Archive for August, 2011

Crazy Quilt IV

August 23, 2011

No internet or cable TV for us yesterday.  What’s a person do when they are cut off from electronic devices?  Go shopping with their own two feet instead of surfing the net, read a good book, and go outside to get a few minutes of sunshine.  It was my version of a perfect day – low 70’s, low humidity, and lots of sunshine, and I enjoyed it.

There was an area wide outage all day yesterday, but we were reconnected with the worldwide web around 7pm last night.  It required both the electric company repair people, and the cable company repair people to fix the problem, so it must have been a biggie.

Here are a couple more photos of Sarah’s crazy quilt.  This first picture is just a bit above the middle of the piece:

This is the first time Sarah introduced blue embroidery thread.  I’m pretty sure it was because there is blue in the patch on the right.  That patch was not hand embroidered, but looks beautiful in that spot.  Do you see the brownish fuzzy patch above that patch?  That is dimensional.  It feels like the fabric used to make teddy bears.  It’s very soft and small patches are missing from it, but I found it interesting that Sarah included dimensional fabric in this piece.  The red patch at the bottom of the picture, and the black on the left is also soft, plush fabric.

And here is another photo:

Red embroidery thread is used for the first time here.  I’m sure it was to pick up the red color from the plush fabric above it. 

It’s very interesting to me how Sarah tied in her embroidery thread colors to the fabric patches.  She extends the color onto neighboring patches.  Lots of us use tone on tone embroidery threads – meaning we might have a light cream background and use a darker cream or taupe to embellish that fabric.  Not Sarah.  She pulls the color from one patch and uses it against a totally different colored fabric – for instance the red against the black.  This extends the color throughout the piece, adds a lot of drama, and a lot of complexity to the piece. 

I’ve never been all that interested in history, but realize I am interested in the history of this textile piece.  It’s also making me want to learn more about Sarah and how she lived.  Wouldn’t it be something if 100 years from now a fiber artist finds a textile piece I’ve made, and be inspired to research the past?  It’s a very good reason for us to include our name, location and date on our work.



Crazy Quilt III

August 18, 2011

Today I’m sharing 2 more close up photos from Sarah’s quilt:

That big lace square isn’t really lace.  Would you believe it’s a print?  When I saw it at the auction, I thought it was a nice piece of lace.  It certainly fooled my eye.  Did it fool you too?  I had to actually touch it to realize it was a print.  Sarah embroidered a black border around the fabric patch, and then stacked stitches again by adding a second pattern in white.

I love that fabric print and noticed there is a paisley in the upper part of it.  The flower in the center inspires me to recreate this on one of my crazy quilt blocks with crewel embroidery in the middle or maybe I’ll bling it out with beads and sequins.

On the upper right, there is a straight tree branch look and it is embroidered with the same light lavendar that was used for the floral print. 

Below that strip is a piece of silk that has been transformed to look like a print.  The laid thread work is kept in place by the tiny lavendar stitch to transform a plain silk into a pattern.  It looks like a whole cloth print, but is all done by embroidery stitches.

The two floral strips are either purchased embroidered ribbons or printed fabric.  I can’t tell for sure, but I’m leaning towards them being embroidered ribbons.  The fabric is not as heavy as the others used in the quilt, but I’m not really sure.  Sarah embroidered very close stitches around the edges of both these strips.  The blue has a stem stitch border in black and the cream strip border was done with a very find thread and very closely placed stem stitch then with another border added to extend the patch into the cherry fabric. 

The cherry fabric is one of two fabrics that is shattering in the embroidered panel area.  I love the embroidered spray she added to that fabric, and she used multiple colors. 

And here is the second photo:

That black velvet on the left is still in excellent condition and I love the braid look on the upper section.  If you haven’t got purchased braid, you can always embroider an edge to make it look like it has a braid trim.  More embroidered sprays and the patch under it is a textured silk with multi colors stacked embroidery stitches on the top and with tone on tone shell embroidery on the bottom of the piece. 

I’m pretty sure the diagonal floral strip is a ribbon, and Sarah has embroidered along both edges – again using different stitches and different patterns.  The first is a fine stem stitch all around it and did you see the thread bow at the top. That is the thread she used for the fine stem stitch.  The upper edge has one more embroidery technique, but the bottom edge has two more stitches used and each one is a different color. 

The black leaf print fabric has been left to shine and but the bottom right edge has more stacked stitches and 3 colors.  I really like how she added black to this border. 

The more I examine this quilt, the more I’m getting the urge to honor Sarah’s memory by making a reproduction of this piece.  I haven’t decided for sure yet, but when I start dreaming about a project, it usually ends up being made.   Guess what I’ve been dreaming about?


Crazy Quilt II

August 16, 2011

Sunday, my husband and I went to visit one of Chili’s Historical buildings – Streeter’s Inn.  There were lots of interesting items in the building, and one of them was a huge book of local maps from 1924.  We were allowed to turn the pages and found the Dusenbury homestead.  Another tie in for the crazy quilt I purchased. 

And now for some close up pictures of Sarah’s quilt:


The top left section (I put a white box around it.)  is strip pieced from many different silk fabrics.  The center strip is a patterned  fabric and the seams were embroidered. 

Do you notice how she created a nice flow by using the same thread and embroidery stitch around the striped fabric on the right?  That created a strong LINE for your eye to follow – one of the main principles of design.

I especially liked the embroidery treatment on the cream fabric underneath the striped fabric.  There were stacked combinations of stitches and Sarah used different types of embroidery thread too.  She must have had a nice selection of embroidery threads in her collection.

With this next photo:

Sarah introduced another embroidery thread color, and used different thicknesses.  She used a thin strand around the floral block to mimic a lace border.   Against the black fabric, the thread is the same color but much thicker, and it creates an interesting graphic design against the fabric.   Two very different embellishments unified by color. 

Do you notice the flocked velvet in the center?  Even though it is a strong print, it is balanced by the strong graphic design on the black fabric next to it.  The more I look at this piece, the more I appreciate Sarah’s artistry, because this is no beginner’s crazy quilt.  She was a skilled embroiderer and understood the main principles of good design. 

Don’t miss how she changed the embroidery thread color again against the floral print next to the black piece of fabric.  That adds even more complexity to the piece.  It’s actually a light lavendar that is a close match to the fabric, but there was a shadow in the room when I took the photo, and that makes the fabric look darker than it is in reality.

Back to Streeter’s Inn.  Here is a photo of an old treadle Singer sewing machine:

It is bigger than others I’ve seen, and had spots for 2 spools of thread on top.  I took a picture of the writing hoping someone would be able to tell me if this could possibly be an industrial treadle sewing machine. 


Crazy Quilt I

August 11, 2011

Yeah, the sun came out today.  I was able to take some photos of the antique crazy quilt I purchased Saturday:


This quilt was made by Sarah Dusenbury in the 1800’s.  She was born in 1832 and lived in a two story brick Colonial home built in 1828 at 408 Dewey Street,  Churchville, NY.  She painted self portraits, and did exquisite embroidery. Her residence and the velvets, silks, lace and brocade fabric used to make this quilt are a good indication that the family was well off. 

The house has had several owners over the years, and is well kept up.  I’ve been a guest many times and enjoyed seeing the painted stencils on the walls in the hallway, original wood floors, brick kitchen floor, and original staircase.  There is a dining room and parlor in the front of the house, with a small birthing room off the parlor.   I can just imagine Sarah walking through this home, and stitching by the windows in the front parlor.  The fireplace would have kept her warm in the winter, and the south and west windows would have brought a pleasant breeze in the summer.

I’ll be sharing close-up photos over the next few days, so you can enjoy seeing the quilt section by section. It measures 30″ wide x 61″ long, and the solid border fabric was intact until it was hung by binder clips on a clothesline for the auction.  It broke my heart when it was taken down and I saw the stressed fabric had shredded. 

On a happier note, here is a picture of a recent visitor:


My poor wee 4′ Pee Gee Hydrangea tree.  Here I was blaming my husband’s spring tree pruning session for the lack of flowers, and it’s been this little darling who’s to fault.  As you can see,  the branches have been clipped all around the tree, and the leaves are scarce – just at that height.  It’s no wonder.  That fawn first dined on one side of the tree, then moved over a bit for the next succulent bite until something scared it away.  When I went outside, I noticed all the branches at “fawn height” had been subject to fawn pruning – not husband pruning. 

I hope you enjoyed seeing my little visitor as much as I did.


Round Tuit # 3 Update

August 10, 2011

Slowly but surely, my convergence quilt is coming along:


These are the 2 right side quadrants completed, and all I can say is I did something funky with the bottom one because it was a royal pain in the you know where, to get those points meeting.  It is extemely humid here – even with the dehumidifier in the house going, I can’t get the humidity level below 70% – and I think the sizing I put on the fabric is dissolving.

The discharged bleach fabric, and the black/light grey leaf print are staying nice and crisp.  The purple, and the yellow leaf print fabric are limp as can be, and stretching like crazy.  The yellow leaf print is the worst.  I even tried using 2 doses of sizing, and that didn’t help.  Then I switched to Mary Ellen’s Best Press – the clear starch alternative – and that isn’t any better.  This fabric was  cut on the grain line, so that wasn’t the problem either.

What I’ve learned from this is all cotton fabric is not created equal.  I’d test my fabric before I got involved in another convergence quilt to make sure there were no loosie goosies in the mix. 

I put a bunch of books and magazines on ebay this morning, so if anybody is interested in a good buy, just follow this link and you’ll be able to see what I listed. 

And, last but not least, I went to an auction over the weekend and purchased an antique crazy quilt.  I’ll start blogging about that tomorrow or Friday – with good close up photos of the gorgeous embroidery.


RAFA August 2011 Meeting

August 4, 2011

Today was also our monthly RAFA meeting.  Lots of members attended Quilting by The Lake and shared their work.

Judy – a guest and first time dyer – took one of Jane Dunnewold’s classes:

When I saw that piece of fabric, I was amazed at what a first time dyer accomplished.  I love that piece of fabric.  She had lots more and so did Caris, but that piece blew me away.  Both Judy and Caris said that Jane was a wonderful teacher too.

Janet took a class with Katie Pasquini Masopust and painted on canvas then stitched the pieces together.  I don’t have any pictures of those, but they were wonderful and she spoke highly of Katie’s teaching.  I’m pretty sure Beth got some good pictures of those pieces though, so I recommend that you visit her blog

Janet also took a class with Mary Ellen Kranz.  It was Quilts with Something to Say, and the following one was my favorite:

Can you see it says “sing”?  The colors were lovely and the word appeals to me on so many levels.  It could relate to a person because they enjoy the actual activity of singing.  Personally, I took it as a mantra to sing with joy everyday of your life.  Just the thought of singing makes me feel like soaring through the adversities that life sometimes brings.

A few other members took Judi Blaydon’s class. You Like Tomato and I like Tomato.  Some liked it, some didn’t.  You had to make one block over and over in predetermined value placements.  There are no pictures from that class, as Judy requested that no photos be placed on blogs. 

Sarah took Elements that Please taught by Anna Hergert.  This is one of the pieces that came out of that class:


Sarah does a wonderful job with everything she makes, and it would behoove the powers that be at Quilting by the Lake to approach her about teaching.

That’s the end of QBL Show and Tell.  Now onto regularly scheduled activies.  😉  Val shared a felted piece with all of us:

There are actual beach stones felted into that fabric.  She lives by the lake, picked some beach stones up, and felted them in her piece.  It added wonderful texture, and I’m in awe of her creativity.

Anne knit a necklace:

She purchased a kit from seeing this project on Ravelry.  She said it was a fast knit, and it looked great.  It has wool in it though, and that is the last thing I’d want around my neck during the summer.  I’m sure my feelings were influenced by our hot, humid meeting room.  We don’t have AC in our meeting room, and it was 80 today with high humidity.  

There was an afternoon class on flour resist dyeing, but I headed home for some nice cool, dry air, and can’t wait to see what everyone will bring next month for show and tell.  There should be lots of loverly flour resist dyed pieces.