PKM and a 1930s Assortment

PKM and a 1930s Assortment via cottagemagpie.com

PKM and a 1930s Assortment via cottagemagpie.com

Did any of you get fabric for Christmas? Me neither. But I *did* get a gift certificate to the local fabric store. I’ll be excited to use that. In the meantime, I did splurge a bit on fabric for myself. I had to take my poor sewing machine up to a quilt shop in a town over an hour away to be repaired for a large-but-not-exhorbitant amount of money, and while I was there I just had, had, had to buy some of the 1930s reproduction fabrics. I really can’t get enough of them.

I also may have gotten a little carried away on Fabric.com ordering some Christmas-y fabrics for next year, too. You know how I have all that white and red in my bedroom at Christmas now, and I was thinking how cute it would be if I had some pillowcases in bright red or bright green or bright aqua to kind of add some excitement, right? [Read more...]


Grandma’s Vintage Sailboat Quilt

Grandma's Vintage Sailboat Quilt via cottagemagpie.com

Grandma's Vintage Sailboat Quilt via cottagemagpie.com

One of my most treasured possessions is this raggedy old quilt. It’s not the prettiest quilt ever, and it’s not in the best condition, but it’s special to my family and to me.

My Dad, whom I lost this summer, lost his mother when he was only eight years old. Sick with the polio epidemic, she was far away and in the hospital for weeks when she passed. He only got to see her a couple of times and then she was gone. Ironically, I went through a similar situation this summer, when my Dad was far away in the hospital, and I only got to see him a couple of times before we lost him.

This quilt was the last quilt she made before she passed away. It was made on her treadle sewing machine, one that my Dad learned to sew on. The squares are all cut from old clothes, the batting is an old blanket and the backing an old sheet. Meant to be used, it has been used and loved and heavily worn over the many years it has been in our family. [Read more...]


How To Make an Ironing Surface

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

How to Make an Ironing Surface via Cottage Magpie

I don’t know how many of you sew, but there’s a lot of pressing involved. Getting the seams nice and crisp gives you a great result. I find that to be true whether I’m quilting or making pillowcases or any other project. Since sewing is one of my favorite therapies (along with gardening and reading), I sew almost daily in the wintertime, and I really don’t want to keep a full-size ironing board set up in my workshop all the time.

Enter the ironing surface. The ironing surface small, completely flat, very very slightly padded surface that you can iron on. My new one is only about 17″ x 25″ which is just the right size for me to press almost anything I’d need to and leave room on my console for other things like my made over radio cabinet and my lamp. I am certainly not the first person to create such a thing, there are tutorials all over the Internet. But I added a little twist of elevating mine off the cabinet top with “legs” and I thought you’d like to see how I did it. Read on for all the details! [Read more...]


How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Yesterday I finally finished up the “scrappy trip” placemats that I made as a late Christmas gift. These were made in fall colors for the recipient, but just imagine them in ombre, or rainbow, or my favorite, vintage feedsack prints. They’re really easy — I thought you might like to know how to make some yourself.

For inspiration, I used the Quiltville Scrappy Trip Around the World tutorial, but I altered it so it would make a placemat instead of a quilt. I had so much fun making these, that I really want to go ahead and make a full quilt version, especially after seeing all these cute ones!

They’re super addictive to make, and super fun. I am having a hard time resisting the urge to abandon my other works in progress and start a full quilt using this same technique. So fun! At any rate, whatever colors you use, this is how you do it:

Scrappy Trip Placemat Tutorial

Since my tutorial is based on Bonnie’s tutorial at Quiltville, I’ve only included the parts that are specific to a placemat project. For more details on the basic construction of strips and tubes, please refer to her tutorial.

I tend to have 2″ strips on hand, so that’s what I used instead of the 2 1/2″ strips that the original pattern calls for. The placemat finishes at 8 little squares by 10 squares, or 12″ x 15″. I chose that because it was easy to remember, but you could easily do 8 squares x 11 squares for a placemat that was 12″ x 16 1/2″.

To do 6 placemats, you’ll need about 156 2″ strips, 10 1/2″ long.

You make them half at a time. For each half placemat, cut 8 strips 2 inches wide and a little more than 10 inches long. (You can cut them exactly 10″, but if you’re not perfect sewing you will end up with wonky ends. I preferred to cut them 10 1/2″ and square up the ends). Line them up in a way that looks good to you:

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Then, sew them all together, then the ends together to make a long tube. then square the ends up and cut the whole tube into five 2″ sections (Again, for more detailed instructions, please see the original tutorial from Quiltville).

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Now, UNdo one seam in each loop, but offset by one, so that when you lie them next to each other, they make a diagonal:

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Press the seams up on one strip, down on the next, up on the next, and so on. Sew them together and press:

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

You now have half of a placemat ready to go!

Next, you do the same thing again, and then arrange the next five strips so the diagonals go the way you want them to. You could make a chevron, or zig-zag, or whaver you want. I chose to put my first unit in the middle and put my other strips on each side, to make an uppy-downy kind of pattern.

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Also, as you can see here with this one, I wanted to use up some strips that were too short to make a full section, so for the second half I did one section of 2 (on the left), which required only 4 1/2″ strips, and one section of 3 (on the right), which required only 6 1/2″ strips. Make sense?

However you arrange it, after that you treat it like any quilt. Quilt it:

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Square it up:

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

And bind it, completing one placemat!

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Repeat that five more times and, voila! You have a set of 6 pretty placemats!

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

How to Make Scrappy Trip Placemats via Cottage Magpie

Whaddya think? Do you think you’ll make some?

~Angela :-)


Lake House Dry Goods

Lake House Dry Goods
I can’t tell you the excruciating temptation I am feeling right now. As most of you know, I’m moving. Somehow this is taking a very long time, but it is happening. And just last week I finally gave up and packed up my sewing machine, figuring it’s better to just get it over with than have it sitting here gathering dust while I work on the house.
But then, the completely and utterly fabulous Holly sent me a package. After seeing my post on using recycled shirtings in quilts, she decided to send me some blue and white shirts she had laying around to be recycled. Wasn’t that super awesomely nice?
Well, here’s the best part: she included some samples from her brand-new line! Oh, the deliciousness of it all. They’re springy and adorable and I really really really want to sew up something with them right now.
But I can’t.
So they’re packed.
Fabric in Bin
Now I’m just focused on getting moved so I can unpack it!
~Angela :-)


Vintage Ocean Waves Quilt Block Pieces

Vintage Ocean Waves Quilt Block Pieces
I believe I’ve mentioned before that I find old fabrics and old, unfinished quilt blocks to be incredibly inspiring. I just love the colors, the patterns, the textures, the… dare I say it, possibilities. So I couldn’t pass up this bin of vintage unassembled Ocean Waves quilt blocks.
I got these for a rock-bottom price, because they are kind of sort of not really assembled. At all. Only one of the units was actually completed. The rest of them are still in their individual triangles:
Vintage Ocean Waves
So, yes, I paid good money for a bag of teeny tiny scraps. Granted, consistently shaped scraps, but scraps nonetheless.
And yes, I did know this was what I was buying.
I couldn’t help myself. Look at all the colors, the amazing vintage fabrics. I mean, just from a pattern catalog point of view these little scraps are invaluable. But that’s not the only reason. I also couldn’t help myself from saying, “Oh man, those poor little triangles. They need me! If I don’t buy them, they’ll just languish here, unloved and unsewn. I can’t let that happen!”
Or it’s without question, certainly probable, theoretically plausible that I’m over-glamorizing what actually happened. It’s possible that what really happened was, “Mmmmm….fabric. Must bid.”
But I’m nothing if not idealistic. :-)
Ocean Waves
~Angela :-)


FreshCut and Chez Moi

Fresh Cut & Chez Moi
Whenever I got to the fabric store, I am so inspired. I just love all the colors and textures and combinations of patterns. It makes decorating ideas pop up in my brain like popcorn.
Take this pile, for example, isn’t this pile luscious?
Heather Bailey Fresh Cut Fabric
You may recognize these as Heather Bailey’s FreshCut.
While shopping I also fell in love with this little number:
Chez Moi by Sentimental Studios
This is Chez Moi by Sentimental Studios for Moda Fabrics. I just love it. I also fell for the apple green homespun under it. Interestingly I didn’t buy them to go together, but when I stacked them up after the wash, I really thought they worked. I can just envision a pillow with a green pleat ruffle, can’t you?
~Angela :-)


Vintage Double Wedding Ring

Vintage Double Wedding Ring

I absolutely adore vintage quilt blocks. And for some reason, I tend to gravitate towards buying unfinished quilts, like these never assembled 30′s-era feedsack pieces. These are the curved bits that make a Double Wedding Ring quilt. The fabric is absolutely gorgeous.

Vintage Double Wedding Ring

I intend to make the quilt, someday, but in the meantime, just being able to look at these is wonderful. They remind me of all kinds of 30′s vintage charm. Don’t they just take you back? I can almost see the sunshine glowing over the chicken coop.

~Angela :-)


Green, Red, Pink and Cream

Pink Green Cream Fabric

Man, I love fabric. And over the last couple of weekends I’ve managed to acquire a bit more. If you look closely you’ll fine a jewel box of treasures, including a couple of cuts from Heather Bailey’s line FreshCut*, an adorable Swiss dot**, an awesome retro Building Blocks by American Jane*** (more on that in a second) and my favorite Aunt Grace****, which I just had to buy another piece of.

Fabric

You’d think with the amount of fabric I buy that I might actually make something. Patience, dear readers, patience. Remember that American Jane fabric I mentioned (see above)? Well, I have plans. Big plans. Plans involving a pattern for you all to love and enjoy. I will not say more, no matter how you beg. Truly. But check back in a couple of weeks and you’ll see. Maybe even the entire pile of fabric will be converted into something actually functional. Or pretty. It could happen.

Fabric

Speaking of “pile,” I thought I’d be all clever and take the pictures outside today, since we had a whole 15 minutes of sunshine. Unfortunately it was a little more awkward than I had had in mind. Nevermind the bright sunlight made it impossible to see what I was shooting (my little silver Nikon doesn’t have a viewfinder), but I had to keep one eye out to make sure I didn’t step in any of the lovely “garden art”***** left by our dog Sophie. And I didn’t step in it. Nope, dear readers, I knelt in it instead. Oh yeah.

I’ll spare you the details.

Fabric

Return your attention to the fabric. Lovely fabric. Isn’t it all just crying out to be sewn? Or at least loved?
~Angela :-)

* The pale aqua with the olive green plume/dot thingies and the white with the pink stylized flowers.
** The pale green with the fuzzy dots. Der.
*** The red with the killer retro blue flowers at the bottom of the big pile.
**** The cream with pink diamonds.
***** Yes, by “garden art” I mean poop.


Vintage Dresden Plate Quilt Blocks

Dresden Plate

I went on a binge recently and started buying up unfinished vintage quilts. By unfinished I don’t mean, like, almost done. I mean a pile of fabric that was intended to be a quilt in some fantasy universe that never happened. Sometimes they’re pieced into blocks, and sometimes they’re just cut up fabric in a bag (more on that tomorrow). But they’re so cool!

Here’s one of the sets I bought. It’s vintage Dresden Plate blocks made from what looks like 30′s era fabrics, possibly feedsacks. I just love how they’re on the coral pink background instead of the usual white. And the mix of fabrics–aren’t they awesome? I really want to put these together and finish the quilt. I’m thinking a 30′s green sashing? Maybe? Or a scrappy pieced sashing? I don’t know. I’ll probably agonize about it forever and not do it for fear of ruining it, but I can dream, anyway.

Vintage Dresden Plate Block Fabric

Even if I never put these together, I love to take them out occasionally and look at them. I love examining all the fabrics and seeing how the colors and patterns are mixed together. It makes me want to get out all my 30′s fat quarters and start playing with ideas. Of course, I start out trying to make something authentic to the period and always end up throwing in some fresh modern prints. But you know what?

I think that’s what any quilter from that era would do today.

In fact, most quilts made today with 30′s fabrics you can peg as modern from a mile away. They’re certainly nice quilts, but they’re just missing something. They’re…. well…. boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love reproductions. It’s nice to have something retro and fun that you can just use and not worry about it disintegrating in the washing machine. Especially when you have toddlers and dogs and a less-than-fastidious husband….not that I’m pointing fingers or anything.

Vintage Dresden Plate Block Stitching

So reproductions are great. But to get it to look right, you’ve got to be brave. Our modern eyes want everything to be pleasing, to blend beautifully. We want all the fabrics we put in the quilt to be from the same family and live happily with each other. Vintage quilts don’t have that. They always have some random thing thrown in, or a color combination that’s just out there. Vintage quilts have fabrics that are not only not from the same family, they’re engaged in a blood feud. Fist fights are breaking out in the calicoes, if you get my drift.
I’m not a quilt historian, so I can’t say if that was an aesthetic choice or just one born of necessity. You gotta make a quilt, you only got so much fabric, you just throw it in there and make it work. Even with quilts from the 1800′s, which were often 2 or 3 color designs, all the blocks the same, have random bits. Where the quilter ran out of the double pink she was using and had to substitute something similar for a few blocks. They didn’t try to cover it up as a design choice, they just chucked them in and called it good enough. Most modern quilters wouldn’t think of doing that.

Vintage Dresden Plate Blocks

So you have to be bold. You have to pair fabrics that make you wince. You have to have some faith, too. You have to believe that even though you’re sewing a fabric combination that makes your eyes bleed that you’ll have something totally awesome if you just hang in there and keep chaining pieces together. If you can do that, you might get something exciting. I’d sure like to try.

Maybe I should sew with sunglasses.

~Angela :-)