Christmas Gifts 2011: Big Brother

Civil War Quilt, in progress

Next up in the handmade gift round-up is this quilt, a (American) Civil War Era reproduction (or using reproduction fabrics, anyway) made for my brother, who is a history buff and especially taken with anything to do with early American life. When we visited the lovely Tikki London quilting shop, quite long ago now, and he bought himself the kit to make this quilt, I wasn’t really all that surprised. I’d already noticed it on the shelf and was waiting to see if he’d sniff it out himself.

Of course he didn’t buy that kit — or the extra fabric he ordered to make it into a larger bed-sized quilt — to make himself. He did ask me first, but he basically just handed it to me and said, “sew”. Not to imply that I minded! I honestly don’t – my family has done a lot for me, and I always jump when there’s a chance to do something in return. The brother rarely asks me to make things for him so when he does, I’m all over it.

Which makes this a very cheeky gift, in a way, since he pretty much bought it himself and I agreed to make it. The gift isn’t really the quilt exactly. What I did was used Christmas as the push to finish it (and I should mention that they were only squared up blocks and uncut fabric a couple of weeks ago) and used my budget allowance to buy the only bits he hadn’t: the backing fabric and the binding fabric (Kona Khaki and Espresso, in case you’re curious). I went over budget a bit, but got lucky and ordered the fabric during the 11/11/11 sale at the always awesome Simply Solids so came pretty close.

That’s it, really. The weather’s been dark and awful lately, so this photo is the best I could squeak out in a hurry. I quilted the bejeezus out of it early this week and got it all done in two days, and started handsewing the binding around the back last night. I got about one side done, and still need to make a tag for the back. Not too bad, really, with just over a week to go. And, this will be my first completed person-sized quilt ever, and I didn’t make a big mess out of it. Yay! To go with it, just for a few little bits under the tree, I mixed up some Cocoa Cumin Steak Rub, Memphis-Style Dry Rub for ribs, Greek Dry Rub for ribs (link soon, it appears to be having trouble right now), and a jar of Apricot Bourbon Mustard. Nom!

P.S. – If you’re interested in the SMS giveaway, there’s still about a day to enter it over here!

1915 Austrian Sunflower: freebie embroidery pattern

Album Praktischer Handarbeiten

This giant volume was passed down to me, prematurely, from my mother – though I say we just share it now – and was given to her by her own mother. It was found by grandmother at a thrift shop, must’ve been in the Pittsburgh-ish area in the 60s or 70s. My mom always says it was one of the most thoughtful things my grandmother ever did for her, to have recognized it in a store-full of junk as exactly the kind of thing she would love.

So what the heck is it?! It’s a self-bound, presumably, collection of crafting magazines from Austria-Hungary. I can’t be sure of the exact dates since they’re not bound in chronological order, but a quick survey shows dates that span between 1912 to 1918. The pages are dry and crumbly – you have to turn each one so carefully – but every one is an inspiration.

Album Praktischer Handarbeiten
Album Praktischer Handarbeiten

These magazines have projects and ideas for every kind of crafter, or at least those involved in any kind of needlework: crochet, knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, needlepoint, embroidery, projects for children, for the home, for men, for soldiers. Since I vaguely speak Dutch and took some German in high school, I can pick out simple words here and there, but for the most part, I can’t understand it at all – though it really doesn’t matter. The illustrations are so clear, most ideas being shown rather than described, I think I could quite literally spend years recreating and modernizing projects from these pages.

So you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’m already working on another reproduction embroidery pattern to share, have a couple of cross-stitch patterns lined up (planned for wintertime because they involve, eep!, deers and mooses), and have many more pages marked to go back to later.

1915 Austrian Sunflower Embroidery Pattern (freebie)

Here’s a simple little pattern I’ve worked up for you all to enjoy, just as a little taster of what this book has to offer. I picked this one for two reasons: the original drawing (above) shows it done in specific stitches, so I was able to recreate it exactly, and I was struck by how modern a design it is, though the original is from an issue dated 1915! If you check out the bottom right corner of the photo above, you’ll see that the original intention was to repeat this flower into a full, leafy border, but I think it would look great done simply on a pillowcase, or tote bag – or anything, really!

1915 Austrian Sunflower Embroidery Pattern (freebie)

I’ve included the photo of the original in the PDF so you can follow it as a stitch guide if you so choose. Download away just below, and as with any freebie I have or will pass on, pretty please show off your results if you stitch it yourself!