Sunday, May 1, 2011

SAMPLER FAMILY HISTORIES—Quilts—Stitching Projects

What I've Been Up To—Once again life has been busy and I haven't been able to find time to blog. Better busy than bored I always say. My little grandson Ryan, aged 9 months, spent 2 nights in the hospital last week with bronchiolitis that he probably picked up at daycare. He is slowly getting better, but his breathing still sounds terrible. Babysitting him twice a week has seriously cut into my free time. Why does a baby fight taking a nap? Why is it so much fun to play on the floor with a baby?

My mom turned 90 in March and is doing very well. She plays bridge as much as she can and is in great health. This is a photo of her and my oldest daughter, Katie. My Prairie Schooler ABC is in the background!

I have been trying to catch up on my quilting. I finished quilting a quilt for the Elgin Youth Symphony last week and also 2 quilts for the Our Savior's Lutheran Day Care. I believe all 3 quilts will be raffled as fund raisers. Yesterday I practiced my feather quilting on a crib quilt for a local charity. I have 2 more of these to do plus some others for Quilts of Valor for the troops. Time always seems to be a premium around here. I used my Innova long arm machine that has a 26" throat plate. Fantastic machine. Lots and lots of fun to use.

This is the Elgin Youth Symphony quilt. I only quilted it. Did not piece it.

Years ago Elgin was the home of the Elgin Watch Company so there is watch fabric in addition to all kinds of music fabric.

Great piano key fabric! 

Pre-school peace quilt. I did not piece this, only quilted it.

The kids made palm prints with paint.

2nd peace quilt. The kids were heavy-handed with their paint and I could not quilt through the thick layer of the painted hearts. Just quilted around them!

I took a Joanie Poole from Wisconsin class on "heirloom" machine quilting using my regular sewing machine through my local quilt guild, Riverwalk Quilters. I was amazed that I did okay—probably because I had the long arm experience. This is a tiny piece 18" square approximately on a silk/cotton blend with very thin thread. I have kept my sewing machine in the kitchen to remind me to work on the piece. The tiny gold pins keep the quilt sandwich together until I finish quilting it. The center grid was quilted with a walking foot.

I marked the ivy leaves with a washable blue pen and free hand quilted it with the feed dogs dropped on my machine. I pushed the fabric under the stationery needle of the machine.

When I finish with all 4 ivy corner areas, I am supposed to fill in the extra space around them with a tiny stippling free-hand design--which will probably take forever to do! Ha! Ha

A few weeks ago I taught a class at the Hinsdale Embroiderers' Guild on the technique of punch needle embroidery. I was the second choice for a teacher as the original person wanted $400 + room and board/day! Guess she really didn't want to teach it. I come cheap! Drives me crazy when they call punchneedle "stitching" or "embroidery!" Had a lot of fun as I know many of the gals in the guild and would be a member if I didn't have a conflicting yoga class at the same time as the guild. I taught this pumpkin and also a snowman which is now put away with my Christmas stuff. Always interesting to teach two different designs at one time. If you haven't tried this technique of punch needle, try it as it is fast and fun. The biggest expense is the punch needle and you need a good one. The Cameo brand is just fine. I like the small needle best. Most economical to buy one that comes with small-med-large needles. You can buy the weaver's cloth fabric at Joann Fabric. You'll also need a hoop with a lip because the fabric needs to be drum tight. Punch needle uses up a lot of floss but is a mindless technique--and sometimes we need just that.

I finished my "Naperville" town scene based on a Carriage House design and my friend Mary Garry's version of it. I changed colors and used any fast stitches that I could think of. No cross stitch for me but half cross or satin or scotch, etc. Haven't ironed it yet. I think I stitched on 26 count linen over 1 thread with continental stitch/basketweave. The photos are a bit dark as the piece is laying on my honey-colored wood kitchen floor.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I have been meaning to write but have been busy. Have been working on my Delta Gamma newsletter for the alums of my chapter at Michigan State classes1946-1970. Trying to get them to contribute to the newsletter is never ending. And with email, it is so easy. Yes, those who joined in 1946 probably don't have email. I understand. Well, the stragglers are sending their news and payment and I should be done with it in the next few weeks.

I have also been taking a wonderful on line class on learning to quilt feather patterns. You know, those glorious swirls of long ago. The class is 6 weeks long, and we have handouts, and see slides and videos on line. We practice on paper first before we even turn on our long arm sewing machines. It is really hard to draw feather designs, let alone sew them with a machine, but I am slowly improving. has drawn me into it's web. Once I get on the site, I can't seem to get off. I'm busy searching for lots of different ancestors and actually had a breakthrough this week when I found my great grandmother's family in Pittsburgh in the 1800s. But once you answer one question, another looms before you. Fun stuff that genealogy. Your own mystery.

I have been stitching every night on my Carriage House Samplings "city" "sampler." Just snapped a few pics to show you. I see my head is shadowing the shots, but you get the idea. My friend Mary Garry stitched it first, and I liked her colors better than the original, but I have changed some to suit my taste. I am stitching it on 24 count linen over 1 thread with half cross/continental stitch and other needlepoint/embroidery stitches to make the work go faster. The name of my town—Naperville—will be added at the bottom between those curly motifs.

At the top where that straight horizontal line is there will be a house and various motifs.

I am waiting to get the vegetation completed before I choose the building colors.

You can see that I have used a lot of diagonal satin stitches for my leaves on both trees.


Emmanuelle in France  wrote me that she also has a Withy Ditch School sampler! That is 3 that I know about. The first one I found at our local history museum, Naper Settlement. And then I found out that my friend in Michigan had one. Now France!! Emmanuelle has sent me photos of her sampler, and you will be amazed at the similarity between hers and the one from Naper Settlement.

The first group is of the sampler owned by my friend in Michigan. Margaret Saunders stitched her sampler in 1848. This is quite a bit later than the other two, but although the exact designs are not the same, the general set up is.

This is our reproduction of part of the sampler from Naper Settlement. Ann Carter 1852. We stitched it over 1 thread on 20 count linen. The count of the original fabric was very high.

This is the original Ann Carter. I know I have other pictures somewhere but they are probably with my slides. I don't think I scanned them. Sorry.

This is the sampler that now resides in France—Anne Weaver 1852. Anne and Ann share the same setup, same verse and many of the same motifs. Glad each girl was able to add her own personality. Love Ann Carter's Adam and Eve. It must have been a windy day!

I'd sure say that Ann Carter and Anne Weaver were students together at this school in England, wouldn't you? Anne Weaver is in much better condition than Ann Carter. Fun to see the comparisons--just like when we go to a workshop and no piece turns out the same.

Emmanuelle sent me the websites for the reproduction of the Anne Weaver sampler. It’s a french online shop called” Reflets de Soie”. The picture of the reproduction is below. Very colorful!

Gotta go now and practice sewing my feathers. I want to learn how to do this, and all it takes is PPP. Practice, practice, practice. Be back soon. Spring is coming here. Our snow is almost all melted and I saw some tiny tips of daffodils starting to come through the soil. --Nancy

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Am slowly getting caught up around here. For the past 35+ years I have been editing a newsletter for my college sorority chapter, Delta Gamma at Michigan State. I include gals who were initiated in the years 1946–1970. Used to also include the younger ones from 1971–75 but they never wrote so I dropped them. I send out about 450 initial letters in addition to emailing those who have email addresses. Usually I hear from about 150-200 of them. They mostly still live in Michigan, but one is married to a Dutch man and lives in Dubai, 2 are in Canada, and one in Britain. There are 60 some who are "lost" and about the same number have died. I was born in 1946 so it is interesting to see what has become of all these women over the years. When I started out at MSU, you had to wear skirts to class; and the year I graduated you could wear anything and didn't even have to come home to your dorm or sorority house at night—crazy times those late 60's were! For the initial letter of the newsletter I used to stuff a small envelope pre-addressed to me with their questionnaire. The questionnaire was already filled out by my computer, and I had to stuff all those envelopes and lick all those stamps and envelopes. Yuk! This week I decided to try the new--to me--larger 6.5" x 11" postcards. Also bought a new data base and new desktop publishing program for my newer Mac. Everything takes a bit of a learning curve, but I have the post cards finally ready to go. Luckily, my old huge trusty HP printer did not make mincemeat of my card stock. I even decided to allow the gals to pay me via PayPal if they wish, and I can send the newsletter to them in an e-pub format so that they can read it on their e-readers. Received a note today from one gal kicking and screaming about how she didn't like new technology and didn't ever use her GPS—just her trusty old paper maps! It should be an interesting journey this year!!


ANN CARTER—We found this large English sampler at our local historical society, Naper Settlement, Naperville, IL. In years past historical societies accepted anything that was given as a gift no matter its origin or pertinence to their collection. I always joked about this sampler calling it the "uterus" sampler! Love it despite the weird basket. It is a typical English sampler stitched on a fine wool ground—note the moth holes—and filled with motifs. Ann Carter also stitched the name of her school—Withy Ditch School in Dunkerton. Withy refers to willow. The sampler is on a very fine count so we decided to stitch it over 1 thread on 20 count fabric. In those days stitchers did not tolerate over one stitching. We took only a small part of the sampler to reproduce. As you can see, the border on the original is not counted but stitched with embroidery stitches in a beautiful vine. 

This sampler is in a private collection. It is also a Withy Ditch School sampler! Hard to believe. The setup is the same as the original Ann Carter sampler. Note that it is stretched on a wooden frame. I would have thought that the fabric touching the wood would have darkened, but not so.

 I think that must be Margaret standing on the roof of her house or school!

Another ADAM & EVE Sampler—

Jane Salusbury—
My friend's daughter brought this sampler home from England. It was stitched on linen with a wool thread. Unfortunately it is not dated. I call this the short waisted Adam & Eve. Love their bright pink skin!

I reproduced this on linen with DMC thread. It is cross stitch only.

We reproduced the Mary Walker sampler. As you can see, It is deteriorating very badly. I had originally thought it was a Quaker sampler, but not so. Wrong kind of alphabets.

The reverse of the sampler is below. Very neat stitcher. Hard to tell the front from the back.

Remember there were very few linen color choices in the late 1980's and early 1990's when we reproduced this sampler. I imagine many stitchers "antiqued" it when it was finished.

I can't seem to get the pics of the Eliza Low Pumroy sampler to line up the way I want. Sorry

The photo on the left is the front of the antique sampler. 

On the right is the reverse of the bottom of the sampler. It was stitched with wool and is probably English in origin.  

On the left is the front of the top of the sampler. Note the small buttonholed hanger on the top right. I think a bunch of moths feasted on this piece—lots of missing wool in the letters. 

On the right is the reverse of the entire sampler. 

Below is the front of the bottom of the sampler. Note that the piece is hemmed on all sides. 

 This is the reproduction. It was stitched with DMC floss on 35 count cream linen. The colors are based on the original wool colors.

This is the top of the reproduction before it was hemmed.

 Note the inscription above: Eliza Low Pumroy is my name and with my needle I worked the same although my age is but small twice 4 and that is all. She was only 8 years old. Hard to imagine.

Below is the photo of the gal who collected the sampler. She had worked in a dry goods store in Marshall, Michigan. At one time she was named the prettiest girl in Marshall. The man who was later her husband used to stop by to sell things to the store. He fell in love with her and persuaded her to marry him. He was from New York. After they were married, she found out that he was very wealthy. They probably traveled alot and she collected her samplers then. Samplers were her favorite thing to collect.

This last sampler is a very tiny one stitched on 48 count gauze. I designed it in the Boston style and stitched it as a project for my friend Annelle Ferguson's book about miniature needlework.