Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Embroidered Challah Cover

      We've been having a little too much winter in our little neck of the woods. The combination of snow, single digit temperatures, and county water issues have interrupted our school year. We've only had five school days this January, and four of those were shortened days.

      Today will be another shortened day.

Sometimes you have to just make the best of things.
     I am thankful we now have usable water. I never realized how many times a day I turned on a faucet until I couldn't turn on a faucet for seven days.  It's an eye-opening experience.

     I'm also thankful for a warm place to call home.  Last night at church, a young man gave a testimony about finding an unresponsive homeless man inside one of the empty homes he was checking out for work.  The homeless man was suffering from hypothermia.  What a reminder of all that I have to be thankful for every day!

On another note . . . .
Here's an acquisition I'd like some help with. I found it tucked in the drawer of a large hutch at an antique store. This is the only time I've ever come across a vintage piece of Jewish embroidery.

I have tried unsuccessfully to research the symbols.
I've had the opportunity to visit Israel,
and have several items from the country. I thought I'd display the piece with these special items.

I'm guessing that this embroidered piece may be a challah cover for the challah bread shared at Shabbat. I've learned several Jewish symbols, but can't seem to recognize these.

I see the bread, the pomegranate, an egg possibly, and what looks like a leg of meat.

Can you help me with this?
  I'd love to understand the Hebrew words and the symbols.

Stay warm!


By the way, our two hour delay has just turned into a full snow day!  Sigh . . . .

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them

Sometimes the best way to learn about vintage linens and needlework is to study books, patterns, and pamphlets from the era of needlework or linens you enjoy collecting. 

I found this delightful book in an Ohio used book store that also had quite a collection of antique and vintage books. 
I've since discovered that the writer Marie D. Webster was quite a successful quilter, researcher, and pattern maker.  In fact, Webster's homeplace in Marion, Indiana now houses the Quilter's Hall of Fame.
My edition by Tudor Publishing Company is one of many. 
In 1990, Webster's granddaughter Rosalind W. Perry released an updated edition of this important quilt book.  Check the link to see quilt pattern books by Perry which feature Mary D. Webster quilt patterns.  (Guess what's getting added to my Amazon wish list!)

Look at this adorable sun bonnet sue quilt. It's one of fourteen color plates included in the1948 book. The quilted fence provides a story detail for these strolling ladies.  Webster suggests using scraps from a little girl's outgrown clothing for the sun bonnet sue dresses.


Notice how the quilt maker used white/light pink for any flowers above the large pink border and switches to pink for any flowers that manage to land on the white inner oval.  It's a subtle design choice that really makes this quilt visually stunning!

The chapter "The Quilt in America" was intriguing to this Appalachian gal. West Virginia, my home state, doesn't even get a mention in her discussion of the rural quilts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina "mountain women." The mountain families are described as illiterate but industrious with women described as hard-working home-makers. (pgs. 73-74)

I don't know if this 1948 edition is "updated" or simply a reprint of the 1915 edition. The illiterate mountaineer reference would have been more reflective of 1915 rather than 1948.

Webster pointed out several stories and facts that I found interesting.  For example, I loved the print and story of the Civil War era  "Virginia Rose".  At one point, this quilt top was buried in West Virginia to hide it from Confederate soldiers. (pg. 128)

She also describes how hand quilters were paid for their work -- by the 200 yd. spool of thread -- not by time.  Quilters could receive anywhere from $1.00 - $5.00 per spool used.  (Again, I am not sure if this fact is a reflection of 1915 or 1948.  I suspect 1915.) ( pgs. 107-108)

I was also completely unaware of the practice of poorer quilters during the whole-cloth quilt tradition of the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Apparently, poorer quilters turned over their colored patchwork quilts to exhibit the muslin backings on "top".  This turning over of the quilt made the bed appear to be covered by a white-work beauty. Webster suggests that this practice probably destroyed numerous quilts. (pgs. 86-88)

I'm not sure how this practice wore out these quilts.  Webster doesn't explain.  (It was probably obvious during her day.)  Perhaps having the white side exposed on the top allowed dirt and wear that would not have been as noticeable on colored patchwork.  The muslin backing would also not have been as strong and lasting a fabric as the patchwork made from enduring clothing scraps and cotton calicoes.

I loved this read (178 pages).  If you see one for sale on Etsy, Amazon, or your local used bookstore, grab a copy.  It's a vintage treat!


Monday, January 6, 2014


Yesterday at church, the pastor used two verses
for his sermon text:
II Corinthians 9:8 and James 4:6.
Two phrases from these passages really stood out to me.
"And God is able . . . . " (II Cor. 9:8)
"But He giveth more grace . . . . "(James 4:6)
As thoughts of the coming year flooded my mind,
I realized something:
anything 2014 brings me can be answered
with one of these phrases.
What if I can't . . . ?
"And God is able."
Will I be . . . .?
"God is able."
When I become . . . .
"God is."
If I . . . .
How will I . . . ?
"But He giveth more grace."
If she does . . . .
"He giveth more grace."
But what if . . . ?
"He giveth more."
"He giveth."
May the GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ
be present in your life
this year!
Welcome 2014!
The photograph below is the newest
addition to my vintage sewing collection.
The young woman featured is working on
some cutwork embroidery.
The delicate cushion beside her and the fringed rug-piece
on the wall behind her both feature
needlepoint designs.
I've named this adopted friend "Grace"
to reflect the topic of today's post.
To download a
free copy of "Grace's Sewing"
for your personal crafting use,
click the link.
You must have a free Scribd account to download the file.
Please feel free to share how you plan on using the image.
Or even better -- share the end result!
I'd love to see it!