Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Family Legacy I

Mary Bradbury*, my great-grandmother, was born in the spring of 1865 in West Paris, Maine. She married Isaac York**, a widower twenty years her senior, already a father, and a shoemaker by trade. They moved south to a home near the coast in Biddeford; an industrial town on the Saco River. There, in 1890 she would give birth to my grandmother. In late 1916 she would die before the birth of my mother.

So many of our female ancestors are lost to us, their passage through time marked only by names and dates, perhaps an aged photo or two and a mossy gravestone. But if we are very lucky, there will be something else, a fingerprint of sorts, some thing that they “inhabit”.

I have been this lucky. In the late 1990s my mother gave me care of the family quilts, including one made by my great-grandmother. For decades my mother kept it folded in a plastic bag in one of her bedroom bureaus (this would probably be after my grandmother moved in with us in 1958). The quilt is only a top, unfinished, with no backing or binding. It is a Victorian Crazy Quilt, made circa 1900. Pieces of special occasion fabrics, such as satins, velvets, silk and brocades, have been hand-sewed in irregular shapes onto muslin blocks, which were joined and then embellished with embroidery, paint, ribbon and other decorative effects. This was quite the rage in the late 19th century and there are whole books dedicated to all aspects of Victorian crazy quilting if one is interested.

Mary’s quilt is a lovely piece of stitchery. One can imagine the Victorian fashions made from some of these wonderful fabrics (look at those plaids!)
Below are some photos taken of various parts of the quilt:

Photo 1: The clover is painted on.
Photo 2: The daisy petals are made with small pieces of ribbon sewn on.
Photo 3: One of the many goldenrods pieces done using various embroidery techniques.
Photo 4: Her initials: M.A.Y. = Mary Abbie York.
Photo 5: Look at those plaids and stripes!
Photo 6: The brown fabric, a silk, has little pigs on it!
Photo 7: More embroidery and fabrics

(I have more photos but this is a good sampling from the quilt)

Here's a recipe from my great-grandmother:

Pepper Relish

12 hot green peppers
12 sweet red peppers
4 level tablespoons salt
12 onions
2 cups sugar

Chop peppers and onions. Cober with boiling water and let stand 5 minutes. Drain and add sugar and salt and 1 quart of vinegar. Boil 20 minutes.

(apparently, one knew what to do after that)

*Mary is a direct descendant; nine generations past, of Mary Bradbury (born circa 1620 - 1700) of Salisbury, Massachusetts, the elderly wife of a local magistrate, and one of the many convicted of witchcraft in 1692 Salem. And if Mary Bradbury York is a direct descendant, then, of course, so am I.

**There is no indication that Isaac was also from West Paris (then known only as Paris). His name is not included in The History of Paris, Maine by William Lapham (c. 1884. which covered to 1880). Mary's family and Mary are listed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Violet Quilt (2005)

I never buy quilt kits, nor do I tend to buy the prescribed fabrics for any particular pattern. Perhaps, there is a bit of the rebel still left in me, or perhaps I'm just ornery and just don't like to be told what to do! However, there is there ONE notable exception to this pattern of behavior.

After my mother went to live with my brother and his family, I thought I would like to make a quilt for the Ladies Auxiliary of Fire Department in my hometown, to raffle. My mother, a longtime member, and her friends, besides making their own quilts, often put together the collaborative quilt that the group made each year for raffle at their summer fair. With this in mind, in my mother's honor, I made this quilt for the group.

I found a pattern I liked, which came in a lovely promotional brochure for a specific fabric line called "Vintage Violets." I suppose I didn't want to play around with fabric choices this time, so I bought the specified fabrics...all but two of them. Those I substituted with other fabrics (couldn't help myself!) Of course, I adore purples and this was a deep purple leaning towards a blue-violet.

According to the few notes I kept, I started the quilt in January of 2005 and finished it in March. The quilt was queen-sized and contained 13 different fabrics. I had a professional quilter from Pepperell, Massachusetts quilt it; she did a beautiful job! (I forget her name at the moment, but I hope to come back an add it here when I find it). Once I was finished, I found the quilt difficult to give up!

My mom's Auxiliary pals were ecstatic and I was pleased to give to them. The Auxiliary raises money to buy much-needed equipment for the local fire company, and for local college scholarships.

I never did hear how much they raised by raffling the quilt, but I know a woman from Connecticut won it. If the tag is ever separated from the quilt, it will be identified as mine by the fabric substitutions I made.

Here are several more close-ups of the quilt:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Sunset Over the Lake" is Finished

Finished on the 23rd of December (except for the label) "Sunset Over the Lake" was given to my son on Christmas eve. Despite the fact that I asked him what colors he would like a quilt to be, he did not expect it.

**The finished quilt measures 85 x 85 inches
**It contains 1872 triangles (I think I've counted correctly this time)
**It also contains roughly 90 different fabrics, including fabric from two of my son's old Hawaiian shirts (which he was able to pick out easily!)
**The 9 blocks were assembled by quarters, each quarter assembled with standard piecing and some paper-pieced.
**The quilt was professionally and beautifully machine-quilted in a moderately-sized meandering pattern by Cheryl Dennis of Finally Quilted in Westford, MA.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Falling Off the Blog Wagon & Current Project

Here it is September, and clearly I have fallen off the blog wagon after an enthusiastic start. It is my intention to blog about old projects in addition to the current, but I started to get a bit hung up chasing down pictures, which would then have to be scanned. And then there was the decisions involved around how to organize and possibly group projects so they could be written about. I got busy and well, I fell off the wagon.

In an effort to climb back on, I will introduce my current project in progress.

Recently I bought Jinny Beyer's The Quilter's Album and used it to find an interesting pattern for a quilt for my grown son. The book offers 4050 grid patterns with a colored in version, all the calculations and mechanics of making the block is up to you.

Here is what my chosen block looked like. It's based on a 16X16 grid, which I have chosen to make each grid block 2 X 2 inches (because I don't want to work with the smaller squares and half triangles). There are 196 triangles in this block!

I took some time to work out how I would put the block together and after some hairpulling, I decided to work the smaller triangles in strips by paper piecing. Not my favorite method, but I felt it would be the most sane route. I like a scrappy so I have used different blues and oranges in each block, with a few of the yellows repeating (10 fabrics, including fabrics taken from 2 of his old Hawaiian-style shirts). The colors, blue and orange, are his choice. And here is what a completed block looks like:

And here is what pictures of the 6 completed blocks look like brought together with Photoshop:

I've definitely gained some gray hairs putting these blocks together and attempting to match all those triangle points (currently 1176 triangles with 3 more blocks to go). I'm not a perfectionist by any means, but there has been some serious seam-ripping and re-stitching. I'm using my 1/4 foot now, despite the fact that it tends to slide on the paper.

So, that's what I'm working on now.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Kitchen Valance: Mating Magenta & Yellow-Green:

My house is of the open concept style, the living room, dining area and kitchen are pretty much one room visually. A few years ago, I pulled a lovely deep magenta color out of a floral art print I adored ("Larkspur" by Laura Hills which I had seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston)and painted my living room and dining area that. It was daring and scary but oh so liberating! The magenta runs right up to the new kitchen cabinets. The accent color in the kitchen is a yellow green (California Paints: "grass root"). For a valance fabric, I needed to bring the two together.

Since going magenta, I'd been to several stores which sold decorator fabric, including my nearby Calico Corners store, but I could find nothing with my kind of palette until recently. On impulse I dropped into Calico Corners thinking I would find the neutrals and toned down colors I had seen about two years before, but instead, I discovered that colors had brightened up since I was there last. I fell immediately in love with this peony print and stripe, bought 2 yards of the floral (linen) and somewhat less of the stripe (a heavyweight cotton).

I didn't know what kind of valance I wanted when I bought the material, so when I did decide, I had to mull over how I could make it work. First, where to position the big peonies. Second. I wanted the stripes going horizontal not vertical, so I didn't have enough fabric to back the curtain with the stripe fabric. So, it got backed with a good quality muslin. There was a lot of measuring before cutting, but it worked up fairly quickly. Michael offered to put up the cafe rod (not really enough room for a more bulky rod), which is a project because we have to get up on the granite counter to do it. I arranged and tied curtain before we hung it. *Here is a recent photo–which replaces earlier ones taken when there was too much light outside.(we are still waiting for the tile-setter to come do the backsplash, so that's why the green paint abruptly ends on its lower end).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pink Overload!

The last two quilts destined for Alabama, as mentioned in an earlier post were mailed out on Monday and received by Bama Bound quilts today. Here are the finished quilts with their accompanying tote bags and animals (plus two extras for Bama Bound to put with some quilts that did not arrive with any). I did make some little bonnets for the monkeys so that they would match the tote and quilts.

The quilts were machine-quilted with basic, wavy diagonal lines. I try to always take some close-up photos of the quilts, plus a shot that shows the backing, all for my own reference. It's definitely time to move on to some new projects (I have a valance for the kitchen to make providing I am not distracted by something else).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dogs & Cats: My Sister's Quilt

My sister has raised puppies for the Seeing Eye® program in Delaware for a long time now. In 2004 I came up with the idea for a quilt to commemorate all the puppies she has raised, many of which went on to help the blind and visually-impaired. Some who failed their tests became her pets. This quilt sports pictures of all of her pets and Seeing Eye® puppies through 2004. Since that time, we have made up more photo blocks with the hopes of appliqueing them over one of the flowered areas (not sure how that's going).

This quilt pattern was adapted from the book Quilts from the Quiltmaker's Gift. The Quiltmaker's Gift is a lovely children's picture book written by Jeff Brumbeau, and illustrated by Gail De Marcken, published in 2001. Directions for many of the quilts pictured in the storybook are given in "Quilts From" and a second quilt book.

The quilt you see on the cover of the quilt book is the one my sister's quilt has been adapted from. I changed all the measurements so as to accommodate a 5 x 7 inch photo. My sister supplied the photos, of course, and the logo & dates. I cropped, arranged and sized them on Photoshop, and printed them out on special photo-fabric.
There are some great photos on here! The ones with the logo are the Seeing Eye® puppies, those without were not part of the program.

I believe the quilt is full-sized and machine quilted by me in a random loopy pattern (this was my early days of machine quilting). It was begun in 2004 and finished by the end of the year. I should note here that it appears that I never took a picture of the entire quilt. I suppose I was trying to get closer so that the photos would show up. Here I have placed two "half pictures" in rough approximation.