art quilts

This is a very cool book for inspiration...

Masters: Art Quilts: Major Works by Leading Artists, Lark Books/Sterling Publishing, New York/London ©2008

I discovered it on my last trip to the library and I'm drooling over the gorgeous art quilts. These are not your typical patchwork quilts—they're more like paintings or sculptures. Experimentation is key and the use of non-traditional techniques is common—untraditional shapes, fabric manipulation, collage (layered fabric and found objects), surface decoration (hand and machine embroidery), and the use of photographic imagery.

I particularly love the work of Jane Burch Cochran whose quilts are heavily embellished with paint, embroidery, beads, buttons, and found objects (gloves feature prominently) all sewn to a free-form strip-pieced base.

"My quilts are considered narrative because some of the imagery is recognizable. The quilt does not usually tell a particular story—it's left to viewers to see and translate what they will. My quilts are highly embellished with beads, buttons, and paint to enhance the narrative with a unique and personal texture."

Moonlight, 2007, 77 x 61 inches. Photo by Pam Monfort.

I'm terribly neat with my work—perhaps too much so—and viewing quilts like these lets me now that it's OK to be get a little crazy sometimes. I do need to work on breaking out of the box a little more :)


the best for last

This is by far my best find at last weekend's show. I had picked up some fabric and aprons and was waiting for the vendor to finish with some other customers when I spotted a box on the table with some patchwork peeking out. Opening it, I discovered the makings of a patchwork quilt. Some blocks were done, some were combined into rows. There were envelopes of templates, the original printed patterns, and lots of cut out pieces. At the bottom there was even extra yardage of each fabric.

the box

My heart skipped a beat. Then I thought, "no way will I be able to afford this." But it never hurts to ask, right? So I did. $35. Can you believe it! I saw the person standing next to me ear's perk up and I grabbed that box so fast it wasn't funny.

single block
A completed block

four blocks combined
Four blocks combined

On further inspection, everything seems to be there to make a good-sized quilt. What's done so far is hand-sewn. And everything is really clean and just about perfect.

the back
such neat hand-stitching

A closeup of the print

The only problem is that I can't figure out the pattern. I've looked in all my quilt books and I'm coming up with nothing. I know that some creative quilters designed their own patterns but this appears to be a commercial one. And not one that appeared in a newspaper—there's nothing on the backs of the patterns. I'd love to know what the pattern is called so I can do some research to determine how old this is. Can any of you quilters help me out?

block pattern
The block pattern

quilt pattern
The diagram for arranging the blocks


another find

children's hanky

It's not so much that this vintage children's hanky is in perfect shape—it isn't. The fabric is thin and almost worn through in a couple of places near the edge. But the colors are still bright and the motifs are super cute so I had to buy it. And it was only $3.

The words in the center read: On Monday I wash my little dolly's clothes—How she gets them so dirty—Goodness knows!

children's hanky

There are tiny washboards and boxes of soap flakes and little blue soap bubbles scattered around. And the little girl with her braid and blue bow is super cute!

children's hanky

children's hanky

children's hanky

I'm thinking of turning this design into an embroidery pattern! Or perhaps a fabric design.


Road Trip: Madison-Bouckville Antique Show

After a two-hour drive, half of it through dense fog (hate that) along Route 81N in Pennsylvania we finally arrived at the show. We got a great parking spot (completely by accident since you have to park where they tell you to) just a few rows over from the south gate! Then we headed to the back so we could hit the tents first. The tents can get so crowded later on that it's almost impossible to move or look at anything and there were a couple of vendors that I specifically wanted to visit. That done, we circled around the back and up and down the rows and by lunchtime managed to hit everywhere except the front section. We figured we'd have lunch and then go back. We were just packing up the lunch stuff when the raindrops started. One look at the sky (a sickish green-gray color) and the fact that lightening and thunder had already started convinced us that waiting it out wasn't going to work. Much as I hated to do it, we left.

So, for the first time ever, I didn't spend all the cash I'd budgeted for this show. But I got plenty of great stuff in the morning. And who knows, maybe I wouldn't have found anything else even if we had gone back. At least that's what I tell myself :)

It was a vintage fabric kind of day and I got lots of great prints. Like this floral that looks like barkcloth but isn't. The background is the prettiest peachy-pink color—

I also found a fun design with black line birdcages and orange, dark red, and avocado green birds—

And I love the colors on this Waverly Bonded Glosheen fabric—aqua geraniums with lime green flowers and lavender sprays—
vintage Waverly

Some of my favorite vendors didn't have any buttons this year so these are the only buttons I bought—
vintage buttons

I'm starting to love these cute little beaded coin purses and found two —
coin purses

I also love appliqued things and found this great towel of a woman washing and hanging clothes—

Here's a closeup of the appliqued pantaloons hanging on the clothesline—aren't the embroidered clothespins great?
washerwoman detail

I got a few aprons, including another with chicken scratch embroidery. I'm seeing that everywhere these days!
chicken scratch

I'm going to save my best finds for future posts—both deserve more attention since they're so cool. Stay tuned :)


Don't forget the Madison-Bouckville Outdoor Antiques Show this weekend. If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I've gone to this show every year for the past three years. It's a very big, very tiring-to-walk-through show (90 acres! 1000 dealers!!) but I always find great stuff and I wouldn't miss it for anything.

If you've just started reading, here are my 2007 and 2006 posts about it. I guess I didn't write one for 2005.

I've been so good this year — not attending many shows and generally cutting back by not buying things I don't need. This show is my weakness so I may be bad this weekend :)

Rather than battle the lines at the food stands or try to find a restaurant in a nearby town for lunch we're bringing a picnic basket this year. We usually make a few trips back to the car anyway, so we'll plan one around lunch time. Not sure what that basket will contain just yet — except for the fresh peaches I got at the farmer's market a few days ago!

Will let you know how it went next week, hopefully with lots of great pictures of my finds :)



I showed you an embroidered quilt block of a violet last week and this is another block from that same set. You're probably wondering why I chose such unpansy-like colors for the embroidery. I'll show you why in a minute.


I found a vintage pansy border-print pillowcase at a flea market earlier this year and I was immediately attracted to the colors. This is a closeup of the edge. Not traditional at all but what a great combination—I love the soft gray with the pink and red and green.

pansy border fabric

So, when the flower blocks arrived I thought "what a great pillow the pansy block would make combined with that pillowcase." And I embroidered it to match. I'm still considering the buttons—the ones in the picture matched perfectly in my studio but not when I took everything out into the daylight to be photographed. I may change my mind.

pansy pillow fixings

You can find a free traceable pattern for the pansy here and the entire set of patterns (pansy, violet, wild rose, ox-eye daisy, poppy, and buttercup) for sale on my website here.


unusual embroidery

Last week, Janice sent me a photo of a piece of embroidery she found at a folk art/fabric art store where she lives. She wondered if I'd ever seen anything like it before. And I hadn't, although we both agreed that the center looked like the spider web stitch. I assumed it was some variation of that stitch and asked if I could post the photo on my blog to see if any of my readers had any info on it. Sometimes there are regional variations on stitches and I know I have a lot of readers who live in foreign countries. You never know.

So, this is the stitch...

Isn't it cool?

Janice emailed me back later to tell me that she thought it was called tenerife. I did a little research and it seems that the original technique is Spanish—from the Canary Island of Tenerife specifically—and is indeed called tenerife, or Sol Lace (more examples here). The base threads were originally stretched across pins with the cross threads woven into them. And the resulting lace is very delicate and pretty.

Janice's example, which has the base threads in the fabric corners and uses embroidery thread, seems to be a less delicate variation. At some point in history the Spanish introduced the original technique to South America and in Paraguay it's now called Ñandutí lace. Ñandutí means "spider web" in Guaraní, the official, indigenous language of Paraguay. Perhaps this is the variation we're seeing here.

Ruth, at Needlpointers.com has some examples here. (warning - music on the page)

Some instructions for a Teneriffe Lace Christmas ornament. And a butterfly design.

Have any of you tried this or know anything more about it?

*Updated to add a direct link to Deepa's blog post about Kamal Kadai, an Indian surface embroidery technique that looks a lot like our picture. Thanks for commenting, Deepa!

not a hummingbird

hummingbird hawk moth
Although it hovers and hums when it feeds on flowers just like one. This is a hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) feeding on my butterfly bush. We have hummingbirds, too, and I've seen them fighting with these moths over the bee balm in my herb garden. Nature in action :)


August, already?

What is it about this summer? It's happening so fast! Sorry for the lack of blogging last week. The garden has been occupying a lot of my time—colanders full of green beans and piles of cucumbers to deal with. And the corn and tomatoes are coming quickly. So much outside stuff to do.

beans & cukes

But, in case you think I haven't been doing anything fun, here are a couple of those embroidery projects I promised to show you earlier this summer. This first one is a vintage Vogart quilt block of violets. I bought a set of these (six flower designs) recently on Ebay and embroidered this first because I have some matching fabric and plans for a pillow. I finished the top yesterday and should have the completed pillow up on my site soon.


This little cowboy quilt block (complete except for French knots on his shirt) will be combined with a vintage red bandana print for a future pillow.


I've also been working on this sweet blue dotted flannel baby cover with kitties and strawberries. I know, what self-respecting cat would eat strawberries? But, it is cute, even if it stretches reality a bit :)

brown cat

There are three cats in all plus butterflies, small patches of strawberries, and little flowers, all set in an oval shape in the center. It's big and taking a while so I alternate this with other projects that are more quickly finished.

orange cat

It's been a weird summer for sales. I haven't been making new pillows at all, or anything else handcrafted because no one is buying right now. People have other priorities—like food and gas—believe me, I get that. I have been selling tons of vintage buttons and fabric (who knows why?) so I've been keeping those sections stocked with new items. Also added are a batch of vintage crochet pattern books and some cute vintage baby things, including embroidered bibs, a Bambi crib sheet, and a pair of green wool mittens embroidered with ice skaters!