Translate

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn: the Best Time of the Year!

In this blog post, I would like to share some photos with you of what autumn looks like in New Hampshire. With the heat of summer behind us and the promise of snow this winter, we are sandwiched between the seasons until the first snowfall, usually in November. Come along on our walk to one of our favorite destinations:  Maple Grove Cemetery in West Concord, NH. In the fall, the Maple trees come alive with color as you shall see. This October day was no exception.

Yellow and Orange colors predominate in the cemetery

This old cemetery has a variety of old stones, some with inscriptions that are barely visible now

Fallen Maple Leaves on a windy day

A view of the sky through Maple leaves on this wondrous and clear day!



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NH Coverlet Maker to be Honored

New Hampshire coverlet maker, Hannah Leathers Wilson, (1787-1869) will be honored posthumously this month by the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford, Pennsylvania. She is being called the "celebrated weaver of the year." During her lifetime, that little-known weaver from Farmington, NH (and later, Tuftonboro, NH) made 184 coverlets. The whereabouts of 27 of her blue and white coverlets is known but the remaining 157 are yet to be found. Eight more coverlets have come to light since Donna-Belle Garvin, her primary researcher, presented a paper revealing Wilson's identity at the 1996 Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife. Before Garvin began to weave clues together, the coverlet maker's identity was unknown.

Example of a coverlet made by Hannah Leathers Wilson, courtesy of Donna-Belle Garvin, NH Historical Society


Wilson's coverlets have been collected by the Shelburne, Smithsonian, Old Sturbridge Village, and Henry Ford Museums, as well as the New Hampshire Historical Society, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada.

For more information, please see "Mystery Weaver Uncovered," a file set up some years ago at my website:  http://www.quiltersmuse.com

Many thanks to Donna-Belle Garvin for providing the information and updates for this news release.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Happiness: An Essay

Happiness: An Essay

Patricia L. Cummings

Quilters are a happy bunch of people. They have discovered that work is fun! As an active quilter, I have found personal satisfaction while in the midst of the project. Yes, it is work, and on certain days I take out more stitches than I put in.

When the quilt is done, I look at it with a critical eye. Sometimes, in retrospect, I second guess my choices of pattern, colors, designs, or finishing techniques. The best part is that there is always the next time, the next chance to make that elusive "perfect quilt." Strangely, I do not care as much about the finished project as I do about the process.

The life of the quilt for me is when it is a newly-formed image in my brain. The anticipation of a new project is exhilarating and exciting. Oh, the expectations that come into play at that time! Then, as work progresses, the colors and design start to take on a life of their own. Lovingly crafted, stitches are placed to keep the layers of the quilt together for many years to come.

Being a quilter brings me much satisfaction. The attainment of happiness is a natural outcome of creativity. Happiness is not as elusive as most folks would have you believe. The most important key to having a happy life is deciding to be a happy person. Yes, this is a conscious choice and is something that each of us can choose daily when we realize that happiness is a matter of having a good attitude.

Part of that is to develop a habit of gratitude for the people in our lives. Make it a practice to thank others for the work they have done that has improved your own quality of life. This will help to improve not only their dispositions, but yours, as well. When you consider doing this you will find a large number of people who are helpful to you and who would appreciate a smile or a word of kindness. Only a minute is needed but your goodwill could help someone to feel happy and appreciated.

We get tossed about by the winds of chance, like quilts blowing in the breeze and as composites of biological parts, we are sometimes patched back together, just like an old quilt. The sun burns our bodies, even as the sun fades the cloth of our quilts. Time has a way of changing us permanently and forever. In the greater scheme of the universe, we and quilts are but a blip on the radar. At age 50, we begin to have a strong sense of our own mortality.

An "antique quilt" is one that usually 100 years old or at least more than 50 years old. At 50, are we antiques also?  That magical year is a turning point for most people. Youth is behind but we are not quite ready for the rocking chair. A Mary Chapin Carpenter song says, "Come grow old with me /... the best is yet to be." Aging gracefully and happily is a matter of choice.

I never cease to be impressed by my associations with friends in their 80s and 90s. From my personal observations, aging adults who are the most active are the happiest. Actively engaging the mind or the needle seems to go a long way toward continued personal happiness and fulfillment and sometimes even helps to maintain physical health. Meaningful tasks help to create an atmosphere where one can learn and grow at any age. As for me, I plan to die with a needle in my hand, or my nose in a book!

The main thing to keep in mind as one goes through life is to "Get the big picture," just as they instructed in Driver Training School. Look to what is ahead of you, but do not forget what is on the sidelines or what is coming from behind.

The past is in the past and we cannot change it. No matter how long it gets beaten, the dead dog will not walk again. As much as we think about or agonize over the past, we do not get a second chance at re-taping it. 

There is a refrain that says, "There is sufficient trouble unto the day." We may strive to change our present circumstances such as where we live, how much income we have, and what long terms changes we can achieve for our health. The most important thing to remember is that we can live more happily every day just by being more pleasant and by having as positive an attitude as we can muster.

Everything good in our lives starts with a "can do" attitude. Instead of saying we can't swim, perhaps it is time to jump into the water straight-away.  "Can't" is one of my least favorite four letter words. It speaks of defeatism. It makes one seem to be at the mercy of circumstance. Taking charge of our lives, on the other hand, makes us stronger as we go.

If you refuse to try, then you are defeated before you start. The more we do, the more we can do. The more capable we are at doing something, the more recognition we will get from others. The more recognition we get, the more positive we will feel about our work and ourselves.

The more positive we feel, the more self esteem we will have, and the more we will be able to reach out to others. The more we reach out, the more friends we will make. The more friends we have, the more connected we will feel and the more we will accomplish. This is the stuff that makes for happiness. The more you give, the more you will get in return, in tangible and non-tangible ways.
We are called to an abundant life and attitude is the key to its access. True happiness is home grown. It has nothing to do with how big a car one drives, whether one has maid service, a Cuisinart, or scrimshaw. It has to do with attitude. Part of the attitude should be a sense of thankfulness for everything and everyone good in our lives.

The flowers that bloom in your neighbor's yard, a friendly person at the Post Office, a call from a friend, all of these are things for which to be thankful and to treasure. In valuing and noticing the little things of everyday life, and being grateful for them - therein lies a measure of true happiness. Live in the moment and do not let preoccupation with yesterday's woes, or worry about tomorrow's potential problems, distract you from appreciating what is good about today.

Personally, I love the details of life. I like making quilts that take a lot of time and care. I enjoy paperwork. I like observing insects. They are the most fascinating little creatures. I love to watch birds and observe their behaviors. The change of seasons in New England is also a constant marvel, especially when God's paintbrush changes the many shades of green to rust, orange, yellow, red, and brown. With so much to see and so many wondrous things to get involved in, it seems tragic that so many people seem to go through life oblivious to the magic of it all.

Most "good" things in life are a result of concentrated effort on someone's part.  When my husband bakes bread, I appreciate it. I know how to bake bread, and do not do so as often as I would like. But when he takes the time to do that, I know from experience what an investment of time it is, and I value his efforts all the more.

He is an excellent cook who does the grocery shopping on his own some of the time, and who plans and prepares nutritious, wholesome, and economical meals. When I cook and bake, he is sure to tell me how much he appreciates that. In fact, when people ask why my husband and I are so happy, it is hard for us to figure out such a question. Our lifestyle works because of our dedication to do whatever is necessary to achieve shared goals.

We can all celebrate life on a daily basis by the things we choose to do.  For us, our hobbies of quilting and needlework, writing, reading, gardening, cooking, woodworking, and the study of art are our main interests. Surprisingly, I even enjoy housework, mainly because I like to have a clean house. I am just thankful to have a house. Maintaining a cheerful attitude toward work is why we are happy. When done prayerfully, it can assume a spiritual quality.

After the chores are finished,  then we feel that we have earned the right to relax and engage in more favored activities. Listening to music while cleaning passes the time more quickly and can be enervating. Watching the birds while doing the dishes by hand (we do not want an electric dishwasher), makes that task a pleasure. We are also not locked into stereotypical role models of men's work v. women's work. We are a team. Customarily, I go out to the flower garden to pull weeds, and Jim is as likely as not to grab a dish towel to help dry dishes.

A life lived in service to others can go a long way toward developing happiness. To feel useful is important to our mental health. Life is good!  There is always something new and wonderful waiting to be discovered.

As a quilter, it is comforting to know that it will not be possible to make every quilt pattern ever created, in my lifetime. I am absolved from even having to try to do that. However, it is wonderful to realize that there are limitless opportunities for re-creating old designs, as well as creating our own. We make our own blessings, minute by minute, and stitch by stitch.  Savor those minutes and those stitches.

Choose happiness. Engage yourself in creating an heirloom, whether it be a line drawing, a piece of poetry, or a handmade quilt. Doing so will give you a sense of well-being. You will experience the joy of being creative and your efforts are destined to make you or someone else smile in the future. We are called to be nothing less than happy people.

Happiness is when:

1)  you realize that you have enough love, enough talent, and
     enough money
2)  you are able to share your love with others by giving your
      time, your talents, and material goods
3)  you realize that your time here is limited and as a result
     of that, you live each day fully, gratefully, and joyfully
4)  you follow your dreams, even if it means casting off the
      nay-sayers and negative thinkers in your life
 5)  you make time for you:  to play, to think, to pray,
      and to create.
 6)  and finally, happiness is passing it on.



©Copyright 2002. Patricia Cummings, Quilter's Muse Publications, Concord, New Hampshire

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Billings Farm & Museum Opens New Quilt Exhibit

Billings Farm & Museum, Woodstock, Vermont, has opened its 30th Annual Quilt Exhibition of contemporary quilts by quilters of Windsor County, Vermont, and challenge quilts by the Delectable Mountain Quilters. The quilts will be on display until September 18, 2016.

There is a lot to like about this relatively small quilt show. Many woman-hours went into creating all of the quilts on display and what a variety of quilts there are! One can re-visit traditional patterns such as Sunbonnet Sue, Storm at Sea, and Spider Web, but all with a modern twist! The signage with each quilt is outstanding, telling the history of the pattern or the reason why the quilt came to be, reminding me of the late Helen Kelly's comment that "Every quilt has a story!"

"Storm at Sea," a traditional quilt pattern with a twist. Made by Charlotte Croft

Many of the quilts were made to give to a friend, donate as a charity fundraiser, or to give to a family member. In the case of "Storm at Sea," Charlotte Croft added two heart-shaped leis to a traditional pattern. She plans to give the quilt as a wedding present to a grandson who was born in Hawaii two weeks before Hurricane Iniki hit. The quilt honors his place of birth.

We loved a wolf-themed large bed quilt made for friends. We really liked a quilt that is a tribute to the medical profession which has fabric that features "tools of the trade." From a 9,009 piece Bargello quilt in bright colors, to a small wall quilt with depictions of birds, to a salute to the Civil War via a quilt that combines two patterns of antique Sanitary Commission quilts, the show has something for everyone. This year the challenge quilt section was devoted to quilts with at least two stars.

For the price of admission to the museum, one can see much more than quilts. Learn more about Billings Farm & Museum by visiting their Facebook page and/or going to their website. We have enjoyed being invited to preview their quilt show for many years now, ever since I wrote an article for The Quilter magazine about the place (which may still be featured on their website),  and also gave a special presentation there about Redwork embroidery one year. Woodstock, Vermont is a great destination and Billings Farm & Museum is its crown jewel!

Patricia L. Cummings

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Poore Family Homestead Historic Farm Museum

This evening I was delighted to see a segment on NH Chronicle (local TV programming) about the Poore Farm Museum in Stewartstown, New Hampshire which is near the Canadian border. In December 2013/January 2014, an article I wrote about the place appeared on the pages of The Quilter magazine. One can read that article, in its entirety, by visiting www.poorefarm.org and scrolling down to "News" and clicking on that link.

The article centers on the history of the farm that held by the same family for more than 150 years. Of course, the article features the textiles and quilts we saw in the house.

I shall reprint one paragraph to give you a glimpse of the article:

     Upon entering the house, one feels as though the inhabitant has just stepped out and will return shortly. Kenneth slept in the same bed in which he was born. He managed to live for almost a century with no electricity, no central heating, and no running water. Dairy products and meat were kept cold by immersion in cold mountain water, carried to the house into a spring box by wooden pipes made from hollowed-out logs joined with pitch. The water was diverted into a cast-iron bin that sits in a small room right near the kitchen.

As usual with treks to museums, we learned a lot during our visit. Be sure to visit the Poore Farm Museum's site to learn more about this fascinating place! Better yet, go in person if you are in the area!

Patricia Cummings


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Birthday Quilt

A most extraordinary quilt was sent to me for my birthday this year. A dear friend mailed me an appliquéd quilt that was designed by Becky Goldsmith of Piece o' Cake Designs. Becky calls the botanically-themed quilt "Simply Delicious." It is based on her Block of the Month offer which is still available on her website. The quilt was won at an auction to benefit St. Jude's Children's Hospital about 12 years ago. The quilter is "Anonymous."

Gift quilt - how sweet it is!


I shall soon be making a label for the back of the quilt to document its size and other details as I know them to be. The quilt arrived with the number 2386 written on an attached tag. Of 20,000 quilts donated to the hospital, only 20 of them were selected for auction that year (2004) and this is one of them. The quilt could be a large wall quilt, if one had the space, or would fit a twin size bed. The designer noted that the quilter made some modifications in the size of the sashings and outer border to increase the overall size of the quilt.

It is not every day that one receives such a beautiful gift of friendship! The appliqué work is exquisite and precise. I also love the quilter's choice of fabrics. The pieced backgrounds and sashings do not overwhelm the blocks as the colors used are subtle. Everything seems perfect, even the machine-quilting! I feel very lucky, indeed, to have been given such an unexpected treasure. The only thing that would increase my joy would be to find out who made this quilt. I love to give credit where it is due! In the meantime, I shall continue to admire the fine workmanship. The quilt lives up to its name. It is "Simply Delicious"!

Monday, May 30, 2016

What Quilter Does Not Love Flowers?

After the rain, the chives are in full bloom all ready for bumblebees!

The daisies are loving the good mix of sun and rain we have been having in New Hampshire

This Rugosa rose is sometimes called "Beach Rose" as they are often seen at the beach

First Siberian Iris of the season with more buds to open soon

What is a garden without a toad? They are very beneficial to the eco-system!

Just in time for Memorial Day - our Poppies are blooming!

Rugosa roses can be seen in white, as well as pink


Monday, May 9, 2016

Quilt Show at Belchertown, Massachusetts

Learning of another quilt show this year at the United Church of Christ Congregational Church in Belchertown, Massachusetts, we made plans to attend inasmuch as we enjoyed last year's show so much. In this blog, we will show you three photos to give you a taste of the show.

The theme of the show was "Hexagon Quilts," both old and new.

"Stolen Moments" close-up; quilt by Jane Crutchfield

Altar display features two Grandmother Flower Garden quilts by Judi Wilson and Virginia DeSantis. In the foreground is a brightly-colored polyester vintage quilt, and a Dime Size hexagon quilt by Lara Kline

To the left hangs a 1930s Diamond Hexagon quilt by Adrianne Duquette. To the right is "Stolen Moments," a modern quilt in the same style by Jane Crutchfield


There were two quilts that really stood out and are quite memorable. The first is a polyester quilt made of brightly-colored hexagons. The quilt was found to purchase in Ohio and features both solid colors and prints (one a cat). This was placed on a frame at the front of the church in the altar area display.

On the stage are two large Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts made by Judi Wilson, and Virginia DeSantis. A Dime Size Hexagon quilt was made by Lara Kline.

To the left of that display area hang two quilts, one an antique diamond hexagon made in the 1930s by Adrianne Duquette. To the right is a new quilt in the exact same style and with the exact size of hexagons used. The maker, Jane Crutchfield, calls it "Stolen Moments" and it is a quilt in progress done all by hand. I loved standing in front of it, looking at all of the conversational prints she uses in the center of each diamond block. It is an amazing piece of work! In unwrapping Duquette's quilt while hanging quilts in the show, Crutchfield was stunned to see the similarities between that vintage quilt and her own.

In the show, there is another bed-size quilt made by Crutchfield that is all half-hexagons, equally amazing (not shown). Of course, there were many other quilts in this most enjoyable show! In addition, piles of fabric, thread, yarn, and many, many quilt books were offered in exchange of a donation of one's choosing.

The show's theme next year will be "Bow Tie Quilts." If you are in the area, don't miss it next May!

Patricia L. Cummings
http://www.quiltersmuse.com


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Civil War Activity Cited

The Concord Insider is a free, local newspaper in Concord, New Hampshire that carries a column which highlights happenings of the past. While reading a recent edition, I spotted this former yesteryear news entry related to textiles:

April 22, 1861: Meeting at the South Congregational Church, a group of Concord women organizes an effort to supply soldiers with "articles necessary to their comfort in the field." They have raised $200 and resolve to spend $150 on flannel for shirts for the First New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Throughout the Union states, during the U.S. Civil War, women gathered in small groups to knit socks for soldiers, make quilts for the U.S. Sanitary Commission to distribute to soldiers, and gather other useful items to send by post. Any mail, including letters from the homefront, was most welcome by the troops. Whether working at home alone or in a group, the women's efforts were voluntary. They were doing all they could to support loved ones and others on the field of battle.



Monday, May 2, 2016

Ellen Webster Mention in Ephemera

Yesterday when I was reading Sue Wildemuth's blog: http://sew-eyeoftheneedlequilthistory.blogspot.com, I came across a mention of Mrs. Ellen E. Webster, the woman about whom I wrote such a lengthy e-book in 2008. Ellen was a quilt historian and quilt judge (among many other titles she held). She was friends with Florence LaGanke Harris who in this case served as a co-judge in the 1933 contest, as noted by a quote from Farm Journal magazine. The third judge that year at Storrowton, was Mary Ross Reynolds. I learned that the quilt contest of 1933 was the Second National Patchwork Quilt Contest conducted by Eastern States Exposition (in Storrowton). I do not know if Mrs. Webster was a judge during the first contest held by them.

For fun, I looked through my own book today and perused diary entries that I had excerpted from Mrs. Webster's 5-year diaries. On August 21, 1933, she says that she "went to Storrowton, Mass. to serve as a judge on the Quilt Exhibit."

On August 23, 1933 she notes, "Worked all day on quilts and came to decisions on prizes for the antique quilts." (She was judging antique quilts sent in from all over the country).

On August 24, 1933 she says, "Decided on prizes for the modern quilts and Mrs. Harris did part of the writing up of the notes for each prize winner."

On September 8, 1935 she mentions, "Mrs. ____(illegible) met me at the station and went with me to Storrowton where I am to serve as Chairman of Judges. The quilt exhibit of about 400 entries."

Again, it seems that she may have served as a quilt judge the next year. On September 13, 1936 she says, "Worked desperately to finish packing for Storrowton.

I was thrilled, of course, to see Mrs. Ellen E. Webster's name in print in one of the Farm Journal magazines.

This is the CD cover of my e-book. To learn more about it, please visit the information on my website on the books and patterns page. http://www.quiltersmuse.com


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Quilt Repair Dilemma

In the last post, I showed you the Scrap Quilt that I put together using vintage quilt blocks. The blocks were mostly machine-pieced with a few appliquéd pieces. AFTER the quilt blocks were all sewn together and after it had been machine-quilted, I noticed that one block had a piece of fabric that had not been sewn in correctly, leaving a gap in the seam so that the muslin foundation was showing.

The moon and stars (repair) fabric blends in well with the other colors on the block.


I "interviewed" a number of fabrics before deciding on a much later fabric than those in the rest of the quilt. I found an adorable Cranston Printworks scrap that someone had given me. My goal was to cover up the breach while using a fabric that would "look" decades older than the rest of the fabrics so that it would be apparent that it was a "fix." Truly, I had only a small piece of the quarter moon fabric with stars. I was determined to add it.

Using white silk thread so that I could make invisible stitches on the patch, I set about the task. I actually remember the dear soul who gave me a bag of her scraps and it is her that I honor by including the patch on the surface of the quilt. Now I smile every time I see this quilt which I have personalized in a special way.

Friday, April 22, 2016

New Life to Old Quilt Blocks

Whenever one collects textiles, their previous "life" is often a guessing game. So it is with 25 foundation-pieced quilt blocks that I have now crafted into a finished quilt. Some of the fabrics seem to be from the 1940s; others perhaps from the 1950s. None of the fabrics appear in the two Dating Fabrics books by Eileen Trestain. I am curious to learn more about the possible age of the fabrics used in the 20th century set of blocks. I fully realize that the "date" of the quilt is 2016, the year it was constructed by me. New fabric was used for the borders and cornerstones, as well as the backing.

Scrap quilt assembled with purchased (vintage) quilt blocks. Photo by James Cummings, Quilter's Muse Publications


The blocks were machine-pieced with a few machine-appliquéd patches. All but one fabric are 100% cotton. A black and white fabric that is loosely-woven may be rayon and is the anomaly in this quilt. As if in a hurry to be done with the piecing process, some of the patches are rather large. The quilter's random use of color makes the finished quilt an exciting one and very interesting to view.

I don't usually consciously choose to finish someone else's quilts in progress but I made an exception in this case. I felt that the blocks would be better conserved in that way and the quilt might be appealing enough to "save." In the best case scenario, another quilt enthusiast could take up the task of further documenting the age of the fabric prints used. I had fun creating this quilt!

To see a bunch of the individual quilt blocks and my comments about them, one can visit my Quilter's Muse Publications Facebook page.

Patricia Cummings
Quilter's Muse Publications website: http://www.quiltersmuse.com

   

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quilt Show Season Upon Us

So many of us rely on the Internet to get updates on show dates, often to find that quilt shows have been cancelled or have changed venue or dates. There is a new (?) website that offers listings of shows by state and also international dates:  http://www.QuiltersResources.net

Another reliable site is Quilter's Travel Companion website: http://www.quilterstravelcompanion.com

We received sad news that A Quilter's Gathering Quilt Show is suspending further shows as announced on March 29, 2016. The show, founded by Marie Geary and the late Jeanne Glenfield, has been around for 27 years and was always one of the great venues to see quilts in New England. For further information, please visit:  http://www.aquiltersgathering.com

A major show coming up next week is the MQX show at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH:  http://www.mqxshow.com/MQX/East/QuiltShow/index.cfm

We hope to see many of our friends at the upcoming shows this season, a time to meet and greet, appreciate the work of other quilters, and stock up on supplies for those quilts that exist solely in our imagination! See you there!

Patricia Cummings

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Splashers in Redwork

I love to re-capture the past and in so doing, have made a number of reproduction splashers, those pieces of cotton, linen, or linen/cotton that hang on the wall behind a washstand with a pitcher and bowl. Today, splashers are seen in museums but not usually in homes. With the advent of plumbing, they became antiquated and simply not needed.

Today I will share two splashers that are companion pieces. The designs were found in a late 19th century (1800s) catalog of mail order patterns. With today's technology, I was able to increase the designs to the sizes needed for my project.

Splasher reproduction in Redwork embroidery by Patricia Cummings

Splasher reproduction in Redwork embroidery by Patricia Cummings


Splashers often say "Good Morning" or "Good Night." For the splashers shown here I used a high-quality linen-cotton fabric (60/40). The "girl" splasher looks very similar to one that is sometimes on display at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth, Vermont. It can be seen in the "Homestead" in Abbie Coolidge's room or at least it was shown there at one point in time. The trickiest part of doing this project is all of the "couching" stitches for the tendrils. I was pleased with the final result.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Crazy Quilt Pillow Features Peacock

Pillows can be purely decorative but in making my latest Crazy Quilt pillow I wanted it to be functional as well. To that end, I did not add a lot of surface embroidery, beading, or embellishments. My goal was to include some colors I would normally not go out of my way to use such as a lime green fabric that has pink and orange butterflies, and a bright pink fabric with various size dots, as well as another bright neon green fabric with tiny triangles, and a very modern-looking fabric with bright circles.

Crazy Quilt Pillow by Patricia Cummings

Designer fabric with water lilies and lily pads graces the back of the pillow


I chose all-cotton fabrics for the design, a designer print of lily pads and water lilies for the back and an appliqué of a peacock that is sewn onto a piece of hand-painted fabric. In keeping with an Oriental theme, I includes a landscape/waterscape fabric with Oriental figures and a black background.

The bottom line is that I had fun putting this pillow together. It is sturdy and contains an 18" pillow form that is sewn in. In a household without pets or small children, my pillows rarely need washing. Some folks like to make pillows that have an open backing but I have become accustomed to sewing the lower edge shut and so that is what I tend to do. The exception was a travel pillow that was made as a result of taking a class on Scrap Quilting with Pepper Cory on craftsy.com. That particular pillow is one that may potentially require washing sometime in the future.

The drawback of using a pillow form is to not be able to distribute batting to the far reaches of the corners. In the case of the pillow I just made, the result is corners that look a little bit wonky. That is alright with me. This is a strictly utilitarian object and one that I will use in my favorite rocking chair.

With other projects underway that require a lot of doing such as the queen size wholecloth quilt that I am still hand quilting, it is refreshing to have small projects that have a quicker turn-around time. I guess that is one reason I wanted to make this pillow. Another reason was to have a place to "show off" the peacock appliqué that has been hanging around my sewing box for at least five years! I like to collect findings, lace, etc. that will come in handy for future projects. I hope you have enjoyed seeing my latest creative attempt!


Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Inspired by a design that appears in a book, I constructed this four-hearts Victorian pillow cover with silk and cotton fabrics and cotton velveteen, some years ago. The feather stitch in variegated purple pearl cotton surrounds the circle of hearts. A metal "finding," a shamrock, is placed in the center to remind us that St. Patrick's Day in March will quickly follow St. Valentine's Day in February. Among the stitches used to create the pillow are: chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, couching, and herringbone stitch. As always, the fun was in choosing the fabrics and the embellishments.



Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Quilt Block Tribute

About 9 years ago I made a quilt block to which I added one of the verses from "Versos Sencillos" by a 19th century Cuban poet. I love the words which translated are: "I cultivate a white rose/ in July as in January/ for the sincere friend/ who gives me his honest hand."

At the time, I had been given a packet of fat quarters by Marcus Brothers due to a quilting tip I had provided for their website. I mainly used that fabric in the construction of the main part of the block. So far, I have not fashioned the block into a pillow or a quilt. Like so many other "blocks" that live at my house, it is still just a block.

Crazy Quilt block by Patricia L. Cummings


Just yesterday, I added a file to my website about the poet:  José Marti. Some of his verses are included in the song, "Guantanamera." As a Spanish major in the 1960s/early 1970s, I was exposed to the work of many Spanish poets and writers. Of all of them, the verse I like the best is included on this quilt block.

You'll find more about the poet under the "History" section of my website (Scroll to the bottom): http://www.quiltersmuse.com




Thursday, January 21, 2016

Teach Skills to Children!

I shall tell you a story. When I was a kid, I was the youngest child. My brothers and sister
were quite a bit older than me, and I was probably a pest as a pre-schooler. To keep me busy, when I was five years old, mother took an old piece of muslin (probably from a former pillowcase) and drew or traced the outline of a small bear onto it. She attempted to teach me outline stitch embroidery, using red embroidery floss. This first attempt did not come out perfectly, of course, but I was hooked on embroidery!

Subsequently, every time we went to the local F.W. Woolworth's store, I would stand and longingly peruse their selection of needlework kits, bureau scarves and doilies. I would tease mom to buy embroidery floss and some little project for me to make.

Oh, I did not mention that right after I finished the Redwork bear, mother drew a raccoon on the edge of a pillowcase so that I could render that in Redwork as well. That project came out so
well, I gave it to my 14 year old brother as a gift. He was the sentimental type and seemed to appreciate this small tribute of affection from his little sister.

As a grown-up, I despaired of ever seeing the little bear again, my first venture into the world of needlework, a hobby I would carry with me all of my life. However, when we had to completely disassemble the contents of mother's house in order to sell it, lo and behold, I found the bear in a little-used upstairs closet, at the bottom of a paper bag. A found treasure of the past, the bear is a visual remembrance of just how far I have come with needlework skills in the last (almost 60 years).

If you have children, remember that any time spent with them, teaching them any skill you have is well worth it. They may surprise you when they are grown with just how important those lessons were to them. Needlework, sewing, and quilting skills are always good to pass on to the next generation!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Happy Birthday Hanky

Every day is someone's birthday, a day that is often celebrated by cake, a special dinner, wine, or gifts. As a curious aside, I once knew a man who did not know the exact day or even the year he was born. His parents, rural dwellers, never kept track of such things and were too busy tending the chickens and the garden to celebrate anyone's birthday. It must have seem like a frivolous pursuit to them. For most of us, at least in my circle of friends and acquaintances, birthdays are a milestone, another year completed before retirement or some other lifelong goal.



In my collection of hankies, there is one beautiful beribboned one with roses (for love) and daisies (for remembrance) that is a "Happy Birthday" hanky. I love textiles that feature words! This one says "It is time I send/ good wishes/ Every one warm/ and true/ For a grand and glorious/ Birthday/ Full of happiness for you!"

May you have many more birthdays to celebrate!



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Whig's Defeat Quilt Block



In the last blog post, I showed you a photo of a "Complex Whig Rose" block. Henry Clay (1777-1852) founded the Whig Party and after he was defeated in his bid for the presidency on the Whig ticket in 1844, a quilt block began to be made to commemorate the occurrence. He lost to Democrat James Polk (1795-1849). Clay was against the annexation of Texas which may have cost him a win. After that loss, the Whig Party was in its waning moments.

"Whig's Defeat" is a complex quilt block that is large and a little bit tricky to make. It is pieced and appliquéd. I chose to make this reproduction quilt block in patriotic colors of red, blue and navy blue on a white background. The rise and fall of the Whig Party has left us with two spectacular quilt blocks, both of them requiring a skilled needle worker to make them. Don't you just love the idea of "voting with a needle"? It was a quiet way to express political views.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Quilt Block Celebrates Whig Party

In the realm of political quilt blocks, one of the most beautiful is an appliqué block called "Whig Rose." The Whig Party was founded in 1833. By 1856 it had merged into the Republican Party. The "Complex Whig Rose" design shown here was appliquéd by Patricia Cummings, based on a pattern in a book by Jeana Kimball. In the days before women had the right to vote in a political election, they used their needles to express political preferences. It was not until the federal election of November 1920 that women were able to cast their ballots.

"Complex Whig Rose"


The most notable political figures that were members of the Whig Party are Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. The two presidential candidates who ran on the Whig ticket and won are William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. Read more about William Henry Harrison and quilt blocks made in his honor on my website:  http://www.quiltersmuse.com

The term "Whig" is derived from the name of a political group formed during the Revolutionary War. The name itself, according to a wikipedia entry, means "opposing tyranny." To read more about the Whigs and their political ideas, please visit:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_Party_%28United_States%29