Monday, July 30, 2007

Quilt is 1/3 done now

I spent some time today making one more block for the quilt so that I'd have 2 strips of 6 to sew together making up 1/3 of this 6 block by 6 block queen size top. The one I made today is called friendship star and it's a simple 9 patch in which I added a blue fabric to those already used to bring a little bit of the background blue out.
The second is called old maid's puzzle, this is from a group of 3 blocks that I made right before my summer camp started. The background fabric is a new one for this quilt and I'll be using it again to add interest. It's one of my brightest ones with the least amount of contrast to the surrounding sashing.
This is called morning star and it's one of my all time favorites in quilting. It's actually a 9 patch so there is no challenging piecing, it's all an optical illusion as the star points are 2 pieces each.
This is a Maple leaf of some reds and pinks that I have in the stash. So far it's one of my favorites and brings together the reds from other blocks that are already put together. I couldn't get a picture of all 12 blocks sewn into the 2 strips, I'll probably have to wait until the quilt top is done and then figure out how to photograph the whole thing. I will probably take down my sewing area for awhile as Jenni and Michael are due in within 2 days time for a week.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The end of summer sewing camp 2007

Summer Sewing camp at the Genteel Arts Academy in Gettysburg came to a close today after 9 days of friendship, fun, learning, and creating this year's topic garments; Winter Outerwear. You already saw the items from the first 3 days, here is the short mantle that I was finishing as homework on my days off from classes this week. The mantle is made from royal blue cotton velveteen with a yellow plaid silk lining that I continued onto the edge binding. I used period wooden buttons and a frog closure made of soutache braid. I haven't decided yet if it needs anything else, I might add more trim. This unusual garment is a sontag or bossom buddy that is made of wool flannel with cotton broadcloth as lining, however, as in the original in a museum in New York, the lining was quilted with wool batting attaching the batt to the lining for extra warmth. It's bound in the same wool flannel, and fastens with 2 period tin buttons in the back with ties from the back to the front. Most sontags seen were knitted or crocheted, but though this one had some fitting challenges, it promises to be much warmer than the yarn sontags, of which I own a couple. The last project I made in the class is the fold over shawl which is modeled on a period original. Notice how the patterned border is right side up on both triangles? It took Karen's clever pattern drafting and study of the original to come up with the technique that we used. I used grey wool in a large 62" square along with "Civil War Anthem" reproduction fabric for my shawl. As was the style during the early war years, it's a large and cozy shawl. I really enjoyed the summer camp and I've already asked Carolann (the owner of Genteel Arts and teacher of the classes) to sign me up for whatever she's teaching in 2008! Next month is the dinner/evening bodice class, I can't wait. Now on to the next project: Photographing the 3 quilt blocks I made prior to camp beginning, to make one more and to sew the 2 strips together that are made, bringing me to 1/3 of the quilt top.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

No, I didn't drop off the face of the earth...

Last weekend and this week, I've been away in Gettysburg at summer camp. This has been so very much fun! I'm taking the sewing summer camp from CarolAnn Schmitt of Genteel Arts Academy in Gettysburg, and this year's camp is all about Civil War era Winter Outerwear. Here's a rare shot of CarolAnn wearing the tiara in class, trust me it's usually one of the students! The tiara is awarded to the "queen of stupid mistakes" when a really stupid mistake is made and is then passed around when the next person earns it. We laugh a lot and enjoy each other and also learn so very much!
This is a shot of the Paletot or period coat that I made. It's black wool with grey threads with a rust colored lining. I trimmed it off with light grey grosgrain ribbon and used period reproduction mother of pearl buttons with self-made frogs for fastening. I built and took apart and rebubilt this coat so many times I lost count. CarolAnn is a wonderful teacher and so patient and helpful...until the fit is finally right and it's ready to be finished.
This is a Marie Stewart hood over my dress form, and shown as a collar. This hood can go over a bonnet for extra warth, and when the hood is pulled back from the head it's a very warm and pretty collar. I made this of eggplant colored wool flannel with a silk like lining that I also used to make the ruching for the outer edges. I finished it off with satin ribbon that added a little brightness to the hood, and attached hand tied bows at the corners and edge. The final step was to sew the ribbon into the inside of the hood for when it's brought down as a collar. I'm hoping to complete a mantle on these two days off from camp that will be shown on later blog entries, and there are two other projects still to be made this weekend in camp.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Challenging myself

This Whirling star block was made yesterday, I used some fabric from my favorite Civil War dress within the block which I really enjoyed doing. I gave a lot of thought to the sashing fabric before I began this quilt. I've always picked out the sashing after all the blocks were done and this time I decided to pick out a light colored sashing so that I would be challenged to purposely not use light colored fabrics for backgrounds of the individual blocks as is my norm. I'm trying to step outside of the box a bit, as well as trying to keep to the more Civil War Era practice of using light fabrics for sashing between the blocks. This has led me to some interesting and not quite comfortable for me block and color designs. I also have challenged myself to use Victorian era color sensibilities and not those of the 20th century. All my other quilts have huge contrast, most have light block backgrounds with colorful sashings in between, and using Victorian colors is causing me to pair together fabrics that both/all have serious patterns or interest, and to pair up colors that might not seem to go together, at least in 2007. So far, when the blocks are viewed one at a time, they are less striking than when paired together.
This is one version of the Yankee puzzle block, and I chose the fabrics because of the block's placement in the first strip of 6 blocks that I'm making, they repeat some colors used a few blocks away in the strip. The quilt will be 6 blocks by 6 blocks, so there will be plenty of opportunity for challenging block designs to spread out the colors in the quilt. I have chosen a few fabrics from my box of fat quarters, then as I have worked and sewn, I've added more from my stash and my scraps but kept the original ones out for further use. That way I'm building on the colors that are already out and on the table and also adding new ones.
This is called the album block, and it needed some bright colors so I added lavenders and gold, which are new additions to the colors so far. I've been challenging myself to make a block a day, but Saturday begins my 10 days of Summer Camp at the Genteel Arts academy and I still have a business to run at the same time, so I'm not expecting to get a block a day done under those circumstances. I have to be clear of mind and not overly tired when I quilt as the cutting and sewing is very exacting so I am not sure when I'll be able to work on it after camp when vacation is over. Still, I enjoy the process as much as the progress, so I'm happy with what I've done and looking forward to what I will do in the future.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Quilt progress

I've been quilting lately. I just am so burned out making dresses and I have no more room in my closet, and I have a lot on my mind and want to sew, so I'm back to quilting. This is a simple "Round the World" quilt that I started last year and I'm finally finished piecing. I put the first row of sashing on the edges and got the next row pieced and ready to apply to the quilt this morning. Hopefully I'll be ready to make the sandwich and get quilting soon.
These squares are from a new quilt that I started last week using Civil War reproduction fabrics. I made this one this morning and it contains fabric from two of my dresses in the block. I've always liked to use fabrics from other things in my quilts, it's like a memory album. This one is called "Card Trick".
This block is called "Jacobs Ladder" though I've seen other names for it as well. This one is pretty subdued to go inbetween the other two blocks. I have to often try to squelch my 21st century color sensabilities and remember that I'm using 17th century fabrics. This type of very calm color combination is more my style, but the others are actually more correct for the Civil War era.
This block is called "Flying Geese" and it's definitely busy! This is more along the lines of most Civil War era quilt blocks, they couldn't be "too" busy during that time. They used whatever fabric that they had left from dressmaking and trading with others in their community, and the more contrast, the brighter the better. I'm not sure yet what I'm making, maybe a crib sized, maybe queen, maybe a table runner...but for now I'm just making blocks and enjoying the process of creation. :)

Union Mills Homestead Reenactment

Here is a shot of my friend Linda and I at the Union Mills homestead. This is the Shriver family homestead and mill that has been turned into a museum with beautiful grounds. The museum foundation and the Shriver family that still lives across the street on the "rest" of the homestead hosted a reenactment this past weekend that was nothing like our unit had done before. Our "brother" Pennsylvania unit represented the Yankees that were resting on the grounds as they had done on the way back from Gettysburg in 1863, and our unit constantly raided them and took prisoners and stole supplies from them. Everyone in both units was fun and the guys really enjoyed "playing". We also got to meet Jim Sr, and Jr of the Shriver family, which is a very old family that has holdings all over the area including Gettysburg, New Windsor, Union Mills, and yes, Maria Shriver (Arnold's wife) and Sergent Shriver from Kennedy fame is part of their clan.
This is the last reenactment for our friends Jim and Kay and their horse "Bobby Lee". He's in the front with two of his friends behind. He really enjoys the reenactments as do the other horses and their people. There were many scenerios in which the horses got to play, and of course, the spectators petted and scratched and loved on the horses when they came into our camp. The connection to the cavalry is historical, as the homestead hosted General JEB Stuart's cavalry as they were on their way to Hanover and Gettysburg prior to the battles in both of those cities in 1863. The original mill and homestead predate the battles by quite a number of years.
Here is a shot of our dismounted cavalry getting ready to go raid the Union camp to steal some supplies. They did raids whenever the thought came to them all day and into the evening, which is definately different than having one set battle for the spectators at a set time. Visitors toured our camps and us ladies talked to them and answered questions and taught a bit of history as well.
A Union Soldier wandered into our camp right about supper time so the cook fed him but Col. Dan made him wear a grey jacket to have his picture taken. He went back to his camp and told everyone that we'd fed him some mighty fine spit roasted beef and they all wanted to surrender to us!
Here's one of the two dismounted Sergents with the new guy Dave. You might notice folks in the background looking into the weeds, eveyone was trying to catch Crawfish in the creek right in back of our camp, we got enough to steam and eat that evening.
General Bruce is the organizer of the Pennsylvania unit and a friend of our Unit. He got killed and or captured so many times on Sunday that we lost count! Everyone had a great time and enjoyed being able to play free form, we are looking forward to next year when the event will hopefully be repeated.

Jenn and the Granddogs

I didn't realize I had this picture on my camera when I uploaded the pictures from this weekend's reenactment, so I have another to share. This is the only one that has all 3 of the granddogs in it, Nutmeg is behind Jenn on the back of the couch, and though it's hard to see him, Milo is lying on the sofa with his head down with Cinnamon on his back. Cinnamon looks like a tiny Rottweiler. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thank you!

Mark and I want to say thank you to Jenn and Michael for their hospitality while we were out visiting. They took us all over the place and I'm sure that it was tiring for them as well as with Jenn being 5 and a half months pregnant. We really enjoyed them and the time we spent with them and we wanted to make sure that they know how much we appreciated everything!
We especially appreciated their sharing the parks with us and the cave, and taking the time to go to the same parks they'd already been to again with us. This is them in the cave at Carlsbad Caverns. They also shared their dogs with us...which was great for both us and the dogs! :)
The day before we left to return home, Jenn and Michael took us around town and took us to put flowers on Mark's older sister's grave at Fort Bliss. This is Jenn helping arrange the flowers that Mark picked out. We're also very happy to report that the kids are planning on coming up to Maryland before they go to Hawaii next month! We can't wait to see them again and feel very lucky that we'll get to see them twice in a month or so's time. Thank you again, Jenn and Michael! :) Love you both, Momy and Mark

Going "Parking" in Western Texas

Mark and I flew out to El Paso on Saturday to visit Jenn and Michael before they move to Hawaii. I haven't seen Jenn since the spring and Michael since January, so it was really nice to see their smiling faces at the airport to pick us up! They took us home and showed us their very nice home and we got to love on the "granddogs" for awhile too. Then it was time to grab the passports and get underway to the National Parks.The first place we went was Chamizal National Monument which Jenn and Meghann had visited together in the spring. It commemerates the changing and moving border of the Rio Grande river which marks the border with Mexico.We filled up with gas and snacks and then headed to White Sands National Monument which is in the middle of the desert. This is a very unusual place, there are huge dunes of white gypsum that looks like sand. We got out and climbed and hiked some of the dunes, though it was very hot out, the sand wasn't hot at all. There were people there that were tubing and boarding down the dunes. There is also a beautiful loop of road made on the sands that takes you right into the middle of the white dunes. It was a neat day capped off by a delicious dinner with the kids.The next morning we got up and after a delicious breakfast that Jenn made, we were underway again. This time we visited the Guadalupe Mountains National Park which contains the famous "El Capitan" mountain. It is a beautiful place made up of peaks left behind from when the area whas actually underwater and a reef. There were a lot of hiking trails but it was over 100 degrees and we also wanted to get to the caves the same day too so we didn't hike.The next stop was Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. It was a nice respite from the heat to get into the cave and enjoy the formations and the naturally air conditioned air! We went into the Natural Entrance and did about a 4 mile hike through the cave including the "big room" which has some of the most spectacular formations of all. This is Michael on the winding path down into the cave entrance. We'd been to several other caves before, we'd seen Mammoth Caves in Kentucky, Cave of the Winds in Colorado, and Luray Caverns in Virginia, but I will have to say that this was probably the most impressive cave in terms of cave formations and sheer beauty and size.
We did a self guided tour with audio recordings and it was really nice. It took us several hours to enjoy the tour. We were going to go into Carlsbad for dinner and then come back to see the bats fly out of the cave at sunset (Jenn and Michael adopted a bat and we wanted to see her) but the weather was dark and threatening thunderstorms so we headed back in the direction of El Paso. The bats won't fly if it is thunderstorming anyway and we didn't want to have to drive back in the weather...actually Jenn and Michael did all of the driving, it was really unusual for Mark and me to sit in the back seat and be driven around!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another busy weekend

Yes, another busy weekend that went by quickly, but since we like our weekends busy, it was perfect! Saturday morning I got up early and worked to get all my shipping ready and out the door. Then it was out to look for more of the fabric and trim items for my Sewing Summer Camp project list. This summer's Summer Camp at the Genteel Arts Academy is all about Civil War era winter outer wear.

Friday night we'd gone to a Joann's Fabrics that was going out of business and I'd gotten a bunch of solid colored broadcloth for linings and dress kick plates, so Friday night I put together everything I had already for the class and compiled a list of everything that I still had to find. I also found some Vintage Vogue patterns of 1940's designs for 1/2 off, so I was very excited. We're starting to get into the WWII era and doing research on the dress of that time, as well as into what my Dad's unit would have worn on their uniforms for Mark's impression.

We stopped Saturday morning at the local Joann's to get a few things and then off we went to the PA Fabric Outlet, which, coincidentally, is right next to a big antique mall. Mark found a pair of Late Victorian era eyeglasses for his Civil War impression, and I got a 40's era hat and a mink wrap a the same antique store, and looked through a lot of vintage clothing learning about different eras, much as I have learned about the mid to late 1800's clothing for women.

I couldn't find any of the fabrics for the 1940's dresses, and I still needed a couple of things for sewing summer camp, so we went from the outlet to my favorite Gettysburg fabric store where the owner showed me all the fabrics of that era (beautiful!!!) and I bought a couple of pieces of Rayon Chalis for the dress patterns I have. It'll be nice to be able to sew a 1940's era dress for less than half of what a Civil War era dress costs to make! And I don't have to wear all those foundation garments either!

We went home and I cleaned in my sewing room and put away everything I'd bought in the past week. I even was able to cut out some baby clothes for the Grandson in the oven...then it was a good night's rest and a fairly early rising on Sunday. We headed out the door on a meandering path to Hagerstown, stopping in old town Mount Airy to have lunch and go antiquing. Some primative sheep for my shelf jumped into my hand so I had to take them home. We stopped everywhere we encountered and looked through the antiques...but it was at an out of the way antique store in Hagerstown that I found a pair of Civil War Eyeglasses and a beautiful 1950's era glass citrus juicer, so I had a couple of finds to come home with!

When we'd been at Needles and Thread on Saturday the owner's husband told us about the big band sound live band that plays at the Pen Mar Park on Sunday Afternoons for free. So we found our way to this beautiful place, just up the hill from where Jenn used to go to summer camp at Camp Lousie. This park was built by the Western Maryland Rail Road as an amusement park and opened in 1877. They have an overlook with benches and an observation deck from which you can see into 4 states. It was a beautiful not very hot day so we picked out a park bench along the side that overlooked the valley below and enjoyed the band and watching people and just bein outside on such a beautiful day.
This is the dance pavillion, notice the attire of the visitors to the dance that day, this picture was taken in the late Victorian era. We really enjoyed watching the folks dancing, it is a perfect place to bring a family and stay the day picnicing and enjoying the music. The band played a mix of modern all the way to Glenn Miller Big Band songs, and they were very good! We stopped in Gettysburg "on the way home" (well really it was out of the way, but not too far out of the way) at Appalacian Brewing Company for a summer salad, perfect way to end the day.