Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Spring Retreat, Studio Tours, and More

I apologize for not having a post in April, but I'm back in the saddle now and can't wait to share some wonderful pictures with you this month; I'm so excited!  First, my guild's Spring Retreat was last month, and second, my guild's biannual quilt studio tour was just a couple weeks ago.  I think you'll get lots of ideas when you see all the pictures.  And I have a lot of pictures of quilts that friends and blog-readers have shared with me.  I haven't been able to do a lot of quilting myself, but I'll show you a couple things.  And then, after you see all those pictures, I have a few personal items to share -- please be sure and read through to the end.  So let's get started!

Every year for the past 7 years, I've chaired my guild's Spring Retreat.  I rent out a huge well-lit ballroom down on Galveston Island and fill it with over 100 women.  We love the fact that we can all be in the same room (though this year we had to have an overflow room because we had an additional dozen women sign up!) and sew to our heart's content from Wednesday morning through Sunday at noon for the price of $45.  I don't make any arrangements for lodging or food; there is a café on-site, plenty of wonderful restaurants across the island, and if folks want to stay in the hotel or commute or rent a nearby beach house, they are welcome to do so.  It's a sweet deal.  So now I'm going to show you some of the things that the gals and one guy worked on last month.  Our guild is full of very talented, very inspiring, very clever quilters, as you'll see.
First of all, my guild sells "little quilts" at every quilt show it holds.  At the Spring Retreat, we all got a sneak peak at several of these little quilts; these quilts are all smaller than about 30 inches on any one side.  Here's one with baskets.  These are simple to make, and they start off with a silent auction (bid on the quilt, on paper...) but if you REALLY want the quilt, you can pay a $75.00 Take-It-Now price.  This will definitely be a take-it-now quilt!
This is a simple sashed quilt with great civil war reproduction fabrics. 
I loved this one with its wild border print at the combination of different gold blocks.  It sold at the retreat before it ever made it to the guild's quilt show.  These quilts were all made by Becky Stephenson - a generous and prolific quilter!
This quilt was also made by Becky and was my favorite.  It came home with me!  I love that these little baskets have a little berry on the top; they remind me of ice cream sundaes.  What is funny is that I donated those berries to Becky, as they were extras and she was clever enough to add them to her basket quilt.  I think it is a master touch!
Becky does not like doing a lot of applique, but took a workshop on prepared edge (starch/freezer paper) applique.  She used these extended nine-patch blocks and added a wonderful little bit of applique to the bottom corner.  Doesn't it make this quilt unique?
Becky's bird design was a take-off on one of Lori Smith's patterns, Mary Ellen's Garden.  We can all take a lesson here:  mix and match patterns to make your own unique quilts!
Meanwhile, Gail Roman was working on an interesting combination of 3-inch pinwheels and nine-patches, all set on point.  I loved this when I saw it - especially her interesting choice of a gray alternate block.
And when I walked by Gail again a bit later in the day... lo and behold, she had added another set of little blocks around the center of the quilt.  See how easy it is to just start with a few blocks... and add a border that sets off what you've already sewn?  That's how medallion quilts start!  Note that a beautiful thing about civil war reproduction quilts is that you do not have to work hard to make the quilt sparkle; the prints and colors do a magnificent job of "playing" together and making a beautiful quilt.  I hope I get to see Gail's quilt later, as it progresses.
At another spot in the room, Janice S was showcasing the blocks she had finally assembled into a sharp-looking Boston Commons quilt top.  Retreats are great times to assemble quilts, power-sew on mindless projects... and finish UFOs!
What I'm sure you could not notice in the above quilt is something unique in Janice's quilt.  Take a look at the close-up of the block below.  Can you figure it out?
Answer:  every single fabric that Janice used was full of polka dots!  Once she pointed that out to me, it became a delightful task to examine all of the different fabrics she had amassed in order to make this quilt.  Wow!
Jerrianne Evans is a master quilter and has been making a take-along project with a ton of simple Oak Leaf Reel blocks (I think these are Jo Morton designs).  Several gals at my table were enamored of her blocks but wanted to know how they could make them... but make their quilt different.  Jerrianne is setting her blocks with a double nine-patch done in an assortment of red prints and red/white shirtings.  I love the happiness this quilt brings!
So our group of quilters got out some blocks to see how other setting options might play out.  Here's some snowball blocks (pretend the colors are red/green - these were just to inspire ideas).  I like how they look, too.
 I suggested taking large half-square triangles and making diagonal runners through the Oak Leaf Reel blocks.  In the right colors, this would work well, too.  Inspiration and creativity kept growing in our group.
Someone had brought along some triple-four-patch blocks and we tried those as an alternate blocks (again... imagine different colors here!).  I like how these look, too.  As you can see, the ideas kept flowing.  There seems to be no end to creativity!
Some of our out-of-town guild members that live up in east Texas brought along a raffle quilt so we could all have the opportunity to win it.  If you're not from Texas, you simply cannot understand how boots, hats, longhorns, and cowboys are just part of our culture.  You see them everywhere.  Every month, our guild has a lottery block where members make a specific block and a winner wins half of them while the guild takes the other half and puts them in our annual auction.  The boot block is probably the favorite of everyone!
So here is the raffle quilt:  full of boots, Texana, stars, and rope.
You may get bored, but I just have to share some close-ups of the boots.  Those who make them use the most insanely crazy fabrics to carry out the theme.  Take a look...
Here's a close-up of one of the boots.  This entire quilt was hand-quilted - a rarity in today's world!  Take a look at the star that was quilted into the body of each boot.  Awesome!
And I loved the fabric that was chosen for the rope around the quilt's border.  It is a simple homespun check - perfect for "rope."
One of the gals in the retreat was working on feathered star blocks and setting blocks.  I was intrigued by her grand choice of colorful fabrics.
Each setting block was unique in design. 
Aren't the colors just SO happy?!!
And there were tons of the smaller blocks.
I hope to see the assembled quilt in one of our guild's show-and-tells!
Jeannette was busy making these wonderful zippered vinyl-fronted project bags.  She has smaller ones (maybe about 15" square?).  She is so much fun and gave me one!
She was also making larger project bags.  How fun is this?!!!
And once I turned around and saw a great quilt that someone had just assembled for one of her children.  The use of black with a bright sparkling color accent in each block was quite clever in this sampler.
And I turned around again... and someone else had just finished assembling a quilt top.  Talk about a productive retreat!
Here's a close-up of the block in the above quilt.
Behind me, Pat K was busy making half-square triangles.  Someone pointed out that as she whipped them through her machine... they were falling onto the floor and making their own flower design.  Cute!
Tonda, a very creative guild member, was using this focus fabric and choosing the colors from it to make some pieced hexagons.  Starting with a focus fabric makes fabric selection SO much easier.  And this is a delightful fabric in terms of motifs and color.
Here is an assortment of the pieced hexagon blocks she made.  I was surprised at how different they all are; I had never imagined piecing hexagons into so may different designs.
I couldn't stop looking at them and studying them.  Awesome!
And there were LOTS of them.  All so unique.
And more... 
And more.
When Tonda had them all up on the design wall, it was a delightful array of beautiful pieced hexagons.  Whee!
Marsha Fuller was working on the binding on her Afternoon Delight quilt.  I've seen this quilt (which is my design) done in dozens of different fabrics - civil war, batiks, and more... but Marsha chose a surprising route that was fantastic.  Her quilt used 1930s/Aunt Grace fabrics.  Those fabrics are nothing short of happy and cute!  And so was Marsha's quilt.
Again... I'm just going to show you an assortment of the blocks in Marsha's quilt.  You will see that she used clever combinations of the fabrics, fussy-cut some of the units in the blocks, and embroidered the edges of some to make them stand out.  This is a fun, fun quilt to make!
I hope you noticed the unique quilting done on those blocks by Lee Ann Lively.  She is a wonderful longarm quilter.  Below is the border - notice the quilting in it, too.
And a quilt is not done until it is quilted, bound, and HAS A LABEL ON IT!
In the back of the retreat room, two gals were busy stitching up little bags that are designed to hold travel irons - and when unbuttoned and opened up, they are pressing mats.  Anyone who wanted one could go back to their table and choose the fabric for their own travel bag.  I loved the red/black/white one and could not resist buying it!
In another corner, Carolyn H had put her hexagon quilt on the wall and was busy putting the finishing touches on the design/layout.  Nice job!
Last year, I made this quilt, which I called Bean Soup.  I had not intended to have empty alternate blocks, but as the quilt grew... I ran out of steam and decided that setting the blocks on point with an alternate background block was the right choice.  All my extra fabrics, which I'd already cut, went to my guild's auction.
Guild members bid on three sets of these - one with already-made blocks and two with just the fabrics and paper foundations ready to stitch.
Someone who bought one of the un-sewn sets of blocks brought them to the retreat...
And was busily and quickly putting all of her blocks together.  How exciting to see these babies be birthed so quickly!
Mary Jo and I along with several others in my guild were taking a border-on-border class.  This usually starts with a single block and borders are added to the center block, forming a medallion-style quilt.  Mary Jo decided to take my A Little Bit of Feathered Heaven kit that has four feathered stars in the quilt, and use those as the center of her border quilt.  Here's her quilt center.  You just can't go wrong with reds and tans and feathered stars, can you?!!
So what will be the next border on Mary Jo's quilt?  She was already hard at work on it...
And was testing it out along the edge of her quilt center.  I think it is dynamite!
I had started my medallion quilt with a unique star that I call the "Halo Star" and across the retreat, I worked on making stars for the border surrounding the center block.  I'm ready to stitch them together now... and finished doing that once I got home.  My next border will be some uniquely-set flying geese blocks.
Between the center block above and the star border, though, I had to fit a "floater" - a border that would make the pieced stars not end up being chopped off.  Some people know how to cut border strips and miter them with ease, but I don't.  Instead, I sew on one border, and then sew on the next border up to the intersection of the two, as shown below.
Then, I fold one of the borders at a 45-degree angle, press it, pin it, and applique it along the mitered angle.  It works for me!
Against one of the walls in the room, one of our quilters was busy assembling blocks.  It is so much fun to see quilts start coming to life!
She was using what looks like a complicated block pattern, but however she was doing it, it made it look simple!
Here is her quilt center.  Magnificent, I'd say!

Ann M was working on another kind of block that she mastered to perfection.
I just love Ann - she can be so much fun and I don't think that I know many people that love quilting more than Ann does.  Look at her beaming smile!

Georgann Wrinkle had pulled an old rabbit out of a hat... an OLD UFO - a set of tumbler fabrics in plaids that she'd purchased as a kit, years ago.  She made good progress on her work!  That's what's fun about retreats - you can work on projects you might not ever finish at home, and be happy with doing that.
It seemed that every time I turned around, another striking quilt popped up.  Here's one where the use of color made the blocks real eye-catchers!
At the same time, when I walked around, I also saw quiet little projects being worked on, like this one.  It is so sweeeeet!
Here was another darling project that a quilter was working on.  I'd never seen this design before and loved its simplicity!

Another block that my guild offered as a lottery block during the past year was just a string-pieced block.  One of the gals at the retreat took her winning blocks, sashed four together, and sashed the sets together to make this quilt top.  It's a simple, colorful quilt made entirely from scraps.
Here's a close-up of the block.  It is also a wonderful scrap-eater.  Use the string-pieced strips as leaders and enders if you do that kind of power-sewing (I don't - I haven't quite figured out why note though!).
Another gal also had a bunch of string pieced blocks.  She set hers without the interior sashing, and look how it turned out.  Isn't it wild how color and setting can change a quilt so much?
Here's a close-up of her blocks.  Note first that color choices don't matter; just grab a strip and stitch it to the others.  Note also that none of the strips are the same size - just cut them as straight strips, stitch them together, square up the blocks... and voile!
This quilt was another amazing quilt to me.  I thought these were simple but grand evening star blocks.  The colors were beautiful. 
And then I looked closer.  This is not an evening star block!  It's a flip-and-sew block of the simplest kind!  I love this - it may become my new quick-and-easy way to make evening star blocks!
And last but not least, I could not fail to show a memory-lane picture of Kitty, owner of Kitty's Seaside Café, the inhouse restaurant at our retreat center.  This woman has one of those deep, booming, southern voices that commands a room.  If we wanted something special for breakfast, she'd rustle it up; I had her cook up shrimp and grits one morning -- if you've never had them, you are in for a treat!  The night we first arrived, Kitty came in and announced that after dinner, she'd have a huge pan full of peach cobbler with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream for all of us - only five bucks each.  Love ya, Kitty!
Okay - the retreat ended with me feeling only half-alive, as I was still quite sick and managed to make my way through the five days with the help of my friends and a lot of unheard of (for me) naps. 
So what's next?  Our guild has a Quilt Studio Tour every year we have a quilt show.  We round up five or six quilters who are willing to showcase their homes and their sewing rooms for the rest of us.  It's open to the public and is a pretty good fund raiser for the guild.  And just when you think you've seen everything... you see ideas that you never thought of before!  So let's start in Cathy's house.
Here, Cathy has a table topper sampler quilt - perfect for her dining room.
Here is part of what I love SO much about studio tours.  You see things that you would never think of by yourself.  Look at how Cathy has taken a bed spring, painted it red, and hung it on the wall to hold an assortment of little cards and other treasures!  And here' s a secret:  see all those ribbons to the right?  The sign says, "I thought they said Rum."  Ha!  Too funny.
Cathy is in the minority among many quilters.  See this shelf of fabrics?  That is her stash.  Her entire stash.  Whoa - I am almost ashamed of the size of mine, by comparison!  But it has never stopped her from making beautiful quilts.  So everyone has their own method of working - and this works very well for Cathy.
Here is Cathy's sewing area - clean and elegant.  I wish I could say the same for myself, but such a nice view inspires me to do a little cleaning up in my own sewing room.  I also love the Faceted Jewels quilt on the wall.  Cathy chose a unique set of fabrics to make her version of the quilt and I love how bright and happy they are.
Cathy is also a longarm quilter.  She is SO neat!  No junk lying around, no piles of "stuff" - why can't I be more like that?  Well, I guess I could... but why aren't I?  Tsk, tsk...  I need to have a private little chat with myself.  It has got to be inspiring and less tiring to work in a very clean environment.
And this simple nine-patch quilt - perfect for a small spot beneath the television!
Okay, here's another idea that floored me:  Shoe holders that hang on the back of closet doors... but used to house spools and cones of thread.  Wow - what a marvelous idea!
This quilt was another stunner on Cathy's wall.  Those blocks are not easy to make, but look at how beautiful they look!  I like Cathy's choice of a striped fabric for the inner border.
Simple little signs... that tell the truth.
Carolina Lily blocks set with four-patch blocks.
An assortment of quilts on an old antique wooden ladder. These ladders are hard to find at reasonable prices nowadays.
A nice lap quilt on the sofa.
And each studio had an assortment of snacks and sweets to share!
Here's a different set of fabrics in a Faceted Jewels pattern.  Gorgeous!
This quilt has me completely intrigued!  I love intricately pieced quilts and this one certainly has that covered, hands down!  I can't even imagine how it was made and pieced so well!
The next studio was that of Cindy G.  She has two longarm machines in her air-conditioned garage.  One of them runs edge-to-edge computerized quilting, while the other one Cindy uses to do custom quilts.  She is a workhorse -- a longarmer, a full-time physical education teacher that has a ton of extracurricular activity involvements with her students, a busy family, and more.  Below you can see her two longarms.

On the longarm in the back, she is quilting a Faceted Jewels quilt.
On the machine in front, she is working on... ta-duh... MY quilt!  So why is she quilting my quilt when I'm a longarmer and quilt my own quilts?  Well, it's simple:  I have had this quilt top finished for a year but could NOT figure out how to quilt it.  Answer:  Give it to Cindy!
She does the most stunning and unusual quilting of anyone I know.  I'm a simple quilter:  stitch in the ditch, simple fills like cross-hatching, feathered vines and wreaths.  Cindy doesn't think like that.  She sees quilting lines where they don't exist.  She creates new visual lines that are fantastic.  I can't wait to see what this quilt looks like when it's done!
If I had quilted this quilt, I would have probably put feathered vines in the sashing strips.  But then what?  What would I use for fill in the blocks, themselves?
You can see how Cindy has already started putting diagonal lines across the quilt.
And diagonal lines in the outer border.
Here's a little better view.  I can't wait to show you her magic when she is finished quilting the quilt.  I now I will be ecstatic!  Also, because I know I'll be asked... yes, I'm working on the pattern for this quilt.  I never finish a pattern until the quilting is done on a quilt, because I need a cover photo for the pattern.  So hang in there... it's coming!
Here is Cindy's sewing area.  She uses a Featherweight!
And the ever-present closet of threads that every longarmer has to have!
And beneath everything:  more storage!
 Leaving Cindy's house, you see a cute little garden relic.  Love it! 
The next studio was that of Georgia W.  Georgia has spent years making wearables but picked up quilting along the way... and now has a big longarm in her studio.  Storage is at a premium in every quilter's house, but Georgia masters it with shelving and plastic bins.
The ruler-holder on her cutting mat is ideal; when you press down on it, it will not move
Georgia was in the middle of making an art quilt.  You see her waving at her husband, who is out on a paddleboat on the lake in their back yard - with all the animals and such that exist in her beautiful world.

 Here's Georgia's sewing table.
And her easy-to-reach threads.
And her stash, in bins, etc.
Isn't it nice to have such a big closet for your quilty things?!!
Georgia had a number of different quilt things on her wall - all sweet.
And a lovely applique/pieced quilt...
And a cozy quilt on a bed.
But it's time to move on to Sharon M's house!  Sharon has a magnificent two-story entry hall in her house.  She's used it to advantage by hanging quilts there.  Here is her recently-finished Afternoon Delight quilt.
And looking up at the balcony rail, you can see a gorgeous Judy Niemeyer quilt.
And to the right, on the high wall... more quilts!  You feel like you're in a quilt museum, surrounded by beauty.
Here's another stunning Judy Niemeyer quilt that Sharon made.  Her color choices are always spot-on!
In her family room, her large Little Baskets quilt sits on the back of a sofa.
Here's a close-up of those baskets - some large, but small baskets that serve as visual sashing strips.
And why not use selvages to make simple "mug rugs" for guest's coffee?
Here is a close-up of some blocks in Sharon's Afternoon Delight.  I love her use of civil war fabrics!
Sharon's studio is upstairs.  She has a wall of shelving units - all glass-fronted.  That is certainly nice, as it keeps the fabric neat and clean!
Up on the wall is Sharon's Gecko art quilt, "Can You See Me Now?"  I love this quilt!
On a table, Sharon had one of my favorite old quilts of hers - fruit blocks set amidst different blue fabrics.  This is such a happy quilt - a beautiful one for a kitchen setting, too.
Sharon has plenty of little displays in her sewing studio.  Here is her Featherweight, ready at a moment's notice.
And she is working on her own rendition/layout of a Jacqueline DeJonghe quilt.  I can already tell that it will be a knock-out!
When I could not attend Mary Elizabeth Kinch's workshop last month, Sharon took the class in my place.  You can see she started the strips they used to make a Pumpkin Peel block.  Here is Mary Elizabeth's block....
And here are Sharon's starter strips.  I'm envious!  I so-wanted to take this class!
Sharon and I both started Pearl Pereira's Happy Trails quilt a couple of years ago.  Being Texans, how could we resist?  I think we have both finished four of the blocks.  Pearl's designs are fantastic - and she is one of the sweetest people in the world!
Sharon is in the borders class that I'm taking, too - you can see her progress on the red quilt, below.  Sharon had some very large panels hung on rollers, so she can move these around on the wall, giving her a huge design wall area.  Nice job!

 And here is another Judy Niemeyer quilt that Sharon made.  I love the "excitement" she puts in her quilts through her color choices!
And around the corner... a soothing and quiet study/office area. 
On the desk in there Sharon has her ultra-cool light box.  When she saw mine, she had to get one too.  They are not inexpensive... but oh my, they are worth every penny!  We laugh about how we have to be careful, as airplanes might mistake these as runway lights from the sky, they are so bright!  Sharon is working on the Grape Quilt design I put together earlier this year.  Mine is coming along in reds and greens; she chose to use a cheddar background with red and purple grapes.  It will be a knock-out, too, when she is done with it!
And here is a four-block challenge quilt with baskets and tulips; one of my bees took a block and we each modified it in unique ways; Sharon made unusual vases and used nine-patch blocks to sash the blocks together.  Love it!
And if you do not have a block-carrier like this one, you should!  It's big enough to carry 18 inch block in.   The instructions for making these are in an old Elly Sienkiewicz Baltimore Album book. 
Sharon's guest bedrooms have beds covered in quilts, of course.  And gorgeous ones!
And here is a drop-dead beautiful Pineapple block antique quilt.  The colors are as vibrant today as they must have been a hundred and fifty years ago.
And Sharon was born on an island - Galveston Island!  So why not have a Hawaiian quilt to reflect her island heritage?!
Once again, it's time to move on.  This time, it's a trip to Marci's studio.  Marci welcomes everyone into the new addition she added on to her home, just for quilting.
Here is her sewing and computer area.  Again - I'm jealous of the neatness!
Here is a darling wall hanging... I love the quilting design on it!
And the centerpiece of Marci's studio:  her beautiful longarm!
Now here is another idea that I never thought of:  using an antique rake as a place to hang things.  This is SO cute!
Every longarmer has to have shelving of some sort or storage of some sort.  Marci has a nice set of sturdy shelves.
This spool quilt was on Marci's longarm.  I love the colors on those spools!
In a bedroom... another border quilt shows up!  My guild has a lot of people who have made border quilts because we have a local teacher, Winnie Fleming, who attracts a wide following.  I've taken her class three times!

 And what a great way to showcase a set of quilts - a large quilt stand.
And here is another way to showcase quilts:  a new ladder.
What?  Another Faceted Jewels quilt?  You've seen several already, and here's another!
And then there is the antique ladder - perfect for hanging another quilt.

 And again, when you're in Texas... everyone knows it!
While it may not be a true Texan bucking bronco, here's a horse - another good resting spot for a quilt.
And the true test of a longarm quilter:  a case full of threads!
The cutting table conveniently holds plenty of storage beneath it.
Wild and crazy colors on a cowhide chair?  Yee-haw!
And, again, the longarm.  Spectacular.  Marci has a Gammill with a Statler Stitcher on it.  She is a fantastic quilter who I would trust with any quilt top I gave her!

And here we are, at the last place on the Studio Tour - Ronda Stockton's Pieceful Stitches: And Sew it Began quilting and craft center.  Ronda bought an old 1920-1930 era home and completely revamped it, making it a true delight!  Located in LaPorte, Texas, near the Painted Pony 'n Quilts (one of the largest quilt shops in Texas), you can reserve it for retreats, workshops, and more at  You will not be disappointed!
First, there is a comfy living room with a fireplace for just relaxing and talking - or sitting with sewing in your lap.
Around every corner, there are antiques and quilt items.
And signs and wall quilts.
Here is an antique baker's rack that Ronda uses to house old quilts.  Delightful, I'd say!
Eachof the rooms in the house is well-appointed with quilts and antiques.  Your eyes just can't stop dancing as you walk through the house!
Here is a close-up of the block in the quilt on the left, above.
Here is another room with a Carolina Lily quilt on the wall.  Note that every bed has its own basket with towels in it - and colored clips so you can mark your own towels.
And an Edita Sitar quilt on the wall.  Cute!
My favorite room is the "red quilt" room.  I think it might be yours, too!
It is filled with red and white quilts.  Lovely!
And above the quilts on the wall, Ronda has hung crocheted red and white doll clothes!  They are just TOO cute - I want some!!!
Here's the 1930s room.  I love this quilt, too - I love them all, in fact!
And along the ceiling edge, more crocheted doll clothes.  I love these!
Is there no end to them?  They just make me smile!
Isn't this a simple but oh-so-sweet wall hanging?!
And across the room are the other 1930s bed quilts. 
How could you NOT love staying in this retreat center?  I think it holds 16-20.
Now here's another unique idea.  Ronda took a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top... and it is now a shower curtain!  This is a great idea!
There is a wall of mini-quilts in the house.  My mouth just won't stay shut!
Here are more little quilts - but notice the chair hung with the teddy bear.  SO CUTE!
The dining room has a beautiful quilt - and sweet treats for all.  Whee!!!
And the breakfast room has even more.  Anyone would feel right at home here!
Here is the red-white/blue room.  I love how Ronda decorated each room in a theme. 
More red/white/blue quilts....
And the table in the room has a little mini-flag on it... and the lamp is actually made out of an antique sewing machine.  SO COOL!
But that's not all.  This retreat center also has a washer and dryer for your use.  And more of those darling little crocheted outfits.
And the house has a day bed on the back porch - with a great Texas bluebonnet quilt on the wall. 
The sewing room in the retreat center is just a step away from the house.  Well lit, covered in design walls, and spacious, it could be the perfect place for your next retreat or set of workshops!
Ronda also has a small amount of fabric and kits available at her retreat center.  At your service!  Make your reservations while you can!
Finally, as you leave through the back door, here is a darling little quilt hung on a garden rack.  Love it!
The studio tours are done now... but I still have a few things to show you.  First of all, Becky Stephenson was at a guild function and someone said she had this "old quilt" that she was going to use as a cutter quilt for stuffed animals, framed block, etc.  Whoa - wait a minute!  Becky grabbed at it and bought it on the spot.  Who could cut this baby up?

In pristine condition, though some of the fabrics have shattered, it is still worth keeping whole.  Becky intends to find similar fabrics and to recreate the quilt.  Take a look at this block.  First of all, note the crazy use of plaid fabrics.  Second, take a look at how the blocks are framed in a feathered wreath.
Here, you can see the shattering on the plaid fabric.  Sad, sad, sad....
I'll show you some more blocks.  This has a blue/red center Lemoyne star; five of them are blue/red while the others are all red and green.
Here is the anomaly in the block set:  the only piece of cheddar-colored fabric in the batch!
My guess is that the tan colored pieces in this block were browner, years ago.
And this gal kept to her colors - she used a yellow fabric in each of the non-plaid units.  Of course, this is another variant:  a brown/green center Lemoyne star.
And I love this block - it was the bright standout amongst the other blocks.

In between the feathered wreath quilting, this quilter quilted pumpkin peel designs.  I've never seen those two designs combined!


And in true miserly fashion, if a piece was not big enough... piece it out of two or three other scraps.  Take a look at how many pieces were used to piece the brown pieces of this Lemoyne star block!

The zig zag borders were a wonderful addition to this quilt.


And the pumpkin peel quilt designs filled the border areas.


But this quilt did not stop with its anomalies.  One border... apparently was short of the pink fabric used on the other borders.  Not a problem?  Nope -- just use alternating different pink fabrics for each zig zag!


Take a look at the narrow binding.  I want to do that on my quilts!


And here is a picture of the back of the quilt with its perfect hand-quilting!

So what have I been working on?  Actually, being so sick last month gave me almost no stitching time.  I worked a bit on getting kits ready to put on my website, and also for my booth at the Houston quilt show this Fall.  As of now, I have three kitted quilts, ready to go!

First, the four-block feathered star quilt, A Little Bit of Feathered Heaven. 


Second, Baltimore Squared. This is a simpler but nonetheless beautiful Baltimore Album quilt.


 Third, Little Baskets.  This fun little quilt is sweet and pretty!

Within a couple of weeks, I will also have the kitting done and posted online for my Christmas in New York quilt.  It will include all of the paper foundations and the pattern has been updated and extra color photos added to make the quilt-making easy as pie!
Other than that, I've been working on a couple of summer projects that will be disclosed in a month or two... my lips have been sworn to secrecy until then!

In my spare moments, I've been doing some repair work in my Smile quilt with all of its circles surrounded by circles.  I call it my Smile quilt because I can't help but smile when I look at it!

Some of the interior rings and circles have come unstitched, so I'm stitching them back down, bit by bit.  I was amazed as I started working on this quilt.  The original maker used only a 1/16th inch seam allowance.  Say what??!  You heard me!  No wonder some of it had come unstitched.  But it is easy to repair, and relaxing for me.

** ** ** ** ** **


And now I have some news to share with you that may take you by surprise if you have not heard already.  I have been fighting a cough for three months.  It got progressively worse and to make a long story short, I spent 5 days in a hospital earlier this month, having a half gallon of fluid drained from one lung lobe, and then 5 days in MD Anderson Cancer Center Hospital, where they saved me from a large lung clot, and exhaustively tested and examined and started treating me.  Out of the blue, with no warning and no apparent cause, I have been diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer.  It is so advanced that I am beyond surgery or radiation.  An MRI ensured that it has not yet moved to my brain, a favorite place for lung cancer to move.  I don't know why I have it and it doesn't really matter.  What I do know is that I have seen a million blessings in my lifetime.  I have a deep and quiet faith undergirding all that I do.  I have an incredibly supportive family.  And I have found that my circle of friends is much deeper and wider than I could ever have imagined.  I am blessed.  There is no "fighting" this disease; there is living well with it.  There is no "getting better" with this disease; there is making every day a good day to be alive.  I am waiting on a molecular profile study to be completed that will tell me if my median life span is one year or two years.  The toughest thing of all is seeing the pain in my family's hearts.  My husband asked me if I was as scared as he was and I honestly did not even know how to answer him. 

I have canceled plans for a booth at the Houston show this year.  My daughters intend to carry on my business and have already started handling a lot of the day-to-day details until I can get a leg up on the chemos that burden me with fatigue.  I'll keep blogging until I run out of ideas.  My plans are to continue living, not dying, for as long as possible.  Who knows?  That could be longer than the median, or shorter.  But you can bet that I will be stitching away until the last minute, hugging family and friends close, and praying that research helps those beyond me.   After all, I still have a lot of quilt designs stuck in my head that are screaming to come out!

Lastly, below is an antique quilt block I bought a year or two ago. 
The center of the block says, "Hope is a cheering companion."  Yes, it is.

With love to all,

(c)2016 Susan H. Garman



  1. Dear Sue
    I am stunned and deeply saddened. No only are you an amazing quilter but you are an amazing and generous woman! I am so glad to have met you at BOTP last fall and feel privileged to have taken your class. Know that you and your family are in my prayers.
    Take care

  2. So glad that that beautiful old quilt was salvaged. So saddened by your diagnosis. I appreciate your attitude to continue to live life - it's a gift.

  3. Dearest Sue - I am so very sorry to hear about your illness. Your classes at BOTP have been the best classes I've ever taken. Your creativity and prolificness (is that a word?) have been a true inspiration. I can only hope that you don't suffer and are able to continue sewing until, as you say, the last minute. All my best, Denise Isherwood

  4. I have looked forward to your blog posts more than any other blog I follow. The quilts you create are masterpieces and I only hope to be able to make such lovely pieces some day. Many of your patterns are on my list to make and I only hope I can get to some of them. You are truly an inspiration.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Keep doing what you do, you are a treasure to us all!

  5. Sue, my hope and prayers are with you too! You are an amazing quilter and lady...and I will save that paragraph to my favorites, to read for inspiration for a long, long time. Many hugs!!

  6. What a wonderful and your beautiful quilts are known world wide. I will always be grateful for your generous sharing of knowledge and techniques. Instead of just thinking about purchasing Lily Rosenberg, I am going to do it and stitch every little circle thinking of you.

    A huge hug from New Zealand

  7. Dear Sue, To say that I look forward to the first of the month just for your blog post is an understatement. What a kind and generous soul you are, a blessing to us all. We have never met, yet every time I see a quilt made from one of your patterns in a show, magazine, book, calendar... I say that's a Sue Garmen!, I know her! Like you are a friend of mine. I will pray for peace and comfort for you and your family and your close community of quilters in Texas.

  8. This post knocked my socks off, however, reading to the end took the wind out of my sails. I admire your attitude about living, I'm sorry for your diagnosis. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  9. This post knocked my socks off, however, reading to the end took the wind out of my sails. I admire your attitude about living, I'm sorry for your diagnosis. You and your family will be in my prayers.

  10. Sue, thank you so much for the beautiful inspiration! Your diagnosis is shocking and yes, hope is everything. I am reminded of the Helen Keller quote: Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. You have brought sunshine to many and hopefully will be able to continue to do that for some time to come--sending cyber hugs!

  11. May God wrap his loving arms around you and your family and grant you beautiful "piecefull" days with friends and family. Please know that you are an inspiration to so many. I have been in one of your applique classes and the things you taught me will be with me always. Stitching your beautiful patterns gives me joy.

  12. Sue, Your inspirational post of quilts is always a joy to read. Your inspirational approach to your cancer diagnosis is hard to read, but touched my heart. I will have you in my prayers.

  13. Sue, I know that so many quilters will be reaching out to you and praying for you to enjoy your days. You have been one of our blessings with all of the generous sharing that you have done with your blog and classes. You have been a bright, inspirational light in my life each month as you describe your quilt journey and passion. Please accept my thanks.

  14. Sue, we were so very sorry to have missed you at Asilomar. I am glad for the update and want to send our most heartful hugs your way. You are such an inspiration.!

  15. I felt like crying when I got to the end of your post. I've prayed for you so many times this past month. Suddenly, as if out of no where you would come to my mind and now I know the reason. I also have a very strong faith and belief in the power of prayers. It's the only thing that's kept me going with my own stage 4 diagnosis. I will continue to pray for you. May God give you peace, strength, and surround you with his loving, healing hands.

  16. May love and peace surround you and your family.

  17. Sue as always your blog post is full of enthusiasm and truly gives me quilting invigoration!! My list of quilts just gets longer and longer that I want to make due to you! I can only say that as the news is devastating you have proven again that you will live as you should each day to the fullest. Thank you for including your quilting family in your news and your quilting life

  18. i've been in shock since i heard the news, it just does not seem possible. I loved your post, you are in my daily prayers and more. thank you so much your kind words about the house, you are such an inspiration for so many. my heart is with you and may God be with you and your family.

  19. Dear Sue, I have been in awe of your beautiful quilts for a long time, and look forward to your monthly posts. I was stunned when I came to the end and saw your news. You have the best outlook, keeping your days full with quilting and your family and friends. My thoughts and prayers are with you for happy days of quilty love.

  20. Amiga Sue, desde Gijon-España,
    admiro tu trabajo,
    te envió mis energías mas positivas,
    para ayudarte en la lucha,
    siempre hay esperanza de mejoria,

  21. Dear Sue,
    I would like to thank you for all the joy you have brought into my life with your can do attitude. I admire all the quilting projects you have designed and time you have given to your Blog. The pictures alone have opened new visions. I went to the Houston Festival last year and personally saw many of the quilts you put on your Blog. But your explanation of design, quilting and fabrics were a trip in themselves. Hope is wonderful. God is all powerful! You are in good hands. With love from the Internet world, Ginabeth of TN with the Daisy granddaughter too.

  22. You are in our prayers! I know the support your family can give, and those of us who have followed you will become a prayer army. Take care.

  23. What a treasure--this post, your enthusiasm with the work of others and all you do in the quilt world. Sweet hugs to you, dear friend.

  24. Oh Sue. I have never met you in person yet you are such an inspiration to me. I was ready to make an "oh wow what a great post" until I read to the end. My heart is heavy, yet I once again admire your courage and determination to make the most out of what you have been given. I treasure your work and that will live on forever. I am sending prayers. You are an inspiration!

  25. Dear Sue

    I discovered your beautiful patterns not too long ago, love the way you trail blazed patterns which defy the odds. Will keep you and your family in our prayers. Never give up hope, miracles do happen, our family once received one, the chance of surviving was: 0.1%, 18 years later this child is still going strong. Thank you for blessing us all with your amazing talent. Everyday I work on Omigosh, means one piece less of fabric ending in a landfill. You have give the world a legacy, which is already creating a better world for everyone! Wish we had a book with all the patterns you wrote, every quilt we make from your patterns, is a compliment to you. We will walk with you on this journey and embrace you with lots of love, from near and far. God Bless.

  26. Oh Sue, I was thinking you excelled yourself with such an amazing joyful blogpost, filled with beauty and love of quilting. And then I read the end. It changed my joy to tears, and I don't know what to say. You show so much courage and faith and hope, you truly are an inspiration to all of us. I shall be praying for you and those who love you. May God bless you and give you the strength to do what you want to do, right to the end. Hugs, Jane.

  27. Dear Sue, you will be in my prayers daily! My dear brother Michael is also going to MD Anderson for his cancer and says they're the best, I know he will also pray for you. Prayers and blessings, Linda

  28. Tears. I can barely see to type this and yet, we have never met. Your monthly blogs are the highlight of my blog reading and I share them to all my quilting friends, who are just as enchanted. I want to make so many of your quilts. As a cancer survivor, I know you can easily go down the path of despair. Chemo is nothing I would wish on even my worst enemy. Your attitude is an inspiration and example to all. Truly grace under fire. Live each day to the fullest and let your loved ones pamper and cater to you. Hugs.

  29. Dear Sue, Hello from Ireland! I have been reading your blogs since I first came across you on TQS about 7 years ago. Being an inexperienced quilter I jumped straight in with 'Ruffled Roses' nearly died of fright when I had to do a 1"HST, but persevered and eventually finished my quilt which I called "My Apprentice Piece". I learned so much from your excellent instructions. And to top it all when I emailed you to thank you you replied from your iPhone! I was chuffed. You have been with me ever since when I make a quilt because when in doubt I always ask myself "what would Sue Garman do?" You have shared so many beautiful quilts with the world (wish I owned one) and how to make them. Your reach is long and your generosity enormous. I wish you a fair wind and following seas for the days ahead. Sláinte mhaith!

  30. You are an inspiration to anyone and your positive attitude will carry you through. I always love reading your blog but don't often comment. Whatever happens know that quilting freinds around the world are praying for you. Take care you and your family come first. Hugs from the other side of the pond.

  31. I am sad to read your news. Please accept my prayers and positive thoughts. You've touched so many people, and I hope that energy lifts you up. Your enthusiasm and joy is contagious.


  32. My goodness Sue, what an amazing woman you are to accept this news with such grace. You have always been the quilter I'd love to be, and you're a model of courage also. I wish I could be there to give you a big hug, but please accept this virtual one instead. You'll be in our prayers.

  33. What a beautiful post of quilts, and sewing rooms.
    Your sad news was presented in such a gentle graceful way amid all the beauty of quilts and quilting. It speaks to how caring you are in all things.
    Your designs will endure and you have touched and inspired more quilters than you'll ever know.
    Everytime I see a quilt of your design I always stop and say "I just Love Sue Garman Designs". I just took a photo on Sunday of a quilt of your Baltimore that had 3 big ribbons on it.
    Thank you for all the inspiration - Bless You! xo

  34. Copy/paste: "There is no "fighting" this disease; there is living well with it. There is no "getting better" with this disease; there is making every day a good day..."

    ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Wonderful and inspiring words....wish more patients would learn this truth!!!!♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  35. Sue, may your every day be filled with creative joy! Thank you for the knowledge and inspiration you have generously shared with quilters worldwide. You are a blessing to us all!

  36. I am praying for God's comfort, strength, and joy to be with you and fill you.

  37. This post is such a blessing and inspiration to all of us, and you are all of that and more...a treasure. You and your family are in my daily thoughts and prayers. I look forward to your further bursts of inspiration and I pray for energy, peace, joy and satisfaction in each of your stitches.

  38. Sue, you have been in my prayers since I first heard about your diagnosis at Empty Spools. While you couldn't make it, you had a great substitute in Jeanne. I do wish we could have met there, but perhaps I will see you in Houston (I plan on going to Festival this year). We actually ran into one another in an elevator there one year, which I remember, although I am sure you don't. Hugs.

  39. So hard to hear your news. I was thrilled to meet you at BOTP and take your class. You are inspiring both as a quilt artist and on your life vision. Blessings to you and your family.

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. So sorry to hear your news. My brother-in-law was recently diagnosed with this cancer. Hope you are feeling better and that you can enjoy quilting for some time. You have been a blessing to many. You are one of the most giving and sharing people I know.

  42. Oh, I am so sorry to hear your news. You have blessed people in so many ways, and I pray that your strength will return. You are such an inspiration. That you would even take the time to share your news with us shows your generosity of spirit. We all can send prayers to whatever gods may be for your health. I'm just so sorry it took me so long to discover you and your amazing talents.

    Carole S.

  43. Sue, you have been my inspiration since I first saw your beautiful Ruffled Roses on TQS many years ago, so much so that I am currently working on 2 versions of it. Your monthly post has brightened my days more than I can say. Your news saddens me beyond measure. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  44. Dear Sue, I have such fond memories of the week that we, the Feather Princesses, Tampa FL, we're so blessed to spend with you a few years ago. I always hoped to see you again and am saddened to hear the news of your health. I pray you will have many more memories with your family and you will be in my daily prayers. May God bless and keep you. With much love, Debbie Ferguson

  45. Well, you have the strength of TEXAS behind you. I am happy to hear you have your family and a community of people with you. I will always remember the first quilt pattern of yours I bought. It was distributed by Quaker Town quilts and had the woman sitting piecing a quilt in the center. I am so glad that your inner beauty that came to us in Quilts, Quilt patterns and hand quilting will be carried on by your family. Without hope what do any of us really have? In my prayers.

  46. Dearest Sue,
    may you always have the strength that you have now.
    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Thank you for inspiring quilters around the world with your designs, your generosity of spirit and your drive. You share your tremendous knowledge without holding back. Every month me and my friends wait for your post that is always bursting with new ideas, beautiful photographs and kind thoughts.
    I also would like to thank you one more time:
    A few years ago as a beginning quilter, I stumbled over your blog. When I wrote you a comment, you took the time to reply to a newbie totally unknown to you and to give me some quilting advice. That made me so happy and gave me the whish to try my hardest to become a good quilter.
    Thank you!
    With lots of love

  47. I, too, share the sentiments written in such heartfelt manner above. You answered my questions via email quickly and with attention....little 'ol me!! I feel as if I can actually make a "Sue Garman Quilt". I will think of you with every stitch. Praying for you and your family,
    Nancy in Michigan

  48. Sue, I learned of your illness yesterday while at the Lakeview Quilt Show. It was a beautiful show as always. To see so many of your designs interpreted and made by other quilters is the highest compliment one could receive. I am shocked and saddened as many others are at your diagnosis. You are one of the most giving, creative, and prolific quilters that I've ever known. You are known and loved all over the world which has benefitted from your enormous talent and gorgeous quilts. May God wrap His arms around you and give you peace, comfort, and strength. Your positive attitude is inspiring and I HOPE and PRAY that God will restore your health. I know you have so much more to contribute to the quilting community. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
    Tay Cutchin Satterfield

  49. I am reminded of James 5:16. I know you have many people lifting you up in prayer and that your faith will sustain you. Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way!

  50. Thank you for another awesome post. You are in my thoughts and prayers Sue. You are such an inspiration to all of us quilters.


  51. Sue, I just want to say thank you for all that you have shown us here on your blog. I know the One who will make you whole, whether or not in this world, I do not know. But if you have faith in Him, you WILL be made whole. You will be terribly missed if you slip off to heaven..but I suspect in the mansion that He is preparing for you, there will be the joy of quilts, color and stitching.

  52. Such a positive and cheery post Sue with gorgeous photos and commentary. Your wonderful attitude will serve you well. I wish you all the very best and thank you for all the inspiration - long may it continue.

  53. Lifting you and your family up in prayer.

  54. Sue, I'm so sorry to hear your diagnosis. I made your Stars for a New Day quilt. (Alas, it's still a top!). Your instructions were so thorough and clear, I just knew you were a special person. I pray Jesus gives you comfort, peace and joy. God bless you!

  55. Sue, your words are so inspiring. I'll be keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  56. Dearest Sue, My prayers are with you and your family at this very difficult time. I enjoyed the time we had when you visited our guild last year and use your techniques and patterns all the time.
    Thank You,
    Pam Nelson, Valley Quiltmakers Guild, Northridge, CA

  57. I will add you to my daily prayer list, Sue! Know that there are so many that love and admire your beautiful work. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers for hope, healing and God's Grace. Bless you for fully living each day fighting cancer, but with love in your heart for your family and friends well being through this journey with you.

  58. Hugs and Kisses to you, Sue. You and your family are in my prayers!

  59. prayers coming your way....

  60. Sue,ou
    I have loved and admired so many of your quilt patterns and am saddened by the news of your lung cancer, but am happy you have the deep faith in God that you do and realized how truly Blessed you are. May your days be full of joy and new ideas as that is what keeps us all going. May God Bless you and your family on this journey and know that you and your family will be in our prayers for a good, happy full life.

  61. I am stunned and saddened by your health news. You remain a constant source of inspiration and beauty not just for quilting but for life. I am praying for you and your family. Much love from a Michigan quilter. Ruth

  62. May the peace of the Lord that passeth all understanding be with you and your family. Thank you for all your contributions to the quilting world.

  63. I just finished quilting Spring Joy which I actually appliqued several years ago. I have always loved your patterns and their variety. Your gift of quilting has made so many of us happy. My prayers are for you and your family as you face what is ahead.

  64. Watching you bring beautiful quilts to fruition over many years, I too, am stunned at the news but we know that God wants you when he decides. In the meantime, I wish you many more days and months,hopefully years to enjoy your family and friends and to keep on quilting and enjoying what you see others do.

  65. Dear Sue, you are always such an inspiration. You are in my thoughts.

  66. Sue, I am soooo sorry to hear this. You and your family are in my prayers!

  67. Sue, I'm saddened by your news but inspired by your outlook. May God continue to give you peace and strength at this time.

  68. You are an inspiration for living life to the fullest. Bless you and your family.

  69. You are an inspiration for living life to the fullest. Bless you and your family.

  70. Sue, You are an inspiration both as a quilter and as a lovely person. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Thinking of you with every stitch of my Friends of Baltimore quilt!
    Lori Kennedy.

  71. Blessings on you, Sue, and on your family as you continue living and loving on life's journey! My prayers are for abundant peace, joy, strength and love as you lead the way to our destiny- our Father's Arms and heavenly home. You are such an inspiration in so many ways. I thank-you for all you share. Live fully, laugh often, love deeply. Cathy vJ in MA

  72. Thank you for sharing your brilliance with the quilting community and throughout the world. You are a wonderful person and your brilliance will continue. You are well loved. Love you, Kelly L-S, Wingina, VA

  73. Dear family and friends of Sue,
    I am so very very sorry about this great loss. Sue was such an inspiration to everyone
    Always encouraging, and it does appear that she was fearless until the end
    God Bless her and surround her family with much love