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 :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Allary Quilt

I have 2 file drawers which contain information about all the quilts I've made. For every quilt there is a folder, and in every folder there are sketches, photos, quilt show info, fabric scraps, copies of other quilts for inspiration, and documentation. Granted, I've been a bit lax with the documentation part lately, but in the 90s I was at my peak. The quilt I made for myself in 1995-1996 is titled My Allary Quilt, which was sort of an odd name for a quilt that portrayed all of my interests. At the time I was working for Allary Corp., a sewing notion company, and when fabric samples for their sewing basket line were no longer needed, I was the lucky one who got to take them home.

I started the quilt in September 1995 and finished it in February 1996. It is 70" x 70", with 100% cotton fabrics and Fairfield Cotton Classic batting. It is machine pieced and Jean Biddick, who was living in NJ at the time, machine quilted it for me. 

In July 1994, I purchased Threads magazine and was taken by the article, "Quilting with Novelty Prints" by Shannon Rettig. I was fascinated with the author's examples and how variations in scale changed the overall appearance of the star blocks, especially when large-size novelty prints were used. I really never thought about using novelty prints before but with ample quantities of fabric samples from the office, I started to make my quilt.


I drafted the star pattern that was in the article, and as the author defined a novelty print as anything other than floral or geometric, I began to go through my fabrics choosing sewing-themed ones first--buttons, scissors, sewing implements, sewing machines, etc.  When I ran out of those fabrics I expanded to some of my other interests--biking, gardening, vintage shoes, hat boxes, antiques, etc.

Every night I sewed together one star block and then cut the fabrics for the next one to sew the following evening.  I assembled 16 blocks and didn't have any real plan after that until I stumbled upon the way the blocks were set together in Clarence Lashley's Double X Variation on p. 195 in our book, New Jersey Quilts. The secondary star design in the sashing caught my eye. 

Previously I had purchased a Native American-motif striped fabric at the Fabric Warehouse in Belleville, NJ, because I had to have it. I chose the white/navy stripe, rather than the darker navy/white combination for the first border.  

For the second border, I was inspired by a quilt I saw in the February 1996 issue of Quilting Today that made use of lots of fabrics in a pyramid or triangle design. So much for limiting my fabrics to those I only used in the blocks! I ended up cutting triangles from all the novelty prints that I had--half were darks and the other half lights. And when it was time to add the third border, I chose the baseball card fabric that I had also purchased at the Fabric Warehouse. At one time, I thought this fabric might come in handy if I ever decided to make a quilt about my gr-grandfather, Frank Hankinson, who played ball from 1878 to 1888 and was on the NY Giants championship team in 1883. It was the perfect 3rd border fabric!

For the back of the quilt, I knew I was going to use a fabric panel with a Country Fair theme.  I made a large size star block first (above) then added a cow print and another with bonnets (below) to bring the back out to the correct size. 

I purchased Fairfield's Cotton Classic batting at Acme Fabrics in Pequannock, NJ, and was very pleased with how flat the finished quilt appeared.

In March 1996 I brought the quilt to Garden State Quilters for show and tell. The baseball card fabric was such a big hit I could have sold yards and yards if I had any to sell.

In January 1997 the quilt hung in Allary's booth at the Hobby Industry Association show in Las Vegas and in October/November it was on display at the Northeast Quilts Unlimited show in Old Forge, NY, where it won an Honorable Mention.

In Jan/Feb 1998 it was one of ten quilts on display at Livingston Town Hall. My quilts were featured on local T.V. and I was a guest on the show, January 29th.

From Dec '06 to Feb '07 it was part of an exhibit of my quilts at the new Livingston Community Center.

So, there you have it :) Total documentation. Yes, there is a label, I forgot to photograph it!

Maybe I'll tell you about another quilt sometime :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Charming Victorian Cottages

Last Saturday a friend and I went on a self-guided walking tour of the Victorian cottages in Mt. Tabor, NJ. This quaint village in the middle of suburbia was originally a Methodist camp meeting ground that was founded in 1869. Twenty-two structures were all within walking distance of each other and many were private homes that were open to the public. 

As we started on our walk this house caught my eye with its two large trees coming out of the porch roof. Don't you just love it?

This is a replica of a Camp Meeting Tent. The front portion was used as a parlor . . .

. . . and the back portion was sleeping quarters. There were two beds and each had a Log Cabin quilt.


When these three individual cottages were built they were joined "at the seam" to make the best use of the small tent lots facing Trinity Park, the center of all activity. The Mt. Tabor Historical Society acquired the cottage on the far right which was built in 1878. 


The interior has original stenciled walls.   

 Here's a detail.


On the other side of Trinity Park is The Mt. Tabor Library which has served the community since 1901. Its octagon shape represents eternal life.

Here is the children's section. Note the stenciling near the ceiling. 

This lovely cottage with its ornate gingerbread trim is next to the library. When a house is purchased in the historic section, the land is leased, not owned.    

There were several cottages for sale including this one that was built c. 1879. It has been extensively remodeled. 

Many of the cottages are quite narrow. This one has three floors of living space. The kitchen and living room are on the second floor, bedroom on the third, and a "gathering room" on ground level.

This house built in 1875 was originally two small cottages. A kitchen was added in 1888. 

Another cottage with lots of gingerbread trim. The houses that surround the park have no garages or a place to park a car. Instead, there is a nearby parking lot that is available to these homeowners. 

Was I ever surprised when we went to look at this house--which is also for sale--that it is owned by someone I know from our local quilt guild. The house with its wrap around porch was built in 1907. Quilts are displayed everywhere--on walls, beds, and racks--and the downstairs sewing/craft room is ideal for quilts-in-progress. There is also plenty of storage space for a sizable fabric stash :)