buriedinscraps

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Archive for the tag “history”

You’ve come a long way, baby!

I can remember when I first began to quilt.  I thought that I had to quilt like our grandmothers did. (Well, not my grandma..Maddie was way too modern to quilt! :-))  But you know what I mean.  I thought everything had to be done by hand and all fabric should be “recycled”.  That idea actually didn’t last long!  I came to love my sewing machine and rotary cutter and acrylic templates and quilt shop quality fabric and all that good stuff!  But what about our quilting ancestors?  How did they quilt?

At our last guild meeting, we had a presentation by Cathy Grafton.  Cathy came in period costume and in character to tell us how our great-great-greats sewed and quilted in the early 1800s.  It was a fascinating program!  I think what surprised me the most was that women of that period purchased new fabrics for quilts.  They did not use old clothing because they wore their clothing until they were basically rags.   And I thought I hung onto clothes for a long time!

She told us how precious needles and pins were at that time.  They were difficult to obtain and many times were shared.  At that rate, my husband has had a million dollars in and out of his feet over the years!  Needles and pins were treasured.  Think about how many we toss away.  I can see the look of horror on Hannah’s face!  Scissors were availabe but obviously not anything like the rotary cutters we’re so accustomed to using.  Items like that were carried with the woman in either a pocket that hung around her waist or a chatelaine that hung around her neck.

Of course, she also brought along some reproduction quilts that she made in the manner of the era.

Although it was an interesting evening, I have no desire to give up my sewing machine and all the modern notions.  We’ve come a long way, baby!

Here’s a question for you!  I was machine quilting a piece yesterday and I had a problem with a thread spool.  This spool had one of those little notches cut into the top and the thread kept getting stuck there.   I think it’s a cruel joke…they put a notch for every quilter that’s going to get thread stuck there!  I’m sure I’m not the only one this happens to.  What do you do to fix that?  It’s soooo aggravating!!!!

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Oh happy day!!

Oh happy day!  As much as I love the Christmas holidays, I’m always a little bit relieved when they are over.  It’s finally time to relax just a little bit…a time to do things that don’t involve food.  A time to emerge from the sugar coma that sometimes comes to represent the holiday season.  A time to do some things for ourselves.  Don’t misunderstand…I love to do things for others.  It makes me feel good…makes me smile.  But sometimes I need to selfishly claim some time for me…to do whatever I want to do.  And that’s what I did today.

I tried to do that yesterday but it didn’t work out so well.  I started down to the sewing palace numerous times and was side-tracked almost every time!  Woke up late…started to watch Rachael Ray…liked what she was cookin’ for dinner.  That required a trip to the store.  Which usually means a trip to two stores…no store has everything.  Yesterday was no exception.  Two stores later, I was home and set to sew.  My husband came home for lunch.  After lunch, I caught a glimpse of the People’s Court on television.  (Don’t judge me! 🙂 ).  I finally pulled myself away from the TV and went downstairs…two thirds of the day down the drain.

Since I hadn’t sewn a thing but Barbie clothes and a Christmas stocking for weeks, I knew I had to piece.  But what?  Before the holiday season, I decided that I was going to deep six the Grandmother’s Choice project.  I wasn’t crazy about the fabrics I chose and just generally wasn’t feeling the love for it.  So, with the attitude that life’s too short to make quilts I don’t like, I decided the heck with it!  But when I entered the palace, I thought maybe I’d give it another try.  Of course I only had ten blocks completed and they were already on block seventeen and it seemed a little bit overwhelming.  But I cut out the pieces for the schoolhouse block.  There was a time I loved house blocks.  That time has passed as of last night.  I have no idea why I had so much trouble with this block.  I’m just glad I’m not a contractor…wouldn’t be in business long I promise you!  It was pretty lopsided building.  I pressed the heck out of it and it was OK…except on the bottom.  I was not about to remake the block so I hacked off the bottom and planted grass.  Guess I’m a better landscaper!

block_11After the housing crisis, I decided to give it up for the night.  Today, I got a much earlier start.  And what I also got was something even better than that…time alone!  There was no one here except me,myself and Irene!  I was giddy with excitement!  Then I needed to decide if I truly wanted to catch up with Grandma.  Yeah…I think I did.  So I dove into Block 12.  It looked a little complicated…dang Y-seams again.  But it actually went together quite well!  OK…one success…we’ll try another.

block_12On to Block 13.  I thought the directions were a little bit vague.  I cut a rectangle that was at some point supposed to become a pentagon.  The directions neglected to tell me when that would happen.  There were triangles that didn’t look nearly large enough so I cut others.  Those didn’t work either.  (Of course, they didn’t…they were the wrong size!)  I sat and looked at the pieces for several minutes and the solution finally came to me.  It would have been nice if the directions had included that little bit of information.  I’m hoping that those of you who have made that block know what I’m talking about.  I don’t want to be the only dummy!

block_13Isn’t this fabric just perfect for Grandmother’s Choice?

close_upNext up is Block 14.  No issues at all with this one.  A nice, simple Churn Dash type block.  A nice break from Y-seams!

block_14And finally, Block 15.  This went together very easily!  (Looks a little Christmasy, doesn’t it?) In fact, I decided to quit while I was ahead.  There’s always tomorrow.  I hope to be caught up soon!

block_15I’ve had some issues with these blocks finishing up to 8.5 inches.  They are all just a little bit too small.  I have two quarter inch feet for my machine…one with a blade and one without.  I was frustrated that some of the blocks were a little too small so I started to troubleshoot.  I’ve been using the foot with the blade.  I looked closely at it and I saw that the blade is not right next to the edge of the foot…there’s probably 1/16 or less gap between the blade and the edge of the foot.  Now if the edge of the foot is the quarter inch mark and if I’m lining the edge of the fabric against the blade, my seam is a “smidge” too wide.  Multiply those smidges by every seam and I’m guessing that’s why my blocks are just a “smidge” too small.  The last block I made today was made with the foot without the blade and it was fine. Have any of you had an issue with a quarter inch foot with a blade?

Virginia

My husband and I share an interest in the Civil War. (No, not the Cub/Sox battle that we wage each baseball season.)  In recent years, we’ve visited some battlefield sites and homes.  They are interesting trips, but at the same time, they’re sad.  Walking through the battlefields, it’s easy to imagine the battle that took place.  But it’s also hard to imagine what it actually felt like.  It’s bittersweet….it’s a piece of history tinged with such heartache.

This summer, we decided to visit Richmond, Virginia.  We toured several battlefields, a shrine to the fallen General Stonewall Jackson and Appomattox.  We wanted to see where the surrender took place…where finally someone decided enough was enough. They call it the place where the country was reunited.  I like the sound of that better!

Appomattox is a really a neat little town.  Old storefronts, antique shops, a book store.  Yes!  A book store.  I was beginning to think they were a thing of the past…thanks to Mr. Kindle.  We wandered through an antique store where there were some quilts for sale at a very reasonable price.  But they weren’t very pretty and were pretty well-worn.  So, I left them there.

One of the small shop owners recommended the Babcock House for lunch.  Her reason for recommending it…you won’t find anything fried there.  At that point of the trip, that sounded great!  So off to the Babcock House for lunch.  The Tarragon Chicken Salad was awesome!  We had to try the Hummingbird Cake.  It was terrific.  But the calories I saved from the no-fry zone were spent on dessert!  Worth every one of them….  I might have taken a picture of our lunch but I was too busy enjoying every bite of it!

A stop at the Museum of the Confederacy was next.  There were a lot of really neat things there.  I was interested in the uniforms.  They were displaying the uniform that General Lee wore to his meeting with Grant.  I’m still amazed at how well-preserved many of the uniforms are.  Imagine this!  I even bought a quit pattern there!

Into Appomattox Courthouse.  It was a little town at the time of the war and it’s been restored by the National Park Service.  The building that I was most intrigued with was the McLean House.  This is where the papers were signed.  The house was initially taken apart around 1900.  A company was going to bring it north and rebuild it as a tourist attraction.  The company went bankrupt and the National Park Service rebuilt it on the original site using what they could salvage.  It’s only off by a quarter of an inch they tell me.  Most of the furniture and quilts are period pieces although they did not belong to the McLean family.

This is a bed and trunk that was in the guest room.  That quilt is actually around 150 years old.  (I’d like to look that good now!)

This quilt is also around 150 years old.  It’s in the master bedroom.  It’s in beautiful condition.  Fortunately, you can get a little bit closer to this quilt than the others.

This old sewing machine was in one of the bedrooms.  We’ve come a long way, Baby!  Imagine trying to maneuver a quilt under that needle!

This is maybe my favorite.  Love the colors! It was in the slave quarters.  I love it because it’s scrappy and well-loved…and it’s easy to believe this one is as old as it is.  I wish the antique store had one of these!

Covered by Glory

Saturday, my husband and I took a road trip to Waterloo, Iowa to see the Covered by Glory quilt exhibit at the Grout Museum.   Five hours one way…worth it to see quilts!!  We first visited the Veteran’s Museum.  It was an interactive museum that traces Iowan soldiers from the Civil War to the present.  You’re given a dog tag at the entrance and you are that soldier throughout the museum.  At many exhibits, you can scan that tag to find out how the conflict affected you.  I learned something that I still find hard to believe.  Apparently only 25% of men fighting in Viet Nam were drafted.  That number seems low and I may have to check that out.  I know that has nothing to do with quilts, but I found it interesting. We spent about ninety minutes there and then on to the quilt exhibit.

In a previous post, I wrote about being too timid to ask about taking photos and many of you encouraged me to at least ask at the museum!  So, I put my camera in my purse and when we entered the museum I asked if photography was allowed. The woman behind the counter said no one had ever asked that before so she asked someone else and I was told photography was OK without a flash.  When we arrived at the quilt exhibit, there was a sign that said No Photography.  Darn!!  Now, my husband and I are people who always follow the rules.  Everyone else is breaking them and there we are watching them get ahead and we putz along following the rules.  So I pointed to the sign and my husband says  “She said you could without a flash”.  We were the only people in the exhibit and I made the decision to take pictures.  I know that flash will harm the fabric, but no flash will do no damage.  It’s just so rare to see Civil War era quilts….   I will apologize in advance for the quality.  Museum light is not the best for flashless photography and it was a pretty small area and I couldn’t always get the best angle.  Not my best work….

The quilt exhibit was quilts from the Civil War and tribute quilts made since then. There were not many actual Civil War quilts in the exhibit…there are very few in existence.  Those that were exhibited were not in pristine condition but I can imagine the stories that they could tell!  There were two Rose of Sharon quilts hung side by side that were interesting.  One was the original made in 1866 and the other was a modern version.  The modern version was made from patterns that were traced from the original.  The maker made a few changes but it was interesting to see them side by side.  There were two embroidered quilts that were made by the Women’s Relief Corps right after the war.  Many of the quilts were modern miniature quilts made with the reproduction fabrics.  A few quilts from the Civil War Diary book and a couple of Dear Janes.  (I am in awe of anyone who finishes a Dear Jane.  That is quite an accomplishment!)   There was an interesting story with one of the quilts about a young girl (three years old) who was very upset that her big brother was going off to war.  He promised her he would come back and bring her a china doll. He didn’t come back but soon a box came in the mail with a china doll inside. Years later, she was talking with a Civil War veteran and he told her the story of a young soldier that he met.  The soldier was dying and told the veteran how he had promised his little sister a china doll and after the soldier passed, the veteran bought a doll and sent it to the young girl.  It certainly brought a tear to my eye.  Even though the exhibit was small, it was definitely worth the trip.  The exhibit is open until September.

Enjoy the slideshow!!

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Road Trip!

I was able to spend a little time with the grandkids this weekend.  Saturday, we took a road trip to Springfield, Illinois.  MiniQuilter’s brother, MarioFan, has a fascination with Abraham Lincoln so we promised him a day trip to some of the Lincoln sites.  MiniQuilter is not really into history, but she went along for the party.  We had a beautiful day–beautiful hot warm sunshine.

 Our first stop was Lincoln’s Tomb.  It’s pretty impressive.  The design is symbolic in many ways and it has a very nice collection of Lincoln sculpture.  It was a very interesting visit.  You can take a virtual visit here.

After a quick stop to buy a stovepipe hat and beard for MarioFan, we were off to Lincoln’s home.  A slight problem when MarioFan bumped into a stacked display of Lincoln Logs—the tins rolled through the gift shop as my husband slinked out the door, leaving me with a cute little red-faced boy!  When we went outside to wait for the tour to begin, MarioFan announced his disappointment that the home was not a log cabin.  (This later led me to do a Google search for an Abraham Lincoln log cabin–another trip for another day.)  Once inside, I was very disappointed—not one quilt!  Not even in the servant’s room.  Lots of woven coverlets…no quilts.  I mean, seriously Mary Todd Lincoln…not one quilt?  MiniQuilter and I enjoyed the tour of the home…the furniture and all the “pretties”.  MarioFan on the other hand, was most impressed by the “little house out back”.  He had a hard time wrapping his head around that one.  Ah….eight year olds!

A pleasant surprise!  There was a Civil War encampment on the grounds of the Old State Capitol.  It was basically a medical encampment and there were displays of medical kits and such.  There was a surgical “demo” that the kids surprisingly enjoyed.  I’m just happy that medicine has come a long way, baby!  We walked past a tent that housed both Grant and Lee.  (Nice to see the boys getting along!)  These two men looked so much like the generals that it was uncanny!  These  re-enactors take this very seriously and stay in character at all times.  Throughout the entire camp, I only saw one quilt!  It was not an antique, but very pretty.

Inside the Old State Capitol building, ladies and gents in period costumes were dancing.  I always find these events fascinating.  I love to see the men in their uniforms and the women in the big dresses.  Although at 90 plus degrees, I was glad that it was them and not me in a wool jacket or a hoop skirt!

And, as always, with two eight year olds, I made several trips to the “necessary room”.  (Good thing for MarioFan that these were inside and flushed!) So, if you’ll ever be in Springfield,  give me a ring—I can tell you where all the bathrooms are!

I’ll leave you with a short slide show of our day.

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