Tag Archives: House medallion

The Old School House

Some old buildings fascinate me. I love the lines of old train stations, small-town Carnegie libraries, and one-room school houses. For many years I’ve fantasized about turning a school building, of the style common in the Midwest and seen in television’s “Little House on the Prairie,” into a home.

There’s another style of school building more common in early New England, two stories with straight lines of brick or clapboards, and symmetrical windows. Buildings like these appear often in embroidery samplers from the early years of our country, worked by school girls expected to learn domestic arts, rather than academics. Here is a charming example from wikipedia:

These buildings hold a different romance for me, and I wanted to make one for myself. About mid-way through creating the top, I posted about it (and thoughts on the term “improv”) in this post.

And more about it here. In the photo below you see the center framed four times, through the dark red paisley. I could have maintained the square shape with the rest of the borders, but elongating the quilt would emphasize the tall, narrow shape of the school. To lengthen the shape, I added borders to top and bottom.

By mid-March I had the top finished, including a bit of additional embroidery. By the way, I loved doing the embroidery! It was free-style, improvisational all the way, with no hoop. There is more embroidery in my future, no doubt!

The finished quilt pleases me enormously.

The Old School House. 51″ x 64″. March 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Though I had several dozen flying geese in double pinks, reds, browns, and teals, (after all, the quilt was supposed to be a strip quilt of geese, not a medallion quilt with a house,) I opted to simplify the colors by using only pinks and reds. Using a wide variety of fabrics for them makes them a bit more interesting.

With all the warm colors, I chose to repeat the cool colors with the teal triangles and the olive green narrow strip, as well as in the star points.

Notice how simple this construction is! The only obviously pieced borders are those with stars and with geese. The rest are plain strip borders. (The print second border, just outside the line of teal, is actually pieced in many places, as I eked out the length from scraps.) No one needs to be an expert to make something like this. They just need to know how to make things fit well enough to lie flat.

As with Fierce Little Bear, some of the detail is in the quilting, rather than in the piecing or format. I used white thread to create some airy detail in the sky, and green to draw more wispy leaves around the tree and to expand the globe of flowers on the right. The roof got lines in rust, and the window details were emphasized with the texture of pale golden tan thread, similar to the window backgrounds. I also quilted lines across the house in the manner of clapboards. Click on any picture to open the gallery for a closer look.

I’ve been enjoying my projects so far this year, both those finished and those still in process. I’ll keep sharing the finished ones as I get posts written, though in truth, I’ll probably skip writing about the VA hospital quilts.

Thanks for taking a look!

Finished in 2018:
1. Fierce Little Bear
2. VA hospital quilt
3. VA hospital quilt
4. Charlotte’s Kitty
5. The Old School House
6. Georgia’s graduation quilt
7. Where Are the Birds?
8. Fiesta!

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A Lot of Fun Stuff Going On

It’s been a while since I’ve showed you my current work. A couple of weeks ago I finished binding a project started last year. It was the one that made me tear my hair out, along with thousands of quilting stitches. It’s finished, but it’s for a loved one and I’d like to get it to her before showing it off here. Just in case.

If you’ve been a reader for a long time, you may have noticed (or seen me write) that I often don’t post about projects in their early stages. Mostly that’s because I don’t much like taking pictures, and it’s hard to describe a project without them! The project I’m working on now is much the same. I actually started it months ago, and now finally am getting around to posting. This time, however, it really still is in the early stages.

So what’s been done so far?

  1. made 112 flying geese to use in a strip quilt
  2. found and pieced together a long strip of border stripe, to use in said strip quilt
  3. changed my mind and decided to use the geese and the border stripe for a medallion quilt
  4. drew house block to center the medallion
  5. sewed house block
  6. embroidered embellishments on house block
  7. framed house block to stabilize it and standardize the size
  8. prepped border stripe (most of the way) to serve as the first showy border

I began the flying geese as I finished making Union. As mentioned before, I was still enjoying the double pinks and browns, and I wanted to combine them with reds, aquas, and teals. Since the fabric was still out, I started cutting pieces for the four-at-a-time method of making geese units, but I didn’t start sewing them until this year.

I’m not sure what inspired me to make a medallion with a house center block. I’ve always been charmed by folk art including early American embroidery samplers, which often featured houses or school buildings. Recently Barbara Brackman posted about quilts with yellow house motifs. Maybe that got me going. I also had a hard time imagining the strip quilt I originally intended. I couldn’t figure out the numbers of strips or what, besides the flying geese, to use. It seemed like it would be a lot more piecing than I wanted, and perhaps without a good enough payoff.

At any rate, I drew that house.

Sometimes the easiest way to do things is the old-fashioned way, and here graph paper and pencil worked just fine.


I’ll show you what happened from there next time. Before that, the title of this post might merit some explanation. There IS a lot of fun stuff going on, which is good, since one of my primary intentions this year is to have fun.

I’ve had lots of RPT (Real People Time) already this year, and a lot more coming up. On Thursday I’ll have lunch with a dear friend from grad school. She and I lost touch several years ago, and it will be a treat to catch up.

Guild stuff keeps on comin’! Between the presidenting and committee-ing and bylaw reviewing, there’s always enough to keep me busy. Besides that, I decided to go to the three-day retreat in mid-February. That means I have to FIGURE OUT WHAT TO TAKE to keep me busy for three day!!! ACK! So much fun! 🙂 (Imagine that smiley face with a slightly crazed look to the eyes.)

I’m also doing things in my non-guild quilty life that are new and different, but things I’ll wait to explain. Could be a crazy year with that, too.

I updated the blog a bit, gave it a little fresher look. My galleries are finally up-to-date, after languishing without much care for too long.

And then the other personal stuff, including travel coming up. We have four trips pegged already this year and forgive me for hoping that’s all we do!  But really, Son’s wedding? FUN! Granddaughter’s graduation? FUN! And a couple of trips for fun? FUN!!

Okay. That’s enough for this time. I’ll show you more of my house project in the next post.