Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Ruby Jubilee and More

<  --  NOVEMBER 20 UPDATE  --  >
I kept wondering why, this month, NOT ONE PERSON had made a comment on my blog.  I mean... was it that boring?  that uninspiring?  that miserable?  But then the second person TODAY said, "is something wrong?  I keep checking for your blog update and it hasn't shown up...." so I went online and checked... and sure enough, the November post was missing in action!  I re-posted and hopefully everyone can see it now.  Stay tuned for the December blog update - it should have pictures from the big juried portion of the Houston quilt show, as well as some pictures of some things I've been working on.  And also, some thoughts as I walk into 2015... on how to downsize the UFO pile!  See you soon!



The big IQA quilt show is in town!  Here in Houston, with over fifty-five thousand visitors, it is the largest convention in town - bigger than Oil town's Offshore Technology Conference!  I was ready to walk my feet off and be wow-ed by all the sights and scenes of this magnificent show - and I was not disappointed.  I'll give you just a taste of what I saw - and then show you a few more things (like what I've been working on) - and then close with pictures of the 28 quilts made by the generous ladies who donated star blocks to be made into quilts.  As always, there's a story in all of these wanderings.  So put your feet up, grab a favorite beverage, and follow along....
One could not help but be impressed with the Ruby Jubilee exhibit at the quilt festival.  Ruby is the gem that celebrates 40 years... and this year's exhibit celebrated the 40 years of Festival - the name the locals call the IQA quilt show in Houston.  The exhibit was inspired by the 2011 "Infinite Variety:  Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts" exhibit in New York.  Red is a color denoting lover, power, lust, death, and more - and when combined with white, there is a great dynamic visual impact. 
The good thing about the display was the number of quilts you could see in a smaller area - but the tough thing was that many of them were very high up and we could not see the intricate details.  Nonetheless, I loved this exhibit.
There were many varieties of red and white quilts:  pieced, appliqued, combinations of piecing and applique, redwork, and more. 
Unfortunately, each quilt did not have an identification marker so you could easily find out who made the quilt and the story behind it.  There were a few notebooks on tables near the exhibit, and each page in the notebook had a photo of one of the quilts, the name of the quilt artist(s) and the artist's statement.  I had no time to hunt down the identification of each quilt... so I hope the artists will forgive me and enjoy the photos in my blog as much as I enjoyed the show.
Aren't they all just too grand for words?
This one was very large and particularly striking!
But no matter the size or shape, they were all striking in their own way.
Some of the quilts were new; some were old.
This unique red and white lone star really caught my eye, also - the border is quite a nice addition.
I was tickled pink to see the quilt below at the Ruby Jubilee exhibit; it was made using my Washington Medallion pattern.  I love the reds!
What a grand paper cut quilt!  So much applique, and worth every stitch, right?!
This was a popular Amish design in the 1800s.
Look at this quilt!  It was hanging at the tippy-top of the ring of red and white quilts and I got a picture of it... but Margo Clabo had sent me a picture of it before the show.  What can I say besides WOW!  I'm glad that she sent the picture because I would otherwise have no idea how beautiful the quilting was, much less that she has a gorgeous tiny line of white piping in the outer border.  I am swooning over this quilt!

There were so many unbelievable quilts.  I don't know if they've even thought about it, but I'd love for IQA or Quilts, Inc. to produce a book of these quilts.

I have a ton more red and white quilt photos - I will save them for another time.  The George Brown Convention Center where the quilt show is held covers more than a whole city block and is three stories high.  The quilt show fills the entire venue, top to bottom.  During quilt market, which is when I took these photos, you get a chance to talk to shops, manufacturers, dealers in various wares and notions, etc.  I love this part of the show - I get to see what trends are headed our way (welcome to Modern quilts and Modern quilt fabrics, hexies, and western fabrics...), what new tools are on the market, and what new vendors are popping up.
One of my favorite vendors is Brenda Henning from Bear Paw Productions ( .  She sells a product called Triangulations.  It is a CD that you pop into your laptop, let it load, and once it's there, any time you want to print out paper foundations, you just click on the Triangulations file and print out page-sized paper foundations for half-square or quarter-square triangles, sized as you need them from 1/2 inch up to 8 inches in quarter-inch increments.  I LOVE the ease of using this software to make all my pieced half and quarter-square triangles when I need them.  Here's Brenda - a wonderful, soft-spoken woman who has made gorgeous quilts...
She has a book out...
And here is the surprise she told me at this year's market:  Very SOON she will be coming out with a CD that will make flying geese paper foundations!  Imagine... being able to print out sheets of paper, so that you can stitch up your flying geese strips in no time at all, perfectly sized.  Wow!  I can't wait to see these and order my very own.  YES, I am excited about it!

I stopped and talked to Mary Ellen and Paula in Red Crinoline -- they are always such fun to see.  Paula is coming out with a new line of fabrics that are specifically border print designs.  Mary Ellen has her finger in all the quilts that are made using Paula's fabric.  This is another "I can't wait" item!

As I wandered around the vendor floor, I ran into lots of new interesting people and saw lots of interesting things in booths.  In the AQS publishing booth... I talked to a woman about a new book that is out. 

The book is full of red and white quilts that are quilted in a spectacular manner.  Talk about inspiration?!!  Here is Single Irish Chain (34 x 40") by Margaret Solomon Gunn.  Don't you love how the simple Irish chain block is given new life with some unique quilting?
Here is a detail photo of the quilting in this quilt.

The quilt below is Eight-Pointed Star by Sue Patten.

This one is Square in a Square by Sue Nickels. 

Here is a detail photo of the quilt - you can see the lovely quilting, along with the variety of reds used in the quilt.  A red button is in the center of each square.

 If you like these quilts, you can learn more about how to make them in Linda Baxter Lasco's book, Red, White and Quilted

The juried show at Festival is enormous and amazing.  Here is one of the juried quilts that caught my eye immediately.  It is called Waratah and was made by Melinda Bula, whose quilts are among my favorite.  This particular quilt was Melinda's interpretation of the unusual flower called the Waratah, just as it was dying and the petals are open wide.  Melinda added the Kangaroo paws and the dots that the Aboriginal people love to put in their art work. 

Melinda used fusible applique, thread painting, and machine quilting when she made this quilt.  I would love to learn how to do quilting like this!

There are a ton more quilts to show you from the juried show, as well as the special exhibits.  I'll be showing those to you in the coming blog posts, but for now, since I'm supposed to be packing for the show opening tomorrow (I'm writing this early and will post it on the first of the month...), I'll just show you what I've been working on.... and then some things that were purchased at Festival.... and finally, I'll close with a photo of each of the 28 NASA Stars quilts.  Please visit my blog again in the coming months and I'll have some knock-your-socks-off quilts to show you!

* * *
I spent a good deal of time this month teaching little 7-year old Daisy how to assemble the quilt blocks she bought at my guild's auction into a quilt top.  She has enough blocks to make two quilt tops -- and is delighted at the thought of turning one of them into a "quillow" - a quilt that has a pocket on the back so that you can tuck the quilt into it and make it a pillow.  I just wanted to put a plug in to every quilter possibly donating a bit of time to inspire and teach young quilters how to quilt.  It's fun for me - and rewarding when it's my own grand daughter!  So here is Daisy... have you ever seen such intensity?!  Gotta love it!  I'll show you her quilt when it's finally done.

In the mean time, what is this collection of red and white scraps all about?

And why do I have this picture of an antique quilt?

Because!  I was inspired to make a quilt that was...
     1.  Fairly simple
     2.  Light and airy
     3.  and had plenty of places to do some soft, elegant quilting.

I looked at a lot of antique quilts and finally decided on nine designs that I liked - some were inspired by the quilt above, and some were inspired by other antique quilts.  What I really wanted to do, though, was to have a quilt where I could insert one- by two-inch flying geese sashing strips.  Yes, one- by two-inch flying geese strips.  No, I'm not crazy... I think those little geese are just what my quilt needed!

Here's a close-up of a corner of the quilt top; I'd show you more, but the quilt is loaded on my longarm machine.  With any luck (i.e., planning...), I'll be showing you the finished quilt next month.  That's a stretch for me, but I'm going to try!

See.... here it is, loaded and ready to go!  Once it's quilted, I'll start working on writing up the instructions and patterns for this quilt; it should be available on my website right after the first of the year.

But now that this quilt is so far along, what else am I working on?  I've still got plans for a 9-block complex (as opposed to the above simple/airy quilt) quilt.  I have four blocks done and just finished designing the fifth block.  Once a block is designed, I choose all of the fabrics I need for the quilt, put them in a box, and don't second-guess which other fabrics might be better.  I can drive myself crazy doing that, so I set boundaries.  Here is the fabric set for this basket of fruit with a blue jay, below.  If I really buckle down and crack the whip, maybe I can show you a finished block next month!

I've also continued to work on my half-square triangle/flying geese blocks that my daughter and I are both making, based on the "Thorns and Roses" quilt in Civil War Legacies II by Carol Hopkins.  This is a great book.
Because I'm not the best piecer in the world, I rely on paper foundations.  In making this block, I made my own paper foundations, which made the blocks so much simpler for me to make.

With paper foundations, I can whip out one of these blocks in 10-12 minutes once I've pre-cut my fabric.  Whee!!!

But I started thinking that I needed a bit of variation in my blocks, so I started changing up what the center square consisted of (other than a plain 2-inch finished size square of fabric).  It will be kind of fun to insert these odd little blocks among the others.

While I was making those blocks, my daughter happened to come over and make four churn dash blocks.  That got us both to thinking about the set of blocks we were putting together.  Hmmm...  what if we alternated the half-square triangle and flying geese blocks with churn dash blocks?  I think it looks pretty cool!
That's what I've been working on this month... but I have a few more things to show you.  First, a few purchases I made at Festival (this is before festival even starts!).  Jeanne Sullivan came and stayed with me and we went to quilt market along with my friend Cynthia -- and we all gathered up lots of ideas, and wiped out our savings.  Jeanne is now a dealer for Kangaroo Kabinets (; she'll have the products posted on her website in the near future).  She dived into getting her own wonderful set of sewing room furniture for her studio - I'm envious!

We also both bought "Ideal Seam Guides" -- if you see this product somewhere, let someone demonstrate it for you.  These guides help you maintain a perfect seam allowance as you feed fabric into your sewing machine.  I have great hopes that my piecing will improve by leaps and bounds.  But wait!  Wait!  There's more!  Not only does it do that, it also allows you to do some mighty perfect machine quilting where your cross-hatching lines are simply perfect - even if you're doing quarter-inch cross-hatching.  Really?  Absolutely!

English paper piecing has been the rage this year.  One of the booths at market caught my eye and I bought packs and packs of English paper piecing templates to make Lemoyne stars. 

But I couldn't believe how far hexies have come!  JoAnne Louis was in the Paper Pieces booth, wearing her crocs.  Someone had painted them for her.... awesome!

One purchase made by Jeanne Sullivan was a wonderful antique oak leaf quilt from Julie Silber of The Quilt Complex.  We laid it out on the floor in my foyer -- it was so big that I couldn't get a picture of the whole quilt.

I worked on it in Photoshop and managed to straighten out the photo above.  This quilt is 100 inches square and is in pristine condition with rich, dynamic color.  Wow! 

The applique in it was perfect - as was the quilting.

The block was a beauty in itself.

And the feathered swags in the open squares were so elegant.

Jeanne purchased a second beauty - a red and green and cheddar tulip pot design.

I love cheddar -- and this quilt had rich, rich color in it.  Look at the tiny little birds on the plant, too.  These are SO cute!  The triple-row border has a lovely six-row cable quilted across the rows, while the sashing and cornerstone strips are quilted with one-inch cross-hatching.

What did I purchase?  Some smaller items.  Here is a little antique hand-pieced Lemoyne star with a circle in the center. 

I bought it because of the lettering:  Be not weary of well doing ~ Rachel H. Valentine.  These blocks were made in 1849.

I bought a second one with a different red print.

The lettering in it reads:  Hannah H. Gilbert ~ Hope is a cheering companion.  I love the sentiment in this block.  I plan on using both of them as centers of a medallion quilt.

I bought a quilt from Cindy Rennels; just like Julie Silber, she has wonderful antique quilts every year, tempting me no end.  This particular quilt is a triangle quilt made of red prints, tan prints, and a few navy prints, along with a large variety of shirtings.  I love the bright, happy look of this quilt top.

Here's a close-up of the triangles - they are so pretty.  I failed to photo one that has white polka dots on a red background; I think those triangles are part of what make the quilt so "happy."

I bought Old Patchwork Quilts by Ruth Finley from Julie Silber - it is a very early book on quilting and will surely inspire me with its stories of early quilts.

Mary Koval tempted me with this Princess Feather quilt top -- I love Princess Feather quilts and someday this one will be in the center of a quilt top that I intend to make.  At least that's the plan.  I had better take care of myself so that I can live a long time!

Julie Silber had this quilt top in her booth and to be honest...  it was the first quilt I spotted when I started looking at the antique quilt booths.  It haunted me!  I must have gone back to that booth ten times the first day... and finally couldn't resist it any longer on the second day.  I'm SO glad it was still there.... these quilts often go quickly!

The beauty of this quilt for me was the center spoke circle, along with the background print that enveloped it -- and the open blocks that will allow me to do some beautiful feathered wreaths.  Again... I can't wait to start on this one!

Here was a tiny little hand-appliqued/pieced block that I found in Mary Koval's booth.  Dare I say that it is "darling"?  I wanted it because I think it's beautiful (see the quarter to see how tiny it is!) and I can just see (in my mind's eye) a TON of these little blocks in a quilt.  Okay - so I need to live way past one hundred, with my sight, my joints, and my mind still intact.

Okay - I must confess that right now I'm inserting a little paragraph here, writing it AFTER the quilt show opened, while everything else was written BEFORE the quilt show opened.  It is true confession time...  I went to the show with a budget in my head.... and it went out the window.  The budget, not my head.  You see, I have a love of princess feather quilts that is unquenchable.  Maybe that's an overstatement, but it's close.  I simple drool over princess feather quilts.  I saw several at the show.  One was a finished quilt with a large single princess feather in the middle, surrounded by bars of brown and cream and green.  One had four princess feathers on it, but each one only had four solid red arms on it instead of eight red and green ones, and they were kind of spiky-looking.  It was very unique!  Another one was a classic four-block princess feather quilt but the green feather arms were in that teal blue-green instead of "real" green - and the center of each princess feather was not the usual star, but a big multi-petal rose with a covered button in the middle of it!  These were each unusual and beautiful... but then I saw another one that wiped me out!  Would you believe a combination of a princess feather and a Christmas cactus or amaranth bush?  I wouldn't have... until I saw this one.  Photos will come next month, I promise!  I bought it!  And just when I thought I was done buying quilt tops, what should appear before my eyes but a gorgeous Whig Rose quilt with the chunkiest vines I've ever seen!  Of course, it ended up coming home with me.  I will write about these next month, and will include the incredible artistry of MANY more quilts that were in the Houston quilt show.  This was a great year for quilts -- there were SO MANY GOOD ONES!  So you'll see them along with my comments starting next month.  Now, back to what I wrote earlier...

The quilt below was in the exhibits area.  Do you see that star in center column, fifth row down?  That was made by astronaut Karen Nyland while  she was onboard the International Space Station for six months.

Here was the description of the block:

The public was invited, last year, to submit their own 8" star blocks... and they poured in to NASA.  A team of local quilters managed to assemble 28 quilts, quilt them, and bind them after the blocks came in.  Here's one of them - with blocks submitted by children!

Below are the remaining quilts - I took pictures of each of them so that if you made a star and it was included in the quilt, you might be able to find it.  Unfortunately, not everyone's star made it into these 28 quilts - but if you made a star, it was at the exhibit.  Those that have not been assembled into a quilt top were all placed in sleeves in a notebook so that everyone could scan through the notebooks and see tons more stars.  Take a look... at all the stars!

Here are samples of some of the stars in the books.  Everyone who submitted a block... your work is amazing!

That's all I have for this month, but please return again next month - the pictures I have left to show you are incredible! 
Until then, happy quilting...

(c)2014 Susan H. Garman