Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What Was I Thinking?!!!

Yes... what was I thinking when I said that I'd have a website with my patterns up and running on November 1? 

I mean... that's the same day that I always plan to update my blog, right? 

And when did it occur to me that on that very day, I would also be in Houston, attending the incredible quilt show of the International Quilters Association (IQA)? 

How can I do three things at once?  Needless to say, the wheels have fallen off of the wagon and I decided to go with two out of three:  the website will debut on November 1 (assuming the web host puts it all online, as planned), and I will be at the quilt show.  As for my blog, I will post the November 1 edition on November 15.  There will be tons to see and share! 

In the meantime, I'm going to celebrate because my Twirly Balls and Pinwheels quilt got a third place ribbon in Mixed Techniques at the Houston show.  Whee!  I was very pleased - the quilts, across the board this year, are all simply incredible; I'll be sharing some quilt show photos here when I post on November 15 (with more pictures to come later).  I'll also show you where I've been, what I've been working on, and more.  Until then, feel free to check out my website ( and stay tuned for November 15!

Happy quilting --
Sue Garman

(c)2013 Susan H. Garman

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A... B... C...

Over the past month, I have been updating and revamping a lot of my old patterns, in preparation for starting up my  website.  It's a time-consuming process, but one that I am happy to do, as I want to upgrade the quality of some old patterns and photos.  In doing so, I realized how many quilts I've made and forgotten about... but still love!  Rather than finish showing you some of the beautiful quilts that I saw in the Greater Houston Quilt Guild show a while ago (I will show you those in a future blog post!), I thought I would simply post some pictures of old and new quilts and make some comments on them.  I have made over 300 quilts... so in this post, I'm starting at the beginning of the alphabet and showing you only some of my quilts that start with the letters A, B, and C. 

This first quilt, Ancient Stars, is an old favorite of mine.  I love stars and I love intricate piecing and I love civil war reproduction fabrics, so this quilt was a natural.  One of the things I like to point out about this quilt is that the background of the Ohio Star blocks in the inner part of the quilt is either a lighter off-white or a darker tan... the beauty of using a variation in off-white prints is that if you place them in alternating positions, as seen below, it almost forces your eye to dance across the surface of the quilt.  It's part of the beauty of scrappy quilts -- you can make things happen more easily in a very subtle way. 

Lest you think that I only make quilts... I make other things, too!  I've done dolls, bags, pillows, and more.  Here you can see a variety of different Christmas stockings.  I made this pattern because I could not find a suitable stocking pattern on the market... and I wanted to be able to add all different kinds of trims and embellishments.  I've probably made 25 different stockings -- and every year, the grandchildren choose which one they want to be their stocking, hung from the fireplace mantle.  The stockings are large enough for small toys, fruit and nuts, candies, and whatever else Santa chooses to surprise the kids with! 


Red and green quilts are always a favorite for me.  The quilt below, The Antique Rose Quilt, uses a classic vintage block, set on point.  I like setting blocks on point because it gives me the opportunity to insert "empty" blocks that I can fill with custom quilting.  In this quilt, I inserted double feathered wreaths -- with two wreaths of feathers in each open area and the setting triangles.  It's a nice way to add softness to a quilt's look.

Several years ago, my guild participated in the American Quilters Society's guild challenge -- each guild determines a theme and submits eight quilts with that theme.  My guild's theme was "fruit" and we had a big selection to choose from in sending only eight quilts forward.  This quilt, Apple of My Eye, was one of the quilts that went forward - and our guild won a set of ribbons for our group submission!  The quilt pictures my grand daughter Dahlia when she was only four years old -- the photo I used for the quilt was taken at the beach and she was carrying a bucket full of shells... I just switched it to a bucket of apples in order to fit the theme.

Quiltmaker magazine invited me to submit an original quilt design for one of their issues.  I like that magazine, as it always includes a foundation-pieced quilt, and often has more unique quilts than some other magazines that focus on simple, vanilla quilt projects.  I made this quilt, Autumn Dreams

I hand-quilted this quilt - after the editors sent me a suggested quilting design for my use.  You can see it here -- it was a nice repeating motif.
The center of Autumn Dreams is smaller than one might think -- the design had to fit on the 8-1/2 by 11-inch pages of the magazine... which added a bit of complexity.  Okay... so I made it fit on two pages.  You can see by the straight pin here that it's a pretty small center block - but it works in the context of a small wall hanging.

The next quilt is Baby Petchey's quilt.  I bought these cowboy blocks on eBay and waited for something to pop up where I could use them.  Baby P was born in Switzerland, though his mom was from Texas... so I figured that he needed a good old Texas quilt, right?  The quilt was easy and fun to make.

And speaking of Texas... we had a huge rodeo in Houston every Spring.  I love when the rodeo comes to town -- the trail riders travel down the parkway near my house and it's fun to see them head into town.  I made this quilt and entered it in the rodeo's quilt contest - it won Best of Show, Best of Division, Viewer's Choice, and Judge's Choice.  I was thrilled!  I chose to showcase a female rodeo rider in The Barrel Racer, since it's the only event that women (as far as I know) participate in.  It's not sexist... I love the rodeo but I think women are smart not to hop on a raging bull or a wild stallion!  You can see this barrel racer making the turn around one of the three red-white-and-blue barrels that she has to speed around...

Here's a close-up of the horse she's riding.  This quilt was amazingly fun to create - I felt like the whole rodeo was coming alive in my hands!

This next quilt was not all mine in the making... I made one block and a bee I'm in made the rest of the blocks.  A simple basket is always a winner... and this quilt, once finished, was put into our guild's annual auction where a good friend - a non-quilter friend - won the bid and took it home.

Here's a close-up of the border of the quilt -- I did the quilting on it and love doing wandering feathered vines in big wide borders.

And, of course, that meant I had to put feathered wreaths in the blocks!

Here's another basket quilt.  I saw a small crib quilt at the Houston quilt show a long time ago, and came home and made a full-sized quilt, based on the same size basket and fabric colors.  It's still a favorite of my quilts -- I love the softness of these colors, which you don't often find paired in an antique quilt.

Here's a detail picture of the basket and the quilting I did.  I love hand-quilting as much as I love machine quilting.

I can't escape red and green quilts for long so here's a more recent red and green quilt, Bed of Roses.

You can see some of the quilting better in this photo....

And here, too.

And here, also!  I know that most long arm quilters don't relish doing cross-hatch quilting, but I do.  I am not particularly fond of stippling - it looks like scribbling to me and doesn't give the eye much relief.... but sometimes, it can be exactly what is called for.  One just has to decide what looks best on a quilt.  I do that by putting a big sheet of plexiglass on top of my quilt and using a dry-erase marker to audition various quilting motifs on a quilt.  It is a good method for me.

Here is my Black and Tan quilt center... a UFO that I have designed a border for but never found the time to add it. I think I have put it off because it's a really complex border.  It's "on the list" and someday I'll finish this quilt. 

You probably remember this one, Borrowed Roses.  It is based on a Rose Kretsinger quilt made in the thirties.  I loved the feathered swag border - it's what drew me to the design.  And the border was one of the easiest, fastest borders I've ever appliqued, which was a real surprise!

Here are some close-ups of the quilting in the quilt.  I stayed true to Rose's original quilt, in adding the quilting to my version.

Here is the first quilt I ever designed for Ricky Tim's and Alex Anderson's The Quilt Show.  I still like this quilt a lot!

This quilt was done as a special request design using "fall colors."  I found out after making it... that fall colors are not my favorites to work with.  While I love cheddar-colored fabrics in vintage quilts, I do NOT love orange in most other quilts.  When I made this quilt, I actually designed the blocks for three separate quilts - one with chains, one with stars, and one with flower sprays.  I made each of those quilts... and in this one, combined all the blocks into a fourth quilt.  I like the designs... but to be honest, I'm just no wild about the colors.
In this quilt, Checkerboard, I simply cut up a bunch of scraps into strips and squares.  It's a simple design - and a good way to use up scraps!
Classic Santas is a solid old block-of-the-month quilt that I designed a few years ago.  I did a lot of research on Santas as I drew out the blocks, gathering the history and stories of Santas in various countries and cultures.  I included much of that information in the patterns, and so the quilt has lots of memories and warm feelings associated with it.
Here's one of the dozen different Santas -- Christmas is such a special time of year in our household.

I used the patterns for the pieced blocks in the quilt to make a smaller lap quilt.  I think that most of us often use a design once... and don't think about adapting it for other uses. 
I also remade all of the Santa blocks... using only shades of white through graham cracker... and made Champagne Santas.  I love this quilt because every time I see it, I think of Christmas sugar cookies, hot chocolate and marshmallows, melted butter and brown sugar... all the scents and smells that go with the holiday season.  I added a wide border so that I could hand quilt a soft flowing Amish feathered wreath in it.  Most of us are afraid of open, wide borders because we think they leave an empty spot in a quilt... but I think it's a great place for beautiful quilting that makes the quilt sing.

Here's another simple quilt called Cornerstone Stars.  I used big squares of civil war reproduction fabrics and added sashing strips with triangles on each end, making stars in all of the cornerstones of the quilt.  It's another great stash-busting quilt.  I quilted big feathered wreaths in each square, to give the quilt a little character.

Here's a classic block with a pinwheel border surrounding the set of them.  This quilt is called Cotton Candy -- I was reading some posts in a Yahoo group this week and the question was raised, "how do you name a quilt?"  Well... for me, as I work on the quilt, the name just starts growing until I finally settle on one.


I like looking at art magazines and books as sources for quilt ideas.  This quilt was based on a painting I saw many years ago in Southwest Art - which is a great source for pictoral quilts.  You just have to remember not to violate copyrights when you make quilts based on someone else's work.  In this case, I made the quilt for me... no money, no pattern, nothing but my own personal satisfaction. 


Here, in Coxcomb Medallion, I did a bunch of borders -- but what I really wanted to do was prove to myself that I could combine applique and piecing in these borders.

I like border-on-border quilts because I love intricacy in piecing... just look at all those blocks!

I took the patterns for those blocks and also made a lap quilt...

And I used the border in the Coxcomb quilt as the center of this quilt, which was my "starter block" for this round-robin quilt.  I was very happy with what everyone added to this quilt.  VERY happy!

This quilt, Christmas in New York, was my second New York Beauty quilt.  I love the intricate piecing in this one - even if it's all done using paper foundations.  All of the fabrics were Christmas fabrics, too, which is why I called the quilt Christmas in New York.
That's enough for my A-B-C quilts for now.  And just how did I choose A-B-C as my "theme" for this post?  Well... remember when I showed you this vintage quilt a month or two ago?  And I said that I was inspired to make a quilt based on it?

And do you remember when I showed you some of the blocks that I had made?

Well... guess what?  I finished the quilt (except for the sleeve...)!  Here's a picture of it, still on my long arm machine.  I struggled with figuring out how I wanted to quilt this quilt.  I didn't want to overwhelm the simple applique and embroidery with some exuberant quilting designs... the quilting had to match the simplicity of the designs.  Here, you can see that I chose to do wide cross-hatching -- 2-inch cross hatching.  Still... what was I to do with the sashing strips and the border?

I decided to put a circle in the cornerstones... and then I decided that I would just put more circles in the sashing strips.  It worked!  It was simple enough to fill the sashing without being too little or too much!
Here's another close-up of the quilting.

Here, you can get a little peek at the template that I use for making "perfect" circles - it's made by Quilter's Rule; each template is nested and lets you make four different sizes of circles.

And here is the finished quilt -- Grace's Alphabet.


Last but not least, I thought I'd give you an update on my website plans. 

I'm still working on updating patterns, populating the website, and taking care of all the details needed when one starts a business virtually from scratch.  In the midst of all of the work involved, I've had to deal with many family health issues; a crew of workers who have been tunneling under my house for two months, installing 70 piers, 38 feet down into the earth, prior to raising the house slab 9 inches to accommodate the crazy rise and fall of the spongy soil we have in Friendswood, Texas; preparing for lectures and workshops; the clean-out and preparation for sale of a beach house after twenty years on Galveston island; and time with children and grandkids.  It has kept me hopping... but Come Quilt should be birthed within another 6 to 8 weeks. 

I remain thankful for all of life's blessings, and look forward to the future... one day at a time.

Happy quilting!


PS... my Comcast email account will be disappearing soon... you may want to note my new email address -- shgarman at Verizon dot net....

(c)2013 Susan H. Garman