Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Lady Quilts

I just returned from a quilt retreat with 15 friends. Aren't retreats great? In addition to making progress on a new applique quilt, learning new techniques, eating well in the daytime, and resting well at night, I was able to spend uninterrupted time with friends. That's the best part of a retreat for me.

The three quilts that I am posting today are all applique quilts -- one of my favorite venues. They are all what I call my "lady quilts" because they each feature a lady.

"The Quilt Lady"
This quilt is about 5 x 7 feet in size. I loved making the staggered star border. Many of the ideas for my borders from the Judy Martin and Marsha McCloskey book on borders: Pieced Borders: The Complete Resource. It is a wonderful book that provides innumerable examples of borders - checkerboards, squares, diamonds, stars, delectable mountain, dogtooth, flying geese, sawtooth, and more. I advise everyone to get this reference book before it goes out of print!

"The Garden Lady"
The idea for the borders on this quilt came from two different sources. The inner floral vine border was based on some wallpaper I saw while walking in a restaurant. The outer border was based on a round-robin quilt that I received with a similar border on it. When I like things, I generally keep them around, even if that means repeating them on a quilt!

"The Christmas Lady"
The inner star border on this quilt was chosen because I love stars; you see a lot of them in my quilts. The outer border was one that I had used a year or two earlier on a medallion quilt; I liked it and so it found itself repeated in this quilt.

More quilts will be posted soon. Until then - happy stitching!
(c)Susan H. Garman 1996-1999

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Teeny Tiny Pieces!

I absolutely love precision piecing - and you would never have found me saying that a few years ago. My shortcomings are always sitting in front of me, taunting me and challenging me to overcome them. After years of focusing on applique, I dived in with the goal of forcing myself to learn precision piecing. Accurate precision piecing, that is!

And lo and behold... I became addicted to it! Below are several quilts that required precision piecing - some of them were more challenging than others, but they all gave me an opportunity to improve my skills. If you have something that you just can't do well... you won't improve if you don't try to improve. Define your goals and work toward them; you might be surprised at the results.

"Floating Stars"
This quilt was based on an antique quilt that I saw in Houston a few years ago. The quilt is twin-sized; sometimes it is hard to tell how large a quilt is by the photo. Each of the Ohio Star blocks are about 3-1/2 inches square.

"Ancient Stars"
This quilt is also twin-sized but the Ohio Star blocks are a bit larger: 5 inches. I love scrappy quilts like this one; they let your eyes dance across the face of the quilt.

I warned you that I got addicted to precision piecing, didn't I? This quilt, with lots of half-inch squares in it, was fun to make. I made all the blocks and then took it with me to a retreat to assemble the top; people who saw me working on it kept saying, "Oh, my gosh!" That's how I came up with the name of the quilt.

"Postage Due"
Now do you believe me? Yes, I became addicted to small little pieces!! Here is a close-up of one of the blocks:

This postage-stamp quilt was based on a quilt that I spotted at an antique show in Cat Springs, Texas. The squares in the antique quilt were 1-inch, but that didn't stop me from making my squares one half-inch in size. The quilt is very heavy, since each half-inch square has three times as much seam allowance buried under it than you see in the square on the quilt top. With this many little pieces, it took me a long time to assemble the quilt top - three 3-day weekends!

And now, one more quilt in this post:

This quilt started out as an edge-to-edge Irish Chain quilt, but I decided half-way through the project that I was not happy with the work and needed to finish it quickly and move on to the next project. Nothing is faster than wide borders, when it comes to finishing a quilt top.

I will post more quilt photos in the next week or so. I have a LOT more quilts!!!

All quilts (c)1997-2008 Susan H. Garman

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Looking Back at some Earlier Quilts

Since I decimated my website while I take time to reorganize it, I am going to begin posting some pictures of quilts I have made in the past. They will not be in any particular order. Rather, I am going to group them by subject, technique, style, or whatever seems to fit the set of quilts that I select. I will be posting more photos, so come back often.

The first set of photos are pictoral applique quilts. I really love making these kind of quilts; they "come alive" as I make them. Take a look...

"The Barrel Racer"
This quilt shows a barrel racer at a rodeo -- the rider is racing around one of three barrels, in a contest to make the loop in the shortest amount of time. I loved doing this quilt because it showcased a woman in a rodeo competition. I made it to represent my local "Go Texan Rodeo Committee" at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It managed to help garner a $10,000 scholarship for a local student - and that's what I call a win-win situation!

I made this quilt back in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to the New World. It was only the second pictoral quilt I'd ever made. I had always wanted to find a use for a "cartouche" (that scrolly-frame around the ships and Columbus) in a quilt, and this quilt seemed to beg me to use one. Notice the three gold stars in the upper left. They are gold lame' fabric. I was invited to have some fabric flown onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1992, so these stars spent a lot of time on their own voyage; they traveled 5.7 million miles and completed 221 orbits of the earth. This quilt holds invaluable memories of the years I worked for NASA.

This quilt was really a "practice" piece for me. I have always wanted to make a pictoral quilt of my children - but I know that I need to work on technique first. This was my attempt to work on technique.

"Apple of My Eye"
And finally, here is a pictoral quilt of my 3-year old grand daughter. When I made the quilt, she was actually carrying a bucket of seashells down at the beach, but my local quilt guild had challenged everyone to make a quilt with a "fruit" theme. Hence, she suddenly started carrying apples (or so it seems!). I promise to reshoot the picture and replace it with a larger one at some point...

Okay - that's enough posting for me for now. I'll post some precision-pieced quilts in a few days. Happy stitching to everyone!


(c)1992-2008 Susan H. Garman

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Feathered Stars!

I absolutely LOVE feathered stars! They have never been easy or fast blocks to make - but I finally sat down, drew out a pattern that I could make using paper foundations... and voile! This quilt is one of the ones that I will be teaching at the Quakertown Quilts retreat down on Galveston Island. It will be a fun retreat - and Quakertown always makes sure there are plenty of chocolates on hand to keep us smiling.

Here is the feathered star that will be made in the workshop; there are four of them in the finished quilt:

Sue's Feathered Stars (c)2008 Susan H. Garman

I don't know what it is about feathered stars that makes them so attractive - but I suspect it has something to do with all of the triangles, which make our eyes dance across each block.

I'll be posting more later on - happy stitching!


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Daisy's Quilt

Happy New Year to everyone! For me, the new year is a great time to pause and reflect on the past before setting new goals. My husband and I often remark on how blessed we are: good health, good friends, a wonderful family, and faith that sustains us. I wish everyone was able to experience the joy we have found in life. I've been thinking about goals for the coming year - I always establish a few, but so far I haven't decided on this year's set. Maybe it's just too soon to focus!

In the meantime, I managed to finish a quilt top for one of my grand daughters, Daisy. At one year old, she's an angel full of smiles and contagious giggles. My daughter asked me to use my Mother Goose & Friends fabric (from P&B Textiles) for the quilt, which I did. Sometimes the simplest quilts end up being the cutest, don't they? This quilt was a hit with Mom and Daisy - and is set to be quilted next week.

"Daisy's Quilt" (c)2008 Susan H. Garman

Over the holidays, I spent a lot of time just quilting, reading, relaxing, cleaning, and "nesting." I hope you all know what nesting means; for me it means making the place I call home "new" again: a fresh coat of paint, a couple of repair jobs, cleaning out a couple closets, a bit of deep cleaning, some rearranging of things... these all work together to freshen up the house. One of my hopes for this year is to really work on my sewing room. It's a mess! So somewhere in the goals for the coming year... there will likely be an overhaul of my "studio."

Another goal for the coming year will surely be revamping my website. It had not been touched for so long that I recently scratched the whole site and now just "point" to this blog. Blogs have a place in the world, but they are not the best venue for everything: they are not the greatest forum, for example, to display galleries of quilts or "how to" instructions. So... until I get my website up and running again, I will be posting photos of quilts on my blog - some recent ones, but also some quilts that I made years ago. Just posting a few a week will take me well over a year! So come back often and see what I've done in the past, what I've completed recently... and where my goals are going to lead me!