Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone -- let's all hope that this year brings a treasure trove of good health, good fortune, good friendship... and lots of quiltmaking for all of us. Let's see... shall I also hope that the price of cotton falls sometime soon? I may not always be optimistic, but I am never without hope!
So what am I working on now? Several things... but here's one. I agreed to create a new design for my quilt guild's annual raffle quilt. After talking to Jerrianne and Georgann -- two of my quilt buddies who are always offering a ton of both ideas and inspiration -- we decided it would be wonderful to use Rose Kretsinger's 1929 red and green "New Rose Tree Quilt" as an inspiration. It's a wonderful structured rose tree design with a swag border that has red and gold feathers appliqued along its length. I love red and green quilts, and this one is breath-taking. My version will be an 86 by 86 inch quilt, so the blocks are very large: 22 inches square, with a 10-inch wide border. After drafting the design (see my first drafts, below), I got so excited that I've already scavenged through my stash and decided I need to break my New Year's resolution to not buy more fabric for at least three months as I don't have what I want to use for this quilt. So much for a resolution! It must not have been a good one if I'm already backing down on it. You will likely be seeing updates on this quilt over the next few months.
Partial pattern for "Borrowed Roses" - a remake of an old Rose Kretsinger quilt
Another project I've been working on is a Tulip Challenge Quilt. A group of my quilt friends all agreed to choose an antique quilt, use a block from it, and update it in whatever way we see fit -- a challenge -- that we each hope to finish and enter in our guild's quilt show in 2012. We chose a mid-1800s red and green quilt that had a block with tulips in a vase. I drafted the pattern as a 12" block... and the gang is all working on their versions of the block... and how it will be set into a quilt. Two of the group are enlarging and setting the block on point - one with reproduction fabrics, another with batiks. One of the group is making the block smaller -- a set of 6" blocks using reproduction fabrics. Some of the group have revised the vase - making it more complex. I've enlarged the block and am making a 4-block quilt; my blocks are each 36" square! Check out the block, below -- and check out the colors I'm using to make my challenge quilt. If you've read my blog, you know that I love cheddar!
The Tulip Challenge Quilt

Another project I've been working on is my Baltimore quilt. I finished adding the final border of 1-inch half-square triangles, and nearly threw my back out of joint by getting on my hands and basting the quilt. So here's a close-up of the outer border...
And here's a picture of the whole quilt with the final half-square triangle border on it... And finally... here's a picture of the first block I've quilted on it. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy hand-quilting. I do my share of machine quilting, but there is no comparison between longarm and hand-quilting: hand quilting is so relaxing to me. I just love sitting down and quilting for a few hours at a time once or twice a day. With any luck, I will have this quilt finished in 3-4 months. Whee!!! Did you know that I do all of my hand-quilting using a stab-stitch? I can quilt as fast as anyone else - and can "quilt through concrete" with the stab-stitch method! Several people have asked me when the patterns for my Baltimore quilt will be available. Quakertown Quilts should begin offering them for sale in mid-January -- check with them (, or with your local quilt shop and see if they are ordering the patterns if you wish to get them. Now for a little visual treat. A friend of mine was given permission to take photos of the Baltimore album quilts on display at the International Quilt Association display in November in Houston (aka "the Houston Festival" or "the Houston Quilt Show"). What follows is a small selection of some of those quilts. My apologies to those whose quilts are not included in the selection - it does not mean I didn't like yours! To begin with, the venue for this Baltimore extravaganza could not have been more wonderful -- lots of room, great lighting, plenty of white-glove folks to help show the backs of the quilts or answer questions - and plenty of quilts!
George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston - Nov. 2010
The first quilt is "Friendship's Offering" by Fabric Cottage class members and others, spectacularly hand-quilted by Diane Kirkhart (Vienna, Virginia). For a complete list of the needle artists who worked on this quilt, please purchase a copy of Elly Sienkiewicz's 2010 Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts. It's a lovely retrospective of new and old Baltimore quilts.
The quilt below is called "Miss Refrigeradorable's Album Quilt" and was made by Judy Laval Morton (Newburgh, Indiana). The design source includes Elly's books and patterns, Nadine Thompson, and the crowning of the 1956 Miss Refrigeradorble.
This next quilt, by Marjorie A. Nelson (Frankfort, MI), is called "Baltimore Album on the Shores of Lake Michigan." Marjorie's borders are her own design and contain an eagle, 13 stars, and piping set by the binding. The richness of color in this quilt make it exquisite!
Meg Zimmerman's (Winchester, TN) "The Time Traveler," below, is based on an 1847 quilt by Mary West -- but the borders, quilting, and two blocks are Meg's original designs. It took Meg 8 years to applique the quilt and 8 months to hand-quilt it, making it a "true time traveler" as it accompanied Meg through retreats, bees, and family trips. As with many of us, our quilts carry our history within them. If only they could talk - what stories they could tell us...
Connie Teplitsky (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada) made "Threads of Inspiration." While inspired by Elly's books, several blocks and the setting for her quilt are original. I love that each of these Baltimore quilts, while inspired by the quilts of yesteryear -- and Elly -- are examples of how all quiltmakers interpret designs to suit their own sense of beauty.
I love Karen Pessia's (Medford, MA) "My Baltimore Journey." Karen's quilt speaks of the inspiration from her teachers, history, and the discovery of untapped skills. Karen's scrappy-leafed border is lovely -- as well as her choice of outer borders and the intricate sashing. Below the quilt show is a close-up of one of the quilt blocks and the phenomenal quilting.

"Vases, Birds and Other Things" by Kim McLean (Lindfield, New South Wales, Australia) takes advantage of some bright, colorful Kaffe Fassett fabrics -- Kim says this "is a happy quilt." And it is, indeed.
Rita Verroca's (Westlake Village, CA) "Big Parade" is built around a center block picturing two horses pulling a carriage called the "Big Parade," a vision to the quilter's world -- a land of imagination and inspiration. Rita has done a wonderful job of blending traditional blocks into her Baltimore Album blocks to create her own style of album quilt. Her sashing is incredible!
This next quilt is in the grand style of exuberant applique found in some of the old Baltimore Album quilts. Hong Sook Ro, its' maker, worked on this quilt for 5 years; her loving husband helped her by doing all of the household chores so she could work on the quilt. On a sad note, he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009 but asked Hong Sook to finish the quilt before he died. She finished the quilt for him, and dedicated it to him after he died. This is the first quilt she ever entered in a show. The complexity of the blocks is stunning -- there is a closeup of the center block below the photo of the whole quilt.

Here is yet another quilt by Marjorie Nelson - "Marjorie's Album - The Beauty of One Common Thread." One cannot help but be inspired by the beauty found in all of these album quilts. A closeup of one block is also shown below.

In "Let us Be Friends," many of Elly's former students worked together to make this quilt, quilted by Sue Nickels. A complete list of needle artists can again be found in Elly Sienkiewicz's Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts (2010). I love how the blocks in this quilt are set on point with some wonderful sashing.
That's all for this month - I hope that seeing a few of the Baltimore Album quilts on display have provided you with some inspiration -- to tackle a new project, to design your own block, to create a unique border, to pick up where you left off on an old project. I find that seeing groups of quilts that have a common inspiration but end up being so unique when finished, reminds me of why I love quilting. We each have the opportunity to express ourselves in the beauty of our creativity -- take that gift, now, and go finish a quilt!

See you next month...


(c)2011 Susan H. Garman