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September 14, 2014

My Love Affair with Antique Quilt Tops


Is there anything more comforting than wrapping up in your favorite quilt ... maybe while sipping hot chocolate, reading a good book, or watching your favorite show?  I submit there is not.  Quilts are amazing.  They tell stories, they have character, they span generations.  They can add color and charm to your home.  Anyone can make one, and everyone can use them.

A couple years ago, my mom and I really started getting into antique shopping.  Antique shops in New England are abundant, and we would always find treasures too great to pass up.  We found old things we could repuropse or display in our homes, and we loved getting a good bargain.  

And then, we discovered the quilt tops.  I remember the first quilt top we found.  It was a hexagon pattern, with beautiful fabrics, all hand sewn.  We swooned, we oohed and ahhed, and then my mom paid an exorbitant amount for it :) That didn't matter though.  That quilt sparked a passion in my mom and me - and now we're hooked.  We've gotten more judicious, and recognize a good deal, but we are still suckers for those beautiful, unfinished works of art.  As my mom says, she feels it's her duty to rescue these quilt tops and finally finish them!  They were meant to be used and loved!

Over the course of these past years, we've purchased dozens of antique/vintage quilt tops and spent time repairing and finishing them.  They are all so beautiful, I wanted to share some of them with you!



This quilt is affectionately called the "rat quilt" and it is one of my favorites.  This quilt had holes (and rat droppings on it), and it required a lot of love and patching.  But look at the fabrics!  It is gorgeous.  And the scalloped edge!  This quilt is one of the most unique quilts we've found, and my mom did a gorgeous tight spiral machine quilting over the whole thing.  She waits to wash the quilts until after they've been quilted, so the batting will shrink slightly and add a crinkled, aged look.


We love to finish the quilts off with great modern fabric that matches the color of the vintage fabric from the front.  This is the back of the rat quilt.  This quilt now sits on the guest bed in my parent's home.  (Don't worry, it's been washed!)

This quilt top below was much smaller, so my mom added a border around the edge before quilting it.  It's a great lap quilt now.  Can't you just imagine someone taking old clothes and scrap fabrics and patching this piece together?  I love it!

This quilt top is bursting with color!  It is all crinkled up because it literally came out of the drier just before I took this picture - so it will loosen a flatten a bit.  It is so cozy and lovely!

Sometimes, we find quilt squares as opposed to an already assembled quilt top.  These were squares mom sewed together before adding the border.


Here's a view of the back and the fun variety of fabrics that make this quilt feel modern and vintage at the same time!

These small antique blocks in the middle of the quilt below made a great centerpiece for a modern looking quilt with strong colors.


And more backing that I love!

Here's another use for antique quilt blocks.  These hexagon blocks called grandmother's flower garden were sewn by my great-grandmother!  When my mom inherited them, there weren't enough to make an entire quilt.  She put together a quilt and appliqued the hexagon blocks onto the top.  She actually made one like this for each of her daughters, so now we all have a keepsake from our great-grandmother that we can display and cherish.


This is another one of my favorite quilt tops.  I love bright, bold colors, and the vintage patterns are so dreamy.

Choosing blue for the back brings out the blue in the front, and I love it!



Two years ago, my mom gave each of her daughters a completed quilt top for Christmas.  I absolutely adore mine!  It is made from a quilt top we found together at the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts.  She is so thoughtful.  If you look closely at the picture below, you can see the amazing tight spiral quilting she did on it.  


This is the quilt she made for my sister for Christmas.  This one was found in an antique shop on the Oregon coast.  My sister has it displayed on a wall in her house...

And those are just the finished ones!  My mom has a handful of other quilt tops that she hasn't finished yet - all as spectacular as these.

Now that I live in the Northwest, I was afraid I wouldn't have as much luck finding quilt tops here.  Luckily, I've stopped at a number of great antique shops, and I've already had good luck!

I just got this awesome postage stamp quilt top for my sister a few weeks ago...

And this beautiful quilt top I picked up for myself at the same time:



And one more I picked up on the west coast - which is an awesome unique pattern.  I can't imagine how long this one took.  That's another awesome thing about finding quilt tops.  Most of the work is already done, so with a little of your own work, you get to enjoy a quilt much faster than making it all on your own.

So, what do you think?  Are you as enamored of old quilts as I am, or do you prefer the very modern styles?  Would you pick up an old quilt top and finish it?  
I have another, not pictured here, that I'm working on fixing up.  I can't wait to share it with you too!

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September 11, 2014

Start of School Pics - My Favs



I love this tradition now, of taking pictures of the kids before school starts.  This is probably about the best they'll ever look since this isn't the hair-done-just-before-running-out-the-door look, so I don't know if it's a great representation ;) but aww well.  I love to capture their expressions, their excitement, and be able to see how much they change from year to year!


In the past, I have hand written their chalkboard signs, but since my chalkboard is in storage, I used this great printable from Skip to my Lou.  


I also like doing the sidewalk chalk writing - I wonder if I'll still be making them do this in high school? ;)


And of course, little sister has to get in the picture... 

And hold the signs... lol.

Here's an adorable one that they did all by themselves.  Little cuties.

And just because it's fun to see the comparison, here are a few from past years...



I like to take a picture of them against a blank wall so that I can include writing about them. PicMonkey.com is a great option for adding the words, because it is easy, and free!



Okay, that's it!  Don't grow up anymore!!


Hope start of school is going well for all of you out there with kids!  It isn't too late to go outside and take some of these pictures now, if you didn't get around to it before school started.  
These pics are certainly ones I cherish!

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August 14, 2014

Outdoor Play Mud Kitchen


The girls and I really like to be outside.  The weather in the Northwest has been phenomenal, and we've been riding bikes, blowing bubbles, having picnics, and just about everything else we can think of to do outside.  In addition, my husband and I have been working really hard on clearing overgrown brush from the backyard so we can utilize the space better.  


Over the weekend we put down sod in this corner of the yard that was formerly overgrown with bamboo and raspberry bushes - you couldn't even see the fence it was so thick!  It took us months to dig out every root and stump, but we finally made this beautiful, usable space!  And now that it's clear, we plan to use this area a bunch.  The concrete patio is also a nice place for the girls to bounce balls and ride scooters, and I'm happy to have a fenced place to let them play!  


We didn't have any kind of storage for the little outdoor toys though, so it's been on my mind to make something.  Then, a couple of weeks ago I found out about this industrial recycle center near my house.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen the pictures.  This place is huge.  Talk about a repurposer's dream.  People drop off all sorts of building leftovers and discards, and it's all priced really cheap - score!  


So, I picked up an old cabinet and some scrap wood to play with...behold, the raw materials ;)


I sanded the cabinet, took off the hardware, and spray painted it a bright teal color.  One of the handles was broken, but that was ok -- the recycle center had hundreds to choose from.  I picked up another for a few cents, and spray painted the handles black.

I wanted a pallet style back sticking up behind the cabinet - both because I thought it would look cute, and because I wanted to be able to hang things from it.  With my scrap wood I cut and nailed the boards together like you see below...

Then, I nailed it to the back of the cabinet.

Besides just having a place to store toys, I wanted the kids to have another place to play - and kitchen toys are perfect for digging in the dirt with.  


The girls helped me pick out a few old kitchen things from the friendly neighborhood Goodwill, and we got to sprucing those up too.  


I spray painted the handle on an old slotted spoon, and with a few well placed nails we hung the kitchen stuff on the back boards.  



My daughter traced and painted the Mud Pies sign - I love the way it looks :)  


They could barely wait for the paint to dry before they were filling it with their toys and banging around with the kitchen stuff.  Mission accomplished!


I'm sure this will be a work in progress.  We might pick up more old kitchen utensils eventually, or make crates to go on the shelves...we'll see!  Now, it's tucked perfectly against this wall, right where we'll be playing and having a great time in the summer sun.  Mud pie anyone?



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