Tuesday, March 31, 2015

FIRST QUARTER 2015 -- Finishes?

Back at the beginning of January, I confidently shared the goal (HERE) of quilting three tops from my big stash of finished quilt tops!!  I just checked over at On the Windy Side where the "linky" party for the first quarter of 2015 has started and so far there are 127 finished projects ready to be viewed!!  That's exciting!!

I've had a busy and productive three months!!  I finished a quilt to enter in the regional quilt show at Lake Metroparks Farmpark.  I kept up with my Stash Bee commitment each month.  I contributed to three of the pieces in my round robin group (I'll be sharing that in a couple weeks).  I met my Tree Bird Blog Hop commitment and ended up with a terrific wallhanging!!  I dealt with three rather old UFO's as part of the allpeoplequilt.com's UFO Challenge 2015 (finished one, sent one out to be quilted, and selling one as is).  I made three charity quilt tops from my stash shelves (the beiges, the pink, and the greens) as I continue to #sewmystash2015.   And I cranked out four new teaching samples?

But I only finished quilting one of those three targeted quilt tops?!?  At least it was the oldest of the three!!  I'm not sure, but it must date to the late 80's?  And now it's all finished!!
I especially like the border quilting.  I intended to do just straight lines on the stripes about 1 1/2" apart but quickly decided that was boring and added the squiggly lines between the straight lines.  Need to use that idea again!!
It's for my daughter to decide the quilt's fate -- to keep it or share it.
And what about the other two? 
Well, Harry is hard at work (?) pondering just how to quilt the teacup quilt.  I've ditched along the edges of all the blocks and have designed a wreath of leaves for the crazy pieced blocks, but the teacups have me stumped at the moment. 
And the third quilt which will be donated to some good cause is layered and ready to start!!
And I'm left to contemplate once again why it's so difficult to get back to work on UFO's.   Obviously my interest in them is the issue as I'm still able to move through newer projects smoothly.  Will I set second quarter goals?  Yes, but I'm going to contemplate them for a few more days before shouting them out!!
Mary Huey

Monday, March 23, 2015


Well, it's the final day of the Tree Bird Blog Hop and it's been great fun. 
I enjoyed making the quilt and sharing the tutorial for wonky 9-patch blocks last week.  If you missed it or want to take another look, you can find it HERE!

And I enjoyed sharing some of my bird card collection with you.  I don't have an exact count, but I have close to 800 different cards.  These two are from a group I discovered quite by accident.  They were distributed by the G. E. Marsh Company with their Good Will Soap.  They were located in New England and the product's distribution must have been limited since all the cards I've found have come from that region of the USA.
The copyrights on these are 1888 and 1902.  The artist's name is lost in history but all the cards in the series seem to have been painted by the same person.  These two cards are from the last group offered by the company and included life size illustrations of their eggs and a musical rendering of their song.  The editor of the cards did not attempt the "cedar bird's" song which is described as a "high, thin list" in Peterson's Field Guide (my go-to field guide).  It's interesting to me that they attempted to "write down" the song of the Brown Thrush (we call it a Brown Thrasher today).  They are champion song mimics and some scientists give them credit for knowing several hundred songs. 
If you read the descriptions on the backs of the cards, they are rather romantic and that is typical of natural history writing in the early 1900's.  The beauty and usefulness of birds was the way to win people over to their admiration and the new breed of conservationists used that strategy extensively during the birth of the movement in this country.

There are still some creative stitchers out there eager to share their creations with all of us, so let's take a look!

 Thanks again to Madame Samm and Lana for all the time and effort they have put into organizing this enjoyable Tree Bird Blog Hop!

Mary Huey

Friday, March 20, 2015


Another big THANK YOU to Madame Samm and Lana for organizing and managing this hop.  Yesterday was so much fun to watch how many quilters were visiting my post and leaving comments!!  I'm on a short teaching trip so can't reply to all the gracious comments for a couple days but thank you to everyone!!
Here's another piece of my bird card collection.  It's not a card, but rather a poster (20" by 40") that was available to school teachers (copyright 1938) to use in their classrooms.  The bird portraits are the set of cards that was available at the time.
It was packed with useful information about the benefits of birds -- this was the era of convincing people to enjoy and encourage birds instead of hunting them.
This chart gives dimensions for bird houses.
This illustration is about feeding birds during the winter. 
This strip of plant illustrations down the center include native plants that are food sources for birds.
Up at the top is a diagram of migration routes and a statement about the value to agriculture of birds.
The border around the entire poster includes line drawings of harmful insects that birds eat.
Finally on the back there are lesson ideas for ten topics that a teacher could use in the classroom. 
I was so pleased to find this during an auction -- it's in excellent condition -- I love owning something that was used in a classroom somewhere over 70 years ago and so treasured that it was kept all these years!
Are you enjoying all the ideas for using birdy prints?  I have so many and I need to use more of them -- I need a totebag and a book cover and some pillowcases . . . .
Here's another batch of blogs to inspire you.
Enjoy your weekend and I'll be back Monday with another peek into my bird card collection and the final group of bloggers for the Tree Bird Blog Hop.
Mary Huey

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Finally it's my day to share a project with you using the panel of birds that inspired Madame Samm to organize this blog hop.  The bird house above is waiting for it's first occupants in many years.  It was rescued from the barn of a renowned birder in my area and I'm hoping to bring it back into active duty this summer!
I owned a quilt shop for 26 years and I stocked bird prints regularly but this is the first one I've seen which depicts the birds so true to color -- love that about it.  This panel was designed so the tree in the background looks real and that was my inspiration -- to expand the tree.
I achieved that by alternating the bird panels with "wonky" 9-patch blocks of leafy greens and sky-like blues.  Instead of offering a "hop-prize" that only one lucky visitor can win, I'm going to share a simple tutorial on how I make these easy blocks to inspire everyone.
 I begin with an assortment of prints, the more the better.  The search begins in my "scrappy" leftovers because I only need pieces that are about 2" larger than my target block size -- in this case, that was 7" by 9".
I pick 9 different prints at a time (this is my auditioning layout) and then stack all of them together with the right sides up.
Using my ruler and rotary cutter, I cut the stack of  nine prints into 9 pieces -- no measuring, just set the ruler down and cut.  Notice my cuts are slightly angled. 
Next, I shuffle the prints so that each block will have all 9 prints and they will be in random order. 
I leave the first stack alone. 
I move the top piece to the bottom of the second stack. 
I move the top 2 pieces to the bottom of the third stack and keep going.
For the last stack I move the top 8 pieces to the bottom of the stack. 
Now its off to the sewing machine.  I stitch 3 rows together just as I would for any 9-patch block.  I've found that pressing the seams to one side in the first and third rows, then the opposite way in the middle row works best.
When I stitch the rows together, the seams may or may not match -- oh, well.  The outside edges of the blocks look really wonky because I don't measure the piece of fabric at the beginning exactly -- they were roughly 7" by 9" but some were larger. 
Now I trim the bird panels -- it was 5" by 6" for me
and trim the 9-patches to match.
I began the layout by placing the bird panels in the same order they appeared on the fabric to maintain the continuity of the tree in the background.  I moved a couple of them (a yellow warbler would never nest that high in a tree) to suit my personal sensibilities.  I spent several days "squinting" at it on my work wall before setting the blocks together to be sure I was achieving the look I wanted.
I kept the quilting simple and chose to use only vertical lines to highlight the vertical design of the border print.  The quilting is more subtle in person than in these photos. 
I've named the piece, A BIRDER'S DREAM -- to have so many birds in one tree at the same time!!!
 I'm not sure this "artisty" photo attempt enhances the quilt, but my yard is too muddy right now from all the snow melt.  You can see the border fabric -- a pale blue covered with gray naked trees -- exactly what the large beech forests look like all winter here in Northeast Ohio.
Not much better with it pinned to the two shrubs near the fence.  I like the way the trunk and branches of the tree flow through the 9-patch blocks.  The finished piece is 40" by 47".
I enjoyed making this piece -- it gave me a chance to plow through my stash of "landscape" prints.  I have used the "wonky" 9-patch for several landscape inspired quilts in the past and love the spontaneous process of whacking and stitching.  I included a photo of my first one in a post last spring and you can see it HERE -- scroll towards the end of the post for Redbud Spring.
I had to go shopping for the binding fabric -- just didn't have the right shade of charcoal.  Marty Anastasio at The Quilted Thimble in Chesterland, Ohio quickly suggested several options and this "mushroom" shade is perfect.  She has both this panel and the newer birdhouse panel in stock and I think I'll loan the quilt to her for display for the month of April.  If you live in Northeast Ohio, she is located at 12628 Chillicothe Rd. ( intersection of Rt. 322 and 306, same plaza as Giant Eagle) and her phone number is 440-729-2259.
The "wonky" 9-patches will work with any panel -- just start with fabric pieces that are 2" larger than the trimmed size of the panel.  The process goes quickly and lends itself to very simple quilting so it's a great strategy for those "need a quilt in a hurry" moments.   If you decide to give it a go and have questions, just e-mail me at maryhueyquilts@hotmail.com
 Thanks for visiting today and I hope my project inspired you!!
Don't forget to visit the other quilters who have been working hard to share their inspirations with you!!
Mary Huey


Wednesday, March 18, 2015


We've reached the mid-point of the blog hop.  Are you enjoying all the stimulation of seeing what everyone has done with a bird theme.  I loved the blocks made out of the Beautiful Birds panels yesterday!
Just for fun, I went through my Arm & Hammer bird cards to see if I could find cards that matched the 13 species of birds featured in the panel that I used for my project (you'll be able to see it tomorrow!!).  I found 12 of the 13 scattered in amongst three different series of cards.
Each set features 30 birds and all were from the watercolor paintings of Mary Emily Eaton, an English botanical artist who worked in New York City from 1911 through 1932 when she returned to Somerset, England.  She is best known for the work she did for the NY Botanical Garden and as the primary illustrator of a botanical classic, Britton and Rose's The Cactaceae (1919-1923).  This is a link to the Smithsonian's collection from that publication if you are curious - CACTUS
The most endearing quality of Miss Eaton illustrations to me are the details of the background.  Her bird portraits aren't outstanding and we don't know if she worked from life or from other artist's work for her models.  But look at the detail of the plants and all the insect eating birds have an insect included somewhere in the painting. 
It's time to begin the tour for today and these are the bloggers to visit.
I'll be back tomorrow with my own project!
Have a pleasant day!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Are you ready for more birdy stuff?  I'm always ready for more birdy stuff -- a friend once told me that "you are always birding" -- we were hiking together and I was "holding" him back.  I've birded since I was a youngster and still have yet to see every bird and everything birds do, so there's always something new waiting around the corner for me!!
The American Robin is the most common member of the thrush family in the USA.  I have often thought if it was the custom to name one's house here as it is in England, I would call my home Robin's Nest Cottage.  I've lived here 18 years and have never had a summer without at least one robin's nest in my yard.
The Singer Sewing Machine Co. introduced their own series of bird cards in 1896.  There were 12 cards using the paintings of J. L. Ridgway.  Ridgway was a well-known illustrator for the US Geological Survey at the turn of the 20th century.  The background of each was the typical habitat of the bird and an illustration of the egg of the species was included.
The cards are 4 1/2" by 6" and the back of each carried a description of the bird and a short advertisement which varied from card to card.  The cards were likely distributed by salesmen who often visited women at home in their quest to sell Singers.   The backs of my set of this series varies quite a bit, so I believe they were redesigned regularly and handed to potential customers one at a time.
The series was reformatted during the 1920's and the importance of the advertising emphasized with a shorter description of the bird.  This is the back of the "robin" card from 1926 and I love the "real sewing machine" illustrated that is suitable for children as young as four.
It's time to go look at some more inspiring birdy fabric projects!!  These are the bloggers to visit today!!
I'll be back tomorrow with more bird cards to share and another group of birdy bloggers!!
Enjoy today's browsing!!
Mary Huey

Monday, March 16, 2015


So did you enjoy exploring the first group of birdy projects. 

Would you like to see some more of my bird cards?  This group is from the second series issued by Arm & Hammer -- I chose these three because they are common yard birds here in Northeast Ohio year round.  The advantage of spending the winter in the often snow bound northern part of the USA is that you get first chance at the prime nesting territories!!

The Blue Jays, the Cardinals, and the Goldfinches are all daily visitors to my feeders and their presence adds a bright spot to the dreary landscape of winter.  We are all watching for the first glints of fresh yellow feathers on the male goldfinches who share the drab colors with the females during the winter months.  The male cardinals have been singing their territorial songs for almost a month now in spite of the snow and cold.  And the blue jays hoard the peanuts I put out for them and warn everyone when the wintering hawks are nearby.
Here's another batch of birdy projects to review!!  What will be the favorites today?
Can't wait to hear what you think!
Be sure to stop back everyday this week and I'll share links for more birdy bloggers. 
On Thursday, 3/19, I share the quilt I created with this panel including a tutorial for the easiest blocks known to this quilter!!
Enjoy the hop today!!
Mary Huey


Friday, March 13, 2015


Welcome to the first day of the TREE BIRD BLOG HOP organized by Madame Samm at www.sewwestitch.com and we are being cheered on by Lana at www.itseamstobesew.blogspot.com
My post is a few days off (3/19), but you can start your tour today by visiting the following bloggers to see what inspired ideas they have to share using birdy fabrics!!
       As a life long birder, the theme of this hop caught my attention and I love the idea that it is taking place at the beginning of the annual spring migration of birds in North America.  I belong to two on-line groups of birders that share sightings around Ohio and while we can always find birds to watch, spring migration really gets us pumped up!! 

 Birders all over Ohio are beginning to share observations of FOY (first of the year) sightings as the early migrants move north across the state.  My FOY's for this week so far include killdeer, grackle, and red-winged blackbird -- all rather common birds during the summer months but to hear one of their calls in mid-March while there is still snow on the ground perks me right up -- the hope of spring!!
These images are from my collection of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda's "trading" cards that were printed and distributed with boxes of baking soda in the 1890's.   Companies were using the new found art of lithography to print decorative "business" cards to build brand loyalty at the same time that the conservation ethic was born in the United States.  These are three of the sixty cards featured in this first series and were to be followed by twelve more highly successful series of "bird" cards over the next 60 years.
The illustrations in this first series were drawn from the art of John James Audubon.  The skilled artists who prepared the lithography plates simplified and reduced Audubon's life-size bird portraits to fit onto the 2" by 3" image space of these cards.  It's likely that today with our current copyright laws, this would have been considered gross plagiarism and resulted in an expensive court case!!
The backs of the early cards were dedicated to "advertising" but in later years, the company transitioned to including information about the birds as Arm & Hammer took advantage of the popularity of the cards to build their brand image.  Baking soda seems like a mundane product today, but it was revolutionary baking product in the mid-1800's and there were dozens of companies selling it.  A quick review of over 60 companies producing baking soda in 1890 has only two that are familiar to us today and Arm & Hammer is one of them.
So grab a "cuppa" and start your tour!!  The second group will share their ideas on Monday and I'll be back with a list of links to them plus share some more of my FOY's and images from my collection of bird cards!!
Let me know what project today from the other bloggers really caught your fancy!!
Mary Huey

Friday, March 6, 2015

To chop or not to chop?

Today's short essay is a response to Kathy's question to me earlier this week as a result of my post about de-stashing the green shelf -- "I keep intending to cut up my stash that is less than a yard into strips, 5" charms and layer cake squares, so I will be more likely to use it instead of having to plow through the bulk each time I get the bug to make something. I have the wire basket system of storing fabrics, 1 color for about every 1 1/2 deep basket section. Too over whelming to dig through each project, press, and cut. I need something much more user friendly! In your opinion, would I regret cutting it all up?"
It set me to thinking and I decided to respond via today's post as it might be helpful to some others.
I had a brief romance with chopping small amounts of fabric up into "pre-cut" strips many years ago at the urging of a favorite teacher.  I know this works for some quilters, but in general it didn't work for me. 
And the reason it didn't work for the most part was that I was creating pre-cuts that didn't fit into my style of quiltmaking. 
It turns out that her pre-cuts weren't my pre-cuts.
 That being said, I do have a 2 1/2" strip stash that has been a continuous source of quilts and inspiration for over 20 years. 
It began with the leftovers from this quilt -- I made enough HST's for a twin size quilt, got bored, and made a lap size instead.  I was able to use up some of those HST's for block swaps in a group that I belonged to for 10 years, so soon strips were added as well.
It was the starting point for my wonderful scrappy tumbling blocks quilt (and there is a second one all pieced that I use for class demos on setting the units together).
It is my go-to source for scrappy checkerboard quilts as you saw in the Economy Star quilts I finished this winter.
That spawned the advent of this sidekick basket of 2 1/2" squares -- got a little carried away cutting squares so they need their own space.
For years, the 2 1/2" strips have lived in a shoebox with strips coming and going at a steady pace but recently I moved to a slightly larger box -- it was just gushing -- no doubt, the result of my de-stashing efforts over the past year.
As I write, I keep thinking of more and more quilts that began in this box -- there was the EPP Grandmother's Flower Garden -- all the floral hexies are from it.
When the box gets too full, I cull it for 18" long strips to use in my charity quilting group's scrappy bargello quilt tops.
My conclusion?  Personally, between not finding cutting up stuff without knowing how it will be used that interesting and not wanting the pressure of trying to figure out how to use all those 5" squares, I wouldn't start cutting up too much of my stash.
One's pre-cuts need to be an inspiring starting point for them to be useful to you.  Perhaps looking back through some of your recent quilts will provide some clues about what pre-cuts will be useful.  With my current de-stashing, I'm modifying the "storage" of my small pieces (under 1/4 yard) because this doesn't work for me -- bits dropped into a basket in the corner.  
The right hand stack is pinks and green that are very small pieces -- most 1/8 yard or less.  I hope that now when I begin a quilt, it will be easier to lift out that stack and start with those pieces -- we'll see?
So how do you feel about it -- I'm sure Kathy would love to know if you "chop or not".
Share your thoughts in the comments for all of us to learn!!
Mary Huey
You can read about my other de-stashing exploits by clicking on the "de-stashing" tag below!