Friday, January 22, 2016

Tribute to Mom

  My Mom , Elizabeth Jane (Drebenstedt) Lillard, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, January 5th. She was in the hospital, but not for anything serious. The doctor came in to check on her that afternoon and told my SIL, Joyce, that Mom could go home in a couple days. Mom said to the doctor four times, "Why don't you let me die? I want to die. I'm ready." She had never said that before no matter how sick she was. My SIL drove home a half hour away and when she walked in her back door the phone was ringing. It was the doctor to tell her Mom had passed right after she left. I guess Mom really was ready to go. She had been living in an assisted living place for the past year and the last couple of months, she had been unhappy with life.

   My sister (Sandra) and brother in law (Jim) flew in from Maine and their youngest son (Rodney)  flew in from Texas for the funeral. We all gathered at Mom's house and sorted through her pictures, papers, etc. They were only here for 3 days, so we couldn't waste any time if they were to be involved in the sorting. We found some "treasures" and tons of cards and school papers she'd saved for decades from each of her kids and grandkids. Boxes were packed full and I shipped them to Maine, Texas, and California to the people Mom would have wanted to have them.  The one thing she would have most worried about finding a new home for was her Christmas village. It was large and I couldn't add more to mine. Fortunately Rodney was very happy to take it. Mom would be thrilled. He has two young daughters of his own to pass it on to in the future. My brother and I are co-executors and have been busy with her house and contents. The house is in the process of being sold to a young family with a 7 yr. old boy and expecting a baby girl in a few months. Mom would like that a young family was living there.


   Here is Mom's funeral program. The picture was a few years old. Mom was 92 yrs. old.
 
We found these photos of Mom in her youth...
 This is a photo of Mom and I at one of my presentations. I teased her that she was the only "heckler" I ever had. This was 3 years ago.


I was delighted to find this quilt in a spare bedroom drawer. I had forgotten she had ever made it. It is all done except for the binding which she had basted black bias tape on for that purpose. She made this in the mid 1970's. I will add new bias binding and treasure this quilt. She had only ever made one finished full-size quilt, a Dresden Plate, which her oldest granddaughter, Tina, is getting.
  Mom's real talent was painting. She was very good even though she'd had no formal training and never had good canvases, paints, or brushes. She painted on boards, crocks, paper, cardboard, whatever she had. She was legally blind after 1993 and never painted again. Mom also was a wonderful writer of stories and especially poems. We've found a lot of her writings and will copy and make booklets for the family.

  I haven't done any sewing in the studio since this all happened. The last few nights I have been hand-quilting on a small Christmas wall quilt while watching TV with Randy. It feels good to be quilting so I'll be getting back into it now bit by bit.

Keep stitchin'
Becky

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ghost of Christmas Past

   I hope all of you had a blessed and merry Christmas. We certainly did. We actually had balmy weather here, which was nice since we traveled an hour and a half away for Randy's family Christmas. I had planned on blogging before Christmas, but you see how that turned out. I feel like the ghost of Christmas past that visited Scrooge sending my greetings after the fact. :( Better late than never, I hope. Before I forget it, let me wish you a very happy New Year. I hope it's one of good health, good fortune, and lots of quilting!

  We have a full 2 weeks of Christmas vacation from school this year. I have spent every minute I could in my studio. What bliss. I've done a lot of organizing and started a couple of new projects. Yesterday I finally put some antique quilts on the design wall and took photos of them. I'm adding antique quilts and tops to my Etsy shop. I have too many and want to whittle my collection down to Civil War Era quilts. Check them out by clicking my Etsy button on the right side of my blog. I'll be adding more and maybe some quilts I've made and no longer want to keep.

  This little beauty was delivered by the mailman just before Christmas. Let's just say it was a present to myself. It is a c1870 crib quilt with wonderful double pink setting blocks and tons of half square triangles, all hand done.
  I finished hand-quilting the baby quilt for my boss Jessica on December 18th. Just in time to share at Breakfast Club show n tell the next day. It's 54"x54".

   Here's a closeup of the border. Since she and her husband are both librarians, I know they will appreciate the Little Golden Book fabric I used for the sashing, border, and backing.





Here is a peak at my new projects on my design wall. They are both paper-pieced.

A closeup of the Christmas Logs that will grace a wall for next Christmas. Kinda thought it would be done this year. Oops. : (

   Randy always thinks of a way to surprise me at Christmas. This year after we had opened all the gifts under the tree, he said he noticed that I had left the light on in the furnace room. I didn't think I had, but he insisted I look and turn it off. When I opened the door I found a large box with a repro cast iron stove in it. I had mentioned I wanted one for the studio a year before the studio even existed, after seeing one at Menard's. Randy never forgets, which is sometimes a wonderful thing like this instance and sometimes, well,  to my disadvantage! We left shortly for his family Christmas and we got home late, so I had to wait till the next day to make room for this little gem in the studio. It really puts out the heat and  looks adorable too. :)




It turned cold and windy by Monday, so I really enjoyed firing it up while I sewed. We got 1/2" of freezing rain followed by sleet and snow. It's so cozy sewing in here and looking at the snow outside the windows. I hope Santa brought you nice things too.Till next time, keep stitchin'.

Becky

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'.
  Becky

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'!
Becky

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!
Becky

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'.
Becky