Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quilts in the Barn 2014

Earlier this month I visited Quilts in the Barn at Wonga Park.  QITB is one of my favourite events.  The quilts are spectacular, of course, but I also love the way you can start up a conversation with the person next to you and the talk just flows - there is a lovely sense of community in the Barn.

This year's theme was Inspired by Antique Quilts. 

This quilt is Mrs. Billings' Coverlet, it is on my to do list but I don't have the collection of fabrics for it.  Yet.

I liked this one, the blocks are a collection from a number of different patterns.  Good for those of us that like to start new things before we finish the last project.

And of course, Dear Jane was there.  No, I really mean it, Dear Jane was there.  Brenda Papadakis was at QITB.  I wasn't able to attend any of her workshops but I did meet her on the day.  She follows this blog!! I was very excited and a little bit pleased.

Dear Jane is not on my to do list.  Please don't throw anything, the workmanship and patience of those who have made a Baby Jane is admirable, I love the finished look, but it doesn't say 'make me.'  However, what has caught my attention is the first blocks from the lucky people that did get to the workshop.  I'm itching to have a go at these lovely little blocks. Brenda might be right, everyone comes to Jane in the end. :)

Sew Many Quilts, So Little Time

Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus

Quilts in the Barn

Quilts in the Barn is a fund raiser for breast cancer research and over $16,000 was raised on the weekend.  Thanks you to Linda and her wonderful team, I can't wait until next year so we can visit again.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CCCQ First Year Finish

I received a photo this week from Kathleen Connor in the north west hills of Connecticut.  She's a CCCQ fan and has made this quilt top from The First Year patterns.  Not only does she have a finish, two of these blocks are Kathleen's own design.

I asked Kathleen about her journey with the Chester Criswell Quilt.  She says,

"I've enjoyed every stitch I took for this quilt! The first Chester Criswell block I made was Jane Wilson's block, #1. I found that I loved doing the one piece, papercut style block with needleturn applique. Next up was Block 2 which reminded me of the traditional leaf and reel blocks found in many antique quilts. Sharon's patterns were a joy to work with, well drawn and not difficult to stitch. At that point I thought of making a 9-block quilt with the leaf and reel style blocks balancing "square-shaped" blocks like Block #1. I knew I wanted to put the circular Block 4 in the center; this is my favorite block though it's hard to choose a favorite, isn't it?
I designed two new versions of reel blocks for the quilt.  I thought I'd design an applique border for the quilt, but when the blocks were put together with the sashing, I visited a new-to-me quilt shop and found the perfect large scale paisley. I'm going to hand quilt around the edges of each applique motif. Then I might do echo quilting in the background of each block, or I'll do diagonal quilting lines across the backgrounds and sashing. I had better decide soon!
I've had a great time with this quilt, and I plan to use more Chester Criswell blocks in a future quilt."

Thank you very much Kathleen, for sharing your work.  I'm impressed with the way Kathleen's new designs blend with the old.  Every one has favourite blocks ... and not so favourite blocks.  If you don't like the block you have to make next just replace it with one of your own. 

Another CCCQ fan, Wanda at Scrap Happy aka Blended Quilter, is looking for a swap partner for Block #24.  If you're interested just hop over to her blog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Turn in the World Blog Hop

If you are blog hopping around the world, welcome to my blog.  My name is Sharon Barnes and I'm writing from a rural area called Longford in the state of Victoria in the land Down Under. I wasn't born in Australia, I was born in Florida and grew up in Ohio and immigrated with my parents and siblings in 1970.  My own children have left the nest long ago and my grandchildren are beginning to visit under their own steam.  By day my husband and I work in our own retail store selling electronics; by night I fondle my sewing machine and follow flights of fancy through social media.

I'm a little late for the World Blog Hop, but I've been tagged by Carole from Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus. Carole named her blog after her daily commute to work, and she put the bus travel time to good use practicing her applique.  You must check out her blog, Carole's work is amazing.  I've borrowed my favourite photo, it's Carole's Morrell quilt.  If I could make a quilt like this I would be very happy.

There are questions posed in the World Blog Hop, I've made up some answers.

What have I been working on?

When I am at home I spend much of my time in my sewing room.  All I make is quilts, nothing else.  I have turned some quilt tops into kids' quilts with a fleecy backing. I will be donating them to a local charity for Christmas presents.

I work on quite a few different projects at the same time.  I recently coped with all my UFOs (UnFinished Objects)  by packing them into boxes and starting something new.  The new project has some Ohio Stars:

I want to use these blocks in a medallion quilt, so I next made the centre block, this patten is called Flying Swallows.  Most of the fabrics are from Judie Rothermel's Peace and Unity range.  I don't have a finished picture in my mind, I hope the quilt will just grow and end up lovely.

My most important project is the Chester Criswell Quilt, now in its third year.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have become a fan of reproduction quilts.  The Chester Criswell Quilt was made as a bridal quilt for my great-great-grandmother in 1852 and I began to trace the blocks and re-create them in the middle of 2012.  Not content with just teaching myself applique, I also taught myself pattern making skills and offered the quilt as a block of the month to other interested applique fanatics.  The quilt is a signature quilt made by family and friends of the bride Mary McClellan Criswell, so I include a story about each block maker. It has been a roller coaster ride but also tremendously fun.  I have a small collection of antique quilts from the 1800s and the 1930s and I hope that this pattern collection is the first of many.  

How does my writing/ creating process work?

I don't actually like writing.  I like the idea of writing, I like to imagine what I would write about and I like to read my finished work.  But I do not like that moment of sitting down at a blank monitor or a blank piece of paper and trying to find the opening sentence.  I set myself small goals and try to write at the same time most days.  If I use a pen and paper instead of a computer then I don't get distracted by Facebook and Pinterest.

Now tag three more bloggers to continue.

Ahh.  I contacted a few bloggers but did not get any takers.  Everyone was too busy in the real world to spend time in the virtual one.  I'm not disappointed, I'm glad that real life takes precedence over the virtual.   Thank you for your time, hope to hear from you soon.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Photos of Alice's Oak Leaf ~ CCCQ 24

A work in progress, but the end is in sight.

If you look carefully you will find next month's block.  Block 25 will be ready for the 1st October.

Alice's Oak Leaf has been a popular pattern.  When you finish, why not share your photo?  You can link up your blog post below, or send me an attachment and I'll add it to this post.

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Alice's Oak Leaf

Block 24 of the Chester Criswell Quilt is available now on the website Two Bits Patches.

CCCQ Alice Richmond

The pattern is a traditional one called Oak Leaf.  I've already had a great response, it's one of the patterns that everyone seems to enjoy.

The quilt above is in the International Quilt Study Center and Museum Collection.  It was made in New York about 1850.  I do like the sawtooth sashing and blue and white always looks good.
 IQSCM 1997.007.0711.

I have pinned a few more oak leaf block pictures you'll find them here on Pinterest.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Family Circle

Now that I have discovered Mary Criswell's older sister Agnes Smith I though I would see where her block fits in the Chester Criswell Quilt.

This is the centre of the quilt.  The large block in the centre is Andrew and Alice Criswell, Mary and Agnes's parents.  E3 is Mary Criswell's wreath which is the same as D6, Martha Lambourn's.  (The pattern is the same but not the date - Mary's is dated March 13th 1852 and Martha's is 4th Month 2nd Day 1852.  Mary was a Presbyterian and Martha a Quaker.)
Mary's sister Margaret is F4 and I'm not surprised to find that the 'new' sister Agnes is next door F5.  There are other important blocks here too.

C3   William Criswell, one of Mary's brothers (deceased)
C4   Alice McClellan, Mary's Godmother
C5   Lizzie Lambourn, Martha's younger sister
C6   J Dickey Smith,  Agnes Criswell Smith's son and Mary's nephew
E6   Martha Richmond, Alice McClellan's niece

One of the unanswered questions is as follows:

Who made the quilt?

My first assumption, now called Theory A, is that Mary's mother Alice made the quilt. There are far more relatives represented than friends on the quilt, many of them older cousins and aunts. But would Alice put herself and her husband in the middle of the bride's quilt?  It doesn't quite make sense.

Theory B:  Mary McClellan Criswell made the quilt herself, asking her family and friends to make the blocks.  She put her parents in the centre partly as a thank you and partly as a source of her own 'familyness.'  If Mary already had her dozen quilts in her glory box this could have been the thirteenth special quilt.
 (from Wikipedia - The term "hope chest" or "cedar chest" is used in the midwest or south of the United States; in the United Kingdom, the term is "bottom drawer"; while "glory box" is used by women in Australia.)

"This album's then a wreath for thee"

Theory C:  Martha Lambourn organised the quilt and the collected blocks were given to Mary as an engagement present. The verse on Martha's block suggests a gift from friends; the verse on Mary's suggests receiving such a gift. This was certainly common in the 1850s although pieced identical blocks would be more likely than the large appliques of this quilt.  But would Martha have contacted all of Mary's relatives, and why would she put Alice and Andrew in the middle?

Theory D:  All of the above, but I will never know for sure.  If we had all the answers then there would be nothing left to wonder about. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ready for the Third Year?

I've been working on this block.  Do you see green on white or white on green?

This pattern is part of Block #25 of the Chester Criswell Quilt.  That's right, there are more blocks and The Third Year is about to be launched.

The first pattern of the Third Year, Block #24, is due to be published on 1st September.  If you don't want to miss out you can pre-order now.

Do hope you can come to the Third Year party!

*** Wow - the response to the Third Year party is great - glad I don't have to post all the patterns.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Family Secret Revealed

Yesterday a total stranger sent me an email that led to the revelation of another secret of the Chester Criswell Quilt.

Do you remember Block 21, Mary Trayner's eight petalled daisy?  There is a second block in the quilt of the same design.

The names on this block are Joseph Smith and Agnes C Smith, Fairview.  In the Block 21 story I wrote,
"These Smiths are related to the bride; again, more research needs to be done to find the exact relationship."

Yesterday I received an email from Linda through  I don't know Linda, but her own family history search had found some Smiths and some Criswells.  She sent me an email to say that she found my quilt family tree and told me that one of the online resources on might be helpful to my research.

Smiths are always hard to research so I was pleased to follow Linda's hint and opened up 'Record of the Smith Family', written by Joseph Harris in 1906.  The record follows the descendents of John and Susanna Smith who migrated from Ireland to the Americas in 1720.  John and Susanna brought four of their children with them, one more was born on the voyage and a further ten were born in the New World.

Fortunately the 272 pages of Smiths are indexed and I quickly found Joseph and Agnes.  Their record looks like this.

Aha! Agnes was a Criswell before she became a Smith.  I added 'Criswell' to Agnes' record and promptly came up with a death certificate.  On the certificate are the names of Agnes' parents.

Agnes Criswell Smith's parents are Andrew G. Criswell and Alice Carlile.

Agnes Criswell has the same parents as the bride Mary McClellan Criswell.

Agnes is Mary's older sister.

I couldn't believe it.  How could I have missed another sister for Mary?  I went back and forth between the records to confirm what I had just found.  Yes, the bride Mary had an older sister who was already married.

How did I miss this important relationship?  The 1850 census records are my starting point.  Agnes was married before 1850, and living with husband Joseph and three year old son John Dickey Smith on their own farm, close to the original Criswell farm.  I didn't know Agnes' maiden name was Criswell, I only had the initial 'C'. I was aware of all of Mary younger siblings; Margaret and Susanna were recorded in the 1850 census.  The Faggs Manor cemetery records provided the names of her other four brothers and sisters. My grandmother's notes only mentioned Mary and did not include any siblings.

Have you found the next clue yet?  The children of John Smith and Hannah Dickey are Joseph Smith and Jackson Smith, each of whom married a Criswell girl.  Jackson Smith is Jesse Jackson Smith so his Criswell bride is Mary McClellan herself.  The Smith brothers married the Criswell sisters.

Now the groom has a family too, something I had not been able to discover without this new source of information.  I have the name of a brother, his father and mother and his grandfather so I can work on Jesse Jackson's family tree.

It was hard to get to sleep last night with all these names running through my head.  Just before I went to sleep I had an amazing revelation.

If Alice Criswell's daughter Mary was not her first daughter to be married but the second one........

...... there must be another, earlier Chester Criswell Quilt.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pinning and Posting

I've jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon.  There are so many inspiring images in cyberspace, I've decided to collect a few.  One positive feature of Pinterest is the picture's source always stays with the picture - you can easily visit the original post and view the original context.

I've set up four boards.  I only have one follower so I would be pleased to gather a few more.

Friendship Quilts



Antique Album Quilts

Patchwork Blocks

Chester Criswell Quilt

There is no new Chester Criswell Quilt pattern next month but there is still plenty of activity around the CCCQ community.

 Carole from Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus is choosing fabric.

 Miriam from Yellow Roses has finished Block 23 - the Bat Signal block.

 Chris is Quilting at the Farm and finishing Dear Jane as well.

Wanda appears to have five blocks on the go at the same time - Scrap Happy.

Nancy's design wall is working overtime - these are half of her completed blocks. Tattered Garden Quilting.

Last but not least, Jan Mac's design floor.  Sew Many Quilts, Too Little Time.

And what have I been doing?  Well, don't tell anyone, but I bought another antique quilt.  Shhh...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It followed me Home - Can I keep it?

I have added another quilt to the (growing) collection.

I was attracted by the big, bold blocks and interesting patterns.  Sampler quilts are my favourite, I don't like making the same block over and over again. 
I bought it online; the seller described it as late 1800s and purchased in Chester County.  Excellent - another Chester County quilt to keep the Criswells company! 

I wasn't disappointed when it finally arrived.  The fugitive green fabric has faded to tan and some has perished altogether but the patterns are clear.  The whole quilt is in good condition, you don't have to hold your breathe when you fold it up (like I do with the CCCQ).  The cable border is just a bonus.

I wanted some expert opinions on the quilt's age, so I posted some photos in the Facebook group Quilts - Vintage and Antique.  I got over seventy likes which was very nice and a variety of thoughts on how old the quilt is.  The patterns and fugitive green fabric points to 1890s, but the scalloped edge has a 1930s feel about it.  The border fabric matches the background fabric so it must have all been made at the same time.

The big surprise was the number of people that said, it's an Ohio quilt, isn't it?  It looks just like the Miami Valley quilt book.

I went to find my copy of the book and looked through it.  I was very pleased to find lots of similar blocks in the book and my new quilt.  I live in Australia now but I grew up in Ohio; I have always wanted on Ohio quilt.

 There is one odd block however.

That's not fugitive green, red and cheddar.  That's double pink and a tiny green print. How does this block belong with the others?

I love a good mystery.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Some Finishes - Of Sorts

The last block of The Second Year of the Chester Criswell Quilt is online now.

Block 23 - Mary Watkins

Those cut-outs remind me of one of my favourite television shows when I was about 9 years old.


So, if this is the last block is the quilt finished?  No, not quite.  There are ten more blocks to go so there is a Third Year of the CCCQ.  For those of you that have just discovered this quilt, there are plenty of blocks to come.  Don't forget to share your pictures and your comments;  it will encourage those of us that would like to get on with other projects.  The next block should be arriving 1st September 2014.

I finished this quilt for my brother's birthday.  I've called it '50 Cats'. My brother is now 49 and 12 months.

I always piece backs of quilts from my stash - it's fun and a reward for being disciplined and finishing the top.