Wisconsin Wall Hanging

WI finished

As a girl who loves her home state, I was super excited when a member of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild brought in a paper-pieced Wisconsin block for another member who also happens to be from Wisconsin. I had no idea such a block existed.

So when I had a little down time last week, I found the pattern on Craftsy and dreamed of all the Wisconsin-themed gifts I’d be giving this Christmas. Then I made the pattern. It turned out to be the most difficult paper-piecing project I’ve attempted. So, FYI, those Christmas gifts aren’t going to happen.

I played it safe with my fabric selections, choosing one solid that looked the same on the front and the back. And I colored the pattern pieces so I could easily see which sections were to be state and which were to be background.

WI colored pattern

As is always the case when I’m paper-piecing, I tried to skimp on fabric, using my smallest bits for the small sections. And as is always the case, I regretted it when those small pieces didn’t quite fill the area needed and had to be taken out. Between that and just messing up the pattern, it was rough going. Especially for the southeastern part of the state.

WI take one

Nothing really matched up the way it should as I struggled with putting the large lettered sections together. And I accidentally used a different green for the large triangle in the middle. But I could see where I could do better, so I tried it again.

This time did go more smoothly. In addition to coloring the state sections of the patterns, I stitched the perimeter of each section after I pieced it. This made sewing those sections together so much easier because the edges of the fabric weren’t flopping over.

WI take two patterns

I still made a few of the same mistakes that I made the first time through, but overall it was much easier. And it turned out looking nicer, too. Although southeastern Wisconsin still has its struggles.

WI take two

After a bit of thought, I decided to turn the block into a wall hanging. I added a gray and white polka-dot border and then added a wider border of Amy Butler Violette fabric.

Before I started the quilting, I decided to locate Waupaca, my hometown, on my newly pieced map (and I had Greg verify it so that it would be reasonably close). I made a red French knot there (per Greg’s suggestion) and then sewed a free-motion spiral out from there. As with my mug rug from last time, my circles are nowhere near perfect, but I just wanted them to be fun.

WI quilting

I used a piece from the same Amy Butler collection for the backing. The finished piece is about 16 inches square.

WI back

WI finished

Despite its imperfections, I kind of love the way it turned out. I really like the colors. Now I just need to figure out where to hang it. Somewhere that’s in my line of vision during the day. To remind me of home.

Mug Rug Re-Do

Circle mug rug

Recently I had to take a break from my two big quilting projects and actually make something. And there’s no project as quick and satisfying as a mug rug.

The one I made was really a mug rug re-do. I made this blue and gray circle block back in March as a Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild challenge to try pieced curves. I brought the block out again a few months ago when our challenge was to try the magic binding technique. With this technique, you sew a two-pieced binding that leaves a narrow strip (or flange) of the second fabric on the front of the piece.

Circle mug rug with flange

The technique has you sew the binding to the back first, then fold it over to the front and machine sew in the ditch between the two parts of the front binding. I tried it first with an orange flange, but I decided that took away from my goal of it being a blue and gray piece.

So I made the binding again, this time in gray.

Circle mug rug gray flange

The finished mug rug sat in my office/craft room for a few months. Then I realized I really didn’t like it. I loved the block. But I didn’t like the quilting. It was too linear for my first piece with curves. And I didn’t like the binding. I think the orange in the blue binding fabric was still too much orange. And I didn’t like that that the binding wasn’t as taut as I have it when I bind in my usual way.

So I took off the binding and took out the quilting. Which was probably a little nuts in hindsight. But I really wanted to like this piece.

I re-quilted it with gray thread instead of blue, and I echo quilted around the circles to help show them off. The quilted circles are by no means perfect, but I think that just adds to the fun of the curves.

Circle mug rug detail

And I bound it in my usual way with a muted medium blue. The result is a more subdued piece. But I like that it’s more about the circles now, which was why I made the block in the first place.

Circle mug rug

I’ll use the magic binding technique again, I’m sure. One woman at Guild reversed it so the flange was on the back of the quilt. I liked that because it would allow me to keep the binding on front taut and add interest to the back, which is usually a little boring anyway.

Rankin House, Ripley, Ohio

Ripley OH

This past Labor Day weekend, Greg and I took a road trip on Hwy 52 east of Cincinnati. The road follows the Ohio river, and within 50 miles of the city, you hit some pretty significant historic sites.

Our first stop was the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant. He was born in a one-room home in Point Pleasant, Ohio, and lived there only a year before the family moved to nearby Georgetown, Ohio. The home had a few personal artifacts that were donated by the Grant family including the leather-covered chest he brought to West Point and his presidential stationery. The tour guide pretty much forced me to take a photo with this life-size cutout of Grant. He was my height but thinner during the war years before adding on all that “presidential weight.”

US Grant

Grant Memorial Bridge

The Grant Memorial Bridge, shown above, is on the street in front of the property.

About 30 miles further down the road was Ripley, Ohio, the site of the John Rankin House, which was my primary destination on this little trip.

Rankin plaque

The Rankin House was a stop along the Underground Railroad for over 2000 escaped slaves. The house stands high atop a hill overlooking the Ohio (the first photo was taken in the backyard of the house). The family would put a light in the window each night to guide those crossing the river to safety. From here, the family members would take the slaves to their next stop, usually in the same night that they would arrive.

The Rankin House is my favorite kind of historic homeā€”it has a good story and lots of pretty decorative touches. As soon as I walked in the house, the painted linoleum on the hall floor caught my eye.

Rankin painted linoleum

The hallway led to the sitting room. The people who restored the house were able to dig through the layers of paint to determine how the room was painted while the Rankins were there.

Rankin living room 2

The brother-in-law of John Rankin built the fireplace mantles in the home. Each had decorative cutouts along the top edge.

Rankin living room

All of the furniture and decorations in the home were period pieces, not from the family. But they were still pretty. Here’s the rug in the sitting room.

Rankin living room 3

The bedroom featured another brother-in-law-made mantle and more stenciling on the walls. The restorers found a section of the original painted walls and replicated it throughout the room.

Rankin bedroom mantle

There was a third mantle on the first floor in a second bedroom. I love how each one is a bit different, and it’s the notches in the top that tie them all together.

Rankin dining mantle 3Upstairs there were two large bedrooms: one for the boys and one for the girls. The Rankins had thirteen children, and at least some of the grown children lived there with their own families at times; at one point there were nineteen people living in the home. Here’s a rug from the girls’ room and some pictures tacked to the wall of the boys’ room.

Rankin girls rug

Rankin boys room

On our way home, we took a different route that took us past the Ulysses Grant Boyhood Home and Schoolhouse in Georgetown .

It’s pretty amazing all the history there is to see in areas not too far from Cincinnati. Watch out, Honey, I think I see some more road trips in our future.