Thursday, September 26, 2013

Deb Rowden ( spoke to my quilt guild the other night. Her inspiring presentation, Thrift Shop Quilts, was about improvised quilts and quilting. Not cut and dried, perfect points quilts, but quilts made before we had rotary cutters, specialty rulers, and glow-in-the-dark plastic templates. Quilts made of old clothes or leftover scraps cut using a pair of scissors that probably needed sharpening 2 years ago.

I have some blocks I purchased in Atlanta a few years ago that fit into this category of "improvised" quilts. If I were to define the blocks, I would say they are Log Cabin blocks. But no two are alike. The size of the strips are all different, and they aren't perfect squares or rectangles. A few of the blocks have the same fabric in the center, but strips around the center appear to be whatever was at hand. Some of the "strips" are actually hems -- hems cut off shirt sleeves, perhaps, and still turned under and sewn.

It is hard to tell how old the blocks are and what era the fabrics came from. An expert in textile history could tell, but I can't. I don't see feed sacks but there are wonderfully bright colors and prints. I'm sure they all came from clothing, so the best resource for dating them may be catalogs and fashion magazines.

After listening to Deb and seeing her quilts, I'm inspired to go ahead and put these blocks together, perhaps with a plain muslin sashing so as not to distract from the blocks and the fabrics. And I want to cut the sashing with scissors, not a rotary cutter, just as the original piecer would have done. I wish I knew who made them, and what they intended to do with the blocks. I hope wherever that person is, they will be happy with the finished quilt.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Here is a sneak peak at one of the quilts in Prized Quilts. The design
is based on a quilt made in 1931 by Mrs. Mary Peck of Omaha.
She made a full size quilt in honor of her son, who was killed in
France near the end of World War I. This small quilt, which can be
hung on a wall or placed on a table, is dedicated to my Uncle Ralph
Simpson who served in the Navy during WWII, and was a survivor
of the attack on the Bunker Hill. Marilyn Carr made the quilt and
Freda Smith quilted it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prized Quilts: The Omaha World-Herald Contests

Here it is!

My latest book from Kansas City Star Quilts hits the shelves this week. The book is about quilt contests sponsored by the Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald newspaper from 1931 to 1940. The exhibits were co-sponsored and held in local department stores. Hundreds of quilts were entered each year and thousands of people came from all over to view the quilts. The book contains a history of the contests and ten patterns redrafted from patterns printed in newspapers during those ten years. Be sure to check it out on

Thank you to those of you who helped put together the lovely quilts in this book: Marilyn Carr, Janiece Cline, Susan Thorup, David Hurd, Donna Simpson, Freda Smith, Janette Sheldon, Lindsay Lawing and Alex Thompson. A special thank you to Shawnee Town 1929 for allowing us to photograph the quilts on location at the museum.