THIS or THAT #6, “Quilty” sort of…

Hello Friends, coffee or tea is our latest This or That question.  This latest installment of isn’t really quilting-related, except for this…


So, let me hear from you… are you a coffee or tea person?

Thanks for stopping by.  My week got off another busy start — these days I am really tight with fabrics (more quilt samples to be made happen!), and the pencil and paper (more pattern instructions to be made happen as well!). Have a lovely rest of the day.


Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #1. Click here for Vicki’s follow up post.

Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #2.

Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #3.

Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #5.

FREE PATTERN: Pretty Little Houses

Hello Friends, Happy Monday!  I am so glad you are back for a visit.  Please allow me to thank you for all your kind comments for Nancy in my post about Nancy opening a quilt shop with her friend.  Click here if you missed the story.

A few months ago, I had the absolute pleasure playing and designing with some loud, bold but very colorful and happy fabrics from Benartex’s Tango fabric line. And Pretty Little Houses is the result.

Design 1d_51 x 60_solid blue1_high res

Spring is around the corner — and I am ready for some colors!!!

Click here view the entire fabric line.

Click here to download the free-to-use pattern instructions.

Thank you for stopping by, Dear Friends.  I hope you have a lovely week!  I shall catch up with you tomorrow.


[My free to use designs from previous years are listed under “FREE PATTERNS” on the side bar.]

January: A Red Letter Day using Seeing Red (Benartex)

January: Star Struck using Caryl’s Feathers (Benartex)

February: Happy Home House Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Runner (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Throw Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Farmville using Green Farms (Benartex)

February: Zoey’s Flowerbed using Zoey (Benartex)

March: Camp Cozy Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

March: Pretty Little Houses using Tango (Benartex)

Sharing…Nancy’s trailblazing story

Hello Friends, I had gotten to know Nancy from New York after she commented on my 2014 Christmas post.  You can read more about it here.  Upon further correspondences with Nancy, I found out that Nancy is one of the earliest woman quilt shop owners in America.  I am so excited that she graciously wrote her story to share with the Ivory Spring readers.  A huge thank you to Nancy for sharing her quilting history with us!

[Note: Pictures inserted are mine to break up the text.  But for once, I would like you to ignore the pictures, and focus on the text. :)]

Now, go grab a cup of coffee or tea, and and come back to enjoy Nancy’s story!  Be sure you read the entire story – that old man in the story was such a sweet dear!

And here’s Nancy recounting her story for us…


February 2015

Years ago my friend and I wanted to open a Fabric Shop. Back then women did not own fabric shops, meaning that the entire fabric industry was only led by men. If a women was involved in textiles, years later they could only work in textile mills such as a men’s shirt factories etc. In the early day’s of my life I made my own clothes and my children’s clothes.

script monogram5

Now as an old gal 75 years young I cannot recall my actual quilt shop opening date. It was so long ago. That info is now boxed up in my attic. What is more important is the difficulty on how women were treated in the NYC textile district in the earlier days. Today that has changed.


Years ago I met a friend who loved to sew and our friendship developed due to our sewing interests. Much later down the line she noted that she would like to open a fabric shop, and she asked me if I was interested. We had women friends who own businesses in our town. They encouraged us to take on the idea.

New York City was only 2 hours or less from where we lived. My friend and I hopped on a bus and went into the Textile District in NYC several times. Our first wish was to select clothing fabrics. Few folks were quilting in this time frame. If they were quilting they most likely were using any cotton cloth they could get their hands on. Eventually we opened up our fabric shop, having to jump through many hoops to get it open. Our first fabrics were clothing textiles. Followed up much later with the old fashion quilting calico’s as shown below. The first lesson we learned “women were not suppose to be in the textile industry”. We were told time and time again it was a “men’s business”. We should go home and sew.


Well we opened up our quilt shop eventually. First with dress goods and later we added quilting fabrics. But not with ease. The colored fabrics below were called Calico’s. This grouping was called “poison green”. It was produced by a company named Ely Walker. The company would use the same print styles again and again in different colorations.


[Nancy’s Photo]

Later they included more quilt prints and colors. Such as mustard yellows, deep turkey reds, bright yellows, orange reds, normal greens, royal blues etc. All fabric bolts were small. These calico’s were made with a “very narrow” width. It would be folded in half and placed on an 18″ bolt. For every color they all had the same print designs.


One had to wash these early Calico’s independently from other fabrics because many of the dyes would run. The above fabric prints were also sensitive to the sun which created a lot of work before and after making a quilt.

Within the Ely Walker business was a David Walker who was the great-grandfather of President George Herbert Walker Bush. Later Burlington Industries took over the Ely Walker company in 1954. Down the line the old Ely Walker prints began to show up in the fabric industry once again.

Those of us who started to quilt in the 1960’s and 1970’s desired these prints because they were happy colors and historical. Quilters would travel far and wide to get them. We placed these quilting goods in our fabric shop. The original Ely-Walker Dry Goods Company called it Quadriga Cloth previous to being taken over by the Burlington Company. This cloth always had distinct patterns and the weave was very different compared to what we have today. The fabric would shrink when washed.



Below I tell the story of my friend and I opening up a Fabric Shop in an small village in Upstate NY. We had a dream! We loved to sew! Let’s open a fabric shop! Sounds simple. It was not easy. Initially it was a nightmare.


My partner and I made numerous trips to the Textile District in New York City. We would knock on Showroom doors and tell our story. We were politely told “over and over again” to go back home and sew! The textile industry was for only men. We were told “Only men owned fabric shops” which they did at that particular time. We were thrown out from several textile places over time. It was discouraging. We made one last trip to NYC and were thrown out again. Being physically exhausted we sat on a park bench, emotionally depleted. While sitting my friend said “Lets try one more place.” I noted I was ready to throw in the towel. I was tired of being put down. She kept pressing, and yes we went to one more company.


This company was a back street location that looked shabby and there was a tiny fabric sign hanging over a dark door. We opened the door having to climb up a long stairway. Which by the way had only one small ceiling light. I stopped dead in my tracks and said “This is NYC and I’m not going up to the top of those stairs.

My friend and I chatted and when we got to the top of the stairs we knocked on an old antique wooden door. A women yelled “We are closing.” Quickly followed up by a Man’s voice saying “Let them In”! We looked at each other and carefully opened the door. An elderly man came out and said, “What can I do for you ladies?” He led us to his office. We told him our story. When he sat down behind his desk he shook his head from side to side and said “This industry has to change for the better!” This gentlemen had to be in his late 70’s or more. He noted that he had beautiful fabrics and that he did. He must have rented that spot years ago and never removed himself from this old area.


He suggested if we opened a fabric shop we had to purchase fabrics that were special and unique that no other fabric shops had in our local area. He asked how much money could we put out? We knew that we could not afford his fabrics as a start up. He said, “Don’t worry. Take a look at my fabrics and put the ones you like aside.”

Well, we lived in a historical small town in upstate NY. Could we sell these fabrics? He said mostly likely we could and,  “I have an idea.” He told us that he was ashamed of the men who worked in the textile district, noting that old habits had to die in the textile industry. Sadly today I cannot grasp his name too many years have gone by.

Back then most bolts held 20 to 25 yards per bolt. He asked us how much yardage we wanted for each bolt. Other companies would not cut the bolts down. If one made a mistake on a bolt of fabric they would have to eat it.

We reviewed his fabrics and set them aside as suggested. He looked at us and said: “I will ship those fabrics and I will not send you a bill. Pick out what you want and how many yards you want on your bolts. I will ship it to you and you can send me payments at your discretion.  This will help you get up on your feet.” He noted that we seemed to be responsible ladies and the deal was sealed with a handshake. That could not happen in 2015. Start-up’s need thousands of dollars.


Back home we had rented a small room behind a popular gift shop. We had a grand opening with about 20 bolts, beautiful ribbons, buttons, zippers and pattern companies. When we had our Grand Opening our two husbands were outside leaning on a parking meter, not believing that we would have a grand opening, with barely any goods. Never underestimate the power of women. Locals showed up and they spread the news.

We called our shop the Buttonhole because we were so tiny. My partner and I worked for 5 years without a paycheck. All funds went back into new fabric and supplies. Basically it was a labor of love. Thankfully our husbands had good jobs and this was why we could do the above.

mothers love1

The front gift shop eventually closed and we had a chance to rent the larger areas in the building. The building was a four story historical building on the NYS Historical List. We taught sewing classes and eventually sold Bernina sewing machines. Eventually a Quilt Guild was started in our area and they were asking for calico’s like shown above. Down the line we did Quilt Shows and more ladies came into the shop.

Approximately 10 years later, The American University of Women acknowledged our business. They recognized that we were women who broke the glass ceiling. They requested our story, and we were told that it was placed in a box buried at the NYS Senate House to be opened in a hundred years.

Now as an elder, many of my former customers are still talking about the Buttonhole when we bump into each other in a modern quilt store or at local Quilt Retreats. They still say they miss our shop which is lovely to hear. Quilting brings much into ones life! New friends, helping hands, generous hearts, shared skills, joyous laughter and pleasant thrills!


With the onset of computers and women like Ivory Spring, I do have to say that I totally love her site stories, seeing her marvelous quilts and reading her gentle stories. She has personally chosen to live close to the earth and sincerely knows what really counts in life. She also knows a lot about American History and yes, I will be making her recent pie recipe….The Martha Washington Pie. It was George’s favorite birthday pie!

Happy Quilting To All!

Nancy Kavaky


I hope you have enjoyed Nancy’s inspiring and very sweet story.  I hope you will leave in the comment section a few words of appreciation for Nancy, and thank her for sharing her story with us.  You may click here in case you are wondering about George Washington’s birthday pie.

Behind the Scenes #1

I thought I would show you a few “must-haves” when I do pattern writing.  The following shot was taken a few days ago when I was writing instructions for a design where I had to account for more than 30 fabrics.


I am not very gadgety — so, except for my computer, everything else is old-school.  See that day planner behind my coffee cup?  Yeah, I live under the rock!  And that cup of coffee — absolute must have especially when I am needing to focus for calculating yardages.

How about you?  Do you tend toward technology, or do you tend toward old-school, or do you find yourself right in the middle?

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you have a great day!


Happy Wednesday, Friends!  I hope you are well.  I have another free-to-use pattern to share with you, featuring Quilting Treasures’ new fabric line Camp Cozy.

High Res_Camping Cozy Quilt

Fabric strips + 9-patch blocks = an off-centered design that highlights a woodland camping fabric.  I love that focal print, don’t you?  Perfect for scouts, and the out-doorsy type, yes?

Click here to view the entire fabric range.

Click here to download pattern instructions.

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you have a loveliest of days.


[My free to use designs from previous years are listed under “FREE PATTERNS” on the side bar.]

January: A Red Letter Day using Seeing Red (Benartex)

January: Star Struck using Caryl’s Feathers (Benartex)

February: Happy Home House Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Runner (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Throw Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Farmville using Green Farms (Benartex)

February: Zoey’s Flowerbed using Zoey (Benartex)

March: Camp Cozy Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

BLOG HOP Round #2: Recreating Antique Quilts

Hello Friends, it is good to have you visit again.  I am MOST excited to announce a BLOG HOP going on today for my book Recreating Antique Quilts.  You may recall we have had a blog hop for the book a while back here.  It’s time for Blog Hop Round #2.

blog hop button

Today, four special friends are giving you their review and a giveaway of the book, as well as showing you how they have used one of the patterns in the book.  I am not going to spoil it for you by giving away any sneak peeks.  You just have to visit their blogs to find out.

The participants are selected to be part of the hop because I feel each of them brings something different to the table, and I want to highlight their work through the projects of Recreating Antique Quilts.


Lisa’s style is quite different from mine, but one thing I love about her quilts is that her work is vibrantly full of life and colors.  Lisa and I share similar life experiences because a huge part of our lives is dealing with kiddos. So, she and I often work late into the night!  She has a cool rendition for one of my book projects.  I have seen the preview – you have to trust me on this one!!


Kay is one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met!  Funny thing is we knew each other from when I lived in Arkansas. But we never had the time to really connect with each other until Spring Market at Pittsburgh last year!  Kay is an absolutely prolific applique-r!  I want to be like her when I grow up.  Kay’s has had her work published in Quilt Mania as well as Primitive Quilts – very impressive!


Doreen loves machine quilting as much as I do, maybe even more!  She is well loved by many in the blogging community.  Doreen brings with her an extensive sewing background.  It’s a joy to have Doreen participate in this second round of Recreating Antique Quilts Blog Hop.  I have also seen a preview of Doreen’s project.  All I can say is… beautiful.


Karen is not a stranger in the online quilting community either.  She designs projects for Moda using their precuts. Karen participated in the first hop, and asked to be included for a second time because she has innovative ideas on how to interpret one of my projects!   If you haven’t seen Karen’s work, you simply have to because her designs are just darling!

Well, I just have to let you go, and visit these lovely ladies!  I hope you will have a fun hop, and more importantly, you will make firm friends with these ladies!  Have a great day!

Projects At-A-Glance

Projects At-A-Glance

Book Premise #3: Friendship / How to use the book

00 RAQCover

In my experience, one very sweet hallmark of the quilting community is the strong bonds of friendship among quilters!  Honestly, my quilting journey has taken me to exciting places because of the great friends I have made at the various stages of the journey.

This snippet is from about quilting bee:
The quilting bee was an important means of socializing for colonial and pioneer women (and men). Through the winter months, the women would piece their quilt tops. Since there was no central heating in these homes, there was usually only one main heated room that was too crowded during the winter months for a quilt frame to be assembled. When the weather became warmer, an invitation was sent to the surrounding neighbors for the quilting bee.

On the day of the quilting bee, the quilters would arrive early and begin marking the quilt top which had been put into the quilt frame by the hostess. Very often, plates, thimbles and tea cups were used to mark the quilting patterns. (Did you read that?!  TEACUPS!!!  You who collect fabrics and china — you are SO justified in your obsessions collections!  I simply have to insert a china picture here.) 


The quilters would then being to quilt the top while exchanging conversation. The quilt had to finished before the husbands and beaus showed up in the late afternoon when dinner was served to all, the hostess being given a chance to show off her cooking skills. After dinner, there was very often a square dance or country dance with fiddles accompanying the dancers. The quilting bee was an important part of the social life of these people surpassed only by religious gatherings.

My summary on things: FRIENDSHIPS

So, it is with “scrappy” friendships and block exchanges in mind that I design a couple of my book projects: namely Oh! Happy Stars and Feathery Formation.  These two projects are conducive for an activity within a guild or quilting group.  Members can get together to learn to make the blocks using fabrics with theme selected by the group (for example, ugliest fabric, fabrics of certain color shades, Christmas fabrics, Spring fabrics etc – you get the idea!).   Members make multiple blocks for exchange — and the result is a scrappy quilt that holds memories of your quilting friends.

star & bird COB copy

An additional “friendship” note on Feathery Formation.  Of course you can quilt to your heart’s content (like I did) on the white patches. :)  But I also thought it might be nice for a friendship quilt to have the white patches be printed recipes from participating quilters on fabric squares and pieced into the quilt, or even words of encouragement for a going-away quilt.


My Floral Fancy (you can see more pictures here) and Ivory Baltimore projects are projects that have possibilities of expanding friendships.  By that I mean, the blocks can easily be adapted as the center blocks for round robin projects within a quilting group of friends.  Or the same block can be made multiple times in by friends in different colorways to make more scrappy quilts.  I am re-making my Ivory Baltimore in a fun way – stay tuned for details.


I hope this post will give you further ideas on how to use Recreating Antique Quilts, and not merely have the book tucked away on a shelf.  And more importantly, I hope this book will play a small part in your friendships – whether you make a project from the book as a gift, or being a part of a quilting activity.

And speaking of friends, do stop by tomorrow for details on a blog hop participated by some of my special friends!

blog hop button


You may read ALL about Recreating Antique Quilts here.

Recreating Antique Quilts Project Highlight #2: Re-interpreting Mrs. Miles’ Double Irish Chain with Sawtooth Star Quilt

00 RAQCover

Happy Saturday, Friends.  It’s hard for me to believe the week is over!   This was meant to be posted yesterday, but life and work happened.  Today, I am happy to share with you my Oh, Happy Stars! quilt — it is the cover quilt of my book Recreating Antique Quilts.  A special thank you to Mrs. Miles for inspiring Oh, Happy Stars!

low rew_Happy Stars Styled

My Oh, Happy Stars! is inspired by a Double Irish Chain with Sawtooth Star quilt, made by Mrs. Frank Miles from New Jersey (circa 1840-1850).


You can see that Mrs. Miles’ quilt is much scrappier than my Oh, Happy Stars!  I brightened Oh, Happy Stars! with an extensive use of white.  And I used cream to alternate with the white as ground fabric in the star blocks to give the design a little more depth.  You can see my “scrappy” feel is much more controlled compared to Mrs. Miles!



And to keep the general feel of openness of my quilt, I decided to leave out the swag applique border.  Instead I appliqued a simple bird/swirl at the top right corner of the quilt.  I debated whether to repeat the applique at the bottom left corner of the quilt to balance things out.  In the end, I didn’t because I thought having that applique just on the top right corner keeps things from being too predictable.


Appplique seems to be confined within certain borders or areas in traditional applique quilt.  I kind of bent that unspoken rule a little bit by letting my applique “spill” over to the pieced portion of the quilt to keep things a bit more interesting.

star & bird COB copy

Quilting on Oh, Happy Stars!, done with Aurifil Mako 50 thread over Hobbs Tuscany Silk batting, is a mix of allover quilting, and dense quilting in the outer border of the quilt.  I did not want the quilting to dominate in the quilt center star blocks.  I wanted the colors of the star to jump out – so I quilted my Jester’s Hat allover quilting in the quilt center…


… and I left the fancier quilting for the white outer border.




The quilt design appears busy with all the different colors, and with the dense quilting in the white outer border, I felt like a little rest for the eye and contrast to the dense quilting was in order — so, I quilted straight line 1/4″ apart in portions of the outer border in order to achieve the rest and contrast effect.


A huge huge thank you goes to the editorial team at Landauer Publishing.  The editorial team work hard in making Recreating Antique Quilts happen, and to reflect my personality! I have heard comments about the book being very “me” — and I couldn’t agree more. You will get full sized templates — color-coded so that you know exactly what piece goes where when you are doing the applique placement.  I really like how the applique templates are presented.


Oh, Happy Stars! is a stash-busting project.

#1.  You can easily use the scraps in your stash.  Those squares are small, but you can easily increase the size if you wish to.

#2.  I also meant Oh, Happy Stars! to be a friendship quilt in that the scrappy look of the design is conducive for a block exchange among quilting friends.  Using a specific theme or color for the block exchange would be fun: Christmas, Floral, Spring, Batik etc — and how about the ugliest fabric in each quilter’s stash?!

#3.  My quilt finishes at 45″ square.  But the final size can easily be increased by increasing the block size or number of blocks.

#4.  That bird/swirl applique — if you like it but aren’t really wanting to do the piecing required for the quilt. How about just using the bird/swirl applique on a strip pieced vertical banner?


Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have liked Oh, Happy Stars!  There was very little doubt that Oh, Happy Stars would be the cover quilt from the very beginning.   Looking at the projects of the book, which would you have picked to be cover quilt? And if you have further ideas on how to use the design, I would love to hear them!

Projects At-A-Glance

Projects At-A-Glance

I will also take this opportunity to announce a blog hop for Recreating Antique Quilts next Tuesday.  So, be sure to come back for details.

blog hop button

Happy a fanta-bulous weekend, Dear Friends!


Click here to read about all things Recreating Antique Quilts.

Rescued Treasure

You can imagine the chill (and thrill) when I saw this little tidbit about how this dollhouse came to be in the collection of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.  That contractor who discovered and rescued this 12 foot long dollhouse from the claw of the bulldozer is a hero in my book.


I shall just let the pictures do the talking for most of the rest of the post.











I was totally transfixed by this amazing world of small, imagining myself as the lady of the manor… until I heard Miss Baby say, “Mom, could you please stop taking pictures so that I can look at at the rooms?”  [Child, why did you drag me back to reality?]


Are you a rescuer of treasures from the past?  I would love to hear your story!

[I once purchased an old Duncan Phyfe dining set — because I couldn’t bear the sadness on the face of the original owner parting with her dining set because she was moving to a nursing home.  She had had the set for decades, since she was married.  I told her I would love her dining set to the best of my ability.  Sadly, I too had to part with that dining set when we made the move out east a few years ago. There are days I wonder if that dining set is treated well by its new owner.  My love of history makes me go warm and fuzzy and sentimental over old things — what can I say? Disclaimer – I am most certainly not a pack rat though. That’s possible, right?]

Quilty THIS or THAT #5

Hello Friends, scrappy quilts are always favorites among quilters.  Our This or That question today is: controlled scrappy or random scrappy?

Scattered Leaves


Nature Walk


Color Burst


Stars Aligned

Design 1h_67.5 x 79.5

Get Happy


Do you like to set out your scrappy patches (or blocks) on a design wall, and arrange to determine the final layout?  Or do you like to just “pick” up the fabric or block and use the “let the chip falls where it is” method to determine the final layout?

I can’t wait to read your choice.

Thanks for stopping by.


Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #1. Click here for Vicki’s follow up post.

Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #2.

Click here for Quilty THIS or THAT #3.

Calm Assurance: Sneak Peek

Hello Friends, it sure was nice being able to ship out another quilt — albeit I had 45 minutes to pack the quilt, make a mad dash to the Post Office, and in time to pick up Miss Baby from school. But at least it is on its way to the editor.


I tried out a new allover quilting motif on Calm Assurance.   It is not my original.  I think it is one done by Patsy Thompson although I am not certain.  This motif has LOTS of movement, and turned out to be perfect for a very geometric quilt.  But it took my little pea brain quite a bit to figure out moving one cluster of  “Palm Tree Leaves in a Monsoon” (that’s what this motif reminds me of) to the next.  And here I am, calling the quilt Calm Assurance.   HA!


A few weeks ago, Miss Baby music teacher impressed upon her that a teacher should always still be learning and practicing.  It resonated with me because I believe a quilting person is one who keeps on learning as well.  My thoughts on that are sprinkled here in this post.  My Palm Tree Leaves in a Monsoon can use to improve, I think — and I can’t wait to quilt the motif on another quilt to fine tune my stitching path, my swirl curvature etc.  And there’s another thing Miss Baby’s music teacher stresses – to perfect the basics, and THEN one can build on the basics! He cannot be more right than that!

I hope you are doing just that, my dear quilting friends!  Thank you for stopping by.  I shall catch up with you later.

FREE PATTERN: Zoey’s Flowerbed

Hello Friends, I hope you are doing well.  Thank you for visiting again.  A major reason for my demanding schedule is due to a large amount of designing I have been doing since summer last year for upcoming fabric lines.  After all these months I am finally able to share with you many of those designs aimed to feature these new fabric lines!

I was honored to be able to design a quilt for the beloved Eleanor Burns’ new line Zoey!  If you like soft, sweet, romantic, English gardens… you will love ZOEY!

High Res_Design 3_Rework 5

Click here to view the entire fabric range. [I can definitely see these fabrics used in a girl’s room!]

Click here to download the pattern instructions.

And remember — ask your local quilt shops to carry Eleanor’s newest fabrics just because… we love Elenaor!

Another busy day… so, I’d better run for now!  I hope you have a lovely day!  Hugs to you all.


[My free to use designs from previous years are listed under “FREE PATTERNS” on the side bar.]

January: A Red Letter Day using Seeing Red (Benartex)

January: Star Struck using Caryl’s Feathers (Benartex)

February: Happy Home House Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Runner (Quilting Treasures)

February: Happy Home Throw Quilt (Quilting Treasures)

February: Farmville using Green Farms (Benartex)

February: Zoey’s Flowerbed using Zoey (Benartex)