Sunday, July 3, 2011

Progress and Princess Feathers...

Woo hoo! After several months of what seemed like endless hours of hand quilting, I have finished quilting my Friends of Baltimore. Wheeeeee!!! I have sewn the binding on and now have to stitch it down, add a label on the back, and add a sleeve before I'm done. I'm nervous about the binding - I want the quilt to hang perfectly flat after all the work I've put into it. It may take a tiny bit of blocking to make that happen, which is just fine. Here's a picture of it, lying on the floor upstairs.

All of the blocks are quilted with cross-hatching, while the borders are quilted with bead board quilting. Everything is stitched in the ditch, and all of the applique is stitched in a matching color. I love hand quilting - it is pure relaxation for me (except for the finger sticks!).
Now that I'm finished quilting Friends, I am having a bit of withdrawal -- what shall I work on next? First - here are some other things I've worked on this past month - and have at least partially finished. Below is my Borrowed Roses quilt. I need to make a few adjustments to the pattern, and then it will be available via mail order (probably in 2-3 weeks) from Quakertown Quilts.

Here's a close-up of the quilt -- it is one of the easiest applique quilts I've made, as the pieces are large (the blocks are 22 inches square), and the feathered swag border, while it looks difficult, is actually very fast and very easy to applique because the pieces are also large. Yay for easy, right?!!

This will likely be the next quilt that I quilt, though I think that I'll quilt it on my longarm. The original quilt was made by Rose Kretsinger back in 1929, based on a classic Rose Tree block. I've seen many quilts with this design, but I loved the border on Rose's quilt. Below is a photo of the actual quilt made by Rose -- she designed all the hand quilting but had someone else actually do the quilting. It's hard to find many people willing to do that today at an affordable price. But isn't the quilt design lovely? I may use her ideas in my own quilt, though it will be more challenging on a longarm.
And here is a close-up of the quilting in Rose's quilt. These photos were taken by Becky S, a friend who had the good fortune to visit the Spencer Museum, where the quilt was taken out of storage and shown to a group on a bus trip from the Common Threads quilt shop in Waxahachie, Texas. What a treat!
I also finally finished assembling all of my triple four-patch blocks into a king-sized quilt. These blocks were all from several block exchanges that I was involved in over the past decade - I often cannibalized the blocks and used them in other quilts, but I finally had enough to put this together. Done is good!

Here is a close-up of two of the blocks. They are 6 inches, finished size. Think about getting a group of quilters together to trade these, 20 blocks at a time, with others. They are fast and fun - and can be set in many different ways. While the exchanges I was in used civil war fabrics with shirtings, I have seen the blocks also done in 30s fabrics and batiks. It's a flexible block when it comes to fabric.

I continue to make my block-of-the-week blocks -- I make seven a week, so it's more like a block-of-the-day! After twenty weeks, I have 140 blocks -- I'll continue through to the end of the year (the first block of every set of seven comes from Homestead Hearth's block-of-the-week) and have a TON of blocks. I haven't decided what to do with them yet, but it's always handy to have a set of blocks to pull together and make a quilt in short order. Think of all the ways 7-1/2" blocks can be set -- sashed, on point, set alternately with large quarter-square triangle blocks, set alternately on point with scrappy squares of fabric... It's exciting to think about the options! My original thought was that I would give a set to my guild for it's auction - but I don't have a full set yet, so that will have to wait until next year....

Okay, you have to keep this under wraps - no telling anybody, pelase! I signed up for a Secret Sister program at my guild. We are doing it, starting in September, until our holiday dinner in December, so it's manageable with only 4 exchanges. What is also nice is that the gal who is organizing this suggested what to give to your secret sister each month: 4 fat quarters or 4 blocks, or a gently used quilting book, etc. I like the block idea so my Secret Sister will be receiving a few blocks each month. I may make more, too.... These evening stars, set in a "floating" design, are quick and easy to make, using a flip-and-sew method for the star points. Again, hooray for easy!

This next quilt is special to me. My 7-year old granddaughter and I worked on it together. She designed the applique and helped sew them on the machine. I set the blocks, under her direction, and quilted the quilt. Each block has special meaning for her - they plant flowers to attract worms that turn into cocoons that hatch into butterflies, they love fishing and the beach, and they have a wonderful love of family. So this is Dahlia's "Love Quilt." What makes it special, though, is that we made it together, laughing and playing the whole time. She owes me big time for doing the binding on it, though - it's my least desirable thing to do when it comes to quilting.

So that's what I've worked on this month. What comes next? I have a lot of ideas in mind - including a large "cutwork" applique quilt with tons of blocks all in reds and creams. After that, maybe an alphabet quilt - every time I see one of these, I fall in love with it. This one is particularly appealing to me because of its bright colors and its simplicity.
Quite a while back (15 years?), I started work on a Princess Feather quilt. I have the blocks done now and just have to figure out how to set the blocks. The Princess Feather is a classic pattern - folk lore says the design was based on a "prince's" feather. Before I end this month's blog, I thought I'd sare some classic Princess Feather quilts. Once again, I want to show you how creative quilters are with their designs -- isn't it wonderful that everyone can take an idea and do whatever they want with it? Take a look....

Here's the classic design - red and green feathers radiating out from a center red star. In this version, the quilter enlarged the quilt by adding a large border. That's a great way to "grow" a quilt without having to do a lot more work.
This quilter may have been feeling patriotic with her red and blue version of the quilt - and a Lemoyne Star in the center of each set of feathers. A simple border frames these feathers.

This quilter was similarly patriotic -but stopped at one princess feather set, choosing to add eagles in the corners of her quilt. I find these variations to be fascinating!

Here's a quilter who decided to use a vibrant cheddar for the background of her princess feathers. She also chose to use a single color for the feathers - and added multiple borders to enlarge the quilt and frame the feathers. Interesting....

In this version, the quilter also used a cheddar background - but used the classic red and green for the feathers.

This quilter used a chrome yellow background with her red and green princess feathers... but look at the motif in the center of this quilt....

And then look at the motifs used in this princess feather quilt. While they are a bit different, could they each have been inspired by another princess feather quilt with a motif like this? The quiltmaker of the quilt below certainly took liberties with the "princess feather" motifs -- she had a penchant for using vibrant colors, too - and look at the scalloped border on this quilt. It's quite unique for this style of quilt.

Here's another classic princess feather - set on a blue background. Check out two things: the unique center motif... and the border of mini-feathers. That's a lot of extra work, but it sets off the center of the quilt quite nicely.

Here's another quilt where the quilter took liberty with the princess feather design -- she added leaves (or are they meant to be feathers?) to the motifs. It's a dynamic interpretation of the classic design.

And yet another quilter made a classic version... but used teal instead of green for the feathers.

This quilter again interpreted the classic princess feather design in a unique style. Her feathers became swag sets - with flowers at the tips. These motifs were replicated in the outer border.

In this version, the colors are unique - and the feathers are replicated in the setting triangles. The creativity of quilters just doesn't cease, does it?

Some princess feather quilts took liberties with the direction of the feathers - in this one, they don't "spin" as in the classic design. And the center Lemoyne Star is modified in the flowers that stand between the radiating feathers.

This quilt resembles the one above - but her flowers are a stylized folk art design. She still has a version of those little flowers the above quilter used in her border. It makes me wonder if there was a pattern that used these at one time.

Here's another variation of the princess feathers - they serve as long flower leaves, though. Notice that the quilter must have run out of the feather fabric she started with - and resorted to using another color for four of the blocks and the border. Do you ever wonder what someone was thinking - or what their limitations were in terms of fabric availability?

Last but not least, here is the classic princess feather once again... with no border, no unusual motifs, no whacky colors... just plain and simple. I have yet to decide how I'm going to set my four princess feather blocks... but my guess is that it will have something versus nothing in the border - even if it's just a red floater strip around the outside of the blocks! In closing, let's all give thanks to the many men and women in the services who sacrifice much so that we can enjoy the bounties of freedom. We owe them a lot! Happy Fourth of July to everyone. Stay cool, keep stitching, and enjoy life!
See you next month --
Sue Garman(c)2011 Susan H. Garman


  1. I swoon over your Friends of Baltimore and am giddy about Borrowed Roses! THAT looks like one I can tackle!!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and talent. I enjoy your enthusiasm for others work as well as your own lovely quilts. I always look forward to your posts because they contain food for thought. You'll have a hard time topping the Baltimore quilt - it's fabulous.

  3. Your quilt looks like a Masterpiece. You should be very proud!
    A tip which has worked for me in the past, machine 1/8" wide polyester ribbon the length of the middle of the quilt just inside the seam allowance of the binding. This doesn't stretch or shrink.
    It has worked well for me at shows, the downside I have is people always want someone to fold mine over so they can see the back. If that happens 40-50 times at a show, nothing will keep it hanging straight even with the white gloved ladies.
    I hope the ribbon thing made sense, I think I saw it first in American Quilter.

  4. Such a great post. Loved seeing all of the Princess Feather four block quilts.
    Yours is nothing short of a masterpiece. So beautiful!

  5. Love your Friends of Baltimore. What a Family Treasure and a Treasure for Future quilters. Love your Borrowed Roses. Love your Blog
    Thankyou so much for sharing.

  6. Congratulations of finishing your masterpiece- Friends of Baltimore. I'm just starting out on the same journey and am very grateful for your very detailed set of instructions for each block. I have also just started a Princess Feather quilt to take with me when I travel. Thank you so much for sharing your work and quilt inspirations.

  7. Love your friends of Baltimore. Congrats on another finish!

  8. Sue,
    I really like the Borrowed Roses quilt-like you said, easy is good.
    The Princess Feather has so many variations from different quilters but the classic is truly the best.
    I love all your quilts but the FOB is definitely a stunner! Thank you so much for sharing. Hope you're having a great 4th.

  9. Sue, I loved seeing your finished FOB. I am half way through the applique work on mine. What fabric did you use for the backing? I used the fabric you designed as a backing on the Ladies of the Sea and it has been a real hit! Congrats on another beauty! Carolyn in IL

  10. In answer to Carolyn's question, I used a very busy print for the back of my Friends of Baltimore quilt. I did so because I wanted to hide the hand stitching, as I used many different colors of thread and going through multiple layers often makes the stitching not as lovely as it would otherwise be (in other words, the stitching on the back of the quilt may be uneven!). I loved the fabric I used ( because it hides the stitches well on the back of the quilt.
    Sue Garman

  11. Oops - I forgot to say WHICH fabric I used, once you saw the link to it at Windham fabrics. It's the red wiggly line on white with little black stitch lines all across the red -- it's the bottom fabric in the link...
    Sue Garman

  12. Thank you, Sue. I will be driving through Paducah next Monday on my way to the AQS Knoxville show. Here I come, Hancock's!

  13. Your quilt is stunning! I can't believe all the work you must have put into that. Amazing job!

  14. Just love your Friends of Baltimore. It is on my bucket list, I have the pattern and fabric now just need to finish a few other things first. Isn't that always the way it goes/