Sunday, July 22, 2018

Christmas in July Blog Hop

Welcome to the Christmas in July blog hop that is hosted by Carol at Just Let Me Quilt!  I was excited to sign up for this hop because I had the perfect project to share!

In January my friend Jamie sent me a vintage felt Christmas tree skirt that was 50+ years old and was in some desperate need of some love and attention.

It was stained and discolored, it had a few holes in it and it had some items hanging loose and nearly falling off.

She wanted it to be brought back to life somehow.

My first idea was to soak it in "Retro Clean", designed to bring age-stained fabric back to life.

It was not successful. ๐Ÿ˜•

My next step was to purchase some felt.  I planned to move all of the appliques to the new felt.  

I wasn't happy with the look after I sewed the beaded and sequined edging to the new felt.  It made me even cringe a little!

I took the edging off and put all of it back in the closet until I figured out what to do next... When I asked Jamie if she wanted the skirt to be made of red felt her response was "Not necessarily, but it was my childhood Christmas tree skirt.  So if you change it to a different material, make it grand. "

Um... no pressure!

I located a pre-quilted red fabric in my local wally world fabric department and knew this was it...

I carefully removed all of the bows and ornaments and then machine appliqued them on the new skirt.  It was slow going because of all the bling.  But the more I got done, the more I liked it.

Jamie had let me know that there was no need for a center hole or opening as she planned on placing a special ceramic tree atop the skirt.

Jamie shared this story...

We lived in San Antonio on Valleyfield Dr.  So did Mrs. Dorothy Fishback.  Mrs. Fishback lived several houses down the street.  She and mom enjoyed visiting and would talk about their latest crafts.  Mrs. Fishback had been an artist for Hallmark cards as a young lady.  I remember she would painted lovely floral pictures on miniature canvases as bookmarks and as little mementos to send us in the mail after we moved away.

Mom and Mrs. Fishback stayed pen pals your decades. Dorothy was born Dec 12, 1901 and passed away June 26, 1997.  That generation knew how to pen lovely letters.

Mrs. Fishback was always sending us little packages of goodies she had painted or sewn, especially at Christmas time.  One year she made us all an ornament that was cut from Styrofoam and then covered in tiny sequins.  They hang on my Christmas tree now and they are just as lovely as they ever were.  Now we call them "vintage".

One year, my father commissioned Mrs. Fishback to make a tree skirt for my mother as a Christmas gift.  Of course, it was to be a surprise.  My dad enjoyed Christmas so much and put a lot of forethought into his gifts.  Mom can't recall the year but she feels that Mrs. Fishback must have been in her 80's by then.

I recall the tree skirt fondly.  Some years it was under our pine Christmas tree that we'd cut down from our wooded back yard.  Some years it resided under the three tier ceramic Christmas tree that Brenda Collier made when "everyone" was doing ceramics.

As my parents minimized Christmas with age, the tree skirt would cover the marble top table we had inherited from my Grandma Becker.  On top of the tree skirt would be a Norfolk Island Pine tree that they had grown from a sapling.  The tree pot eventually leaked on the red felt which bled and stained the white ornaments.

I found the tree skirt folded neatly among the other ornaments made by Mrs. Fishback in the attic on my most recent visit home to see my mother.  I absconded with all I could pack in my car, including the three tier ceramic tree and macramรฉ wall hangers made by Mrs. Mattern.

This Christmas I was surrounded by my childhood memories and of our dear friends and family members, some still alive and others who have passed on.

I wanted the tree skirt to be vibrant and rejuvenated.  I knew Melva would be the perfect person to fix the skirt.

Before sending the skirt back to Jamie I had a little photo shoot...(it was a quick one, so please just ignore the mess in the background.)   Here is the completed, restored skirt with a fabric tree that was made by my Grandma...

Merry Christmas... in July!  Be sure to visit all of the other blogger that are participating and see how they are celebrating Christmas in July - they are listed below.  

And be sure to come back again later this week to see another Christmas project that was on my UFO list.  Oh, can I mention with the completion of this particular project, there is only one project that remains!  Woohoo!

Quilt happy!


July 23

July 24

July 25

July 26

July 27

Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Quilters Through The Generations series

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Quilters Through the Generations - Mary Chisholm

The Nolan family picnic is an annual tradition that has been occurring for nearly 50 years.  It all started with Clarence & Mary (Chisholm) Nolan when they wanted to get their six children and growing numbers of grand-children together in one place on one day that wasn't a holiday.

Not everyone makes it every year, but it is always so good to reconnect with aunts and uncles and cousins when you do make it.

Below is a photo from the 90's taken at one of the birthday parties for their Mother... it includes their six children and a close cousin.  

Family numbers have grown exponentially to include 25 grand-children and many greats!  Of course, Clarence and Mary have long left this earth, but they left an impression... and a few other little know things.  Like the collection of Sunbonnet Sue quilt blocks that Mary's mother - Mary (Graf) Chisholm made.

About 20 years ago I had helped our girls make a memory book for their Grandpa Nolan (Hubby Dave's Dad, Paul).  They gave it to him for Christmas one year.  In the book it asked questions about his childhood, his parents and grandparents.  

One winter Paul graciously completed the book, made copies of it for each of his children and then returned it to our family.  This book has been a fun thing to look through, share his memories (he, too, is no longer living) and hear from the remainder of the family, including his siblings, about flaws or errors in the events that he recalled.  

I reminded them that though they may have all been present at the same "event", the memories and details that each will recall will likely vary.  

After receiving the quilt blocks I pulled out Paul's memory book and looked for the page where he would have shared about his Grandmother.  He had mis-read the sentence, made a few scribbles on the page, and told what he knew about his Grandfather... turned the page and saw the Grandfather page and wrote "See previous page".  

So... the only info I had about Mary Magdalene Graf Chisholm was her date of birth and date of death from a funeral card that was in some family info.  I asked for input from the rest of the family.  Here is what I got from Aunt Maureen...

Grandma Graf Chisholm and some of my memories of her!

Mary Magdalene Graf.
Born to Mary Elizabeth Cummings & Abagast Graf, April 16, 1877 in Brownsville MN.

While this photo is very blurred (it is actually a still shot grabbed from an old home movie - circa 1950s...) it shows how short she really was. 

Grandma was of very small stature about 4 ft-1 in.  Give or take a few centimeters. And she was almost as round as she was tall. All of us kids thought it was cool that we were taller than her by the time we were in the 6th grade.

Grandma was very sweet but she could be quite judgmental as well! If she thought we were immorally dressed (in shorts) she would let us know it and she would let mom know too. (Drove mom and dad nuts)!

Whenever she sat down she would curl her right leg under her and sit on it! I never could figure out how she did this considering how she was built!

She was famous for her sweet booties which she was forever making for all the new "greats" as they were born. She taught me how to darn socks and how to embroider!  (And the back of your project better look as neat as the front or you heard about it)!

She and Grandpa lived next door to us in Chicago in a house that was a duplicate of ours. My dad and some friends built theirs first then built ours. They lived there until they were 65 then they turned the house to Uncle Joe and moved to Winchester VA. with Aunt Catherine. 

After a while (several years) they moved in with our family after Aunt Catherine and uncle Joe Sarandria bought a smaller home. We were quite cramped as we only had 3 bedrooms and 10 people to live there. Five of us kids were in one bedroom, but we made it work!

Every morning she had Tea, a bowl of cereal and a bowl of stewed prunes. Before bed she had tea and toast.

She was very prayerful and prayed several times a day but always in her room.
Every night she would braid her hair and occasionally wind some of the sides in hairpins which made the sides wavy. Then in the morning she would put it in a bun at the nape on her neck and put a really fine hairnet over it.

Her dresses were always down to her ankles.  And she always wore black shoes with thick high heels about 1 inch high.  She loved playing solitaire and did so almost every evening.

She lived with us for years then eventually moved to Texas with Uncle Alan and Aunt Gladys where she passed away.

I totally loved her with all my heart and she loved all of us.

We got memories shared by Aunt Sheila, as well...  And do you remember the thing about remembering details differently?  Sheila corrected Maureen and said that while Grandma was short, she wasn't that short.  She says she was 4 foot 8 inches... still quite short!

Grandma and her siblings, Austin and Will, lost their father, Arbogast Graf, when she was just a child. He was one of two blacksmiths in Brownsville MN and was one of the town’s founders. Perhaps there wasn’t enough work for two blacksmiths because he left the family behind to look for work in Arkansas. The family received one letter from him and never heard from him again! No one knows what happened to him.

Grandma married Joseph Colin Graf, and they had six children: Joseph, Mary (our mother), William, Catherine, Allen, and Ray (not necessarily in that order. I am only sure of the two oldest and the youngest.) They raised their family in Superior, WI. Mary and Clarence went through school together there. At some point after our mother finished 10th grade and attended secretarial school so that she could get a job and help put her older brother, Joe, through college, the family moved to Chicago. They lived in apartments before moving into the home that Dad built for them.

Maureen gave an excellent accounting of the homes on St. Louis Avenue in her post. I was born four years before we moved from there to our home on Batavia Road in West Chicago. From my earliest memory, Grandpa and Grandma were already living with us. Grandpa died when I was seven in our home on Batavia Road. Grandma continued to live with us there and moved with us to Mountain Street in Aurora when I was 10 until she went to live with Uncle Al and Aunt Gladys when I was 18 – 19 years old, with occasional visits to Aunt Catherine and Uncle Joe Sarandria’s in Winchester VA.

When we moved to a three bedroom home on Forest Ave from the five bedroom home on Mountain Street in Aurora – on the day of my senior prom – I shared a room with Grandma. As Maureen said, she was a prayerful woman. Some of Maureen’s other comments described her well. She was actually 4 feet 8 inches, which was still very short. The house on Forest Avenue was a new ranch style home. One of the new features was a garbage disposal. Grandma could not stand dishes standing for any length of time and, before our busy Mom could get to them, Grandma would do the dishes. However, she put several spoons down that garbage disposal and broke it repeatedly until Dad banned her from using it.

Grandma loved to sing, especially hymns. I loved growing up in a home where she, Mom, Dad, and my siblings all sang. She got on Larry’s case a lot, though he was basically a pretty good boy. Mom used to say that she didn’t get a chance to discipline him because Grandma always got there first! 

Maureen mentioned Grandma’s breakfast and night snack, but she had another habit that I never quite got used to. She would put a cracker between to cookies or a cookie between two crackers, I can’t remember which, but I thought it a rather strange snack (either way).

I think growing up in an extended family really influenced my life. I have always greatly respected the elderly, of which I have now joined the ranks. Grandma’s great faith influenced our mother’s, and hers greatly influenced mine. I think that is the greatest testimony I can give to Mary Magdalene Graf Chisholm.

And finally, from Aunt Kathy...

I remember living with Grandma Chisholm at Batavia Rd in West Chicago & Mountain St in Aurora. She darned, mended our clothes, hand sewed with a thimble, etc. I have a thimble of hers which is my treasure! 

She drank her tea with milk & sugar. The only way I can drink my tea. 

Grandma poured boiling water on her Shredded Wheat cereal, YUCK! In place of mouthwash she rinsed her mouth with Peroxide, GROSS! Her night time snack was tea & toast, toasted with a fork over a gas stove flame. (The beginning of indoor grilling?) 

Grandma always wore an apron daily except when we had company or went to church. I remember her praying on a huge black rosary. She would take her wide wedding band off when she was preparing for bed & while she braided her hair I would ask if I could try on her ring. I decided then when I get married I would like a wide wedding band like Grandma wore. 

We kids were more behaved around her as Grandma could poke us with that ”Hard-as-Nails” pointed finger faster than we could escape!

All in all, Grandma Chisholm was a huge influence on us kids on how to respect anyone older then ourselves, which is getting harder to meet anyone older then us! 

Aunt Kathy was the one that passed on the quilt blocks to me.  Her sisters were shocked to learn of them and had no idea that she had ever done any quilting at all.  Aunt Kathy shared with me that "Grandma was always sewing something.  If she wasn't sewing, she was knitting.  I was the only one of the girls that did much sewing and that is why Mother gave them to me, thinking that I may someday do something with them since made dresses and other clothes for my own children.  Of course I never did anything like quilts, so I thought they needed to go to you."

How special I feel!  And though I have had them in my possession for almost a month I still feel giddy when I look at them.  Okay, I confess... I have taken them out a few times to pet them... **Smirk**

I am thrilled to find another quilter in the family!  Okay, so technically, I am not related by blood, but still in the family!  That's my story and I am stickin' to it. 

Oh, and that memory book that was given to my father-in-law?  We gave the same kind of book to my Mom's parents as well as my own Mom & Dad.  I guess I really should sit and complete one that has some of my own childhood memories... aw, well... I have shared lots of them here on the blog... and I have a scrapbook that goes from birth to high school graduation...  Does that count?  Yeah, probably not.  Sounds like I have a project to complete. 

How about you??? 
Have your documented any childhood memories and family history with your family or children???  

I would highly recommend it!  If you need a starting place I have a word document that I found several years ago about a conversation with loved ones.  Leave a comment with your email address and I would be happy to pass it on.

Quilt happy!


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Baby Chevron

I love getting custom orders for quilts, in general.  But it is even more meaningful when I get a custom order from a friend.  This was the case when a college friend contacted me inquiring if I could make a quilt for his soon to arrive grandson.

It has been a tradition for him and his wife to have a special quilt made for each of their grandchildren.  The last one they had made they were not happy with so they asked me if I might be interested.

Well.... silly question!  Of course I am interested!  And honored that I was asked.

He let me know of his daughter-in-law's decor plan for the room...

Very geometric and very modern.

I had to get beyond the "baby" baby idea of cute and fun, maybe even silly... so I pulled out one of my favorite quilts and sent a photo..

I proposed one done in black, white and grays.  The idea was accepted and I moved forward.

Little Kai is expected to arrive near the end of August so I really needed to get moving.

Using 7 inch blocks and making HST (half-square triangles) trimmed to 6-1/2 inch blocks I got the top done in a day.  I love quick projects!

The next question was to put the name on it or not??? 

With the name was the winner!

I used the same grey batik for the backing and black binding.  I did echo quilting following chevrons with grey thread (on the black) and variegated black and white thread in the grey and white chevrons.  Button hole stitching was used to outline the letters.  Finished size was 42" x 48".

Grandma and Grandpa will soon have the finished quilt in hand and it won't be long before they will have baby Kai in their arms as well. 

While I like the look of the quilt and I understand that babies respond better with black and white rather than bright colors... I prefer the bright, playful and fun colors.  Even pastels would be good.  

But then again, I am probably old fashioned.  ๐Ÿ˜•

What are your preferences for a baby quilt?

I'd love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below. 

Quilt happy!

Melva Loves Scraps - Home of the Quilters Through The Generations series

Linking with:
Let's Make Baby Quilts at Michelle's Romantic Tangle
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Mid-week makers at Quilt Fabrication
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mid-Year Review

As I reviewed my list of 2018 goals I realize they were not all that lofty... realistic may be a better word for them.  
That is pretty much me... a realist through and through.  One friend often refers to me as "an optimistic pessimist". He went on to explain that I am always trying to see the bright side of things, yet anticipate what may happen if the "bright side" doesn't reveal itself.  My response was "Well, doesn't everyone plan for the worst and hope for the best???"  

I guess not... 

On to my quilting goals.  I had just eight quilts on my list... 

  • two baby quilt for my friends great-grandchildren, (DONE)
  • three t-shirt quilts (for another friends twins that graduated from HS and daughter who graduated with a Masters), (waiting to receive the collection of t-shirts
  • a log cabin furrow quilt using the tractor fabric I was given several years ago, (DONE - Farmland)
  • a baby's first year quilt for our sweet grand, Maggie, (DONE)
  • and the Dresden tie quilt. (DONE - I haven't blogged about the completed quilt yet)
Additional quilts that I have finished are

Not bad... I still have plenty of time to complete three t-shirt quilts even if they aren't for my friend.  I have blocks ready to go for several athletic teams as well as what I have been saving over the years from shirts that came from various family vacations and places of employment.

As for blogging goals... let's review. 

"I would love to be able to grow my audience of readers. I have seen some slow growth in the past two years. Joining in on Instagram and creating a page for Melva Loves Scraps on facebook have been a large part of this growth...

Plans to implement continued growth include blog weekly posts and participating in more link-ups, blog hops and quilt alongs. I think I can realistically do the link-ups and hops once a month, without the loss of much time in my studio, affecting my commissioned quilts.

I plan to continue with my series, Quilters Through The Generations, though maybe only monthly rather than weekly. The frequency of these posts depend greatly on the timing of the interviews and the recommendations or "leads" for the quilters to be featured." 

So, how am I doing?  I have definitely grown my audience through blog hops.  I have found that one hop a month is a good groove for me.  Hops that I have participated in...

Christmas in July -  coming soon!
Welcome to My House  - coming in September
Peek-A-Who - coming in October

These hops have encouraged me to create quilts that I would not naturally create using styles and techniques that I sometimes avoid - especially the art quilt.  I had to dig into my past employment for inspiration and I was able to use one of the decorative stitches on my machine.

The linky parties are fun too.  I have been fairly consistent in being able to have at least one post a week that meets the requirements to link up.  To all of the linky party hosts... THANK YOU!

I have joined several block of the month sew alongs and have had great fun making blocks that will be used in a "camping quilt" to be used in our camper.  The "It's a Wild Life" and Pat Sloan's "Let's go camping" blocks will come together nicely to create a scrappy and playful quilt.  The making of these blocks have brought to mind many happy and entertaining memories made while camping as a child.

The 2018 Monthly Color challenge has been fun too!  

This month's block reminds me of Key-lime pie. Mmm... mmm!

I have kept my Quilters Through The Generations series going with stories published every two to three weeks, but am running near the end of my contact list.  I have so enjoyed getting to know the families of the quilters that have been featured and to have the opportunity to see some vintage quilts that grandmothers or great-grandmothers made.  

Again... I need some help in this area.  Are YOU from a long line of quilters?  I would ๐Ÿ’“love๐Ÿ’“ to talk with you and learn your story and help you to preserve your family's story.  You can email me ( or you can leave a comment letting me know you are interested in participating.  Leave your email address along with the comment so that I can contact you.  

I will be featuring a quilter that I found in my husband's family very soon!  

I started a new sort of series here on the blog - No Guilt - Go Quilt - where I feature some time saving techniques and tried & true recipes so that dinner will be ready at the end of a busy day of quilting (or work, allowing extra time for you to go quilt in the evening!).  The make ahead freezer meal preparation can take a few hours (depending on how many meals you want to do), but in the end can free up days!

Having the support of family and "quilty"  friends helps me to stay accountable... A deadline for a commissioned quilt for a pattern test helps too ๐Ÿ˜‰

What (or who) do you count on to keep you on track?

I love to hear from my readers. 

Quilt happy!


Linking with Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl for her Mid-year Review.  Hop over there to see what other quilters goals are...