Monday, December 1, 2014

The Quilts and Houston - and more

Hello Everyone --

I hope you find great joy in the holidays, whatever they may be in your family tradition.  I love the Yuletide season -- with family and friends gathering together, children finding magic in everyday happenings, the wonderful reds and greens that are seen in so many seasonal quilts, and the scents and tastes of meals filled with warmth and love.  Isn't it great?  So while you ponder what brings you joy and peace, grab a cup of coffee or an ice cold soda and check out some quilts.  This post will show you more of the quilts that were on display at Festival - the International Quilting Association's quilt show that is held every October in Houston.  I'll also show you some wonderful pictures of quilts that some of you have sent to me, along with some quick pictures of what I've been working on lately.  I've not gotten as much done as I had wished, but I never do.   There are just not enough hours in the day to live life the way I want! 

Be forewarned... this is a long post.  I just couldn't find a stopping point!  I cut out half the photos I prepared to post this month but I doubt you'll feel as if you've been short-changed.  I am going to try and figure out how to make my posts just as interesting and worthwhile, but really... it takes me two or three full days to do these posts when I add up all the time it takes to clean up the photos, square them up, remove distracting backgrounds... and more.  I'm not whining... oh wait... I am!  I have to remember sometimes that I love doing these posts so that you might be inspired and fall in love with quilting as much as me.  So let's get to this month's post. 

First, here was the program for the Houston quilt show.  The cover photo was a picture of Barbara Black's Red and White - By the Numbers quilt.  It was gorgeous - and pictures of it were literally EVERYWHERE you turned!

And here is the real quilt, below.  It was made by Barbara and quilted by Pamela Joy Spencer Dransfeldt.  Barbara noted the following about her quilt: 
Design Source:  Traditional quilt block patterns put together by Gay Bomers and Brenda Papadakis.
The quilt was made as a tribute to the special exhibit, Infinite Variety, held in March 2011 in New York City.  My quilt contains many of the patterns in the exhibit.  There are 2,770 pieces and 59 different fabrics included in this quilt. 

Barbara works in the education department of the Houston quilt show.  If you've gone to their office during the show, you've probably bumped into her.  Below are some detail pictures of the blocks in the quilt -- I want you to look at the quilting that Pamela did; it is nothing short of exceptional and added much to the overall look of the quilt.  The following blocks are shown without comment; they speak for themselves!


Check out the border in the pictures above and below.  The quilting was magnificent.

If you stood behind the quilt, you could see the quilting even better.

To read more about Barbara's quilt (which, by the way, Quilts Inc. purchased for their permanent collection!), you can read Barbara's blog.  She really captured the excitement of someone who had a grand time celebrating quilting: 

I know I showed this picture last month, but I'm still in awe of it -- the choice of color and fabric, the vibrancy of the design... everything about it is stunning!  This is Waratah by Melinda Bula of El Dorado Hills, California.  I tried to get into her workshop at the show, but it had filled.  Sigh... it does, every year!

Here's a close-up of the quilting that Melinda did on this quilt.  The use of different colors of thread, as well as the quilting designs are fantastic.

This next quilt was another eye-opener at the show.  Made by Joanne Baeth of Bonanza, Oregon, The Landing  depicts a flock of geese coming in for a landing on a lake.  Joanne said that the challenge of this quilt was the very difficult task of creating realistic birds in different positions as they come in for a landing.  She cut out over 1,500 pieces that were shaded and stitched one feather at a time.  The quilt includes Joanne's own hand-painted sky.  She used fusing, inks and paints to shade and highlight, snippets, and machine quilting to complete her quilt.

It's one thing to describe it but it's quite another to see this quilt close-up.  Take a look at the goose below.  As you can see, the piecing was as much of a challenge as the quilting was.

And she did it - not just once, but over and over!

Ferret lives in North Harrow, Middlesex, in the United Kingdom.  Her designs leave me in a state of awe.  Her new quilt, Seneca, was no exception.  The quilt was inspired by a photograph taken by Monty Sloan of Wolf Park, Indiana.  The wolf's name is Seneca.  Ferret used raw-edge applique, thread painting, and longarm quilting to make this quilt. 

What I love about it is that the wolf looks so real... even down to the fur in the reflection and the "fog" from the wolf's nostrils.  As you can see in the picture below, no detail was overlooked.  The quilting is spectacular on the wolf - but don't ignore the background quilting!  I like studying quilts like this -- there is so much to learn when you see someone who has mastered all facets of design, assembly, and quilting.  If it were easy, we'd all be able to do it - but I keep studying because that's how I learn and advance my own skill set.

Beneath My Wing, below, was hand appliqued and quilted by David Taylor of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  He says he knew from the moment he saw the original photograph by Inge Riis McDonald, that he had to try and recreate it in fabric, even though he had told himself he would never make another "white" quilt.  He discovered, in making Beneath My Wing, that he ended up using very few white fabrics in the feathers. 

In the detail picture below, you can see the attention David paid in quilting this masterpiece.  Again, I learn by studying designs such as this -- I learn about things like combining different fabrics, using colors that I might otherwise not choose, and quilting with different threads and colors and stitches.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad (Timber) Wolf?!!  was made by Sue Turnquist of Tifton, Georgia, in response to a 2013 guild challenge.  Each participant blindly selected three crayons.  Sue found that she had chosen lime-green, orange-red, and timber wolf gray.  The challenge had been to feature the three crayon colors and include the name of one of them.  I love Sue's choice:  Timber Wolf Gray became a big bad wolf, gobbling down his victim.  In a bit of whimsy, we see only his feet!  This original design is humorous and well-done.  Challenges can give all of us the "oompf" to push ourselves in a new direction.  By the way - on this quilt and others, you will unfortunately see display easels, posts, barrier tape, and other things set up by the quilt show folks to protect the quilt.  I'm sorry they don't think of photographers in placing these items, but I understand the need for them.

In another tip of the hat toward whimsy, Karen Lambdin of San Antonio, Texas, made Water BabesShe said "the piece was designed to capture my memories of the camaraderie and fun of our daily workout.  Water aerobics helps me stay fit and arthritis pain free so I can enjoy my other favorite pastime, quilting."  Her work was inspired by Renie Britenbucher's "Water Aerobics Divas."

I love how Karen inserted a colorful striped piping beside her binding - it adds to the "fun" aspect of this quilt.  And the quilting, shown below, is perfect for the piece!

I do seem to gravitate toward the pictoral art pieces - probably because they are so unique.  In The Water Boy by Marilyn Wall and Gail Sexton of West Union, South Carolina, a photograph of her grandson taken years ago was the initial inspiration for the piece.  The background behind grandson Connor deserves retelling:  "I ran across a photograph of a quilt I made several years ago.  I manipulated the images to my satisfaction and had it printed by Spoonflower.  I then heavily thread painted Connor and attached him to the quilt background."  So, in other words, the pictoral of Connor was made completely of fine threadwork (wow!), while the background was printed on fabric and quilted.  I think I've got that right!  It just goes to show that if you want something done, you can pull together a lot of different techniques to achieve your end - and this quilt is proof!

Suzan Engler of Panorama Village, Texas, also used her computer to generate images.  She paints using computer software and a digital drawing tablet, and then prints out her painting on cotton and heavily quilts it with variegated thread using her domestic machine.  Suzan says, "adding the texture of stitches to a piece enhances the luminosity, detail, and depth" of her work, and is enormously enjoyable.  Identity Crisis is a wonderful original work that used over 25 different colors of thread in it.  It seems that this year's Houston quilt show really showcased quite a number of quilts that took advantage of thread painting.  Now, I'm twice as bummed out that I didn't get into Melinda Bula's class this year, where I might have learned more about using different thread to enhance applique!

Juana Castaneda Romera of Mostoles, Madrid in Spain, created Vida Salvaje.  Her work was inspired by a photograph and combined machine piecing and applique to capture her love of the beauty of the tiger.

What is it about animals that we are drawn to them so often in quilting?  Below, Shannon Conley of Moore, Oklahoma, thread-painted portraits of her dogs, Bullett, Missy, and Pumpkin.  She worked to capture the flavor of their personalities and she says to watch out for Missy who will give you the evil eye.  She printed digitally altered original photographs with an ink-jet printer, free-motion thread-painted the dogs, and added free-motion quilting and free-motion bobbin quilting (and I will be honest and say I don't even know what that is!).  The quilt was a delight and I love how Shannon added the outline of her dogs in the border in The Dogs.

Janet Fogg of Lake Oswego, Oregon, does amazing pictoral quilts.  This year's Eloise Joins the Circus is an original design featuring a whimsical elephant (Eloise) who "dreams of reaching great heights.  Unable to soar, she parades the streets of Paris wearing an Eiffel Tower hat, symbolic of her dream."  Don't you love it when a story comes along with a quilt? 

Take a look at the quilting on this quilt - it really made you feel like you were looking at the tough, leathery skin of an elephant.  Don't forget to look at how many different fabrics Janet uses in her quilt. 

And look at the elegant quilting Janet does with her hand-guided longarm quilting.

Carol Ann Sinnreich of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, captured a palomino pair of horses in Kip and Jack.  She was drawn to the sense of joy she saw in the horses as they pulled a wagon full of excited children - and to the challenge of doing turned-edge applique of the horses and their harness.  She machine appliqued the horses and machine pieced the border - and free motion quilted the top.  Okay - so what is wrong with me?  Don't you just stand in awe of quilters who have mastered their machines so well that they can do all of this work on them?!!  The machine applique was so well-done that I never realized it wasn't just plain old needle-turn applique.  Kudos to Carol Ann!

Karen Donobedian of Waldport, Oregon, was inspired by breaching whales and fabulous sunsets in Maui when she made Maui Gold.  Her quilt was based on a photograph she found in the public domain on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) website.  She converted what was a daytime photo to a sunset picture and used intense threadwork to define the water and sky.  Okay - so once again, I need to really think about the use of threadwork in quilts:  how do you do it?  how do you use it to enhance your applique?  is it something I can master - and enjoy?  The results I saw at the show are just wonderful!

Judith Putnam of Paris, Tenessee, created Vamanos  - only her second pictorial quilt.  She used fused applilque, photo transfer, machie piecing, and free motion quilting to make her quilt, based on an original interpretation of a photograph by Meggan Fadden Wynja.  I love Judith's use of color - the oranges and blues really play well together in this quilt.

Carol Cote of Brights Grove, Ontario, Canada, was inspired by her grandson's dog in Droopy DawgShe says her first venture into hand applique has gotten her hooked, after being inspired by David Taylor's dog quilt, Maynard.

Look at those droopy eyes - and then look at how Carol has enhanced the whole overall design with her wonderful quilting.

This next quilt is one that I simply fell in love with.  I've always loved how leaves can change colors so dramatically (and we humans just turn gray - how fair is that?!).  Deniece Clarke of Fort Collins, Colorado, made Prelude to Fall after seeing a photo her husband took of a Virginia Creeper vine.  After taking a class from Meloday Randol on landscape technique, she used raw-edge fused applique and machine quilting to make her quilt.  It is stunning!

You can't see it in the picture above, but look at this close-up below and you can see Deniece's wonderful use of fabrics as well as the incredible quilting that she used to enhance the creeper leaf. 

Bijou (Jewel) by Christine Alexiou of Markham, Ontario, Canada, pays homage to the Art Nouveau movement which began in Paris in the 1890s.  Christine says that "based on flowing organic forms, it marked a period of artistic beauty not yet impacted by the events of World War I."  She wanted to "capture the aesthetic sensibility embraced by the movement that was lost with the advent of modern art and technology."  Her work used applique, painted silk, thread sketching, and hand-appliqued bias tape outlines.  What I loved about this quilt was its quiet simplicity.  But what struck me as I was reading Christine's description was how many of the quilts in this year's show involved "the advent of modern art and technology" - from digital photos printed onto fabric to amazing new threads.  It makes me wonder where today's designs will take us and what will remain of the designs we have seen.  Just a thought!  By the way - I love how the outline of Christine's quilt is in keeping with her whole sense of art nouveau.  Wonderful!

Below is Born Free by Denise Sargo of Sydney, New South Wales, AustraliaDenise noted in her write-up about her quilt that "this quilt is my effort to portray the king of animals, the lion.  Lions are a vulnerable species, the cause being loss and destruction of habitat.  The male lion is the most widely recognized animal in human culture - a proud, fierce-looking animal with a tremendous roar."  Denise's use of fabric is incredible - but so were her techniques.  She used applique, a soldering iron to burn the edges, ink pens and some dyed pieces, and she machine quilted her original design when she was done.  The fabrics include synthetics and cottons, along with embroidery cottons and silk and wool threads.

In Not Hiding, Not Revealing, quilter Sharon Hightower was inspired by a Valspar Paint ad to create a feisty chameleon that takes on three colors, adapting to all situations.  She used raw-edge collage with machine quilting and her fabrics included cotton and tulle.  This quilt, to me, is exceptionally creative with Sharon's use of color, the unusual shape of the quilt, the choice of design, and the whole notion of paint pouring out of a can and a chameleon matching those colors.

I loved this next quilt; it looked positively REAL except for the fact that I've never seen a real six-foot artichoke!  Helena Scheffer and Marion Perrault of Beaconsfield, Quebec, Canada, made Royal Thistle  to showcase the globe artichoke's interior and exterior, posed on a background of heavily quilted hand-dyed silk. 

The fabric collage included artist-dyed commercial cottons and silks, painted silk organza, shredded silk, and tulle -- and I believe it took all of those fabrics to bring realism to the quilt.  It was unbelievable!  The detail shot below gives you a sense of how complex this quilt is - and how intricate the quilting was.

Kathy McNeil of Tulalip, Washington, made More Than a Memory after dreaming about a tree hundreds of years old with many stories to tell.  Kathy's quilt included three-dimensional thread embellishment and ghost images in thread.  As you can imagine, there is enormous creativity in this original design.

Donna Severance of Pembroke, New Hampshire, has a friend who is an engineer on the Cog Railroad.  The engineer took a picture of a train, and Donna decided to use the photograph and make Ole #9 with the goal of giving the train the illusion of popping off of the background.  I would say that Donna succeeded!  She made the quilt by enlarging the photograph, making a freezer paper pattern, and then hand and machine piecing the quilt, along with using some simple embroidery, and hand, machine, and fused applique.  Donna painted the sky fabric so that she wouldn't have seams in the middle of the sky.  I think that one of the most amazing parts of this quilt is Donna's use of fabric on the train tracks and wheels/gears -- they look so authentic in color and shape.

Margot McDonnell of Tempe, Arizona, made Moody Beach, Maine, 1957 and thought about the passage of time as she created this piece:  water, old beach houses, and three young boys - now in their sixties - captured long ago on an overcast, humid summer's day.  Margot's quilt was inspired by her fascination with light, dark, and texture that she saw in a black and white vintage snapshot.  I was particularly drawn to this quilt because I have always loved the seaside.  I've had a house on the beach front for the past twenty years, but finally sold it this Fall.  I will miss quiet walks on Galveston Island, bright sunny skies, building sand castles, and riding the waves.  My house looked like these -- a short walk over the dunes and down to the shore.  I have such sweet memories there.

Look here to see how Margot's quilting added to this quilt - along with her wonderful use of color in the shadows of the water.

And here, I loved seeing the reflection of the beach houses in the tidal pools.  I love this quilt!

Mary Ann Hildebrand of Comfort, Texas, made Japanese Tea Garden based on The Japanese Tea Garden (also known as the Sunken Garden) that was built in an abandoned stone quarry in San Antonio, Texas around 1910.  The quilt top was started in a seminar with Annette Kennedy and was originally meant to be a fused, edge-stitched quilt but Mary Ann says that at some point, the threadwork started to take over.  Note the piped binding - I don't see that in many quilts, but it is a wonderful way to frame a quilt.

Ann Harwell of Wendell, North Carolina, made Climate ChangeThis quilt uses a lot of piecing to do what others might applique, and Ann has done a nice job with her piecing. 

Here is a close-up of some of the piecing in this quilt.  She carefully chose many of the fabrics she used, too, as you can see.

And quilted in the sky are the bare wintry limbs of the trees.  Also quilted in the quilt are the words taken from Ezekiel 13:11:  When a torrent of rain comes and the hailstones crash down and the hurricane sweeps in and the wall collapses, what is the good of the whitewash that you slapped on so liberally?

Butterflies Are Free was another beautiful quilt , with a woman leaping mid-air with her gossamer gown flowing about her.  Maker Jennifer Day of Santa Fe, New Mexico, says, "This is a woman who is at peace and is as free as the butterflies at her fingertips.  Her floating image makes us breathe deeply and wish we could join her."  The image is a photograph on fabric, but it is entirely thread painted with 92 different colors of thread.  Wow!  The background is  montage of free-motion embroidery, enhancing the movement in the art. 

Here is a close-up of the quilt - take a look at the quilting, which is expressive, in itself.

In British Garden, quiltmaker Anna Maria Schipper Vermeiren of Haaften, The Netherlands, showcases a beautiful garden.  This quilt was chosen by Linda Pumphrey as a Judge's Choice quilt in the Houston show.  You'll see why when you see some of the details in the quilt.  Sometimes the beauty of a quilt grows when its surprises are revealed.

Here is a detail showing some of the flowers in the quilt.  If you look long enough, you can see the piecing involved a careful use of an assortment of triangles and squares of fabrics.

But here you can see a quite unusual use of hexagons!

And more...

And still more.  What a glorious use of hexagons!  My friends know that I am not crazy about hexagons.  Not one bit.  But here... I can more than appreciate the use of hexagons to create flowers and scenes.  Genius!

Here is another genius quilt - but its genius (and surprise) is in its construction.  I was walking down this aisle at the direction of a white-glove lady who told me, "You've GOT to see this one quilt...."  So I'm walking down the aisle and see this one quilt.  Okay - Jackie Kennedy Onassis.  So?

But then, as I walked farther, I noted:  stand to the left of this quilt and you can see Jackie Kennedy Onassis...

Stand in front of the quilt and you can see Oprah....

And stand to the right of the quilt and you can see Mother Teresa.  Holy cow!  It is a three-dimensional quilt!

The two fabric pieces in the quilt top were joined with only one seam.  Quilt maker Flora Joy of Johnson City, Tennessee made Frame of Mind after coming up with the concept while waiting at a traffic light and studying a revolving billboard.  I've always told my students to expand their source of designs beyond the usual quilt patterns and quilt books and quilt magazines - but I never would have guessed that a revolving billboard would inspire a quilt.  How fun this must have been to make!
Below you will see a postcard of a quilt.  Really?  It looks like a Currier and Ives print to me.

But guess what?  It IS a quilt!  Below you will see one of the team of quiltmakers Nancy Prince and Linda France of Orlando, Florida, describing how the quilt was made.  The entire quilt is a thread painting.  Not a Currier and Ives painting, but a thread painting!  Okay, so I exaggerate:  the little muff of the lady standing with her daughter (just above the hand, below) was the only appliqued piece on the whole quilt. 

When I said that the byword of this year's quilt show involved lots of thread, I meant it!  This quilt, On This Winter Day, won the $10,000 Best of Show award in Houston this year.  It deserved the award -- the sky was luminous; the water was beautifully reflective; the design and layout was perfect.  Does it get any better?

In this close-up, you can see some of thread work.

And in this picture, you can see how the quilting enhanced the entire quilt.  This quilt was a beautiful execution of a very complex scene. 

Below is Gail Stepanek, half of the team of Gail Stepanek and Jan Hutchison of New Lenox, Illinois, who made Stars on Mars.  Gail is explaining how the blocks in this quilt were made.  You see she is holding a star block quilt - and the center of the block is cut into quadrants with a brown strip between each quadrant. 

But wait!  Where is the brown strip in any of the stars below?

This stars in this beautiful quilt were paper pieced using one original block pattern.  By varying the fabric and sewing line, each star has a different look.  But where is that strip between the star quadrants??  I'm still looking for it! 

I'll give you a clue.  The quilt won the Pfaff Master Award for Machine Artistry.  Huh?
Below is a picture of the other half of the team:  longarm quilter Jan Hutchison.  I really hope you'll take the time (after you finish with my blog) reading her blog, where she describes the joy of this quilt receiving one of the top 8 Houston awards.  You'll find it here: and you can also see a host of other quilts that Jan has masterfully completed with her longarm skills.  I've signed on to follow her blog so that I can continue to be inspired and learn from her work.

Back to the star and that mysterious strip of brown that separated the quadrants of the star.  Between Gail and Jan, each star was created...

and then quilted... and the strip splitting the star into quarters was heavily quilted... which hid the strip.  Can you see it?  It is an "x" across this block. It's just no longer brown because of the quilting atop the strip.

Not only are parts of the stars heavily quilted; so is the background.  Check it out here...

And here...

Gail and Jan - you ROCK!

* * * * * **
Next month I will show you more of the fabulous quilts in the Houston show this year.  You've only seen the tip of the iceberg with the quilts above.  Below, though, is a snapshot of one of the quilts from the Quilts, Inc. collection.  This quilt caught my attention because of the cacophony of color and design in it. 

Here is a close-up; note that there are vertical strips of potted flowers, potted tulips, sprays of flowers, and Lemoyne stars.  This quilter probably kept herself from being bored by using such a wide array of designs and colors!

And here was another quilt from the Quilts, Inc. collection.  This antique strippy quilt was red and green on white - one of my favorite combinations of colors in a quilt.

Here is a close-up of the roses.  Isn't the detailed "cutwork" in them just grand?

Okay, now for a slight diversion.  I usually post nothing on my blog that does not relate to quilting somehow, but today I'm making an exception.  Before the quilt show started, I invited my quilt designer friend Jeanne Sullivan to come stay with me and go to Quilt Market (the wholesale end of the Houston show).  We stopped briefly one day between quilt market and the quilt show and did a quick look at something at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where I spent 37 years.

Many of you probably didn't know that I am a CPA (yes, I still maintain my license...) and that I served as the Associate Director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston and also the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Agency in Washington DC.  Space is in my veins - just as much as quilting!  Jeanne and I slipped into Rocket Park, which is on the site, and saw the Apollo Saturn-V rocket that took men to the moon back in the 60s and 70s.  This launch vehicle was a beast - just HUGE.  It never flew because the moon program was canceled before all the rockets were used.

How huge is this?  Here I am, between two of the stages (when the rocket launched, there was a collar between the stages, which isn't in this photo). 

We saw a few more things... when the Space Shuttle program was dismantled a few years ago, the Johnson Space Center picked up the gantry that ran between the elevator that took the astronauts to the entry of the Shuttle down at the launch site in Orlando, Florida.  I love this gantry because the astronauts always called it "The Last Place on Earth."  Why?  Because it was the last place that they touched the earth from the time they launched until the time they landed.

But here's the real reason I took Jeanne to see the Johnson Space Center.  When I was the Associate Director there, one of the things that we worked hard on was encouraging the youth of today to enter careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.  Those are the engines of our  nation's economic base, and there is a huge shortfall of qualified college graduates in those fields.  One of the ways we encouraged students was by tying ourselves to the community.  When the Johnson Space Center was built, it was built on The West Ranch where longhorns were raised.  When I was there, we put longhorns back on 40 of the 1,635 acres on site and worked with the school district to bring students closer to the science careers. 

Jeanne had never seen longhorn cattle close up.  Here are some of the babies being raised by the students.

And here was a bigger baby, "Magic."  He's beautiful because of the big twists in his 7-foot wide rack of horns.  These gentle beauties are magnificent animals and part of my stomping grounds.

But... back to quilting!  Below is my Classic Nutcrackers quilt.

It has a dozen different nutcrackers in it, from the soldier...

to Herr Drosselmeyer from The Nutcracker ballet. 

I am showing you my quilt because I want to show you how Barbara Massengill of Sanford, North Carolina, made her rendition of nutcrackers in Suite NutcrackersI love seeing how quilters take my patterns and adapt them as they see fit.  Quilters' creativity always amazes me!  Barbara is a collector of nutcrackers, so this quilt drew her eye.

Don't you love how Barbara designed her own swag and ribbon border?  It is so colorful!  Below is a close-up of her Mouse nutcracker, from The Nutcracker story.

Below you see Deborah Morrione with her rendition of Ladies of the Sea.  I know that my quilts are not necessarily easy, so when someone finishes one, I am thrilled.  This quilt will surely be a legacy for Deborah's family to treasure.  She is currently working on Friends of Baltimore.  She's a work horse, for sure - and look at that happy smile!

Another work horse has to be Tara Sniedze from South Australia.  She made a large version of my Omigosh quilt.  Isn't it magnificent?!  She won a first place ribbon in her guild's show in the Open Traditional Two Person category.

Here's a close-up of the quilt, but you can go see more on her blog:

But mostly, I want you to know the name of her quilt:  Omigosh!  I Still Have Scraps!  She says that on her ever-sewing journey to use her scraps, this pattern seemed to be the perfect answer.  But she still has scraps!  Tara's quilt was quilted by Lizzie Hentze of Jacaranda Quilts.  What a beautiful job!

And now for another quilt that resembles Omigosh, but is for the less faint-of-heart with its larger squares.  I'm showing you Afternoon Delight - which is a TON of fun to make, because I wanted to show you the context of the next photos that I'm going to show you.

These pictures were sent to me by Willeke van der Wal, who is making the quilt with 13 other quilters in Europe.  She has made nine blocks, and each is so pretty!




* * * * * **
And now?  What have I been working on?  Last month I showed you that I was about to start quilting my newest Baltimore album quilt (one of four that I started simultaneously... I never said I was brilliant....), Simply Baltimore.  I wanted to create a quilt that was not overly intimidating because of its complexity.  I'm happy with the results.

I put the quilt top on my long arm machine... and started stitching, not knowing exactly where I was headed.  Isn't that how lots of quilts start out?

And after a bit of quilting...  the designs just started flowing.  I think that sometimes we know immediately if we are going to love something, and other times, it has to grow on us.  I knew immediately that I was falling in love with this quilt more and more with every stitch.

I loved the blocks, I loved the flying geese sashing strips and borders... and I loved the quilting.

And so now, in its glory... but not yet bound, is the fully quilted Simply BaltimoreI love the simplicity of this quilt, the airiness achieved by having open (empty) blocks and borders, and of course, the colors.  I know the first question some of you will ask is when will the pattern be ready?!!!  I am working on it now and hope to have it ready in January.  Whee - I had SO MUCH FUN quilting this quilt, though it took a good long while to do all of the in-the-ditch quilting in and around all those flying geese and to do the cross-hatching behind all of the applique.  It was worth every minute I put into it, though.  Once I get it bound, I will take a better picture of the quilt.

Last month, I also promised I would show you two of my purchases at the Houston show.  I love searching through the antique dealers' booths to find quilts that intrigue me and need to be taken home (ha ha - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).  This Whig Rose drew me right in!  It was made in New Hampshire (maker unknown) circa 1840-1860 and measures 94 by 96 inches.  The nine 18-inch elaborate Whig Rose blocks, as well as the 6-inch wide border, were made entirely by hand in exquisite stitching.

I loved the brilliance of the red and green and cheddar fabrics (all solids) 

I loved the design of the roses with the open section and the reverse appliqued cut-out, and I loved the interesting way this quilter chose to make the rose buds with tiny little reverse-appliqued hearts..

And I loved those chunky vines!  You may note that the edge of some of those flowers is "lost" - that's because this quilt was a summer weight quilt.  What does that mean?  There is no batting - the quilt background fabric is also the back of the quilt, so the edges are just turned under and stitched down.

Here's a close-up of the center of the Whig Rose block.  It is such a pretty design.

And here is a close-up of one of the flowers.  I want you to notice how TINY the applique stitches are.  The entire quilt is stitched with white thread.  Oh my!

Here's a leaf, seen from the back of the quilt.  Yes, those are itty-bitty stitches in white thread.

Here, you can see the summer-weight back of the quilt.  Today's quilters don't really make summer-weight quilts.  We are taught that without three layers, a quilt is not a quilt.  But I'd say that this is definitely a quilt!  I wont do anything with it right away, but I'm thinking that I'd like to go ahead and quilt this quilt, which means it will have three layers and will be a quilt.

This next quilt was also a real "find" for me.  I absolutely LOVE Princess Feather quilts and saw several this year that I really wanted to bring home.  This one, however, was so unique that I could not let it get past me!  This wonky-looking Princess Feather has little rose buds at the end of each feathery wing.  I've NEVER seen a design like this!  The quilt dealer said these are "Amaranth" flowers.  The quilt was made in Pennsylvania, circa 1840-1860, with the location and maker unknown (please finish and label your quilts or they will end up leaving your family and never come home again...).  Nine 23-inch pattern blocks each have a single red single cut flower figure in the center, from which eight green fronds with a red bud at the end, simulating an amaranth flower, are set.  The blocks are framed with a 10-inch border.

Do you love this block as much as I do?  I can't say it enough:  I LOVE it!

The border alternates with red and green swags and a tulip-like flower.

The quilt corners each have a 3-flower floral motif.

I found it interesting that this quilter just layered her rose bud on top of the green fronds.

I also found it interesting that the quilter chose to leave her center flower plain, with no petals or center circle.

When I look at old quilts, the stitching is SO amazing.  Check out the applique stitches on this quilt's back.  Her stitches are so even that at first I almost thought she had somehow machine appliqued the quilt.  Nope - it's hand appliqued.

So... are you exhausted yet?  Tired of seeing quilt pictures?  Ready for a rest?  Or excited and ready to dive into your own project?  I hope it's the latter! 

Next month, I'll show you more quilts that were in the Houston show, along with progress I've been making on my own quilts.  I never have enough time, but I still keep working on my blocks and quilts and quilting. 

There is one more thing I'd like to tell you about before I close, though.  What do I do with all of my UFOs (unfinished objects)?  I have a stack of them.  No... I have a trunk full of them.  And a shelf rack of them.  And bins with them.  And zip-lock bags with tons of blocks in them.  When am I ever going to have time to work on these UFOs?  How am I going to harness my energy to finish more quilts than I start?

My guild is tackling this issue, after I passed along a tip I received at one of the guilds I went and spoke to this year.  We are starting a UFO Club!  What does the UFO Club do?  They are going to start in January, and everyone who joins has to bring 3 fat quarters and a list of FIVE, count 'em, FIVE quilts that they will finish this coming year.  What does "finish" mean? It means taking a UFO and turning it into a quilt top... or taking a quilt top and getting it quilted and bound.  Really, you could take a UFO and count it as two of the five you intend to finish by first assembling the quilt top and second quilting/binding it.  In each odd-numbered month, club members have to bring in one of their five finished projects and show it to the guild. If they don't finish something on the list, they have to throw three more fat quarters into the pile.  We continue this until November, when everyone should have finished five projects.  Those who have finished the five get to split all those beautiful fat quarters.  Whee!  I'm in!  My only problem is... which five will I put on my list?  One of my friends and I are SERIOUSLY thinking about joining the club twice and aiming to finish TEN UFOs this year (I told you I didn't claim to be brilliant, didn't I?).  But what else can I do to give myself the push to finish ten of my many UFOs this coming year?  It seems like the perfect opportunity.  Maybe you can do the same Club in your own guild.  I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing!

I did want to say one more thing.  I APPRECIATE ALL OF YOUR COMMENTS!!!!  The sad part is that I have yet to find a way to do a "Reply" to any of them.  You can do it on a Yahoo group; why not a blog?  I am probably just missing some button somewhere.  But please, please know that I do read every comment and I try and respond to any of your questions (in a subsequent post).

Until January 1 when I post again... stay well, love much, quilt as often as you can, and count your blessings.  This part of the year is a season of joy for me and my family, and we are thankful every day for the blessings that have come our way.

Happy quilting -
(c)Susan H. Garman


  1. Wow, you have done it again. I wait impatiently every month for your posts, then send out the URL to five of my quilting friends, who also enjoy your blog.

    I recently watched a PBS special (the series is "Makers") on Women in Space. The program included footage of the crew that were killed in 1986 in the shuttle disaster. I cried because it was the only time I had seen Ellison Onizuka since completing his background investigation years before when he was at Edwards AFB in California. Such a gentle man. I, too, am a retired federal employee with 38 years of service. Thanks for the picture show of the Houston Center.

  2. Thanks, Sue, for your amazing blog. I'll share it on Facebook so more of my friends can see those great Houston photos--it's like touring the show right next to you. And you shoot quilts I don't usually so that's an added bonus! The UFO contest was very popular with my guild and LOTS of quilts got finished!

  3. Your blog is fabulous, always. Your nutcracker pattern has long interested me and seeing these pictures intensifies my desire to make one. Thanks also for sharing a bit of your life at Johnson Space Center. The longhorns are an interesting and unexpected note to a space center, one that I'd never have learned but for this blog. Kudos to the Center for an innovative way to encourage interest in math, science, and engineering among children. Merry Christmas.

  4. Sue, Wonderful pictures of the quilts. I went to Houston this year and saw most of these quilts, but my camera battery failed while I was there. You take fabulous pictures and thanks for posting them! Good wishes in your UFO finishing endeavor.

  5. Hi Sue,
    I enjoyed your detailed photos of the quilts at Houston. Also, I am honored that you put my quilt on your blog post. I don't expect you to remember me, but my very first quilting workshop was with you at the Godlen Needles Quilt Guild in Conroe. What a great teacher to get me started in quilting!

  6. Thanks for your photos and descriptions. As a blogger, I know how much photo and text editing goes into a post. Just know that we appreciate it.

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  8. Thank you for another very lovely, conversational post Sue. It's a joy to read and the long labor you put into them is appreciated. You are an inspiration.

  9. I look forward to your posts each month. Always interesting and lots of quilt pictures.

  10. Thank you so much for another great post. Our group does a UFO auction each Fall to raise funds and I end up donating any of my UFO's that have remained unfinished for more than 5 years. I love your idea of a UFO group. I think this would inspire me to finish some of mine. Do keep us posted on your progress.

  11. I always look forward to your post, Sue, and this one was tops. I wasn't able to go to Houston this year, buy you've brought so many quilts from it our way, I feel like I am seeing the best of them. I, too, gravitate to the pictorial and the applique. I was blown away by so many, but Anna Maria Schipper Vermeiren's quilt was so stunning! FYI - the link you have under your name at the very bottom is missing an "i". When I click on the link says the page is not available. I added the i in my browser and it went right to your website. So look foward to your next post. Merry Christmas!

  12. Sue,
    I was in Houston for four days and didn't see all the vendors or the show. I can't believe how many of these quilts I didn't see so thank you very much! How inspiring and thank you for sharing these!

  13. My friends guild has a UFO challenge - they just have to finish one I think but if they don't they have to do the "walk of shame" and my friend waited to the last minute but didn't have to do the walk. I like the fat quarter idea better though.
    Thanks for sharing all your photos and insight on the Houston show quilts too.

  14. Thank you for all the photos and the fabulous report! I loved it all.

  15. Sue, thank you for a fun, stimulating, delightful, educational post. It is so neat that u give credit were credit is due. I have taken the 1st step to be at the Festival in 2015. (A room). Maybe we will run in to each other. Wish u a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  16. Dear Sue, I really love your new quilt!
    It is beautiful and cheering and the white spaces make it light and airy.
    I can't wait to see the other three ;)
    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year

  17. Should I infer that you have not, then, started the fussy cut EPP hexagons that you were considering a while ago? LOL.

    Wonderful, wonderful post as always. Your quilting on the new Baltimore is spectacular, I can really see that inspiration took over. And I love that Whig Rose you bought too -- I feel a new trend coming on with that pattern.

    130 photos! Thanks so much. :D

  18. I realize that I’m not posting in 2014 but 2019! You blog is fabulous! I feel like I’ve just eaten everything at the Golden Corral! FULL but oh, how wonderful! Do you give classes?