Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quilts Galore!

Hello dear friends --
Have you found that quilters make instant friendships with other quilters?  It's one of the many wonderful things about quilting!  And this past month, with two trips up to the Chicago area, two trips out to the west side of Houston, and ten days to/at/and from Baltimore on the Prairie (a wonderful annual quilt seminar up in Nebraska), I met many fellow quilters.  This month I will share pictures from those trips... and also provide a VERY brief intro to using the Draw function in Word for those who have asked for instructions on how I make my own paper foundations for precision piecing.  Here we go - it's going to be quite a ride, as I have filled this blog with tons of pictures!
First of all, I did two lectures and two workshops with the Prairie Star Quilt Guild in St. Charles, Illinois (outside of Chicago).  What a fabulous group of quilters!  After a day of stitching, five of the gals came to one of the lectures with the progress they had made on their Rose Fans blocks from my Bed of Roses quilt.  They were super students and so much fun!

One of the students was actually from the Pride of the Prairie Quilters guild in Naperville; I'd given a lecture and done a workshop with them in August, and Cathy and her friend came and took more workshops in St. Charles.  Cathy was determined to finish her block... and she sent me a picture of it, below.  What a splendid job! 

Meanwhile, at Show and Tell time at the Prairie Star Quilt Guild, I got to see the work of many other quilters.  Below is a most beautiful rendition of Ladies of the Sea.  The woman who made it was a joy to talk to - her work was exquisite!

Below is my And To All A Good Night quilt.  I thought I'd show it to you  before I show you the next picture so you can see the difference that color choices make.

Barb Vlack - whom some of you may know through her book and classes on Electric Quilt software - made her own And To All A Good Night.  Look how she chose a vibrant blue for the night sky that Santa and his reindeer are gliding through - and then she incorporated some of that same blue fabric into the blocks below.  It is a grand quilt!

When I was doing things with the Prairie Star Quilt Guild, I stayed with Barb - we have known each other for many, many years.  She was tickled pink to show me how she had recently remodeled her house.  Her basement has become a dream sewing room, for sure.  Check it out.  With lots of built-in shelving and a large open area for her long arm machine, she is ready to roll out quilts in style.

Looking the other direction (away from the long arm), you can see Barb's work area with her sewing machine and various supplies, including a healthy set of books.

Between the two areas, Barb has put an antique counter with its bins... which she has, of course, filled with fat quarters, sorted by color.  I could only wish to be that organized!

Along one wall, Barb has two hanging doors that slide open and shut like old barn doors.  Behind the doors is... more storage!  I'm just drooling, right now... storage, real storage for all the notions and tools you need!  And you can close the doors and have a nice-sized design wall.  How sweet is that?!

Imagine... a place for all your UFOs and projects... where you can actually FIND them and perhaps even finish one!

Barb had a very cute cuckoo clock on her wall... one made for a quilter.  I fell in love with it.  Look at the pendulum -- it's a thread spool!

When the clock strikes on the hour, the quilter uses her cutter and cuts the fabric.  It is just too, too clever for words.

Nearly everyone who knows me at all knows that I'm a sucker for a vintage/antique quilt.  The quilt below is one that Barb put together, using two different Lemoyne star blocks. 

  One set of Lemoyne stars was made by her mother.  Those stars were all machine pieced and have the earmark of a split square in the corners.

The other set of stars was made out of Barb's scraps.  They were all hand pieced using Inklingo - a nifty creation of Linda Franz.  I was not familiar with it, and Barb was quite happy to show me how it works:  you print some templates onto the back side of your fabric, cut out your pieces, and then hand stitch along the marked lines.  It makes for a perfectly pieced block - one that is quite portable.  It also makes blocks with set-in squares and triangles, easy to make without having to split the squares or triangles, giving a much cleaner look to a block like the Lemoyne star.  Below is Barb's Inklingo-made star.

Here's a picture of the back of Barb's star.  If you look carefully, you can see the Inklingo markings on the fabric.  It's something I need to explore a bit more, for sure.

Here's Barb with another gorgeous quilt on her bed.  I love cheddar (antique orange) fabric and I love stars, so what's not to love about this quilt?!

Whenever I look at an antique quilt, I enjoy looking at the fabrics, the design, and the quilting motifs.  In the photo below, you can see that there are to 4-petal flowers quilted between the stars. 

But wait... wait... there's more!  There are also "pumpkin seed" circles quilted between the stars!

And between the star blocks, there is an "open" block that has a big flower quilted across it.  I find all of this so interesting - you may be bored by it, but I am fascinated by the designs that women chose to use many, many years ago.

Here's the actual "block" arrangement that alternates with the "open" block.  It is five simple little stars... but note this:  the stars have a lot of different green (and blue-green) points on them, along with alternating red star points.  Would you have ever thought of doing that if you had made a quilt like this?  I doubt that I would have!

The border on this quilt was interesting - outward-facing dogteeth units.  The quilting in the border was just as interesting to me:  diagonal three-line bead-board quilting.  It's awesome!

Barb had a pile of scrap squares sitting in her sewing room and I asked what she was going to use them for.

She showed me the beginning of an interesting quilt block arrangement.  The blocks are a variety of triple-four patch blocks - with extra squares and strips set between them.  I hope to see the finished quilt sometime.  I am always looking for ways to use my scraps and de-stash my stash (even though I know that's impossible in my lifetime).

Barb also showed me another project she's working on - using my Washington Medallion quilt pattern.  I love her color choices -- they are a vibrant combination of blues and golds and rusts, with some other colors thrown in for good measure. 
She has started working on the next border.... pinwheels, as shown below.  She has a few more to go after that, too!

Another thing that was hanging in Barb's sewing room was the beginning of what she called a "Travel Tree" quilt.  It is done with wool - and gives the maker a real opportunity to use all different sorts of stitching to attach the leaves to the tree.  In addition, each leaf has a memory from a trip.  I thought this was a very novel way for a quilter to carry memories into the future.

The trunk of three has the logo of the city of St. Charles on it.  You can also see an Australian boomerang from one trip - and of course, an American flag at the base of the tree.

Below, you will see a memory of seeing and hearing an opera on another trip -- La Boheme. You can see Mimi's lost apartment key, the candle whose light was extinguished, and the flowers that Mimi embroidered while waiting for the return of her lover.  What a fun way to remember special times and places in your life.

Of course, I could not avoid noticing Barb's candy-apple red Featherweight!  There's a story that goes with it.  Ruby is the stone of a 40th anniversary... and Barb found this machine on her 40th anniversary (or thereabouts), so it was an omen that she could not pass by.  She has named her machine "Ruby-dooby-doo."  How cute is that?!!

Barb had put an old 1930s era "kit quilt" on my bed.  These quilts were offered back in the 30s and 40s and sold as kits.  The kit included a pattern, the muslin, marked with blue washout markings, and the fabric to applique onto the muslin.  You can still find them on eBay on a lucky day!

In the picture below, I've taken a close-up of the quilt.  You can still see the little blue dots that were designed to be the quilting lines.

Below, you can also see that the quilts included a good amount of embroidery. 

Barb showed me one of her latest projects - a grandmother's flower garden quilt.  She has even put a picket fence across the top of the quilt.

Her hexagons were very small which gave the quilt a delicate look.

You can see by my thumb how small the hexagons are -- and you can also see the amount of hand-stitching involved in making a grandmother's flower garden quilt.  Oh my....

Barb managed to find another vintage kit quilt - one with flowers and a flowing ribbon on it.

Here's a detail photo of the ribbon -- I love how it flows so smoothly.

And a side-border of flowers - also free-flowing.

And a corner of flowers....

Here's a close-up of one of the blue flowers.  I had to "recolor" this in Photoshop to make the markings show up, but I think you can barely see "Blue" written between the two blue petals, along with the original applique lines that were printed on the muslin.  Today's applique is not nearly this easy, is it?!


 Barb even found yet one more kit quilt - but this one was not sewn at all.  She has taken it upon herself to make this kit quilt, herself.

 The poppies are gorgeous...

but Barb changed the center of the poppies from the original yellow color to black.  I think she made a wise choice -- the black really "pops" against those red fabrics!

You can see, on the leaves below, the stitching that has been added, including little "hairs" on the poppy stem.  You can also see the applique lines that were printed on the muslin.

And here, you can see the quilting lines that were included in each kit.  What would we do today if all of the quilting lines could be printed on our fabric?  I often get questions from quilters, asking how I quilted a particular quilt.  This would answer that question right away!

The border of this quilt was also marked on the edge.  I think that's pretty nifty!  It looks like it would be a pin to bind, though!

Barb had a crazy, unique, antique quilt to show me -- it looks like a variation of a pickle dish design... with a weird center. 


Here, you can see that the blocks had different reds in them.  Did the quilter design the use of different reds or just not have enough of one red to make the whole quilt?  We'll never know.

And, looking at the back of the quilt top, we can only imagine how challenged quilters were before the invention of our marvelous cutters and mats and rulers.  I doubt I'd be the quilter I am today if I had so few tools to work with.

New York Beauty quilts are among my favorite.  Barb showed me this one -- made with thirties fabrics and feed sacks.

Here, you can see the block and the sashing strip.  What a lot of work these quilts were - again, especially before the invention of our rotary cutters and mats and rulers.

The cornerstone of the sashing strips is an interesting block - and the fabrics this quilter chose were certainly unique with the use of two different sizes of polka-dot prints!

Below is one of my early quilts - The Christmas Lady.  It's an old favorite... and Barb has designs on what she's going to do with this pattern.

 She has enlarged the pattern - it's really big now... and she's going to make a much larger Santa Lucia girl.  What fun!

Here's a photo of my old Classic Nutcrackers quilt. 

In that set of nutcracker variations is one from the classic Nutcracker Christmas story -- Herr Drosselmeyer.

Barb has started her own Classic Nutcracker quilt - and below is her Herr Drosselmeyer nutcracker.  I loved her choice of fabrics.

And I especially liked that she was able to find some fabric that had a little clock or pocket watch on it.  Barb put it to good use by attaching it to her nutcracker.  She also used some really cool teeny little brass rivets for the buttons on Herr Drosselmeyer.

And for those who aren't lucky enough to find pocket-watch fabric, Barb showed me a little set of buttons that she'd come across that could have been substituted.  Aren't they just too cute?!

Barb will be coming to Houston in October to teach a set of workshops on Electric Quilt - and to do a lecture on 60 ways to use 9-patches.  If you're in Houston at the end of this month (eek - where did the year go?!), check her out!


Last week I did a workshop up in Cypress, Texas (northwest of Houston).  I always have SO much fun teaching workshops.  It didn't help that I have been so busy lately that I forgot to put all the pattern kits in my car before I headed out to teach.  With a good printer on hand, I was fortunate enough to make copies of my master pattern and managed to recover quickly.  The full pattern set has been shipped out to the guild now, though.  The gals were very understanding and forgiving - bless their hearts!

I was doing a workshop on making what I call "twirly ball blocks."  They are so much fun to make!  The gals all agreed that they were fun to make and much easier than they ever imagined.  I sneaked in a photo of one of the partly-done blocks....

And I loved this choice of fabrics - so unique. 

While there, I had a few free minutes and one of the students, Kathy, showed me some of the blocks she had finished but not yet assembled into a quilt.  I'm just going to show you the pieced blocks first....  you can look at them quickly - just to give you an idea of how you can take any classic block and surround it with half-square triangles, to make a unique new block.  These are combinations of 12-inch and 6-inch blocks.

Here is the back of a pair of the 6-inch blocks that Kathy made.  Her blocks were pieced perfectly - absolutely perfectly.  And when you look at the back, you can understand why.  She clearly takes the time to ensure that the seams are pressed open, making them flat and even.  I should note that the photos above were taken when the blocks were all sitting in a box -- if they were laid on the table, they would have been absolutely square and flat.

Kathy had also finished appliqueing all of the Classic Santa blocks that go with her pieced blocks.  Again... scan through these quickly if you wish, otherwise, check them out.  They're wonderful and the pattern has the story behind each of the unique Santas and the ways Christmas is celebrated in other lands and other times.  First, here is Saint Basil, the Gift-Giver.  He is remembered and celebrated in Greece for his generosity and aid to the poor.  BY the way - Kathy used brushed cotton for the beards on these Santas, which gave a special soft, dimensional look to each of them.

This Santa is Swiety Nicotaj, the Star Man of Poland.  Usually a village priest or close family friend, the Star Man visits families as they share stories and sing songs around the Christmas tree on Christmas eve.  Children are tested on their religious knowledge and then given small gifts.

This character is the Danish Julenisse - tiny little gnomish figure less than a foot high.  Throughout the season of Advent, Julenesse leave presents for small children, which they find when they wake in the morning.  Then, on Christmas even, everyone heads to bed and the Julenisse bring large sacks of presents for everyone.

The Russian St. Nicholas is regarded as the patron saint of all people from all walks of life.  He is based on a portrait of St. Nicholas that Duke Vladimir brought to Russia. 

Kris Kringle is the predecessor of our American Santa - but he is German in origin.  His name is a corruption of the German word "Chriskindl" or "Christ Child" - and  he was once thought to be the Christ Child's chief helper and a bringer of gifts.  Kris Kringle is still popular in many Pennsylvania Dutch homes in America.  I love the fabric that Kathy chose for Kris Kringle's robe.

I love the name of this Santa:  Old Ukko from Lapland.  Old Ukko was regarded by the Finnish people as the protector of the poor, outcasts, and children.  He owes his origins to the class of Santas that arose from great mythological gods - and his title was, "the ancient father who reigns in the heavens."  Ukko is said to travel from Lapland on a sleigh pulled by reindeer and was one of the earliest Santas to be depicted using this mode of transportation.

When Kathy made this block, she could not find any brown brushed cotton for Ukko's bread - so she used wool.  Oh my - what an applique task... but it turned out beautifully!

This particular Santa is my favorite - I love his flowing beard and the staff he uses.  His name is Dedt Moroz or Father Ice.  He is part of an ancient Siberian bedtime story.  He was regarded as a just and fair man who traveled by sleigh and saved a young girl from the evils of a harsh step mother.

Good King Wenceslas comes to us from a dynasty in Bohemia, now known as the Czech Republic.  Known for his kindness to the poor and his generosity to children, orphans, widows, and slaves, he is revered today as the patron saint of the Czech Republic. 

The Knickerbocker Santa was the Santa that made Santa Claus gain popularity in America.  He was first described by the wealthy elite as a jolly elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe.  His purpose was to quell the hooliganism rampant in New York City at the time, with fears of not getting gifts for being good children.  That's an oversimplification of his origins - but still relatively accurate.  This Santa was born of politics, not the church. 

The Wassail Santa comes from a pagan winter custom of the Druids, wherein they celebrated trees during the winter solstice.  The Christian Church later adopted the wassail tradition as a means of spreading good will - with "wassail" being an old Anglo-Saxon term for "be whole" or "be well." 

The Medieval Gypsy Santa is based on the stories and legends of the Middle Ages.  Stories of St. Nicholas had become widely known and accepted, and tales of his generosity, courage, and miracles were carried across Europe and Asia by minstrels, crusaders, nomadic gypsies, and sometimes even invading armies.  He was always seen as one who cherished children.

Here's a close-up of Kathy's block - I love how she added bangs and beribboned braids to the dolly in Santa's bag!

The Swiss Samichlaus appears in Catholic regions, dressed in bishop's robes and in Protestant districts as an old man in a Capuchin cloak.  He rides into town on a little donkey, often accompanied by a little devil called Schmutzli (who punishes bad children).  Children await the sound of tinkling bells, announcing his arrival and the soon-to-be-bestowed gifts.

So where do all these Santas go?  Here is where mine went -- along with all of the 6-inch and 12-inch pieced blocks.  It is called Classic Santas and is a favorite quilt of mine.  Of course, I love the holiday season, so it's hard for me to not like any Christmas-themed quilt!

I used those same Santa patterns, though, and on a challenge to myself, made the entire quilt out of white, white-on-white, off-white, tans, taupes, and neutral fabrics.  I think I like this quilt more than the other one because every time I see it, I think of the sights and smells of Christmas in the kitchen with brown sugar, melted butter, sugar cookies, marshmallows in hot chocolate... and more. 

Okay - now for a different quilt!  Here is my friend Marsha with her version of Omigosh.  She had appliqued a lot of little baskets... and used them in place of some of the shoofly/prairie star blocks.  I love the look of this quilt.

Here, you can see the blocks a little better.  There is just something really awesome about 1/2-inch squares made into nine-patch blocks!

Another view -- Marsha set her blocks on point, which is a wonderful setting, as it makes the "chains" run horizontally and vertically.  I love it!

And just in case you are wondering what the back of a quilt looks like when you have 1-1/2 inch 9-patches... here's your chance to see!

This quilt (Afternoon Delight) was made by Martha Baldwin.  She sent me a picture after I asked her to - she won first place in the Coast Prairie Quilt Guild show.  Congrats to Martha!!!

Here's my version of Sarah's Revival.  I've heard it called "Sarah's Revenge" so often now that I sometimes can't remember what the real name of the quilt is!


 I'm showing it to you so that you can imagine what Georgann Wrinkle's Sarah's Revival blocks will look like when she sets them... even if she sets them differently than I did.  I love her choice of fabrics - using a delicate floral print for the background is a wonderful idea!  Take a look at her blocks.

I can't wait to see Georgann's finished quilt!

Okay... I said that I would, at some point, tell everyone how I use the Draw function in Word to design my own paper foundations.  The more I've thought about it, the more I think that I'm just setting myself up for a ton of questions and emails and frustrations... so IF you choose to read the following, do so on ONE condition:  don't ask me to explain it further... please.  I learn a lot by pushing buttons... especially once someone has shown me the basics of some new software.  I'm far from an expert -- FAR from it.  I use simple things because it makes life simple.  So here... in simple terms, is an INTRO -- not a complete dissertation -- on how you can use the Draw function in Word to create paper foundations or other drawings.  Please note that there are many different versions of Word, so you may have to chase around your menus a bit to find where various items are in your version of Word.  Please don't ask me to find buttons or icons for you... I don't know where they are on your computer.  Just play around and experiment and eventually you'll have it all figured out and can share with me what you learned!  Also, if you have the October/November 2014 issue of Quilters Newsletter, there is a wonderful article in there by Debbie Caffrey, who also uses Microsoft Word to design quilts.  Her instructions are far more thorough than mine are, below - and will take you through a more comprehensive "lesson" in using the Draw function in Word.  Hunt down the issue if you don't have it - it will be worth it!

First of all, you will need to find where the "Shapes" icon is in Word. In my previous version, it was on the top banner.  I've also seen it under "Insert" in newer Word versions.  So look for it.  It's where you get started in drawing.  You may even have a drop-down menu for "Draw."  Just push buttons and you'll get there sooner or later!  Here's the Shapes icon....
And here is where it is at the top of my Word program:

Open up a new document.  Find the Shapes icon.  Once you click on the Shapes button, you'll have a menu pop up with all kinds of shapes on it -- squares, triangles, circles, lines, arrows, etc.  Click on a shape (e.g., a rectangle) and then put your cursor onto your document page.  You should have a "plus" sign on your document then - left-click and hold as you drag the corner of the shape across your page to make it the size you want to make it.  You do not have to make it the exact size you want, as you drag your cursor.  Look on your menu bar and you should see a little box where you can change the size of a shape.  If you don't see it, it might be buried in a single "Size" icon on the menu bar.  You can change the size of your shape by changing these numbers.  If you KNOW you want a shape to be perfectly symmetrical {e.g., a perfect square or a round circle), then hold down the Shift key as you drag your cursor to create the initial shape -- or if you have a shape but just want to make it symmetrically bigger smaller, hold down Shift and drag a side or a corner of your shape (to do that, click on the shape and you will see little "anchor" points appear - grab one and you can then drag it).  Below is a picture of the Size box....
 Okay... in the Draw menu, you can play around with Shape Styles (how it's colored/shaded) and lots of other things.  Mostly, I use these buttons:
The first one is the Shape Fill - highlight a shape and then click on Shape Fill (the paint bucket) to fill it with colors, a photo/picture, or a texture or pattern.  Depending on your version of Word, you may have to click on Texture and then at the bottom of that menu is a little icon to click on for More Textures, which is where you'll find another menu for filling a shape with Pattern Fill -- you can fill the shape with circles, dots, and more of all sizes and colors.
The second button in the column above (the pencil shape) is Shape Outline.  Highlight a shape or a line and click on this to change the thickness of the outline or make it dashed or an arrow.  You can also change the color of the line with this button.
The third one can be used to create shadows and 3-dimensions; I don't use it much at all.
When you are putting multiple shapes together (e.g., making a line of half-square triangles), you will want to join them into a single unit so that they don't "float apart" as you add to them.  To do that, hold down Shift and highlight each shape/line... then click on Group... and a drop-down menu will give you the option to Group or Ungroup the shapes.  Group them so that you can move an entire unit without having to move individual pieces of it.  That's an important function.
You can align shapes, too.  If you want a circle centered in a rectangle, use the Align drop-down menu.  The little button drawings in it are pretty self-explanatory.
You can rotate the shapes - turning them 90 degrees or reversing them.  Look under Rotate for that function.
The Arrange function has Bring Forward, Send Backward, Send Behind Text, etc.  You'll use that when layering things and when you want one of them to be on top of the others.  Sometimes I have to put a "No Fill" (using the Shape Fill) on something so I can see what is buried beneath it.
If you draw a line and want to change its shape, click on the line and then click on Edit Shape.  You can move the registration marks on the line, or even delete them, to change the shape of the line.
If you want to put a shape into a document, you may have to click on Wrap Text to adjust how the text floats around the shape.  Choose what you want the text to do - be on top, behind, or around the shape.  In general, I use the Wrap Text and select "Tight" to make the text wrap around the shape.
Okay... that's enough for now.  Go play with this and see what you can create!  And use the Help function, not me, to answer your questions.  I guarantee that I can help other people very little when I'm not standing over their shoulder and seeing what they see!  I'm not trying to be mean... but I want to set your expectations low!
So what have I been working on this month?  I've got SO much to show you... but I'm already late because I had to teach my new laptop to obey my orders (it was a poor student and I was a poor teacher...).  Next month you'll see what I couldn't fit in this month's blog.  I'll talk about everything that happened at Baltimore on the Prairie, including my first stop in Salina, Kansas at The Quilting Bee - a wonderfully amazing quilt shop that my co-driver Becky and I visited (and dropped a few bucks in!).

And I'll show you some of the fun things I've been stitching up -- some pieced blocks, some de-stashing blocks (a hopeless task), a whole new Baltimore album quilt top (I just need to add the outer pieced border!), some Sally Collins quilts (she is one amazing woman!!!), and more... because the HOUSTON QUILT SHOW WILL BE IN TOWN in just a few weeks!  Yes, this paragraph was full of exclamation points but I got excited!!!!

Thanks to everyone who let me take picture and who sent me pictures for this month's blog.  Your help is much appreciated; I'm not sure I would have a lot to say without everyone helping me with the content.
Until next month... happy stitching --
PS... I hope I can get the November blog out on time but I have to warn you... I will be at the Houston show instead of blogging that weekend!
PPS... did I tell you I'm going to be at the Houston quilt show?!!!  I hope our paths cross!
(c)2014 Susan H. Garman