Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: Fons & Porter Presents Quilts from The Henry Ford

For some reason I have a tendency to take on projects that some may consider too challenging for someone on my level of quilting. I began in 2002 and am mostly self taught. I like to find websites or books that have patterns that challenge my abilties because if I fail doing a quilt square properly I can see what I did wrong and correct my mistake myself. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem taking a class or following the instructions of a teacher or of someone who is more experienced then me. However I think I learn more when I figure it out myself.

With that said I have found a book that has helped me regain my inspiration in quilting and that book is Fons & Porter Presents Quilts from The Henry Ford. One of the reasons I was drawn to this book its historic value. For those of you who are not familiar with The Henry Ford here is a brief background. Henry Ford had a vision about history. He wanted people to learn about history from the everyday items that the average person used such as sewing machine, plows, bicycles, etc. That is when he created The Edison Institute (known today as The Henry Ford) to house all of these items in a museum setting where people could come and stay in touch with the past. Well in a nutshell that is what The Henry Ford is, a place to keep connected with our past.

I grew up going to The Henry Ford (then known as Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village) for school field trips and then later on my own and then much later with my daughter. I have always had a desire to learn history I guess that’s why I love going there so much. Well this year while there I found a book I had no idea existed even though the book has been out since 2005 and that is the book I am reviewing today.

When I first picked up the book Fons & Porter Presents Quilts from The Henry Ford I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was very familiar with the names Fons & Porter (Marianne Fon & Liz Porter) from watching there show Love of Quilting from it’s brief run on the public television station in my area. So of course I knew the book would be good. I got even more excited that the subject of the book was the quilt collection from The Henry Ford. I knew I had to have this book for my collection.

This books has wonderful full color photographs of the quilts in the collection including ones that are displayed in various houses in Greenfield Village. There is historic background of the growth of technology that helped to make life a bit easier. As well as the history of fabric and the technological advance that occurred in the fabric making process. There is also the background about the origins of patterns, how they may have gotten their names and of some of the quilt makers themselves, who by the way were everyday women just living out their daily lives. Along with the photos and historical information they have offered quilt project pages of some of the very quilts that you see in the book, so you can make your own.

The project pages are laid out in an easy to read format and they include templates for piece work and applique¢. I consider myself an advanced beginner because I had a laps in my quilting time. However there are a few of the quilts I feel that I am able to attempts and have already begun. I will be following my progress on these quilts in my blog so stay tuned.

Well that is it for my review. This is my first book review but not my last so keep a look out for more. I hope you will look for this book and try some of the projects yourself. You can find it on Amazon, on Fons & Porter’s website as well as the publisher Landauer Corporation’s website. However if you are in the Southeast Michigan area and are able to stop into The Henry Ford you can still pick this book up there. I recommend this book for any quilter who is interested in quilt history, challenging projects or just for the wonderful photography.

As I said above I have begun working on one of the quilt projects in the book. That project is the Double Wedding Ring. It is a challenge for me and I will be tracking my project so come back and see it’s progress and outcome.

Till then happy sewing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Lost My Way But Found the Path Back

Hi everyone. I know it has been a while since I posted the first two post introducing Marisa's Quilt Garden. Please let me explain what is going on. When I decide to start the MQG blog I had no Idea that there where other issues that were going to be addressed within myself before I was able to continue. I want to apologize to everyone before I begin talking about them because they are personal issues that I needed to overcome before I could move on.

Let me go back a bit to when I began quilting. If you read my first post you will no that I began quilting in 2002 when I attended a Girl Scout Quilt Weekend (Adults). I had always wanted to learn how to quilt but at that time even my sewing skills were lacking. Needless to say I had my moms old sewing machine and a desire to learn.

Well after that weekend I jumped into quilting wholeheartedly and never looked back. I came home and bought fabric, books and all the accoutrement for quilting from JoAnns and Hancock Fabrics and began. I know why am I recapping what I have basically already said in my other posts, but I digress what I am trying to say is as much as I loved quilting and still do I got sidetracked by life. Moving, my mom getting breast cancer and eventually passing away, moving again, health issues with my daughter, etc.

Mom's old Janome

As I set up my new blog with enthusiasm I saw myself finishing projects started long ago, making new projects (and finishing them) and learning new things. Back in 2007 my moms old machine abruptly stopped sewing and I was forced to buy a new machine. At the time I had no idea how that event would affect me. I went out looking at machines and I remembered that one of the ladies from my second quilt weekend had a Husqvarna Viking machine that I fell absolutely in love with. She had owned her machine for years and it was one of the higher end ones. I on the other hand was looking for a beginner machine of that brand that I could use for quilting.

Well I found my machine a Huskqvarna E10 and took it home but something was wrong. I pulled out the instructions and read them. I signed up for the free class they offered but never made it there. I thought I just needed to learn how my new machine worked and everything would be ok, but alas it was not. I had stopped sewing and quilting. Although I told myself it was just because I was so busy but that wasn't true and I never figured out what my problem was until last week.

What happened last week you might ask. Well it was something very simple I asked myself why was I letting this perfectly good machine go to waste by not using it. What was it that was keeping me from it. Then I had a revelation. After suffering the loss of my mom I suffered the loss of the last physical connection I had to her, her sewing machine. Yes I know that the machine is a physical object and not my mom and the funny part is my mom baring used the machine after she bought it. My mom did not like sewing because she grew up having to sew her own clothes when she was young and she really had no interest in sewing at all, but my mom was proud of my gift for sewing that I picked up from both of my grandmothers. So here we are today. I have made a break though and I am now using the sewing machine and happily back to making quilts and other things.

I am posting below a few things I am working on right now.

Friendship Quilt from Girl Scout Quilt Weekend V & VI

Mini Simple Quilt

Double Wedding Ring Quilt Project

Thanks for being patient with me and I am striving to make Marisa's Quilt Garden a booming blog.

Happy sewing

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What is a Rail Fence Quilt?

In my opinion the rail fence quilts are one of if not the easiest quilt squares and quilts to make. It is excellent for a beginner or for making a quick and simple quilt in a weekend.

When I began quilting I was very nervous. I had seen the intricate patterns made when putting a quilt together and I wondered if I could do that too. My first encounter with quilt making was watching a program on the local PBS station called Quilt in a Day. I was fascinated by the host Eleanor Burns and her technique of strip quilting. She was able to sew various strips of fabric together. Cut them at different lengths or angles. Sew them together and create a quilt top. I was in awe of her abilities. Well I have since then ventured beyond just strip quilting into piece work quilt squares and paper piecing but I will talk about those techniques in another post.

What is a Rail Fence Quilt? Well this is a quilt made of squares that have been strip sew and then put together. You will first cut you fabric into strips according to the instructions. Then you sew these strips together. Then you will cut the master strip piece to the appropriate length. There are different combinations that can be used to make a Rail Fence quilt like the Windmill Layout, Split Rail Layout and the Woven Layout or you can create a design of your own. I suggest laying your pieces out on a large table or clean floor to create the desired design. Then pulling the piece you can begin sewing them together and putting you quilt top together. Most quilt books or instructions include how to finish your quilt so I won’t discuss it here.

The book I used was from the Quilt in a Day series called Rail Fence Quilt For Kids at Heart by LuAnn Stout. This book was very easy to follow and had great illustrations as well as a number of different pattern combinations to choose from.

Ok now that I have briefly talked about what a rail fence quilt is I will reveal my very first finished quilt. I only used three fabrics a dark green, magenta, and a green paisley pattern fabric. I loved the paisley fabric and drew the two other colors from it. As I was a new quilter I wanted to be able to complete the quilt during the weekend I made it. I also did not want to get discouraged if something went wrong so my very first quilt does not have batting or a backing fabric. It is backed with a dark green fleece. The edges were turned for finish and I did stitch in the ditch quilting.

I have to admit that looking at it now, although fondly, you can tell that it was made by a beginner. My squares were not cut to the correct size in some case leading to off seams. My quilting didn’t quite make it in the ditch in some places and not paying attention when I initially sewed some of the squares together I cam out with a pattern that looks more like railroad tracks or a ladder then the rail fence patterns you normally see. I was actually trying to make the woven pattern but didn’t quite make it.

However, that quilt has become the prize position of my daughter and that means to me that I did it right. Although my quilting is not in the ditch I have never lost a stitch and though the pattern is not traditional that makes it unique. So all in all I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to start in the world of quilting and create quilts I can pass down in my family for years to come.

If you are interested in trying you hand in quilting I suggest that you consider this quilt. It was fun to do and being able to accomplish something in a short period of time will help bust you confidence and enthusiasm for quilting.

So good luck in you quilting until next time.


Welcome to Marisa’s Quilt Garden. If you have made it here you are either a viewer of my food blog All in Good Food or you are a lover of quilting. Either way I would like to say welcome to you and I hope you enjoy what you see.

This blog was created so that I could share my interest in quilting with others. I don’t claim to be an expert or anything but I have been quilting for about 10-11 years. My very first quilt was a simple Rail Fence pattern and I finished it in one weekend. I created that first quilt during a Girl Scout (Adult) Weekend. It was a program for adults in my Girl Scout Council to be able to go to camp for a weekend program. I was so excited because this was a new challenge for me. I already knew how to sew but quilting is a whole nother animal. The ladies there were very nice and very helpful. When the weekend was over not only did I have a finished quilt but I had a new found enthusiasm for quilting.

I have to admit I haven’t quilted in about 4 years due to various reasons but I think I am ready to get back to it. So this is my journey back into the world of quilting. I hope you will continue to join me.