antique or vintage?


When I went to my hometown for the weekend, my mom offered me a quilt made by her grandmother Neal.

She cautioned me, “Now, back in those days, they just made things from scraps, it isn’t all fabrics that are matchy-matchy.” She said she had 2, and my sister had looked at them and told her to give me first choice.

Pretty nice for just being made from scraps.

I don’t have very many stories about my great- grandmother Neal- she lived on a farm in  Kentucky and my mom would visit them for holidays and in the summer. She would always buy store-bought bread, so the children could eat sandwiches, but my grandmother was embarrassed by how many homemade biscuits my mom and uncles would eat. I imagine them at dinner,  reaching for another biscuit, and my grandmother giving them that look that says, “I can’t believe you are reaching for another biscuit.” But then they eat it anyway.

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So, at home in the more recent past,  mom climbed up on the step stool, and pulled out a zippered blanket bag. Wrong one- that one was little- a crib quilt made for my oldest brother by my paternal grandmother- amazing patchwork, and tiny hand quilting. My mom told me that she had made that one, then one for my second oldest brother, then was declared legally blind. No more quilting.
The next bag that came out of the linen closet was the right one- it had two quilts made by my mom’s dad’s mom, Hattie Hill Hutchcraft Neal.

My mom speculates that she was named after her aunt, who was Harriet Hutchcraft, and married a man whose last name was Hill, so she was Harriet Hutchcraft Hill, and the baby who became my great-grandmother was Hattie Hill Hutchcraft. You hear people talking about how much they like old-fashioned baby names, but you don’t meet very many Hattie Hills these days. Wonder why
The firstquilt to come out of the bag was a flower garden, hexagons in pastels and medium colors on a white field, with a scalloped border. The scalloped border was what sold me, Kate liked the hexagons. We laid it out on the recliner, and I looked closely at the tiny hand quilting. I’ve done some quilting and oh, my gosh, this woman knew what she was doing. If I were at all competitive I would quit, because, you know, I would be competing with someone born shortly after the time of the civil war.
The other quilt, that I left for my sister, had stars on a white background, also very fine quilting, just as good, really. (I feel a little guilty- did I pick the better one? Is it fair?)

So, now, what do I do with this beautiful old textile? Zip it into a blanket bag in

I can scraches ur quiltz?

linen closet? Hang it up somewhere? Use it on a bed for the cat to tear up? I love that it is an antique (actually, what are the rules on linens? is it vintage? antique? where do you draw the line?) and I would like it to survive to become even antiquer (I know, not a word…) I have passed by two separate quilt racks at a thrift store- clutter-y and not really my style. But it is a shame not to have it where I can enjoy it. What are your thoughts?

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Tie Dye in the Rain


Super concentration is required for application of the blue...

To aid in the Girl’s quest to wear non-matching socks, I suggested tie dye- she wanted to turn it into a party, but I have control issues- We have done tie dye parties before, and they aren’t that much fun for me.
We kept it small- a tee shirt, an 8 pack of socks, and some muslin scraps to play with- they’ll be quilt pieces, or gift bags, or whatever. I had a bunch of semi circles left from our angel costume experience, so I figured we’d dye them and play with them. I also have a biggish piece of white canvas that I wanted to dye to make a summer purse. Yes, I know what month it is. It’s just that I have misplaced the summer purse that I got at the zoo last year (seriously, has anyone seen it? you know, batik, in kind of blues and greens, with a Chinese coin clasp?) and I’ve been carrying an olive drab one that is just the right size, but kind of ugly. But I digress.

I used corn syrup as a resist to make squiggles on the canvas. I  saw instructions in the last issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Or maybe Quilting Arts magazine- I have a hard time keeping them straight.  The shirt and socks we just rubber banded the usual way. We bought a kit, which comes with bottles and gloves and instructions, for about 10 dollars.

We set up the plastic tablecloth on the back porch, mixed up the dye according to instructions and went crazy. Actually, the Girl went crazy, and I went all control-freaky on her. “are you sure you want to mix all three colors? You have to go easy on the… now it’s just…don’t squeeze so hard…would you just…” And then it started to rain. She went inside.

You can see the splotchy socks, but otherwise, it's a pile of success.

The results? The muslin scraps are really cool- I’m thinking of something with wonky log cabin? There’s not enough for a quilt, maybe a pillow cover, or gift bag? For the uninitiated, a log cabin pattern is a traditional quilt pattern with narrow rectangles surrounding a small square. A wonky log cabin is when none of the angles are 90 degrees, so each block is kind of crooked.

The Girl’s shirt has a few brown patches, but is otherwise cool.  The socks aren’t great- they are a cotton spandex blend, and didn’t soak up the dye very well.

My favorite piece is the canvas, though- the corn syrup formed an incomplete resist- some color went through, so there are light patches, rather than pure white. I got up the nerve to cut it up to make a new summer purse. Yes, I knowwhat month it is! But just think, I have until next summer to finish it.

I just need some d-rings and webbing for a strap, and we're good to go.

More babies!!! More quilts!!!


Laying out the petals was the hardest part.

A few months ago, I expressed the wish that people would have more babies, just so I could make more quilts. Well, I don’t know if that is the whole reason, but some people have obliged me. My awe-inspiring SIL and her husband are expecting in October, and I have been spending some afternoons in the basement sewing up an appliqued top. It’s better in the basement, since we don’t have air conditioning- I’ll sew, and the kids play with legos, and I’ll come up periodically to refill my iced tea and just be blasted by the heat.

I couldn’t find any patterns I liked, so I just imagined this one. I love the high contrast of the purple and red over the cream.  I also love that the cream has a very subtle pattern on it. Is it a flower exploding? Fireworks? The Girl thought the explosion should be centered, but I like the asymmetricality of it and the way the quilting lines flow off the petals. I mean sparks.

I just finished the binding this afternoon, and love how the red finishes up and ties it all together.

My math and my memory were way off when I bought the fabric for the back-I only got a yard of the dark blue with sparkly stars print. My solution was to add a panel of pieces from the front, an idea I got from a library book called “Quilts, Baby!” by Linda Kopp.

My backing fabric wound up 6 inches too short, so I added a panel of patchwork.

I probably wouldn’t have thought of it if I hadn’t seen it in the book, but when I first saw it while reading, I wondered why anyone would cut up perfectly good fabric on purpose, just to sew it back together. It is a question I ask myself regularly about quilting, actually. And yet here I am quilting…

I can haz bed for kitteh?

On a related note, there were so many scraps of purples and reds that I made the Hellcat a bed. It hasn’t prevented her from sleeping on the guest bed pillow, though. Sorry, Mom. I’ll change the pillowcase before you come.

People should have more babies, so I can make more quilts.


I gave Austin’s quilt to his mom last night (he’s the “baby to be named later”- he has a name, but he hasn’t seen the light of day yet) and washed Michele’s. The washing has made it puckery, and the stitching comes out so much better now. In real life it looks really good, but I can’t get a picture to come out showing how cute it is. I guess real life is what matters, right?

Do I blame the camera? or the photographer (me)? Quilt pictures are hard...

I’m so pleased with how this came out- once I had the border and the big motifs done, there was a lot of open space, so  used a marker to draw little pictures to fill in. With the batting I used, there has to be quilting at least every 8 inches, so I had the kids draw some stuff, and I drew little pictures as well that I outlined with stitches. So we have a cat, a fish, a couple of birds. No dinosaurs, which was a surprise.

Now I just have to get it mailed off.

Finished Object- baby quilt


Plum blossom in sashiko stitching.

Finished the blue and yellow quilt, and have started another in a similar style, with turquoise batik fabric for the top and flannel for the back.
I suddenly admire all the great photos I have seen on the web of quilt details, because they are hard to take. My point- and-shoot is struggling to get any detail to show up. The weather is not cooperating either- cloudy and bleak is not great for photography.

This corner is done in the mountain stitch pattern.

Finally we have gotten a string of crystalline days, and I could bring the finished quilt and the future quilt out to the patio to take some pictures.

I have just begun stitching the turquoise one, also for a baby to be named later, and have pretty much done a circle in the center, for a medallion. I am going away from traditional Japanese patterns and putting a Celtic knot in the center and a braid around the edge. This quilt also has a layer of batting in it, which makes quilting go slower.  On the blue and yellow quilt, since the baby is being born in the spring in Denver, I just wanted cotton on the front and flannel on the back- soft but not warm.  Turquoise baby lives in Alaska, so I figure he or she would appreciate the extra warmth.

Turquoise Batik, sandwiched with cotton batting and flannel.

When I claimed my identity as a quilter a few weeks ago, I may have been misleading- I actually hate the patchwork stuff- it makes my brain hurt. But sewing layers of stuff together is pretty satisfying.