Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Projects, Auctions, Old Quilts... and More!

If I hadn't had "issues" with loading photos, I would have had this post online ON the first of the month, as I've been promising!  Unfortunately, here it is, the middle of the night, and I'm still working on getting this blog finished for August 1st.  Sigh... I'm still happy and plugging along.  And no, I don't survive on zero sleep!  I need to be in bed now!  But for you, my fellow quilters... here goes.

Over the past two months, I've been working on a new quilt - it will be called Afternoon Delight.  I remember back in the 70s when Starland Vocal Band came out with a song of that name - it was named (believe it or not) for an item on a cafe menu... it intrigued them and one of the band members finally ordered it... only to find out that it was cottage cheese stuffed in a peach half with a cherry on top!  So here's a sneak peak of my Afternoon Delight - you'll get the whole picture next month (hopefully) when I've finished the quilt top.  First... the small units... this stack will be sewn together to make TEN blocks:

I've already finished all of the pieced blocks except for the ten above... eighty-four Double Nine-Patch blocks and forty-two Butterfly blocks...

And here's what those stacks look like from the top down:

But those wouldn't have taken me two months to make, so what else goes into Afternoon Delight, you askTry forty-two 6-3/4 inch appliqued blocks!  These have not been trimmed down to the 6-3/4 inch size yet, but you get the picture.  They were a delight to work on - simple and small and easy and fast.  Does life get any better?

The blocks above are finished except for trimming them to size; here are the remaining blocks.  For those of you who are obsessive compulsive and have already counted them all... you may notice that there are forty-THREE blocks.  And you would be correct!  I just miscounted my designs when I was drawing them all up.  Oh well - now I get to decide which one I don't want to do.

All of those blocks will be set together - Double Nine-Patch, Butterfly, and Appliqued blocks.  I cannot wait to start!  I just need to finish those last 21 blocks... and that task is high on my priority list.  Unfortunately, it's not the only thing on my list, so it may take me a while to get to it.  I'm chairing my quilt guild's annual auction, so that has been keeping me pretty busy lately.  So I thought I'd give all you fellow quilters a sneak peak at what is going into our auction and how I've organized it.  Perhaps those of you who have auctions in your own guilds can take a cue and get some ideas for your guild.  We have a pretty big guild - around 300 members - to support our auction with their donations; that helps! 

First of all, each month, the guild has a lottery block.  Instructions are posted for a different block each month.  Members make two (or more) blocks - one for the guild and one for the lottery.  Each month, everyone gets one chance for each two blocks they turn in... the winner gets half of the blocks and the guild gets the other half, which are then put into the guild auction.  Here's an example -- first, the blocks.... (we get anywhere from 6 to 40 or more blocks, depending on the difficulty, popularity of the block, etc. - and sometimes people just make them for the guild and don't ask that they be split with the month's winner).

Second, here is an example of our instructions.  They're clear, simple, and rarely more than one page long.  Keep it simple!

We put a copy of the instructions in the auction block set - in case the winner of the blocks at the auction wants to make more of them.

What else do we do for the auction?  First, we have a live auction - usually about 50-55 things because that's all we can do and be done in 90 minutes.  Second, we have a silent auction - people place bids on a bid sheet for various items.  This year, we have 80 silent auction items.  Third, we have a boutique -- books, patterns, magazines, notions, kits, fabric, you-name-it.  It is awesomely huge and the bargains abound -- this year I've added a "dollar store" section where we are simply putting pink and black zebra-striped duct tape (yes, it exists!) on things that sell for a dollar - we have everything in that section from one-yard cuts of fabric to triangle rulers to small kits to... MORE.  It's an easy way to make sure that everyone walks away feeling like they got a really good deal on something, even if it's small.  We have extraordinarily generous guild members, which makes it easy! 

One thing I've done is to take assortments of things and put them in baskets wrapped in shrink-wrap (available in hobby stores like Michael's).  Here's an assortment of fancy fabrics in a big willow laundry basket - with two different crazy quilt books.  I could have sold them separately, but putting like things together makes them more appealing.

Here's a crazy quilt that was donated to the auction -- it's made of  soft and non-scratchy wool!  It's warm and cuddly with some beautiful stitching on the seam lines.

I found it interesting that some of the stitches involved "three-toed" lines, while others just had "two-toed" lines -- and I just noticed a "one-toe" line!  I wonder what inspired this stitcher to make her choices?

Here's a photo of the back of this quilt.  It was stitched entirely by hand - but what I liked to see was that the backing was made of sugar sacks!  We've all heard of flour sacks - but sugar sacks?  Yep - that's what she used!

Someone in our guild also donated another crazy quilt - this one is stunning and unusual with quite a few silk pieces in it.  The diamonds and stripes are not often seen in crazy quilts - but we not only have this one in the auction; we have a second one much like it!

Here's a photo of the back of this quilt -- tiny little stitches, all done by hand, can be seen here.

We had a guild member who came to our meetings faithfully for many years. She made many quilts and each one always had a hilarious story to go with it. Her eyes have long since failed her, and this year she donated the remainder of her stash and several quilt tops that her mother made in the 1930s. Here's one -- a Dresden plate quilt. Yes... this has the REAL thirties fabric in it!

And it's a large quilt -- about 80 by 95 inches.  Here's a close-up of those precious thirties fabrics.  It's a joy to see old quilts like this... but what was even more joyful for me, was to receive the quilt top... AND a box of twenty MORE finished Dresden plate blocks made in the mid-thirties... AND a box of TEN more finished blocks with the petals already cut for another TEN blocks.  THREE Dresden plate quilts in various stages of work - simply amazing!

One of the things we have found is that sometimes we don't need to have big bed-sized quilts in our auctions.  We can take simple blocks - like this one - and put them in the auction. 

But rather than just put one little block, cute as it is, in the auction, if someone takes that block and adds some simple borders to it and quilts it... it makes the piece irresistable!  Don't you love this?  I'm already plotting my own bidding strategies!

One of the things that was donated was a bag full of strange nine-patch blocks, in various states of completion... with sashing sewn on some but not others... sort of a real mish-mash of designs.  I pressed all the pieces, trimmed them so they could be sewn together, and put a quilt top together.  It's definitely a utility quilt - but made with authentic fabrics from the late thirties and mid-forties.  It will make a fine picnic quilt for someone!  It rather reminded me of some of the famous Gee's Bend quilts in its simplicity and utility.

We get a lot of fabric donated to the auction each year.  Some of it is yardage, some of it is scraps, and much of it is something between those.  We put together and sell scrap boxes, paired with donated books on scrappy quilts... but this year, we are offering a lot of packs of 8" squares of fabric.  In this case, I put together a large "cube" of 8" squares - along with three scrappy quilt books - and we'll put this in the live auction.  Wouldn't you just love to have something like this?  There are enough 8" squares in this stack to make twenty quilts!  Or they can be used for applique or whatever... but the stack is SO appealing...  and a good use of what might otherwise have been thrown in the scrap pile!

Here's another example of how a simple donated piece can be turned into something much greater.  One of our guild members donated this little quilt piece - twenty-four 4-inch blocks with a 1-inch border.  It wasn't much to look at - it was pretty enough, but not very substantive in terms of getting people to bid on it. 

We all know that quilters love finished quilts, though, so I took some of our donated fabric and some stash fabric and added big honking borders.  It doesn't take much - a 5-inch border and an 8-inch border... and suddenly you have a GOOD-sized lap quilt.... add some quilting and voile!  You have a really nice auction quilt!

Here was a surprise donation.  Someone gave us two old, tattered utility quilts.  They weren't in bad enough shape to be "cutter quilts" (where people cut them up and use them to make teddy bears and such....)... they would have made wonderful cuddling quilts at a weekend retreat house or beach house, with just a tiny bit of repair, I thought.  Well... take a look.  Do you see that tattered border at the top?  I sure did... but thought it was repairable.  Maybe.

But I looked closer.  Maybe it was repairable... and maybe not.  But wait... it looked like the innards of the quilt were rupturing, too - not just the top fabric.  Wait... what's going on here???

I've heard of this, but I've never seen it close up!  This quilt was the classic utility quilt - used as a bed quilt to keep someone warm and when it got holey enough... the quilt was used as the BATTING of a new quilt top!  Take a CLOSE look - can you see the binding on the quilt that is INSIDE the outer quilt?!!  I just LOVED finding this gem!

Here's another gem -- donated to a guild member by her hairdresser.  His step-mother had sewn and sewn and sewn one quilt top after another, piecing them all by hand.  Ten quilt tops in all were donated.  Wow!  They were probably made in the 50s, 60s and 70s and while they lacked technical merit, they were lovely in their own right.  The red squares in this one are bright and cheery - you almost miss the fact that the "sashing" is actually a lot of Lemoyne Star blocks.


Here's another quilt where we received a small quilt top -- the pieced blocks and nothing more.  Leave it to me to add another set of big honking borders and suddenly we have a very nice-sized lap quilt.

Remember all those block-of-the-week blocks that I was working on?  Many of our guild members donated big block sets to the auction... and here is a set that I donated to our guild's auction.  Making just one a week for a year makes a NICE set of blocks and I never felt overwhelmed, making them at that rate!

Another thing we do in our guild is to ask each of our bees to donate a quilt to the annual auction.  We have gotten some amazing donations - and the 'Que Bee (as in appliQUE) made this quilt - it will be a top-seller, for sure, because everyone loves red and green quilts.

Here's a close-up of the quilting on this quilt - I love feathers and volunteered to quilt this one for the Que Bee so that I could feather it to pieces!  Oops... I forgot to crop my toes out of this picture!

Okay - enough about the guild's auction.  I wanted to show you something that someone sent me.  Let me start by reminding you that back in February of 2010, I posted some photos of quilts I saw in the old houses in Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston.  Here's one of those quilts.

The block in that quilt was simple -- here's a close-up of it.

Now, come forward into the future... and Jennifer Murray was kind enough to email me and ask if she could use those photos in her pattern... as she had made a quilt using the block as a guide.  She had even taken the time and effort to contact the Park and ask permission to make the quilt, using that design - and learned some history about the quilt.  I am thankful and appreciative for Jennifer's kindness in ASKING for permission!  I see lots and LOTS of my work on Pinterest and I've never been asked by a single person for permission to use MY photos!  Okay - that's a sore spot for me and I'll drop it because the point of this is to show you what Jennifer did (she lives in Australia, by the way, which makes this even more amazing to me!).  She took that block and created a pattern and designed a quilt.  You can find out more by looking at her blog (  This quilt is a perfect example of how old is new!  Jennifer is still working on finishing this quilt, but my guess is that you can follow her progress on her blog.  I just love what she's done with this block and how she's made her own design with all those surrounding dogtooth borders.  You rock, Jennifer!

Here's another wonderful example of how someone takes a pattern and does wonderful things with it.  I made my "All Around the Town" quilt a decade ago.  Teresa Rawson took the pattern and made the most FUN changes to it!  Here's her quilt...

And here are some block close-ups.  First, notice the hilarious car up on blocks out in the yard... along with the overalls, shorts, and bra hanging on the clothes line.  Too funny!

Here's another block close-up.  Notice the flamingos out on the lawn... and the gnome out in the garden.  And the dog with his bone nearby...  We've all seen these things somewhere!

And here's yet another block.   You can get a better look at the flamingos here!   And if you want some even better looks at this quilt, check out Teresa's blog at:  If you want to see the quilt specifically, you can look here:  Her quilt will be showing at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, August 22-25.  If you're near there, check it out!

That's all for this month -- hopefully I'll have Afternoon Delight to show you next month!  And maybe, just maybe, I'll have a treasure or two that I picked up at my guild's auction that I can show you... though I'm resisting with great might!

Until then - happy stitching!

(c) Susan H. Garman 2012