Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Not The Lazy Days of Summer

our private road
First of all, it barely seems like summer here in the Northwest.  Our temps so far have only hit the mid 80's but we're supposed to hit 89 by the end of the week.  Mostly, we've been in the 70's.  Great weather if you aren't trying to grow tomatoes which like warm soil.  I gave up on tomatoes a long time ago... we just don't have the sun and even on the sunny days, the trees around us are too tall to let the sun hit the ground and warm up the tomato plants. My family in Idaho has great tomato weather.

It's been really busy (in addition to a recovering husband), I hosted a jewelry sale for Apparent Project at Rubystreet Quiltworks a while back on a Friday and thanks to the pre-Christmas shoppers, we made $526 toward the jewelry project in Haiti.

design walls with Haitian paper bead necklaces
The jewelry is made from paper and cardboard and is really pretty amazing.  You can see the paper tags hanging on some of the pieces, each tag has a photo and information about the artisan who made the jewelry.  The Project is all about providing income opportunities so parents can take care of their children and break the cycle of poverty.  The Apparent Project is awesome and very close to my heart.  Someday will be the right time to visit Haiti but in the meantime, I'm pleased to be able to wear and sell the jewelry!  You can check them out online, apparentproject.org or check out markethaiti.com which sells for Apparent Project and also features other products made in Haiti. 

The following day, I did a class at The Quilters' Junction in Centralia, WA which was a Christmas in July sort of project.
Jester Bags

I love these little bags, they make great gifts anytime and 2 fat quarters will make two bags.  I've been making these about 15 years since a woman in England gave me one filled with lavender.

Anyway, over the following two days, I did three applique classes followed by an all-day machine quilting class a couple days later.  I did have one class which cancelled due to only one sign-up but other than that it's been one class after another.  Unusual for me.  But as I was pushing to finish up samples for a couple more classes at Rubystreet, my main sewing machine totally quit on me so today I got to make a 'nice' drive into Olympia and then up to Puyallup to drop it off at a machine dealer/fixer.  When I drive up there, it reminds me of why I live where I do.  I'm really amazed at how people drive on Meridian, a main drag in Puyallup.  Years ago, there used to be a bumper sticker you'd see once in  a while which said, "Pray for me, I drive on Meridian!" and that was back before the traffic got worse.  I was glad to get home.

Anyway, the picture above shows a little bit of what I come home to... it's a remodeled shed which was originally planned to be a teaching space but it never worked out... my husband sold the travel trailer that used to sit off to the left and when the trailer was sold, my bathroom was gone and you can't teach most middle aged to older women without a bathroom closeby.  Mostly it just didn't work because of my location out in the boondocks.  I'm only 20 miles or so from Olympia and for us that's close.  My husband worked at Boeing in Seattle for years and drove over a hundred miles a day.  It's pretty much heaven here.

this was taken after walking Maggie up our road... our house is on the left

Peaceful.  A good time to get caught up on the hand-work. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sanderson Star and It's Poor Cousin

Sateen Quilt photographed at Beamish Museum, 1997
On a recent post I wrote about the qualities of cotton sateen in quiltmaking and the whole time I was writing, I had a particular picture in my mind that I really wanted to post.  However, I had to find the slide and that turned out to be a bigger task than I expected.  So after going through about 400 slides, I found it and here it is!

This quilt pictured above is made with one pink sateen fabric and one green sateen, it's a two-color quilt.  When photographed straight on (as I'd seen it in book pictures), it's still a two-color quilt.  But, when the picture is taken at an angle, the light seems to reflect differently and you can see the results in the picture above.  Now it looks like it was made of two darks and two lights.  It was when I saw this picture that I realized that cotton sateen reflects light differently, depending on which direction the weave or grain of the fabric is cut and then sewn back together.

This quilt is believed to be a home-made copy of a Sanderson Star (the poor cousin) which true to it's name, has a star in the center of it.  But, the average quilter didn't have the skills to piece a Sanderson Star and this quilt has the large appliqued shapes in the center instead of the pieced star.  The Sanderson Star Quilts were designed by professional quiltmarker, Elizabeth Sanderson and the many apprentices that she trained to piece and mark quilt tops.  More on this later.

This is my Sanderson Star quilt.  It's actually made with light gold and dark gold sateens which was a fairly common color combination.  It features a pieced star in the center (all one piece) and a series of borders around the star, all filled with classic Durham style quilting patterns.  It's unknown how many of these quilt tops were produced for others to quilt because this sort of work wasn't valued at the time and the numbers weren't recorded.  I had a friend years ago who wanted to make one of these and set about figuring out how to draft the star which is made from one piece of fabric, not wedges.  My friend had a science and math background and struggled with getting a pattern to match this quilt.  Then one Sunday morning, she was sitting outside with paper and scissors.  As she folded and cut away, all of a sudden she had the star, exactly as it was on the original.  No math or science needed. 

This photo show the quiting in the borders.

This picture shows the center star which is a single piece of fabric and the classic Durham quilting patterns.

This blue combination Sanderson Star was in the collection of Beamish Museum and was one of the quilts I took pictures of in 1997 when I visited the museum with Lillian Hedley.  If you look across the top where the back side of the quilt is folded back, you can see the patterns used in the outer border.  I love the patterns on these quilts, very graceful and organic.

So, I'm going back to digging through the slides again to see what might be of interest.  I hope you enjoyed the Sanderson Stars and their poor cousin.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Welsh Quilting With Cotton Sateen

Most of my antique Welsh quilts were made with sateen and wool batting (or wadding) and I've found that when it comes to trying to reproduce the look of Welsh quilts, sateen is a good choice.  Sateen is a type of weave and it sculpts over the batting (cotton or wool) when quilted which is why Welsh quilts made with sateen have such remarkable texture. Cotton sateen should not be confused with satin which usually shows up in a fabric store's bridal department. When looking for sateen in quilt shops, look among the solid colored bolts, that's where it usually is. Contact information for my local source will be listed at the bottom of this post.

Here are some bits of information about cotton sateen I can pass along to you. 

Sateen is durable and washes well, care for it as you would any cotton fabric.  Beware of using basting guns which push little plastic tacking pieces through the fabric, they will leave holes.  Large safety pins can also leave holes, I alway thread baste.  Machine quilting may also leave holes if you have to pick out stitches.

Sateen has an interesting quality because of how it's woven and reflects light.  If you cut a piece of sateen in two, turn one of the pieces 90 degrees and sew them back together again and then look at them at an angle, one piece will probably appear darker than the other.  Sometimes you won't notice this until you take a picture because the camera flash really brings out the effect.  The gold quilt pictured below was pieced and I deliberately turned the pieces to see how the piecing would affect the overall effect when light hit the quilt just right (this was back in my mad scientist days).

 The photo above was taken straight on and the color is consistant, the photo below was taken at an angle and you can see how the top right and the lower left sections of the quilt are slightly darker.
I have a photo of an English quilt that really shows off this effect, I'll dig it out and post it later.  Anyway, the reason for going on about this little trait of sateen is to let you know it exists so that you don't have any unexpected surprises.  But then again, maybe it's something you want to play with as I have.  As I said, photography is when it really show up.

Cotton sateen is a pleasure to hand quilt and is easy to stitch through but when you're stitching along the straight of grain, the stitches can seem small and irregular and again, this is the result of the way sateen is woven.  My remedy for stitching on the straight of grain has always been to stitch with a very slight zig-zag which seems to keep the stitches from dropping down into the weave.  Also, I don't worry about perfect stitches, with Welsh quilting patterns, people notice the effect of the patterns and overall design, not the individual stitches.  I'm more interested in even stitches than perfect ones.

Cotton sateen makes great backgrounds for applique but because it frays easily, it can be a challenge when using it for the applique itself.  

The gold quilt above also taught me another lesson about cotton sateen.  The fabric on the back was regular (flat) cotton and I found that even though I had the quilt (sateen top, wool batting, flat cotton back) well basted, when the it was in a hoop, it felt like there were wrinkles on the backside of the quilt.  I'd take it out and check that everything was smooth and all proper but back in the hoop the backing would'nt feel right.  Again, I believe this is because sateen is woven differently than flat cotton and the 'give' of the two fabrics is different.  My solution for mixing 'sateen fronts' with 'flat cotton backs' is simply to baste closer together, it takes a little more time but is worth it.

Another trait of sateen is how it discharges when something such as discharge paste or other color remover is applied.  Black sateen usually discharges to a terrra-cotta color.  I have a piece of navy sateen that discharges to a pretty pink.  This may not be the sort of process that you'll use with Welsh quilting but if you're the mad-scientist sort of quilter, you may find a way to work it in.

Anyway, I really, really like cotton sateen and I've bought it by the bolt at times.  It's out on the market but you may have to look for it.  Extra wide sateen has been marketed to long-arm quilters so you might check out their sources.  I've seen it at the big chain fabric stores but the quality was questionable, you'll get what you pay for.  I've also had students who bought sateen sheets to use for quilts. My best current source for cotton sateen is GEE GEES'S QUILTING INC in Yelm, Wa.  They have a website but the sateen isn't listed so contact them to see what they have available.  They've been really good about keeping sateen in the shop as long as quilters keep buying it. 

email - sales@geegeesquilting.com
website - www.geegeesquilting.com
Ph.# 360-458-5616