Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A new blog look, a new location!

We've finally moved into and established our new home in a new state, and created a new studio, business name and cards.  And with a couple of new, local customers - and a couple of 'old', loyal ones - I'm feeling regenerated, reenergized and grateful.

Other than these changes, what else is new?  After retrofitting my Gammill Classic Plus to a computer-guided machine a few months ago, I have redefined my services.  I'm offering computer-guided machine quilting as well as free-motion quilting.  Why?  Short answer: because I can.  The long answer is because I am trained at both: 7 years hand-guided, free-motion and 1 year computer-generated.  My Statler colleagues wonder why I haven't totally converted to their way of thinking.  Short answer: I'm an independent thinker.  Long answer is because my passion is quilting design from the heart and not from the computer screen. Oh, don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that computer design has to come from somewhere.  But I pass the 'middle man' and go direct from heart to textile.  I'm thrilled at being able to offer all kinds of choices to my customers, though.  It is, after all, their choice.

What remains the same?  I hope you'll agree that the personalized service, professionalism and quality continue.  

Some things never change.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Vintage Series IX: Improved (Glorified) Nine-Patch

We return to the Carriage House...

...today to talk about the Improved Nine-Patch quilt.  The Nine-Patch shown in this post is one made by my paternal Grandmother, which I inherited through a series of family events. But mainly my cousin had far too many heirloom quilts than she could store, and I became the blessed recipient.

On to a more general history - a place we've visited before on '30's quilts but let's review: Quiltmaking experienced a huge surge in the 1930s. In her book Treasures from the ’30s, prolific designer Nancy Mahoney explains why: 

“During the thirties, times were hard and ‘waste not, want not’ was a common mantra. Bragging rights were often based on the clever use of a discarded item. Women prided themselves on their resolve to make do with less."

"The national quilt revival of the 1930s provided many with a creative way to do just that. Beyond creating something practical, quilting also provided a means for women to contribute to the household’s shrinking income. Many women saw an increasing demand for their needle arts and started their own home-based businesses, enjoying success and even financial independence."

"By 1934 most metropolitan newspapers featured articles on quiltmaking, with the quilt article as the most popular Sunday feature. Some newspapers featured a quilt block with templates that could be clipped and saved; others featured a block drawing and offered a full-size pattern for 10 or 15 cents.” 

On February 28, 1933, Nancy Cabot introduced the Improved (or Glorified) Nine Patch quilt block to her readers in the Chicago Tribune. 

The nine patch block is "improved" by stretching the four corners and adding "melon shaped pieces at two opposite sides," she explained.  When pieced with the melon shapes at each side, a ring pattern emerges.  

Other names people have suggested for the pattern are Wedding Ring Nine Patch and Glorified Nine Patch.  A more circular version of this quilt is found in Brackman's book, "The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns". She gives it the following names; Improved Nine Patch, Circle Upon Circle, Four Leaf Clover, Nine Patch Variation and Bailey Nine Patch. 
On patternsfromhistory.com, there were ways suggested to make this quilt today.  Though the pattern has been changed slightly so that it would be easier to make using a sewing machine, there is really no quick way to do it.  But by dividing the pattern into blocks with the two halves of the curved block edges sewn together it will be easier to piece.  You will be cutting your fabric piece by piece using templates just like our ancestors did. 
You will find the templates for a 12 inch version of this quilt at Hanna's Quilt (patternsfromhistory.com/colonial_revival/hannas_quilt.pdf).  

If you decide to do this quilt by hand you might want to use the full biconvex shape like Hanna did. Find the template here:  patternsfromhistory.com/colonial_revival/hannas_edge.pdf.

Even if you don't create a historical masterpiece, I hope you enjoyed taking a step back into time by reading this post!  You're always welcome to post a comment or contact me (See "Contact Me" tab).

Monday, April 28, 2014

Vintage Series VIII: "The Utilitarian Diamond"

We are visiting the Carriage House 
once again in our
Vintage Series!
This week we have the pleasure
of talking about what I call
"The Utilitarian Diamond"...

 ...because of the way the vintage cottons in this quilt have been utilized.  Though diamonds are more difficult to quilt I believe the fabric has been used to create a utility quilt; one that can be used for any purpose.

I love these fabrics!  It makes you want to snuggle underneath and read a book in this window seat - with its lovely view of the Carriage House.

If anyone can find a more complete history of this elongated diamond pattern, I would really like to hear it, as well as publish it on my blog at a future date.

When I found this quilt top antiquing, I knew it was going to be freehand quilted in feathers.  Me; the incurable romantic.

Thank you once again for coming with me for a quick glimpse of another good old quilt.
Until next time!

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Queen and her Court" III; the first "Queen" digitized!

My third "Queen and Her Court"!!!   I'll admit to the poor photography of this expertly appliquéd and pieced quilt.  But I had to post whatever pictures did turn out because it was another exquisite quilt that enabled the application of digital design (computer-guided quilting).

Although the background, appliqué and SID (stitching-in-the-ditch) areas were done freehand because of the precise detailing required, all the borders and blocks were digitized.  

Even some background sections were digitized.  See the four-square tan blocks, below.  You can also see a better section of computerized quilting done in the pink border.

Clients sometimes leave the quilting design up to me, such as in this quilt.  My inspiration comes from the fabric.  It whispers to me - sometimes even shouts - what I need to quilt on it. The fabric in this quilt shouted Victorian curls, scrolls and leaves.  So that's what I quilted.
For (better) photographs of a wedding "Queen and Her Court" I pieced, appliquéd and quilted for our daughter and son-in-law, click on my "Quilt Gallery" on this blog. (If you're reading this via email, click on ppatchworks.blogspot.com to get to my blog and then click on my "Quilt Gallery").  The quilt is featured at the top of the Gallery.  The designs were chalked in by hand using a small lap-sized light box, then quilted using my hand-guided Gammill (pre-computerized retrofit) - the 'old' way!!!! Was the digitized way shown in this post easier? Hmmm.  Not at first.  A learning curve is always difficult.  The design is done mostly on a computer screen, and the computer quilts the results.  The results will only be correct if you've created it with the computer correctly! That's the hard part.  But now that I have computerized quilting somewhat 'under my belt', I have to say it is easier...on the body.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Vintage Series VII: The "Depression Era" Butterfly

With trees and flowering bushes springing forth buds, one can't help but keep a watchful eye for the first butterfly.  Perhaps we're a bit anxious.  Spring in the Rockies always brings heavy, wet snow.  So for now we'll be content to talk about butterflies in fabric form; specifically the 'Depression Era' Butterfly quilt.  According to Barbara Brackman in her essay entitled, Frugal and Fashionable: Quiltmaking During the Great Depression, "all quilt collectors are familiar with what are often called Depression Quilts. The quilts are recognizable because of their color scheme, a scrappy collage of pastel prints and plains, pulled together with plain white cotton as the neutral shade. 
A collection of stereotypes clings to Depression Quilts and their makers. As the name implies, the quilts are believed to be a product of the Great Depression that lasted from 1930 to 1940. Quilts were popular during hard times because quiltmaking was a cheap hobby that made use of small scraps left over from other sewing. Makers often incorporated feedsack fabrics, which appear today to be the ultimate in recycling and frugality. The quilts were made to keep families warm during times when blankets were a luxury.  Although there is some truth to each of these frugal stereotypes, the current research being conducted across America by quilt projects indicates that our view of Depression Quilts is far too narrow. Even the name is wrong, as there is much evidence that the fashion for making scrappy, pastel quilts dates to about the mid-1920s and the style persisted until about the 1950s.

By the time the Depression had arrived, quiltmaking was well established as a hobby for rural and urban women of all classes. The scrap look to these quilts can be explained by a fashion for a variegated look that is also found in the dishware of the times [i.e. Fiesta ware].  In quilts the scrappy look was as much a trend as frugality. In fact, a large number of small pieces is an indication of the quiltmaker’s access to abundant fabric. One could purchase the scrap look. Many magazines advertised packets of small scraps and factory cut-aways. Sears, Roebuck and Company sold a box of cotton prints with patterns like the Double Wedding Ring and Grandmother’s Flower Garden that made the most of the small pieces. Many scrap-look designs like the Trip Around the World, the Butterfly and the Fan were sold as kits with ready-cut pieces. Most people see printed feedsack fabrics in the Depression era quilts as more evidence of poverty, but the recycled print feedsacks were more prevalent during the wartime fabric restrictions of the 1940s."

 The quilt in this post began as vintage butterfly blocks, which I machine-pieced together with feedsack and vintage cotton sashings and borders, and then quilted freestyle using my long arm.  It's so pleasurable to finish a project started by someone so long ago.
Until next time!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Luck 'O the Irish!

 Be the first to
read this post and receive a 17% discount on quilting services!*
Why 17%?
It's St. Patty's Day!
*Edge-to-edge quilting services only on one quilt top, any size.
Response must come before the end of March, 2014 and 
quilt top must also be delivered before the end of March.
Ponderosa Patchworks reserves the right 
to determine completion date.
Only one customer to receive this discount - the first who responds.
See my "Contact Me" tab on this blog to contact me...FIRST!

The kit displayed in this post is available for purchase!  Click on my Products tab on this blog for more information.  
"A Best Friend is like a four leaf clover;
Hard to find, lucky to have".
Irish Proverb

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

'Little Quilts Squared' Are Back!

These adorable patterns are again
available at
Ponderosa Patchworks.
There are 17 simple patterns in all,
each making a 12 x 12 mini-quilt.
The patterns are thematic - 
the Love Bird pattern in this post 
could be used for 
Valentine's Day or anniversaries, 
and is displayed 
on a Single Scroll Stand with
a heart header.
The best part?  
You get to use your scraps 
to make them uniquely yours!
More info, click on Products tab. 
To order:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


You start with a vintage quilt top.
Quilt it.
Buy a cool jacket pattern.
Cut it out, and sew it together.

I'm not sure what got into me to make a quilted jacket.  I just knew I wanted the end result to be something other than a quilt. Something useful.  It's what repurposing is all about.
After retrofitting my Gammill with a Statler-Stitcher last summer, I had to learn how to use it.  This requires fabric. I had an old, less-than-perfect quilt top in my closet that had been waiting for decades to be finished.  So it seemed a great solution.

Using an Indygo Junction pattern I found at a local quilt shop, I started cutting the completed quilt.  It's always difficult for me to cut a perfectly good quilt into pieces, no matter how confident I am that I'm doing the right thing!  But cut away, I did, thinking to myself I hadn't made an article of clothing since...since...I couldn't remember when.  Oh, I felt REAL confident, let me tell you!!!!

I chose the Indygo pattern because it was simple - and not only because I hadn't sewn in awhile - but because it suited the genre of quilt I was using.  The instructions did NOT tell me how to bind the entire jacket, so some steps were taken blindly.  I hope to find a pair of buttons antiquing that will fit this jacket better, but for now, it'll do.

The pattern pieces are perfect for this type of construction: all one piece for the front, and all one piece for the back - no separate sleeve pattern pieces.  So I knew exactly how to place the pattern onto the quilt to get the fabrics I wanted in the finished jacket.

In the future, when I make another quilted jacket,  I'll pin the front and back pattern pieces together at the shoulder, cut the jacket fabric, load it onto the machine (just like a quilt top), and quilt a symmetrical design.  When I unload the finished piece, all I have to do is trim around the jacket (just like a quilt top) and sew the seam under the arms. Voila!  Wear!

Did I stop there?  No!  I was having so much fun I had to make a purse, too.  I had just enough quilted pieces to make a companion purse.  I didn't use a pattern.  I just used the dimensions of my sewing machine cover and sewed away.  Why?  When this purse isn't on duty as a...well...purse, it serves a second purpose to being my sewing machine cover. Totally cool.  That's repurposing.

To make the tab enclosure I used the pattern piece from the jacket.
They go together like peas and carrots!  But using them together is a bit too coordinated for me.  I usually use the purse separately from the jacket.  But they do make good companions.  
It's sheer pleasure working with such cheerful fabrics on cold, snowy days...

Scraps was all that was left of the full-sized quilt I started with before making a jacket and purse. Though what I have pictured here may look like a lot, it's not.  It's mostly strips and odd shapes that wouldn't even make a bikini. But no worries.  I'm not going there.  (Phew).

The next time you make another quilt, think out of the box to make it into something other than a quilt.  You'd be surprised at what you might end up with.
These photos were taken at the Treasure Shoppe, one of my haunts in town where you indeed can find treasures of collectibles and antiques.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Country Sampler of Quilting Technique

The perfect sampler 
to demonstrate
 the "new style of quilting" at 
Ponderosa Patchworks!

There's been a merging of hand-guided and computerized stitching at Ponderosa Patchworks.  This adorable sampler is a great way to showcase it.  Because of its fine appliqué and open background (seen at right with the bird, vine, flowers and leaves) a hand-guided technique is required.
What is meant by a 'hand-guided technique'? Notice the stitching around each appliqué and in the background  - it's no different than what I've done with my Gammill Classic Plus before retrofitting with the Statler-Stitcher.  But getting there is different.  Now, I 'drop the belts' and stitch in regulated mode. 
Why stitch hand-guided when you have a computerized machine?  For one thing, it's the most accurate technique in this given setting.  Bottom line: I crave hand-guided quilting. It's what I call driving with the top down on a '57 Chevy convertible. Sweeet. 

Some computerized block and row treatments. Quilting using the computer still takes time, but now the design is done on the computer screen instead of directly on the fabric. Fascinating.

Quilting never felt so good!