Sunday, July 31, 2011

15 Ways to Use an Apron

The fabric pictured above is Home Ec from Michael Miller Fabrics LLC.    If this fabric doesn't excite your inner Suzy Homemaker or Betty Crocker, I don't know what will!  I discovered this buried treasure while participating in the Etsy Baby Boomer Team's De-Stash Challenge.  I made a cute half apron from this fabric about three years ago, and I believe I have enough, if carefully cut, to make two or three more. The scale of the print is too large for potholders or oven mitts, but I decided it would be perfect for half aprons, or perhaps, to cover a 3-ring binder to use as a recipe keeper.


 I rarely wear aprons now, but I don't remember any everyday occasions when my grandmothers didn't wear full aprons trimmed with bias tape or rickrack, very similar to the one shown in above with the heart pocket and red rickrack trim.  My first 4-H sewing project was a drawstring half apron made of mint green and white checked gingham.  I graduated to a gathered apron the following year.


My dear Aunt Jan recently forwarded me an email from an anonymous author reminiscing about the many uses our mothers and grandmothers found for aprons, paraphrased below:

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath.  Because she only had a few dresses, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material (fabric).  But aprons also had other uses: 

                A potholder for removing hot pans from the oven;

                Drying children's tears;

                Cleaning out dirty ears;

                Carrying eggs from the chicken coop;

                Bringing in kindling wood (we burned corn cobs in an old stove near our "modern" stove);

                Carrying vegetables in from the garden;

                Collecting pods while shelling peas;

                Picking up apples that had fallen from trees;


                Waving it like a flag to summon men and children to dinner (lunch) or supper (dinner);


I'd add to that list of apron uses; bringing in laundry from the clothesline, or collecting clothespins, serving as a hand towel, and shooing away pests.  Aprons often had pockets, where a pretty hanky was kept.


If you'd like to find a pattern for a vintage apron like the ones shown above, here are some links from Miss Betty's Attic on Etsy:

For a 21st century-style vendor apron with zipper pockets and key fob, check out Lauren's Vendor Apron PDF pattern:


Aprons have been making a comeback.  The number of responses to my search for "apron" on Etsy on July 30, 2011: 33,491!   The new aprons tend to be cute and flirty or super-functional.  Here are links to some of my favorite Etsy apron makers:  (vendor aprons with extra bells and whistles)   (vendor aprons with practical pockets)  (fancy, flirty aprons)   


LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Apple Butter: A Sweet Taste of Home

This must be nostalgia week.  Another one of my childhood memories was triggered when I received a jar of homemade apple butter as a gift.  It tasted a lot like the apple butter my dear departed mother used to make in vast quantities every summer during "canning season."  Just like Mom's, this apple butter had a little extra cinnamon.


So I went looking for Mom's recipe for apple butter in an old recipe box I'd inherited.  And here is what I found in her perfect Palmer Method penmanship:


10 c. apple pulp

10 c. sugar

1 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. cloves

2 Tbsp. cinnamon


That was it.  She'd made it so often, I guess she thought it unnecessary to write down the steps. 


The first step, of course, was to pick the apples -- lots and LOTS of apples.  We had an apple tree, but every year we also visited our neighbor, Mrs. Townswick, who had a small orchard. Mom purchased bushel baskets full of apples from her. We'd make apple pies, apple crisp, applesauce, apple jelly and apple butter.


Then the apples had to be washed, cut, cored, and cooked. We'd place cooked apples into a large freestanding metal  colander and smash them against the side of the colander with a big wooden pestle-like thing.  Pulp would ooze through the holes.   Here's a link to a vintage one I found on Etsy:


Then the pulp was combined with all the other ingredients in a huge kettle and boiled, stirring constantly, until the mixture was thick enough to spread.  It was then poured into sterilized canning jars, sealed, and processed for at least 5 minutes in a boiling water bath (with the jars placed in a wire rack that fit into yet another huge pot designed for boiling water bath canning). 


If you'd like some great apple recipes, including a recipe that makes only 3 pints of apple butter, check out Apples, Apples Everywhere by Lee Jackson from Images Unlimited Publishing, P.O. Box 305, Maryville, Missouri 64468.   I got a personally autographed copy one year at the annual Applejack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska.


I try to remind myself during these sweltering 100-degree days, that I can escape to air conditioned comfort at home and at work.  My Mom had no air conditioning when she canned in our little steam-filled farmhouse kitchen, with jars lined up on the dining room table waiting for the "pop" that assured her they were safely sealed.  In addition to apple butter and apple jelly, Mom also made plum butter, plum jelly, and chokecherry jelly.  We canned peaches, pears, cherries, and home grown green beans, peas, corn, beets, tomatoes and carrots.  (I remember measuring each green bean before cutting for 4-H canning competitions – tedious!)  Then there were pickles – sweet pickles, dill pickles, beet pickles, and watermelon pickles.  Our cellar shelves were full of pretty jars that lasted us through most of the following year.   



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sewing is My Bag

It's shameless commerce Tuesday (which means we survived Monday – yay!) Today I'm featuring large fun and functional handbags which are available in my Etsy shop:

I especially love the two-tone Gemini bags (perhaps because I am a Gemini myself).  These large, softly- pleated bags are a perfect casual bag to grab and go.  They are ideal for travel—nothing to set off alarms, and roomy enough for LOTS of books, snacks and souvenirs.  The pattern, which was the subject of a tutorial on The DIY Dish, is easy enough for a confident beginner.

What a fun way to showcase those bright, large-scale print fabrics that may be pining away in your stash.  Just find two 1-yard cuts that play well together, and you're all set.

The schlep bag (purple photo) is a bit trickier to make because of the bias edges at the top.  However, this bag is one of the best market totes I have ever seen anywhere.  It's roomy, washable, and has a large squared bottom to accommodate awkward items (I'm thinking Farmer's Market?).  I've also used fusible fleece to make padded straps (very comfortable even on a long schlep day) with parallel rows of topstitching for durability and style.

Do you prefer a tote with more pockets and compartments?  No problem.  Hop on over to and download this pocket-lover's dream of a tote pattern:

Practical, functional, stylish … It's in the bag!


LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, July 25, 2011

Family Heirloom Needlepoint Footstool

The footstool pictured above was given to my mother Janice Quist in 1936, when she was six years old.  I image my mom standing on this school to pick a dress from her closet or to look at herself in an oval mirror hung above a dresser as she got ready for school as a first grader.  She later became an elementary school teacher.


The wooden base has this penciled message:  Janice Anna 1936.  Yarn bought in 1889 by Grandma Becker. 


The legs of the stool are black metal harness hooks screwed to a wooden base.  The top has a colorful needlepoint design worked in wool yarns.  I have always loved this colorful little stool.    As a quilter, it reminds me of a miniature tile quilt, with the strips of black separating separately stitched blocks.   Whatever great-great-relative stitched this little gem, I admire her sense of color and design.



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Here's the Truck Photo (I hope)

If you still can't see the photo, please click on this link (my apologies): :

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Imaginary Travel in an Old Truck

I just LOVE this photo!  It's called Traveling by GMC Truck. You can find it and other amazing photos at Rachel Edgington's RaeoLight Etsy shop:  Here's a link to that great photo:  Rachel is from Joplin, MO, and has a special place in her heart for the victims of the Joplin tornado. Please visit her blog at www.raeoflightphotos.blogspot .com to see some sobering photos of the aftermath of the tornado, with a link to her church's relief fund:


So WHY do I love this old truck so much?  Well, because once upon a time, a long, LONG, time ago, when I was a little farm girl back in South Dakota, there was an old truck that looked just like this (at least in my mind's eye after all these years)!  It was parked near "the trees"--a magical wooded area where I would escape to read and write, surrounded by beautiful old trees.  (Was it once a tree claim, I wonder?)  As near as I can remember, our old truck was used for parts.  I know it didn't run.


My  little brother and I would climb up into the cab of that old truck and bounce up and down on the seats (they don't make springy seats like that anymore!), and we would take turns "driving."  We'd occasionally pretend to stop for gas.  Our favorite imaginary destination was Disneyland.  (Disney World wasn't built yet.  Yup, I'm that old.)   We'd imagine the states we'd drive through, and the things we'd see, and keep up a rolling commentary on our imaginary trips.  Imaginative play is a magical thing! 


We're all grown up now.  My brother no longer takes imaginary trips, but he and his wife have traveled the world to destinations we couldn't even have imagined as kids – Egypt, Bhutan, Thailand, Denmark, India, Viet Nam, and the Cayman Islands, just to name a few.  Every year for the past 28 years or more, they have taken a major trip to a faraway place.   And every year my brother and his old college roommate take a "baseball trip" to major and minor league ballparks in the United States, stopping at Civil War battlefields and ice cream shops along the way.  He's kept the scorecards from every baseball game he's attended since he was 11 years old (and there are MANY)!  It must be a "guy thing" –or mild OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).


I, on the other hand, don't even own a passport.  I've traveled to occasional work-related meetings, but most of my travel is not as a tourist.  Now I travel to visit kids and grandkids that have left the nest.


Nowadays my imaginary travel is via The Travel Channel on TV:   (Don't worry, I don't bounce on the couch and pretend to drive!)  I've still never been to Disneyland, except in my imagination.  Seeing Rachel's photo brought back so many memories of my imaginary trips to Disneyland!   Perhaps I'll need to add "Go to Disneyland" to my bucket list!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Thursday, July 21, 2011

HST Tutorial

In a July 20, 2011 post, I showed you a quilt I made which included MANY half square triangles, or HST's. I made the quilt top in a class taught by Roxann O'Hare of The Cosmic Cow.


In that class, I gained confidence using the oversized square method for constructing half-square triangles (HST's), pictured above in a mini-tutorial.  Here are the steps:


Join two oversized squares (I used a 7" square to create a finished 6" block for a charity quilt project).

Draw a line, corner to corner.

Stitch ¼" from the line on each side of the line.  (Sewn line – drawn line – sewn line.)

Cut on the DRAWN line, leaving two triangles.

Press the seam to the dark side of each HST.

Trim to your desired size.  If you have a ruler with a 45 degree angle line, that's super helpful. You can align that line with the center line of your block before cutting.


Voila!  Perfectly-sized HST's. 


Yes, it uses a bit more fabric, but the increased accuracy and decreased frustration are worth a few extra pennies, I think.  With perfectly-sized HST's and a ¼" foot on my sewing machine, I'll be happier with my finished blocks, and my trusty seam ripper can spend more time in the sewing box!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amelia Fabric Giveaway at 1Choice4Quilting

I'm always a pushover when it comes to fun, fresh fabrics, and the Amelia collection by Me and My Sister Designs is just TOO cute!  

And guess what?  1Choice4Quilting is giving away some of this gorgeous fabric!  Check it out on her blog:

There will also be a giveaway of a jelly roll of Hometown fabric by Sweetwater for Moda.  Five ways to enter!   

I already have J 



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Help Me Name This Quilt

Last night I finished stitching the binding on this oversized lap quilt.  I am embarrassed to say that I started it about six years ago in a class taught by master quilter, Roxann O'Hare.  She and her husband Rich own one of my favorite local quilt shops, The Cosmic Cow.  (Their branch store is known as The Udder Store.)


This quilt top had languished in my UFO (unfinished objects) pile for lo these many years.  But I made a New Year's Resolution to finish more of my quilts in progress.  With the expert help of machine quilter Kris Viera (one of her quilts won Viewer's Choice at the recent Machine Quilters Association meeting), and a few hours making bias binding and stitching it in place, I now have a finished quilt---except for the label.  I plan to give it to my son and daughter-in-law, so I will make a special label for them.  Kris's website is: 


But before I can make the label, this quilt needs a name.  Any suggestions?


LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christmas in July

The heat index was 105 degrees yesterday in my town,  so I'm dreaming of a white Christmas and running a Christmas in July special in my Etsy shop. 


Colorful table runners would add a splash of color to make your holiday table or buffet merry and bright.  The runners are made from high quality 100% cotton fabrics with designs by Kate Spain for Moda, and are reversible and machine washable.  How pretty and practical is that?  Ho. Ho.  Ho.


Here are links to my holiday table runners in my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations:


If you'd prefer to make your own, you'll find a tutorial I did for a guest blog on the It's About Time Mamaw blog here:


Keep cool!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Monday, July 18, 2011

Bucket List

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Bucket List (2007) starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  This unlikely pair, both battling terminal illnesses, set off an adventure to experience things they wanted to do before they "kicked the bucket."


I don't have a terminal illness, but I've found myself saying on occasion, "That's on my bucket list."

So, dear readers, I decided to share ten items on my bucket list (in no particular order), realizing that I'd probably need to retire or win the lottery to accomplish some of them!


Travel to Denmark to visit relatives and see Copenhagen and the island of Mon

Attend the American Quilter's Society Quilt Show & Contest in Paducah, KY

Attend the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, OR

See a Broadway musical

Make a Baltimore Album-style appliqué quilt

Buy a NEW new car (not a new-to- me used one)

Use up most of my fabric stash

Live to see all my grandchildren graduate from high school

Have a cabin on a lake

Learn to knit

Last summer, I crossed two things off my bucket list when I visited my son Jeff in D.C.  I saw the Vietnam Memorial and The National Cathedral.   The final version of the list will continue to be a work in progress.


SO—What's one thing on your bucket list?



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Photo credit:

Handcrafted repro wooden bucket for sale on her website.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Picnic Time

Summertime!  Days are long and sunny, and the livin' is easy.  (Well, some days.)  And it's too hot to cook.  All good reasons to have a good old-fashioned picnic!


I just had to share this wonderful vintage picnic basket from Laura at ImSoVintage on Etsy: 

It reminds me of the big woven flip-top picnic basket my parents used when I was a kid.  I think they got it as a wedding present.  It was hauled to family reunions, 4-H picnics, and Sunday outings at the lake.

This past week my two NH grandkids were visiting, and we had a get-together with  the three grandkids who live here in Lincoln.  The weather was gorgeous, so we all headed to the "little park" and had a picnic.  (Lincoln also has a "big park" with terrific playground equipment, but it tends to be crowded and noisy.)


The kids enjoyed the swings, slides and climbing toys, and stretching their legs after a long road trip.  The adults enjoyed the lush green grass, shade, and the rock water feature, and the chance to just sit back and chill after a long drive or a long day at work.  A picnic is so informal and laid back.


Everyone enjoyed the food, although it was very simple fare.  We filled our biodegradable paper plates, grabbed juice, iced tea or bottled water from the cooler, and enjoyed a simple meal of sub sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly by special request for three of the grandsons), whole grain chips, hummus with avocado, cheese, grapes, and locally-grown ripe to perfection watermelon, and cookies for dessert.  It was a very pleasant, family-friendly evening.


But not all picnics need to be G-Rated:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness —

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Fifth edition (1889) by Edward FitzGerald 

Now doesn't that conjure up an image of a very romantic little picnic for two?

Speaking of wine…. I found a downloadable PDF pattern for a cute and functional fabric wine bottle carrier.    The pattern was designed by Mark Lilly Blossom and can be purchased at  I plan on making two of these as gifts.  They could also be used to carry non-alcoholic beverage bottles, of course!

I purchased some cute wine-themed  Wine Country fabric by Elizabeth's Studios that I found at The Fabric Vineyard on Etsy.

For other great wine bag ideas, check out   I especially like the quilted carrier by Kate of Needle and Spatula.  She has a photo tutorial on her blog:



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Thursday, July 14, 2011

And the Winner Is .... !

Congratulations to Janet, the winner of  Wendy McClure's wonderful book, The Wilder Life, and three souvenir Laura Ingalls Wilder postcards purchased at the Ingalls Homestead on the outskirts of De Smet, SD aka Little Town on the Prairie!  (My hubby drew numbers, and didn't peak.)

Janet found my blog through the Etsy Blog Team. 


You can visit her blog, This Is Beige at and her Etsy shop full of beautiful custom ceramics at


Thanks to all who entered and shared comments during Laura Ingalls Wilder Week!



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's About Time Mamaw - I'm the Guest Blogger Today!

I am flattered to be the guest blogger on the July 13, 2011, It's About Time Mamaw blog.  It includes a tutorial for making an easy peasy Halloween table runner.  Check it out:

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Artisan Trends

During my recent trek to South Dakota, I visited the 40th Annual Brookings Summer Arts Festival ( .  This juried outdoor event features 212 artisan booths, 43 food vendors, children's discovery centers and live music and dance entertainment.  As I feasted on all the eye candy on display, I began to take mental notes:

What I saw MORE of:


Jewelry, jewelry, and more jewelry, especially earrings


Decorative metal (wall art, water features)

Wood (wooden kitchen items, toy barns, furniture items)

Paintings (oil, acrylic, watercolors and pastels) and prints

Fiber items, from uber practical(kids clothing, rugs) to indulgent painted fabrics and silks.


What I saw LESS of:



Pottery (what I did see had a strong artsy vibe)



Paper Crafts and Cards

Toys and Dolls



Knitting / Crochet



What I EXPECTED to see, but didn't:


Upcycled and Organic Items



Gadget cases

Hand-embroidered items


I realize that one Midwestern arts festival is not a statistically valid sampling for trends, so I decided to do some research when I got home, to see whether what I observed had any empirical support.  It wasn't just curiosity that caused me to dig deeper.   I will have a booth at a smallish local arts and crafts fair in late October, so the topic seemed timely. 


I started with the 2011 Indie Craft Trend Report from Craftster, which compiled anecdotal evidence from a community of 225,000 crafters.    One of the top trends reported in their survey was eco-minded and upcycled products.   I felt vindicated that they also recognized vintage, hand embroidery, and gadget accessories as trends (outside of SD?).

 I also checked out the Craft Industry Trends Survey conducted for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in 2009, which indicated declining attendance and an increased online presence, but confirmed much of what I saw in Brookings and online:    Jewelry, glass, metal and wood received fairly high rankings, consistent with the Brookings festival, but ceramics was still a high scorer (13%) in their survey. 


If you're thinking of vending at an arts and crafts fair, check out:

 You can subscribe to free e-books.  One of her latest is Preparing for Art & Craft Show Success.

I'd be interested in hearing from any of you who attend or exhibit at art festivals or craft fairs.  What's trending in your neck of the woods?



LeAnn aka pasqueflower



Walker Caddies A Thoughtful Gift

It's shameless commerce Tuesday—the day I feature something from my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations:   Today I'm featuring custom walker caddies.

This practical gift would brighten the day of an aging parent or grandparent,  disabled veteran, or anyone battling a serious injury or illness.   A walker bag or caddy can assist elderly or disabled loved ones who rely on a walker for mobility.  With both hands on the walker, the user will be able to have frequently-used items at hand, and be able to "carry" items when on the go.  ( Even my curmudgeonly uncle uses his fish-themed walker caddy daily, and grudgingly admits it is really handy and a conversation starter to boot. )

The bag shown is in the photo is made of decorator weight striped cotton with a thin layer of fusible interfacing for added weight and durability.  All seams are serged or finished with French seams for a finished look and extra strength. Two roomy front pockets and three back pockets, as well as a 16" x 8.5" inner pocket provide ample storage for reading materials, glasses, remote controls, cell phones, photos, cards, or medic alerts. Straps are reinforced with extra stitching.  Outer pockets are double stitched and reinforced at stress points.  Buttonholes are double-stitched and buttons are securely sewn and thread-shanked.


Bags can be made in a variety of colors, designs, or themes that might reflect the recipient's interests (i.e., sports, military service, patriotic, tools, cards, flowers, retro, gardening, palm trees, knitting, etc.).  There are a host of novelty fabrics that could make your one-of-a-kind caddy something that reflects the recipient's personality, as well as beautiful stripes, geometrics and floral home dec fabrics.   Pocket spacing can also be customized to fit particular needs.   I have made pretty and sparkly feminine caddies, and a tool-themed caddy with wood grain fabric and real hardware washers and nuts for trim, florals from sweet to flashy, and functional but not- too-fancy stripes. 


I prefer to use high quality cotton home dec  or quilter quality fabrics. (Heavier fusible interfacing would be used to add heft to quilter cottons.)  The walker bag is machine washable, gentle cycle, no bleach.  Line dry or tumble dry low. 



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Monday, July 11, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder Week Day 7 De Smet Pageant 2011 and a Giveaway

I just returned from a weekend trip to South Dakota, where I attended the Brookings Summer Arts Festival and the 40th Anniversary Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in De Smet with my son Tim, daughter-in-law Carrie, and two of our nine grandchildren, Madeline (almost 7) and Garrison (3). 

Each year a group of over 100 volunteers produce an outdoors play on a 30-acre tract of land between the Ingalls homestead, the big slough, and  Silver Lake.  A narrator reads from one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books .  This year the play reenacted scenes from By the Shores of Silver Lake. www.

Before the play we visited the Ingalls Homestead, which includes a life-size replica dugout, a claim shanty, barn, growing crops, native prairie, ponies, and covered wagons drawn by beautiful Clydesdale horses to tour the 160-acre homestead.   The highlight of the visit for my granddaughter was a short classroom session in the 1880 school, an actual school moved to the site that had been used until the late 1940s.  I actually attended a one-room country school until 4th grade, so I guess I'm "vintage!"  The highlight for Garrison was getting to "drive" the Clydesdales for a short distance (with the real driver holding the reins behind him. 


I made Madeline a prairie dress, pinafore and sunbonnet, and attempted to make a farmer boy outfit for Garrison using the photo on the cover of the Farmer Boy book as a guide. 




To celebrate the end of Laura Ingalls Wilder Week, I'm hosting a giveaway.  On Thursday, July 14, 2011, I'll be giving away three postcards of vintage photos: Carrie, Mary and Laura Ingalls as young girls, taken in De Smet; The Charles Ingalls Family in later years;  and Laura and Almanzo Wilder, purchased at the Ingalls Homestead Gift Shop. There's also an online shop:  I'll also include my gently used copy of Wendy McClure's book, The Wilder Life.   How to enter?  Just leave a Comment below.  I don't have a fancy number-generator, but I'll do an old-fashioned numbers-in-a-sunbonnet drawing and post the winner

On Friday, July 15, 2011.



LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder Week Day 6 Paper Dolls

On the road again…across 300 miles of prairie (one way) and lots and lots of cornfields to eastern South Dakota, where I was born and raised.  Tomorrow I  travel to South Dakota to meet up with my son Tim and his family.  We'll attend the Brookings Summer Arts Festival ( and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in De Smet, SD.    Stay tuned for post-trip updates.   In the meantime, I'll share this link to The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, for a sneak preview of coming attractions:

I will be taking along some Laura Ingalls Wilder paper dolls for my granddaughter.   I downloaded these beautifully rendered paper dolls and printed them on cardstock.  You can find them at B.K. Lawrence's Etsy shop:  



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Laura Ingalls Wilder Week on Ponderings Day 5: The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure

For my book-lover friends, Wendy McClure's book, The Wilder Life:  My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, Riverhead Books (2011), is a recommended read.  For all my friends who loved all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child, as I did, McClure's book is a MUST read!  The book chronicles one woman's nostalgic quest for "the Laura experience" with insights and good humor.   For more about McClure, including photos from her travels to Laura territory, visit


LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder Week on Ponderings Day 4: Sunbonnets

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July weekend.  I'm continuing Laura Ingalls Wilder Week with a post on sunbonnets.  We can be certain that Laura Ingalls, Ma, Mary, Carrie and Grace all wore prairie pioneer sunbonnets to protect their skin from the hot summer sun.  The large bills provided shade, and also some protection from the prairie winds.  An extra bit of fabric along the back neckline provided added protection for the neck area.

The pink sunbonnet pictured above is made from high quality 100% cotton reproduction fabric,  Little Pink Stars (1840-1890) by Margo Krager for Blue Hill Fabrics.  The pink is not a contemporary cotton candy pink, but a pink with brown undertones true to that period.  It is made from the same fabric I used for my granddaughter's prairie dress and sunbonnet. 


I had enough fabric left over to make another girl's sunbonnet to post in my Etsy shop:  (It is shameless commerce Tuesday, so I had to tell you that.)  I would be happy to do custom orders for sunbonnets of various colors, in sizes from toddler to adult.  There are a number of high quality quilter weight cottons in reproduction prints true to the pioneer period available on the market.   I am fortunate to have these fabrics available in my local quilt shops.   There is also a great online shop:   I visited their booth at the AQS Des Moines quilt show in 2009 and was quite impressed!  You can also find some wonderful reproduction fabrics at

As a quilter I couldn't resist, since we are on the topic of sunbonnets, sharing some information about the Sunbonnet Sue appliqué quilt block, so popular in 1930s era quilts.  If I ever decide to make a Sunbonnet Sue quilt, I'm sure it will incorporate 30s reproduction fabrics. There are many, many variations of Sunbonnet Sue and her male buddy (or little brother?) Overall Sam.  Here are links to some Sunbonnet Sue quilt resources:;;

Or visit the International Quilt Study Center & Museum online database at to  

search their extensive 3500+ quilt collection by keyword.  For example, you could search Sunbonnet Sue, Double Wedding Ring,  Log Cabin, English paper piecing, etc.


AccuQuilt now offers Sunbonnet Sue templates for their Accu Quilt Go and Go! Baby precision fabric cutters.  Their design is what I would consider the "classic" Sunbonnet Sue.    We have a Go! Baby – my hubby's newest toy.  He is helping me turn stash scraps into small perfectly-sized squares for a scrappy triple Irish chain project, and he's cutting larger squares for some of my charity quilt projects.   



LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder Week on Ponderings Day 3 – Laura’s Trek

Today's post will help you take an armchair or real life tour of the places Laura Ingalls lived as a child.  

William Anderson's The Little House Guidebook, Harper Collins (1996, 2007) nicely photographed by Leslie A. Kelly, is a great resource if you want to trace Laura's trek from the Little House in the Big Woods near Pepin, Wisconsin, to the Little House on the Prairie in Montgomery County, Kansas,  to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, On the Banks of Plum Creek, to De Smet, South Dakota, site of The Long Winter, By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. There are also references to Malone, New York, the boyhood home of Laura's husband, Almanzo Wilder, whose childhood is recounted in her book, Farmer Boy.

I'm heading back "home" to South Dakota later this week with my son Tim and his family to attend the 40th Annual Brookings Summer Arts Festival and the 40th Annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant. .  I was born in the tiny town of Ramona, in Lake County, South Dakota, near another prairie lake, Lake Badus.  De Smet is in neighboring Kingsbury County.   This year, the pageant will reenact scenes from By the Shores of Silver Lake.  In that book, Ma and the girls stayed at the surveyor's house in De Smet during a long, cold winter while Pa went to work on the railroad.  The pageant is great family fun.  Bring your own lawn chair, a blanket, and mosquito repellent!

I'll be "unplugged" from my computer July 8-10, but I'll take photos and, of course, I'll share them with you, dear readers, when I return.


LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Laura Ingalls Wilder Week on Ponderings Day 2: Little House Quilts

As a quilter, I am particularly interested in references to quilt blocks in the Little House books. In the book On the Banks of Plum Creek, Chapter 36, "Prairie Winter," is this passage:  "Mary was still sewing nine-patch blocks. Now Laura started a bear's-track quilt. It was harder than a nine-patch because there were bias seams, very hard to make exactly right before Ma would let her make another, and often Laura worked several days on one short seam."  Poor Laura!  She had to do all that un-sewing before the invention of seam rippers!

Laura's bear's-track quilt block, sometimes referred to as a bear paw or bear claw, has one large square, one small square, and four half-square triangles with tricky bias edges.  The brown and tan block pictured above is a bear paw block I made.  It belongs to one of my UFO's (unfinished objects), also called PIGS (projects in grocery sacks) by my Canadian quilting friends. Someday this block it will be part of a really great lap-sized "guy quilt." Here are some links to other references showing bear's-track or bear paw quilt blocks (you may have to Ctrl-Click)

The nine-patch block, in Laura's childhood days, would have been made by hand-piecing nine squares together in a two-color pattern.  The photo above shows a small hand-pieced nine-patch that was made using fabrics from a slightly later era.

Here is another link to a reference showing a nine-patch quilt block (Ctrl-Click to open):

In one of the latest books in the Little House series, These Happy Golden Years, Chapter 32, "Haste to the Wedding," there is another mention of a quilt.  In this passage, Laura was packing her trunk before marrying "farmer boy" Almanzo Wilder:

"Laura brought her Dove-in-the-Window quilt that she had pieced as a little girl while Mary pieced a nine-patch. It had been kept carefully all the years since then." Here is a link to a reference showing a Dove-in-the-Window block (Ctrl-Click to open):


There is some informed speculation as to whether the Dove-in-the-Window and the Bear's-Track quilt were one and the same.  Both blocks use squares and half-square triangles, but the half-square triangles are oriented differently.  I found this archived blog post that considers that very question, and includes a side-by-side block comparison of the two blocks.

The authoritative work on quilt block identification and variations is Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Quilt Patterns, American Quilter's Society (1993), which includes over 4000 quilt blocks methodically indexed.

If you'd like to make your own Laura-inspired quilt, check out Quilting with Laura:  Patterns Inspired by the "Little House on the Prairie" Series, by Linda Halpin, RCW Pub. Co. (1999).


LeAnn aka pasqueflower