Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unveilings - At Last!

Where in the world has Sue Garman been for the past two months? After promising that I would post on the first of each month, like clockwork, just a short while back... I disappeared. The truth is that I have been very, very busy! Much of what I was working on were things I could not show anyone yet... plus I had a lot of work to do before Quilt Market came to Houston before the Quilt Show. At some point, I will post photos of quilt market, for those who have never been to "market" - the show that is held for wholesale buyers. I will also post photos of some of the fabulous quilts that hung in the Houston quilt show -- though I must confess that being the technical guru that I am, half of my photos (including the top winners!) seem to have disappeared.

Moving on, now... can you guess that this picture is? Other than a stack of papers and file folders?
If you guessed that it is the pattern for Friends of Baltimore, you would be right! It is a huge pattern. As always, I have included lots of tips, pointers, how-tos, and instructions in each month's write-up. Hopefully, all that work will pay off with some quiltmakers who learn and some quiltmakers who have far less frustration. Once again... here is the quilt (and no, I have not added that last 1" border of half-square triangles yet; that comes next week and then I will start quilting. I am still debating silk batting versus other options.

The next quilt is Ruffled Roses - finally I can show it in all of its glory. I wanted The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims to have the honor of showing the quilt before I posted a photo... so now everyone else can see it here, too. It was a fun quilt to work on -- I loved making the pieced swag border, which echoes the inner appliqued swag border. It's always fun to think of new (to me, at least) concepts and figure out how to put them in a quilt.

This pattern took a long time to prepare -- writing instructions for piecing always takes longer than writing instructions for applique because there is a lot of math involved, and all of it takes time to proof. Those who have done The Quilt Show block-of-the-month patterns in the past will be happy to learn that this pattern includes more detailed instructions on how I quilted my quilt - here's a sample photo...

And so what else have I been working on? Aaaahhh... there were the 25 guests that I invited to come to my house for dinner and a quilt showing in the middle of the Houston quilt show. Gail Chalker, from Australia, brought three vanloads of them, and there were many others from elsewhere, including the talented and extremely organized Tresa Jones who runs the wonderful Baltimore on the Prairie conference/retreat each year. Tresa has gathered an awesome set of teachers -- check out the website at http://baltimoreontheprairie.tresajones.com/. I so enjoyed seeing everyone! My quilting friends went overboard helping serve a true Texas dinner: frito pie, ambrosia salad, and peach cobbler with Blue Bell ice cream. Here is the serving team of six...

and here are all the lovely quilters...

So... that's not all that has kept me busy. Over the past year, I have been part of a round robin group. There were five of us who each passed a center block to another, along with fabric and a list of "desires" (like: "please, no broderie perse" - or "just have fun!"). I love round robin quilts because they force me to work in venues I might not otherwise consider. We had our grand unveiling in front of our quilt guild this month -- what a great set of surprises. Below are the quilt tops along with one or two close-ups of each quilt.

First, there is Jean's quilt - she was the only one to start with a rectangular quilt center -- and one of only two quilts that did not end up with the center block set on point!
I added the pinwheel border -- with light inner and darker outer setting triangles; I like doing that because it adds depth to a quilt. Notice that the last border echoes that same light/dark set of setting triangles.

I was amazed at how much time all of the gals put into adding borders -- look at the blocks in the outer border, here. That's power sewing!
Second, here is Georgann's quilt. She started with a star block that was set on point - then a border of blocks was added, followed by a wonderful dogtooth border - and finally, a ruffled swag border. I love the lightness of this quilt -- it has dark fabrics that keep pulling your eye in, but most of the fabrics are very soft in color. It's lovely!

Notice how the appliqued flowers were all outlined with embroidery floss. That is a wonderful touch for this quilt.

Third is Marsha's quilt. She started off with a beautiful mariner's compass. It offered so much opportunity for the next set of borders, with its full spectrum of colors.

Take a look at the detail in the first set of borders -- the flower in the center of the compass is echoed with an appliqued duplicate in the corner of the chain border.

And all of those circles in the center are echoed again in the red scallop border. I made that one - I've never done one like it before, but after pondering what to add to Marsha's quilt, I dreamed up this design and added the circles to echo what was in the center of the quilt. Touches like that give a quilt a cohesive look.

Fourth is my quilt top. I started with the coxcomb in the center and asked that my quilt be red/green... but not Christmas-y. No snowmen, Santas, or reindeer, please!

I love what my friends did - they are SO talented! And they know that I like lots of open areas for quilting, so they gave them to me. I could not be happier with the results - and I can't wait to quilt it!

Here is Cynthia's quilt -- she started with a double-feathered star, which I love seeing in quilts. The fabric she passed along in her traveling box was all blue, white, and cream -- giving us a wonderful pallette to work with.

Look at the details in what was added -- there is so much to see in this quilt.
The details just go on and on. What a spectacular set of quilts!

I think that all of us would do a robin again in a heartbeat, but we are postponing such thoughts until at least Springtime. Our new challenge was thrown at us when we all started reading Pat Sloan's blog (
http://patsloan.typepad.com/). She began posting a set of UFO (Unfinished Object) tips on Tuesdays and Thursdays from early October up until Thanksgiving... and we all started pulling out our UFOs and making confessions about how many we had. I lost count at 41 and that didn't even include the finished quilt tops that just need quilting! So we have now challenged each other to identify a UFO and finish it my March 2011. I have already almost finished the one I put at the top of my list. What was most amazing to me was Pat's disclosure, which I found was not unique to her, that ALL of her UFOs were projects that she was doing for herself - not for anyone else. What does that say about us?? So I have resolved to change that in the future and give myself some time to work on UFOs and other projects. Our UFO group started off by gathering for three days of doing nothing but power sewing -- sort of a day retreat without the interruptions of home or the sleeplessness of a retreat center. We worked hard... and maybe next month I will be able to show you progress on another new quilt!

Until next month... happy sewing, everyone! And most definitely, may the Yuletide season bring all of you smiles, joy, and surprises!

(c)2010 Susan H. Garman

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Festival" is coming!

Houstonians refer to the big International Quilting Association's quilt show as "Festival" - a byproduct of its name in earlier years. Festival is coming soon - it is held in the late October/early November timeframe every year. The past couple of months have been busy for me, as I'm preparing two quilts that need to be ready for the show. The first one will be the (shhhh!) new block-of-the-month for Alex Anderson and Ricky Timm's online community, "The Quilt Show" (
www.thequiltshow.com) - or "TQS." The quilt below, "Ruffled Roses," will be the fourth block of the month that I've made for TQS - Alex and Ricky have given me such an honor to design this quilt just for TQS. Check out their booth at Festival this year!
"Ruffled Roses"

The second quilt that I've been working has truly been a labor of love (though when I'm pulling my hair out to get it done on time, it's sometimes hard to remember that!). I designed all of the blocks, with some of them based loosely on antique Baltimore blocks. It still needs a final border of 1" half-square triangles on the outer edge of the quilt -- that will get done after Festival is over.
The borders are all unique -- each border has a different vase and bouquet in the center and each corner also has a different vase and bouquet. I don't think I've had so much fun designing a quilt in a long, long time! Here's one of the borders...

And here are three of the corner vases. When they are stitched onto the long borders, the joining seams will be invisible, as will the vines and flowers that flow across the seams.

In September, some friends of mine chartered a bus and 57 of us rode over to Austin, Texas (about a 3.5 hour drive) to go to the Austin Area Quilt Guild's show. The Austin guild has almost 600 members and they hang 400 quilts in their show. It was a lovely field trip for me! Here are a few pictures of quilts that hung in their show.

The first one was the Grand winner at the show -- "Star Medallion (or 96 Baskets)" was made by Kathleen McCrady. It is based on an original quilt made in 1890 that was featured in three issues of Quilt Mania in 2009. Kathleen's quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted. I love seeing her work; she is an amazing quilter!

This next quilt caught my eye because the quilter (Mary Laminack) used one of my TQS block-of-the-month patterns - and she won First Place in her category - go Mary! What amazed me was the write-up about the quilt: "I had gone to the Houston International Quilt Show and saw a group of my friends with stars in their eyes and grins on their faces. Not wanting to be left out, I rounded the corner and saw the most beautiful quilt that I had ever seen. Being a new quilter, I immediately started crying because I thought that it was much too advanced for me to accomplish. Now, one year later, I have finished my quilt and I am entering it in the AAQG Quilt Show." Mary offers us a tremendous lesson in commitment, dedication, and perseverance: if you really want to do something, you probably can. So for all of us who have thought "that's too difficult"... think again!
This next quilt tickled me: "Mother's Yellow Quilt" was made by Lynette Morgan Dundee, Michelle Mears, Terese Morgan, and Cecile Morgan. For their mother's 80th birthday, they decided to make a quilt with four quadrants - and each quadrant would represent one of their interests and personality. They worked individually for almost a year, hand piecing their quadrants. Two of the women had never made a quilt before. They finished this 77 x 78" quilt and presented it to their mother, who is a quilter and had made quilts for each of the daughters. What a gift! So if you decided to make a set of blocks that represented you and your interests, hobbies, personality, and pastimes, what blocks and fabrics would you choose? What a wonderful, intriguing idea!

Quilter Elaine Rich made the quilt below, "America" (86 x 68"). She views America as "a nation of people from across the globe, living in communities organized into states, with a shared vision but a set of individual personalities.... This quilt celebrates our history and the role we can play in forming a future for our planet." I love how Elaine has made the color wash across the quilt from light to dark, in rainbow fashion. What you cannot see in the photo below is that each of the little squares captures a piece of our Nation; check out the close-up below and you can begin to see how Elaine's creativity played a huge role in the making of this quilt.

The quilt below is one of the many small wall hangings that hung in the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) traveling exhibit. The Austin area is replete with art quilters - and their work is wonderful!

Here's an art quilt ("My Nesting Place," 20 x 28") made by Sara Sharp -- the sky is full of feathers, trees and grasses are made of her hand-dyed fabrics and commercial batiks and prints, and the thread-painted warbler sits on a nest that was built stick by stick. Sara says that "the joyous freedom I feel as an artist is represented in the quote: 'a bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.'"
Close-up of the warbler in "My Nesting Place"

This quilt was also made by Sara Sharp; "Cape Cod Dreams" (25 x 33") is based on a photo she took out of a house overlooking Cape Cod Bay. I like how Sara's work immediately brings memories to mind.

Close-up of fruit in "Cape Cod Dreams"
Here's yet another art quilt; "Eagle" (11 x 11") was done by Tresha Barger. Her quilt was based on a photo by Jack Marshall of Austin, who consented to her use of the photo. She used only four thread colors: white, black, and two shades of orange. What a talent she has for embroidery, right? Below this picture is a close-up so you can see the incredible job of embroidering that she has done.

One of the treats of the Austin quilt show as a "bed turning" that happened several times over the weekend. Marcia Kaylakie, a quilt collector, teacher, judge and AQS Certified appraiser from Austin, specializes in American quilts history. She generously offered a set of her antique quilts for a bed turning. What, exactly, is a bed turning? In a bed turning, a bed is brought in to a guild or quilt show and quilts are placed on it. One by one, each quilt is turned and held up for the audience, and its history and story are told. It was a joy to see a real bed turning -and Marcia's quilts were inspiring to see! Below is only a small sample of the quilts everyone got to view - wow!

That's all for this month. The rest of October will be taken up with preparations for Festival - and then I will rest a teeny bit before I finish a round-robin quilt I'm working on, applique a tulip challenge quilt, tackle hand-quilting my Baltimore (and finish writing up the patterns!), and... oh yes, start designing the next block-of-the-month!

Happy quilting, everyone!
(c)2010 Susan H. Garman

Here's a close-up of her hand piecing and hand quilting - note that, ever the Texan, she put 5-pointed Texas stars between all of the baskets.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Say Cheese, Please!

I love old quilts that use cheddar-colored fabrics. A quilt made today in orange would not excite me... but for some reason the old ones do. I'll show you a few in a bit. Note: after I received a comment on this posting, I realized I should have said that I am not drawn to orange as a color -- unless it is in a quilt that mimics the old cheddar. I am actually in the midst of making a very large cheddar and teal 4-block quilt, myself, and cannot wait to finish it!

This month I have a few things to share - including the fact that I am pedaling as fast as I can to finish my Baltimore qiult. Next month you should see the quilt top. The hand-quilting that follows will take a bit longer. Before I show you what else I have been working on, I wanted to share a link to P and B Textile's website -- their blog has my fabric design on it, full of childhood sing-songs like Row, Row, Row your Boat and A Tisket, A Tasket. It excites me to see this fabric! You can see it too at: http://www.pbtex.com/html/pblog.html. Check it out... and then come back here and take a look at what's below.

First of all, here is a quick look at a new quilt I'm working on. It will be a large medallion quilt filled with baskets and surrounded by a very unusual border on the outside. The rich, soft pastels are all from a new line that P and B Textiles has produced, called "Bear Essentials." I love the new line -- the fabrics are all wonderful tone-on-tone prints that go across the entire color spectrum! You'll be seeing more of this quilt later... so keep on coming back here.

Before I show some cheddar quilts, I have to say: I am not an authentic quilt collector. I do not search out the best antique quilts and spend a fortune buying them and putting them somewhere in my house. Nope - I am more like the garage sale and eBay scavenger who finds a relative bargain and snatches it up, usually because a) the price is right, b) the pattern is very unique, and/or c) the fabrics in the quilt interest me. A quilt with 2 out of those 3 criteria is great -- if it hits all three, I'm in heaven! So here are a few old quilts that I've picked up here and there... and why I bought them.

The green and yellow quilt above excited me because I love yellow in a quilt - my grandmother used to tell me that "every garden must have yellow flowers somewhere in it." This quilt was beautifully hand-quilted -- but what I loved about it was that the blocks -- look at them carefully -- are nothing but churn dash blocks with the corner half-square triangles turned inside out. And then, using a half-square triangle as a sashing cornerstone -- how often do you see that in a quilt? So this beauty called to me and I answered... it lays on one of the beds in my home down on Galveston Island.

This next quilt was just quirky enough to get my attention! It is not particularly well-made, and will take some real work to get it to lay flat when I eventually quilt it. But the design, alone, trumped any common sense and made me buy it.

Below is a closeup of one of the blocks in the above quilt. This was a quilt that said to me, "design one just like me, please!" Someday... I probably will!

The next quilt is a good old-fashioned, common wedding ring quilt from the thirties. I've nearly finished hand-quilting it -- I like buying quilt tops because they are at least half the price of finished quilts and they are often in better shape than finished quilts because nobody ever used them! This particular wedding ring quilt called to me because it had an abundance of cheddar pieces in each of the arcs, and I do like that old cheddar fabric.
Below is another cheddar quilt -- it uses a Dresden plate design, with the background of cheddar, rather than the more common white or off-white.And below is a closeup of the cheddar Dresden plate blocks. Awesome!

And once again... another cheddar quilt top. The Ohio Stars in this quilt are unusual; they are definitely made of scavenged scraps, with no block using a consistent set of fabrics in the block.

In fact, if you take a close look at the blocks, you will see that the maker often used background fabric as part of the star points in the block, thus losing the sense of the "Ohio Star" in it. Quirky, yes? It may be part of why the maker never finished the quilt... she may have looked at it and said, "What was I thinking???"

Now here is a lovely cheddar quilt! With 4" Ohio Stars, it just sings to my heart! I'm going to have to look around and find a strip of cheddar to finish the unfinished top border... but otherwise, this quilt is in great shape!
The maker used quite a few black and white or black and madder striped fabrics in her blocks -- they add to the movement across the face of the quilt. What a creative quiltmaker this person was!

Okay, that's all for this month... Next month, I hope to have a whole new set of photos of quilts to show. I'm planning on attending a large quilt show in Austin, Texas in a couple of weeks... and I'm crossing my fingers that my Baltimore will be finished in a month!
Until then... happy sewing to all of you!
(c)2010 Susan H. Garman