Thursday, August 1, 2013

Come Quilt!

It seems that just when you are getting control of your time, life happens!  That has certainly happened to me... with lots of either happy or aggravating interruptions.  But life does go on. 
One of this blog's readers asked about how I go about goal setting and organizing my quilting.  It's pretty simple!  Most importantly, I am a list-maker.  I keep a running list of things I want to start, work on, or finish.  It keeps me focused.  Sometimes it even keeps me from adding more things to my list (yes, occasionally I say the NO word...).  I keep the lists on little index cards that I carry with me -- I cross things off the list when I've accomplished them or had a change or heart, and add more things as they arise during the day.  I pull the lists out each morning and decide what I'm going to get done... and I estimate how much time it will take, so I can organize my day accordingly.  Then I re-make the list and I'm ready to start the day.  When I have longer-term projects that have deadlines, I add notes to my Outlook calendar (the one tied to my email).  I will put items on my calendar just as reminders of what I plan to get done on a particular day - like "prep eagle block" on Tuesday or "bind raffle quilt" on Wednesday.  And I sometimes code them in colors, so I know how important the action is.  All of this keeps me from falling too far behind.  So far, it has worked for me.  The biggest problem is still - as always - how to invent 24 more hours in a day.  Where is Albert Einstein when I really need him?! 
But let's move on to some quilt pictures!  You've seen this quilt before, but I thought I'd show it again.  It was juried into the International Quilters Association (IQA) quilt show in Houston this Fall.  I'm honored to be included!  The quilt is based on a block in a red and green antique wedding quilt made in 1853 by Serena Tucker.  I had always wanted an old-fashioned-looking blue and cheddar quilt and this was my choice for using those colors.  When I finished the quilt, it was the gaudiest thing I'd ever seen...
 ... until I quilted it.  Adding some very formal quilting totally changed the look of the quilt; it was an amazing transformation.  Those 36-inch ugly blocks suddenly became glorious.  If you're in Houston this Fall for the show, hunt down Tucker's Tulips!  I want to point out, too:  the vases are actually built out of three different fabrics.  I couldn't find one fabric that had enough "depth" to the design to carry such large vases.

And if you see that quilt, you might also see this quilt, Twirly Balls and Pinwheels.  It was also juried into the IQA show in Houston this Fall.  I was very excited because I really like this quilt!  It is also based on an antique quilt -- one made in the 1800s by Fanny Tod.  Her quilt had a different block in the layout, but what I loved about her design was the pinwheel sashing that extended out into the border.  I thought it was pure genius in terms of design.  Those pinwheels have 1-inch half-square triangles in them.

Here's a detail shot -- I had so much fun choosing the colors in this quilt.  I used lots of dark brown, light brown, gold, rust, cheddar, and red fabrics.  Despite not using bright fabrics in that pallet, the quilt pops with color!

Some of you remember my Lily Rosenberry quilt, with its 1,003 berries.  My friend Georgann W also had a quilt juried into the Houston show, Little Lily.  It's a small 4-block version of Lily Roseberry, with Georgann's unique border addition.  It's going to be a great show this year, if you can make it to Houston!


I've started doing an occasional lecture and workshop around the country -- a few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days in Kerrville, Texas.  Kerrville is a beautiful little town out in the hill country of Texas.  The gals in the Hill Country Quilt Guild were delightful to be with.  The workshop they had me lead was on making feathered star blocks; here are two of the finished blocks from the workshop.  The first one was made by Donna S; she chose a variety of wonderful batik fabrics that just made her star sing!


And this feathered star, made by Barbara W, has some of my favorite cheddar fabrics in it.  Her star made me want to pull out my cheddars and start sewing!  Look at that precision piecing, too.  Wow!


After the Kerrville workshop, I drove home and my monthly UFO (Unfinished Object) bee met.  This bee was started years ago because many of us have a ton of UFOs in our closets.  We found that most bees tend to meet and eat... with not a lot of time left to sew, and certainly not enough to bother hauling a machine out.  In theory, at least, this bee starts earlier and lasts longer than most others.  And one of the things we do is share what we've been working on... and finishing.  Becky S brought this quilt to a recent bee - she used up a ton of plaids, just sewing Roman Coin strips together.  I love how the variation in light, medium, and dark plaids, along with the variation of the strip width and length, make this quilt so pretty.

Here's a close-up of the quilt.

Becky also showed us a scrappy quilt made using tons of half-square triangles (I think they were 2" finished size).  She loves cheddar as much as I do, so her choice of the cheddar floater border immediately caught my eye.  We had talked a month earlier about how to "finish" the blocks and decided that extending them out into that cheddar floater would give the quilt a very consistent but unique look.

Here's a close-up of the quilt - it is such a great way to use scraps.  What makes it so special is how Becky chose those lights and mediums and darks when she laid out the blocks.


At another bee, my friend Marsha F showed her scrappy quilt -- you can see a quarter of the quilt here.  I love how quilters can find uses for the tiniest fabrics!  This quilt was made using 9-patches from a big exchange Marsha was in; they exchanged 3" (finished size) 9-patch squares with a black background fabric.  When I see this quilt, my mind starts thinking, already, about how many different ways 9-patches can be set, and how many different fabric combinations could be used -- from civil war reproduction fabrics and shirtings... to all red prints with white-on-white backgrounds -- it's so much fun to have your mind working overtime like this!
Jean C also showed us all a quilt she's been working on for a while.  This is a wonderful design; I believe Jean got this from Common Threads Quilting in Waxahachie, Texas; it's a great quilt shop. 

Jean also got this quilt back from her longarm quilter, Cynthia.  Jean created this design after seeing an antique quilt belonging to her friend Sharon. The original quilt had more Princess Feather blocks in it, but Jean stopped at four and added the center block, border, and tiny piping between and around all of the blocks.  It was a visual gift for us!

Here is a close-up of the princess feather block, with its tiny reverse-appliqued spine within the princess feathers, which is filled with an even tinier stem within the spine.

Check it out...

And the block center is just as detailed.

The border has fussy-cut flower centers.

And the quilting is gorgeous.  These are very large blocks - well over 20 inches in size, leaving a large square for quilting in the "open" or empty blocks.  I would never have thought about putting four feathered wreaths in the open blocks; I would likely have put in a triple feathered wreath - but I like the look of these wreaths, with cross-hatching in the background.  That idea will likely show up in a future quilt of mine!

Kenneth P gave gave a dozen or so quilt tops to one of our guild members; they were made by his stepmother.  The guild member (Jerrianne) donated several to our guild for its annual auction.  Here was one of the quilt tops that came to the guild - a Trip Around the World design.

It was pretty flat... which was a blessing, as some of the quilts weren't as well made.  Here's a close-up of the center - the piecing is actually very well done.  Check out some of the fabrics this quilter used -- she really took "waste not, want not" to heart.

And to make it even more amazing -- it's all hand pieced!  We don't see a lot of quilts like this any more.

I quilted this quilt; if you want it, it is going to be in our guild's annual auction on August 19 (you can go to for details). 

So what else have I been quilting and working on?  I quilted another quilt for my guild's auction; it'll also go home to the high bidder on August 19.  This quilt is an oak leaf reel, with each of the blocks made by a different member, using my block design.  I'll show you a bit about my quilting process.  Here's the quilt, loaded and ready to quilt.

Here, you can see that I've started doing all of the cross-hatching of the blocks.  Knowing that the applique would be lightly quilted, I didn't want to have overly dense quilting around the blocks, so I chose to do a 2-inch cross hatch pattern in the background.  Rather than do a ton of stops and starts in the area between the hoop and the oak leaves, I used "pebbles" - they are easy and made the block stand out a bit.

In the 4-inch sashing between the blocks (which I specifically asked the group to use because I wanted "air space" between the blocks), I added a feathered vine.  I love feathers - love, love, love them!

Here's another shot.

And then... the border.  I said I loved feathers and I meant it.  I chose to do a meandering feather border on this quilt. 

Here's another look at that border.  Rather than fill the entire border with feathers, I sometimes like to throw in what I call "pearls" in the open areas of the border.  I think it adds a bit of variation to an otherwise quite repetitive "fluffy" border design.  Since I free-hand these feathers, those puddles of pearls give me some "fill" options between the feathers. 

So now, here is a view of the sashing and blocks... finished.

And a look at the finished quilt.  For the right bid, you could take this sweetheart home on August 19!

A friend dropped by my house a while back and brought along a quilt that she'd just purchased on a trip.  I was so glad to see it -- I love red and green quilts and this one was no exception.  I can't help but think about the quilters of a hundred years ago who had none of the tools and notions that we have -- no rotary cutters, no bias press bars, no mylar circle templates... and yet their quilts are still beautiful today. 

Here's a close-up of one of the blocks.  You can see a bit of the red fabric has started to shatter - but the quilt is still in amazing shape and relatively clean.

The quilting in this quilt is great - feathered wreaths with flowers in them.

Here is a lovely quilt that a reader sent me - it is a tiny... and I mean tiny little log cabin quilt... made by Kathleen D.  Kathleen's quilt won first place in this year's Rio Grade Valley Quilt Guild.  This sixteen inch square quilt was made using all of the leftover red fabrics from Kathleen's Sarah's Revival quilt.  There are 64 one-and-a-half inch blocks with seventeen 1/8th inch pieces in each block.  She says she loved working on this quilt as much as Sarah's Revival, which she finished and is going to hand-quilt.  Congrats to Kathleen!

Last, but not least, I have some news to share.  Some of you know that Quakertown Quilts made the precipitous decision to close, giving me little notice to put processes in place to handle getting patterns to the wonderful quilters who are in the middle of a block of the month.  Having said that, YOU don't have to worry about getting my patterns.  If you'll send me an email at suegarman at comcast dot net (and I have to spell this out like this so that email harvesting programs can't pull my email out and spam me to pieces), and tell me what you want, I will reply by email with the cost and ask for confirmation if you still wish to get the pattern(s).  I can do a very rapid turnaround on orders, so you should not have any problems getting what you need. 

I am in the process of setting up my own website at -- it's not up and running YET, but here's my new logo:

I have to work out all the glitches of getting a website provider, populating the site with products, figuring out all the ins and outs of credit cards, etc. -- none of which I have any experience doing.  The website should "go live" in a month or so.  For at least the near-term, I will not be kitting patterns (i.e., providing fabric); there's so much else I have to take care of, including continuing to design new patterns. 

Nonetheless, I'm really excited about this!  Despite the angst of being caught in the lurch, this may end up being a blessing, as I hope to provide the kind of service and support we all expect, and offer some creative new options to everyone. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, though:  if you already have a favorite quilt shop that you go to for my patterns, they will still get them - so stay with your favorite shops! 

Until next month --
Happy quilting!


(c)2013 Susan H. Garman