Friday, March 28, 2008

Shaving Cream, who knew?

I just visited YouTube and watched a woman use shaving cream to paint fabric. I went to the site to see a video in connection with Jeanne Williamson's book "The Uncommon Quilter." Her book features 52 projects using everyday materials and found objects, a new kind of quilters recycling!

Here's Trish Stuart:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Civil War quilter's Crown of Thorns

When recalling the Civil War, Georgia, South Carolina, even Pennsylvania spring to mind. These were the scenes of major battles, loss of life, and other than Pennsylvania, antebellum slavery.

But the impetus that catapulted the United States into the bloody civil war focused in a Midwestern location: Kansas. The border between Kansas and Missouri became a battlefield long before the war began in 1861.

By the 1850s, pro-slavery and 'free soilers' or abolition factions were racing to claim the new state of Kansas for themselves. The one with the most population could vote to turn the state toward their own politics so that it could enter the union as a slave or a free state.

Caught in the middle of this were the families. In Barbara Brackman's book Civil War Women, she includes a chapter on Bursheba Fristoe Younger. If you have watched many Westerns -- movies and television, you will have heard of Cole Younger and other outlaws who made the West so wild. Until reading Brackman's account, I didn't realize what motivated those men to turn to such a violent criminal behavior.

Brackman imagines that Bursheba would have chosen the Crown of Thorns pattern to symbolize her "trials in the midst of the worst guerrilla warfare ever to take place in the United States." Perhaps she wouldn't have made hers quite so bright nor set the crowns in this configuration, but as you can see from the photo, it looks like a rather prickly pattern.

Her trials were many. Bursheba's husband, Henry Younger, a good husband by all accounts, promoted slavery in Kansas. He voted in the Kansas territorial elections and was a representative in the first Territorial Legislature which is referred to as the "Bogus Legislature". This legislature held a pro-slavery stance and many members were not Kansas residents.

Once the war broke out, Younger returned to his farm and family only to be targeted as an enemy of the Kansas Free State cause. On July 1862, Henry's dead body was found lying in the road near the Shawnee Indian Mission on the state line. Ironically, the wad of cash found on his body was returned to his wife, eliminating any thought that this was a robbery. It is possible he was killed for the crimes his sons were committing as guerrillas. But their father's death only embittered Cole and Jim and made them more determined to exact retribution.

Bursheba inherited an impressive bit of money and land but with the war, lack of a justice system and outlaws, she couldn't make a profit from the farm Soldiers and bandits stole most of her stock and eventually without Henry, Bursheba lost everything. Federal troops threatened to burn down her house, but they allowed her one more night to spare a sick daughter. The cost -- the next morning Bursheba must put the torch to her own home, which she did.

Probably aided by the guerrillas, she and her four remaining children moved from one relative's house to another, sometimes hiding in the woods and caves along the Little Blue and Sni Rivers, according to Brackman.

In August, 1863, several women died under the rock walls of a collapsing jail where they were being held because of their affiliation with the guerrillas and fugitives. In retribution, 400 Missourians raided the Free-State symbol, Lawrence, Kansas. "In two or three hours, the Missourians murdered 185 men and boys."

Bursheba returned to her home in 1870, but her three sons refused to live within the law. They joined up with some neighbors you may have heard of, the James boys, and robbed banks. Bursheba died at the age of 54, shortly after her youngest son, John, was hung and then cut down just short of death, by a mob trying to get him to tell where his outlaw brothers were.

Crown of thorns definitely would fit the tribulations of one lone woman in a sea of trouble on the Kansas-Missouri border during the Civil War. Although with the wars and turbulence of today, I can see the relevance of the pattern now.

Here's a contemporary paper piecing pattern for the Crown of Thorns by Judy Niemeyer.

Friday, March 14, 2008

CBS Sunday Morning features Ricky Tims and Quilting

This note came in a newsletter from Julie Johnson of DRG Network. She writes the Sewing Savvy newsletter:
The CBS News Sunday Morning program with Charles Osgood will be featuring a segment on quilting. It is scheduled to air this Sunday, March 16, 2008. Be sure to check your local listings for exact times. As it is a news show, there is always the possibility of big news bumping it. However, as of today, March 12, the producers have said, "It is on the schedule for this week!"

CBS News Sunday Morning features beautifully produced, personal human interest profiles. A portion of the program will feature the International Quilt Festival in Houston and a portion of the story will focus on Ricky Tims, his quilting and his music. All quilters and quilt industry professionals are urged to immediately notify friends, family, and quilters they know. Forward this message and use any other means possible to spread the word.

This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for quilters. It will put quilting on the national stage (U.S) for the first time in years.

We also understand that the CBS news website will feature the profile on their website after the show airs so international people will have the opportunity to see it too.

Here is the link for CBS News Sunday Morning -

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not as easy as it looks

I've been sewing since I was a child. I've been sewing well since a teenager. As a young wife and mother I made most of my family's clothing -- out of necessity and just for fun. But I haven't sewed now for several years, maybe a decade, maybe longer. I have tried a few small projects -- fabric bowls, an Irish Chain quilt, a Christmas wall hanging.... That's about it.

So this past weekend I put a new audio book on the CD player and started cutting and sewing together an Ohio Star quilt complete with appliqued hearts.

First of all, I couldn't decide on the fabrics. What colors to use and where and why? Purple? Blue? Monochromatic? Two-tone? Scrap? Then I pulled out some patriotic fabrics --red, white and blue stars, flags, variations on that theme. And that solved my color and fabric dilemma, I'd make a patriotic wall hanging. Not that I need one. Not that I'll even hang it for more than a few days each year, yet, I liked the idea of it. I felt it was doable. So I started cutting out squares and quarter-triangles while listening to David McCullough's book John Adams. Great book by the way and soon to be released as an HBO mini-series. The book and quilt seem to be following a similar theme.

But I digress.

I snipped and measured, sewed and ripped and sewed and sewed and ripped. And the poor Ohio Star that developed -- well, lets just say some parts fit better than others. Some of the triangles fit together giving the little block a waistline. Not a good thing.

I discovered that printing out a pattern off of the Internet comes with some problems. Some size problems. It seems that just because it is printed off of a page that has the right sized pattern, doesn't guarantee that the printed pattern will be true to size.

So I got out my trusty copy of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes
with their carefully prepared patterns and instructions.

I would love to say that the quilt fell together and I am finishing it up. But what I have is an Ohio Star laid out with all of the pieces in the proper places, awaiting a trip to the sewing machine. But first I must work up the nerve to give it another try. It is the first hurdle. Just do it. Don't try to channel Hollis Chatelaine or Kaffe Fassett or Ruth McDowell -- just sew for the joy of sewing.

It has been too long since I did that. But, I'm looking forward to that -- not the quilt, not the wallhanging, not even mastering the basic Ohio Star pattern. But sewing simply for the joy of it. It has been too long.