It was a very cool, rainy weekend, and the leaves are starting to change colors and fall. I'll soon be adding raking leaves to my to-do list. I didn't get much done outside, unfortunately.

fall leaf

The good news is that I worked a lot on the embroidered quilt blocks and have several that are 100% finished—photos to come! My backordered fabric finally arrived and I like it but don't love it, so I'm going to make a trip to a local quilt shop this week to see if they have my second choice. This way I'll be able to see it in person and, who knows, maybe I'll end up using all three fabrics?



I usually talk about the fun parts of living in the country—the garden, the birds, the peace and quiet. This past week I've been doing one of those unglamorous jobs that needs to be done before winter sets in—splitting wood. We bought a gas-powered wood splitter last year so splitting mostly involves hauling pieces of wood around and guiding them through the machine. Not especially dangerous (unless you drop a log on your foot) but kind of back-breaking. And the pieces get stacked afterwards. I've been putting in an hour or so each day and I'm starting to make a dent in the pile.

You might wonder why my husband isn't doing this, but he's cutting up the whole logs we had delivered last spring into rounds. And they'll sit for a year and be split next fall. Even though splitting is hard work it's something I'm physically able to do—I can't manage those larger sections. The chain saw makes me really nervous, too :)

Since I'm usually exhausted by the late afternoons, I spend an hour or so resting my back and working on the embroidered quilt blocks. The light is really beautiful and perfect for embroidery at this time of day, too. I'm making good progress and the possum and bear are just about done.

Everything but the eyes and word.

Just hanging around.

I had an email from Jenny this afternoon—she saw the original blog post and loves the quilt so far!



My latest Ebay vintage fabric purchase...

vintage fabric

Luckily this was a buy now auction so I didn't have to bid! It's a very finely woven combed cotton that feels silky (like rayon) and there's 5 yards of fabric so lots to work with. And it had the original label—06 0795 Lawn Party by Ameritex United Merchants. No date but there is a zip code so it's after 1963.

Wouldn't this make a fabulous dress—from a vintage pattern, of course?


Jenny's quilt

OK, the baby quilt.

My friend Jenny had just painted her guest bedroom coral and then she found out she was pregnant. And didn't want to repaint so the baby's room will have coral walls. Blue or pink is so traditional, but I love people who do the unexpected when it comes to decorating! And I had (I thought) the perfect thing to make a baby quilt with—a vintage baby sheet with ducks. I'd begun the embroidery last year and the feet were coral and a perfect match. But, then she found out it was going to be a boy. And suddenly the ducks didn't seem very "boy". Hmm, what to do?

A partially completed block.

So, we looked through all my embroidery projects and found a set of quilt blocks with animals. That didn't help much with the coral but it was a start. We couldn't find anything suitable in my stash of fabrics (everything with coral was too flowery) but the very next day I received the Hancocks of Paducah catalog in my mailbox and I found the perfect coral striped fabric. It also has pale green, light blue, turquoise, and brown—since many of the animals will be brown, that works well. I also ordered a green fabric with white dots as the secondary fabric. That's backordered but I suspect it's not going to match very well. But I have an alternative—Michael Miller's Dumb Dots in brown. She tells me that the furniture will be dark wood so I think this will look better.

The fabric and some of the embroidery colors.

Except for the second fabric choice, things were coming together. At least enough that I could start the embroidery. I'm sticking with realistic colors for the animals, the leaves will be green to match one of the stripes, and the flowers (there are just a few) will be done in coral. I got to use a little blue for the water the hippo is sitting in, but there won't be much opportunity to use that color again. I'm saving the words for last and will do them in coral or turquoise (or perhaps a combination) to work in a bit more color.

Another partially completed block—the only block with water.

I have a long way to go but I'm trying to get an hour or so of embroidery done every day and it's coming along. This is the part that will take the longest. I don't anticipate problems with the fabric piecing but I haven't decided how I'll quilt it yet. I'd like to do it with brown top-stitching, or by adding flat brown buttons in the corners (although that's probably a no-no for a baby quilt). If I run out of time, I'll hand-tie it. I have until Christmas, which seems like a long time. But I'm still wondering how it got to be halfway through September already?

I'm working on the leopard spots now.

I'll update on my progress as I go along.


the process

JZ asks, I'm interested in the process you use to select the components in your design - hankie, fabric, lace edging, buttons. What's first? How long does it take to reach the point where you say,"yea, that's it"?

It feels like I must have talked about this before but after you’ve done hundreds of posts it gets kind of fuzzy and I couldn’t find anything when I searched. No matter, it’s a good subject to revisit.

I guess to start at the very beginning is to talk about shopping. Whether I'm at an antique mall, flea market, or yard sale I'm always on the lookout for handkerchiefs to add to my stash. If the price is right I always buy plain white ones with colored crochet edgings — these get layered under the printed and embroidered ones. For the hankies that go on top, I buy ones that catch my eye. Maybe it features a flower I'm particularly fond of, a cool technique (like the appliqued butterfly shown below), or a print that matches a fabric I have at home. It's hard to explain but they speak to me.

butterfly sachet
I like to use visual "tricks" like the diamond-shaped button that echoes the butterfly wings.

When I get them home and cleaned up (soaked, washed and ironed, if needed) they get added to a box with the others. This is the first thing I pull down from the shelf when I get an order for sachets. The next step is to match up a hanky for the top layer with one that has a crochet edge for the bottom and that's simply a visual thing. I look for a color match but not necessarily with the predominant color. Sometimes it's better to choose a color that you only see small amount of. Like the coral from the gray edging shown here. Once I have a good combination I go to my fabric stash to see what will work with it. Again, that’s usually a color thing. But I might match a flower or choose a polkadot fabric if there are dots in the print. Sometimes I'll find a fabric that's perfect with the hanky but doesn't look good with the crochet so I might change my mind.

roses sachet
I played up the coral thread running through the gray crochet edging with the rose print hanky on top and continued the rose theme by using a rosebud striped fabric underneath. A matching coral button is layered over a plain white one.

Buttons are the last step and can be challenging. Not only am I looking for a color combination that works with all the other parts but the buttons have to fit together and stack well. Otherwise they'll slide around when sewn down. Sometimes I’ll have the perfect button to match a flower in the hanky. Often I have to try lots and lots of combinations. I try to keep a good supply of large flat buttons and ones with an inset on top for the bottom layer. Small pearl and baby buttons can be good choices for the top layer. Bright colors are always good!

button stack
This is actually from one of my tissue cozies but same idea.

button stack
A stack of three with a pearl baby button on top.

Sometimes the planets align and all the parts come together quickly. I just know. But often I let the materials sit on my work table overnight and revisit my choices the next day. If I’m still happy with it then I’ll go ahead and start cutting. Once in a while I shake my head and wonder what I was thinking! Then I might try another fabric or start over from the beginning. It’s really very intuitive and I try not to force it even if I’m on a deadline and need to make a large quantity.

turquoise stripe
My favorite hankies are the brightly-colored ones. I used a turquoise stripe fabric underneath but (in hindsight) this may have worked better with a bright yellow stripe or dot fabric, although I may not have had one at the time. I did pick up some of the bright colors in the buttons.

That's it. And this is pretty much the same process I use to choose materials for all of the creations—tissue cozies to pillows. It helps to have a good eye for color but that can be learned with practice. And, if you don't have a large stash of materials at home, take your hankies to the fabric store and see what you can find. I do this all the time :)


new sachets

A few of the sachets I mentioned in passing the other day.

butterfly sachet

red floral sachet

Two dozen of these are headed to a shop in California. And my supply of hankies is getting seriously low - time to go shopping, I think!



blue morning glory
A morning glory from my garden—what a color!

I really didn't mean to be away for so long, but I got caught up in the presidential conventions and the train wreck that followed.

And I've been busy with projects around the house, including making tomato sauce from the onslaught of ripe tomatoes in the garden; picking, shelling, and freezing lima beans (or butter beans as my friend from Georgia calls them); and painting furniture - black for the dining room chairs and table legs and hibiscus (a screaming hot pink) for a guest bedroom chair. I'm also stripping paint (a really ugly mustard yellow) from the three-paneled mirror I bought a couple of years ago. Cool to discover that, when I took the glass out, 1942 is stamped on the back! Oh, and I made two dozen sachets for a wholesale order and I'm sewing curtains for the bedroom. I know, whew!

I hope to finish up most of these projects this week. Then I'll take some pictures of my new embroidery/sewing project - a baby quilt for my friend Jenny who is pregnant with her first. It's a boy and she's got an unusual color scheme going on so choosing fabrics has been a challenge. But I think we've got it now. Still waiting for some backordered fabric to arrive then I'll know for sure. I'm using some vintage stamped quilt blocks with wild animals and most have lots of brown in them. That should help keep it more "boy".

Pictures of work in progress next time!