Is it a “Jadite” sewing machine?

Is it a green Featherweight?
Is it a Jadite sewing machine?
Is it an update of a basic Singer portable first made in 1911?

Only the last statement is true!

This Singer model 185K was made from about 1959-1963 when I was still in school at Hialeah High School. Singer repackaged the tried-and-true Model 99 with a fancy new exterior to its sturdy cast iron body and added a reverse feature. I did not have my own sewing machine at the time, but I would have loved this one even fifty years ago

This Singer model 185K was made from about 1959-1963 when I was still in school at Hialeah High School. Singer repackaged the tried-and-true Model 99 with a fancy new exterior to its sturdy cast iron body and added a reverse feature. I did not have my own sewing machine at the time, but I would have loved this one even fifty years ago.

Yes, that last statement is a reality–Singer updated a machine first built in 1911! My primary sewing machine is a Singer Featherweight that I bought used in 1969 when I began work as a TWA flight attendant. The Featherweight, or Singer Model 221, was introduced in 1933. Because it was built of cast aluminum (very expensive at the time) it only weighs eleven pounds. No one who is familiar with the Featherweight would pick up this green machine and call it light. It weighs almost thirty pounds and is not easy to maneuver!

The other obvious clue is that the medallion on the front of the green machine identifies it as Model 185K, not a 221. That green is an appealing color with none of the acid yellow undertones of today’s very popular chartreuse. Many of my quilting friends are as fond of that gray-green color as I am. It is a distinctive green associated with Depression-era quilts. According to quilt historian Barbara Brackman in Clues in the Calico, “…this slightly gray, or slightly bluish pastel green was the rage in Depression-era quilts in the 1925-1950 era. Sears, Roebuck and Co. called the shade ‘Nile green’ in their 1927 catalog….” Brackman added, “In 1929, Ruth Finley called it colonial green and mentioned that it was popular for interior woodwork, a legacy in the name kitchen green, which is popular today along with institutional green.” My quilting friends and I have come to call it “that green”.

My kitchen contains many “kitchen-green” items including the large green enamel bread box I’ve admired since I discovered it in a Kansas City flea market in the mid 1970s. Green handled kitchen tools, green milk glass dishes and bowls always draw my attention. The mottled glaze of “Prairie green” Frankoma pottery works well with the smooth surfaces of the green dishes now know as Jadite. Let’s talk about that “Jadite” term.

This green enamel bread box probable dates to the time period when "Jadite" items were seen in kitchens across the country--perhaps even with wood trim in the kitchen painted in this same green. This bread box has been a central feature of my kitchens since the mid-1970s when I found it at a Kansas City flea market.

This green enamel bread box probable dates to the time period when “Jadite” items were seen in kitchens across the country–perhaps even with wood trim in the kitchen painted in this same green. This bread box has been a central feature of my kitchens since the mid-1970s when I found it at a Kansas City flea market.


This photo shows our kitchen counter reflected in the mirror over the mantel filled with bird nests. I discovered the hanging light fixture at the resale shop for Habitat for Humanity.

This photo shows our kitchen counter reflected in the mirror over the mantel. I discovered the hanging light fixture at

Jadite has become a generic name (thanks to sellers on eBay) for any glassware similar to the pastel green milk glass produced in the U.S. starting in the mid 1940s. That spelling actually was used to refer to a green jade-shade of vaseline glass product made in the early 20th century. McKee was the first company to mass-produce jadeite dinnerware in the ’30s. Anchor Hocking, another U.S. glassware company, called their product “Jadeite Fire King”. Produced primarily between 1945 and 1975, Jadeite products were durable and featured a fashionable color. It became the most popular product made by Anchor Hocking (who makes reproductions today). Jeannette Glassware was another U.S. manufacturer of green milk glass tableware similar in appearance to Jadeite Fire King. Still other glassware companies created their own opaque green glassware during the same period. One called theirs Jad-ite.
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In the 1990s Martha Stewart regularly featured Jadite glassware in the pages of her magazine Living introducing new generations to the opaque green milk glass popular for decades in the mid-twentieth century. Millions of examples from these companies still exist and continue to excite interest from buyers making it an affordable and popular collectable today.

Martha Stewart Living magazine often featured Jadite green glassware in the lush photo spreads the magazine became known for and introduced readers to the visual appreciation of this spring green popular for decades.

Martha Stewart Living magazine often featured Jadite green glassware in the lush photo spreads the magazine became known for and introduced readers to the visual appreciation of this spring green popular for decades.

The Singer Sewing Machine Company transformed their tried-and-true Model 99 (introduced in 1911) with a sturdy black cast iron body into a fancy new green exterior and added a reverse feature. This repackaged machine was produced from 1959 through 1963. For decades the Model 99 was a reliable workhorse sewing machine for the home sewer. When introduced it was an innovation as one of the few sewing machines not encased in a large cabinet–making it an early “portable”. But, due to its weight, most sewers today would not consider it easily portable. Only someone like myself, who is entranced by the lovely green color, would consider hauling it to a quilting class.

The early incarnation of the green185K was this Singer 99K--a basic black, sturdy and reliable sewing machine sold for decades.

The early incarnation of the green185K was this Singer 99K–a basic black, sturdy and reliable sewing machine sold for decades.

Singer took the green theme on this machine to the extreme–green cords, green foot pedal and even a green belt from the motor to the fly wheel. The plastic case is a subdued tan plastic known to become brittle with age (mine has a small section missing on the back). I could not find any information on how Singer described the color of this machine when they were promoting it. However, I seriously doubt that Singer referred to this sewing machine as “Jadite”. I did see that term used by an enterprising seller online to entice prospective buyers.

Some of you may believe I have gotten side-tracked from focusing on this sewing machine. It’s true, but as a collector it all relates to what appeals to my eye and to my sensibilities. True, I do not need another sewing machine. But I wanted this machine when I saw it at a flea market a hundred miles from home. Actually, my friend Susan pointed it out to me. I loved the green at first sight. I hauled this small, but heavy machine, over to a table, turned it upside down and looked for any missing parts or damage. All looked fine. I was not familiar with this Model 185K machine. The price was well under a hundred dollars, but I walked away after writing the model number down. I planned to check it out online that evening.

At Susan’s house I did some minimal online research learning about its history as a repackaged Model 99K–that pleased me because I knew it was a reliable machine. I already had a 99K (another reason to pass on this machine.) I tried to talk myself out of buying this machine.

The next morning I was heading home from southern Missouri and would pass with in ten miles of the Rusty Rooster Flea Market where this delightful green machine was waiting for an appreciative buyer. I drove there and carefully inspected the machine. I opened the inside and found lots of vintage cotton lint indicating it had been ignored for a long time. I plugged it in and figured out how to thread top and bottom (this took awhile). It did sew a good seam, but sounded sluggish. I negotiated the price some and bought it.

When I carried it to the car I did not use the handle on the top of the plastic case because sometimes these antique latches do not hold well allowing the machine to fall to the ground. I carried this thirty pound baby with my hands underneath. The next day I was oiling and cleaning after researching more information online.

We bring favorite quilts to our annual Airing of the Quilts. Some are unique examples of vintage quilts like this one that hung in 2014.

We bring favorite quilts to our annual Airing of the Quilts. Some are unique examples of vintage quilts like this one that hung in 2014.

Two days after buying the 185K, I took it to our guild’s Airing of the Quilts annual picnic. We hang quilts on the rail fences surrounding one of our member’s homes. For the picnic I took a folding six foot table and a green checked tablecloth. As I was setting it up, my quilting friends were teasing me when they asked if I’d also brought a plant to be the centerpiece for the table. I laughed, but it gave me an idea. I had brought along the 185K to show it to a friend. I decided to pull it out of the truck and make it the centerpiece for our table. This seemed an appropriate decoration for a quilter’s event. Lots of women seemed to enjoy the sight of my new vintage machine–peppering me with questions about where I found it and what I knew about it. Later, one of these women emailed me that she was “green ” with envy over this machine. I laughed and sent her online links to other green 185K machines for sale.

In closing, I am posting a series of Jadite-related images ranging from the kitchen sink to a kitchen clock–all are photos I found online. Each intrigued me. Hope you enjoy them too. Thanks, Susan, for roaming through the 100 booths at the Rust Rooster Flea Market and spotting this jewel of a sewing machine.
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Quilt Show Adventures & Challenges

“In its simplest form, a quilt is just some fabric and a little thread. It’s up to you to decide how to put it together.” YLI ad in QNM, March 2000

Whether a quilter chooses to work from a pattern or creates a quilt from her imagination, it still requires talent and skill to choose the combination of fabrics and to maintain the sustained commitment to accomplish each of the steps to finishing a quilt. Our April quilt show was a vivid display of our pride in our accomplishments.

Often, we quilters are presented with a challenge to our skills in trying a new technique or process. I had not considered making a quilt based on a photograph I’d taken until this idea was presented as our guild challenge for the 2015 show. To begin the process I reviewed my favorite photos stored on my computer and in the camera. First I remembered the delicate yellow ladyslipper photo from spring 2012. Then I considered a photo of the gentle rattlesnake meandering across a garden bed with the amazing colors and textures of the her skin. Still not sure what I wanted to attempt to recreate as a wall quilt, I took a few artsy pictures of a white coral necklace  (from my mother) placed around a curvaceous seashell. In reviewing my favorite photos I was also drawn to one of a spectacular sunset. Each of these I seriously considered. The technical construction elements of each did not excite me.

The ladyslipper is a native Ozark wildflower that blooms mid-spring. We rescued this plant from a small colony chewed to the ground and moved it years ago to our garden.

The ladyslipper is a native Ozark wildflower that blooms
mid-spring. We rescued this plant from a small colony chewed to the ground and moved it years ago to our garden.

In late summer, we often experience surprise visits of timber rattlers. Since we live in an oak/hickory forest this is not surprising. They usually move on within a few days to a week.

In late summer, we often experience surprise visits of timber rattlers. Since we live in an oak/hickory forest this is not surprising. They usually move on within a few days to a week.

My "artsy" photo of the coral and jasper necklace surrounding  the intriguing sea shell still pleases my eye, but defies my reproduction in fabric!

My “artsy” photo of the coral and jasper necklace surrounding the intriguing sea shell still pleases my eye, but defies my reproduction in fabric!

This December 2013 sunset made me grab my camera and swoon even as the sky flamed before it faded into night.

This December 2013 sunset made me grab my camera and swoon even as the sky flamed before it faded into night.

That guild challenge had been announced in mid 2013, but I had not decided on a project. The challenge required that the wallhanging not be smaller than 30″ x 30″ or larger than 40″ x 40″, and it must contain a circle somewhere. Two item not in the photo could be added. the instructions asked for a recognizable representation of your photo. The “artsy” photos were taken in February, 2014. Still not inspired! By summer I picked the dramatic picture of a western Steller’s Jay I’d photographed high in the Rockies in October, 2011.

I followed this jay with my camera lens trying to get a good picture as it hopped or flew from spot to spot. I was rewarded for my efforts in this photograph. Now my challenge was to recreate it in fabric!

I followed this jay with my camera lens trying to get a good picture as it hopped or flew from spot to spot. I was rewarded for my efforts in this photograph. Now my challenge was to recreate it in fabric!

The raucous Steller’s Jay catches everyone’s attention in Colorado and other parts of  the West. The shiny black head and brilliant blue body is a breath taking sight on wing. My photo captured this jay against the winter backdrop challenging me to recreate in fabric and thread all I observed.

In making my selection, I was drawn to the strong contrasts in the picture, and to the diagonal play of light across the surface. Another big influence on my choice of this photo was my memory of how much effort I had put into composing the photo itself! That bird had led me on a merry chase.

Since I’d not attempted to recreate a photo before I read about the techniques that various quilters used and described. I decided to take the original high resolution photo to a office supply shop and have it printed 32″ x 32″ in gray scale. This gave me a pattern to work from and a sense of the values (lightness and darkness) for every element. I began with the pieced background carefully emphasizing the diagonal pattern of grasses and of the light. I kept the original blowup intact and traced the body and feathers from there. I cut patterns from the tracings and choose the fabric carefully. I added detail to the feathers by drawing the bars on with a Pigma Micron pen. I used both machine and hand quilting to add more details.

In studying the enlargement, I noticed tiny snow crystals clinging to the upper beak where my avian friend had been pecking in the snow. I sewed glass beads there and added lots of beads along the path of light along the ground. The leaves and dried grasses were a challenge and the deadline to finish was near. To add detail, I used embroidery thread for the eye and the toes, and some of the grasses. I finally found the wrong side of a pale green fabric to simulate the dried leaves and appliqued them in place. Other items like a few twigs, some odd buttons and even some ash shavings helped to make the texture of the rocks and duff recreating the landscape this jay thrives in throughout the year.

This is the photo of the quilt I did for our quilt guild challenge as it hung at the 2015 quilt show. I named it "Colorado Jay". I found many adventures and challenges in designing and in sewing this fun quilt.

This is the photo of the quilt I did for our quilt guild challenge as it hung at the 2015 quilt show. I named it “Colorado Jay”. I found many adventures and challenges in designing and in sewing this 32″ x 34″ quilt .

I learned much about the body structure of this particular bird often referring to several bird books to get a clear image of parts I could not see clearly–especially the grasping toes which I created with applique and then black embroidery thread. Along the way I decided to add all the information I could find about the habits and habitat of the Steller’s Jay as part of my quilt. In my photo of the quilt it is difficult to read the information I wrote in my 1950s public school script, so I include it here:

“Steller’s Jay Cyanocitta stelleri: A large black and blue perching bird with a tall crest and a long, powerful bill. These jays are a noisy, bold, intelligent and mischievous. Coloring: Females and males look alike. Juveniles resemble adults. Foreparts blackish; wings and tail deep blue, underparts lighter blue, mantle of grey. Corvid foot and legs are sturdy with strong grasping toes. Size: 12″-13 1/2″. Prefers conifers where it builds nests of large twiggy bowl. Eggs: 3-5, greenish, spotted. Range: Alaska to Nicaraga and west Texas. Food: almost anything edible. omnivore. Relatives: Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and other Jays: Corvidae

Narrowing our choices of what to sew is a large part of our adventure as quilters. A little bit of thread and a variety of fabric can keep us entertained for days and days. We learn more about ourselves with every quilt we sew. As the Irish saying I once heard mentioned on NPR goes: “Please yourself and at least one will be well satisfied.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Goal of a Quilt Show?

“A quilt show represents a chance to be recognized for our talent and our skill. It is also an opportunity to dream about and plan our next project.” from The Sister Blocks by Edi McGinnis, 2001

Since 1995 I’ve participated in the QUILT of Northwest Arkansas quilt show–that is two decades! Our biennial quilt shows happen every other year in the odd numbered years. Each show becomes a “quilt immersion” weekend for me. I swim through three days surrounded by quilters who are surrounded by quilts, by fabric, and by the tools to make quilts. We arrive on Thursday with enthusiasm for setting up the show and special displays. Then we pack up on Saturday evening with more ideas and inspiration.

Planning and organizing for this complex event takes two years–we had two talented leaders this year! Kathy Garringer has served as our guild president and has just been re-elected. Diane Crandell pulled all the details together as quilt show chair.

Our guild president at left (also reigning queen) and her quilt show chair, Diane Crandell, both giddy with enthusiasm at the 2015 quilt show.

Our guild president at left (also reigning queen) and her quilt show chair, Diane Crandell, both giddy with enthusiasm at the 2015 quilt show.

I snapped this photo of them together at the show on Friday. Both are enthusiastic quilters and hard workers on behalf of our guild.

Joan Beyette and I pulled quilts from our own collections and borrowed from others in the guild to create our special exhibit on string pieced quilts. We described the exhibit this way:

Strings and Things: Creative Scrap Quilts: String quilts are made from strips of fabric–usually scraps, but there are plain and fancy versions of string quilts. Quiltmakers may use random scraps, selvages, blue jean scraps, or leftover pieces of fabric from other projects or even worn clothes. The strings may then be sewn to form a pattern or design to please the viewer’s eye.  Sometimes the fabric is stabilized on a foundation of newspapers or fabric. This informal display of vintage and contemporary string quilts may expand your idea of how to use favorite scraps with new possibilities.

We included a variety of unique examples of what women have pieced for pieces of scraps. See for your self in these photos. Do you have a favorite?

Dolls love quilts, too!

Dolls love quilts, too!

Paula found this framed version of string piecing set in a window frame at a local thrift shop and paired it with a vintage set of carnival glass.

Paula found this framed version of string piecing set in a window frame at a local thrift shop and paired it with a vintage set of carnival glass.

From a modern "Bars" quilt by Sally LeBeouf to a vintage 1950s Seminole Indian jacket from Paula's girlhood, we had items to surprise everyone.

From a modern “Bars” quilt by Sally LeBeouf to a vintage 1950s Seminole Indian jacket from Paula’s girlhood, we had items to surprise everyone.

Diamonds, stars or simple squares--each is a possibility with string piecing. some use a paper foundation, some a muslin foundation and others use no foundation at all.

Diamonds, stars or simple squares–each is a possibility with string piecing. some use a paper foundation, some a muslin foundation and others use no foundation at all.

Therese Ramsey's exploration of using selvage edges to create her "Spools" quilt was a favorite of many visitors.

Therese Ramsey’s exploration of using selvage edges to create her “Spools”
quilt was a favorite of many visitors.

The center quilt is a vintage spider web design. Adjacent to the left is another version of the web design. On the far left is an unusual curved path design which brought many comments.

The center quilt is a vintage spider web design. Adjacent to the left is another version of the web design. On the far left is an unusual curved path design which brought many comments.

The center section was begun in the late 1990s for a string piecing class I taught at Quilt Your Heart Out.. when I found this bold floral in my stash, I finished it in time for the exhibit.

The center section was begun in the late 1990s for a string piecing class I taught at Quilt Your Heart Out.. when I found this bold floral in my stash, I finished it in time for the exhibit.

Satisfied with a job well done, we undid all the hard work of building our “quilt city” on Thursday! Clearing out and packing up went well with many hands contributing. My last image is one of our president Kathy Garringer (still wearing her patchwork crown) shoving a huge dust broom over the floor of the empty building. She’s an amazing woman.

 

 

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Inspiration Creates More Inspiration!

My vest creation of green lame fabric before embellishment, then i added the  lime feathers and  a red crochet doily on the back--all recycled objects.

My vest creation of green lame fabric before embellishment. Then I added the lime feathers along the collar and a red crochet doily on the back–all recycled objects.

Here is the update I promised you of the vest-creation-adventure in December, 2015. Below you can see some of the other wild and crazy things women created for our guild event. Our grand winner was Natalie on the left. I am pictured with sisters Adele and Suzanne.

Natalie

“Among women the giving of gifts creates the magic of addition and reciprocity and of special identification with one another.”                                      Arlene Raven, (1944-2006) feminist art historian, author, critic, educator, and curator. Raven was a co-founder of numerous feminist art organizations in Los Angeles in the 1970s.

Sally-vest2999“You never know what is around the corner.” This observation has comforted me in difficult situations and has energized me at other times in my life. I could not have guessed at the string of events that would follow, when Sally L. sent me an email last spring asking if I wanted this appliqued vest. She was offering it to me before planning to donate it to her guild auction. Sally moved from northwest Arkansas in 2006 and found new quilting friends in Washington state. We had stayed in touch sharing some of our quilting adventures online.

I quickly let her know I would be delighted to wear her creation. She had put together a raw edge appliqué collage of interesting fabrics. I recognized the central basket with tropical foliage as a piece of fabric I, too, had discovered in the recent past. Lush, tropical foliage was a central feature of my girlhood growing up in Miami Springs, Florida, and this bit of the tropical paradise appealed to me. The panel of this fabric that I had discovered had languished, as you can see below. I had added only a narrow dark border to my fabric waiting for more inspiration to strike.

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With these close-ups, you can see Sally used a black and ivory check for the binding that contrasts with the soft hues and curved shapes. She stabilized everything with dense free motion machine quilting. I was so enamored of this vest that I began adding glass beads to enhance the flowers and stems. I spent hours choosing the right beads from my stash for each section, adding my own creativity. It was such fun, and I received compliments from friends when I wore it. I emailed Sally a picture of her vest with the bead work.

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Same bold print central to her vest and to my panel–in a sheath dress!

Months later, in one of my weekly thrift store jaunts, I discovered a slim sheath dress featuring the same bold print central to the vest and to my panel, but in a different colorway!  The green/gray background is one of my favored colors. And this dress already featured beading on the bodice along the bird-of-paradise flowers emerging from the woven basket. I bought it for less than $5 not knowing exactly what I would do with it.

P-vest-beads

That size 12 sheath dress became a vest. I cut a newspaper pattern using Sally’s vest and carefully took the dress apart. The beaded front of the dress became the back of the vest. The fabric for the front of the vest was cut from the back of the dress where the zipper was placed. Because of the subdued colors in this vest I wanted a binding without too much contrast, but with personality. I found a tobacco-colored fabric printed with small gold leaves to finish all the edges.

Sally's appliqued vest

I added an inside pocket and the labels from the original dress as well as a name tag identifying me as the designer and maker of this vest.

Vests are easy to wear and relatively easy to fit. Because I have lots of experience doing bindings as a quilter, I find a binding the quickest way to finish the edges. Also, I like the opportunity to add a bit of contrasting fabric to the edges. These were not the only vests in my closet, but they quickly became favorites. Since I had a second mastectomy in 2011, I have become more aware of finding clothes that make my flat chest less obvious. Knits are comfortable, but knits do cling.

“Make visual decisions visually.” Great quilting advice!

I wasn’t planning another vest in my future, but in September I visited a thrift shop in Bentonville, AR that I rarely get to visit. There I found a jacket pattern with a shawl collar designed by quilter Lorraine Torrence. Several years ago she provided me with a favorite quote.  She advised us in an article in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine to “make visual decisions visually”. I used her advice that day standing in the thrift store: I liked the looks of the jacket, so invested 25 cents in the pattern.

Several days later I cut out the pattern pieces using a floral fabric of a heavier weight decorator cotton from my stash. After following the directions to sew the front sections to the back section, I tried it on and realized I could sew a shawl collared vest from this pattern and skip the sleeves that would make it a jacket (and make it much more work). This was an inspired discovery! I love this new vest and it’s flattering collar—I’ve even loaned the pattern to a friend who admired my vest.

Shawl collar vest of floral fabric with vintage button and gold leaf binding.

Shawl collar vest of floral fabric with vintage button and gold leaf binding.

Reversible too! I wanted to feature the luxurious marbled lining.

I’m not planning any beadwork on this vest, but I found a spectacular lining of a marbled fabric labeled ” ‘Marbled Alchemy’ by the Woodrow Studio, Licensed by Cockerell Papers, Cambridge, England, The U.K.’s Oldest Established Marblers”. The gold leaf fabric I used on my first vest worked perfectly here too!

This reversible shawl collar vest features a luxurious marbled cotton fabric, a usable pocket (where my label is hidden), and another vintage button.

This reversible shawl collar vest features a luxurious marbled cotton fabric, a usable pocket (where my label is hidden), and another vintage button.

I am convinced that creativity is “lurking inside all of us”. Our creative impulses are constantly seeking a means of expression. Some people are creative musicians, some of cannot carry a tune–like me! Look for your strengths and build on each skill. Karen Page in Creative Collage for Crafters describes her experience, “Once the ideas begin to pour in, one thing leads to another. The excitement builds, time becomes nonexistent and a dialogue occurs. Things are unexpected–there are surprises.”

Surprise Yourself: This is the Essence of Creativity

I surprised myself in early September with a quick trip to Lawrence, Kansas (where we once lived). I planned my whirlwind roadtrip around the moving sale of quilt historian Barbara Brackman. I learned of the sale in her blog post I saw on Tuesday morning September 2. I saw it as once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since I respected her work and enjoyed the reproduction fabrics she designed. The post assured us that there was lots of fabric and other quilt-related items.

Moving sale full of quilting treasures from Barbara Brackman in Lawrence,  KS.

Moving sale full of quilting treasures from Barbara Brackman in Lawrence, KS.

Note the quilt tops draped on the porch rail at the front of Brackman’s house. I was the early-bird for this 8:00 a.m. sale three days later. I spent much of the morning in the studio behind the house culling through boxes of fabric that excited my senses. I picked what I wanted to add to my own collection. In the frenzy, one of my treasures was a length of deep purple (perhaps heliotrope?) cotton fabric I guessed to be a vintage drapery fabric because of its heavier weight.

Vintage Drapery Fabric Transformed (as did Scarlett…)

When Brackman saw me admiring the long, but narrow fragment, she too admired it. Then she explained that she had used the vintage fabric years ago to cover chair seats enjoying them until the fabric wore out from use. Before I left Lawrence I visited the food coop there that Jeanne and I had once belonged to. The Community Mercantile has thrived and grown, I bought organic sweet corn to take back to Arkansas.

Perhaps you have guessed by now that I this velvet fabric would find its way into a vest. Yes, but it was a challenge because the fragment was only 8 1/2″ wide and about 70″ long–not enough for a vest. My quilter self said, “Well, piece it, and make it interesting!”

A remnant of vintage drapery velvet is transformed into an elegant vest via some creative stitching and the addition of two dramatic fabrics.

A remnant of vintage drapery velvet is transformed into an elegant vest via some creative stitching and the addition of two dramatic fabrics.

By using the narrow velvet strip down the center of the back, I preserved the limited velvet for the front  although I did have to piece both front sections.

By using the narrow velvet strip down the center of the back, I preserved the limited velvet for the front although I did have to piece both front sections.

I started this project in late October, six months after Sally sent me her vest! Both front panels are pieced to make each wide enough for the pattern. By using the narrow velvet strip down the center of the back, I preserved the limited velvet for the front. On the back, I used the dramatic tobacco-color fabric printed with small gold leaves for contrast as well as a strip of the peach color batik used for the lining. If you are observant, you will see that the gold leaf is the same one used for the binding in the earlier vests.

Inside the lining I sewed an elaborate round label to recount the entire story of this vest. The pocket features another batik fabric which I trimmed in gold lame rickrack I found in my stash. Can you tell I had fun pulling this all together?

Sally’s gift began this journey! Thank you, Sally, for knowing that your creation would find a good home with me. We, who play with fabric, do have a special identification with one another. Do you have a story about this idea that you would like to share–please leave me a comment.

P.S.  There is another vest of green shiny lame with red trim and chartreuse feathers that I have made for our guild’s “Ugly Xmas Sweater” contest. I’ll post that photo after our December guild meeting.

 

 

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Paula’s “Love It or Leave It” Challenge

We’re going thrift store shopping together! The last day of October is the first day of guild retreat and we will meet at 9:00 in the lobby. You will look for some “textile treasure” that excites your imagination. We’ll car pool and take a brief road trip (about seven minutes) to a large nonprofit thrift shop and spend an hour or so browsing for treasures—fabric or otherwise. (Bring cash for your purchase because it will make it easier.)

The central square was an orphaned block I purchase at our guild store at our 20013 quilt show. I added my own ideas: cut corners, beads, text and asymmetrical borders.

The central square was an orphaned block I purchase at our guild store at our 20013 quilt show. I added my own ideas: cut corners, beads, text and asymmetrical borders.

Your challenge is to find something you love and to repurpose it as something you love even more. If you are reading this ahead of retreat, check out your local thrift stores and flea markets for something that is special to you. There are treasures and bargains everywhere. As quilters we know quality fabric when we see it and we have imagination to transform it into something new. The more you look the more likely you will find something you love!

Back in class, we’ll use a large design wall and each of us can show our treasure and describe our thoughts about possibilities. If desired, each participant can ask for group brainstorming thoughts.

Then we grab our fabrics to start cutting and sewing. Bring lots of fabric for this adventure. I’ll provide some Triangles-on-a-Roll papers to aid in your quilt design. By lunch we may have some show-and-tell to share with each other. In any case, we will have fun as we exercise our imaginations while staying within a budget.

I discovered this vintage beauty (with matching pillow cases) at a local flea market this year. I resold it to a quilt lover.

I discovered this vintage beauty (with matching pillow cases) at a local flea market this year. I resold it to a quilt lover.

Consider the possibilities!

I see “lurking creativity” in each of us! Keep yourself open to possibilities and trust your gut. Here is a list of things I have used to spark my imagination in the past.

Orphaned quilt blocks and quilt tops (of course)

Feed and flour sacks

The central Bluebird Brand flour sack was a gift waiting for the right blue fabric to come to me. I found the blue silk/cotton fabric at a thrift store dress on sale for $2.

The central Bluebird Brand flour sack was a gift waiting for the right blue fabric to come to me. I found the blue silk/cotton fabric at a thrift store dress on sale for $2.

Pillow tops

Curtains

Doilies and dresser scarves

Handkerchiefs

Cotton shower curtains, tablecloths and bed skirts

Vintage fabrics

Skirts and dresses

Shirts and slacks

Cotton or silk scarves or neckties

Cotton tote bags

Felted projects

Beaded items

Use your imagination and have fun as you browse.

The supply list is tricky for this class. Bring as much fabric as you can tote. Since we do not know what we are working on, bring the fabrics you currently favor and we will make do with what shows up that day.

Sewing machine, cutting and ironing tools are all good ideas. A portable design wall is the most important tool for this class!

 

Posted in Contemporary Design, Paula's Quilt | 1 Comment

Respect Your Gift

“Respect your gift. Not everyone can or wants to make a quilt. If your gift is to do so, then by  all means make quilts.” Betty White in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, Aug/Sept 2013

I’ve found my “creative home” in quiltmaking! Pleasure, joy and satisfaction in playing with fabric is how I experience piecing and quilting. To share that knowledge with those who are likewise interested pleases me.

I’ve often commented that the library has stored my favorite quilts books for me! Since I started quilting in 1994, the Fayetteville Public Library has moved to a larger (and greener) building Perhaps that move happened because of my prolific interest in reading about quilts and quilters! What do you think? Of course I am joking, but using library facilities is a wise use of resources. Every book that graces those shelves is one less book I have to store! And some of those quilt books are heavy. Sharing books and other materials creates community resource centers rather than private holdings. My mother, Marie, introduced all four of her children to our local Miami Springs, FL library at an early age. I figure I’ve been climbing library steps every month of my life–at first in my mother’s arms.

I volunteered to do a series of quilt programs as part of the Fayetteville Public Library’s “Explore Your Senses Series” this summer. On Tuesday, May 27, with help from librarian Nancy Hartney, we hung twenty-four quilts in the second floor reading room with its brilliant daylight lighting. I chose a range of quilts: vintage, time span, contemporary and modern. The quilts will hang for the entire month of June. Over the front desk is a vibrant Amish-style pieced quilt. We named this quilt “Joint Custody” because Valerie Doiel hand quilted it after I discovered it as an abandoned quilt top rolled and taped up at a local charity thrift store. We each added our efforts to the work of the original unknown quilter who had a great “eye for color”.

Please read about the four Wednesday night programs and pick all that interest you. Bring your friends and tell everyone that beginners are welcome.

"Joint Custody" is a Time Span quilt because Paula discovered the unfinished top at a thrift store and Valerie Doiel hand quilted if, making it a group quilt owned jointly by Paula and Valerie. For all of June everyone can enjoy this dramatic quilt hanging at the Fayetteville Library.

“Joint Custody” is a Time Span quilt because Paula discovered the unfinished top at a thrift store and Valerie Doiel hand quilted if, making it a group quilt owned jointly by Paula and Valerie. For all of June everyone can enjoy this dramatic quilt hanging at the Fayetteville Library.

 

Quilt Month in the Ozarks: June, 2014

Antique Quilts: A Visual Feast of Plain & Fancy, June 4 from 6-7:30

Quilts reveal much about their maker and her life. See the vintage quilts and explore the stories contained in the fabric and the stitches. Learn useful information to help you date quilts from1870-1970.

Contemporary Quilts: Building on our Past, June 11 from 6-7:30

Today’s quiltmakers still play with fabric–from feed sacks to batiks to hand dyed fabrics. The many avenues of piecing, appliqué and quilting all offer challenges to anyone intrigued by fabric. We quilters explore this broad range of quilting territory with quilts that range from traditional to political to whimsical to outrageous. Come see what we are sewing today.

Memory & Scrapbook Quilts: Historical Documents, Personal Mementos, June 18 from 6-7:30

View quilts with vivid stories and colorful characters. Memory quilts may contain photo transfer pictures of family and friends, cartoon segments, favorite t-shirts, etc. Scrapbook quilts include souvenirs and artifacts from our lives. Think how your own memories could be translated into fabric.

Sew Your Own Log Cabin Block: Create with needle, thread and fabric scraps, June 25 from 6-7:30

Bring your tools (including a pincushion and scissors), or we will provide equipment and fabric, encouragement and instruction following a short display of log cabin quilts. Beginners welcome.

 About Paula Mariedaughter

Paula is an avid quiltmaker and amateur historian. She has been collecting vintage textiles since the early 1970s and has taught quilting in the area for nineteen years. She has a political science degree from Maryville College located in the mountains of east Tennessee where she first developed her interest in homesteading skills. Her presentations always include props and artifacts from earlier eras as well as her collection of quilts with “personality”. Paula currently teaches quilting classes at Lonesome Pine Quilts located 16 miles southeast of Fayetteville on Highway 16E.

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Hand Quilted, TimeSpan Quilt | Leave a comment

Love My Tools!

 

  • QUILT MONTH at the Fayetteville Public Library! Every Wednesday in June 6-7:30  June 4: Antique Quilts
    June 11: Contemporary Quilts
    June 18: Memory and Scrapbook Quilts
    June 25: Hands On Quilting–Make a small log cabin block. Everyone welcome.

 Love My Tools!

“I feel energized when working with tools that are beautiful and have stood the test of time.” Bernard Maisner, skilled calligrapher featured in MS Living November 2012

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I do feel energized when I sew and create on this lovely cast iron machine. Sitting quietly, I guide the fabrics with my hands as my feet create the up and down rhythm needed to move the needle and join the fabric in a sturdy lock stitch.  I feel the energy of creativity. I feel connected to the generations of women who played with the alchemy of sewing. We are making magic! And, this simple machine I am propelling could last hundreds of years if properly cared for. I admire my sewing machine’s function, yes. My eyes enjoy the sensuous lines and the gilt letters and scroll work common in another era. My work horse is beautiful, not plastic.

Connecting to the animate and inanimate objects around us comes easily to humans. We depend on our homes for shelter and on food for nourishment and on vehicles to transport us. But to find satisfaction in our lives can be a challenge. What part does the “craze for machines” play in that challenge?

In 1909, the young Indian scholar Mohandas K Gandhi was returning from England and wrote Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule detailing his view of the problems facing his modern world. The book was immediately banned by the British who ruled the continent of India at that time. This excerpt about the usefulness of machines seems equally relevant today, over 100 years later, as the corporations and machinery dominate our lives:

“How can I be [against machinery] when I know that even this body is a most delicate piece of machinery? The spinning wheel is a machine, a little toothpick is a machine. What I object to is the craze for machinery, not machinery as such. The craze is for what they call labor saving machinery. Men go on saving labor till thousands are without work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. I want to save time and labor not for a fraction of mankind but for all. I want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions. The impetus behind it all is not the philanthropy to save labor, but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I am fighting with all my might …. The supreme consideration is man. The machine should not tend to atrophy the limbs of man. For instance, I would make intelligent exceptions. Take the case of Singer’s Sewing Machine. It is one of the few useful things ever invented, and there is a romance about the device itself.” See Gandhi’s complete 1909 book here: http://www.mkgandhi.org/swarajya/preface.htm.

The romance comes from the knowledge that by using a leather belt to connect the foot treadle to the balance wheel, I can pump the treadle and move the needle to sew a perfect lock stitch and sew almost anything. The simplicity of the machine is its elegance.

Prior to the invention of the sewing machine (treadle) in the mid 1850s, all clothing and bedding was produced in the home (usually by women and girls) and often began with the spinning of the linen fibers or carding of the wool to make yarn. Growing, harvesting and carding cotton was not any easier. An enormous amount of life energy was spent sewing for a household. Purchased fabric was a luxury. Learning to sew was a necessity. Powering a sewing needle with human-power was a revolution! In another section, Gandhi adds bicycles to his short list of helpful inventions.

My foot-powered Singer treadle sewing machine No.115 was made in 1921, three years after Gandhi wrote these words. I bought it for my 60th birthday in 2005. I will never know who used it before me. The only facts I know are that I bought it in Oklahoma and it was in excellent condition with its original instruction book. It had been separated from the original sewing cabinet, but I had a cabinet that fits it well. Since then I have bonded with this machine! I find it especially useful in the winter when the short days mean our solar electricity can be limited. I can use my treadle during daylight hours because it sits in front of a nine foot tall window giving me lots of light. Because my treadle sits near our trusty Harman woodstove I’m warm and content.

It seems the craze for machines and devices has accelerated and come to dominate the lives of millions on the planet–even endangering the planet itself.

 

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Realignment

I've named my version of a convergence quilt "Realignment" since I shuffled some of the components around and added a fifth fabric.

I’ve named my version of a convergence quilt “Realignment” since I shuffled some of the components around and added a fifth fabric.

“Creativity is usually seen as an individual attribute but it depends on opportunity for expression and a receptive audience.” Margaret Cruikshank

“Realignment”

Sharing a day with friends and acquaintances while playing with fabric is my idea of heaven! Last Saturday (February 15) we set up our machines, ironing stations and cutting boards as we gathered to learn from another guild member. The Rogers Public Library was the setting and Sheila Bayles was our teacher. Taking four different fabrics we used a technique developed by Ricky Tims which he called “Harmonic Convergence” to sew and slice and converge fabric pieces–like magic–into a new whole.

My quilt top is pictured above after I reworked it some at home and added two borders and a touch of a fifth fabric. The process takes concentration to follow each step. Here is where I started. I wanted to use this black cotton sateen skirt with white embroidery I found recently at a thrift shop. Then I chose the other three fabrics to complement and contrast. The touch of green was added later.

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We worked steadily all morning while laughing and visiting with each other. We shared tools and tricks consulting with Sheila or each other if we got stuck. The transformation process was tricky, but created amazing combinations. After lunch we spent time on the last grouping and carefully matched seams to line up each row of contrasting fabrics. Most of us finished sewing our tops and each quilt top featured startling combinations of contrasting fabrics. Each of us showed her top as she finished sewing and pressing it. We admired every one of the tops and took pictures to record the effort.

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Here is the quilt top Therese Ramsey created with her choice of clear bright fabrics. Something did not seem quite right with my own top. I scrutinized it when I got home and realized I had turned some of my strips upside down. By placing the quilt top on the portable design board I’d created, I could see the design issues I faced.

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Something did not seem quite right with my own top. I scrutinized it when I got home and realized I had turned some of my strips upside down. By placing the top on the portable design board I’d created I could see the design issues I was facing.

Every combination of fabrics resulted in interesting colors woven together. Hazel McFall  (left) created a seascape effect and Cindy Askins’ version looks like a desert sunrise to me. Once we have sewn the strips, we each face the challenge of how to orient the resulting composition. Charlotte Ralston chose purple midnight colors.

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After much visual examination at home, I decided to move one on the strips from the far right side back to the far left. As I kept looking and considering, I wondered if adding another sliver of color might be a solution.

In conversation with Nora Krein at the class she had commented on the variegated polka dot fabric I was using and how the fabric moved through numerous colors including a touch of lime green. Remembering her casual comment inspired me to pull out a favorite lime green fabric with tiny gold dots. Yes, I liked that addition! I would use a small inner border of the green. Next I decided to insert the green for a zinger in that strip I had just moved to the far left side.

I carefully ripped out the cross strips of red in that one row and replaced them with my zinger green.  Once I realigned my strips, I was finished and had a title! Borders were tricky, but I found a combination that pleases me. The off-center border weights the lower left side, but does not enclose the design. And the 5″ wide border gives me a chance to highlight the large scale red floral fabric. After I machine quilted it, I added a black binding with  a lime green flange. I’ve been inspired by the class and added my own take on the convergence design. What fun!

More fun when you view Raija Salomaa’s finished quilt and the detail of her quilting in this photo she sent. You can see that each of us had to choose how to orient our quilts to the best advantage. Raija rotated her quilt top 90 degrees in the finished version. Several of us finished our quilt tops by the February 27 guild meeting. Many of us from the class of twenty-one quilters showed our work to the entire group that night.

Raija rearranged some of her strips in class to achieve this balanced effect for her quilt top. On the right, you can view her lovely machine quilting.

Raija rearranged some of her strips in class to achieve this balanced effect for her quilt top. On the right, you can view her lovely machine quilting.

 

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Large florals, Paula's Quilt | 1 Comment

Gold Dust

Gold Dust

GoldDust2

“Anything I create becomes a doorway through which others can access my ideas and concerns, if they care to.” Peter Korn in his book, Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

Gold Dust began with the traditional block called the Wagon Wheel composed of twelve segments in a hexagon shape. I had a piece of glitzy gingham I wanted to try in this setting. The small gingham check was done in black and gold lame! Gingham checks were a part of my girlhood. Mother sewed outfits for me and my sisters in this sweet fabric. My black and gold gingham was sophisticated, not sweet. I found another copper color lame to add to my mix of batiks and large scale florals in the pieced blocks.

I pieced the blocks on my vintage Singer Featherweight and hand appliqued the circles in the center. I  had fun choosing fabrics and finally had a pile of blocks to play with on the portable design wall. Because I live in an 800 square foot house, I prop the 42″ square design board covered in flannel on a dresser drawer and work from there.

I had twenty-five blocks and was ready to move forward. I arranged and rearranged the blocks. I left it and came back to it, but it was being tricky to find an arrangement that “hung together”. I fiddled and I fussed. I got discouraged. I left it alone for a few days.

I remembered the observation and suggestion that my friend and mentor Lila Rostenberg had made years ago. She suggested that since, in our culture, we read from left to right and start in the upper left hand corner, our eyes are accustomed to viewing in this manner. Her general advice was to start with lighter blocks in the upper left hand corner and move the eye downward and across the composition with the darker blocks to the lower right hand corner.

With fresh eyes and some patience I came upon the arrangement of light through the middle that you see here. Jeanne later told me she was not sure I was going to be able to “pull this one off”, that’s how frustrating it was!

The next challenge was how to concoct a border. I realized I was “done” with piecing more of these hexagon blocks, but I could take that wagon wheel shape and cut “setting blocks” that exact size using interesting batiks to finish out the edges. That part was fun! I was like the horse heading for the barn–I could see the end in sight and I was happy with what I saw coming together. Note that I used a light batik for the upper blocks and a darker batik for the lower blocks forming the border.

I used a simple machine quilting pattern of meadering curves and spirals to machine quilt Gold Dust on my 1971 noncomputerized Bernina 830. My favorite batting is Cream Rose cotton needlepunch batting from Mountain Mist, but I use other brands of thin cotton batting when I find it on sale. By the time I finished the binding and the label I’d com eup with the name. In my mind’s eye I can see a hand tossing gold dust and it catches the light as it falls.

Gold Dust (47″ x 56″) is still one of my favorite quilts. I believe it is a favorite, in part, because it was a hard one to birth! I persisted until it came together in a pleasing way. Please consider using my unusual border solution whenever it suits your purposes–we are here to inspire each other! Of course, it would be nice if you decided to give me credit for the suggestion and if you sent me a picture of your quilt.

Posted in Contemporary Design, Paula's Quilt, Pieced Border | Leave a comment

Wallflower

“Inspiration is where you find it.” Paula Mariedaughter

Inspiration breaths life into any project whether it be woodworking or cooking or quiltmaking. Inspiration will keep you engaged in a project long enough to see it through. When I saw a picture of an Evening Star quilt (see below similar to this on the cover of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine (October, 1993), I was intrigued. That quilt was made in New Jersey circa 1890 by an unknown woman with imagination. She relegated the pieced Evening Star blocks to the background in favor of the dramatic large scale florals in the setting squares. She was a free thinker, often large setting square were cut of plain fabric and would feature elaborate quilting. I wanted to try my hand at creating my own version! The magazine had the cutting dimensions so I would not have to draft my own pattern.

Wallflower was inspired by a circa 1890 quilt made in new Jersey by an unknown woman.

Wallflower was inspired by a circa 1890 quilt made in new Jersey by an unknown woman.

After choosing fabrics for the stars, my trusted Featherweight helped me piece the twenty stars mostly on light backgrounds. Rounding up lively large scale prints was fun, but I could not find a border fabric that pleased me. In person the setting squares are more dominant than they appear in this photo.

I had to put this top aside until I found the border fabric it called for. Months later, I knew it when I saw it. The ideal fabric appeared in the booth of one of my favorite quilt shops at our 1999 quilt show. Mama’s Log House is always packed with fabulous fabrics, but this pillar print added the visual movement I knew I wanted. This would be a different quilt without this pillar print.

I used my vintage White sewing machine to accomplish the quilting and bound it with a burgundy red. I labeled it Wallflower because I enjoyed the idea of all these flowers gracing a wall over 100 years after that New Jersey woman created her quilt. I finished Wallflower in 2000. Size: 66 x 70.

Below is the magazine cover that inspired me. The antique quilt is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photographs appear in Roderick Kiracofe’s book The American Quilt:A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950.

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Posted in Reproduction of an Antique Quilt | 2 Comments