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.

One day that Ryan was over here, I decided that I had to straighten up my needlework/yarn project room. I usually stand at the door and toss things in there to be sorted and organized later. Amongst other things I found a needlepoint tote bag that I had started with an EGA group in 2001. It is on interlock canvas, and I had already completed a lot of work on it. Am not especially happy with my colors, but it is an education to get them to work well together. This project was originally designed in the 1970's and revised by the author in the 1980's. The holes in the canvas are huge, and I'm using 2 strands of Paternayan wool, perle cotton and various metallic ribbons to spice it up and give it a bit of dazzle. I drive my husband nuts when we are watching a show on TV and I am rattling through all my noisy plastic bags of threads. I have them sorted by color family.

The first two photos are photos of copies that I have of another person's bag. This is the front/bottom/back piece. The side gussets and handles are separate pieces of canvas.

This is the start of my front and my finished "bottom--blue and yellow. I have it on roller bars.

Of course, I will fill in the background around the "N." Making color choices are the greatest dilemma in this piece. The stitches are great fun. I am embellishing some of them where I can see bare canvas peeking through.

Old Needlepoint Piece—My husband Bill had seen this piece in my computer room. It wasn't even hanging on the wall. He decided he'd like it up at the lake since it is a "water" scene. Couldn't believe it, but I was certainly happy. The lake house is his domain since I have taken over most of the space in our Naperville house with my stuff!! Unfortunately, I did not date it. Took the class at my local American Needlepoint Guild probably in the 1980's. Learned a lot of techniques. Can't remember the name of the teacher. 

Notice that the yellow and black awning is a second piece of canvas stitched separately and attached to the first. Canvas threads are removed in some of the windows.

The tug boat was also stitched first and attached later.

Lately I have been pursuing family ancestors on Decided also to look for any history I could find on the antique samplers that I currently own. Unfortunately, one has to pay more for access to Ancestry records outside the US, but my local library subscribes worldwide so that I can look there. I also have been on, the Mormon genealogy website which is free. On Familysearch I have found information on my Betsy Cheesman Leach sampler which was stitched in Bardney, Lincolnshire, England. I was also able to write to the Lincolnshire County site for information on the Leach family. Both Betsy and her mother died within a few months of each other, and I wanted to see if there was an epidemic in the town at that time. I received a very prompt reply in a lovely letter from a person in England. There wasn't any outbreak. Betsy died when she was only 21 years old. I wonder if that is why her sampler was sold outside the family. She had no direct descendants. If you have any antique samplers, I urge you to find out their family history. I would suspect that this would actually add value to the sampler.

Betsy Cheesman Leach sampler 1845.

Betsy Cheesman Leach (1832-1853) was born to Elizabeth Cheesman (1790-1853) and Thomas Leach (1783-1876). She was one of 8 children. Betsy was christened on April 15, 1832, and was buried June 21, 1853. I have been unable to determine her cause of death. Her mother also died in 1853. I have found conflicting dates of her death—June or September.  Will have to delve further into this. Betsy's father lived into his 90's.

As I recall, there were 114 tiny square head nails in the frame!

Reproduction on 35 count linen.

One more thing—I have purchased some clear page protectors at an office supply store. For each of my samplers I am going to place the family information that I find in the page protector and tape it to the back of the framed piece. I believe the page protectors are acid free.

This genealogy stuff is a fun project, and I guarantee you will find out some interesting information on your girls and your family. Of course, it gets to be an addiction searching the internet for your girls and your family members!  You just have to set a limit on your time!! Easier said than done...

Gotta go eat lunch. Had hoped to rake out my garden today. Finally a lovely sunny day here in Chicagoland. --Nancy 


  1. Oh my. Naperville is magnificent!

  2. love this post something for everyone. it is so much fun to have little ones in our lives. love the quilting and of course punch needle is so mindless,relaxing and beautiful. i keep meaning to look up my antique samplers history and now need to just do it thanks.

  3. Hi Nancy. Wow! I am in love with your samplers. Do you mind posting a conversion of your "Naperville"? It is fantastic! I have that in my stash, and I wanted to change the colors too. I love what you have done. I also love the different stitches that you used. I found you from the ABC blog, and you have really inspired me! Thanks so much in advance! Great job on all your projects.

  4. Generally when I finish a project, I get rid of my graph/instructions because I know I will never stitch it again, and I did that with this project. I did use DMC 930 for the grapes. Just pick what colors you like and go for it. When my friend Mary Garry stitched the design, she rearranged the buildings and added/changed some of the motifs. I followed her lead for the most part. Make 2 copies of your graph, and then you can cut and paste the motifs/buildings to suit yourself. I think you can drag the photos from this blog to your desktop and print them as a reference for when you are choosing colors or making design changes to the pattern. --Nancy

  5. I just found your blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts! I love the antique samplers that you hav posted about!! Absolutely gorgeous!

    I am also amazed at your beautiful quilting! Such lovely work!

    Glad you grandson is feeling better!

    A Shenandoah Sampler

  6. Thanks for your nice words, Valerie. Have been busy lately and haven't posted as much as I'd like. Briefly visited your blog. Had seen the "Richmond" sampler years ago when I was at the Valentine. Loved it then as now. Taking a break from samplers for a bit til I have my annual eye doctor appointment in July. Looked at some 32 ct. linen and it looked so small! Can't believe it. Am doing some 18 count needlepoint at the moment--Prairie Schooler seasonal ornaments. Fun and fast. Thanks again. --Nancy

  7. Nancy ... I just found your blog. What a wonderful treat! I love reading about your work and seeing the original samplers.

    Can you recommend the best place online to see your full collection of antique sampler reproduction charts? I am finding that my local shops are carrying fewer and fewer antique reproduction charts, which is disappointing. And many of the online sites do not provide information like what stitches are used, et cetera. I would love to discover some online sites that specialize in the antique reproductions and that provide good information about each piece.

    I have found several sites that have your designs, but they are small pictures without much detail. I would like to know more about the Jane Pawner sampler, and others of yours, too.

    Many thanks!


  8. Hi Linda, I don't think I ever saw your comment until now. Wyndham Needleworks, and Attic Needlework carry my samplers by special order. I do not know anything about the Jane Pawson sampler. It was in the collection at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago which has been sold. It is an English sampler but I have no history on Jane. Let me know what kind of information that you would like on my reproductions and I would be happy to send it to you. —Nancy

  9. Hi, Nancy ... I just saw your reply! Thank you so much.

    Following up on Jane Pawson -- so did you get to borrow it from the museum in order to do the chart? This is one I'm still hoping to stitch.

    I've stitched Ann Raymer for my mother. I really enjoyed reading more about that one here on your site.

    It looks like the best place to see your designs is at Wyndham Needleworks. Do you still provide catalogues?

    Thanks again. I love your designs, and I love your web site!


  10. Yes, we did borrow Jane Pawson from the Museum of Science and Industry. I believe they let us take it home to chart. When we charted this sampler, the internet was not big at all so we had very few resources in checking Jane's history. Today we might be able to find out more about her. If you post a comment to me and include your email address, I can choose not to actually post your comment and then send you a scanned copy of my catalog--old though it is. I don't know if Wyndham Needleworks includes specific info on my samplers—like recommended linen count, size of the piece, number of colors, etc. Thanks for writing. I have been really bad at taking time to blog though I love doing it. Life just gets busier and busier the older I am. Nancy