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):

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:

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: