Friday, April 4, 2014

Part Two: Workshops, Retreats, a Mystery... and More!!!

If you didn't read Part One of this month's blog post... please do!  This is a continuation of Part One, though the two can be read entirely independent of each other. 

After I finished doing the lectures and workshop in central Texas, I came back home and finished up the last bit of organizational tasks for the annual Spring Retreat that my friend Patty and I put together for our guild.  If you don't remember, this is a go-and-sew retreat held down on Galveston Island.  We provide the huge well-lit sewing room, tables, cords, irons, and pressing mats.  Attendees make their own choices about food and lodging -- there are a ton of local eateries, including some within walking distance, and people can commute or stay in the onsite hotel or rent a beach house or stay in a bed-and-breakfast, as they choose.  Because of these choices, the cost is cheap:  $45 for a Wednesday through Sunday retreat.  How great is that?!  It's super when you find out that we also provide attendees with a $20 gift card to a local quilt shop.  Woo hoo!  Think about planning your next retreat and how you might make it affordable...and fun.  Patty and I make a promise every year:  we will let you sew!  We don't plan time for any distractions:  no signature blocks, community service projects, show-and-tell, mystery quilts... just go and sew!  and, of course... share friendship!  This year, we had 91 women attend.

So what did we see and work on?  One of our members (Becky S) makes a LOT of  small quilts for our annual auction -- we use them in both our quilt show mini-quilt auction and in our annual guild auction.  They are very pretty.  Here's one.  Look at the quarter... that'll give you an idea of the size of Becky's quilts. She hand quilts them, too!

Here's another one... again, look at the quarter to judge the size of this quilt.

And another... (oops... I forgot to put a quarter on the top!)


And another... I find these to be inspiring!  Becky's use of color is incredible.  Note the quarter, too...

In this quilt, Becky had a border fabric that had four different strips on it... so she cut those strips apart and used a different one on each side of the quilt.  What a great idea! 

Not all of these quilts were made by Becky - some other guild members are also contributing mini-quilts. 

I love these quilts made with Thirties fabrics -- they are such happy quilts!

Becky did make this quilt - with tiny little houses on it.  I tried making some and quit after the second house.  Becky rocks!  Note the quarter down on the lower left...

And what would an auction of mini-quilts be like without a Texas quilt in it?!
 Here's a last one that is not quite finished -- I love this layout of airplane blocks!

So... did any of these mini-quilts strike your fancy?  They can be yours if you come to our quilt show and our guild auction!  You can find the dates on the calendar page at!

What else were people doing at the guild's Spring Retreat?  Jerrianne was putting the finishing touches on her Mary Mannakee inspired quilt.  She always likes throwing in a touch of cheddar which makes the quilt just sparkle.  I am in LOVE with this quilt!

Below are some close-ups of the various blocks.  Check out the fabric choices - they are perfect.

What I love about these blocks is that they are not "overdone."  They are simple - but still quite interesting.  Jerrianne was also wise in making her blocks larger and leaving more space around each one, instead of crowding them together.  She did the same on the border, which is absolutely perfect in size and scale.  Here is a close-up of part of the border.

Okay... so I have a confession to make.  I "tested" one of my new blocks in this quilt to see if maybe I might want to design more blocks that are both "simple and interesting."  It's the center block.  I think it works!  Only eight more blocks to design, right?!  Plus gathering a few cheddar fat quarters!

One of the joys of this retreat (for me) was that my daughter decided to attend.  She has quilted for quite a while, but never really done applique.  She  decided to attempt it... and she made this block on the first day.  Wow!

And on the second day, she made a second block to go with it!  I was a proud mom, for sure.

Another new quilter, Debra, worked on this quilt -- I was told that it was her first quilt.  She took a Winnie Fleming class on borders and came to the retreat to work on the quilt.  Holy cow - this is quite an undertaking for a new quilter!

Debra had finished the center parts of the quilt -- here's a close-up.  Her choice of fabrics was amazing.

And she was in the process of adding a staggered star border - one of my favorites.  Awesome!

Patty (the retreat co-chair) wanted to learn how to do the prepared-edge applique that I was raving about... so I gave her a ten-minute lesson and voile - she instantly produced the "icing" on her gingerbread block.  What is there about a retreat with 90 of your best friends that inspires us to pick up things and just DO them so easily?!!!

Another new quilter had finished making some log cabin blocks.  They looked great.

She put them together in this quilt.  Bear in mind - she's still learning.  Do you notice a twisted log-cabin block in the quilt?  If this quilt were mine, I'd leave it just like this -- it's too cute and too funny to change it!  Although researchers have debunked the "myth" that the Amish always put a "mistake" in their quilts to show that they are not as perfect as God, it still makes a good story that fits this pretty quilt.  I love it!

One of the gals at the retreat was working on her Omigosh quilt -- if you don't know what that quilt looks like, here's a picture of mine.  The tiniest squares in this quilt are 1/2-inch, finished size.

So here is what one guild member was working on:

And here is a bunch of Omigosh double nine-patch blocks done (see them in the box, below...).   That's quite an accomplishment.

Marsha was still working on the "Butterfly" blocks of her version of Omigosh -- the ones that are shoo-fly blocks with four-patches in the side squares between the half-square triangles.  She had a light bulb turn on at the retreat though... what if she used some of her basket blocks in half of those Butterfly block spots?  She auditioned them here on one of the retreat tables.

 And here's another shot of that layout.  I like how it looks!

Now... you saw where a beginner turned a block in her log cabin quilt.  She should never be embarrassed about it -- even experienced quilters accidentally twist things in blocks and quilts.  Marsha laughed and showed us one of her Butterfly blocks.  Too funny -- you will see that one of the purple half-square triangles is turned the wrong way.  And Marsha is a very experienced quilter!

Well... the first time, it's funny.  The second time... is it funny or does it just start to get irritating?!  We all had a laugh when Marsha showed us another twisted block.  Ha!  Beginners should never feel that their mistakes stand out -- we ALL make them!

Another quilt that caught my eye at the retreat was Marilyn's Happy Daze.  Marilyn makes pieced quilts and tackling this one was a bit of a challenge for her.  She started it at last year's retreat... and brought it to this year's retreat to bind!  It is always fun to see someone finish what was a challenging project.  Yay, Marilyn!

There were plenty of other projects that were lifted up for us to all see.  Retreats are such fun!

This one was an amazing set of feathered stars in bright colors.  Wow!

One gal was working on baby blocks - she surely did choose the right colors for the blocks to look three-dimensional.

Another gal was working on a set of New York Beauty blocks.  What a great-looking quilt with an unusual center.

Here was a set of evening star blocks done using batiks.  It's hard to go wrong with evening star blocks!

And here's a sampler quilt done in black and white fabrics. 

And another quilt that got assembled...

It was made with an interesting block!

Nancy was busy assembling her French braid variation...

And this beautiful quilt was an eye-catcher!

This was the fabric she used for the blocks -- it's a Jason Yenter fabric made by In the Beginning called Avalon.

This quilt was a delight....

I couldn't wait to get closer to it, but still didn't get the best picture in the world.  It's a wonderful Mardi Gras quilt.

Pat was working on a wool quilt - so pretty!  It's based on a Lori Smith design.

Another gal was busy finishing up a Winnie Fleming border quilt...

And here was a very sweet quilt that I loved!

This was another eye-catcher that stopped us when we saw it laid out on the floor.

And someone else was working on a beautiful egret that was bedecked in lace.  I always find it incredibly interesting to see the variety of quilts that people are working on and making; they don't always bring them to show-and-tell at our general guild meetings, so we don't get to see a lot of quilts that our guild members are making. 

Some of our gals were working on community service quilts like this one....

And this one.

Jerrianne showed us her newest pattern purchase - Calico Paradise.  It's an interesting design and I can't wait to see what she chooses for her fabrics.

Jerrianne showed us the pattern layout.  Wow -- this looks like a whole-cloth quilt to me!

And then she laid out the individual sheets that need to be taped together.  This is going to be a labor of love!

Others were working on more tiny evening star blocks...

and one gal was making a quilt-as-you-go quilt.  Check out some of her blocks; they were a hoot!

And what was I working on?  Well... here's a clue.  You'll see more of it on April 30, when I have to post my next blog entry.  This quilt is entirely applique - no piecing except for the blocks.  I may decide to add a pieced border at the very end... but right now, it's not in the plan.

I love going to retreats - it's a time for sharing friendships, being inspired by others, learning, recharging one's batteries, and having tons of fun.  After the Spring Retreat was over, I spent two days at a "UFO Bee."  What is that?  Well... some of my friends and I decided that most bees are too short for making major progress:  by the time everyone gathers, shares what they are working on, breaks for lunch, and then leaves, the amount of time devoted to sewing is shorter than desired and certainly not worth dragging along a machine.  Our solution was to have a once-a-month semi-all-day bee which we occasionally turn into a two-day bee.  We get much more done in this bee.  Our  original intention was to work on all of our UFOs and reduce our UFO piles.  As it turns out, though, I think it has become an opportunity to increase our UFO piles.  Oh well -- life goes on!  At UFO Bee, one of our gals showed two quilts she had picked up from the community service bins; she wanted to find some backing fabric.  We all remarked at how pretty using black and white floral fabrics turned out.  Here's the two quilt tops; the blocks are each 8-inch squares.


At UFO Bee, Joy also shared her progress on her Aunty Green quilt.  It was amazing.

Her choice of colors was fantastic -- it is what I call a happy quilt!

Someone sent me a link, recently , showing how someone had taken my Sarah's Revival pattern, and done it in different colors.  Here is a picture of my quilt...

And the ribbons it won at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo...

And here is the show where the variation appeared (you can check it out here: ) -
I have pasted the photos from their blog here.

At this show, they had made my Friends of Baltimore as a fundraiser for a local organization (and I hope they made a lot of money for the org!).

Here's a better shot of the quilt...

And here's the variation of Sarah's Revival.  The quilter chose different colors and added a wonderfully unique border.  It's a beauty!

Becky S sent me a picture of a flea market find.... why don't I ever see these?!  It's a Dresden plate quilt, but wait til you see the close-up.

Woo hoo -- polka dot sashings and bindings?  What was she smoking?!!! (ha ha.... don't get excited; I'm joking!).

What else is going on?  A couple of us are trying to figure out what quilt our applique bee should make four the guild's annual auction -- we always ask our guild bees to make a quilt for the auction.  So far, we have been looking at past auction quilts we've made, like this one...

and this one (I love it!)....

And this one.  I quilted all of them in exchange for getting out of making the blocks.  We all get to choose where we contribute to the guild, and this is where I do. 

Here's another one I quilted, also red and green, that we donated in exchange for rent on our quilting venue a few years ago.  I have always loved the Windblown Tulips block.

But mostly, we are thinking that we're tired of making group red-and-green quilts.  So... I don't know what we'll end up making.

Before I make another red and green quilt, though, I have a mystery to be solved and I'm hoping that SOMEONE can offer some advice.  I have had red fabrics bleed on four quilts bleed when I blocked them.  This is a total mystery to me because I ALWAYS pre-wash my fabrics before I use them in a quilt.  Please don't tell me to use Retayne or Synthropol when I wash the fabrics - that isn't the solution.  You can see here that I took seven different red fabrics and sewed strips of them with white fabric between the strips.  Then I cut the strips apart into checkerboard strips.  On the top one, I sprayed it with starch to see if there would be any bleeding.  I've seen my pre-washed reds bleed with just the addition of starch or sizing or Best Press in the past, but in this case, NONE of the reds bled.  Hmmm...

In the second strip, I added just plain tap water.  Warm tap water.  And guess what?  ONE of the reds bled.  You can see it.  So I thought... gosh... could it be the pH level of the water?  Would it make a difference if I used bottled water?  And so I added bottled water.  Same result:  ONE of the reds bled (the same one).  What is causing this?  How can a pre-washed fabric that shows no evidence of bleeding end up bleeding when water is applied a second time after the quilt is stitched and quilted?  It's bugging me to pieces to find the answer!

You can see the bleeding here more clearly.  I don't block all of my quilts.  Sometimes, after quilting them, though, I find that a quilt gets a "bubble" or warped area in it and blocking removes that.  I can't afford (mentally) to have this keep happening.  Help!  Do any of you have any ideas about why this is happening and what I can do about it?

Okay - just one more little thing to share before I close.  MY BLOCK WAS JURIED INTO the next QUILTMAKER'S 100 BLOCKS!  The magazine comes out at the end of April.  I can't wait to see it!

At the same time, the magazine is sponsoring a "blog tour" where you can go to a different set of blogs every day, with each one being one of the block designer's blogs.  Mine will debut on April 30, just after midnight!  There are prizes, etc.... so stay tuned!  (plus you get to see a lot more pictures from me at that time -- all the ones that wouldn't fit into this month's blog posts).

Are you absolutely worn out?  I know I am -- It has taken me two full days to get this blog up and running this month.  But it's worth it -- because I love sharing my passion for quilting.  I hope you've enjoyed this month's post!

So for now... until April 30... happy quilting!

Sue Garman

(c)2014 Susan H. Garman


  1. Well done! Now back to some sewing I hope.

  2. Phew! i am exhausted just reading these 2 posts.. What a fabulous retreat with such a talented bunch of women. There is enough inspiration to last 2 lifetimes. I might just have to get Edyta Sitar's applique pattern, its beautiful

  3. I can't help you to stop the fabric from bleeding even after prewashing. Maybe using hot water will get all that extra dye out, or, maybe it is the heat from the iron and ANY liquid that is causing that fabric to run. Anyway, if it does happen, SHOUT makes color catcher sheets, they are like the BOUNCE sheets for the dryer, that will help to remove that run. The box says use 1 but depending on the quilt size i suggest using 2 or kore.

    Good luck!
    Paula K.

  4. There was a great article about fabric bleeding and why it happens to prewashed fabric. It even tells how to fix it after your quilt is done. I cannot paste the link from my ipad so send me your email and I will forward it to you. I have had this happen to a quilt with blues. Love the quilts you posted, I know why my bucket list is ever expanding and UFO pile forever growing!

  5. I've just started quilting - I've got a long way to go! What a stunning inspirational selection.

  6. I can't help you with the bleeding fabric "why" -- but Vicki Welsh has a
    tutorial on what to do to prevent it.

  7. Wow! That is what I say about all your posts...what a talented group of people! The applique quilts are particularly wonderful, and the little quilts are so inspiring!

  8. Sue, can you tie it to a certain type or style of fabric? Is it only made by a certain manufacturer? Is it only hand-dyed? I wish you much good luck in figuring out this mystery :)

  9. Sorry I can not help with bleeding, but I like your theory. You may be tired of red and green quilts, but I would never tire of your quilting. It is beautiful. Looking forward to your blog on April 30th. I have done the blog hop before and it is fun. Your posts are fantastic with all the pics.

  10. These two posts were tons of fun! Thanks for all the wonderful pics of all the beautiful quilts! And congrats on your 100 quilt block entry! Awesome! I can't wait!

  11. Amazing again!!! These two posts are the sort that I will come back to for another look..such beautiful and wonderful work!

  12. Sometimes it is the pH of the water. Too acid and the color will bleed. Maybe add baking soda to the wash.

    What an awesome post you gave us this month, Sue. Thank you!

  13. I think some reds just bleed forever. I know a child's T-shirt had been washed over a 100 times and it still bled. No real answer. Shame when you put that much work into it though.

  14. Once again - thank you for such wonderful inspiration! I wish I could help with your "seeing red" but I am as perplexed as you are. I have had a red "run" after the 3rd washing of a quilt, but not the 1st or 2nd - how is that possible? Thanks again and good luck with reds.

  15. I had a prewashed (no bleeding) green bleed on an applique quilt--I cried. I re washed it with color catchers and it got most of the bleeding out. I just purchased some red batiks and had to wash them 7, yes 7 times before the color catchers came out white (indicating they weren't releasing dye). I'm still iffy about using them with white.

  16. Sue, Vicki Welsh over at Fieldtrips in Fiber did a study. Here is what she discovered. Hope this helps:

    scroll down to arcives and
    'fix bleeding fabrics'

  17. I have heard that Dawn dishwashing liquid stops the bleeding. I haven't used red and white together in years because they always bleed on me. I'm going to try the Dawn and see if that helps.

  18. Thanks, Beth! I have had the same fabric bleed differently onto different whites. I think getting the dye out is most of the battle. But I wonder if sizing washes out at different rates from whites? In other words, could the sizing in the white prevent running initially?

  19. It was so lovely to see Aunty Green's Garden - my pattern!!! What a thrill for me. I also love the idea of the retreat. I would like to be able to perhaps attend one one day! And thanks for the visual feast!

  20. The better soaps are supposed to have better "surfactants" to help prevent the bleeding to be absorbed by other fabrics. But I also have had this problem. I even had some red thread bleed on my work. I have had success with fixing this by washing the problem fabrics with dawn liquid detergent (blue one) used for dishes. It also seems to stabilize the color on further washing. Good luck.