Friday, May 19, 2017

Quilt Caretaker

When a quilter gets to the age when they can no longer take care of themselves, and has to relinquish their worldly possessions, I think it's sad when that quilter has no-one to whom they can pass on their quilts.

I recently was given the opportunity to acquire some quilts by just such a quilter. Two of the quilts were very finely made, but in very poor condition. The third quilt was also very finely made - beautifully hand pieced and hand quilted with very tiny stitches. There is definitely some wear, but overall I decided it was a keeper. 

Here is a photo of the quilt I have adopted - the red and white Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, which I have paired with my Carolina Lily quilt, made by my paternal Grandmother. According to my mother, Grandma made two quilts in her lifetime - this one, beautifully constructed and hand quilted, and another quilt which she traded for a piece of furniture!

Back to the Robbing Peter to Pay Paul quilt - besides some fraying in the binding, and a few small tears, there were some brown spots, which I was mostly able to remove with Vintage Textile Soak. However, there was one spot on the quilt which I felt needed tending to. There is a hole that goes completely through all layers, as if it was poked with a rod.

I decided to patch the hole on both the front and the back. I am the lucky owner of my maternal Grandma's scrap bag (Grandma was born in 1896, so she had a nice time span of scraps). I got out her scraps, and was happy to find a scrap of solid red that was a pretty close match to the red fabric in the quilt, albeit without the wear. I appliquéd a small square of the red fabric to cover the hole on the front of the quilt.

And to patch the back, I used a piece of new homespun.

Here is the quilt back on the chair, with it's new patch. I think it blends well from afar, masking the unsightly hole.

I'm honored to be the caretaker of Lenore's quilt!

Until next time,


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Punch Needle for Spring

Spring is finally here, and I was definitely thinking spring when I stitched my new punchneedle pattern, Faded Blooms. I'll use the pattern for teaching punchneedle embroidery, so I designed it to be rather simple, but using beautiful Valdani threads can make a simple design something special.

Faded Blooms Punch Needle

I'm often asked where I get the frames I use for framing my stitchery. A beautiful frame can enhance any work, and I'm always on the lookout for nice frames when I'm out and about. I've found many beautiful frames at cross stitch/needlework shops, and if I fall in love with a frame, I'll buy it then, even if I don't have a project in mind. Another good place to find frames is antique shops. I've found frames that have already been "upgraded" with a fresh coat of paint. Just a few weeks ago I purchased a very nice frame that I will be painting myself.

The frame I used for "Faded Blooms" is one that I put together myself. I had some leftover wood rope molding and glued it to a purchased frame from a hobby shop. I needed a little bit of caulk in a few spots where the pieces of molding joined, so I mixed together a small amount of white glue and baking soda for a do-it-yourself caulk. I then chalk painted the frame and added a coat of dark wax.

One thing to look for when purchasing a frame, is the depth of the opening. I like to use a frame that has a depth of at least 3/8" so that it can accommodate foam core board as a surface to attach my stitchery. Refer to my previous post to see how I frame my needlework archivally:

Even though my frame for Faded Blooms has a rectangular opening, and the punchneedle itself is square, I was able to fill in the space with some vintage buttons stitched to a scrap of beautiful hand dyed Weeks Dye Works parchment linen, and cross stitched to the fabric background. You can always fill in a not quite perfect space with some creative layering of wool, and fabric. So many options!

Until next time!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Holiday Hearts Quilt and Primitive Appliqué

Happy Valentine's Day!

I thought on this day of hearts I would re-post a Primitive Appliqué technique tutorial I first posted on the C & T Publishing blog as a guest blogger, just in case you missed it there.

In my book, Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home, there are many projects that are not just for Christmas, and the "Holiday Hearts" quilt is one of them. If you use the technique that I did, you'll have this quilt finished in no time!

"Holiday Hearts" quilt from Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home

My quilt is based on a block that I found amongst a box of scraps that I inherited from my grandmother.

I loved the folk art design, especially the way the leaves are oriented in opposite directions, and so I decided to create a quilt based on this unusual block design. I also decided to try the same "primitive" appliqué technique that was used in the block. It turned out to be an incredibly fast way to do appliqué. My quilt has been washed, and the appliqué still looks great. The stitching is sturdy, and because it doesn't employ fusibles, my quilt is soft and heirloom quality, looking beautiful for years to come.

To begin, cut your appliqué shape without adding a seam allowance.

Pin baste your shape onto the background fabric. For appliqué, I like to use appliqué pins, either 1/2" long or 3/4" long, depending on the size of the appliqué piece. For the following tutorial, I used 1/2" long pins on one side of the heart, and 3/4" long pins on the other half, so you can see the difference.

Use a #24 chenille needle, embroidery floss or perlé cotton and a blanket stitch to appliqué your shape to the background. Three ply embroidery floss, #12, #8, #5 perlé cotton all work well. For a really chunky look you could even use #3 perlé cotton.

To blanket stitch appliqué, bring your needle and thread from the bottom to the top at the edge of your shape.

Take your next stitch into the appliqué as shown, and up again near the edge, right next to your initial stitch. Keep the thread length (tail) under your needle.

Pull the needle and thread in the direction of your stitch. Don't pull too tightly, or your work will begin to curl. Keep a nice even tension as you stitch.

Take your second stitch. For a pretty stitch, the space between stitches (the length) should be approximately the same as the width of your stitches i.e. if the width of the stitch is 1/4", space your stitches 1/4" away from each other. The size of your stitch is proportional to the size of your shapes. Small appliqué shapes - smaller stitches.

For sharp points, take an extra stitch at the point to secure the stitch and keep it from becoming distorted.

Bring your needle up in back of the stitch to continue blanket stitching the next side of the shape.

Primitive appliqué is a stress free way to do appliqué, resulting in a charming, folk art look to your quilt!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Until next time,


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year! The Year in Review

Happy New Year! I've been an absentee blogger the past few months - maybe my New Year's resolution should be "I will be a better blogger in 2017". LOL!

When I look back on this past year, I'm amazed at all of the things that have happened, or changed, all in one year. Some of those happenings have been personally challenging, but I'll skip those, and just stick to quilty happenings!

First, in 2016, I published my book, Betsy's Scrapbag, the second in the Scrapbag Girl® series in March of 2016. Betsy's Scrapbag is near and dear to my heart, and if you've read the introduction to the book, you'll know why! 2016 marks the 240th anniversary of the year of this country's independence, and I'm so happy that I was able to contribute to the celebration of that very important year, in cloth and thread.

And, to go along with the publication, my registered trademark, Scrapbag Girl® was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Yippee!

A collage of projects from Betsy's Scrapbag by Martha Walker
Next in 2016, my fabric line for Henry Glass Fabrics,  
A Prairie Journal, was delivered to quilt shops in June. When I returned from my big cross country trip in July, I was finally able to start making a bunch of quilts with the beautiful fabric. Some of those projects I've yet to show, and I'll be talking more about those after the first of year.

I have just recently added a free pattern for one of the projects, Prairie Flowers Table Runner, to the website to download. And, I have kits for the table runner, just listed as well:

Prairie Flowers Table Runner

Next up in 2016 came another big happening - --Wagons West Quilt Shop & Studio in Wickenburg, Arizona. I had been wanting to move most of my business out of the house and into a small space where I could teach classes, and house a small shop to carry some of my favorite materials for creating beautiful, quality works of art, in cloth and thread. The opportunity arose, when we stumbled upon a building that had formerly housed another quilt shop, M's Quilting Inspirations, in Wickenburg, Arizona.

If you've never been to (or heard of) Wickenburg, it's just a short drive northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. Here's a link to the Google map:

My husband and I were busy most of the summer getting the building ready to open the shop by November. We're open Fridays and Saturdays, and if you're in the area, please stop by!

Yes, we're small, but we have a very good selection of the hard to find Aurifil Lana wool thread, which I love for wool applique, and I just received a big shipment of beautiful Valdani hand dyed 3 strand floss and Perle cottons. Love! We also have the entire line of Mettler 60/2 cotton thread, which I use for both hand and machine applique, and many times machine quilting. We have wool fabric on the bolt, hand dyed wool fat quarters, and of course, quilt shop only cotton fabric!

I just added the classes that I'll be teaching in January and February of 2017 to my website, and you can register and pay for the classes online. Classes will be small, so please register early if you want to take a class! Click Here for classes.

Check back again to see if I made that New Year's resolution haha!

Until next time,

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Little "Prairie Journal" Progress

I'm continuing to cut and sew fabric from my Henry Glass fabric line, A Prairie Journal, and I thought I would post a few pictures of my progress so far.

First, I put a simple border on the tumbler quilt I started with my strike-offs a few months ago. I didn't have enough sample fabric at the time, so I just needed the yardage to cut a few borders, and sew them on.

A Prairie Journal Tumbler Quilt
What a fun little quilt this was to make!

Next, I machine appliqued a table runner using the strippy vine print from the line.

Prairie Flowers Table Runner
Once the appliques were prepared, it was a breeze to place the shapes and bias vine onto the pre-printed vine.

And lastly, while I was in the machine appliqueing mode, I appliqued four borders to surround the panel from the Prairie Journal line:

That's all for now! Back to sewing!

Until next time,

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Prairie Journal fabric arrival!

This summer I did something I've never done before - drive across the country - and by myself, no less! I had a very exciting destination. I was going to see my new (and first) grandson who was born in June! He was just about to turn 3 weeks old when I finally arrived. Of course, I could have flown to Virginia, but I wanted to see my sister in Oklahoma and my mother in the Kansas City area, so I thought driving would be in some ways easier. It was a great trip (except for the torrential rain on 3 of my driving days).

I left in June, and a month later was back home in July. While I was away, my Henry Glass Fabric collection, A Prairie Journal fabric arrived, so it was here when I got back. It's just beautiful to see on the bolts!

A Prairie Journal
Last week, I was finally unpacked, and ready to cut into the fabric and make my first quilt from the collection. I chose to make the panel quilt first, which is a free project to download you can find on both the Henry Glass Fabrics website and my website. This quilt is made using the panel from the collection, cutting out the large center portion, and the four small floral blocks for the corner sections. It's surrounded by plain borders and broken dishes blocks made from the red and blue coordinates. I'm just in love with the dark teal blue fabric!

Here are the pieces ready to put together:

And the top finished!

A Prairie Journal quilt

I have more quilts to make with the collection, so I'll post more pictures as I get them done.

Back to my trip - while I was in Kansas City, I did a trunk show at Quilter's Station in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Here are a few pictures that I borrowed from the many that their wonderful photographer took, and posted on the Quilter's Station Facebook page.

"Basket Quartet" quilt made from my Studio e Fabric line Elementary
"1776" from Betsy's Scrapbag
"Autumn Stars" from Betsy's Scrapbag
"Bricks and Boughs" table runner from my book Be Merry 

And a few pictures from my drive cross country:

One of my overnight stays both ways was Paducah, Kentucky.
Downtown Clinton, Tennessee
I had heard that Clinton, Tennessee had some good antique shops, so I made a short side trip to do some shopping. I came home with some fantastic goodies from Corner Antiques.

And visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Oklahoma always takes me through the beautiful Cimarron country of Oklahoma:

Gloss (Glass) Mountains

We live in a beautiful country, and I loved seeing familiar places again, and places I've never been to before. It was a great trip, and I miss my new grandson already! But East or West, home is best, and I'm happy to be home and making quilts again!

Until next time,


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Quilter's Station Trunk Show

Flag Day was just a few days ago, and in addition to hanging the stars and stripes on our flagpole outside, I have a year round Flag Day reminder hanging inside - my Flag Day wool applique hanging.

Flag Day is one of the wool applique projects found in my new book Betsy's Scrapbag. I used Aurifil Lana wool threads for the simple whipstitched applique and the embroidered tassels strings. I decided to bind this hanging as I would a quilt, with single fold cotton binding.

If you will happen to be in the Kansas City area on Saturday, June 25th, I will be doing a trunk show at Quilter's Station quilt shop in Lee's Summit, Missouri. I'll be showing all of the projects from Betsy's Scrapbag, as well as all of the projects from Annie's Scrapbag, and a selection of projects from my two Christmas themed books, Vintage Christmas and Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home.

Here are a few of the details:

You can also go to their website to find a map and other details on the Shop News page. I hope to see you there! 

After my Kansas City trip I'll be heading to Virginia to see my first grandson, who was born just yesterday! It will be a great trip, and hopefully I will have pictures to share!

Until next time,