And The Winner Is …



... Diana Varcoe Hurst!  Congratulations Diana.


Thank you to everyone for your comments.


Happy Stitching!

Mary Elizabeth


The Big Book of Civil War Quilts and Giveaway!

My copy of The Big Book of Civil War Quilts arrived the other day.  What a thrill to be included in such an amazing line up of quilters.


The Big Book of Civil War Quilts is now available. Find more information here.


Four of our quilts from have been included:


I remember quilting the Farmhouse Quilt during clear spring days with the sun streaming through the windows, and a young pup lying underneath the frame keeping me company. Special memories. It was the first quilt made for our first book Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts (Martingale, OOP).


Luscious is the best word to describe The Bars Quilt. I remember the fabric pull for this one. It was a grand mess of piles of rich colour allover the studio floor. It is from our second book Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts (Martingale, OOP).


The Guest Room Quilt is still one of my favourites from our first book Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts (Martingale, OOP) … I know you aren’t supposed to have favourites. I remember Biz and I spending a delicious afternoon staring at the design wall, and talking about all the options for the centre.


The colours in the Wassenaar Windmills quilt still make my heart sing ... just love how they all play together. Originally it appeared in our second book Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts (Martingale, OOP).


Martingale is generously providing a digital copy of The Big Book of Civil War Quilts.  To be eligible for a chance to win it, leave a comment below and tell me what percentage of your stash is reproduction fabrics and what makes up the other percentage (batiks, contemporary, solids, etc).  I will draw the winner's name next Wednesday, September 6th.


Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.  (Make sure your comment is on this page, thanks!)


Happy Stitching!

Mary Elizabeth



Twelve Quilts of Christmas 2016 – #12

Quilt, maker unknown, c. 188-1890 19th Century, 194 cm x 194 cm, cotton, Musée McCord Museum

Quilt, maker unknown, c. 188-1890 19th Century, 194 cm x 194 cm, cotton, Musée McCord Museum


Another Canadian contribution to the line-up.


Those sweet white flowers are beyond delightful on this very cheery red and white quilt.  I love that the quiltmaker did not line up the twelve flowers, that dance around the outer of the two centre circles, like the numbers on a clock.  That would have been way too stilted!  The outer four circles are not perfect circles in their shape and I love the small anomalies in her execution of the flowers.  The vines undulate as they do, not in perfect unison, but still in a most harmonious fashion.  It works.  It is not "perfect" and it still works. A lesson for us all!


This quilt was a gift from the Canadian Guild of Crafts to the Musée McCord Museum (in Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and it is the final quilt in my gift to you in this year's Twelve Quilts of Christmas.  I have been thrilled to put this together for you all for a fifth year.  I hope you have enjoyed them.  Let me know which one (or ones) was your favourite?


Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Mary Elizabeth



Twelve Quilts of Christmas 2016 – #11

Floral Urn Quilt, Susan Noakes McCord, McCordville, Indiana, c. 1860, 85" x 83", cotton, Collection of <a href="">The Henry Ford Museum</a> and listed on <a href=" Accessed: 12/21/2016">The Quilt Index</a>.

Floral Urn Quilt, Susan Noakes McCord, McCordville, Indiana, c. 1860, 85" x 83", cotton, Collection of The Henry Ford Museum and listed on The Quilt Index.

    Susan Noakes McCord.  Indiana farm wife. Design genius.  Extraordinary Quilter.  Highly proficient needlewoman.  Quilting hero.  


The mid-nineteenth century saw many fine examples of quilts with exuberant bouquets in urns, usually in a four block setting.  Susan McCord elevates this style with her nine blocks filled with whimsical flowers.  In my books, there is no other historic quilter that matches her sense of style, originality and prolific production, particularly when you consider the scale that she often worked at (well of course you know I would be crazy over someone who was crazy over small pieces!).  Independent, she defined borders her own way ... all four different  ... thank you very much ... who said they all have to be the same! And just in case you are wondering how small you can go with tiny grapes, yes those teensy grapes are individually hand appliquéd.  Her signature string pieced leaves appear again in this quilt, and she goes to town with layered circle/dots on her larger flowers.  Oh and that narrow pink binding ... divine!  


Her quilts are a testament not only to her artistic vision but to her tenacity in seeing that vision through to completion.  I am in awe of her and her work.  No other word will do.  It is complete and utter awe.  


We are so incredibly lucky to have so many of her quilts survive.  Thirteen in total.  The last one donated by members of her family to The Henry Ford Museum in 2012.  


If you ever get the chance to see one of her quilts in person, you must.   Going back to being in awe now! 

Twelve Quilts of Christmas 2016 – #10

Rose of Sharon, Cirendilla Allcock, Drake's Creek, Kentucky, c. 1860, 103" x 77", cotton, Private Collection/<a href=" Accessed: 12/23/2016">The Quilt Index</a>

Rose of Sharon, Cirendilla Allcock, Drake's Creek, Kentucky, c. 1860, 103" x 77", cotton, Private Collection/The Quilt Index


This quilt "knocks my socks off".  Where do I start?

  • Those liberated borders?
  • Those feathers that curl over the flowers in the border?
  • The stuffed trapunto work in the quilting?
  • Those leaves in the border and how they are sprinkled along the vine?
  • Those wee flowers that curl out of the centre flowers?
  • The colour combination?
  • Those petals in the outward facing flowers in the border?
  • Those petals in the outer flowers in the individual block compositions?
  • Those Rose of Sharon centre flowers?


I love how the general concept of the Quilt on Day 8 has been elevated with a more complex overall composition and more detailed floral elements.   Bravo Cirendilla!


With this quilt we are once again the very fortunate recipients of the enthusiasm and energy of quilt historians.  This quilt was discovered during the Kentucky Quilt Project.  The brain child of Bruce Mann, a Louisville quilt dealer, he envisioned a documentation project, an exhibition and a book to preserve the legacy of Kentucky quilts.  Tragically he died in 1980 before the project was launched, but the efforts of Eleanor Bingham Miller, Eunice Sears, Shelly Zegart, Katy Christopherson and Dorothy West, saw that the project he envisioned was realized.  The book Kentucky Quilts: 1800 - 1900 by Jonathan Holstein and John Finley records this project for posterity.  The fascinating records of the project are held by the University of Louisville.  Kentucky Quilts was one of the first quilt documentation/quilt history books that I collected.  And it is one that I go back to again and again.


 The book says it all in the caption notes for this quilt, describing it as "an almost perfect example of an American appliqué quilt ..."  


Thank you Bruce, Eleanor, Shelly, Eunice, Katy, Dorothy, Jonathan and John (and all the others involved in the Kentucky Quilt Project).