I have to-do lists but they are not written anywhere – they just roll around in my head. I know, I know – my mind gets a bit cluttered at times! These lists are of all of the different quilts I want to make. If I write them down in an official list, I fear that I’ll become too structured in my own plans to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. So each morning when I enter my studio, I try to check in to see what comes to mind, and that’s what I work on.
Last week, I remembered this pattern that I printed out and stashed away, months ago. I usually don’t work from patterns. Rather, I’ll study the picture of the quilt and start thinking about how to construct it. It’s fun to do the “quilt math” myself, and most of the time I make modifications all along the way. Can you see my scribbled calculations?! What I loved about this pattern was the simple elegance of the 9-patch blocks on-point, and the cathedral windows style quilting design that was used.
I had an ah-ha moment when some red silk ties, found at an estate sale, came to mind. The white background was changed to a marbled black, since that’s the fabric I had on hand. And the Our Father, embroidered on the back, has made this the first of a series of prayer quilts, just now added to that ever-lengthening list in my mind!
Red Ties Prayer Quilt by Katie Longsmith, 2021 / Size: 53″ x 53″ / vintage silk ties and new cotton fabrics / The Lord’s Prayer machine embroidery design by Embroidery Library / Cathedral Windows custom quilting design
We are parishioners at St. Ann Catholic Church, and over our 16 years there, we’ve seen quite a few families grow up, with new babies and kids turning into young adults. For the last few Sundays in church, we’ve sat across from a young mom and dad and their new little baby girl. She’s a real cutie – we find ourselves making “ah-boo!” faces at her (even with our masks on!) to make her smile. I look forward to watching her grow up.
This Sunday, I am going to gift her with a valentine – a baby quilt full of love – from my heart to hers.
Valentine Pals Quilt by Katie Longsmith, 2021 / Size: 43″ x 49″ / 100% cotton fabrics / valentine pals machine embroidery designs by Kreative Kiwi / Hearts quilting design
Happy New Year! December was a bit of a whirlwind – I was bound and determined to finish several Christmas quilts for the season, and I did, but it took every minute at my sewing machine to do so. Which means I’m behind on journaling. So here’s a recap of December’s quilts, a part of The Penny Square Project, now listed at the bottom of the website. Enjoy!
This past summer, I found a quilt top at an estate sale. It was simple hand-pieced patchwork, made from vintage fabrics and feed sacks that appear to date from the 1930’s and 40’s. Based on the randomness of the design, the frugal maker most likely had decided to just use up the scraps in her sewing basket. Several squares of fabric had shredded and disintegrated with time. The quilt top was an impulse buy, and I’ve had it hung up on my design wall for weeks, wondering what I would do with it. And then a flash of inspiration! I decided to use it as the back for this machine embroidered Redwork quilt, since the Redwork consists of vintage floral designs. After I cut out the part of the quilt top that was damaged, I was able to use some leftover feed sack squares for the cornerstones in the sashing for the front. For the binding, I just pulled the back over to the front of the quilt, which really helped to tie in the patchwork back to the floral embroidered blocks on the front. And an embroidered quilt label on the back was the finishing touch!
Vintage Florals and Feedsacks Quilt by Katie Longsmith, 2020 / Size: 60″ x 60″ / 100% cotton fabrics, new and vintage / vintage florals machine embroidery designs by Kreative Kiwi / Spring Vine quilting design
I’m busy these days, incorporating machine embroidery into my quilts. I’ve found quite a few lovely designs in Redwork, and each one inspires yet another creation! Here’s my latest. I’m calling it Acorn Squash, for the dark greens and oranges in the quilt. And for my mom.
While grocery shopping last weekend, I spied a bin of acorn squash in the produce department, and found myself mesmerized by the luscious rich dark greens with tinges of orange. I was flooded with memories of my mom, and her fondness for acorn squash in the fall. She would take the small, dark green orb and cut it in half to reveal golden orange inside, then place both halves cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake them in the oven.
Mom’s been gone for a few years now, but I just love how she keeps showing up in my life and in my heart and in my quilts – and did you know that pumpkins are squash, too?
Acorn Squash Quilt by Katie Longsmith / Size: 38″ x 44″ / 100% cotton fabrics / pumpkins machine embroidery designs by Kreative Kiwi / Pumpkins quilting design
This summer, I invested in a used (but new-to-me) embroidery sewing machine. I’ve been staring at it for a couple of months now – totally intimidated to the point of paralysis. It is a bit humbling to be a beginner at something again, after gaining so much confidence over the years in quilting. But just last week, I bit the bullet and sat down in front of this sewing machine (with the manual in hand) and began. I am still working on the technical issues of fabric stabilizers, “hooping” the fabric correctly, and thread tension – all of which play major roles in good embroidery – but for my first attempt, this quilted tablecloth is passable, don’t you think? A is for Autumn!
Several months back, I was chatting with a quilting customer who told me about a miniature cedar “hope” chest she had received upon her high school graduation (I’m guessing in the 1970’s or 80’s). Next thing you know, she had gifted me with one that she had come across in a garage or estate sale! I was inspired to make a miniature postage stamp quilt from scraps of reproduction 1930’s fabrics for my miniature hope chest, as that is an item that a normal size hope chest usually contained…
I was curious about the history of this little cedar gem, and so I did a quick google search at the Lane Furniture Company website and came up with this very interesting history:
In the late 1920’s, the company began the Girl Graduate Plan. The Plan was a national campaign enthusiastically embraced by the dealers distributing Lane cedar chests throughout the entire country. The Plan offered a gift to young ladies upon graduation from high school and invited the girl (and her parents) into the furniture dealer to receive the gift. The gift was a miniature cedar chest and usually also included a special discount offer on the purchase of a full-size cedar chest. Lane knew this was a great opportunity to encourage the parents to buy a chest for a graduation gift. They also knew that in those early days, one-half of girls were likely to be married within eighteen months. The promotion introduced the dealer to a young lady who would likely need furniture for her new home within the next couple of years. In 1962 it was reported by E.H. Lane that between ½ and ⅔ of all girls graduating from high school in the United States were presented with a Lane miniature cedar chest. By 1962, approximately seven million girls had received a box for graduation. It has since been estimated by Lane executives that over 27 million miniature Lane chests were made and and either sold by Lane or distributed through the Girl Graduate Plan. The miniature department of the factory was closed around 1998.
My little cedar chest now sits comfortably amongst other “flotsam and jetsam” that I have acquired over the years and that mean something to me. Thank you, Alana!
I had the high honor to quilt a Red Work quilt top, embroidered in 1892! The quilt top is also a friendship (or signature) quilt, with each block “signed” by the family member or friend who embroidered it. Since the date, January 19, 1892, is embroidered in the central block as well as some of the smaller surrounding ones, I feel certain that this quilt top celebrates an event, most likely a wedding. Women from the Pieper family and the Howard family are prevalent throughout. Three of the blocks include a location – two from Amboy, Ohio, and one from Erie, Pennsylvania. My client and I agreed that a simple cross hatch quilting design and a red binding would be in keeping with the time period. It was such a pleasure to work on this project. As I quilted each block, I thought about the women who wielded their needles, 128 years ago. And wondered, also, why it was never quilted/finished.
My client found the quilt top, inside a stained and beat up brown paper grocery bag, at a garage sale. She paid $5.00 for it.
It’s a wrap! I finished the barn quilt, and Mark helped me mount it to the studio porch. Looks like a nice spot to sit and sew – or at least have a cup of coffee…