Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jewel Box Quilt Block

I always look forward to the 25th of each month to see what block will be next in the lineup with Blogger's Block of the Month.
It's like opening a package on Christmas morning to see what designer will be contributing to this fun Quilt-A-Long.
LinkBlock #9 (May) is designed by the amazing Cathy Underhill of Cabbage Quilts.
I love EVERYTHING (and I mean EVERYTHING) Cathy makes.
When I first started Cactus Needle several years ago, Cathy was one of the first blogs I started to follow.
It was through Cathy that I first viewed quilts made with beautiful Kaffe fabrics, and fell in love with his designs.
Cathy has been so giving and I have learned much from her.
Even though she lives half a world away in Australia, I wish we could be over the fence, next door neighbors.
The gift of social networking seems to makes that semi-possible.

Cathy's design block is a Jewel Box.
I pulled out my Kaffes to play.

I love using his polka dots and shot cloths for backgrounds.

I now try to make 2 blocks each month, and love seeing how each one differs with various fabric combinations.
Although, I did choose the same fabric for both centers of the blocks.

If you would like a tutorial on Jewel Box, or would just like to view all the wonderful things Cathy creates, make sure to visit her over at Cabbage Quilts.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hexagonal Star Quilt

So many times when I have looked at a vintage quilt without a label, I have wondered what story it would tell if the quilt could talk.
That is why it feels like such a precious possession to know of quilts that stay within a family, and are handed down complete with stories, from generation to generation.

Hexagonal Star owned by Beverly Brower
Hand pieced and hand quilted by her grandmother in the 1950's.
Shown at the 7th Annual Art of Quilting Show, Gilbert Museum, AZ.

Beverly shared "This quilt my grandmother made and used on her bed for many years. She purchased the fabrics from old Woolworth stores. I recall as a young child riding with Grandma on the bus when we went downtown to shop at Woolworth's. While there, she would usually treat me to a coke."
What happy memories!

I was not as familiar with the term Hexagonal Star in quilting.
It's clear to see the hexagon in each center, and also the large hexagon in white background fabric that forms around each 6 points of the star.
In researching the term, I discovered that there is great symbolism in the Hexagonal Star.
"The star is a combination of 2 triangles, one is pointing upward and the other is pointing downward. It is the symbol of union by man and God. The upward triangle represents man, the downward triangle represents God. This is the symbol of oneness of God and Man."
Do you think Beverly's grandmother might have selected this design for it's symbolic meaning?
Have you ever made a quilt to represent a personal belief?

On a tier above Hexagonal Star, hung another vintage star quilt:
Eight Points Star
Shown by Martha Bauder
Made by her great-grandmother Mrs. Conrad Neeb
(from the era when women were identified by their husband's name)

"Around the turn of the 20th Century, my great-grandmother came into possession of a treadle sewing machine. She used it to make several quilts. My mother said that when she was a young girl she saw this quilts and others on beds in her grandmother's house. The quilt was handed down to my grandmother, who gave it to my mother, who gave it to me in the mid-1990's.

You can see that a combination of hand quilting and machine stitching was used to complete the quilt.

I loved seeing the writing that still appears in various background fabrics

Eight Points Star, along with it's story, has held prominence through 4 generations.
What a heritage for this family!
Hopefully it will continue to be passed down and appreciated to the next generation, and the ones that follow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Small Flower Garden Quilt

Every year from March through May the Gilbert Historical Museum (Gilbert, Arizona) hosts a quilt show.
The quilts range from Modern to Vintage, and it's always a treat to walk along the halls and peruse the selections.

I'm always drawn to the Vintage, like this Small Flower Garden quilt (1925-1930) shown by Evelyn Sparks.
Made for her by her maternal grandmother Josephine King.
I especially liked the choice of orange for the background.

The quilts at the show are carefully hung on these beautifully hand made displays allowing an close up view.

Another feature that I really enjoy about the show is the detailed histories that are displayed with each quilt.
Evelyn shared some interesting qualities about Small Flower Garden, which was not only hand pieced and hand quilted, but also contains batting that was hand carded by her grandmother.
It reminded me of how fortunate we are today to be able to run to the store for our batting.
Can you imagine how long it would take to create a quilt if we had to "make" our batting, too?

Evelyn shared "Carding is done by combing tufts of fiber, such as cotton or wool, using two flat hand held boards which have closely placed steel wire pins on one side.
The combing process cleans, stretches, and separates the fibers into a uniform batt."

This gives a new appreciation for how labor intensive it was to make quilts for prior generations.
No rotary cutters, or Olfa self healing mats to help in the construction process, either.

Often Grandmother Flower Garden quilts are quilted around the hexagons.
Evelyn chose to quilt straight through in diagonal lines with her cotton thread.

It was so relaxing to walk through the artfully displayed rooms of the Gilbert Museum, which originally housed the old Gilbert Elementary School built in 1913.
In upcoming posts I will share with you more of the quilts on display from this year's show.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lord Grantham For Congress

Who would have guessed.
Right here in Chandler, Arizona, Lord Grantham is running for Congress.
He will get my vote for sure!

After just finishing Season 2 of Downton Abbey, I've learned to trust Lord Grantham (The Right Honorable Robert Cawley, Earl of Grantham) to do the right thing.

(Hugh Bonneville)
Oh, wait, that was 1911.
Do you think this Travis might be the next heir pre-sumptive?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rows of Festive Cheers

I'm finally to the point where I can now sew rows of half hexagons together for Festive Cheer.

Rows and rows of half hexagons.

Because I opted to paper piece the half hexagons, the blocks are too heavy to place up on the design wall.
The floor of our dining room has become the "layout" space.
Mr. Cactus is being patient with the step over and around mess.
In between work, church and family commitments, it may take another week to get all the rows completed and sewn together.

This has been such a wonderful pattern to use up scraps of green from my stash baskets.
Eventually, all of the centers will filled in with an appliqued circle.

Festive Cheers was designed by Victoria Findley (Bumble Beans) and the pattern can be found in the Quilt Almanac 2012 Edition

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Modern Chevron Baby Quilt Finish

It always feels so good to have a finish on a quilt.

Modern Chevron Baby is now quilted, bound and washed for a special little boy.

Pattern and free tutorial by Kirsty of You Had Me At Bonjour
All of the blues and neutrals came from scraps in my stash.
A fun way to use up what you have kind of quilt.

I even followed Kirsty's suggestions of a straight line echo for the machine quilting.
Easy breezy.
Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.

I'm pleased with how the stitching showed up on the pieced back, too.

The geometric lines really work well for a guy quilt.
Chevron Baby will be mailed off this week as a present for a special friend.
Welcome to this world little Bennett!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Do You Pin Your Quilts?

When I met with Steph's group last week, it was the perfect opportunity to pin my Baby Chevron quilt.
We met at their church, which has large tables that can be pushed together, creating a nice flat space.

I like pinning on tables, which are closer to eye level, and much more comfortable than getting down on the floor.

I stretch the backing taut, and tape it down with an easily removed Painters blue Masking Tape to hold the fabric in place.
Sandwich with the batting and top in layers, and the quilt is ready to pin.

How do you pin your quilts?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tossed Nine Patch and More

Quilts bring comfort in many forms.
Most of the quilts shared during Show and Tell in May with our guild Nimble Thimbles were made as gifts for family members.

Barb recently lost her brother, and as part of the healing, she is constructing tribute quilts for his children.
Pieces of her brother's clothing were incorporated amidst the orange and blue, for his son who is a Florida Gators fan. The backing is a Gators print.

Pattern: Tossed 9 Patch by Eleanor Burns Quilt In A Day.

Sometimes we work outside our box when family members request a quilt.
We often spend hours hunting for fabrics that we hope will match their tastes.

Delores will present this quilt to her sister who loves florals.

The 2 blocks in this quilt really are simple with a 9-patch and Square In A Square.
Very nice use of contrast, as your eye goes from light to dark.

Beautifully quilted.

The black background really helps these flying geese pop.

Kathy joined Bonnie Hunter (Quiltville) for her Orca Bay 2011 Mystery Quilt Along

Lots of little itty bit and pieces in red, white and blue.
A great stash buster.
One of the things I love about Bonnie's patterns is her use of scraps to make the most interesting designs.
She has a wonderful way of letting the color do the talking rather than the fabric or print.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Yesterday I showed you a picture of Stephanie (Stuph From Steph) working away at her machine next to tiers of fabrics.
What could those possibly be?

No... they are not a layer cake...

...or even a fancy roll of toilet paper.
(although this picture does kind of look like that)

If you look closely you will notice that Steph has cut lots and lots of Chenille into strips, sewn the strips together and then rolled them into circular buns.
Why, you may ask?
I'll give you another hint:
They are going to be cute, because everything Steph makes is very cute!

Let me introduce you to
Oops! Burp Cloths
"Protect yourself in style"
Perfect for those moments when a baby has spit up, drooled, or had a runny nose.

Oops! come in many colors and styles.
There are the girl versions in pink or the boy versions in blue.

Or if you have a wild baby, there jungle prints and even a camo version for the hunting type.

My favorite are the pink frilly ones, embellished with this darling floral trim.
Oops! make wonderful baby shower gifts.

For more information, Oops! can be ordered by e-mailing Stephanie at
or visit her blog