Monday, February 28, 2011

Finishing Up!

This month has been a month of “finishing” – I’ve been working on finishing various projects. Of course, make no mistake… I have made progress… but I still haven’t finished a quilt this month!
The first one, below, shows the progress I have made on my new “Borrowed Roses” quilt. The block is based on a traditional block called Prairie Flower, Missouri Rose, or Rose Tree. The border and use of the blocks is based on an old late 1920s Rose Kretsinger quilt called “New Rose Tree.” So far, I have finished four of the planned nine blocks and five of twelve border units. There will eventually be ribbons and tassels between all of the border units. The unfinished blocks are all basted, so they are easy to take along and work on at bees, meetings, doctor appointments, etc. – so hopefully, next month you will see the quilt top assembled… but don’t hold your breath!

The next photos, below, shows another old project that I started on well over a year ago. My friend Cynthia and I exchanged 4-1/2 inch (finished size) star blocks which used civil war reproduction fabrics and shirtings – a favorite combination of mine. Together, we both have quite a stack of little star blocks – and I really love Sawtooth Stars.

I’m going to use those star blocks in combination with some 4-1/2 inch (finished size) double nine-patch blocks that I finished making this month – all 175 of them! The little squares in the nine-patches are each 1/2 inch in size, so it took a while to get them all sewn.

Now that those blocks are all finished, I’m ready to assemble the quilt top. In the photo below, you can get an idea of how the blocks will be set together. When it is finished, this quilt will be twin-sized, with the blocks extending edge-to-edge – and no border. Naturally, an antique quilt that I saw at the Houston quilt show many years ago inspired this quilt. Doing block exchanges with a friend is a great way to keep me on schedule – Cynthia and I set deadlines for swapping blocks every two weeks, and we met nearly all the deadlines! I can’t wait to sew these blocks together – hopefully you’ll see the quilt top when I post an update at the beginning of April.

In between other projects, I have also been working on doing the last bit of touch-up quilting on a project that my friend Denise Green and I started ages ago. It was interrupted with a family illness, and I am just now getting back to working on this quilt. Denise and I collaborated on this quilt from start to finish – I did most of the applique, she did a ton of machine quilting, and I did a bunch of hand-quilting. We both helped each other a ton, along the way. This quilt is based on my “Lily Rosenberry” pattern and, finally, I will have my very own Lily Rosenberry quilt – I’m excited about that! Many thanks go to Denise –for her friendship and our teamwork on this quilt!

Last but certainly not least, I have been doing more hand quilting on my Friends of Baltimore quilt. So far, 7 blocks have been quilted. These are 15 inch blocks, and I am quilting in the ditch around every appliqued piece, and cross-hatch quilting the background in each block. My goal is to finish the quilting in June (of this year). This is another quilt that excites me every time I work on it – I can’t wait to finish it! Below are pictures of two of the blocks, so you can see how the quilting is turning out on them.

Finally, since spring is on its way, I’ll give you a peak at another project that I’m working on. It’s the center block of a medallion quilt; I haven’t figured out what sort of borders I am going to add to the medallion – but I want to finish the quilt by April. Ha! That will be a trick, but setting a goal is a way for me to finish projects.

Until next month, enjoy the Spring! Check out my Yahoo group if you get a chance (see last month's posting for the link) – folks are starting to work on their own Friends of Baltimore (and other quilts) and one gal has already posted two finished blocks. Go Marian! You'll also find plenty of tips in that group - hopefully, they will help all of us finish more quilts!

Happy sewing --
Sue Garman
(c)2010 Susan H. Garman

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stay Warm...

With the icy waves of cold that are racing across the Nation, I want to start with the premise that we should all be making more quilts in order to stay warm! My outdoor thermometer shows that it is a chilly 32 degrees at 10 pm tonight... which is balmy compared to elsewhere.

This month there is not much to show, because I've been too busy to make much progress on anything. First of all, my "Friends of Baltimore" quilt is now on the market. I basted it right before Christmas and have already been quilting away like crazy on it -- check it out in the picture below; I have finished quilting 5 blocks. Yes, I'm a slowpoke, but this quilt is being heavily quilted!

Next, I have been working on my "Borrowed Roses" quilt. I have basted all of the blocks and have finished appliquing one block and one border unit. I love working on quilts that I can't wait to finish -- imagining what it will look like after it is quilted helps me keep my nose to the grindstone. The inspiration for this quilt was a quilt made by Rose Kretsinger -- if you check out my January post, you will see a draft of the pattern. Below is a picture of one block and one border unit-- I'm making progress!

Back on August 31, 2010, I posted several pictures of old cheddar quilt tops that I've collected. I found another one late last year and I'll share it below -- I just love all those bright 9-patches with cheddar setting squares and triangles. This is definitely on my list of quilts to "re-make" in the future. I've already purchased my cheddar fabric.

I have been asked by Emmy in Bemidji, Minnesota, to comment on how to select, prepare, and choose a non-bleeding red fabric good for applique - as well as other strong colors like green and purple - and whatever else I want to say about shades, brands, solids, etc. First of all, I like a very rich, rich red. Those are difficult to find -- there are lots of pinky, purplish, bluish, blackish, and gray reds... but a really good, strong, rich red is hard to find. So... the first rule of thumb is: when you find a good red, BUY it! Buy LOTS of it! Look at it against other reds and other colors (e.g., gold, green) to make sure that it is a true red. Sometimes when you place a red print against other colors, you'll find that it is a different shade than you thought.
I prepare my red fabrics just like I do all my other fabrics: it walks in the door and goes for a swim in warm water, then gets dried. It is not allowed to enter my sewing room until it has bathed -- therefore, I am always certain that all the fabric in my sewing room has been washed. I do not ever use washout markers, disappearing ink markers, starch, or fabric finish (sizing) on my fabrics, and particularly not on reds, navies, or blacks -- those items may cause your fabric to bleed, despite having been washed. Ask me how I know... and being the compulsive person that I am, I even tested these products on a variety of fabrics to prove that they may cause fabrics to bleed. If you do use these products, make sure that you thoroughly wash them out at some point.
As for brands... I have an inherent trust in all the major fabric manufacturers; they are in the business of satisfying their customers, and they work hard at putting out fabrics that make us happy. All of that is to say that you are probably safe with fabrics you find in your local quilt shop. As for shades of colors... there are tons of beautiful shades of reds, greens, purples, blues, golds, and so on. Which ones do you use? Choose your fabrics by laying them out to see if they work well together. While a pinky red may not go well with one green, it might go beautifully with another. It's a matter of trial and error -- just do not expect to be able to choose fabrics in 5 minutes. I have always believed that it takes 3 times as long to choose fabric as you think it should.

Finally, I have been asked to start a Yahoo Group for people working on my Friends of Baltimore quilt. I was reluctant to do so, as there is a certain amount of overhead attached to moderating a Yahoo Group, and there are plenty of other Yahoo groups on the web where discussions might occur. However, I have succumbed to the wishes of those of you whose persuasive powers overwhelmed my ability to say no... so I have now started a new Yahoo Group called SueGarmanQuilts. You can find it at -- don't be in a huge rush to check it out... I haven't posted anything there yet! Eventually I will post pictures of my Baltimore quilt so that those of you who want to see closeups of the blocks can easily do so. If there are other things you want me to include there, holler at me!

Okay - that's enough for tonight. It's 10:30... and now it's 30 degrees outside. I need to make more quilts!

Happy sewing -
(c) 2011 Susan H. Garman