Sunday, June 30, 2013

It Might Be a Really Long Summer...

Houston hit 107 degrees yesterday.  Thankfully, I live south of Houston in Friendswood, where it didn't get nearly as hot - only 104 degrees.  I shouldn't even joke about it...  early summer heat often portends a hot Gulf... which leads to hurricanes.  Eeek!  Those of us who have lived through season after season of storms pay close attention to the weather starting in September, but this year, we're already paying attention.

So let's look at quilts and relax for a while.  This month, I would show you what I've been working on, but it is such a bewildering array that you might think I've become deranged.  Who knows - maybe I have!  Actually, having agreed to do lectures and workshops, I've been swamped with getting everything organized and samples prepared...  which has taken much more time than I had realized it would.  Perhaps next month I'll show you a few of the things I've been working on... but in the meantime, I'll just show you some of the antique quilts that were on display in Houston several years ago.  They still thrill me, when I look at the photos!  Unfortunately, I have no information about these quilts, so you will have to be satisfied with my comments, alone. 
I love red and green quilts.  This one is really pretty -- notice the circle cut-outs in the leaves; that's an unusual treat and adds a special airiness to this quilt! 
Here's a close-up -- take a look at the birds eating the berries in the border.  I think that's a clever design motif.  And notice, too the different flower pots (or vases).  Aren't they strange?  Some are so tiny, some look upside-down, and some... they're just a surprise!

The quilt below has been published in various books and magazines - it's a lovely red and green quilt.  With plenty of half-square triangles in the blocks and two small half-square triangle borders, it must have been a piecing challenge - quilt makers of the 1800s didn't have all the wonderful tools that we do!

Here's a great Carolina Lily quilt - with an unusual secondary pattern formed by the leaves and the little pot the lilies sit in.  I am still in awe of those quilters who did all of this work... by HAND!

Log cabin quilts were often scrappy delights.  In this old quilt, there is a use of uncommon colors.

Here's a close-up.  I love how quilters used pairs of colors in log cabin blocks - it gives each block an interesting look.

I have always loved Princess Feather quilts -- this one is unusual, as the corner princess feather blocks have flowers in one quadrant.  Another unusual feature is the center star - I've not seen another princess feather quilt with a similar center in it.

The quilting on this princess feather quilt is exceptional, with what appears to be some 1/4-inch diagonal stitching, along with an assortment of quilted motifs.  Hand quilting such as seen in this quilt is not often found in today's quilts.

Here's a quilt where the quilt maker obviously loved orange.  Lots of orange!  Again, I have to remind myself:  quilts like this were done without all of the wonderful patterns, tools, and notions that are available in today's quilt shops.  Oh, my!

This lovely quilt has some nice trapunto in it.  But what I like more about it are the timid little rose buds in the border.  I also love the fact that despite all the wonderful work in this quilt... every single large flower is very imperfect.  Yet... it doesn't detract a bit from the overall look of the quilt.  We should be as forgiving in our own work, at times!

Here's another quilt with birds pecking away at fruit in the border... and a princess feather design with the alternate feathers replaced with flowers.  It's delightful!

Look at the cute little flowers in this quilt.  It's fun to look at the units in this quilt!  Did you notice that this quilter did not even attempt to have the borders on each side of the quilt connect up with each other - or end in a special way?  Nope - she just let them run off the edge of each side.  It makes me laugh to see it.

Take a closer look at the birds and the grapes.  Some of the grapes are obviously not quite ripe -- they're still green!  And each bird has an orange wing or top feather - that's a nice touch, too.

I have always wanted to make a cherry quilt.  I've had the red and green fabric for years, sitting on a shelf... waiting for the right moment...  Here's a great example of a cherry quilt -- with a unique border.

What is even more unique is that 1) the grapes in the outer border are red and green, and 2) each block is surrounded by tiny green piping, and 3) the applique on the sashing strips between the blocks mimics the vine in the outer border.

Here's another red and green quilt - with beloved eagles in it.  Take a look at the border flowers.  These vines are so intertwined... that they do not end!  They just connect up with the vines in the adjacent flower pot.  I love seeing things like this that don't necessarily make sense - it increases the "smile" factor in a quilt. 

Here's a close-up.  The stylized roses - and unique little 5-petal flowers floating like dandelions in the air - add a special touch to this designer's quilt.

Coxcombs are another favorite motif of mine.  It's not just that they are red and green, though that's great; for me, the combination of the coxcomb, the center poinsettia, and the windblown berries are all a visual dance to me.  The outer border on this quilt adds yet more interest.

Here's a close-up of part of the border.  This garden has run amuck!

And here's a close-up of one of the center blocks.  Notice the four little flower buds that grow out from the center flower - they look so funny to me!  It's always amazing how such a "formal" quilt can have so much folk art whimsy hidden away.

This lovely old quilt is simple... something that could easily be done by a group, which each person contributing a single block.  My guild bees often take on a project like this to put in our annual guild auction.

Here's a quilt with a bit more complexity in it.  It's nice how the quilt maker added applique to a wonderful pieced block.

And take a look at the wonderful applique border!

Now here is a REALLY complex pieced quilt!  Even though it's wild and crazy, I love the combinations of Lemoyne Stars and the lone stars.  The fabric choices are unbelievable -- what was she thinking?  But, somehow, this craziness works!

The quilt below offers a more refined view of piecing and applique... mostly applique, though.  It's a much older quilt than the ones above.  I wonder what the original colors were before age took its toll.

There are some crazy baskets and other motifs in this quilt.  Take a look, below.  I bet the quilt maker had a barrel of fun, making these!

Here are some more baskets, hearts, Lemoyne stars, and hexagons - along with a little whirligig and a butterfly.  Such fun!

Here is another princess feather quilt - we don't often see pink and navy princess feathers.  Notice the orange flower in the center of each side border.  What was in her mind when the quilt maker chose that color?

This is yet another princess feather - it's pretty primitive and chunky.  That's what makes it so appealing to me...

The blocks rather remind me of an octopus!

This quilt would be quite a challenge for any of us to make today.  My guess is that it was made in the 1800s - and pieced by hand.  The vibrant color choices make this quilt a winner in my book.

The quilt below is a favorite of mine.  I bought it a few years ago because I was (and still am) in love with cheddar.  I fully intend to make this quilt with today's fabric; I've spent 3 years trying to decide if it would lose its beauty if I paper-pieced the Lemoyne stars... or if I need to sew them by hand.  Hmmm...  I think I'll think about it for another year or two before I decide...


That's all I have this month - just a stack of eye candy for everyone.  Be patient; soon enough I'll show you what has been on my plate. 

Happy stitching, everyone!  Let's hope for a cool summer with an occasional dusting of rain for the flowers.

(c)2013 Susan H. Garman

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Quilt Friendships

I love blogs.  I can get lost in them.  That's the problem... I can also waste a lot of time - but is learning, being inspired, and seeing what everyone else is doing a waste of time?  I think not.  Facebook?  Well, that's another story.  I haven't figured out their real value.  Yet.  I'm not in a hurry to learn, either.
So, this month, I am once again behind on all of my projects.  Nothing has gotten finished, little has gotten started, and yet the first of the month came rapping on my door.  Hello?  Anybody home?  I was out of town for most of the week (more on that, later), and when I got home, a blog post from a friend of mine popped up on my laptop:  Denise Green (an amazing friend and longarm quilter) had just posted photos from her trip over to see the quilt show in Kerrville, Texas. 
Here's what I found interesting about her post:  since she's a longarm quilter, her view of quilts is different than mine.  So are her photos and comments.  I emailed Denise and asked if I could use her blog for my blog.  Answer:  "I'd be honored!"  I'm actually the one that was honored by her quick and positive response.  What I thought I'd do is to show you all of her photos along with her comments... and then add my own comments.  It's interesting to see how we both view the same quilts.  If you want to catch up on Denise's blog directly, you can find it here:  Let's get this conversation started, now.  Denise's words are in italics.  Mine are plain old straight up and down.
D:  We arrived at the show and my friend, Susie, met us there.  She is a member of the Hill Country Quilt Guild and had a few quilts in the show (with ribbons on them!).  One of Susie’s quilts – I quilted this for her – her quilts are a delight to quilt – she is very good piecer and I love her colors and pattern choices!
S:  I love how Denise quilts Judy Neimeyer quilts -- she honors the pattern but adds her own spin with feathers, spikes, swirls, and unique designs.  The color choices on this one are great.

D:  (This is) Susie’s Prairie Star (a pattern) – yes there is a ribbon on the right side!
S:  Well deserved, I'd say!
D:  I quilted the quilt below for Susie earlier this year – I really enjoyed this one!  What I enjoyed almost as much was I sent her my king-size triple 4-patch to quilt and I just got it back.  That was a GREAT TRADE!
S:  I love the soft colors in Susie's "Love is in the Air" quilt.  It's from a Lori Smith pattern.  I especially love the use of all those golds and blues and browns in the sashing strips.  Are those are four-patch sashings?  Yes!
D:  (Susie) added the pieced sashings as well as the applique border. The pattern had plain sashing and border.
S:  I love those sashing strips.  I wish I could think of things like that!  This picture needs to go into my folder of "great ideas."  Susie machine appliqued the non-pieced blocks/borders.  She did a nice job with that.


D:  This quilt of Susie’s ("Sew Many Colors") was made as a block of the month from Pinwheels and Posies.  Each block is the same (except for fabric placement), Susie quilted this one!

S:  Pinwheels and Posies is a local quilt shop in Dickinson, Texas.  They did this block of the month a while back and it clearly turned out nice.  If Denise hadn't pointed it out to me, I don't think I would have noticed that the blocks are all identical.  There's a lesson in there for all of us about the importance of value (how light or dark a color is), as it can have a dramatic effect on what a block looks like when you are finished making it.

D:  Another student, Linda B, was also working at the show and had a ribbon (or 2) on her Glacier Star Quilt that was started in a class I taught at Pinwheels and Posies.  I love how she added to the main body of the quilt with her “tucked” border and this beautiful Jason Yenter print.
S:  If you have a chance to take a Judy Niemeyer class from Denise (her workshop schedule is posted on her blog), it's worth the trip.  Denise is an excellent teacher with endless patience for anyone and everyone.  In general, I'm not a fan of "cheater cloth" pre-printed borders and blocks.  The border on this quilt, though, is really wonderful and frames the quilt nicely!! 

D:  Kim’s quilting (her longarm business is called "A Busy Bobbin") was honored with the ribbon for Best Machine Quilting – WELL DESERVED!  Our local longarm bee is excited to have Kim as our speaker Monday night at our monthly meeting.  She and Linda B. will be joining us and talking about the rulers Kim uses and how she fills all that empty space with all of that gorgeous quilting.

S:  I am spoiled rotten by living in an area filled with quilters -- Denise started a longarm bee quite a while back, before it seemed that nearly everyone had some sort of quilting machine.  She schedules speakers every month for the members -- and I can't wait to go to hear from this speaker.  Look at the unique combination of quilting designs in this quilt....

D:  (Here is...) Linda's sweet mini!

S:  Sometimes it's the little things that count, right?  I want to point out that the Kerrville guild puts a wooden clothespin on every quilt.  Quilt show attendees can then grab the clothespin to see the back of any quilt without having to hunt down a white-glove lady.  What a great idea!

D:  I took several pictures of quilts that I enjoyed the setting of the blocks.  I love how (Holly Nelson) set these blocks.

S:  I love the wonderful quilt edge, too.  And setting those blocks inside a scalloped circle... wow.  Holly designed these blocks for an applique class she taught in Fredricksburg, Texas.

D:  Here's another great way to set blocks.

S:  Love the blocks.  I wondered where Holly Nelson planned to put this piece and was able to read the tag on her quilt, which said she designed this quilt for applique classes in Bandera, Texas - and the layout was an "experiment" as she's running of space for wall hangings. 

D:  This is a great setting for those hexie blocks.

S:  I love the rich reds against those deep gray-greens and yellow-greens.  The information on this quilt says that "Perseverence" was made by Merry Ann Rothe and quilted by Donna Scofield.  The pattern is from "Quilts from Grandmother's Garden" by Jaynette Huff.  This is a delightful quilt and the quilting makes it come alive.

D:  I love Stephanie Brandeburgs panels – I like how this quiltmaker broke up the panel.

S:  Carol Pope made "My Summer Garden" by using a 22 by 44" panel because she liked its shape and design.  Her quilt was quilted by Donna Scofield (I hope I read that right; the label was pretty blurry...).  I am always amazed when people can take something like this big panel and have the confidence to slice it up and add some long pieced and printed strips.  It's wonderful!

D:  Great bargello quilt – I love the addition of the leaves in the border.

S:   You're right Denise - this is a great combination of a contemporary bargello design and a set of classic pieced blocks.  Don't you love the little green piping between the outer border and the binding?  Little additions like that make the difference between a good quilt and a great quilt.  And the quilting is wonderful, with feathers ruffling their way across the bargello and a great leaf shape on the maple leaves.


D:  And the quilting ideas I find at shows!

S:  I have so much to learn!  Denise is right - the quilting is phenomenal and offers lots of unique ideas for quilting; it changes from feathers to pumpkin seeds to cross-hatching without missing a beat.  "Pottery II" was entered by Linda Humphrey, who says this was a "pass around" project of the Sew Bee It Bee.  Linda made the center block and then passed it to each bee member to add a border.  Other bee members include Helen Ridgway, Anita Crane, Holly Nelson, Marilyn Lampman, Ro Molder, Isabelle Tolliver, and Marvene Wallace.  The finished quilt is 38 by 21 inches.  And it won a Judge's Choice ribbon!

D:  Amazing quilting!

S:  Absolutely.  Great ideas here!

D:  Gorgeous quilting!

S:  Ditto!  This quilt, called "Walking Home," was made by Julie Schlichting.

D:  Awesome quilting!

S:  Tremendous!  This 16 by 18 inch quilt, called "Desert Hills," was made by Jane Kutach.  It was inspired by a workshop with Karen Eckmeier in 2012.

D:  More quilting to love!

S:  I do!
D:  Quilting!

S:  This is a great example of how to fill a square without just doing "doodling" in it!

D: And these were just fun quilts; the colors are probably what draws me in.  Love the colors for the Wild Goose Chase – a pattern by 

S:  I was attracted to the design (how did they do those flying geese -- I would assume paper piecing?).  And I love that diagonal border!



D:  Love the color in this one too!  Great block!
S:  Yes - this block is incredible, both in the body of the quilt and in the border.  My bucket list has a Lemoyne Star quilt in it.... hand pieced with 3 or 4 inch stars. 

D:  Isn't this little mini pretty?

S:  I love the rich reds and greens.  This quilt is another round robin quilt, with each person (Marvene Wallace - owner - and Anita Crane, Linda Humphrey, Marilyn Lampman, Ro Molder, Holly Nelson, Helen Ridgeway, and Isabella Tolliver) adding a border.  The entire process took 8 months to complete.  That's dedication!

D:  Bright and colorful...

S:  Yes - and a lot of work!

D:  I love the poppies on this grey scale quilt (that's hubby in the photo).

S:  This is another beauty!  Kerrville has some pretty wonderful quilters in its midst!

D:  This was a group quilt.  They started with a photo, cut it apart.  Each member of the group was given a section of the photo to reproduce in cloth - and now you see the quilt put back together.  I think this would be really fun to do - what do you think?

S:  These quilts have always intrigued me.  I see them all the time in the Group Quilt category at the Houston quilt show... and they are stunning!  This quilt is called "Infinity Interrupted" and was made by Wanna Bee members.

D:  See the seams?  This shows where each member's work was added!

D:  I am not usually a fan of T-shirt quilts - but this one I love!  This was a wonderful t-shirt quilt!

S:  I agree Denise -- I love the random way the t-shirts were added.

D:  And of course, I left the BEST for the last - Best of Show went to this beautiful quilt - this pattern is Ladies of the Sea by Sue Garman.  Sue is a friend of mine and she was working on this quilt when we travelled to Brigham City, Utah, a few years back.  If I remember correctly, the compass corner stones were inspired by some wall art in the facility where she was teaching (I went as her helper because I am originally from Utah).  It is a marvel to watch Sue work - she is AMAZING!  I hope Sue will enjoy the substitution this quilt maker made to the original quilt.  The submarine honors a family member if I remember correctly.

D:  (Here is a) substitution to the original quilt (which is all tall ships).

S:  What a gorgeous rendition of this pattern!  I love when people personalize quilts and make them speak to themselves or their families or their experiences.  It makes the quilt extra special -- and the USS Carbonero is a great substitute for another historic ship!

UPDATE!  Thanks go to Susan Longacre who Chaired the Quilts in Motion Quilt Show of the Hill Country Quilt Guild in Kerrville, Texas.  She sent me some additional information on this quilt.  The maker of this quilt is Barbara Woodman, a very accomplished quilter, formerly of Uvalde and now living in Kerrville.  She won ribbons for:  First Place in Category, Best of Show (large), and Viewer's Choice.  The most heartfelt information is that Barbara made this quilt for her husband who served on the USS Carbonero submarine but, unfortunately, he died before she finished the quilt.  This quilt is such a beautiful legacy for Barbara and her family - and I thank her for sharing it with other quilters.

D:  Scrumptious quilting!

S:  Boy, you've got that right!  I'm so sorry I don't know the maker and quilter's name for this quilt -- it is SO well done!

D:  I hope you enjoy my tour of the Kerrville Quilt Show and if you are in the area for Memorial Day weekend in 2015, you should add this show to your list of activities.

S:  Absolutely!  What a great set of quilts - and definitely a beautiful town to visit!

Thanks, Denise, for sharing -- I appreciate your friendship so much.  Isn't it great that quilters seem able to make friends with complete strangers in a heartbeat?  That's what happened with Mary Clendennen when I met her a few years ago.  We bumped into each other at the Houston quilt show and she was so excited that I had gone over to Austin to see their quilt show and her quilt had just won best of show and I featured it in my blog back then.  She is just the sweetest person you could ever hope to meet -- and we parted, saying we ought to get together some time. 

So here we are, a few years later... and we bumped into each other at two more quilt shows... and she again invited me to come visit her for a few days.  Below is her quilt, "Ruffled Roses," based on the pattern I wrote for Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims' on "The Quilt Show."  I just love the fabrics in it - all from an Elly Sienkiewicz line.  But most of what makes this quilt so wonderful is Mary's exquisite piecing.  I've never seen such precision!

 Here is a close-up of her quilt -- take a look at the piecing, but also the quilting (done by Angela McCorkle).  Quilting can make or break a quilt, and Mary is certainly fortunate to have found someone who knows the craft well.  By the way... Mary doesn't applique (yet), so she had a friend prepare the pieces for her and then appliqued the prepared units in place.  She's determined to learn applique in the future.

And so.....  last week, I headed over to Marble Falls.  Mary lives on her ranch along the Colorado River, which, when combined with the sweet blessings of Mary's warmth, hospitality, and friendship, gave me a piece of heaven on earth.  I spent several days with Mary and her friend Marcie Wendrock and some others -- sewing, learning, relaxing, and enjoying my first time away from home in several years.  It was a sweet breath of fresh air.

Watching Mary work was an inspiration, in itself.  Check out one of the blocks she had made:

Do you want to know why it was such a joy to see her work?  Because she is the QUEEN of precision piecing.  I learned that I need to pick up my pace if I want my blocks to be as good as Mary's.  But wait!  Wait!  There's more!  Check out the back of her block.  Look how she works to press the seams open!  It was a great "light bulb moment" for me to see her block from the underside.  It's perfection, plus!  No wonder her quilts look so great.

When I arrived, here is the quilt Mary was working on.  She finished adding the final two borders while I was there, and was on to other projects.  You can probably guess, by seeing the block above, why Mary's quilt lies perfectly flat.

Some of the gals were working on Jo Morton quilts....

And Marcie was designing and working on a brand new quilt based on an antique.  I fell in love with it and can't wait for the pattern to be done.  You'll have to wait to see it... but the wait will be worth it!!!!
One of the women there showed some quilts -- here is an antique spools quilt...

And a close-up of it...

 And Zell Cook's quilts were stunning - she does a lot of quilts using tsukineko inks and embroidery - here's one with very detailed embroidery work in it.

And a close-up of one of Zell's blocks...

Now that I've finished sharing all those photos, one of you might be asking... but what are YOU working on, Sue?  I've been working on lots of different things... and have no photos to share this month.  Hang in there - they will show up soon enough.  And I think you'll be glad I've kept busy, busy, busy, getting my next quilts ready.

Several of you asked how they could find out what my lecture/workshop schedule is.  Here is an incomplete list; where the location is undisclosed, it is because the group has asked that they be the first to announce me coming:
  • June 15, 2013 - Lakeview Quilters Guild, Nassau Bay, Texas - precision piecing workshop
  • June 29, 2013 - Sugarland Applique Society, Sugarland, Texas - applique workshop
  • July 1, 2013 - Baytown Area Quilt Guild, Baytown, Texas - lecture
  • July 15-16, 2013 - Hill Country Quilt Guild, Kerrville, Texas - lecture and feathered star workshop
  • August 5, 2013 - Piecemaker Quilt Guild, Corsicana, Texas - lecture
  • October 7-12, 2013 - location undisclosed; lecture and several days of applique workshops
  • October 17-20, 2013 - Greenbriar retreat center, Athens, Texas - lecture, feathered star workshop, applique workshop
  • Late October/early November - reserved for the International Quilters Association quilt show, Houston, Texas
  • Winter, 2014 - 4-5 day personal workshop in my home, demonstrating design, process, etc.
  • February 23-27, 2014 - Applique Away on Galveston Bay, Galveston, Texas - two 2-day applique workshops
  • March 5, 2014 - Coastal Prairie Quilt Guild, Missouri City, Texas - lecture and workshop
  • May 20-21, 2014 - Marble Falls Quilt Club, Marble Falls, Texas - lecture and workshop
  • June 4, 2014 - Alvin Quilt Guild, Alvin, Texas - lecture
  • June 24-25, 2014 - Ozark Piecemakers, Springfield, Missouri - lecture and workshop
  • August 21, 2014 - Pride of Prairie Quilters, Naperville, Illinois - lecture and workshop
  • September 17, 20, 2014 - West Houston Quilt Guild, Houston, Texas - lecture and workshop
  • September 9-14, 2014 - location undisclosed; lecture and several days of applique workshops
  • October 25+, 2014 - reserved for the International Quilters Association quilt show, Houston, Texas
  • April or May, 2015 - Northwest Suburban Quilters Guild, northwest Chicago, Illinois - details to be determined
  • June 18-20, 2015 - Trinity Valley Quilt Guild and Denton Quilt Guild, Dallas area, Texas - lectures and workshops
  • Late October/early November - reserved for the International Quilters Association quilt show, Houston, Texas
Much of my time over the past two months has been spent preparing for these workshops.  I like to have plenty of examples of how to do things, including options for those who want a simpler or more unique option.  Perhaps we'll get to meet at one of these events in the future!

One more thing before I close.  I am struggling with a creativity block.  I want to start a new quilt - probably a block of the month - and cannot seem to focus on anything that really grabs me.  So... what have you been looking for, what is your favorite type of quilt to make, what would you like to see me design?  I'll listen to any ideas you have!

Happy stitching -

(c)2013 Susan H. Garman