The Lost Have Been Found! Hallelujah!!!

Last year, or was it the year before that (?), Donna and I decided we’d do a quilt together. She and I have both taken to small, not necessarily mini, quilts and thought that a doll quilt would be the perfect thing to create. Being small the concept was that it wouldn’t take us a whole year, or longer, to complete. What is it they say about best laid plans…?

Deciding just which doll quilt to make is never an easy task, but there was one thatPic-KTracy-Doll Qlt-30s I’d wanted to make for a very long time. I took my book with the quilt design in it to our sewing circle meeting and showed it to Donna. She liked it too (she is so easy going), so it was decided that it would be THE one with which to start. The design was by Kathleen Tracy and was originally in one of her books, which has since gone out of publication. However, Martingale included the quilt in their 101 Fabulous Small Quilts book, a must-have book for those who love small quilts, so you still have the opportunity to make that quilt too if you’d like.

Miss Kathleen’s quilt used heart-shapes to make a flower design which is so sweet. I had already bought the pack of papers that were required (no need going into how long ago that was before Donna and I decided to make the quilt) and while we were waiting for her pack of papers to arrive we set about choosing our fabrics. She decided to do hers in solids while I stuck with my personal favorite: ‘30s reproduction prints. Since I have a LOT of ‘30s prints I thought making each petal from a different print would be good. I’d need 60 prints in order to do this. Nooooo problem. All I’d have to do is decide which print went together with the others. Now, you might think that deciding on how to arrange the prints would be an easy task because I always say you can’t go wrong with ‘30s prints. But then, at this point you really need to take into account who it is doing this project—ME. Nothing ever seems to be so straight forward, much less easy, when I start thinking and putting things together. Those who know me well know that decision-making isn’t my strong suit. This little quilt started giving me a headache from the git-go. For non-southerners that means “from the very beginning” and the word “git” is really the word “get” but we don’t pronounce it with an “e” but with an “i” sound, a particular pet peeve of my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Hardy.

Anyhow, there were questions that had to be answered before I could decide on exactly which prints to use. For example, should I make use of geometric prints only such as checks, dots, or squares in each flower, or should I use only floral prints in each flower. How about using solids in amongst the prints? What about the conversation prints with cute cats, dogs, sheep, children, etc.? At this point my creative mind had created too many choices, too many decisions.

While I love ‘30s prints, I really love the conversation prints, just so you’ll know. They’re the ones that always call to me, “Use me! Use me!!!” Some might think that the conversation prints are for use in a child’s quilt only. I was actually told this several years ago by an experienced quilter when we did a BOM using ‘30s prints because she didn’t want them in her quilt. While I didn’t argue with her, well, not much, I didn’t agree with her then any more than I do now. After closely studying several vintage quilts from that era, I have come to the conclusion that conversation prints were not used only in quilts meant for children. I can’t say that every quilt made back in the ‘30s or that used ‘30s prints, often called feedsacks, have conversation prints in them, but the quilts that I own or have looked at closely have at least one or two floating around somewhere. If they’re not on the top then they may very well have been used as part of the backing. So, I have no qualms about putting conversation prints into projects I make using ‘30s prints regardless of the age of the end user.

OK, back to my decision-making dilemma. Another question that had to be answered was, “How do I arrange the prints in each flower?” Do I make the flowers using the same color, i.e. all red prints, all blue prints, all green prints, etc.? Or, do I make each petal a different color? If I make each petal a different color, do I repeat any color within a flower? Do I use a print more than once? Now are you beginning to see why there was more to making this little quilt than I’d initially thought about when drawn to it several years ago? By now you’re probably thinking I’m a fruitcake or too easily get wrapped around the axle about my fabric decisions. In all honesty, I’d have to plead guilty to being both, usually in tandem.

Eventually, we both had our heart-shaped papers and had decided on what genre of fabric we were going to use. Now came the time to actually work on the project. Donna took a trip and worked on her hearts. She decided that she wasn’t doing a very good job at them, especially at the top section where the heart dips down into a point. When I tried my hand at it, I didn’t have any better results than she had. Then I took a trip. While I was at the beach, thinking about what we could do to make our hearts look like hearts instead of what they looked like, which wasn’t really hearts, the light bulb came on. Why not use hexies instead?! Hexies are much easier and we could make small flowers using ½” hexies. I had some ½” shapes with me, so I laid them out in a flower shape next to a flower using heart papers (not fabric-covered papers by the way, just the papers) and discovered that they were roughly the same size. Viola! Problem solved! When I got home I got in touch with Proj - Doll Qlt - Hexies - VarietyDonna, suggested we use hexies instead because they were much easier, and she agreed that we should do that. So, our version of Miss Kathleen’s little quilt was born and began to take shape. Of course, now I had gone from needing 60 prints to needing 72 prints, but since I have way more than 72 different ‘30s prints that wasn’t going to cause a problem at all. Here are some of the ones that haven’t been made into flowers yet.

Donna and I have known each other for several years now, but apparently, she didn’t know me as well as I thought she did. She was so diligent in getting her hexies covered and turning them into flowers, worrying that I’d have mine done before she got done. Truth was she’d finished several flowers before I’d even gotten started. Imagine that… It was all of those decisions that I had mentioned beforehand that had me stymied. By the time she’d finished four flowers, I’d just decided on what I wanted to use for the center. Originally, I was going to use a print that had several flowers of different shapes. Then I realized that I’d have to repeat some of the flowers so that each of the twelve centers wouldn’t be unique. Scratch that idea. I finally decided on a yellow dot print that I’d use for the center of each flower. That would make life easier and have the added benefit of giving the viewer a focal point, or place for the eye to rest, when looking at the 72 different prints amongst the flowers. With that decision, I got the twelve centers whipped up in no time flat. Of course, while I was doing the center hexies I was still trying to decide what to do about the petals.
Proj-DBennett-Hexis x 3
Donna finished her flowers loooong before I did. Here are three of her flowers. Aren’t they lovely!? In fact, mine are still not finished, but I have a very good reason why. It’s because I lost them. Yes, I lost them. I had kept them in a little tin that I take with me to our sewing circle but took them out and put them by the cash register so I could show them to a lady who said she thought she’d like to start making hexies as she needed some handwork to keep her occupied in the evenings. She didn’t come to visit on the day I thought she would, and my little pack of six completed flowers, centers, and petals was moved. And then they were moved again, and again, and again… Then they were lost, and I couldn’t find them anywhere. I searched in all the places where it would have made sense for me to put them—probably a dumb thang, a dumb thang to do (for those who remember Gomer Pyle). Just so you’ll know, you never look for something you’ve lost in a sensible location. If the lost item was in a sensible location it wouldn’t be lost now would it. I also looked in quite a few nonsensical locations but to no avail. Alas, my little packet of flowers, etc. were nowhere to be found. Bummer…

My adorable little flowers were lost for a good two months or more. I finally decided that they’d gotten buried under something, and since they were so small, fitting inside of a plastic zip-top snack bag, it would be decades before they were unearthed. I finally decided over the weekend to make new flowers as it wasn’t fair to keep Donna waiting any longer on putting her quilt together. Tuesday, while looking for something else that was lost because it had been moved from where I normally had kept it, this time due to the construction in the front room, I found not only what I was looking for but I found my flowers. Hallelujah!!!

Now that the lost have been found you can see what I finally decided to do as a layout of my petals. Do you see any kind of plan going on? There is one, kinda, but I won’t say that I’ll carry it out on all twelve flowers. Time will tell really. Pic-EPP 30s Flowers 2 - 2018
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New Monthly Offering!

Whoooo are we foolin’? We know starting new projects is always more fun than putting the finishing touches on an old project, especially when the new project is small and can be done in just a few days. Better still when the project can be done by hand making it portable in addition to being cute. Such is the case with our new monthly offering, Little Quilts Squared. Each month we will kit a new project that will result in a 12” square that can be hung on a table top stand or from a freestanding hanger. Each option allows you to use your space to its best advantage.

“What if I don’t like small projects?” you ask. “Can I stitch the squares together into a quilt or seasonal wallhangings?” Absolutely! This is your project so you can do with it as you please. While you’re stitching the monthly blocks just be thinking about how you want to put them together at the end of the year. There are several options I can think of and will be happy to share my ideas with you when you ask.

The kits will be ready on the first Saturday of the month, even after the brick and mortar portion of the shop closes on October 1. We will be one month ahead of Pic-September-Owlschedule so that you can get your project done in time to hang it for the appropriate month. For example, this past Saturday was the first day of this program, so the first kit we put together was for the September project which has a little owl sitting on a branch in the light of the moon. In September, we’ll have the kit ready for the October project and so on. The kits will come complete with everything you need to finish the project with the exception of threads, batting (great time to use up scraps), and fusible webbing.

One complaint I’ve heard over the years with regards to kitted BOMs is from folks who don’t want their project to look like everyone else’s. Granted, unless the only folks you know are ones who do the same project and visit your house on a regular basis, how many others are even going to know that your project looks like that of someone else? But, because of that complaint, I usually try to figure out ahead of time whether or not a project is adaptable, and these definitely will be. With a little thought, there are always lots of ways to make your project uniquely your own. Here are some ideas for you to ponder if you’re one of those people.

Around here, we’re oftentimes bad about using the pattern as a guide and then doing our own thing. Do you ever do that? I must confess that we did just that with this little owl. Each of the patterns in this year-long BOM were designed with a pieced background. BUT, I had this great night sky fabric stashed away that we thought would work equally well and save the time of cutting and piecing the background. Since the moon covers up so much of the pieced background, I didn’t think it would make too much of a difference in the overall look. Ptrn-TWBL09-Sept-CrpdHere’s a photo of the pattern the way the designer meant it to be. What do you think? As always, if you’d prefer to have a pieced background you can pull from your stash, piece the background, and save the kit fabric for use in something else later. If you do decide you’d rather have a pieced background, you might want to consider piecing the top and bottom rows while leaving the middle row as one strip since the block in the middle isn’t even seen. I really do like the look of the pieced background, but if I’m going to do the work I want y’all to be able to see it.

Something else you might want to consider doing to change your owl up a bit is using a large white button, a yo-yo, or a fuzzy pom-pom on the top of his hat. Same goes with his eyes. We used buttons because that’s what the designer did and we already had them on hand. You could use regular black fabric if you’d rather or again, make small yo-yos. Victoria stitched the eyes on but didn’t want her owl to be cross-eyed like the one in the pattern. By moving the black portion of his eyes around, you can give your owl lots of different expressions.

When Miss Martha drew off the pattern pieces onto Heat ‘n Bond, she missed one of the three leaves. Victoria was doing the stitching because Miss Martha wasn’t able to and decided to leave our branch with just two leaves instead of three. I don’t think the missing leaf detracts from the finished project one bit. The leaves have a lot of little “fingers” on them so stitching them does take a while which was another reason Victoria was fine with only having two leaves. I didn’t go back and check the kits, but I’m thinking there may be only enough fabric for two leaves. If you want to include the third leaf you’ll probably need to find a green scrap from your stash.

We had pine cone fabric on hand and used that instead of embroidering all the little scallops like the designer did to make her pine cones. If we can find a way to cut down on the amount of work required to finish a project, you can bank on us doing it every time.

So see! There are four things we did differently on our sample to make our owl uniquely ours. We changed the number of leaves, the orientation of the eyes, the pine cones, and eliminated the pieced background. I think our owl still looks just as cute too.

Beginner friendly – If you have a young person, or even someone older, who would like to start creating with their hands, this is a good project on which to start them. The appliqué pieces are large, the fabrics are already put together, and since they can stitch by hand they won’t even need to invest in a machine if they don’t already have one. Of course, it is easier to attach the binding by machine so they may want you to do that for them, or they could skip the binding and use the envelope turn technique instead to finish their project. You might still need to stitch it all together for them to turn, but they’ll be able to save learning about binding for another time. Then again, there’s no time like the present.

If you’re a newbie who wants to learn, we give a free lesson with the purchase of the kit and commitment to the year long program. Each kit is $17.95 and can be picked up at the shop or purchased in our shop on Etsy. I’ve not yet figured out how to set up recurring monthly charges through PayPal. If you’d like to have me ship your kit at the beginning of each month you’ll need to call the shop and we can discuss payment and shipping options. At present, the number of kits is limited so do let me know if you wish to participate.

I’m probably dating myself here, but from the first time I saw this little owl I thought about Woodsy. Are you old enough to remember him? He used to come on TV and say, “Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!” Funny the things you remember when working on your quilting projects…

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