Sunday, February 1, 2015

Stepping Back a Little...

This month, I am stepping back in time.  First, I'll show you a selection of applique quilts designed and appliqued by Frances Benton, a prolific quilt maker.  Second, I had so much to post this past year that I never found time to post pictures of any of the quilts that hung in the big 2013 Houston International Quilt Association quilt show.  The 2013 quilt festival was wonderful; there were so many beautiful quilts and what I'm going to show in this post is only a tiny fraction of the quilts that were on display then; more will come in future blog posts.  Finally, the third thing I'll show you are some of the things that friends, blog readers, and I have been working on.  My own progress has been slow, despite the fact that I set aside January and February as my personal "play time" dedicated to designing and stitching. 

But first... let's take a look at Frances Benton's quilts.  These quilts all hung in a special exhibit at the Houston quilt show in 2014.

Frances Benton was an applique artist in the truest sense.  She designed full-size original design applique quilts.  Recently, fifteen of her quilt tops were quilted by award-winning longarm quilters:  Angela McCorkle, Margaret Solomon Gunn, Angela Waters, Carol Morrissey, Bonnie Elrod, and Paula Hughes.  Frances was a prolific quilter.  Many of us are not aware of her work, but she published a book, The Making of a Baltimore Album Quilt in 1995.  It's a small book that contains letters to a friend, each of which documents her progress on a Baltimore album quilt.  You may recognize the book by its cover:

Frances made many applique quilts but at one point, she decided to stop quilting them, saying, "But just think of this:  look how many more tops I can make if I don't quilt.  I can get rid of more of the quilts in my brain."  She's right... I have a ton of quilts in my brain and keep pleading for someone (please) to invent more hours in the day -- think how much more I could get done in a day if I had an extra 8 hours a day!  Well, I don't have those hours and neither did Frances Benton, so she ended up giving a stack of quilt tops to the International Quilt Association; the IQA arranged for the quilts to be quilted and shown in 2013.
So here is the first quilt of Frances's.  Unfortunately, I have no description of this first quilt.  It is Frances at her best, with a center medallion surrounded by a frame, surrounded by a border of yet more flowers.

The center medallion - a basket of flowers - is showcased by the beautiful feathered and cross hatched background quilting.

Here, you can see a close-up of the quilting (and the applique).  I love those feathers!  And notice the fussy cut petals on the rust and blue flowers in the top right, below.

In this close-up of the border, there are yet more feathers - and more flowers.  You might notice again the fussy-cut flower petals - along with the lovely embroidery within the flowers.  Simple details like these draw one's eye into a quilt.

Below, is another Frances Benton quilt, Sunbonnet Sue Through the Seasons, quilted by Angela Walters.  This quilt reflects Benton's unique applique touches and her use of color.

Below, you can see Sunbonnet Sue making her own Spring quilt; this is quite a sweet touch within this quilt.  Notice how heavily quilted just this individual block is.  I immediately wonder 1) how did Angela come up with the designs, and 2) how long did it take her to quilt the quilt?  She has clearly invested quite a bit of thought and time into quilting this quilt.

In this border close-up picture, the quilting may be a bit difficult to see, but I wanted to show you the detail work put into the quilting.  There is a feathered vine running through the large red area, with each individual feather having triple feathers within it - and wonderful tiny designs tucked in the long narrow blue borders. 

An unusual feature of this quilt are the corner swags - made with a Sunbonnet Sue bonnet.  

Berries and Baskets, below, was quilted by Margaret Solomon Gunn.  Margaret's thoughts, upon receiving the quilt top to quilt, were, "When I started on the quilt, I felt strongly that the quilting needed to fulfill two objectives.  First, it should compliment the quilt and, secondly, it should be in keeping with the era that I believe the quilt was made.  Twenty years ago, quilting, designs, and motifs were simpler, more traditional."  You can read more about Margaret's journey when she was invited to quilt this quilt, here:  You'll also see some wonderful close-ups of her quilting.

I believe that Margaret's quilting accomplished her objectives:  to complement the blocks within the quilts.  Take a look at the basket block, below.

The quilting motifs of the blocks were echoed in the border, as are Benton's berries and vines.  Both the quilting and the applique are exquisite.   

Frances Benton's Butterflies and Birds Applique (quilted by Angela Walters) incorporates a phenomenal amount of detail work.  In classic Benton style, a center medallion is surrounded by borders and frames filled with intricate applique.  Again, Angela has filled the quilt with magnificent feather quilting.  I won't repeat it again (because I'd have to do it over and over), but please excuse all of the plastic barrier tape, signage, etc. that present me from taking a perfect picture of every quilt.  Sometimes, it's just difficult to work around these obstacles.

Below is a close-up of the center of the central medallion.  The quilting in it is wonderful; it is not just that it is beautiful; it enhances the quilt, itself, which is hard to do when the quilt is already so gorgeous.

Frances included a lot of detail work in her applique.  Not only are there a ton of berries in her quilt; many of them are made with fussy-cut circles of fabric.

Once you get out into the borders, you see more and more berries - each with fussy cut fabric.  Wow!

Here's a close-up of those berries.  Oh my! They reminded me of little M and M candies.

Take a look at the center blocks.  Again - look at the detail in those larger red and cheddar-colored flowers.  And don't forget to notice the fussy-cut fabric in the two butterflies you see here.

The quilt below, Orange & Blue Fall Bouquet, was quilted by Carol Morrissey.  Notice the unusual eye for scale, as well as color, in this beautiful floral quilt.  The large vase is unlike any other, and exquisite feather quilting sets off all of the applique.

Below, you can see a close-up of the vase in the center of the quilt, filled with many flowers of bright colors.  

The quilting is wonderful and befitting this quilt.

And Frances was a master of adding borders filled with long vines of flowers.

The next quilt, Winter Applique, was quilted by Paula Hughes.  Frances uses animals in many of her quilts to define seasons.  The pheasants, along with poinsettia and other winter flowers complete this winter scene.  Notice the two border sets with the scallops - you will see this border design repeated in other seasonal quilts that Frances made.

Here is a close-up of the pheasants in the center medallion.  You may also note the Christmas bells and winter pears in this block.

Frances never scurried from detail.  Below, you can see a close-up of the border with ruched red flowers, three-dimensional yo-yo flowers, embroidered bells, and lots of holly and berries.

Below is Spring Applique, quilted by Carol Morrissey.  The oval wreath format is repeated in this seasonal quilt, as well as the two scalloped borders. 
Look below and see the wonderful quilting - and the fussy-cut fabric choices for the flowers and leaves - and the beautiful butterfly of spring.

The borders are full of flowers - and color.

And the scalloped border surrounds it all.

In another seasonal quilt, Summer Applique, quilted by Angela Walters, Frances pictures the release of a wedding dove. 

In classic Benton style, the scalloped borders envelope the center wreath and the flowery borders.

The quilting in this quilt is spectacular - again, you see the echoed feathers throughout the background.

Fall Applique, quilted by Angela Walters, showcases the season with a squirrel and acorns in the center wreath of Fall flowers.

The little red berries throughout the quilt are amazing.  And notice the broderie perse melon and other fruit - along with the beautiful quilting.

Again, Benton used scalloped borders to separate her center wreath and the appliqued border of flowers and fruit.

The quilt below, Floral Medallion Applique, was quilted by Angela McCorkle.  The quilt, made in the 1980s, uses a two-color swag border with tassels, which made the quilt much more formal than her seasonal quilts.

The quilting in this quilt is perfect - with the flowing feathers meandering everywhere.

Each of the individual blocks in the quilt have an immense amount of embroidered embellishments - both the flowers and the leaves are full of it.

I like the zig-zag quilting in the dark green borders, below - it sets off all of the feathers.  I also like that the inside portion of the swag background is feathers, while the outer portion is cross-hatching.  I believe that combining different motifs like this - both geometric and flowing - pulls together the entire quilt.

In a departure from her normal applique, Frances made Hawaiian (quilted by Angela Walters).  Just two fabrics were used in this quilt, with each one being "whole."

The quilting, again, compliments the applique.

Frances Benton was indeed prolific.  She said, "One of the women wanted to know why I made quilts.  She was referring to the amount of work involved.  That is when I went into my litany of being addicted after the first one I made.  It is not work, it's an addiction.  You don't get discouraged enough to quit, your are addicted. I have enough quilts in my brain to last two lifetimes.  I hurry, knowing I will never catch up.  That's the addiction."  In Birds in Wreaths (quilted by Bonnie Elrod), Frances designed blocks and filled them with fussy-cut rosettes, hand-made tassels, and embroidery.

The blocks are each unique, forming their own "border" around the center medallion.

Below is the quilt that Frances's book, The Making of a Baltimore Album Quilt, is about.  She made it in 1993, taking a year and a half to both make it... and hand quilt it.  The hand-quilting gave her a lot of pain, but she claimed to be "tired but undaunted."  She quilted 8-10 hours a day and tried to take at least 12-16 stitches per inch in her hand quilting.  She worried that her stitches were uneven, but then decided, "Don't worry about it, just make them too small to see."
Below, you can see a close-up of her spectacular legacy.

Last, but certainly not least is Benton's Applique Garden in Bloom (quilted by Carol Morrissey).  This is one of the only quilts where Frances used a dark background.  The central applique is evenly balanced by the weight of the corner design.  The quilt is very rich with the dark background and the brilliant flowers.

Below, you can see that several of the flowers were ruched, adding dimension to the bouquets.

Wow!  It's hard to imagine that one woman could design so many very large quilts.  She sold most of them, saying that it gave her enough money to buy more fabric so she could start on the next quilts in her brain. 

The next set of quilts were all part of the Traditional Applique grouping of quilts at the 2013 International Quilt Association show.  Starting off is a quilt by Christine Wickert of Penfield, New York, with her quilt, Sampling the Silk Road.  Christine challenged herself to execute a large, light-colored applique quilt made entirely of silk.  The silk could not be washed, so she marked quilting lines with a fine-line water soluble pen.  The lines were removed with a water-soaked paintbruch.  The quilt is hand appliqued, hand quilted, embroidered, and hand beaded.  Even the batting in this quilt is silk, as well as the applique thread.  The pattern is based on Applique Affair by Edyta Sitar.

Cynthia Collier of League City, Texas, made Civil War Bride (quilted by Denise Green).  The quilt was made using a commercial pattern by Corliss Searcy.  Corliss took her inspiration from the 1836 quilt top "The Bird of Paradise" at the Museum of American Folk Art.

Cynthia Collier also made Audubon in Applique (quilted by Denise Green).  She was inspired by the bird and nature prints of John James Audubon.  The center of the quilt was Audubon's Great Flamingo, originally painted in 1838.  The paper-cut design around the bird was inspired by a rug in Cynthia's bedroom.  Cynthia often takes her inspiration from her surroundings.

Elsie Campbell of Ponca City, Oklahoma, made Aunt MiMi's Flower Garden II, saying it started out as a set of teaching samples for a series of workshops to make her quilt, "Aunt MiMi's Flower Gardens."  The bright cheery yellow is accented by blue and lavender instead of red an pink, in this quilt.

Georgann Wrinkle's (Houston, Texas) Little Lily is a small version of my "Lily Rosenberry."  The original quilt has over 1,000 berries, but Georgann stopped at 350 berries.  The large border on my quilt overpowered Georgann's smaller quilt, so she had Cynthia Williford's son, Harold Williford, design the beautiful complementary border.  I love this quilt because it looks so "happy!"

Jeanette Dean of Houston, Texas, made her first Baltimore Album quilt, Four Generations - Past, Present, and Future, and then proceeded to tackle her first hand-quilted quilt.  The goal of her first few completed blocks was to learn various applique techniques.  As the number of blocks grew, her goal changed:  she wanted to commemorate her family through the quilt - her parents, husband's parents, sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.  All of the "family" blocks hold special meaning and memories for Jeanette.  Some of the blocks were designed by others:  Laura Dean designed the train block, Anne Connery designed the Apple Tree block, Mimi Dietrich designed the Eagle and Lyre blocks, and the remainder were adaptations of Elly Sienkiewicz blocks.  Jeanette designed the border.  This quilt was quite an undertaking for a relatively new quilter.  Jeanette is a member of my guild, along with Cynthia Collier, Georgann Wrinkle, Cynthia England, Karen Watts, Jean Cloyd, and Marian Woods - each of whom also had quilts in this quilt show and are pictured in this blog post.  I feel so fortunate to have so many people around to inspire ME - and we each have the joy of seeing many of these quilts as they grow.

Joann Webb of Grain Valley, Missouri, had a goal of pulling together all of her favorite spring flowers into a bouquet that would never wilt.  In Heralds of Spring, she arranged flower sprigs as petals in one large flower head.  Mandalas influenced the layout - and she added dimensional Lily of the Valleys, daffodils, and dandelions in her design.  The work is done with needleturn applique, ruching, and "off the cuff fabric manipulation for desired results" (I love that description!).  Joann hand-quilted this masterpiece. 

Take a look at these close-ups.  Joann's work is amazing.

Notice the tiny little white flowers... perhaps this is what she called manipulating fabric for desired results?

Lisa Calle is a first-class quilt maker.  Red Velvet was made when she fell in love with the red and gray fabrics and just "needed to have them" and then she saw a Dresden Plate quilt and thought those fabrics would be perfet for it.  She used about 5,000 yards of her favorite thread (YLI silk #100) to machine quilt the quilt - it is 100 percent hand-guided on her A-1 Elite longarm machine.  Quilts do not get more perfect than this one!

Here is a close-up of Lisa's unbelievable machine quilting.  I drool!

I took a lot of pictures of the next quilt because a few in blogs... but not nearly enough!  Margo Hardie of Lake Haven NSW, Australia, made Gorsuch Family Quilt Circa 1840 Revisited and set wheels spinning with much publicity generated by those who saw it and fell in love with its beauty.  Margo began drawing patterns in 2008, loved the diagonal set and beautiful applique, and drew her own patterns from a photograph.  The original quilt is possibly a Mary Evans design, circa 1840, and was made for two Gorsuch sisters who lived in Baltimore, Maryland.  Margo says her quilt is not identical to the original... but almost!  The quilt is hand-quilted - that was quite an undertaking for a quilt of this size.

And now... close-ups of several of the blocks and borders.  Notice several things as you look at these blocks:  the choice of fabric (color and print), the use of embroidery (lots of it!), and the fussy cutting that Margo did.

Marian Woods (Baytown, Texas) made her rendition of Friends of Baltimore in record time.  Marian is a prolific applique quilter and generally hand-quilts all of her quilts.  Once, I saw she had made a New York Beauty quilt and she decided to send it out for machine quilting.  Unhappy with the results... she unstitched the entire quilt and hand quilted it.  Another time, she entered a Dear Jane quilt in a quilt show that a friend and I judged.  She missed Best of Show because her point score (this show based results on points) was one point lower than the winner... because when she got to the very outer edge of Dear Jane, she turned it over to someone to machine quilt (she had put scalloped edges on the quilt).  The machine quilter did a fine job but the quilt puckered a bit at each scallop.  Undaunted, Marian again removed all the machine quilting and hand-quilted the edges of the quilt.  The next time she entered a show... you guessed it... she won Best of Show - and deservedly so.   I might note that when she missed Best of Show, she STILL won Viewers Choice!  Marian rocks! 

Here's a close-up of one block.  I love the broderie perse pairs that Marian used in her block.

If you would like to see another Friends of Baltimore quilt as it is being made, be sure and check out this blog:  I am continually amazed by the work of Canadian quilt maker Annie - her work is spectacular.

Here is another quilt, Baltimore Classic, that is stunning.  Made by Glenbrook, NSW Australian Rhonda Pearce, this quilt came out of a trip that Rhonda and her students made to the American Museum in Bath, England.  When Rhonda returned home, she was inspired and encouraged to draw the blocks for her students to reproduce.  The results are worth a long, leisurely view...

This next set of quilts was in another exhibit at the Houston 2013 quilt show:  Texas Guild Award-Winning Traditional Quilts.  To enter a traditional quilt, one had to have entered it in a local quilt guild show and won a ribbon on it.  I think some of these quilts are the best at the show!  Take a look....

Almost Amish was made by Renee Eudaley of Angleton, Texas.  The design came from a quilt by Jo Moury in Quiltmaker #141 - September/October 2011.  Renee says she wanted her quilting to stand out and say, "WOW."  To make that happen, Renee free-motion quilted the quilt, herself.

By the way... you occasionally hear me whining (who, me??!) about how much time it takes me to do this blog post... and why I only do it once a month.  So why do I limit posts to once a month?  First of all, I think it's easier for everyone to remember one day a month rather than several.  Second, I can focus and give you all a better "product" if I only do this once a month and gather materials for the posts in the preceding weeks.  Third, you would get bored (really!) if I did it all the time.  And fourth, I am always short on time!  So why is that fourth reason here?  Because it takes me 20-24 hours of work to prepare each post.  That's three full days a month.  Why does it take me so long?  Because... look at Renee's quilt, above.  Here's the best photo I had of her quilt at the IQA show, below.

Normally, I do not "recreate" parts of quilts that are hidden behind obstructions - but in Renee's quilt, they were SO doggone distracting that I thought I would use this as an example of why it takes me so long to do this blog!  I square up the quilts as much as I can.  I remove the background most of the time.  I adjust the colors in the pictures, trying to make them more accurate (at least as much as my memory allows).  And then I do the write-up based on the placards that I've photographed and my own thoughts.  Okay - so I'm a slow-poke, but each step takes time.  But I'll bet you like these photos a lot more when they are neat and tidy!

But back to Renee's great quilt.  Take a look at her free-motion quilting.  It may not show much in the photos above, but it did when you were standing a few feet away.  It really did what Renee wanted it to do; it said "wow" loud and clear!

Phyllis ("Jean") Cloyd of Seabrook, Texas, made Tulips.  This quilt was one of my local bee's challenge quilts - we asked the bee members to make a quilt using a 12-inch block pattern based on an antique tulip block.  Members were allowed to modify the pattern as they wished -- colors, size, etc.  Jean made a beautiful 4-block quilt.

Cynthia Clark quilted it based on inputs from Jean - her work is flawless!

Patty Ozga (Liberty Hill, Texas) and Mary Jo Smith made Backyard Retreat.  It is machine pieced, machine appliqued, and machine quilted.  Patty says "this is the piece where I first realized that you could use whatever decorative stitching you wanted to do for machine appliqueing."  Before, she thought you were limited to a blanket stitch or a satin stitch.  She used as many different stitches as she could... and her work is delightful!

I first saw Indiana Transplanted Treasure when I judged a quilt show on the west side of Houston.  It won best of show for good reason - it was a phenomenal quilt in every way!  Made by Debra McHolic of Houston, and quilted by Mary Jo Yackley, this hand-pieced, appliqued, and longarm machine quilted quilt was amazing.  The quilt design is a variation of a Country Lanes quilt -- but Debra likes to create traditional quilts with a twist.  About 3 years earlier, Debra had purchased 58 blocks at an antique store in rural Indiana.  The previous quilter had carefully hand-stitched a variety of 1-1/2 inch squares into those 58 blocks - and Debra wanted to set the blocks in such a way that they still honored the original block maker.  Thirty-five blocks were set in the Country Lanes variation - and the results were phenomenal.  After learning that she won Best of Show in her guild's show, she went home and slept in the quilt, treasuring it in a way that made her heart sing.  What I found most amazing about this quilt - on top of the fabulous blocks, the piecing, the color choices, the quilting... and more - was something I didn't initially notice.  Do you see all those little white squares that sit between the blocks?  Now... do you see that in the outer extensions of those lines of white squares, the even numbered rows and columns have an extra little square at the end of the line?  How did she do that?  One could claim it was a marvelous bit of piecing... but you would be wrong.  Those extra little squares are appliqued in place! 

Here is a close-up of the quilting.  I apologize that I could not get the color of the background fabric "right" - it is really a very rich, warm, toasty brown.  But I wanted to show you the exquisite quilting that Mary Jo did in this quilt.  This duo of quilt makers obviously work well together!

Here is another close-up of the border quilting.  I swooned every time I saw this quilt; it's another great Texas quilt, for sure!


The quilt below is based on one of my designs - but Barbara Baxter of Sugar Land, Texas wanted a larger quilt... so she designed the center block, set it on point, and surrounded it with the dozen smaller blocks from my Bouquets for a New Day.  This quilt was made in a Baltimore Album style and Barbara calls it Bouquets for a New Day - My Way.  It was quilted beautifully by Karen Shively.

Below you will find several of the blocks in the quilt - I love how they were made and quilted so much that I couldn't resist showing a couple of them to you.

And it's hard not to snap a picture when I see quilting this beautiful!

Woodie's Ships, made by Barbara Woodman of Kerrville, Texas, and quilted by Teresa Fetch, is a quilt that brings tears to my eyes.  Barbara used my Ladies of the Sea quilt pattern to make her quilt... but changed one block.  The U.S. Navy Submarine USN Carbonero was drawn by Barbara's husband, Woodie, and substituted for one of the tall ships in the pattern.  Barbara made the quilt at the request of her husband - and substituted the submarine when he asked if she would do so.  You see... the USS Carbonero was Woodie's ship.  With deep regret, Woodie passed away before he was able to see the finished quilt.  I am guessing that Woodie is somewhere up in sailor heaven, beaming at the ship as she sails smoothly beneath the waves, and so pleased that Barbara did such a wonderful job in making this quilt for him.

Here are some close-ups of the blocks - Barbara did such a perfect job on each one, and then the quilting sets them off beautifully.  In this quilt, I designed ships from around the world, providing the history of the ship and surrounding it with a wreath of flowers or sprigs of tree branches that grow in the nation each ship was "born" in.  Each half of the wreath is joined by an iconic image also representing the country (or state) of the ship.  The first ship you see below is a Greek Galliott, surrounded by Olive leaf sprigs joined with a vase that has the "Greek key" design embroidered on it. 

And here is Woodie's submarine - a glorious naval vessel that began serving our Nation in 1945.  Thanks for serving your Nation, Woodie!

Notice the quilting in this quilt - it's gorgeous.

Here is another quilt that I am love with!  Rose Garden for Wendy was made by Doris Fleming of Houston, Texas, and quilted by Cathy King.  The design source for this quilt was Marti Michell's American Beauty, but the inspiration for the quilt was the graduation of Doris's oldest grand daughter from high school.  The quilt name was a commentary to the English style garden that Wendy grew up with at her home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  There are twelve individual, unique blocks, with each representing a year of her school experience up until graduation.  The blocks represent Doris's appreciation and recognition of her grand daughter's accomplishments.  What a great way to show one's support for a family member.

Dot Collins of Port Neches, Texas, made Oriental Fantasy after taking a class with Renola Pakusich on interlocking circles.  Dot had collected oriental fabrics -- and this is obviously a wonderful quilt in which to use them.  Dot's quilt was the recipient of the Founder's Choice award at her guild's 2010 quilt show - as well as First Place in its category.  Part of what makes this quilt special to Dot is that Anita Murphy, the guild founder, presented the Founder's Award ribbon to Dot.  It was the last show that Anita Murphy was able to attend.  I find it interesting how so many of our quilts mark the passage of time and friends, and celebrate events along the way. 

Here's a close-up of the wonderful quilting in Dot's quilt.

Wild Game Chase was made by Elizabeth Smith of Alvin, Texas, and quilted by Nancy Baker.  Elizabeth found the pattern at the Houston show and was intrigued by the infinite possibilities for quilting in the open areas of the quilt.  Combined with the opportunity to showcase her collection of animal prints, Elizabeth set to work with great delight, in making this quilt.  It's wonderful!

Check out this close-up of the quilting.  WOW!

How many of us are lucky enough to have a spouse that does our quilting for us?  Carolyn Hughes does!  Her husband. Errol "Pete" Hughes, is a longarm quilter.  Carolyn made Early Morning Magic, based on Judy Niemeyer's Misty Mountain Pond pattern. 

Here, you can see the wonderful piecing... and quilting.

Just the name of this quilt, Trail Mix, intrigues me!  The quilt was made by Dianna Carter-Hinz of Weatherford Texas and quilted by JoLynn O'Neil, using pieced blocks from members of the Be Ole Timey Bee, based on a pattern in the June 2004 edition of American Patchwork and Quilting

Navajo Sunflower was made by Karen Watts of Mayhill, New Mexico.  Karen designed this quilt for the New Quilts from an Old Favorite contest sponsored by the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  The theme block was a Sunflower block; Karen challenged herself to make a quilt with the block that would be reminiscent of a Navajo weaving.

Karen Watts also made the quilt below, called Mandala.  Using the Burgoyne Surrounded block as her theme block, she again wanted to make a quilt for the New Quilts from an Old Favorite contest.  Since the block has a circular motion, Karen chose to interpret the block with light-colored circles and ovals rather than squares and rectangles... and then she used those blocks as setting squares for a Lone Star.  Karen's creativity knows no bounds!

Laurel Akim of Pearland, Texas, made Cottage Rose and Pomegranate, after adapting a pattern by Sew Unique Creations.  She hand-appliqued and hand-quilted her quilt.  I love the bright combinations of colors and fabrics in this quilt.

This quilt (below) was also made by Laurel Akim.  Her Blue and White Pineapple Quilt (quilted by Nancy Jo Baker) was paper pieced, after she saw the pattern in Alex Anderson's paper-piecing book - though Laurel made it a big bigger.  This is another great-looking quilt.


Lyndy Spencer's Apple Harvest quilt really appeals to me.  This Humble, Texas gal is a beautiful quilt maker, as you can see.  She got her flying geese pattern from the December 2008 American Patchwork and Quilting magazine, and started collecting greens, reds, and beiges.  She says the flying geese reminded her of bushels of red and green apples set out in a farmers' market.  When it came time to quilt it, she couldn't decide... and resorted to using glasses to mark concentric circles.  Very clever!

Lyndy Spencer made a second award-winning quilt, Just For Fun.  Inspired by a quilt blog (, it is machine appliqued and hand quilted.  She used the tutorial found on the blog  and then added jumbo rick-rack and utility stitching to personalize the quilt.  She says, "the Mary Engelbreit prints I found were a perfect fit for this fun circle quilt."  And yes - it really is a FUN quilt!

Susi Looney of Houston, Texas made her quilt, Scarlett Didn't Give a Damn Either, with lots of cheddar-colored and civil war fabrics.  She was a fan of civil war fabrics but not civil war patterns... until she ran across the cheddar fabric in a local quilt shop in Tomball, Texas.  It caught her eye and drew her into the Civil War craze.  She designed the applique blocks in her quilt with a folk art flavor and created the borders to showcase the civil war fabrics with a modern 21st entry feel.  Her applique is "free cut and raw edge."  I think this is a wonderful quilt -- it is innovative in style and color -- and it makes you take a second and third look.  Don't we wish we could all make a quilt that called people back to see what drew them to it the first time?  I know I do!

The last quilt from the Texas Guild's Award-winning Traditional Quilts 2013 exhibit is below.  Naomi Harrington of Katy, Texas, made this quilt based on a pattern called Blue Plaid Shirt.  Her guest bedroom is decorated in blue and white furnishings... and this quilt was completed just for that room.  Now, guests can arrive and enjoy the quilt... but she called the quilt Check Out at Noon because she says, "Even though we all enjoy having guests, we all want them to check out at noon."  Cute!

The next two quilts are from readers who sent me pictures.  The first one is from Fran Maples from Texas.  She said she does not have a wall space for a large quilt, so she chose to make four Ladies of the Sea blocks and add her own border to the quilt below.  It's wonderful!

The next quilt was made by Donna Barwish.  She took my Sarah's Revival pattern and made sixteen blocks instead of the "usual" thirty-six blocks.  They are lovely!  Donna modified the top border, adding the vase in place of a circle.

The color on this shot of Donna's quilt is not as good, but you get a better view of the whole quilt.  This is one of those "happy" quilts, full of color and joy.

The next few quilts are ones that friends of mine let me take pictures of while we were at various bees.  I think they've learned that I use their wonderful creations in my blog and always have a camera in hand to capture a shot.  The quilt below is one that my friend Jean Cloyd is working on.  It is filled with beautiful diamonds - and lots of fussy cut fabric.

You can see some of the special fabrics Jean has used, in this picture. 

The center diamond has Jean's classic broderie perse; she loves using that technique in her quilts.

Here are some fussy-cut diamonds.

But Jean has more plans for her quilt.  Below, she laid out the start of a border she is working on. She plans to stitch these broderie perse fabric units to the border and then add a bunch of leaves.

Here is a close-up of the border prints...

And here is where Jean shows off her broderie perse skills.  This border flower is made of two different fabrics sewn together, because she could not find a large enough flower to use on the stem.  Also, of note:  her stem is made of the reverse side of a strip of fabric.

While Jean was busy working on her quilt, friend Joy Hampton brought out her Afternoon Delight rendition, done in 30s fabrics.  She chose to put large 9-patches between all of the blocks, rather than tiny double nine-patch blocks.  Cool!

She took her leftover fabrics, cut them into strips... and used them for a multi-color binding.

You can see more of her blocks here.

And here is something I love about Joy.  She makes up her own way to do things.  So when she came to this pinwheel block below, there are a variety of ways to make it, but this is the first time I've seen it this way.  Joy reverse-appliqued the dogtooth multi-color polka dot circle onto a circle of purple fabric.  Once that was done, she appliqued six multi-color polka dot spiral fan blades onto the purple fabric.  This absolutely amuses me because it is such a unique approach - but it works, and that is what is truly important!

The next quilt is an old one from the 40s or 50s.  It was a hand-pieced Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top when it came to me.  My friend Jerrianne's hairdresser gave her a stack of quilt tops that he had inherited from his stepmother.  Over the past 3-4 years, I've quilted about three of these each year and Jerrianne has put them in our guild's annual auction, where they bring a nice price for the guild.  This last quilt top, though, was one I could NOT get interested in quilting.  All I kept thinking was, "this is going to take forever" because I thought it needed to be quilted one-quarter inch inside of every seam line.  Yikes!  And then, because I had listed this quilt top as one that I was committed to finishing this year as part of my guild's UFO club challenge... I decided I just needed to load it on my longarm and start stitching.  As I loaded it, a thought came to me:  quilting should be fun!  It should not be stressful!  And then another thought came to me:  why does it have to be quilted 1/4" from all the seams?  Why not just do a fun all-over design?  And that's what I did!  It took me less than three hours to quilt this quilt and when I finished it, I loved the quilt!

I think that the quilting was only half of my problem with this quilt, though.  The other half was... the insane fabrics that had been used to make it!  They were probably stylish (maybe?? use your imagination....) when the quilt was made, but today, they were a real turn-off to me.  Take a look at a few blocks and you'll see what I mean.

Would you use any of these combinations of fabric and colors in your quilts?

Ha ha - this helps date the quilt, for sure:  Donald Duck fabric!!!

I have to say that the more I quilted this quilt, the more the fabric started to grow on me.  By the time I was done... I really liked the quilt!

Here's a tip for you.  One day, one of the gals who was stitching down the binding on a quilt I'd quilted and sewn the binding to, mentioned that it was the easiest quilt she'd ever stitched the binding down on.  I hadn't thought about it before, but everyone wanted to know why it was so easy.  My answer:  whenever I stitch the binding down onto a quilt, I do two things:  I press the fold before I stitch it to the quilt and I press the seam line flat after the binding has been sewn on.  And a third thing:  I press the corner folds flat and perfectly mitered.  Only THEN is the quilt binding ready for me to stitch in place.

Yes, I know the quilting is really lumpy (looking at the above picture).  But you have to remember:  every hexagon has 6 sides all on the bias, and this quiltmaker wasn't precise when she stitched them all together.  I had difficulty finding any place on the quilt that was perfectly flat. But you know what?  It doesn't matter.  The quilt turned out nice! 

Okay, so here is another tip.  Quilt backings can be quilt expensive.  On this particular quilt (which measured 68 by 78 inches), Jerrianne made a backing for me that was just a combination of different red calico prints.  It looks great and was really inexpensive:  the fabric was from yardage that did not sell in the guild's auction last year.  When you put it all together, it doesn't look half bad!  And here is another tip:  I'm not wasteful (which is a nice way of saying there are times when I don't want to spend money).  Battings can be expensive.  This quilt is going into the guild auction.  Should I put a $30 batting in it?  Nope, not when I don't have to!  I took three different hunks of batting left over from other quilting jobs, glued them together, and used them in the quilt.  The battings were not alike - one was 80/20, one was 70/30 and one was all poly - but they all basically were the same weight (thickness), so they worked well together.  Do I worry about shrinkage?  Not really - not in this quilt.  It's a utility quilt, not a masterpiece, and these were all poly or poly/mix battings.  So I just saved a bunch of money, and guess what?  When I was finished with the quilt, I could not tell the difference in the different areas of the quilt - the battings all felt the same!  Here is the back of the quilt.


And now... what else did I work on in January?  You saw some starts of what I was making, in my January 1 post.  Here are some finishes!  First, my Baltimore Glory Love Birds block  is done.  It was a fun one to do.  I still need to stitch eyes on the birds, but otherwise, it's finished (except for trimming it to size, which was done digitally, below).

My Baltimore Glory quilt is one that I'm designing and making, one block at a time.  I have only two more blocks to design.  But I realized when I posted the block above that I don't think you've seen them all together as a set.  So now, through the magic of the internet, below are five more of the blocks (I'd show you a sixth one but it's only 3/4 done).  This quilt is going to be a nine-block on-point Baltimore album style quilt.  At the same time, I am designing these blocks in pairs, so every block will have its own straight-set twin.

Here's my eagle block - based on a civil war recruiting poster of the era.

Here is a rose and daisy block - I love the colors in this one and the detail in the vase.  Don't worry - my album patterns always contain options for simplifying anything I've made!

I can't believe I never posted this block.  I worked on it for two or three months (with lots of interruptions - it's not that hard to make).

And this is my latest finish - a Harp block.  It is already a favorite for me - probably because it was so easy, fast, and fun to make.  Don't let the circles intimidate you -- you'd be surprised at how fast you can make them once you cut out the circles of fabric.  I've already decided that I want to make this block again and use it as the center of a medallion border quilt.

Here is my eagle block, remade as a straight set block (and using brown fabric for the eagle feathers - I kind of like that!).

And the straight-set rose and daisy block is also done.

You probably don't remember but last month I showed you my thoughts on how I was going to set my straight-set blocks that are twins of all the Simply Baltimore blocks.  I had decided to set all of the blocks with 4-inch sashing and 4-inch Lemoyne Star cornerstones, along with a 4-patch of Lemoyne Star blocks in each corner of the outer border (making it an 8-inch border).  Here was the block:

I stitched 16 of these blocks... and then I decided, as I laid them out on the floor (it serves as my design wall) with the applique blocks, that I needed to revise the design.  Something wasn't right.  What was it?

I'll let you sleep on that and next month you'll get to see how I revised the layout of this quilt, which I've now decided to call Baltimore Squared.
That's all for this month - I have so much more to catch up on and do during the coming month.  Help - where is the time-creation inventor???  I want him or her to finish the job soon!  Hopefully next month you'll see more of my UFO finishes, my Baltimore Squared finish, and maybe even the start of quilting my Target Practice quilt.  Whee... I'd better close now and start stitching!
Happy quilting, everyone - enjoy life!
Sue Garman
(c)2015 Susan H Garman