Monday, December 31, 2012

A Quilted Counterpane

Once a year I pull out my one and only Quilted Counterpane and put it on the bed for the holidays. One morning I noticed that the lamp on our night table cast a light that was good for taking photographs so I grabbed my camera and snapped away. I couldn't get a good photo of the entire quilt because there were too many shadows but the detailed shots turned out quite well. 

In 1983 I entered the Tenth Annual Mountain Mist Quilt Contest sponsored by Stearns & Foster. Entries had to be based on Mountain Mist patterns and made with Mountain Mist batting. All fabrics had to be pre-washed and the quilt could not exceed 90" x 108." I chose Mountain Mist Pattern "Y" Quilted Counterpane. The diagram shown above was printed on the back of the batting wrapper and gave the placement of the feathered wreaths and vines.

I used a tracing wheel to punch tiny holes in the paper patterns and then "pounced" blue chalk powder over the holes to transfer the designs to fabric. 'Twas not an easy method!

There are twenty-four feather wreaths that surround the center medallion . . .


   . . . which has a single wreath surrounded by feathered vines.

More feathered vines run along the outside edges of the quilt. 


 The rest of the quilting is done in cross-hatch. This is a side view of the quilt.

My initials and the year are embroidered on the back. The quilt was selected as one of the 200 Finalist Entries to be displayed at the 1984 Quilt Market in Houston.

Quilt Market is still on my wish list :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One Old, One New

In 1976 I made a quilt for my dad for Christmas. I used scraps I had from my high school days that were already 15 years old (!) and then purchased the red fabric for the border and an Ely and Walker print for the back.


I began by tracing around a template for each and every log and made the entire quilt top in three days. I tied the main portion with yarn and machine quilted the border in a diamond design. I gave Dad the quilt on Christmas Eve 1976 at my brother's house.

Sixteen years later, after my dad died, my brother took the quilt to his cabin in the Adirondacks where it was lovingly used until 1996 and desperately in need of repair. I brought the quilt home and appliqued new logs over the disintegrating ones. I still had some of the original fabrics in my scrap bag. Then early this year, my brother asked if I could please repair the quilt as it was literally falling apart. After taking one look at it I said it would be easier for me to make a new quilt than try and repair it - again!


My inspiration for this new quilt came from an article I saw in Quilter's Newsletter in 2002. I knew I wanted to use an Adirondack-style fabric for the border and a fishing-themed fabric for the back.


With that in mind, I decided to use all my leaf print fabrics for the Birds-in-Air blocks. I thought it would be really nice if I included fabrics that my mother had used in her quilts and applique pictures so all the solid  fabrics were hers.

I started making Autumn in the High Peaks in September. There were days when I sewed four blocks a day to keep on schedule. I finished the top in three weeks and had it machine quilted by someone in our guild.

Luckily my brother does not know how to use a computer so he will never know that I made this quilt for his birthday on the 27th :)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Quilt Sightings

Last month, friends and I spent a day traversing Union County, NJ,  visiting historic sites that were open to the public during their Four Centuries in a Weekend tour. I am always interested in colonial houses but when there are quilts on display, that's even better.

The mid-18th century Cannon Ball House, so named for a cannon ball lodged in the wall of the house during the Revolutionary War, survived being burned by the British in 1780. That's a huge flag in the front yard--part of a Civil War encampment that was going on during the open house. 

The first quilt sighting was a Bear's Paw quilt on a rope bed.  

The Salt Box Museum, named for  the sloping rear roof which resembles the box in which salt used to be kept, is actually two houses that were joined together in the mid-19th century.

A small bedroom in this house had a Log Cabin quilt on a rope bed and children's vintage clothing displayed throughout. 

The Littell-Lord House was built c. 1760 and had been owned and lived in for more than 100 years by the Lord family who purchased the site in 1867.

A Star of Bethlehem quilt was on the Victorian bedstead in an upstairs bedroom.

A Feathered Star/Sunflower Variation was displayed on a rack at the bottom of the stairs. 

The Caldwell Parsonage was rebuilt after the British burned it during the Revolutionary War.

 An unfinished Chimney Sweep hung in one of the rooms.

Only two of the blocks were signed and both were done in cross-stitch.
On the left:
Frances M. Lum 
Friendship's Offering
Feby 23d 1850

On the right:
Ann M. Woodruff

How's this for an original applique design?


The Woodruff House was built c. 1735 and had a 1930s applique quilt on a colonial cradle but I was more interested in the c. 1900 general store that was attached to the house.

There's just something about general stores that I absolutely love . . .

Perhaps it's because I have so many of these same items in my house :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sandy's Recovery in Our Town

Sandy left us with a few downed trees and no power for six days. We were inconvenienced but very fortunate that we had no real damage to our property. We cooked on the grill and fired up our wood burning stove to boil water and provide a little heat in one section of the house. We read by flashlight and fell asleep early. The Sunday after the storm I waited in line at 6 a.m. for 1-1/2 hours to get gas--why didn't I think to fill up the tank before the storm?


This huge Black Walnut tree fell in our backyard and just missed our screen house. Of course, it damaged the fence rails that we had put up around the garden in the spring.

After a few days of hard work, we had cut up all the limbs and had piles of branches and logs scattered around the yard.


A utility Staging Site was set up in the parking lot of a corporate building behind our house. This sign is at the entrance. There are guards on duty 24-hours a day.


Tents were set up to provide dining and laundry facilities to the hundreds of utility workers who have converged on our town to assist with the recovery. 

Utility trucks fill the parking lot with the overflow across the street (below).

There are utility workers from Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, California, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Oregon, and Washington state.

At night workers are shuttled by bus from the staging site to local hotels where they sleep and then return early in the morning on time for breakfast and to receive assignments for the day.


A week after Sandy, a Nor'easter dumped snow on an already crippled area but with temps in the 50s it was gone in no time--at least where we live. Our friend from Vermont arrived shortly after to volunteer his time in the hard-hit areas of the Jersey Shore. He was interviewed by Burlington TV before leaving and you can watch the news clip here -- "Vt. Irene victim to 'pay it forward' for Sandy aid." 

To all the utility workers who have helped us recover from Sandy's wrath, "Thank You for a Great Job!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Catching Up

The day before Sandy arrived I was with a friend in Hoboken on a self-guided house tour of condos and Victorian homes. I also wanted to find the house where my grandparents lived at one time.


We started at the waterfront looking across at The Empire State Building. The wind was already beginning to kick up and I had a hard time holding my camera steady.


The Yankee Ferry (large ship in back of photo) was not open due to the impending storm. It is currently a bed and breakfast owned by Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs of decorative arts fame. Here is a link to some great photos.

Hoboken streets are lined with row houses and many were decorated for Halloween . . .


 . . like this one which was part of the tour. All were private homes so no photography allowed.


A skeleton on the door. . .  

Pumpkins and mums . . .

 . . .and a huge spider web were just a few of the fun decorations.

This Italianate-style home once housed a medical practice where Frank Sinatra had his tonsils removed--just a bit of trivia :)

My grandparents' house was easy to find. They lived here in the early-1950s but only for a short period of time. My grandfather worked at Stevens Institute of Technology and moved to Hoboken so he could walk to work.

The  Davidson Lab at Stevens' was also part of the tour. This 313-foot high speed towing tank is used to study the effects of wind and tide on model boats and how it applies to larger ships. Along the walls were models of some of the 'wooden boats' that were used in their early research. I didn't take photos.

As soon as I got home, I called my brother as he remembers e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I asked him about the Hoboken house and what, exactly, Poppy did at Stevens'.  When he started telling me Poppy used to work with 'wooden boat hulls' I couldn't believe what I was hearing! Little did I know that I would be standing in the same building where my grandfather had stood so many years ago. What a treat!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Mother's Appliqued Pictures

My mother, Etta Bower Davis (1910-1964), would have been 102 years old today so to make it a special day, I'm sharing some of the appliqued pictures she made between 1962-64. 

Mom had a special stack of magazines hidden on a shelf in the living room closet including a 1950 issue of Ladies Home Journal which featured a quilt depicting characters from Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women. This quilt so inspired her that she went on to make her own quilt blocks which told the stories of different family members and set them in the Civil War time period.


When my husband-to-be was home on a weekend pass from the Army (early 60s), Mom asked him to sketch figures based on those in the magazine. Often she made notes on the drawings referring to something she had seen in a magazine or newspaper that could be used for a pattern; or what color fabrics she intended to use. 

Made for her parents, Etta and Stan Bower, the cutting board on the wall says, "Mom and Dad, Jan. 26 '10" their wedding date. I haven't quite figured out if the main figure is supposed to be MY mother or HER mother. The china cupboard is appliqued in a yellow and red calico print with four plates and two glass bottles on the shelves--one with a philodendron cascading down the bottle. At the time (early 60s) empty Chianti wine bottles were popular decorative items. They came packaged in a type of wicker material and when that was removed it revealed a bottle that looked very much like one that was hand blown with a bulbous base. They were great for rooting plant cuttings.


When I turned sixteen, my birthday present was a canopy bed, so here I am in my bedroom holding a candle. The canopy, bedspread, and dust ruffle all have fabric that was gathered by hand. We always had a kitty or two at home so that's "Muffy" on the rug. 


This is actually my favorite. I love the old lamps displayed in the window. Inspiration for this one came from an article in the November 1960 issue of American Home magazine. In this picture she is holding a letter and crying. I think this may have been her statement when she was battling breast cancer.

Our wedding! My husband got married in his dress blues, so here we are with wedding bells, a pitcher of flowers, a cake, and presents. The banner hanging on the wall is embroidered with the initials of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and the number of years they were married in 1963.

This special one was made for my dad: "To my husband with love, Etta Bower Davis, Oct. '63." Here they are at home--a warm fire, a quilt in progress, dad churning butter, herbs drying on the rafters, and of course, another kitty :)