Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Archive for the ‘Vintage & Antique’ Category

Let’s Talk Singer

I wonder sometimes, how our grandmothers found the time to make such fantastical hand stitched quilts, when I often find myself, with all the modern conveniences, unable to accomplish much of anything.  Busy with a full time job, grandchildren, and church activities, I just wanted to sit this week out.  I picked up a book to read and surfed through my social media sites.  I do have a head cold, which may be impacting my choices.   But, this week held little chance of accomplishing much stitching.  I only prepared a few pieces for basting and took them on a weekend trip to keep occupied in the car.  That’s the extent of my stitching.

So, in order to entertain my readers, I am highlighting another favorite quilter topic: sewing machines.  Who among us quilters doesn’t love to check out the latest machines or find antiques worth collecting.  Although few in number, my collection is unique.  All of my older machines are Singer brand.

I grew up sewing on a Singer.  When I got married, my husband purchased me a sewing machine for our first Christmas.  It was a portable Singer that now sits inside a sewing machine cabinet; and my eldest granddaughter is learning to sew on it.


sewing the pillow together

My husband also purchased me a Singer Featherweight as a 25th anniversary gift.  It’s a 1951 centennial edition.  It stitches nice, but I haven’t used is so much.


I learned to love sewing from my Grandma Smith.  She sewed clothes and other things; some quilts. My Mom didn’t really have an interest, but my Grandma was very creative.  She taught my older sister to knit and me to crochet.  We both started 4H together and began sewing clothing. I still remember walking through the fabric section of Newberry’s, a local variety store, touching the fabric and dreaming what I would stitch.  The Singer we used at home was an older machine that Grandma gave us to use, while she purchased herself a new one.  Later, she purchased a Singer Athena 2000, the first electronic sewing machine on the market back in 1975.  I acquired the Athena from my Grandma’s estate, along with the beautiful cabinet she purchased with the machine.  Although I’ve only done a little bit of sewing on it, it has a lot of sentimental value.

Athena2000 & case

Several years ago, I came across a Singer treadle at a yard sale.  I had to purchase it to round out my collection.  It sits in a corner of the front room as an ornamental, conversation piece.

Treadle & Cabinet

I know a quilter that likes to refurbish antique machines and sew on them.  I really have no interest in using the treadle.  I may use the other sewing machines from time to time, but I would rather do my sewing on my Bernina virtuosa 155.  I do everything on this machine, including free motion quilting.  Could I afford it, I would upgrade to the latest version.  But, my wish list is to purchase a Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen.

Happy Stitching…on whatever sewing machine you own.



Rose of Sharon Study Quilt

I am working on a Rose of Sharon quilt for the 2014 American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) quilt study. If you are not familiar with a study quilt, check out the guild website to see the Colonial Revival quilt study from 2012. I had read about the quilt study and wanted to get involved with one when I finally joined the AQSG two years ago. I submitted a  participant release form that placed me on a waiting list. This particular study is very popular. Then, I had to find an inspiration quilt that represented the quilt study period of 1850-1865. This quilt can be recreated or inspire a design that must meet certain guidelines. Earlier this year, some of the participants dropped out of the study, so now I am among the fifty quilters that will have the opportunity to present my study quilt at Seminar in September.

I chose my inspiration quilt last Spring and received permission to use it for the study. The inspiration quilt is in the permanent collection of the DAR Museum in Washington D.C. You can view the quilt on The Quilt Index at the following link. The quilt was made in Missouri for Mary Ann Poindexter, who married Dr. John Marshall Staples on September 30, 1852. Her mother and sisters made the quilt. It is dated 1852, so it easily falls within the guidelines for the study. Unfortunately, Dr. Staples died during the Civil War and Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth presented her sister with the quilt on the occasion of her marriage to Parks Gunn in 1872.

I have been preparing the applique shapes over the last couple of days so that I can finally applique the blocks. Here are the pieces laid out in the pattern design.

Rose of Sharon applique parts

Rose of Sharon applique parts

Rose of Sharon is a popular applique pattern that has many variations. It is one of many patterns with a biblical name, derived from a verse in Song of Songs, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Ruth Finley states in her book Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, page 126, “The best known appliqué pattern of all was “The Rose of Sharon”. Many examples of the quilt still survive simply because they were made as special quilts that did not receive frequent use. Most often, the pattern was made as a wedding quilt, the last of a young woman’s dowry of thirteen quilts. My quilt uses an earlier version of the Rose of Sharon pattern that has a single stemmed rose with several rosebuds radiating out from the central flower. The inspiration quilt used red, pink and green fabrics, but I chose to use two shades of pink. The study quilt will be a four-block design with a swag border, more simplistic than the swag border in the inspiration quilt.

Center Rose Applique

Center Rose Applique

One of the first quilts that I made back in 1981 was a Rose of Sharon pattern. I used a newer pattern design with a center flower and mirror images of vines with rose buds and leaves coming out from the four sides of the center rose. This design is often seen in vintage quilts and is more often made with shades of pink fabric. My first Rose of Sharon quilt was poorly constructed using a raw edge satin applique stitch. Cotton solid fabrics were not readily available in the early 80’s and I did not know any better than to use the cotton/poly blends found in my local five and dime store that sold fabrics. The quilt did not hold up well with continued use by the recipient, my sister. For this reason, I chose to make the Rose of Sharon pattern for my study, so that I could utilize my improved applique skills to produce the quilt. This time around Kona cottons are my choice of fabric. I am also hand stitching the applique pieces, although I plan to machine quilt the finished top.

I have a lot to do before this quilt needs to be finished, but feel confident that it will go quickly. Hand applique is my favorite method of stitching and the portable quality of the project will allow me to take it wherever I go. The next step is to cut out the four white background blocks and position the pieces onto them for stitching. As well, I have to finish my Written Statement to submit within the next month.

I know that many of you enjoy challenges. This is actually my third type of quilt challenge this year. Having a deadline helps me stay focused on finishing a project. How about you? Do you prefer working with deadlines or working along at a leisurely pace?

I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress.

Happy Stitching!


I know, I know, it’s April. But, I was only just able to finish the March Block of the Month (BOM) for my Galaxy quilt. The patterns are for members only of the National Quilting Association. This month’s block utilized two different techniques – handwork and machine applique. The star points utilized a stitch and turn technique that formed the star points, while the center is a hexagon constructed using a paper template. The pattern was published by Andover Fabrics, who granted permission to the NQA to use it in the quilt. I chose to machine applique the star using a blanket stitch. I hand appliqued the center, but added a blanket stitch for appearances. The block construction is taught by certified teacher, Ruth Ann Johnson, of West Virginia.

March BOM - NQA

March BOM – NQA

This month’s star block pattern is the Savery Friendship Star. The original quilt was made by Elizabeth Hooten (Cresson) Savery and friends in Philadelphia, PA in and dated 1844. The quilt measures  83-1/4 X 80 inches. The quilt was made of cotton and linen fabrics using the English template method, and the center hexagons were inked with signatures and drawings. The quilt was gifted to the American Folk Art Museum by Marie D. and Charles A. T. O’Neill. You can read more about the quilt and other Quaker quilts HERE. I’m considering adding my signature to the center hexagon.

The block was fun to make and a change of pace from the sewing activities of late. You may have noticed my recent post about prayer cloths. I continued making more of these, along with two cotton skirts for my sister to wear on her mission’s trip. She departed on Thursday to catch a flight in Chicago and has been in Haiti since last night. So, now I am back to my regular sewing projects. This afternoon, I hope to baste my SewBatik challenge quilt and begin the FMQ. I choose not to provide any pics of this project, since it will be entered into the NQA challenge later in May. At that time, I will reveal my final project, the results of which I am very pleased.

Hope that you find time to do something quilty today. Happy Stitching!

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