Thursday, January 31, 2019

A Lettering Tutorial

Well it has been about a month since we wrapped up our Flora and Fauna of Germany Stitch-Along and I (Kara) have been diligently sewing the blocks together. I put together the fabric blocks and even got the border on them, but I felt it needed a little something now that I could see them all put together. Lettering popped into my head as just that something. Since each block has a name, inking that on the block—reminiscent of the old botanical prints—seemed like a good idea. It was a bit of a gamble because once done, it cannot be undone. In spite of that I forged ahead and thought I would show you how I did it.

My handwriting is certainly not nice enough to freehand the blocks, but Microsoft Word has all sorts of options for fonts. I created a document with all the block titles on it in the Edwardian Script font. This font seemed to work best for that vintage look. Two columns with a line down the center  of each allowed me to line them up, correctly centered on the blocks as you will see further on.

The next step was to spray the whole paper on the front with a temporary adhesive. I used 505 as it doesn't get too sticky. 

Next, I cut out each title and put them aside while I prepared my blocks. Ideally, you would do the inking before you put the blocks together but I wasn't going to be taking mine apart just for this. The blocks finish at 6" square so I found the center, made a small line, and then drew a line 1/4" from the bottom edge.

Ready to line it up.

Once my lines were drawn, I turned on my light-box and positioned my paper title underneath the block. I double checked multiple times to make sure I had the right title for the right block. 

Lined up  and ready to ink.

The temporary adhesive on the paper holds it to the fabric without having to worry that it will shift while inking. Before I inked on the blocks, I practiced a bit on a piece of scrap muslin. I then took the plunge and traced over the letters with my Micron pen. 

Micron pen in size .05 and color #117

The best advice is to go slowly and gently. Downward strokes are usually easiest and I tried to write with a light hand.

A nice bright light-box is essential! 

I took my time on each one and I tried not to hurry. After you are finished, you need to let the ink set for a couple of hours before you try to remove your blue marking pencil if you used one. Here are a few of the blocks once they were finished:

The inking is a subtle detail but I think it adds that little something to all the blocks. I have only inked the cotton blocks because the light box I had borrowed was not bright enough to shine through the linen background of the wool blocks. It may be that the wool version will be sans inking! 

If you would like to ink your blocks as well, you can download the titles HERE, Let us know if you have any questions about inking.

Soon we will show all the blocks together, both cotton and wool. If you have created any of the blocks, we would love to see them! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Vintage Pinafore, Tea, and Friends

Kara and I (Teri) love to collect vintage linens. I have a drawer filled with tablecloths, doilies, handkerchiefs, pillowcases, and the like. A few weeks ago, I went with some friends to visit Dollies Tea Room and was chatting with the owner, Amy. She does such a lovely job setting the tables for tea, using vintage hankies as napkins. Amy mentioned that at times, they get worn and she has to get rid of them. As I have used them for a few projects—and always looking for inspiration to use more—I told her that I would be happy to take her cast-offs, and in fact might have some that she could use.

Before we left, Amy brought out some embroidered linen napkins that she had bought at a sale but wouldn't serve her purpose, and she gave them to me. As yet, I don't know how I might incorporate them into a project, but I feel certain that between Kara and me, we will be able to put them to good use. When I added them to my drawer, I searched my pile of handkerchiefs for some suitable prospects that Amy might be able to use.

Years ago, when I made my Grandma Quilt, I cut one her handkerchiefs into quarters and used them for the cornerstones of the quilt. One of my memories of Grandma was the pretty hanky she always carried, so it was special to incorporate this piece of her into my quilt honoring her.

To read more about My Grandma Quilt, click here.

This handkerchief belonged to my great-aunt, Annabelle. A few years ago, I took a class at the Academy of Appliqué—before we were teaching there—and chose to use her hanky as part of the dress on this lady. I was able to fussy-cut it to add to her hat as well. It was fun to honor Aunt Annabelle, as she was also a stitcher, who helped to make the reunion quilts which I've written about in the past. (See Reunion QuiltsReunion Quilts, Revisited; and A Quilty Family Reunion.)

To read more about this lovely lady designed and our class with Cori Blunt, click here.

Well, last week, I took my friend Bonnie to celebrate her birthday at Dollies Tea Room. I took a few of the handkerchiefs in my stash for Amy, and to my surprise, she said her mother had a dress to show me. I couldn't imagine what it would be, but my curiosity was indeed piqued. 

After a while, Amy's mother, Jane, came to our table to show us this charming little dress that her mother had made. She told us that her mother—Dollie, for whom the tea room is named—had drafted her own patterns for their clothes and made them. They were a farm family during the Depression in the village of Big Pool, Maryland, and owned a canal boat in which they would travel to Georgetown. When Dollie made this pinafore, she embroidered the names of all the cousins around the hem.

The clover blossoms stitched around the neckline complement a three-leaf clover on the waistband.

Lena Jane went by her middle name, Jane, as did her cousin of the same age, Frances Jean. Jane told us when she was little, she would hop over the fence to play with her cousin, who lived right next door. Since Jane and Jean sounded so much alike, her cousin ultimately went by her nickname, Pid. She explained that nicknames were common then, though since her name was short, she kept her name, Jane. 

Can't you picture this sweet dress on a little girl, running through a field of clover?

When Jane finished telling us her story, she handed the dress to me and said that if I'd like it, it was mine. She said no one in her family really wanted it, and she was happy to have it go to someone who would enjoy it. In fact, Amy also thanked me for taking it. I was feeling humbled and honored to own such a treasure, and that they were thankful and willing to share its story made it all the more special. And they agreed to let me share the story with you!

Dollie's story, shared on the back of the menu

The tables set for tea, with vintage tea cups and plates, and old handkerchiefs for napkins.

Dollie is pictured on the wall above. Amy told me Dollie would have loved the Tea Room, but she died just after they purchased the property to open Dollies Tea Room. 

As I sit here writing this, I am enjoying the rest of the pot of tea—bought at Dollies, of course—that I just shared with a neighbor. I am thinking of the mission statement on the Dollies Tea Room website: 

"To feed the soul as well as the body. To provide a place for quiet thought, gentle communication, sweet respite from the hectic everyday world; a place filled with a sense of hospitality and graciousness. A haven for the gathering of one's strength, the refreshing of one's body and spirit."

Indeed, I have found such a place at Dollies. In fact, my friend Bonnie and I have made a monthly date to visit and enjoy such nourishment for our souls.

Bonnie sent me a link to this website that evening—a truly delightful discovery! I have not formally "met" Grandma Rae yet, but I hope I may at some point. Her page is so inviting: quilts and tea on one site! You may wish to pay her a visit at Grandma Rae welcomes visitors to her site with these words:

"Having tea with friends fills a spot in my heart. Tea Time for me is not a lovely table or perfectly made sandwiches and desserts. Tea Time is the fragrance of friendship—it's the aroma of lives shared and the sweetness of sisterhood—bonds that cannot be broken by time, economic circumstances, health situations or lifestyle changes." 

Both statements touch a spot in my heart. I am not sure I ever appreciated tea, or even thought much about it, in this way before. The gift of a sweet little embroidered pinafore has brought new appreciation to that precious cup of tea—and the friends with whom I share it!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Welsh Quilt Museum

The view from our hike.
This past November, my husband and I (Kara) had the opportunity to visit the spectacular country of Wales. This was to be our relaxing treat after such a crazy past year of visitors and travel. We chose the location based on its proximity to Snowdonia National Park—renowned for its beauty—and it did not disappoint. The scenery was spectacular and the hikes through various areas of the park were diverse in landscape and beauty. While hiking through the hills was one of our main goals, seeing some of the towns and castles was another. We decided to visit Caernarfon Castle on our way back to our rental. Any fans of The Crown out there? We couldn't see the castle because they were filming Season 3!

Beefeaters being prepped for the shot
Filming in action

While the scenery and the filming were wonderful, getting to see all the quilts at the Welsh Quilt Museum, just days before it closed for good, was the absolute highlight for me! I knew that the museum would be closing in November, but I thought I would give them a call to see if I would be able to get in. As fortune would have it, the exhibit would be closed the following Saturday, but if I wanted to visit in the next two days, they would be open. My husband and I drove down to Lampeter and were able to visit with the lovely Jen Jones, owner and curator of the museum. 

A few show catalogs and Jen's book, Welsh Quilts
Jen showed us around the museum and shared some of her vast knowledge of Welsh quilts. Her efforts through the years to save this disappearing art form has resulted in a collection of over 350 pieces. While not all of her collection was on display, this exhibit was a summary of past exhibits and showed a variety of amazing Welsh quilts. I could go into more detail about the history of these quilted beauties, but it would be better to just show them, and let you read more about the history in Jen's book Welsh Quilts. As you look at all the quilts, take notice of the incredible hand-quilting on each and every one of these quilts.

The view as we walked in

Tree of Life quilt from an Indian, hand-painted, fabric panel.
Quilted in 1810 and exhibited at the 1851, London Great Exhibition.

The colors are still so vibrant and the stitching is exquisite!

Floral Patchwork, 1920

Blue and Yellow Star quilt,  1920
and Blue Spotty Strippy quilt, 1890

Quilts from the very first exhibit in 2009

Military/Tailors Quilt, pre-1938
The maker of this quilt is still a mystery!

Interesting blocks!

Such bold colors!

From the 2014 exhibit titled, Early to Bed.

This exhibit celebrated Folk Art and "Make Do and Mend"

So many pieces and so much quilting!

A creative example of using what you had

Victorian Patchwork

What a unique center!

From the 2018 exhibit, Nos Da-Goodnight

Prince of Wales Feathers, 1890


Red and White Strippy

This quilt won an award in 1901, and I can see why.

Central Star Quilt, 1895, on top made by Sarah Lewis.
The quilt on the bottom was used for 25 years to protect
the mattress from the boxsprings, circa 1870.

2010 exhibit highlighting the history of paisley in Welsh quilts

Shawls that would have been used in the quilts.

The beauty of the quilting is so evident in this one.

Quilting close-up.

One of my absolute favorites!

Golden Yellow Quilt
Made by Anna Davies, born in 1895

Hand-quilted, satin cotton with lambswool batting

It was a challenge to get good pictures of the amazing whole-cloth quilts.
This one is stunning!

A typical Welsh quilting motif

Another close-up

Welsh quilting frame

It was a wonderful experience seeing such a collection of what could have been a lost art. Jen has spent the last 45 years not just rescuing these quilts, but learning about their history and genealogy. She has found them through many different channels and saved a few of them from a practical existence of keeping a cow warm.

This is a card for purchase in the shop that I couldn't pass up.

If it weren't for Jen's tireless efforts to save such a valuable quilt heritage, this incredible art form would have been lost. While the museum is now closed, this quilt collection will be soon be traveling around the world to various locations.  I will leave you with a few words from the introduction of Jen's book that give you a glimpse into her passion for this art form:

Those quilts that have survived (sadly many have not) come into our own times as living emissaries of another age. They evoke the dexterity, imagination, and creativeness of people who somehow managed to produce such remarkable visual art from such humble and limited resources. What began for me as a salvage operation has evolved into a way of life.

Jen Jones
Welsh Quilts

Thank you, Jen!