The Cottage Journal 05.20.2020

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…

The Cottage Journal 05.13.2020

Still making face masks, and planning a “tent sale” at the end of our driveway, to make them available to my neighbors. But – I’ve also begun another project – and it has meant that I’ve commandeered a large portion of my husband’s work shop space. Kind of a manifest destiny thing…

I’m making a barn quilt to hang outside, next to my studio’s french doors. And what is a barn quilt, you may ask? A barn quilt is a large piece of painted wood that looks like a single quilt block and decorates the side of a barn (or in my case, the side of Longsmith Cottage). My quilt block is called Grandmother’s Flower Garden, and I chose it in honor of my great-grandmother and this quilt she made for my mom, in 1949. Mark put some reclaimed wood planks together to make the board. I made a mock-up out of construction paper to plan size and colors. And now I’m in the middle of painting – soon to be completed, though, so I can give Mark his work shop back!

There are barn quilt trails in many counties/states across America – I’ve been thinking that a road trip along a barn quilt trail would be a fun way to get out of the house and still observe our new norm of social distancing. Check here for a barn quilt trail near you!

The Cottage Journal 05.01.2020

I’ve spent this past week sewing in the studio, but not on quilts. After watching a whole lot of YouTube tutorials on making face masks, I went to work on creating these nonmedical fabric masks – for our family, of course, but I will also provide my community with as many as I can make as well, since it appears that we will all be using face masks for some time to come. I guess it is our “new normal” to see our masks hanging on the coat tree just beside the front door, at the ready to don when we head out.

My design is pleated and shaped to fit the face/jaw area, with a long nose wire that can be molded not only across the nose but also the cheeks to keep it in place. No elastic around the ears, which tends to hurt if worn for too long – instead, simple fabric binding that shapes over the ears and connects to the single tie at the back. This method allows for flexibility in fit. Two sizes – adult and child. Machine wash and dry. And a bunch of fun fabrics from my stash to please just about anyone! Husband Mark picked out dragons, grandson Damien chose Captain America, and I went with indian elephants.

The Cottage Journal 04.20.2020

A few weeks ago, I ran across a vintage quilt pattern that took my fancy. It reminds me of the tiny verbena that I planted in a dish garden just outside of the front door. The quilt block is a flower that measures 4 1/2″ square, which means that the pieces that make up the block are even smaller – 3/4″ squares for the flower centers! I don’t usually enjoy working so small, because there is just no forgiveness if my cuts are not accurate or my 1/4″ seam allowance is off, even a “skosh”. But I still have tons of fabric scraps that I’ve challenged myself to use, and this pattern does a good job in using them. So I’m working on slowing down and sewing “in the moment” – being present as I’m cutting and stitching, to get it right. And you know what? I’m loving every minute.

Lesson for the day: Most of the good stuff in life is in the details.

The Cottage Journal 04.13.2020

Yesterday was Easter. Covid-19 had us attending a “virtual” Easter Mass in the morning, and provided us with tons of leftovers from our traditional ham and sweet potatoes family dinner in the afternoon, since no other family were gathered around our table. The Easter bunny (aka our lovely neighbors Kaylee and Chad) DID leave some chocolate eggs for us – outside our front door on the porch. In between Mass and dinner, I sewed. And finished the 3rd quilt in my Easter series.

It’s called Spirit-Filled, and represents the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends in wind and flame to fill Christ’s believers with the seven gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

I knew I wanted to use the quilt block called Dove in the Window, to portray the Holy Spirit, even though this block actually refers to the dove that appeared to Noah in the ark, after the flood. This antique quilt has used borders and sashing in between each of the dove blocks.

But as I was laying out the blocks for my version, I didn’t have any additional red fabric and I wasn’t real keen on using so much white – so I tried a layout without the sashing in between the blocks. All of a sudden, I saw doves all over the place! (ok, ok, they are red and shaped like the quilt block called flying geese, but somehow these shapes seemed more like the Holy Spirit than the traditional white doves of peace) Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Spirit-Filled Quilt by Katie Longsmith / Size: 70″ x 70″ / 100% cotton fabrics / Dove in the Window quilt block / Flames quilting design

The Cottage Journal 04.07.2020

I’ve finished the second quilt in my Easter series! (Click here to see the first one.) This second one, called Resurrection, uses the Hovering Hawks quilt block – which dates back to the Civil War era. Its strong diagonal lines reminds me of birds in flight, soaring to the heavens. Made from fabric scraps leftover from other quilts, my modern version depicts Christ’s resurrection – from the darkness to the light – on the third day, He rose again.

The Resurrection Quilt by Katie Longsmith / size: 70″ x 84″ / Hovering Hawks quilt block / Flames quilting design

The Cottage Journal 04.02.2020

I haven’t done a great deal of sewing lately – the cottage gardens have demanded my attention and so I’ve been weeding and mulching and moving my muscles in ways that they had forgotten about over the winter – oh, my aching back…and knees…and everything else! Needless to say (but I’m saying it), all I’ve been good for by the end of each day is to sprawl out on the couch and watch TV. In my search for something good to watch, I rediscovered the Craft in America series, put out by NPT. Last year, they came out with a wonderful Quilting episode, but there are also many other episodes made in years past. So interesting and inspiring! If you, too, find yourself with some time on your hands (are you housebound due to Covid-19?), you can find all of the Craft in America episodes at or on YouTube. Highly Recommended by Longsmith Cottage!

The Cottage Journal 03.27.2020

I’m working on the second quilt in my series of three, for Easter. I’ve finished 30 blocks, and have them laid out on my design wall, to check for placement and transition in the colors and values. Still have some tweaks to make, but I’m getting excited… here’s a sneak peek!

The Cottage Journal 03.25.2020

Inspiration. How does it work? I honestly don’t know. But what I do know, is that I find inspiration (or it finds me) in all sorts of ways. What inspired my Crossed Canoes quilt, here in the Longsmith Cottage Quilt Shop? Four things:

  • This beautiful view from a greenway that my husband and I regularly walk. We always stop on the bridge spanning this creek to look for herons and turtles. Different seasons, different colors…
  • A stash of batik fabrics that I had hung onto for a few years, and whose colors reminded me of the photo of the creek. (Batiks are an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing on fabric. Dots and lines are drawn on the fabric in wax, then the fabric is dyed, and the wax is removed with boiling water. The process can be repeated multiple times for more intricate designs and rich color tones.)
  • An antique Crossed Canoes quilt, circa 1860. Note how it has been hand-tied, rather than quilted.
  • And finally, a very fond memory I have of meandering down the Harpeth River in a canoe with my husband and teenaged (at that time) daughter.

Crossed Canoes Quilt made by Katie Longsmith / Size: 58″ x 83″ / 100% cotton and batik fabrics / Crossed Canoes quilt block / Sound waves quilting design

The Cottage Journal 03.20.2020

In her book Quilting with Style/Principles for Great Pattern Design, Gwen Marston (renowned quilter and quilt historian who passed in 2019) explained that, in the study of quilts, the best way to understand a quilt is to make it. And that is the story behind the Nine Patch quilt found here in the Longsmith Cottage Quilt Shop.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a quilt in its collection entitled Nine-Patch, made by Mrs. Eshleman, probably in Lancaster County, PA, c. 1860. I’m not sure why I was so drawn to this quilt. I decided to recreate it, using fabrics I had on hand as much as possible. After all, that’s probably what Mrs. Eshleman did. I learned so much in how the quilt maker used color and value in creating the nine-patch blocks set on point. The golden yellow sashing and pink border are not colors I would normally gravitate to, but they work! The result is a striking contemporary version of a beautiful antique quilt.

Nine Patch Quilt made by Katie Longsmith / Size: 64″ x 88″ / 100% cotton fabrics / 9-patch quilt block / tulips quilting design