Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Quilts!

I wish to thank everyone who commented on what you would like to see in a blog. I heard you loud and clear: pictures, techniques, and tips! With that in mind, I am sharing several things I have been working on and have completed in the last few weeks. November has been a wonderful month for quiltmaking -- and I have been working on being focused on completing things. I have way too many unfinished projects.

First of all, I am nearly finished with a quilt for a dear friend who has hosted a dinner for our book club for the past 5 years. In appreciation for her generosity, we are surprising her with a quilt that has 1) a favorite quote of each club member inked in the tiny outer border, 2) a list of each book we've read since our inception in 2004, and 3) quotes from The Thought Gang, which was the first book we read as a group -- it was painful to read but had some of the funniest quotes in it -- the story involves a professor and a one-armed crook who team up to rob banks. The recipient is not a quilter, but three of us teamed to make the quilt; here is the front of "The Thought Gang" quilt.

"The Thought Gang Quilt"67 by 67"

Here are several close-ups of the quilt - first the border. I am tickled at how it turned out - I quilted a piano key border (1" parallel lines), but inserted a feathered vine in each corner. It adds a softness, which I like, to an otherwise very geometrical quilt. Here is a closeup of the quilting in the interior of the quilt. Notice that in the 2" wide border, I did "ribbon candy" quilting. Sometimes it is hard to design something to fit into those narrow little borders, but this works well and is fairly easy to do. The double feathered wreaths in the "open" block areas also soften the look of this quilt. I love double feathered wreaths and do them quite often when I quilt open areas. Note that I ran the geometric echoing lines around those wreaths -- I've seen too many wreaths where the "triangles" at each corner are left unquilted and bubble up. I like filling that area with something.

And here is the back of this quilt. The quilting shows through very clearly. I pieced the back from leftover fabrics from the front. My friend Jerrianne E made the blocks for the front, and when she gave them to me for the quilt, she also gave me a lot of leftover fabrics. Interspersed inbetween all of the rectangles are some "open" rectangles, where I inked a list of all the books we have read -- along with some of the funniest quotes in the world from The Thought Gang book. This quilt will certainly carry memories for Dot, our glorious dinner hostess.

And here is a close-up of one of those rectangles on the back of the quilt. There are a lot of great things about being in a book club: seeing friends every month, having very interesting exchanges about the book we've read, and "upgrading" the level of reading that I would otherwise do. Without a push, I tend to read nothing but thriller detective novels.

Next: I am a strong believer in supporting community events and activities. And so when a friend called me and asked if I would mind "hemming up some sort of puzzle piece" that would then fly on the next NASA Space Shuttle mission, I jumped and said yes. You see, their son was diagnosed with autism, and they have struggled with appropriate therapies that give him the best chances for an improved quality of life. Autism is a mysterious disorder, and as with so many disorders, research funding is critical. Funding for the Autism Research Institute is being aided through "The Million Dollar Puzzle" initiative. By selling puzzle pieces, researchers can continue their work in solving the puzzle of autism. While I was only asked to "sew something that looks like a puzzle piece," I replicated the logo of the Autism Research Institute; after it flies on the Space Shuttle, it will be gifted to the institute.
Autism Research Institute logo(
Next are two quilts that I made for Ricky Tims' and Alex Anderson's The Quilt Show. They are the featured block-of-the-month quilts that are being offered online, at no cost other than "joining" The Quilt Show ( It's a bargain -- a $42.95 one-year membership brings you featured artist videos every 2 weeks, two block-of-the-month projects, free classes, an online quilt guild with blogs and forums, and lots of additional show-and-tell, articles, and information. And the very best part of all of this is... you can do it all in your jammies! So here are the quilts. The first one is an applique quilt called "Hugs and Kisses." I named it that because of the X's and O's that traditionally represent hugs and kisses.

"Hugs and Kisses"71 by 87"

Here is a close-up photo of the quilting on this quilt -- each of the "X" leaf sprays have a feathered wreath quilted behind them. The "O" shaped wreaths are quilted with diagonal cross-hatching. There is also a 4-inch sashing strip between all of the blocks; you can see it in the above photo. It is quilted with a meandering feathered vine. The ruffled swag border is quilted with feathers, while the background behind it is quilted with "bead-board" slats (Yes... I listened to all of you when you said you wanted more information on techniques, quilting, etcetera. Let me know if you want more (or less or different) information!).
The next Quilt Show block-of-the-month is called "Star Crazy" - because it is filled with stars. This quilt is a fairly simple one to make -- with the exception of only a few star-interiors, all of the blocks use either 1-1/2" or 2" (finished size) units. I wanted to give everyone a break from making my usual 1" (finished size) units. Or maybe I was just giving myself a break from the complaints (just kidding!). I have long believed that you don't improve if you don't push yourself to do more difficult things. I wear a bracelet that my friend Cynthia gave me that says "Always do the hardest thing." It's become my mantra - it keeps me focused on learning and growing.

"Star Crazy"84 by 84"

And here is a picture of the quilting in this quilt -- again, I used double feathered wreaths in the border, and inserted a feathered wreath "behind" each of the star blocks in the central part of the quilt. The area around the border of smaller stars is quilted with just fill-feathers, while the outer border has a meandering feathered vine.

I hope you're still with me - I still have more quilt photos to post. My latest quilt is a Coxcomb and Currants quilt. Below is a photo of my rendition of the traditional coxcomb and currants block. Many of the older versions of the block are a bit too "chunky" for my likes. My version strikes me as being almost being "lacy."

And here is the quilt; it still needs to be quilted. My friend Margo has suggested that I "echo" the coxcomb design in the open areas through quilting. I'm not sure that I am skilled enough to tackle that, but wouldn't it be wonderful? I'll give it some thought. I am using this quilt to teach applique at a retreat in Utah in January 2010. Yes, I do quite a few lectures and workshops across the country. If I ever get my act together, I'll rebuild my website (which currently just points to this blog) and list all of the workshops that I teach, along with dates and sites. Teaching is FUN for me! But I digress... here's the quilt:

Phew -- I'm worn out! I hope you all still have plenty of energy to quilt some more today and all of your tomorrows. Until we meet again...

Happy sewing -

(c)2009 Susan H. Garman
All Rights Reserved
"Coxcomb and Currants"56 by 56"
Last, but certainly not least, is a Princess Feather block from an antique quilt I saw last month. This really is a chunky version of the block -- but that's what makes it so delightful! I have had a red and green Princess Feather quilt in process for over two years -- it has all the ins and outs in each feathery plume - which means that it has a lot of perimeter that needs to be appliqued. I have only about an eighth of a final feather to be appliqued, so there is a chance that you will be seeing my own version of a Princess Feather quilt in the near future (I can only hope!). In the meantime, I plan on drafting this chunky princess feather design into a new pattern - I just love how chunky it is -- and that it is done in an unusual color; I've never seen a navy princess feather!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Old Quilts and New Blocks!

Keep on reading.... I'll tell you about this block in a minute. First of all, though...

I love seeing what other people have done with my patterns - I marvel at their creativity and often wonder, "why didn't I think of that?!" Several years ago, I designed a "monster" quilt -- it has nine not-too-scary monsters on the face of it, and a poem is hand-stitched in the border. The poem says that monsters love to eat fabric... and unless you want to be their dinner... keep buying more fabric! It's a fun, whimsical quilt; here it is:

The Monster Quilt
(c)2009 Susan H. Garman

Close-up of block from The Monster Quilt

And now back to the first picture of today's blog. I was invited to design an original block for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks from Today's Top Designers -- a collector's edition magazine hitting store shelves now. While I am the least among the 100, I am still tickled to have been asked to create a block. Ta-dum! Here is "Star Checks."

You can check out Quiltmaker and follow the 100 Blocks Blog Tour daily, November 9-13 at for inspiration, ideas, and giveaways galore! Look for 100 Blocks from Today's Top Designers in your local quilt shop, or purchase it at Each day, a different set of quiltmakers in 100 Blocks will be featured. Check out Quiltmaker's website and blog -- you can find some awesome things there!

Now here is a SPECIAL BONUS. I welcome feedback; it helps me understand what you do and don't like. So... feel free to comment on my blog by November 11 -- share what you'd like to see more of, anything you'd like me to address, etcetera. ONE person will be chosen, via lottery, from those who comment -- and that person will receive a free copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. Please don't post your address -- I will email the winner and ask for it later this week.

Until then...
Happy sewing!
(c)2009 Susan H. Garman
UPDATE: Billie K. won the copy of "Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks." Congratulations, Billie! And thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful inputs. I appreciate your time!

I recently received an email from Carolanne B, who shared her experience in making The Monster Quilt. Each month, as a volunteer story-teller in the local elementary school, she took a block with her and showed it to the students. After the first couple of months, she began taking only partially appliqued blocks with her to story-telling time, and she asked the students to choose the fabric for various elements. In the following month, the students got to see the results of their choices. For Carolanne, it was a lot of fun -- who else would have chosen orange lips with a lime green mouth on a purple monster? The additional note of amazement for me was that Carolanne did all of this while fighting breast cancer. Women are amazing: we can be incredibly strong, resilient, generous... you name it! Below is her quilt -- it won a ribbon in the Larimer County Fair in July of this year -- and there is also a close-up of two of the blocks that the students of Putnam Elementary School helped her choose fabric for.