Sunday, November 22, 2015

Yuck! Winter Arrived in SE Iowa!

   Wow. Last weekend was in the 60's and this weekend we got 4" of snow and temps of 20's and 30's! I still hate winter. I'm set in my ways. lol Nothing I can do about it, but endure until Spring. It's only 5 months away, right? I'll just hunker down at home and quilt every chance I get. The only problem is, I work 5 days a week at 2 jobs outside the home and must buy groceries and necessities across town, so there is already too much time spent out in the winter weather. Yuck! Sorry, I know I whine every year about it and there's no changing the course of time, so I'm going to make the most of a cold situation. I hope you're warm wherever you are.

  I have some sad news to report. For those of you who have followed my blog or have read it the last few years, you know about the Christian Staffinger quilt I own and the story of his family. His last great great grandson, Robert Johnson, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know, passed away a couple weeks ago. I couldn't attend his funeral last week as it was on a weekday and I felt bad missing it. I'm showing the picture of Robert and his cousin, Mary, who is the last surviving great great grandchild now. It was taken the day I met them both in July, 2011, at Robert's farm in Carthage, Illinois.

  Robert is holding the rifle his Great Great Grandfather Christian Staffinger brought home from the Civil War after being shot at Stones River on Dec. 31, 1862. His wife, Mary, is in the background.
   He was a wonderful man, soft-spoken and reserved. I described him in my blog as a "Jimmy Stewart" type , my impression after our first meeting. My heart goes out to his family in their time of loss.

  I have been quilting as often as I can on the baby quilt I'm making for my boss, Jessica, and her soon to be born baby boy. I have 2 more blocks to quilt before starting on the border. The baby is due January 8th, but I'd like to give it to her on December 11th when she is coming to my home for a mini shower. I'll post some pictures of the quilt in my next post.

  You may not know this about me but, I'm an avid wrestling fan, both high school and Iowa Hawkeyes. Randy and I have season tickets to the Iowa meets. Friday, we both took personal days from work and went to the Hawkeye Wrestling Duals at Carver Hawkeye Arena. It was in the 20's when we got there at 10 AM and when we were leaving at a little after 4 PM, it was spitting snow. It was the beginning of the snowstorm that had been ominously predicted all week. We got 4", but a little north of here got 6" and more further north, so we're lucky I guess. I'd always prefer none, of course. :-)

  Here's my first selfie(although Randy actually took it) posted on Randy's facebook. I NEVER get on facebook or read it, etc., but I consented to his posting this one photo since we were having a fun day together. We're standing at the top of the arena, but our seats are in row 21, which is way down there where we can see the action really well. The downside is, it's a lot of steps to climb back up. Let's just say, I felt "the burn" every time I went to the bathroom or needed concessions. It would help if I exercised more (or at all) as Randy reminded me. :-0

    I'm off to quilt. Maybe I can get at least one more block done tonight to add to the 3 blocks I've done this weekend.

 Keep stitchin'.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Flea Market Finds and Other Treasures

   A quilting friend, Bonnebell, suggested I might enjoy a flea market at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids, IA, held Sunday October 25th, 10 AM to 5 PM. I convinced Randy we must go after early church. After all, he may find oil cans to add to his collection! That strategy worked and off we went, picking up our son, Isaah, on the way. Thank you,  Bonnebell! It was fabulous. The best I've ever been to except for the one in Maine 4 years ago. Randy did find an oil can he didn't already have, so he was happy. He and Isaah admitted they had fun seeing all the unusual antiques there. I hit the jackpot! I came home with 3 purchases.

  I bought this c.1860-70 quilt made in Pennsylvania. The outer border is my favorite , poison green. Yummidy!

The backing is a wonderful brown and pink print.

A closeup of a block. These colors are typical of Pennsylvania quilts made in the mid to late 1800's.

 I found this little cutey, a 1950's embroidered doll quilt. The binding is a pale blue and nicely quilted.

I couldn't walk away from this oak set of card catalog files...the one added to the bottom of this stack. I'd never seen one with five drawers wide by one tall. It measures 33" wide x 6 3/4" tall x 17" deep. Now, what to store in those drawers. Hmm...

I didn't buy this at the flea market. I won it on an online auction and it arrived in the mail last Friday. It is a c. 1860's Economy Block doll quilt, made in Quincy, Massachusetts. It is so sweet and measures 15" by 15". There are a few brown prints that have deteriorated, but overall condition is pretty good.

Nice brown with red print backing and hand-quilted.

  Randy ran my route tonight so I could have the evening off. I made a big pot of chili and spent the evening in my studio. Besides taking these photos and posting, I made a label for a great niece's baby quilt and stitched it on. I'm ready to ship it out now. She's due to arrive on November 24th. Thanks for stopping by.

Keep Stitchin'!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Studio Tour Continued

  As promised, I'll share more pictures with upclose details of my studio. I went to see Mom at Sunnybrook Assisted Living last night since I missed going last week getting ready for my open house. I took peace offerings of fresh homemade chicken noodle soup and cookies & cupcakes left over from Saturday. It was too late when I got home to post. The Cubs play tonight so I'll be brief on words and heavy on pictures so I can watch the game. Go Cubs!

  First up, the red cupboard with Elizabeth's doll house furniture...

The first floor is set up for a living room at Christmas.

 The second floor is the bedroom. The quilt on the bed and the one on the quilt rack were made by my friend, Jane, and given to me as gifts. I could sleep cozy in this bedroom.

The third floor is the parlor. The wallpaper in this room is actually a CW repro fabric.

The 4th floor is a family room, Elizabeth's first furniture when she was 6 yrs. old. This is wallpapered in fabric too.

  What's a sewing room without buttons? Here are a few jars from my collection. The sign was a gift from my SIL.
   My Civil War dolls keep me company when I sew. :) This is Kizzie, the seamstress. See her Log Cabin block and tiny stork scissors?
   This is Elizabeth, dressed in a CW outfit a friend made to match one of my CW costumes I wear when I give a program. I have a few child's sewing machines scattered about too. I had a red one when I was little that was lost in our house fire when I was 5 yrs. old. Many of the things I collect are from childhood memories that I seem to have a need to recreate.
 Here's another one of Kizzie. The doll quilt on the bed is c.1880 and nicely hand-quilted.
 A high back oak doll bed with a china doll. The doll quilt on the bed is c. 1860-70, machine-quilted and the one draped over the foot of the bed is also c.1860-70 and tied.
  This is Miss Victoria, dressed in satin and velvet carrying a parasol, she's the lady of the bunch.
 Another view as you step into the studio.
   I'm obsessed with collecting antique card catalog drawers. Remember, I'm a librarian, so of course, I love them. This stack is my favorite. They are so handy to store all kinds of quilting tools. The large 2 gallon "barrel" jar holds rolled bindings. I always make too much and store the leftover rolls here. They come in handy to bind doll quilts or sew several together for a patchwork binding. They never go to waste and they look yummidy together!
 This grouping of dolls and doll beds are on top of my Orphans of War inventory cabinets. No sense wasting any unfilled space! The doll bed and quilt on the left were bought in New Hampshire on a road trip with my Sissy several years ago. The quilt is c.1850's, the oldest in my collection. It is made for a 4-poster bed, with vertical rows of slanted diamonds and finely hand-quilted. The tiny bed has a c.1870 quilt of its own. The black poster bed has a c. 1870 machine-quilted quilt. The large doll bed's quilt is c.1910 nicely pieced, but a crudely quilted solid colored quilt that resembles a Parcheese (Sp?) game. 
 My "Baby Jane, B-4" found a home on the wall next to my desk.
   That's all for tonight. The Cubs are playing without my support. They may need me!

Keep stitchin!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Studio Open House!

  At long last, my studio is finished (except the french doors aren't hung!) and I held my open house yesterday. It was a beautiful crisp autumn day and about 50 ladies showed up. Many came directly from Breakfast Club at Inspirations Quilt Shop in Hills, Iowa, but some friends and teachers from school came too. Kayla greeted visitors and directed them downstairs where I gave the tour and enjoyed the first ever guests to my studio. It was so much fun having someone besides me sitting in the chairs enjoying the space. I had so much fun that I forgot to take pictures of the guests! All my pictures were taken before they arrived or after the event was over. :(

  I served light refreshments including cupcakes, cookies, chocolates, and Halloween candy. My house was already decorated for Halloween, which was fun because few people ever see my decorations.

These are pictures of the upstairs, first the food...
The window ledge between the kitchen and the living room...

The kitchen island...

Mantel decorations...
"Betty Croaker", isn't she a hoot?!
The tour begins...

  This hallway leads to the studio...

 The seating area for small groups...
 Inside the door to the left...
Inside door to the right, my sewing area...
 White cabinets hold my Orphans of War inventory...
Some sewing collectibles on this wall...
My cutting table, 4 views... Sorry for the glare in the first one. The sun really comes in strong in late afternoon. This is a c.1852 pine piece out of a butler's pantry from a home in Burlington, Ia., one of several antique pieces that support the cutting table.
 This oak set of office drawers was purchased in Keokuk...
 Better view of the cutting surface (55" by 82")...

   The walnut cabinet in the front corner has a pink and white porcelain knob with black writing that says "Bass Forte". The whole thing was painted white, even the knob and the door latch that turned out to be brass when I stripped it. I think it was a steal because they didn't realize what was under the heavy paint job, even the interior was painted! The long cabinet on this side was in my old sewing room. It sure enjoys its new space with new companion pieces. ;-) I installed the white column surrounds myself, a 3-day multi-step project. I love the gray foam office mat that is made to cushion your feet when standing for long periods of time. Sometimes I spend hour cutting pieces there.
  My design wall. The blocks are the beginnings of a baby quilt for my boss. She's 40 and having her first baby, a boy!
 My office area, next to a window so I can enjoy the view of the changing seasons...

  Red corner cabinet which houses my daughter, Elizabeth's  doll house furniture. I couldn't part with it after she died and I take such joy in seeing it daily. The pegboard holds most of my cutting tools and rulers and is directly behind me when I sit at my sewing machine.

  Now for the best part, my STASH! It's just around this corner...

  Here it is in all its glory. I love to stand in front of these shelves and fondle all these Civil War fabrics and dream of quilts to come.  One of the ladies was foolish enough to suggest I probably had enough fabric and didn't need to buy more. Need? Silly woman. :)
    My collection of quilt stencils is on the pegboard on the back wall. To the right in the 2 cabinets next to it are my CW repros in browns, blues, and reds. Yummidy!

  I think that is all of the main areas. Tomorrow, I'll try to post again and show pictures with more details. I wish you all could have been here for the open house, but I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour. Thanks for stopping by and for putting up with my spotty posting during these last hectic months of building.

Keep stittchin'.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Studio Finish!

  Wow! What a summer this was. It was full of drywall dust and contractors day after day. If they were here I was stuck at home all day. If they weren't here in the morning, I was stuck at home waiting for them. Sometimes they came late and sometimes I waited all day for nothing! I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, because in the end it was worth it. I spent the past month stripping and refinishing several pieces of antique furniture to use as support for my 52" by 82" cutting counter (vintage from Preservation Station) and for storage around the studio. My studio is done, all my furniture, fabrics, and quilt supplies are in place. I'm in quilter's Heaven. :)

  While the studio itself is complete, the french doors are still waiting to be installed. I bought them at Preservation Station, so they are vintage and needed some TLC before use. I stripped, sanded, and painted the outer parts and left the wood framing the 15 lights in its original condition. What's the point of buying antique doors if you paint them and then they look new? I wanted to retain the character, but freshen them up. The old brass hardware was shot and had to be replaced. I bought brushed nickel handles and hinges to match the rest of our doors. They were purchased without the surrounding framework. The carpenter who is going to create the framework and install them came tonight to measure and see what materials that need to be bought. The only problem is, he is working on the outside of two new homes now and can only come here to work after they are finished or it rains. I don't want to pray for rain because the farmers around here need dry weather to harvest their soybeans and corn. I'm a farmer's daughter so I know which is more important. My doors can wait. In the meantime, I've been sewing again! It feels wonderful  and all the time and effort it took are dim memories now. :)

  I'm having a studio open house after Breakfast Club in October. I can't wait to share it. It will be fun to have it full of quilters. Because of the open house, I don't want to post pictures of the studio till then. I hope you understand. I promise to share plenty after the 17th.

  I will share pictures of the recipient of the commissioned quilt I quilted this summer. Remember, it was a gift for a New York attorney from his mother as a 50th birthday present. Happily, he was totally surprised and thrilled with the quilt. I received a phone call  and then an email thanking me. For his privacy, I won't share his identity, but his mother sent me these pictures of the night she gave the quilt to him.
 He looks pleased with it. I'm so relieved. He's a fellow Civil War buff, so I was choosy which pictorial squares to use in the block's centers, only my favorites.
These next two show him really giving it a thorough examination. I'm glad I took my time on that quilting! The outer border is quilted in a vining feather and star motif. I used it on my Civil War Generals quilt and loved the way it looked.

  That's all for tonight. Thanks for waiting so long for a new post. Things should settle into a comfotable routine now. I'll post again soon. Until then, keep stitchin'!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Home from Alabama

  Wow! It's been a hectic time since I last posted. Work progressed rapidly on the studio for 3 weeks. It came to a screeching halt when the man doing the mudding put on a coat and never showed up again. Yep. Not good. Something tells me, drywall finishing isn't his thing. Randy tried his hand at it and did well, but he works long hours and hasn't had time to mud in a week. :( I've got calls out for a mudder and am waiting for calls back. It's frustrating because the ceiling guy and floor guys are on hold till the drywall mudding is finished. I sure hope it's done so I can get moved in before school starts next month. I'll show what it currently looks like anyway.

  Before they finished boxing in around some pipes in my studio, I placed my brochure, business car, and a letter to a future owner who will find it while remodeling. I wonder how many years from now that will be.
 This is the area after the pipes are boxed in. There will be 3 white double door cabinets in this space housing my inventory of Orphans of War patterns for sale on my etsy shop.

 This is the long wall between my studio and the family room, with the opening for my french doors.
   Looking through the french doors into hallway. You have to imagine the doors right now. :)

   I was excited to see the hallway ceiling go up. This was before all the walls were dry-walled. I took this standing on the landing at the bottom of the stairs.

   Last week I traveled to Madison, Alabama with my friend, Kayla. I gave a program for the Madison Station Quilt Guild and others from area guilds on Thursday evening. We arrived Wednesday night and after a good night's sleep at the Hampton Inn, we were escorted to a few local quilt shops. Our hostesses from the guild were Leigh, Virginia, and Mary. We had so much fun with them and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights in Madison.  We ate lunch at The Jail. It is the original old jailhouse next to the train tracks running through town. The cells are still in place, minus the barred doors, but the barred windows are still in place and you can dine at tables inside the cells if you want. The ladies' room is also in a cell. The food was deliscious, better than the inmates could have hoped for! I had my picture taken in a cell. Before my trip, Randy had purchased and installed a hitch and aluminum "basket" on my car to carry a large storage box with my vending items in it. I had worried about needing reflectors or lights on it and told him, "What if I get to Alabama and Sheriff Bubba arrests me for no reflectors and puts me in jail?" He thought I was foolish, but bought the reflectors to keep IN THE CAR, but not on it, in case I got pulled over. Well, this was too perfect an opportunity to pass up. I had Leigh take my picture in a cell and send it in a text to Randy saying I had been arrested and please send bail money.

  His reply? "Sorry. You're on your own. Write me a letter when you can." He didn't recognize her phone number and thought it was a scam! Note to self, if I'm ever really arrested, make sure the sheriff uses my cell phone or no bail for me. :)

  Here are some pictures I snapped at lunch. Kayla is smiling at Mary telling a story.

   This is Mary taken candidly. :)

   You'd hardly believe you were in a jail, it was decorated so nicely. See the cell in the backgound?

   I had the best time listening to Mary talk with her heavy southern drawl. She can make any one syllable  word into three and it took some effort to figure out what she said. I mee.a. een, really! We passed a roadside stand selling peaches and I asked her how she said , peaches, expecting it would be at least 4-6 syllables. She said, Peaches! I couldn't believe it, mean gets 3 syllables and peaches got two. She took a lot of good natured ribbing from me about her accent. What a fun day. By the time of my program that evening I felt like I had friends in the audience. As the audience arrived, a lady came up and introduced herself. She has been a long time Follower of my blog and came to meet me in person. It was so fun to meet a Follower face to face. Here is a picture of Follower, Barb Black with me before the program.

   I wanted to make sure I didn't get overheated in Alabama, so I wanted a light-weight dress. I went online and bought a silk dress from I Do Declare, very reasonably priced. It was plain except for a wide ruffled hemline and a wide black sash at the waist. I bought black lace, black antique-looking buttons, and supplies for a new matching bonnet. With the studio in progress, I only finished it the day before we left!  I also bought a new 5-hoop underskirt for it. I liked how it all turned out. Kayla took a few pictures that night and I'll share a couple.

  The Madison Station Quilters meet at the Madison Court House in the court room. We weren't allowed in to set up until court recessed for the night! I spoke in front of the judge's platform. That was a new experience for me. I usually speak at churches, auditoriums, or gymnasium's.

  It took Kayla and I 12 hours (with breaks) to get to Madison and 3 days to get home! We took the "scenic route" with quilt shops in Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois. :) I'm a "fly by the seat of my pants" type of traveler. Lucky for me , Kayla is a planner. She had several spreadsheets of quilt shops to visit with addresses, what they specialized in, how many bolts, how long to get there, AND she had called to talk to the owners to make sure they had Civil War fabric.  She also is fearless in traffic and enjoys driving in big cities. I only drove the first 3 hours of the entire trip! Did I say she is my very dear friend? I wanted to take pictures of all the shops to share on my blog. After negative comments from a couple owners about copyrights, (I only wanted to take general pictures to show the "flavor" of a shop NOT closeups of books or patterns!) I have only one shop to tell you about. The ones who were overly worried about privacy won't get a mention from me. The best one we visited and the one I plan to return to when I can was, The Village Mercantile, in Booneville, Indiana. The owner Betty Cummings was gracious and loved the idea of appearing in my blog. Her shop is fabulous and full of eye candy appealing to a wide range of quilters. She has tons of samples hanging thruout her shop and antiques, especially sewing machines, to set the mood. She was a kindred spirit as she loves all things Civil War like me. She and her husband travel to Eldon, Iowa every year, on horse related business. That is only 35-40 miles west of here and they have to go right past or through Mt. Pleasant on the way. I told her she could just stay with me while her husband attends to business in Eldon. I hope she takes me up on it. Her shop is in an old 2 story brick building with a loft area for classes and SALE fabrics. I found two bolts up there that I finished off for her. :) These pictures don't do it justice. Please, visit in person to see it's bountiful treasure. You won't be disappointed.

  The first thing you see inside the front door is a collection of children's antique sewing machines. NOT FOR SALE. I asked. ;-0

    My favorite...the Civil War fabrics and patterns of course! She has tons. I loved the feathered star sample in the foreground (bought the pattern), the poison green and cream large star sample, (bought the pattern) but will make mine in blue and gray. I won't tell you how many yards of CW fabric I bought, but I'll tell you she had some I'd never seen and some old favorites I was out of, and some at amazing prices. Let's just say I left HAPPY.

  This is the view from the upstairs loft. Yummidy, right? I loved her stencilling on the brick walls.
  A cozy corner in the Civil War area.

   Meet Betty Cummings, the friendly and gracious owner of the Village Mercantile, about to cut my second or was it third batch of fabric? She assured me what happens at the Mercantile stays at the Mercantile. Thank Heavens.  She is petite and stood on a stool for this picture. :) Betty, I told you I'd tell them that!   
   Here are a few more pictures to tempt you to plan  a road trip to Booneville.

  So that's what I've been up to! Hopefully I''l have finished studio pictures to share soon. Until then, Keep Stitchin!