my daughter's baby quilt. She's 37 years old now. 

I didn't realize until I started arranging strips how many different colors there are that might be called turquoise/aqua, ranging from minty to bluish. Mmm, I love that yellow strip with the turquoises. 

As usual, I included a strip of a color from each of the other months in my blocks. This month, some colors worked better than others. In this block, the dark blue doesn't stand out as particularly different, so I chose the darkest one I could find so at least there would be value contrast. 

I don't think the sage green worked very well in this block. It's the one with the tiny leaves. After I finished the block, I noticed that two of the other fabrics looked more sagey than turquoise. Strange, because they seemed turquoise/aqua until I included the sage strip. Oh well. In the end it will all just be a colorful mess.
Ooh, orange and turquoise: another fun combination!
And this next block has another tiny shape that I love. 
Here are all my RSC blocks together.

A colorful mess indeed. 

I'll leave you with a few photos from our vacation that feature turquoise. First up, my take-along project: I had fun working on my Lake Michigan quilt in a log cabin by the waters of Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I'm currently adding embroidered beach grass. I got the basic structure of the biggest clump done. Now I have to add more dimension. I'll keep working on this outside on summer evenings.
No, that is not a giant wave--the quilt was lying crooked on the bed.
And here are some photos of the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Huron during our bicycle ride around Mackinac Island in the Upper Pennisula. The weather was stunning--cool and clear, while back home it was all clouds and rain.  

It's supposed to be hot, hot, hot back here at home this weekend. (Makes me wish I was back Up North, but I guess it will be pretty warm there, too.) Time for some indoor activities. I have a little sewing planned and then catching up on all the quilty posts I missed while I was gone.

I'm linking up with Angela at SoScrappy for ScrapHappy Saturday and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap! on Sunday.

This week I wish you colorful surroundings and colorful quilting, scrappy or otherwise.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

TBT: Basket Quilts

This year, I'm doing a series of Throwback Thursday posts about quilts that I worked on during the 1980's and 90's when I had a tiny quilting career. You can read more about that career in posts here and here. In celebration of spring and summer, when we might gather flowers or produce in baskets, the theme of this post is basket quilts. These quilts are fairly similar to each other, but I want to make sure that all of the quilts I quilted during my tiny career are documented here. There are big variations in size. The tops were all constructed by Becky Schaefer from antique fabrics or blocks. You can read more details about her work in that second link above. I did all of the quilting by hand with off-white cotton thread. As in my last post, I'll show the fronts and backs. The backs show some of the quilting better or show fun samples of antique prints. For documentation, I'm recording the sizes, quilting dates, and amount of thread used (because that determined my pay). While I have since made some of my own quilts from Becky's patterns, I have never attempted basket quilts. I am boggled by the tiny applique and stenciling on some of them--not my crafting cup of tea, but I love how they look. So here they are, with as much information as I have available. 

Look at the tiny handles (applique!) and stenciled flowers. And the narrow inner border. This rust and navy quilt is 10 1/2 by 14 1/2 inches. I used 9 yards of thread to quilt tiny feather circles (my favorite hand-quilting design) as well as outlining in the background of each block. This one was finished in January 1987. 

The backs of these tiny quilts (mini, I guess, in today's terminology) were usually muslin, and the batting was a very light weight polyester as it was easiest to quilt through in those little blocks. 

This navy and rose quilt is 11 inches square. Isn't that navy striking as sashing and inner border? And those double pink fabrics--mmm! Quilting is minimal on this one--4 2/3 yards with partial feather circles and minimal outlining. More tiny applique on this one, with leaves in addition to the handles. This was another January 1987 finish. (Notice the mitten in the second photo.) 

Here are two more quilts similar to the ones above, but with more stenciled flowers. The one on the left is 11 1/2 inches square, finished in April 1989 with 5 yards of thread. The one on the right is 10 3/8 by 14 inches, also finished in April 1989 with 7 1/2 yards of thread. 

Here's another quilt of the same theme, but this time much larger: a whopping 40 inches square! This gave me an opportunity for more detailed quilting in the background. I loved working on the quick minis, but larger quilts were a real treat to work on even though they were fragile. The batting for these was cotton, with antique yardage for the backing, so it was a bit more challenging to get small, even stitches. I used masking tape to mark grid work in the background of this quilt, but I quilted leaves in the setting triangles to mimic the appliqued leaves before filling in the grid around them. I finished this quilt in November 1987 with 53 3/4 yards. 
The right border is a bit cut off. Before digital photography, you couldn't always see exactly what the camera was seeing. You took your chances that everything was in the photo. Sometimes it wasn't.

This brown, rust and yellow quilt is even larger: 45 by 54 inches. From what I recall, the blocks were hand sewn antique blocks instead of newly made from antique fabric. I used masking tape to mark the grid in the background of this quilt with in-the ditch quilting around groups of triangles in the baskets and wavy parallel lines in the border. I finished this one in July 1987 with 150 yards of quilting thread. 

Here is another quilt made with similar blocks (likely from the same batch). It is 43 by 43 inches. Quilting was mostly concentric squares marked with masking tape and some in-the-ditch work around triangles. I finished this one in October 1989 with 97 2/3 yards of thread. 

There are two more tiny quilts made from entirely pieced blocks. I like the quiet colors of this first quilt. It is 11 inches square. I quilted it in the summer of 1988 with the usual partial feather circles and outlining plus some horizontal detail across the widest parts of the baskets, using 6 2/3 yards of thread.The interesting detail in this one is the double inner border. I'm not sure if that tan fabric in the background and border is old. I had newer fabric with the same design, but perhaps it was a copy of an old motif. This one has a tiny checked fabric on the back instead of the usual muslin.

I have no clear information on this other one of the same design with a simpler setting, so I'm guessing that I finished it between late 1989 and 1991 when my documentation was more haphazard. I'm guessing that it was about 10 1/2 by 14-ish inches. No circles on this one. Instead I used double outlined hearts and a bit of detail in horizontal lines across the baskets. No photo of the back or record of thread used. What I like about this one is the variation in prints in the baskets even though they are all the same shade of red. 

One more basket quilt--a cactus blossom design quite different from the others. Again, no notes with my photo. My receipt records show that I used 62 1/2 yards of thread, so I'm estimating that it's about 36 to 40 inches square. I'm not sure if these are antique blocks or newer ones made from antique fabric. I'm guessing antique blocks by the irregularity of the work. The photo is not real clear, but I think I quilted clam shells in the lightest areas, and parallel lines at different angles in the pink triangles and around the outermost area of the borders. I really like the design of the pieced border. I finished this one in December 1989.

So that is my collection of photos of basket quilts. I have a lot more quilts to share. I think I'll plan some more theme collections for the remainder of the summer TBT posts.

By now you know that those of us who use Blogger are having some communication difficulties. We no longer get email notifications when others comment on our posts. This makes it challenging to reply. There seems to be a work around for this, but until now I have been otherwise occupied (Grandkids here--Yay! Sewing preoccupation--Yay! Tooth restoration and crown prep--Boo!), so I'm not sure how well it works. I plan to try it, though. In the meantime, thank you so much for your comments on my last couple of posts. I appreciate all of them so much but can't see my way clear to respond to them individually. I will try to do better now. However, I have to say that I sincerely hope this is a temporary workaround. And that the Blogger folks don't think that we bloggers have fixed the problem. I am really, really hoping they will restore the email notification to the way it was before. 

I hope June is treating you well. Ours is gorgeous at the moment! I just bought a pop-up screen house so I hope to do some hand quilting outside in a mosquito-free zone very soon. Maybe you will get some time to sew outside, too. The lighting just can't be beat--especially for hand work.

I'm linking up with mmm! quilts for Throwback Thursday. Thanks to Sandra for giving us this opportunity to share our pre-blogging oldies.