" ". The Smiling Cat: 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"Chessie" The All-American Cat Logo

I found a treasure at one of my second hand stores this week...a vintage 1970's crewel embroidery kit. The subject of the kit is "Chessie" the Chesapeake & Ohio railroad logo. I was a teenager in the 70's and worked at a department store, in the sewing & craft area. I bought a similar kit there- I loved that project..!

Obviously, I'm a cat lover, but the "Chessie" logo is one of the most popular corporate symbols in American history. In 1933 Chessie became part of an ad campaign to promote C&O's new air conditioned sleeping car service. A service that would let you sleep like a kitten.

 I think it is interesting to compare a soft kitten to a hard, modern steel train. The first ad was in black and white and didn't name the kitty. The original etching was by Guido Grunewald, a Viennese artist for $5.00. The first ad was so popular that the C&O's ad agency built a whole ad campaign around the kitten and named her Chessie.
Her family grew with her popularity. In 1937 she has two kittens, and her mate named "Peake". Peake first appeared in a Father's Day ad.

You might have found, Peake-Chessie's "Old Man" on playing cards in the bar car. Along with the ads were many promotional items. One of the most popular of these were the Chessie calendars. 
The 1940 calendar shows Chessie and her two kittens snuggled up with proud Peake watching over them.

And for Christmas....

Once the U.S. entered WWII, Peake, of course a patriot, promptly enlisted in the military. After the war, Peake returned home to his family, displaying his medals.
Chessie and her family are true, American cats. You just have to love them.
There were many different versions of Chessie embroidery kits in the 70's designed by Erica Wilson and manufactured by Columbia Minerva.

This kit is for a small, do not disturb sign that you would place on a guest room door.

The kit includes all necessary supplies to complete the project. This kit is listed for sale at my craft shop here.
You can find more Chessie items at www.chessieshop.com.

Here is one last picture of Chessie that I think would make a great applique pattern:

Bye for now-Hope you are having a great day..! CaroleL.



Saturday, March 13, 2021

Primitive 9-Patch Table Runner-


One thing that all people that sew have in common are fabric scraps. Everyone seems to have their system for organizing them. I like to cut my scraps into 5" squares or "nickels", as they are sometimes called. These are useful as they can be cut into 3-1/2" squares, or 2-1/2" squares. The smallest size I keep are 2" squares.

Eventually, I end up with this:

Time for a scrappy project....! I began by sorting my 2" squares by matching fabrics and colors. I decided to make simple 9-patches for a table runner.

To make a 23"x55" table runner I used:

300 2" scrappy squares 

240 2" white squares, or 3/4 yard white cotton cut into 2" strips.

1-1/2 yard for backing and binding.

Thread and basic sewing tools.

This did make a substantial dent in my scrap pile. I began to match sets of five matching squares and sets of four with a complimentary square for the middle.

Then I staked up the sets and cut the 2" white strips. To save time, I began to set up to strip-piece the squares. 

I took my stacks and strips to my sewing machine. I put down a white strip and taking from the top of the stack, and started placing one square at a time onto the white strip. Sewing with a 1/4" seam with right sides together, carefully keeping the squares in order. I put aside one square from each set.

After sewing a few strips, I pressed them to set the stitches, then cut them into separate units. Then I pressed them toward the scrappy square, so that there would not be a shadow on the white squares.

After pressing each pair, I put one pair aside, then stitched the square that was set aside to the next pair. I sewed together the last two pairs of the set, matching the center seams, and making sure that the seams were laying in opposite directions, to reduce bulkiness.

After pressing all units the same as before, I added the last set of pairs. This time pressing the seams toward the middle. Now, I had a unit of three pairs, and a unit of three squares.

All that's needed to finish the block is to add the last row of squares.

I finish sewing the last row to the block, and pressed the final seam toward the outside of the block. 

I now had a finished 9-patch block...! It's important to turn the block over, and check that the seams are laying straight like this:

Take the time now, and the finished project will lay out smoother. Now, I swapped the positions of the white and scrappy squares and ended up with two piles of blocks.

Sixty blocks total. Now, I started to join the blocks together, alternating the two blocks. I know that most quilters create rows to sew together. I like to join the blocks into squares of four. Then, continuing to sew the bigger blocks together.

Also, when joining the blocks together, I match both the corner seams. This really keeps everything nice and straight. When all the blocks are joined, I had 5 rows by 12 rows. Time to make a quilt sandwich. Layer the completed top over the batting, with the backing fabric on the bottom. Pin together with the large, quilting safety pins. Be careful not punch holes in the fabric or pull threads. Finish pinning and you're ready to quilt..!

I quilted using the "stitch in the ditch" method. Which is sewing over the seams with invisible quilting thread.

I pieced the backing with a cream colored cotton and a small, floral print that's also the binding.

I then finished it with double fold binding. I just used straight of the grain-cut binding, I cut 2-1/2" strips across the fabric. If you would like to finish with bias binding you can find instructions here.
To create either of these bindings, the strips are joined with a 45 degree, diagonal seam. It makes the seam less bulky.
Fold and press the binding strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together. The double fold binding with mitered corners is the most commonly used method of finishing quilted projects. It can be finished by hand or by a sewing machine. To finish by hand, start in the center of one side, placing the binding strip on the front of the quilt top. Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt. Leave a 3"-4" tail at the beginning. Stitch though all layers, using a 1/4" seam. When stitching is about 2" from a corner, make a mark on the binding that is 1/4" from the edge of the quilt. Stitch up to the mark and back stitch to hold in place.
Cut the threads and remove from the machine. Fold the binding strip upward to make a 45 degree angle. Finger press.

While holding the diagonal in place with your finger, fold the strip back down, covering the first fold. Bring the binding strip down in line with the next edge. This makes a horizontal fold that aligns with the top edge of the quilt.
Start sewing again at the top of the horizontal fold, stitching though all layers. Turn each corner in the same manner. Stop sewing when you are about 4" from the beginning.
To finish the binding, return to the beginning of the binding strip. Cut a 45 degree angle from the top left to the bottom right of the beginning. Press under a 1/2" seam allowance on the beginning tail. Keeping the 45 degree angle, place the end of the tail inside the beginning tail. Trim the end tail to leave a 1-1/2" piece inside the beginning.

Pin in place and finish sewing the binding to the quilt. Hand stitch the fold closed. Turn the binding to the back of the quilt. Sew in place by hand using a blind stitch, with a single strand of thread. Make sure you cover any machine stitching.

To create mitered corners on the back of the quilt, hand stitch up to a corner. Then fold the opposite side over at the corner, creating a mitered corner.

Pin in place and put a few stitches in the fold to secure it. Finish each corner in the same way. When you find your way back to the beginning, stitch the binding closed and you're done...!
Here are a few more pictures:

I love my rooster salt & pepper shakers-