Wednesday, October 4, 2017


Can you believe how quickly October has come upon us?!  We are full of anxiety and excitement about the upcoming Houston Quilt Festival… just a few short weeks away from the big week!!!  Of course, we’ll get to finally see the display of Mom’s quilts, which is the most exciting part.  But, I also plan to do a lot of picture taking, a lot of shopping, and a lot of learning.  I personally plan to purchase a longarm machine (Eek!), and have also signed up for a couple of longarm classes and an EQ7 class.  It will be a full schedule, for sure.  The folks at the Texas Quilt Museum also want to meet with us to talk about a Sue Garman show at their museum next summer.  How exciting!

In the meantime, we’ve got lots of other tidbits of news!  First, I know many people have asked about Mom’s fabulous Blue Heaven quilt that she had been working on.  The finished quilt will be hanging at the show, for anyone that is able to make it.  Also, our wonderful friend Cynthia finished the pattern for us, and the brilliant Winnie Fleming tested the pattern for us.  We have some updates to make, but I think we should be able to get it published on the website by the end of the year.  Yippee!!!

We have fabric on the website now!  Mom had planned to have a booth at Festival, and had stocked up on all of the products that she was planning to sell there.  After she got sick, that plan went to the wayside.  But… we still have many bolts of fabric here, handpicked by Sue, that we’ve posted to the website.  Right now there is an assortment of blues and greens available, and slowly but surely we will get the full array available to you.  If you’re in need of any beautiful fabrics, take a peek and see if there’s anything you like!

I think everyone knows how much Mom enjoyed seeing how other quilters took her patterns and made them their own.  We’ve got a few photos of those quilts to share, that we were lucky enough to be sent by their wonderful owners.  First, we have a Monsters! quilt, made by Rachel Hamar, on display at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK, in August of this year.  I absolutely LOVE the color choices and all of the small blocks on the sides.  It adds so much fun and excitement to the quilt.  And the addition of the hearts in the cornerstones adds warmth and character.

Credit: Rachel Hamar
Next, we have a Ladies of the Sea quilt, made by Barbara Graham.  This one shows that you don’t have to use every block in the original to still have a beautiful piece of work.  The embroidered panels in the middle of the quilt are a nice touch, both in keeping with the nautical theme.  Great work!
Credit: Barbara Graham

Lastly, we have a lovely All Around the Town quilt, made by Nancy McFall.  This one was entered in the AQS show, and I think it will do well!  Of course, the originals of all three of these beauties will be hanging at Festival next month.  NEXT MONTH!  EEK!

Credit: Nancy McFall

Last thing I have for the moment… a group of Mom’s friends and I decided that we needed to increase the number of small quilts that are entered in our guild’s show next year.  Generally, there are only a handful entered in the small quilt category, and that’s so sad, because the little ones can be so fun and challenging to make!  What we decided to do, particularly since the show is named “Celebrating Sue” in honor of Mom, is to make miniature quilts based on Mom’s patterns.  I think we’ll be seeing miniature versions (not all of the blocks, of course) of Quilted Gingerbread, Hugs and Kisses, and Sleeping Beauty.  I, myself, have finished a reverse Sleeping Beauty with black instead of cream shirtings and brighter colors.  I think my plan is to name it Midnight Beauty!  I just need to quilt it… my first foray into hand-quilting… and put the binding on.  Here are a few pictures of the work in progress…
The beginnings of spines...

Starting to lay things out and decide where to put it all.
Testing the standard layout for the pattern.

Testing an alternate layout for the pattern.

Ready to start quilting!
I think that’s all we have for now.  For anyone coming to Festival next month, if you see us, feel free to snag us and introduce yourself!  We love meeting other quilters!

Jenny Arkinson (left) and Mary Garman (right)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Rising from the Storm

As most of you know, we are based in Friendswood, Texas, just south of Houston. While we did not have flooding in our homes, many of our close friends and neighbors had from 1-6 feet of water unexpectedly and suddenly plow through their first floor with Hurricane Harvey. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the storm, and we are praying for those in the path of Irma and Jose. We have spent time helping demo sheetrock, babysit kids while parents salvage what they can, host displaced people in our homes, and provide lots of hugs and reassurance. It will be a very long recovery for so many, and we look forward to continuing to support our friends and the community.
Many have asked us about the quilts, and we are glad to reassure you all that they are fine. We appreciate the care that Quilts, Inc., gave the 75 quilts that will be in the Quilt Festival Houston. Amidst all our moving things to higher ground, filling gas tanks, and stocking pantries, they took time to fully explain the care put into protecting the quilts, including wrapping them in a protective plastic cocoon away from any windows on the fifth floor of an office building. We think they were safer than the ones that are still at our houses!

Happy and dry quilts!

We look forward to seeing everyone November 2-5 at the Quilt Festival Houston! The logo pictured below is adapted from one of the blocks in Bed of Roses, designed by Sue Garman.

The late Sue Garman made more than 300 quilts over 40 years, nearly all of them original. Celebrate her life and artistic legacy with this sampling of 75 of her best works based on antique, red and green, whimsical, and intricately pieced quilts, and more.

 Bed of Roses

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer Busy-ness

August is here!  Do you know what that means?  Yes, it’s hot outside, at least here in Houston.  But, that’s not what I was aiming for.  We’re a month closer to the Houston Quilt Festival!!!  And this year is a very meaningful one for us because there will be a special exhibit, displaying 75 of Mom’s beautiful quilts.  It will be a sight to see, and will probably bring tears to my eyes.  She’d be completely embarrassed, I’m sure, for there to be such a show of her talent.  This will be the first time that so many of her quilts have been hanging together, which is really exciting!  And, wow, it was no small task to get this all going.

Back in January or February, Quilts, Inc. sent us a note, saying that they were thinking of doing a special “Sue Garman” exhibit with maybe 20 or 25 of her quilts.  That number changed over the months, but the thought of having the exhibit stood firm.  Then, one Wednesday last month, I got an e-mail with THE LIST!  I was giddy!  Then, I read further and saw that they wanted to pick them up the following Tuesday.  EEEEKKKK!!!!  I called over some quilting friends to come help me sort through the quilts to see which we had, which were finished (or not), which needed sleeves, which needed labels, and which ones we thought were missing from the list.

Stacks of quilts...
And more stacks of quilts...
 And even more stacks of quilts!
That Saturday, the same ladies came over and helped Mary and I sew on five sleeves and thirty labels.  Holy moly!  That took us around six hours start to finish.  Thanks a million to Jerrianne, Cynthia, and Marsha for saving our hides!

 Mary and I stitching away on labels and sleeves.
Tuesday came, and a group of six women and one man went to work.  It was amazing to watch, and although I did get a little choked up watching the quilts go into boxes, I was impressed with the care that they took with each of them.  There were two stations set up, with large tables covered with clean white sheets.  They all wore white gloves, and they stuffed acid-free paper into the folds to help keep the quilts from creasing.  They also used long boxes to keep the number of folds down, and didn’t “stuff” the boxes, so the quilts didn’t get squished down.  It took twelve boxes total, and one big white van, to get them up to the Quilts, Inc. offices!

Twelve boxes packed full of Mom's quilts at Quilts, Inc. 
The next step was to write up all of the blurbs that are posted by each quilt.  For many of them, I was able to pull language from the quilt pattern or from this blog.  For a couple of them, I had to come up with something on my own, or use the phone-a-friend method and call a quilting buddy who knew more about the quilt.  We’re also going to participate in the Guide by Cell program, where Festival guests can listen to Mary and me and give a short little talk about a particular quilt… something extra that’s not on the written paper by the quilt.  That’ll be next week’s task!

If you haven’t ever been to Festival, it’s quite an event.  Thousands of quilters and thousands of quilts (plus lots of fun quilt-related shopping to do) all in one place.  This year, the Houston Festival taking place November 2 through 5, in the usual George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown.  If you have the opportunity, please come see the exhibit! Mary and I look forward to enjoying the show and amazing selection of classes.

On to other happenings...

I don’t remember if I wrote that my family sold our home and moved into Mom’s house earlier this year.  If not, well, that’s what we did!  Mary and I have been diligent about cleaning, clearing, and dividing, with only a few rooms left to go… the quilting studio being one of them.  What I wanted to share here, though, is that there was a quilt rack in one bedroom that I just adored.  In the dividing, Mary ended up taking it to her house, and I asked my husband to make me a duplicate.  I absolutely LOVE the result!  I may even like it more than the original!  The quilt that’s on it is an antique top that Mom purchased and quilting and finished herself. 

A work on progress by Mark...
 The finished product on the wall, and the original on the floor below.

Last, but not least, I have to share this adorable photo of our old dog, Jackie.  She’s as sweet as can be, but she also loves to find small spaces to cozy up in.  Usually, it’s in my closet, under my clothes, but I started closing the door because it’s not easy to get dog hair out of anything knitted!  She found a new spot in our gameroom last month… too much cuteness! And don’t worry – it’s not one of Mom’s treasures…

Jackie in her quilted nest.
Happy quilting, and we’ll see you in a month or two!

Jenny (and Mary)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hello, my name is...

Can you believe that the summer months are upon us already?  Our kids are so excited to be out of school… today is the last day, and it’s only a half day.  I see many summer camps, video gaming, movie and TV watching, and playing with family and friends in the near future.

We want you all to know that we read your comments, and we do hear you!  We set up our own contributor accounts, so that we’ll be posting as one or the other of us, instead of as Mom.  And, we LOVE the idea of giving an introduction to everyone about ourselves and our particular interests in quilting.  Here goes…

I’m Jenny Arkinson, the older sister, and former (I hope) pain in the rear end sister.  I work at NASA, just like Mom, except that I remained working in the Office of Procurement, which I absolutely love!  I’ve been married to my wonderful husband, Mark, for just over 11 years now, and we have an almost 10-year-old son, Jack.  He turns 10 later this month.  I enjoy reading fiction novels, spending time with family and friends, playing video games, and, of course, quilting.

As for quilting itself, and the memories that go along with it… my first memory of Mom quilting is of a biblical quilt that she appliqued when I was probably around my son’s age.  The thing is HUGE!  I mean, larger than a king size quilt!  I remember her laying it all out on our library floor as she was putting it together, and then seeing it hang in our back stairway for most of the years that we lived in that house.  It starts at the bottom of the quilt with Adam and Eve, and moves up along the quilt through some of the more popular Bible stories. 

The very first quilt I ever made was a single square for a crazy quilt.  That was the beginning.  I have no idea where that block is today… probably torn apart or thrown away during some clean-out phase of the house.  The next quilt I made, with close instruction and supervision by Mom, wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s.  It was a paper pieced Geese in the Cabin quilt done in pastel floral prints.  It was a queen size quilt, which was pretty big for my first endeavor.  The next project was a Judy Niemeyer Christmas tree skirt, which I still use today.  Next, although quite a few years later, followed a French Braid done in civil war reds and blues, which was on my bed until about a month ago!  And that brings us to recent years, where I’ve completed around ten quilts now.  It’s not a lot, but I’m pretty proud of the work that I’ve done! 

This is Mary Garman-Duarte now, and I am a couple years younger than Jenny. I am a dermatologist and my husband and I also live in Friendswood, Texas, though we love spending time at our ranch near Columbus, Texas. Our kids, ages 8, 10, and 12, enjoy keeping us crazy and happy. Our girls play lacrosse, and we LOVE cheering them on and supporting growth of the sport in Texas. Our son mostly loves his iPad and playing with his friends and cousin Jack, though he has dabbled in many sports. Our middle daughter, Daisy, made several quilts with her GG (Grandma Garman) and owns more sewing machines than me thanks to GG.

While Mom may have learned to quilt as a child from her grandmother, I don't remember her quilting until I was in middle school when she made the biblical quilt that Jenny referred to. I remember helping her color in the pattern before she started sewing and watching a bolt of shimmery gold fabric turn into beautiful accents in the sun, stars, angel’s halo, border trim, and more.

My first memories of her sewing were actually of her making clothes for Jenny and me. My favorite outfit was a floor length yellow dress that had tiny white raised dots and a white ribbon belt. To me, it was a formal gown. We did not go out to eat much, as our parents tended to be quite frugal. But for special occasions, we went to Steak 'N Ale by Baybrook Mall, which was arguably the best restaurant in Clear Lake City around 1980. I remember feeling so special in my gown, and they would let us order whatever we wanted. I always asked for king crab legs with the salad bar. I would normally never eat salad at that age (5-7 years old), but everything seemed so cold and fresh, and even the plate was chilled. I loved excavating the crab meat from the shells with the tiny little fork and dunking it the candle-warmed butter. And it would not have been the same experience if I had not been in that hand-made dress! Jenny had a matching one of course that she would also wear, so I am sure we looked pretty cute.

I made my first and only quilt about 9 years ago. It is an appliqué Hawaiian pattern. I was inspired after a trip to Kauai that I earned for being Chief Resident for my dermatology training program in 2006. I guess I would consider myself a true quilter, as it still does not have a back or binding but is otherwise complete! I hope to make a Victorian crazy quilt some day with Jenny's help, and Mom had given me several satin fabrics, embroidery thread, and books to get started.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to follow our blog.  Many have asked about Mom’s Blue Heaven quilt, and whether the pattern will be available.  The answer is YES!  We’re putting the finishing touches on the pattern now and will send it to a fabulous quilter to test over the coming months.  Then, you’ll see on the website!  We’ve got other ideas swirling around, so keep on reading, and, as always, keep on quilting.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

We're Baaaaack!

Our apologies for missing a post in March!  Time just got away from us, and we didn't get a chance to make a post.  However, we're back at it, and have some great photos to share this month!

The last few days, our local guild, Lakeview Quilters Guild, had it's annual spring retreat in Galveston, Texas.  We were lucky to have absolutely beautiful weather for the most part, to go along with the fabulous comradery and sharing of works of art between all of the women.  It was quite an inspiring time!

Now, to share some of the fabulous work that we were able to see during the retreat...

Becky Stephenson finished the top on a square-in-square quilt that she made as part of an exchange with some other women in the guild.  She ended up enlarging hers so that it would be rectangular, instead of square, and had to make several hundred more of the small blocks.  I think it turned out just gorgeous.

Patty Dillon was working on the same quilt in a smaller version, although not as part of the exchange.  She finished it and got it quilted and bound at the retreat.  I love the curves of the quilting, matched with the geometry of the blocks.

Patty was also working on the Sleeping Beauty pattern by Sue Garman, from the kit that is filled with Christmas fabrics.  So many points on those spines!

Several women were working on a block-of-the-month quilt called Sangria, and were at various stages of completion.  Jan DeAlmedia, Jean Whittle, and Nancy Fervada created the works in the photos above.  I really like how bold the batik fabrics make the blocks look, and how nicely framed the center block is with that black fabric.

Mary Jo Thompson was busy at work on several projects.  She was putting together some blocks of sawtooth stars and carpenter's wheels, both of which I think are beautiful blocks, and aren't overly difficult to make.  She also finished two tops for these super cute airplane quilts for her grandchildren.  So cute and colorful!

The color in these two applique quilts really caught my attention.  They're so bright and colorful!  Katy Farmer did a really nice job picking colors and patterns that work well together.

This simple owl quilt is so cute!  Rhonda Stockton finished the top at the retreat.  She even had an owl trash can that she brought with her!

Lecia Majewski worked on a Swoon quilt pattern.  You can see in the photo where she was auditioning a turquoise fabric for the sashing.  I think it's the perfect choice of color!

For all you Trekkies out there, Ann Miley found a Star Trek fabric and put together a top for a quilt she is making for a friend.  So cute!

Not everyone works on quilts alone.  Connie Brose finished a nice bag, and also finished a churn dash block quilt, using blocks that she'd gotten in an exchange from 2006.  Way to finish that UFO!

Another non-quilt project is this diaper bag that Becky McNabb was working on for a friend.  It's very cute, but I think I'll stick to quilts myself!

Jana Albritton finished this top of a t-shirt quilt that she is making for a friend's daughter.  The t-shirts are all stabilized to make them easier to work with, which also makes the quilt pretty heavy.  I think she'll love it!

Talk about bright and beautiful!  Cindy Gravely put together this quilt top using Kaffe Fassett fabrics that she got in an exchange.  I love the geometry and brightness of the finished product.

Carolyn Hooks finished a top for a nurse friend, using a Loralie Designs panel fabric.  The sayings on some of the blocks made me giggle!

Vicki Stipe had several projects going that I got to see.  The top photo is a pattern by an Australian designer, in which she has used some really unique colors and patterns that work really well together.  It makes me think of candy lollipops!  The second picture is a lone star block that she finished, with several more to go.  The last photos are of a hand pieced hexagon quilt that she is putting together.  Instead of English paper piecing, Vicki used stamps to see where to cut and sew each piece.  So clever!

Kris Bryson got all of the pieces cut out and basted to work on this beautiful applique quilt.  I really like the soft colors in the blocks.  And, as big as it was on the wall, she had shrunk the pattern down to 3/4 of its original size.  Wow!

Being from Texas, I always fall in love with boot quilts.  Bobbi Anastasio had all of these up on the wall to play around with.  Notice how they are all in pairs (the fabric for the foot and neck of the boot are reversed in the next block), and how two of the boots are reversed in direction.  These will make a really fun quilt when it's complete!

Sharon Meyer continued work on the medallion quilt above (which I think Mom has posted on this blog previously).  She was working hard at putting together more of the log cabin style triangles to put on the next border.  So gorgeous!

Last, but not least, Marsha Fuller brought this finished reversible quilt to share with everyone.  It has circles on one side and squares on the other, and is completely reversible!  She said that the quilt is quilted as you go, and doesn't have any batting, so it's a nice lightweight quilt that will do well in our hot Texas weather.  I'll definitely have to get more details from her on the technique she used to make this beauty!

We hope you enjoyed all of these beautiful inspirations from our guild.  And, I hope the coming month brings lots of beautiful sunshine, and maybe not so much April rains.  Happy quilting!!!