Saturday, October 31, 2015

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quilt Market in Houston

Andover Fabrics showed my newest lines....Dargate Polychromes and Margo's their booth at Quilt Market in Houston. Mary Robbins from Bozeman, MT made the Rail Fence quilt as well as the Card Trick pillow. Lauren Meddings from Manhattan, MT make the red/pink Young Man's Fancy. Both the Card Trick and Fancy are free patterns available from

Center Medallion Quilt by Margo Krager

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pillar Prints
Cloverdale Pillar by Di Ford/Andover Fabrics
Di's Pillars feature lovely green and gold accents. Margo's Mignonette's play nicely with these elements within the Pillars.

Pillar Prints

Glorious upholstery chintzes featuring architectural columns festooned with flowers or ribbons appeared in wood block prints around 1800 and again later in roller printed designs after 1825. They lost popularity for decorating during the 1830s but continued to be used in quilts through the 40s and 50s.

Pillar prints are a distinctively British styling and were especially popular there and in America for curtains and bedcovers. These early designs featured short columns topped either by an ornate capital or flowers. The columns could be classic Greek, or twisted, carved designs wrapped with ribbons, garlands, or vines with tendrils. Polychrome wood block printing produced especially beautiful fabrics in this style and English printers offered hundreds of different designs early in the 19th century.

Roller printers revived the popular pillar print motifs between 1825-30.Copper rollers laid down the primary pattern that was then overprinted with extra colors by blocks or surface rollers. These later textiles still featured a basic column with flowers plus extra elements that had not appeared in the earlier versions.

Often pieced blocks in quilts from this period (first half of the 19th century) contain small squares or triangles cut from a large pillar print (12” to 20” repeats). Sometimes you see only a small portion of the flowers; other times an odd piece of architecture.

In her great book, “America’s Printed Fabrics, 1770-1890”, Barbara Brackman recommends purchasing 5 yards of a Pillar Print. Use it for borders and cut it up for pieced blocks!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Center Medallion....Polychrome Indigos

Center for a new medallion quilt. The hex is 1 1/2" with the center portion being DC511N. This is appliqued onto a 43 1/2" X  61 1/2" piece of DC512N. I am currently adding in 1" borders from DC513N...just the gold scroll part. Also building 9" finished Lemoyne Stars for a double row surround!

The icky gold and brass colorations are from my upcoming line...Margo's mignonettes.  I will try to get them up on wish list soon. Delivery expected in October.

We get to see the Broncos tonight...not usually broadcast in Ron is pleased. Will sew while watching.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Polychromes....multi colored

Dargate Polychromes

This outstanding multi-colored indigo from the Dargate book has been beautifully reproduced by Andover Fabrics using modern technology to capture the colors of this c. 1830 fabrics. The entire line, including both red and black color ways plus coordinates, is coming to a quilt shop near you soon. See the full selection at Dargate.
I am currently working on 2 quilts using my early sample yardages. I should have pictures on the next post.

I was, however, curious about the method used in 1830 to produce such fabric. Classic blue/white indigo designs can be printed by resist. This resist method utilizes a resist paste in the area that is to remain white. The yardage is then dyed in an indigo bath, followed by the removal of the resist. Another run through the indigo dye bath would produce a two blue design.


These were the beginning steps to polychrome indigo prints. The original resist paste and indigo dye both produced white and light blue designs on a dark blue background. The old resists were then removed and new areas covered with another paste. The fabric was dyed yellow, giving three additional colors: yellow, green and black. Finally, a pink and red were overprinted. The final product was a dramatic polychrome indigo featuring white, light blue, dark blue, yellow, green, black, red, pink and brown. Wow!


Technical assistance with this history process graciously provided by the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design, University of Rhode Island: Drs. Bide, Ordonez and Welters.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

California Golds

Chrome yellow is a mineral dye that was used to dye and print cottons from around 1820. An alkaline rinse in the final stages of the process would change the color to chrome orange. (The color could vary from school bus yellow to aged cheddar cheese.)
A fine printed line or a small design could appear almost butterscotch in color. These are often called ‘California Golds’ and were seen from 1840-1890. I remember at least the starting date for these prints...because of the San Francisco '49ers. (We are big football fans. Since we can rarely get a Bronco game here in MN, we are trying to change our colors!)

Dargate Polychromes

The orange/gold dye is also seen in a very dramatic way on a deep indigo blue background through out the 19th century and into the early 1900s.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Year

It has been a year now since we relocated to Minnesota. I have a new MN driver's license! new experiences (strawberry picking early early Monday morning) and best of all new friends.

New fabrics with Andover...two lines in production: Dargate Polychromes shipping in August and Margo's mignonettes due in October with another line, as yet un named, in artwork. Plus several scheduled speaking engagements here in MN and one in AR.

I promised my son in law that given a year....I would have all the boxes unpacked. Well...I am close.. everything is unpacked and organized except my sewing room. Now how did that happen?

Best of all I get to see my daughter, son in law and grand children on a regular basis.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring Quilt Market

My presentation at School House during Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis went well. I guess all that fretting before hand paid off.

Picture of Dargate Treasury quilts hanging in the Andover booth. We will have patterns later this month for all.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


I am working on my School House presentation about my new Dargate Treasury fabrics for Quilt Market this week. I should have (during the 30 minutes session) about 8-11 minutes to talk about my inspiration for the fabric designs and show quilts made using Treasury.

I have 17 slides in my that should be about8- 9 minutes...then the quilts.

One of my new patterns I call Symbol.

This fabric design is French c 1830 and it has always reminded me of an Inuckshuk. (Ee nook shuk).

My husband and his best friend from junior high school...always spent their vacations together on  canoe trips. They would drive to the 'end of the road' in various Canadian provinces, hire a float plane to drop them off somewhere further North and then paddle back to civilization! They were usually gone 3-4 weeks.

Up in Nunavik (Northern artic region of Quebec province) the Inuit built these large lifelike stone citadels to direct caribou to hunters awaiting them in ambush. As Ron floated down those rivers, he would see these 'symbols' on the rolling hills above the river.  He brought home this tiny elegant Inuckshuk made by Canadian artist Len Masse using recycled Northern Canadian moose antler.

Inuckshuk 2 1/2" square....a Symbol

Saturday, April 25, 2015

May Day

Then and Now....a new pattern company with my business partner Mary Robbins from Bozeman, MT...will feature both traditional and contemporary quilt patterns using Dargate fabrics. We have started with the Treasury line. Two of my designs (I am very much Then) have made it to the photographer. Here is my first offering...May Day. Patterns will be available thru (retail and wholesale) late May.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Furnishing Goods

Today we might call these fabrics 'decorator designs'. The scale is larger and the elements often more exuberant. Merchant ledgers of the 18th and 19th Century referred to these fabrics as Furnishing Goods. The large printed garlands in Dargate Treasury from Andover Fabrics are a good example of c. 1830 Furnishing goods.
Ground colors popular 1815-1835 were white, tea dyed, yellow and light blue. These grounds were generally solids. The combination of a finely printed ground with block printed florals began with the development of steel mills in the mid 1830s. Often the small mill engraving backgrounds were printed separately and used as backings for quilts.
The tan color above is the document coloration. The pattern however, is a bit smaller than the original for two reasons. Today's goods offer 4 complete repeats of the large garland across the fabric. Five of the smaller design. In the original piece...the two different garlands are so close together some elements actually touch.  I wanted enough space between the two floral garlands to be able to cut/sew each design separately. 
Ribbons, an important fashion accessory, woven in the early 19th century often used a warp of one color with a different color of weft. In fabrics this would be called shot colors or chambrays. I am using several of these Chambrays by Andover Fabrics in quilts I am designing for the Dargate Treasury line. The Linen color is subtle and supportive while the Coral and Plum add a sparkle.
Dargate Treasury fabrics will be available late April and my quilt patterns by mid May on my website, Reproduction

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Circle Skirts are Popular!

If circle skirts are popular again, then half circle skirt aprons must be twice as popular. After all, doesn't one circle skirt equal two half circle skirt aprons?
    Circle skirts are the inspiration for the Half Circle Skirt Apron pattern. The little skirts with the geometric stripes showing up in the store windows and the Sunday newspaper ads are catching my attention and, maybe, yours too. But, you don't have to buy a circle skirt and cut it in half to get a half circle skirt apron. You can just make one from Margo's new fabric line, Dargate Treasury from Andover Fabrics available in early May. The floral stripes are perfect. My pattern includes two versions, the shorter "cocktail" length and the longer "cook" length. The pattern and kit will be available in mid-May at and, if you are at Spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis, you might see Margo modeling it at her Schoolhouse presentation. And maybe she will twirl (circle skirts are known to cause this impulse) and you will see the floral stripes swirl.

If you think that the Half Circle Skirt Apron is cute in the aqua color way of the Dargate Treasury floral stripes (A7791T) and cream coordinate (A7795TL), imagine a full circle skirt. It will be twice as cute. After all, don't two half circle skirt aprons equal one circle skirt? Oh, I'm getting weary of the math.                                 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Embroidered Center Panel

This panel was designed and stitched by Karen Melhouse of Canon Falls, MN. Karen has used Andover Fabrics Chambray in tan plus a layer of Pellon for the embroidery stage. Currently it is just loosely basted. I am designing a Dargate Treasury Quilt around it and plan to show it at a School House presentation at Quilt Market in May. The pattern (embroidery/quilt) and kit will be available on my website early/mid May.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dargate Treasury Inspiration

Hello. My name is Michelle Yeo and I am an Australian quilt designer and teacher with a love of reproduction fabrics & antique quilts. My friend Virginia and I were lucky enough to visit Margo in November and spend 2 lovely nights looking through her fabric sample books. We enjoyed 2 days 'playing' in her shop, 'Reproduction Fabrics', where we were easily entertained sifting through a drawer of Dargate fabric scraps from bygone treasures and drooling over the wonderful shelves of reproduction fabrics all arranged according to era.
Margo topped off my stay in the US by asking me to design and make a quilt using her new, upcoming fabric range, 'Dargate Treasury' by Andover. Of course I couldn't say no to that request! I left Margo, and America, complete with the Skus card for the Dargate Treasury fabric range and I have spent much time since pondering over a design that would do these beautiful fabrics justice.
The inspiration for my central block is the design on a 60 year old dinner set owned by my Mother- in-law and, in particular, the tea cup and saucer from this set in which she served me a cup of tea on Christmas Day. This block features an appliqué basket with Broderie Perse flowers and butterflies. These have been mostly cut from the floral feature stripe border fabric of Dargate Treasury. This central block will be surrounded by a series of pieced and plain borders featuring all the fabrics from the range. The quilt will travel to America for Spring Market and the pattern will be available, after May, on my website,
Enjoy and I hope you like it!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Is Desultory a Quilter's Term?

A porch railing I saw at a Chinese museum inspires my upcoming quilt pattern named Peace and Prosperity using the Dargate Treasury fabrics. I think you will be pleased with the simple piecing. A one-inch sashing creates the porch railing and the Dargate Treasury floral stripe fills the negative space. Two blocks, measuring 7 x 23 inches each, alternate to produce the pattern in the porch railing. In the Dargate Treasury collection, there are four lovely color ways of the floral stripe fabric. I am obsessed with wanting to use at least two of them in one project. I chose the cream colored floral stripe and the aqua colored floral stripe with the red fabric that coordinates with both colors as the sashing.

It should work. Look at the perfect companionship of the color dots.

I tested the pattern by making a prototype of a table runner with just two fabrics from my stash. It turned out great, but I wanted to explore the versatility of the porch railing design and also try using two color ways. So I decided to try a wall quilt with a 4-patch configuration. There would be four panels containing three blocks each, two panels with the cream floral stripe and red sashing and two panels with the darker, aqua floral stripe and red sashing. The panels would be placed as a light/dark four patch. I had a wonderful time sewing them, but up on the design wall, something was wrong. The fabric combinations looked lovely together, but...

I asked my non-quilter husband for his opinion which he gave without hesitation, "It's desultory." What?! That's not a quilter's term. Seconds later, I have the dictionary app open. Desultory: lacking in consistency, or visible order, disconnected. Okay, I get it. Sometimes you just need a non-quilter husband with an objective point of view and a vocabulary better than your own.

There were two things not working right. First, the two alternating blocks, which create the pattern of the porch railing, need to end in an odd number of blocks across and down so that the left and right sides (and top and bottom) of the quilt match. Some blocks are like that. The 4-patch configuration had six blocks across and two blocks down. By ending in an even number of blocks and not matching on the sides or top and bottom, it was out of balance. We admire artistic asymmetry in today's modern quilts, but this was not that. This was just, plain off-balance.

The other problem was that the red sashing gave pop to the cream floral stripe, but lacked the same enthusiasm with the aqua floral stripe, probably because of value issues. Another Dargate Treasury coordinating fabric that would be perfect with the aqua is the cream colored tiny swallow fabric. I love that one and I'm getting inspiration to create a paper-pieced or appliqué swallow.

The solution--go back to the original inspiration from the unique porch railing and make a table runner with the cream colored floral and red sashing. If you are wondering about the fate of the aqua pieces that were already sewn together, they make a lovely pillow.

The pattern which will be coming out with the Dargate Treasury fabric in May will include instructions for adjustable length table runners, placemats, and pillows and guidelines for how to "grow your quilt" into various larger sizes that maintain balance and help you avoid a critique of "desultory."

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dargate Treasury Quilt

Building baskets...then making strips! to love them! My friend Mary Robbins found the pattern in Barbara Brackman's book under 'Bread Basket'.

Starting to add borders.

I have up loaded the entire line of Dargate Treasury to my website. It is currently on wish list.  We will cut and ship April 27, 2015.  I am very excited about this new Dargate line....the first since 2007!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The First Cut

My first cut on the Dargate Treasury fabrics--shaking in my shoes. It's like the first blank page to the sketchbook artist, a little intimidating. Don't mess up.

Hello, blog followers. My name is Mary Robbins. I have the pleasure and honor of working with Margo to design quilting patterns for her newest fabric collection, Dargate Treasury from Andover Fabrics. I have many years of sewing and quilting experience starting when I was a child making Barbie doll clothes on my KAYanEE Sew Master. Barbie, if she could, would have rolled her eyes at the fashion statement made with the scraps of fabrics I used, but I came to love everything about cotton cloth--the feel, the crispness, the pattern repeats. I made complete coordinated outfits including little purses with repurposed, gold-filled necklace chains for handles. I wonder where they are today and where did that Barbie doll go?

In our pattern designing collaboration, Margo will be offering traditional patterns and I'll be designing contemporary ones. Like a time traveler, I'll be going back in history for the fabric but coming back to now to envision modern quilting designs in reproduction fabrics. Based on my interest and experience, you can expect quilts, table runners, tote bags, aprons, and pillows with standard piecing, foundation piecing, or appliqué.

S-o-o, the first cut was easier than expected--straightening the edge of the fabric, nice and neat. Now. onward to the second cut and, oh my, the shaking in the shoes starts all over. But, I'll endure because I must get to the sewing. I'm so excited about our projects. Stay tuned for regular updates on our pattern development.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Textile dyes

Dyes vs Pigments



Natural dyes from the Middle Ages used to color a variety of textiles were largely derived from vegetables. Some of the most popular were weld (Reseda luteola) which produces a yellow, madder (Rubia tinctoria) can give tints and shades from pale pink/peach to reds/purples to near black and Indigo (Indigofera) and Woad (Isatis tinctoria) for blues. New World contributions were Cochineal, brazil and log woods plus Quercitron.  Textiles were dipped into vats containing these dyes. The coloring agent adhered to both sides of the goods with a weaker color often on the backside. 

Back of Indigo dyed fabric

The only dye with affinity for cotton is Indigo. All the others had to be fixed onto the fabric with mordants. These metallic salts were printed or painted onto the ground cloth which was then processed in a dye bath. The mordant (alum and iron were the most popular) ‘bit’ both the dye stuff and the cotton fibers to form a stable bond.


The early 19th century mineral colors (Prussian blue, manganese bronze and the chromes…yellow, orange and green) were often printed on cotton textiles as insoluble pigments.  A binder was necessary to enclose and then attach the pigment to the cloth. Albumen from either eggs or blood was used during the 19th century as a textile pigment binder. Pigments sit on top side of the fabric and give a pale beige or taupe color to the back side.


The first synthetic fabric dye was discovered in coal tar residue in 1856…mauveine. Some of the early synthetics were printed on cotton as pigments until the discovery tannin mordants. Other aniline dyes followed in 1869 for alizarin (the coloring agent in madder) then in the early 1890s a good aniline black and finally in 1897 artificial indigo. A version of this is still used today to dye our beloved jeans!

Print pastes incorporating pigments into an emulsion were used for fabric printing during most of the 20th century. Today many of the printed fabrics in the quilt marketplace use fiber reactive dyes with occasional details provided by pigments.
Dargate Treasury by Andover Fabrics
Dargate Treasury due late April/May  Shop owners please contact your salesperson. They should receive the sample cards this week!


Saturday, February 7, 2015


I am working on basket blocks using my new Dargate Treasury sample yardage. What fun. Love baskets. This block was taped to my office door one morning in December with a note...' hope you can use this'. Alas...I was unable to read the signature??

It is a bit lumpy but I loved the parallelograms! I have drafted it and converted to rotary cutting measurements. Currently sewing basket bodies.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Happy Days!

My 'working' yardage has arrived for the new line of Dargate.....Treasury by Andover Fabrics. Now I need to get to work!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Print run samples

The samples from the initial print run of the new Dargate Treasury by Andover have arrived. Since I have been sketching block and quilt designs for a few months now....I need to choose one and get sewing!

Monday, January 19, 2015

January little Hot Pads

Fun little Hot Pads made with printed antique images. Early 20th century Jar Rings came by the dozen in square cardboard boxes with the manufacturers logo on the top. These images (4" X 4") printed on cotton sateen are ready to sew. The packet of 4 comes with a pattern for a quilted Hot Pad. Finished size is 8" X 8".  
 I trim the white edges to 1/4"...which puts the sewing line right on the dull aqua border's edge.
 There is a paper backing which is easily removed before sewing.
 Back of the sewing project showing the image without paper backing.
Each design is dated. This one is 1930. We sell the Jar Rings as well as additional sets of Vintage Kitchen Cupboards (4) and Vintage Stoves (4). Each packet comes with the Hot Pad pattern.  These make great little gifts to have on hand....or to treat yourself.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Document color

This is the document coloration (color of the actual sample) of the big idea stripe in my new fabric line...Dargate Treasury. The scale of the design is appropriate for Furnishing goods of the early 19th century. The dating of the Dargate book is c. 1830. The tea coloration and the plain ground are common for this time period. By the 1830s you begin to see finely engraved fancy cover rollers offering complex patterns for grounds that are then overprinted with large florals.

Karen Melhouse of Canon Falls MN has designed a lovely center panel for a quilt featuring this fabric....a simple appliqued vase with a spray of  embroidered flowers using motifs from the print.