Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Afternoon Delight!

Afternoon Delight... yes, that's the name of my new quilt!  I'm a few days late in posting (assuming I post on the first of each month), but I have SO much to show you, and I certainly wanted you to see Afternoon Delight -- but I didn't finish putting the borders on, in time. I also wanted to include pictures of the blocks in this quilt, and it took me quite a while to tweak them for this blog.  But here I am, blog and all!  This month I'll show you my new quilt, lots of blocks, a new design I'm working on, progress on quilting Sarah's Revival, MORE blocks -- and another new quilt I've started.  I aim for my posts to both educate and inspire all of you -- to try something new, to design something different, to learn something new, to have more fun... and to love quilting as much as I do! 

So what have I been working on over the past month?  My guild's auction was three weeks ago and I'm still recovering (I chaired it).  One of the things I realized, though, was that we had fewer block sets in this year's auction than in the past.  Many of our block sets come from a lottery we hold each month -- we invite members to make blocks, with half of them going into a lottery that one person wins and half of them going into the annual auction.  I'm already getting ready for next year's auction by making big block sets.  We all need to consider how we'll support our guild - which means more than just cleaning out a drawer and donating junk!  So I started off by making 35 simple Evening Star blocks on a white-on-white background.  These are fast and easy to make - especially since I make and print paper foundations for all the star points.  Whee!

I also made 35 King's Crown blocks.  These are just as fast as Evening Star blocks -- think about it:  they have the exact same units, just inverted!

Hopefully someone will put in a good bid on all of these blocks.  If you want the pattern for piecing these, here it is:

And then I made a stack of 44 Pinwheels on Parade blocks.  These are just TOO fast and simple to make!  They chew up scraps like crazy -- and so making these blocks and donating them to the guild is doing me a favor.  I'm using up scraps, cleaning out my sewing room, and helping the guild, all at once.  And honestly, these are SO fast and simple to make that it's crazy NOT to whip up a stack. 

And look how they look together -- wouldn't they make a fast and simple quilt?  Once you cut out the rectangles and squares, it takes about 6 minutes to flip-and-sew each block.  They are so fast and fun - and they are extraordinary scrap eaters!

Have I gotten your attention yet?  If so... here's the pattern for these blocks, too!

Okay - so much for making blocks.  What happened to all those blocks I showed you last month -- remember them?

I had made all of the double Nine-Patch blocks and Butterfly blocks (also known as a modified Shoo-fly or a Prairie Queen block) and started on a set of applique blocks.  Once I finished those, I put some of them up on my wall... and didn't like the layout at all.

I want to take you step-by-step through my "design process" so that you can get an inkling into how I design quilts.  Some of it is intuition, some of it is hit-or-miss, some of it is experience, and a lot of it is just trial and error!  I originally wanted this quilt to be an edge-to-edge set of blocks -- no borders at all, just an overwhelming array of scraps! In the above layout, each diagonal row has a different kind of block -- 9-patches, applique, shoo fly...  but it didn't look right.  Back to the drawing board.  And so I laid out all of the blocks on the floor, edge-to-edge, as planned... with every ODD row being the 9-patch blocks.  YES!  It worked.  Well, sort of.  I thought that without a border of some kind, the quilt just looked a little "flat."  No spunk.  No drama.  And yet I didn't want to add a big border around the quilt - it would have made the quilt way too big.  What to do?

A ha!  Why not set the blocks on point?  It wouldn't use as many blocks, but who cares?  I can always use those leftover blocks somewhere else - right?  Right!  So I laid out the blocks, on point, and arranged and rearranged... and I liked it much better.  I decided to make the setting triangles out of red fabric... and auditioned several different options, as shown below.  See - nothing is figured out from the very beginning for me - it evolves. 

Now, to "evolve" the border a bit more -- the setting triangles needed a border around them. 

I tried several different border options:  first, I made a little strip of squares on point (these are all 3/4-inch squares in the quilt).  I didn't like how they looked -- they made the outer chain of squares look like a rectangle, which was distracting.  Scratch that idea....

Next, I thought I'd just add a little cheddar-colored floater.  I love cheddar and red together.  Hmmm... Nope, it just didn't do the trick - at least not with this red fabric...

Okay - so what about a striking black floater strip?  I auditioned several different black fabrics... and now I'm happy!

I stitched on the outer border with a little black floater strip of black -- I chose a solid black because I felt like it was the most striking.  It wasn't what I thought I'd like, initially, but I never rule out anything until I'm certain it won't work.  So... here is Afternoon Delight!  I've since sewn down the mitered corners and now I have to think about how best to quilt this quilt.  I'll do it on my long arm machine; I have too many hand-quilting projects in line to think about hand-quilting it right now.

Don't you love it?  A friend of mine is already chomping at the bit for patterns -- she wants to do her version using 1930s reproduction fabrics.  That will be delightful!  So here are some of the blocks for you to see... they were so much fun. 


Whew -- are you tired of looking at blocks, yet?  Here are my two favorites:

And my second two favorites:

I know I'll get questions... so, no, I do not know when the patterns will be available.  It will take me at least two weeks to draw up all the patterns and write up all of the instructions - and I need to take a decent photo of the whole quilt.  Then Quakertown Quilts (my distributor) will take the master patterns, test the instructions, order fabric, and start offering them for sale -- and other quilt shops can pick up the patterns wholesale at that time, too.  So if you're interested, ask your local quilt shop if and when they might have the quilt patterns available for you!

In the meantime, this has been a very busy month, as you can probably tell.  My dear mother passed away and I have spent time sorting, cleaning, reflecting, and cleaning things out.  I decided that I needed a new project -- and needed a plan for using more fabric; I'm the first to admit that I have way too much (ouch - it hurts to even think that!).  My first step was to gather my 1930s reproduction fabrics and put them all together.  I've wanted to use them in something new... and maybe this was the opportunity.  Not too bad - only one box full.

I redrew one of the patterns I used in Afternoon Delight and have already cut out all of the pieces and basted them in place for 9 blocks total, though I only show four here -- and I'm making a new quilt using these crazy swirling, whirling blocks.  I had forgotten how "happy" 1930s fabrics are!  The blocks will be surrounded by multiple cheery borders.  I'm in love with piecing, once again.

Some of the blocks have three fabrics in them (I'll applique circles across the center of these, in case you're wondering!)...

And some of them have only two fabrics in them -- the outer circle is inverted and the inner swirls leave the background fabric peeking through.

This quilt is going to be a LOT of fun to make -- and quick, too.  Since I finished all the blocks for Afternoon Delight, I needed a new take-along applique project and this fit. 

I think I forgot to show you this quilt from last month -- a dear friend's daughter had a baby; they live in Switzerland, but have roots in Texas.  So little Heath got a cowboy quilt; they were affectionately calling him "Tex" before he was born, so this was entirely appropriate!  I bought these blocks on eBay several years ago, thinking they were so cute.  Finally... a great use for them!

So I bet you're wondering what I have been doing in my spare time, right?  Remember Sarah's Revival?  Here it is... to refresh your memory.  I'm hand quilting it. 

I am quilting it row by row on my long floor frame... here was row one... from earlier this year.

Hand quilting, for me, is therapy.  It calms me, gives me time to think and plan other things... and oh, yes, lets me watch all kinds of mystery movies on television.  So here is how I'm quilting all of the blocks:  simple cross-hatching.

But now that I'm at the center of the quilt, with those four unique blocks, I thought I might want to do something different.  I'm sharing my thought process in deciding on a quilting pattern in these next photos so that you can think about how to figure out what to quilt in your own quilts.  I really thought that these four center blocks would be a great opportunity to perhaps insert a different quilting design.  But what?  My painters' tape is there as if I'm about to start cross-hatching... but was that what I really wanted?  I thought not.

Whenever there is a quilt shop or quilt show where they sell quilt templates, I try and buy 2 or 3.  I now have a large collection of them - they provide me with lots of options.  I looked through my templates and thought that maybe this large template would be a good one to place across those center blocks.

That template didn't work out when I laid it on the blocks -- it was too small and the scale was not right.  I tried this one (below), next - it was larger and the scale was larger, too - and I liked the double wreath.

I laid it across the blocks and thought it looked pretty darn good.  I marked the quilting lines on my quilt top and started quilting away.  By the time I finished quilting one block with the feathered wreath, I knew I'd made a mistake.  The featheres just didn't show up against all of the applique.  Phooey!  I unstitched all of that hand-quilting and rethought what I wanted on those center blocks.

 What about a smaller motif in each corner, with cross hatching in the rest of the block?

Hmmm... nice idea, but when I laid it down on the block, the applique overwhelmed it.  No luck there.

So what did I finally decide to do?  Back to basics:  good, old-fashioned, plain - but elegant - cross-hatching.  One more decision finalized.  But can you see, now, how my thought process works?  You can do the same thing -- just try one thing, then another and another.  Your instincts will lead you to the right conclusion.

I wanted to note something here.  On a pole frame, there is no basting of the quilt top, batting, and backing.  The tension on the frame holds all the layers in place.  BUT and this is a big BUT... when I use wool batting, its puffiness lets the top "slide" as I quilt the quilt, leading to "mini-volcanoes" on the quilt top, if I'm not careful.  How do I compensate for this problem?  I use big corsage pins and, in essence, "pin baste" the quilt while it's in the frame.  It's an odd thing to do when the pole frame is supposed to eliminate the need for basting (and it does, for the most part)... but it works.  Check out the pins in the photo below...

And here's a better photo, where you can see the pins -- and me hand-quilting -- and see how quilting pushes up these little mounds that need to be pinned down.  We all need to develop "coping mechanisms" for various issues, and this works for me.

Okay, now I know you are STILL asking... what do I do in my spare time?  Well... I love making blocks and especially when I don't have to do all the designing.  In fact, I don't even have to think much with this project:  Barbara Brackman has started a new online block-of-the-week.  You can find it here:  www.grandmotherschoice.blogspot.comEach week for 49 weeks, Barbara will post a new block, along with recollections of the fight for women's rights.  It's a subject dear to my heart - while my daughters do not have the same struggles as women of my age did in the corporate arena, we still live in a world where many women do not have the same opportunities that we do now.  As a senior NASA executive, I was fortunate - the agency I worked for had many top-notch, well-recognized, and well-rewarded females.  I want those same opportunities for all women.  So... I'm joining in with this block of the week.  I decided that I'd make my blocks using more of those 1930s fabrics; I certainly have plenty and they need a home other than the box they are in.  Here is my first block: 

I am making paper foundations for all my blocks, and once you make one foundation, making more blocks is simple.  So... I decided I'd do a set of blocks in 1930s AND civil war fabrics.  Why not?  I certainly have lots of scraps AND yardage.  So here is the first in my second set of blocks:

Uh-oh... this block was just too easy.  Way too easy.  I decided that I needed a home for my plaids, too.  Why not make a set of these blocks using plaids?  It's different... and sort of fun to use plaids with cream/tan backgrounds.  So here's the first in my third set of blocks:

BUT WAIT, WAIT... THERE'S MORE!  I decided that as long as I was making one set of these blocks in three color ways... why not make TWO sets of these blocks in the three color ways?  That way, I can give my guild one set in each color way, for the guild's annual auction, and keep one set for myself!  So... here's my two-fer of each set; this is way too much fun!!!

I just hope that Barbara's blocks continue to be fairly simple or I'm going to be in big trouble in trying to stitch 6 blocks a week!  Oh well... I'll just have to use a little more of my spare time.  Ha!
So what else am I working on?  Yes, yes, there's more.  A friend of mine, Winnie Fleming, teaches a class called "Ultimate Borders."  And it is THE ultimate in classes I've ever taken!  She is a superb teacher and more than superb as a designer.  In the class, which meets 4-5 times, several weeks apart, she gives instructions for making a border quilt.  At each session, we are given three options for the next border; I love the fact that everyone's quilt will look entirely different.  I started my quilt, as I do almost all my quilts, by gathering all the fabrics I wanted to use and putting them in a bin.  It saves a lot of time because whenever I want to add a new border or set of blocks to a quilt, I just go to the bin instead of "The Closet."  The choices are more limited, which is fine, because I spend far less time hunting down the perfect fabric.  Here's my bin:  reds, greens, golds, and off-white.  

We were given three options for our center block and I chose to make a Lone Star.  Here's mine -- 19-1/2 inches square. 

Here is the focus fabric I used (you can't see it in the bin of fabric, but it's in there!), which I'm going to use for making setting triangles; the lone star will be set on point.  The red/gold fabric will be my floater between the star and the setting triangles.  Each month, I'll keep you posted on my progress on this quilt.  I can't wait to see it myself!

Okay... are you worn out yet?  I've obviously been spending some time in my sewing room this month -- guilt is driving me to figure out how to use up all the fabric I have in there (as well as a love of quilting!), so I've been trying to be more focused on what I do every week.  I still have a LOT of time to play, be with family, take care of grandchildren, garden in the yard, visit with friends, go to movies, shop, run around... so don't think that my life is totally consumed with quilting.  Just enough that I can avoid doing much cooking... and just enough that the rest of the house doesn't get very messy.   Life is good!

Happy quilting --

PS... just a reminder.  IF you choose to copy my blocks ANYWHERE, please give me credit.  These are all my own designs, unless noted otherwise.  And DO remember.... these are COPYRIGHTED designs!
(c)2012 Susan H. Garman


  1. Another fantastic blog--so worth waiting for! You inspire and teach and amaze me, all at once! Thanks for taking the time to share all this.

  2. Whew!!! You are one prolific quilter. I look forward to your posts each month and learning from your experience. I, too, feel a need to get a handle on all the fabric I have. It's a "fun" problem. I recognized many pieces of fabric that we both have.

  3. I really enjoy your posts about your design process. The mix of pieced and applique blocks is beautiful and this will be another wonderful pattern for you. I do not know how you get all you do done, I am still working away on Ladies of the Sea :) I frequently take pictures of it on my little blog and hope I am always giving you the proper credit. You mentioned using Photo Shop in designing applique quilts a few posts ago, I would love to hear more about how you use that program for quilt design. Thank you for the time you take away from stitching to share on your blog.

  4. Oh my! I've made Oh My Gosh and now I'm going to have to make Afternoon Delight! I love it. What you didn't share is that all of those applique blocks must be less than 6" finished, right? I generally spend lots of time in my quilting room, but you are making me feel totally lazy!

  5. Yes, your posts are absolutely worth waiting for!

    I LOVE Afternoon Delight, and the applique on that may be more my speed. I have to say though, that I prefer the second layout, where the double nine patch blocks give the impression of diamonds, rather than the squares in the third layout. I would probably just add a narrow keyline border, maybe an inch of a white print, and a coloured binding, and call it a day.

    But isn't that what's so great about quilting? Everyone can make it their own.

    I also love 30s reproduction fabrics, so I'm looking forward to some final photos on those!

  6. You make my head spin! I wish I could spend time to get things done. I don't work anymore, but there isn't enough hours in the day at my hgouse. I love reading your posts. I am amazed at your progress and your skills are unbelievable. Hope to grow up and be like you some day. Chris

  7. Thank you so much for another inspiring blog post with lots of photos as well as taking us through your design process. I look forward to seeing more blocks in your next post.

  8. Thank you for your wonderful blogs. I enjoy them very much.
    I made your 2009 TQS quilt Stars for a New Day and am sewing on the binding for Ruffled Roses! Yippee! I love both of them. I also enjoy paper piecing. Is it possible to put in your monthly blog a couple pictures of you paper piecing? I use Triangulations and EQ7 but sometimes it is difficult for me to figure out how to put the block together and you are so efficient. I appreciate all you do. Seattlebarbara2003

  9. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom, please know that prayers are being said for her tonight!! I would like to send a hug to you & hope you are doing well. I know she was very special to you, and hope you are able to keep her close in your memories. My Mom is struggling with dementia, and it is hard to see the person she is now, from who she used to be. She will always be in my heart from all we shared as mom & daughter. Blessings Judy

  10. As always you amaze! Love your new quilt and your letting us into your thought process.

  11. Sue you inspire me. What makes no sense at all is that you got all that done and in your spare time did an absolutely wonderful blog post. To say you are an inspiration is putting it mildly.

  12. I love your designs, I love your colour choices, but mostly I envy your stamina. I have turned prcrstination into an Olympic sport.

  13. Well worth the wait Sue and I am off to sew some pinwheel blocks later but there is always so much to ponder after reading one of your posts. Thank you.

  14. One word. WOW!!!

    These are awesome. Love it!

  15. I'm very sorry about the loss of your mother.

    Would you mind telling us about your quilt frame? I really don't know much about them and want to learn.

    I can't get over how much quilting and sewing you get done each month and still have time for a regular life! Your work always amazes me.

  16. Sue, you are amazing! I can see you're using retirement productively. LOL!
    Hope you're having some great days.

  17. Wowee. Can't wait to start! Please consider including both settings with all the blocks if it isn't too cost prohibitive. Love each one you do more! cHERYL

  18. Another wonderful blog post. I admire your quilting and designing skill. You make is seem so doable. I really enjoyed 'seeing' your design process. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Afternoon Delight is AMAZING! It is the perfect mix of pieced and appliqued blocks, and yes, putting the blocks on point was the perfect solution...I am drooling and will be watching the Quakertown site for pattern availability!

    "All Around the Town" got an Honorable Mention at AQS-Grand Rapids a couple of weeks ago. It's my first time to enter an AQS show, so I was so thrilled and honored! I had a second quilt accepted to hang, so it was a really fun quilt show for me! There was A LOT of interest in your pattern, so I hope activity at the Quakertown site picks up a bit, ha-ha-ha!

    You've been such an inspiration! I just started blogging about a project which I designed that I hope to self-publish as soon as I have decent pictures of the finished blocks. It's a Baltimore Album kind of quilt based on musical instruments and musical themes. You'll have to check it out!

    Your hand-quilting on Sarah's Revival is so beautiful...I especially love your tassle-like treatment of the swag border. What kind of batting do you use? The loft gives such a beautiful look to the perfect stitches. After all the work I did on my Civil War Bride Quilt, I used too thin a batt...Dream Cotton "Request"...and it is hard, from a distance, to see that it is even hand quilted (it doesn't help that the quilting thread is the exact color of the background fabric)...I hate these "quilting lessons" we all have to suffer through, LOL!

    In Stitches,

  20. A really interesting post, Sue, and so inspiring to read your thoughts and processes. Your work is beautiful!!

  21. My goodness, I am exhausted just reading about all you accomplished. Your afternoon delight is gorgeous and your setting was a great choice. Glad to see you are finding way to keep busy! LOL

  22. Wonderful blog post, I had to read it twice and look at the photo's a third time to appreciate all you have done. So sorry for your loss, it is a difficult 'stage of life'. I, too would like to know more about your quilting frame for hand quilting? I too am hand quilting with wool batting, so I will look out for those volcano's.

  23. I do the same thing with my frame and wool batting. I thought I was the only one with that issue. I enjoyed reading your post. I am behind in my own quilting life due to surgery. This post was a breath of fresh air. It got me motivated. I like your new quilt. I appreciate you blogging and sharing your creative process. My two fav's are civil war repros and 1930s. So I loved all your blocks. I enjoy hand applique and am glad you continue to work by hand. Great post. Thanks

    I am sorry for your loss.

  24. Hardly a slow month for you! I love your Afternoon Delight and you can tell that you had lots of fun with it too. What am I saying, all your work looks great.

  25. Wow--great blog--so much to read and look at (and look at again)! Will watch for your new pattern--it's a lovely quilt and I enjoyed seeing how it evolved!

  26. Started Afternoon Delight. Made all the Shoo Fly blocks and 1st appliqué block. Excited! Thanks for such a great pattern.

  27. I just finished, your Afternoon Delight, after making your Oh my gosh quilt. I love them both. Could you please give me some idea's on how to quilt the Afternoon Delight?
    I would certainly appreciate it. Thank you Jackie