Monday, June 27, 2011


I'm pleased to announce my most recent quilt book editing project—a captivating collection of 1800s reproduction quilts by the 19th-Century Patchwork Divas, a Texas-based block exchange group with a passion for recreating (and sometimes reinventing) quilted treasures of the past. Written by Patchwork Diva co-founders Betsy Chutchian and Carol Staehle, History Repeated: Block Exchange Quilts by the 19th-Century Patchwork Divas offers 16 classic quilt patterns. Many of you Kansas City Star quilt book fans may recognize Betsy's name from her first book with us, Gone to Texas.

Each of the projects was inspired by the Patchwork Divas' love of antique 19th-century quilts. Betsy (on the right) and Carol (on the left) are amazingly adept at combining colors in the wonderful palette of 1800s reproduction fabrics.

It was love at first sight when I saw Betsy's Wheel of Fortune quilt (with the green garden-maze setting), which is featured prominently on the book cover above. I also fell in love with Carol's Nine-Patch Pinwheels quilt (below). I took this photo of it at the location shoot in Kansas City.

All the setting photos were shot on location in a charming historical home in Kansas City. When we were searching for possible photo shoot locations, a KC-area friend had recommended this particular historical house to me and after Carol and Betsy whittled down the location options, it turned out to be the one. Carol then coordinated all of the necessary details to make it happen. Here are some other photos I took on the day of the location shoot. In addition to the 16 patterned quilts, we also included photo galleries of additional quilts made by the Patchwork Divas throughout the book for extra inspiration. This quilt is one of the few signature quilts made by the group.

All the quilts, including this Blindman's Fancy beauty, melded perfectly with the home's antique furnishings. Don't you just want to curl up for an afternoon nap underneath this lovely quilt?

Each of the book's chapters feature detailed block instructions that you can easily adapt for your own block exchange as well as one to three setting options for completing your quilts. And for those who prefer to make the quilts individually, each setting option also includes all the necessary block instructions to successfully complete the projects from start to finish.

To see more of the beautiful quilts, you'll have to run out and purchase a copy of this inspiration-packed book that will be arriving in quilt shops very soon. I hope these photos have piqued your curiosity! Stay tuned for a special giveaway next month, when I'll be giving away a copy of the book to one of my wonderful followers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Last week, my husband and I celebrated one of the major anniversaries and he gave me this gift. As a quirky habit, I name all my antique sewing machines and I call this one Tabitha.

I had spotted her in an antique mall a little over a month ago but couldn't justify buying her. So when Tom asked me what I wanted for our special day, she naturally came to mind. After all, I would much rather get a lovely antique sewing machine than traditional gifts like flowers or jewelry. He went back to the shop, negotiated a price that fit our budget, and set her up for me in our parlor. She just fits this nook. It's amazing what you can squeeze into a space when you really want to!

There was something about this treadle sewing machine that spoke to me. Not only was Tabitha in good working order with all the necessary attachments, she has her lovely original decals which are still in very good condition considering her age.

I especially liked her faceplate's elegant design.

Inside these drawers were sewing supplies left over from the previous owner...

...and thankfully, the original label. Thanks to it, I know that Tabitha dates to August 1902.

The other door houses the built-in bobbin holders...

Here's what it looks like when the cabinet is closed.

Thank goodness Tabitha also came with her original manual, which features this illustration of the New Home Sewing Machine Company factory. The manual has come in handy as I learn how to thread the machine and wind the bobbin. Yes, I really do want to learn how to use it! After working on a Bernina for years, it felt a bit odd at first to stitch on a 109-year-old machine. But I actually find it quite relaxing and a refreshing change from the high-tech sewing machines of today.

Tabitha has also given me an opportunity to exercise my love of researching things. I'd heard of the New Home Sewing Machine Company but didn't know much about its history. After doing a little research, I found out that its predecessor—the Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company—was established in 1860 in Orange, Massachusetts. In 1882, it was reorganized and renamed the New Home Sewing Machine Company. Their trademark was a greyhound with the legend, "Light Running New Home".

I enjoy collecting vintage ephemera, including old sewing machine advertisements. Here are a couple New Home ads from my collection.

1n 1927, New Home merged with the Free Sewing Machine Company and was eventually absorbed by Janome, a Japanese corporation, in 1957. I couldn't find a lot of information on the parlor cabinet model, which I have, but plan to keep digging. When Tabitha is not in use, I display her with one of my reproduction doll quilts.

You might have noticed the vintage pincushion doll in some of the previous pics in this post. I don't know what era she comes from, so if any of you have any clue, I'd love to know. Feel free to write me at the email button on my sidebar.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


As many of you who follow my blog already know, my 1885 Victorian home is named Ashton House after its builder and first owner, Thomas Ashton. This week, it was the site of a lovely tea party with two of my dearest friends, Merry and Belinda (Thank you, Belinda, for giving me the title idea for this post). A day spent with these two kind souls is always a treat. It was the perfect excuse to get out all of my vintage china tea cups, plates, sugar bowls, honey pots, and of course, English teas. Here are but a few of the selections...

We also enjoyed sipping pink lemonade with a splash of grenadine...

We indulged in tiny petit fours...

....Cucumber watercress sandwiches

....Red Velvet cake brownies among other goodies

But the most splendid of all sweets had to be the heavenly rose-water macarons filled with lemon creme that Merry made! Can you believe that this was her first attempt at making these Parisian-style delicacies? I've heard that people go to special schools just to learn how to make them and here she made these absolutely gorgeous gems herself. I have tasted Laduree's famous macarons from Paris and I must say Merry's rival them in both beauty and flavor...Can you tell that I have a slight obsession with macarons?

For lunch, Merry treated us to her scrumptious spinach bacon quiche and homemade wheat bread, and Belinda made the most delicious fruit salad with strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, grapes, peaches, and bananas blended with a refreshing light peach pie filling. I don't think a real tea room could have served a more delicious lunch!

After lunch, we opened our gifts. Yes, can you believe Merry and Belinda also came bearing gifts?! Their generosity always amazes me. Belinda designed and made these enchanting button bags herself with the most adorable button fabric. What a clever idea! I love how she embellished it with the two flowers at the bottom.

Inside the bag were these colorful buttons. I was so delighted to receive such a creative gift as I believe one can never have too many buttons!

Belinda also gave us this set of handy set of lighted sewing tools. I've already used the seam ripper and it works great.

Merry gifted us with this alluring assortment of wool roving that I already have plans for.

A talented jam and jelly-maker, she also gave us two jars of homemade strawberry rhubarb jam. Yum! I'm not sure I can ever go back to store-bought jam and jelly after being spoiled by her scrumptious preserves! The aqua berry basket pictured is actually ceramic rather than cardboard and always makes a nice serving piece.

With such a fun gathering, it was sad to see it come to an end, but thanks to Belinda and Merry, I'll have some wonderful memories of Ashton House's first tea party. For more fun pics of our day, visit Belinda's blog here or Merry's blog here.

Monday, June 13, 2011


After spending much of the past week at home dealing with a kidney stone, I was ready to get out and about a bit this weekend. So I headed over to the Sheep and Wool Festival, hosted annually by my small town. It's too hard to resist, especially since it's just a couple miles from my house! Several vendors were selling lovely woolen wares such as these vibrant braids of roving...

Colorful samplers of hand-painted cotton roving...

Fun knitted finger puppets—very reasonably priced at $3 each or 2 for $5...

Gorgeous hand-dyed wools in a rainbow of hues...

Felted farm animals...

Even alpaca batting for quilters. The vendor told me this is an extremely soft, high-loft batting with an excellent drape. It's easy to hand-quilt and shows stitches well. If any of you have actually tried it before, I'd be interested to hear your impressions.

Writer and sheep farmer Catherine Friend was there selling her two books, Sheepish and Hit by a Farm—memoirs of operating her southern Minnesota sheep farm. 

In addition to a nice array of vendor booths, the festival also includes a host of fiber arts classes ranging from beginning spinning and wool dyeing to traditional rug hooking and wet felting. This group was learning how to use their spinning wheels...

One of my favorite stops at the Festival is the Hall of Breeds, where you get to see a variety of sheep. I am grateful to these delightful creatures. After all, without them, we wool lovers wouldn't have a fabric stash to play with! I loved meeting this woolly fellow named Yoda.

Yoda is a Lincoln, the world's largest sheep breed. The males range from 250-350 pounds. Their woolly locks, which produce some of the heaviest fleeces, are prized by spinners. Yoda's owner told me that he is shorn twice a year. Looks like he's due soon for his biannual shearing!

These lovely fellows are Columbias, an All-American breed developed by the United States Department of Agriculture. 

And these charming Jacob sheep were a crowd pleaser. This ancient, domestic breed probably originated in what is now Syria 3,000 years ago. In 1834, the breed was named "Jacob" by the Earl of Fitzwilliam in England, based on the biblical story of the spotted sheep given to Jacob. 

I can't remember what breed these guys were but their coloring was beautiful. I just love sheep and could have stayed here all day. They were all so friendly and loved to be pet, especially Yoda.

I couldn't leave the show without getting a small souvenir for my two cats. These wool felted catnip balls are the perfect gift idea for the spoiled feline who has everything (and my two cats definitely fall into that category!).

My cat Teddy loves wool and he often goes into my sewing room when I'm not watching and steals my wool tuffet pincushions (see them on my previous post here). In the morning, I'll find them scattered about my living room, dining room, and kitchen. It looks like he approves of the new catnip ball!

Hope you've enjoyed this little tour of my state's sheep and wool festival!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Sorry for being a bad blogger this week but I have a good excuse, and this little stone is to blame. I found out earlier this week I had a kidney stone. Thankfully it passed early this morning. It's hard to believe something so small can cause such extreme pain. As those who've had kidney stones can attest, even one the size of a grain of sand can create severe cramps once it leaves the kidney. Unfortunately, this is the third time I've gotten them. I plan to get this one analyzed by the doctors to determine what caused it so I can hopefully reduce my chances of getting another one!

Between bouts of pain, I was able to finish one of my Aunt Tilly's Tuffet pincushion orders. I thought I'd work on something simple like these because I really wasn't able to concentrate on work very well and was afraid I might write something nonsensical while on the Percocet pain reliever! These pincushions are named after my Great Aunt Tilly because her vintage pincushion was the inspiration for them. They're based on the basic tuffet design but paired with a fun little strawberry filled with emery.

I've been working on this particular order for the past couple months and have enjoyed pairing various colors to create different looks. Thanks to my sizable wool stash, I didn't even have to purchase any new material.