Sunday, May 31, 2020

Let's Take a Look

On March 15, 2020, The Quilt Show released the Month 6 blocks two and a half months early so, if quilters found themselves home more than usual, they could begin to make the Double Nine Patch blocks needed for Afternoon Delight, the 2020 free Block of the Month quilt for Star Members.

Here it is 10 weeks later and a lot of us are still working at home, sheltering in place, practicing social distance, all  those new words for the current new normal.

In case you missed my post about that:  Month 6--EARLY RELEASE

Many people were thrilled to get Month 6 in March and have been working away on their Afternoon Delight quilts. including the 64 Double Nine Patch blocks.

Margo's blocks and a little set of X-blocks 

It is fun to see how using different fabrics can change the look of a quilt pattern. While some people chose to use the KIT offered for this project, most people are using their own fabrics.

This month, let's take a look at some of the many quilts being made by TQS members. These photos are taken from the Forum SHOW AND TELL--YOUR BLOCKS  and are used with the makers permission.

First, a student from my local class decided to charge ahead and finish her quilt, making it less than the full size of the pattern. Sometimes you just know when you're done.  Jill's finished quilt:

Jill quilted it on her home machine, in two halves, Quilt As You Go (QAYG):

Bpalluzi is using Yarra Valley Fabrics:

Heather7 has a bright and cheerful palette, with some bright backgrounds for her applique blocks:

Sandytn is adding a line of black embroidery to her applique blocks for definition:

Terrils, who I met at her guild in FL last year, has a beautiful selection of fabric--it reminds me of her sweet and gentle nature:

Terrils is also making the quilt her own by substituting an alternate block when she feels like it. Sue Garman, the wonderful designer of this quilt, loved when a quilter changed a quilt pattern to suit themselves. She always said two of her favorite words were "What if?":

Another girlfriend, and friend to many TQS members is Margo:

 Look at the stack of Double Nine Patches--Margo loves starch and gets great results:

How about bright, eye-popping color? Ellenceleste has it going on:

BeverleyB is from the Netherlands. Her fabrics have a completely different look from mine:

JanetE is using pretty fabrics--the block in the upper left got lots of comments on the Forum for her fussy cutting:

Ajclapp loves to work small, I mean really small! Here are some of her tiny blocks--I believe the Double Nine Patches are 4.5" square, using .5" little squares. The actual quilt pattern has 6.75" finished blocks--most of us thought that was small enough. Her results are spectacular:

I am a push-over for reproduction fabrics. Boots1950 has quite a lovely stash:

How about using a DARK background? HelenW is combining some Afternoon Delight applique blocks with another project:

HelenW is also making Afternoon Delight with a light background, aren't they beautiful:

 HelenW comments frequently on the Forum, so I feel like I know her--even though she is in Idaho. A state I have yet to visit. I appreciate all her comments, she helps cheer us on.

We would love to see your blocks so please post on the Forum:  SHOW AND TELL--YOUR BLOCKS  In the first post I wrote on that Topic, I explain how to add photos to the Forum. Look back to the oldest page if you need that information.

And, if you post your blocks on Social Media too, which is great and encouraged, please use these hashtags to make it easy for folks to find all the posts:


You can follow The Quilt Show on Instagram:  @thequiltshowsocial

And if you just can't stop making Double Nine Patch blocks? How about a baby quilt with the extras. These were made from my "testing the starch method" blog--find it HERE.

If you are not a Star Member, now is the time to give it a try. The "Staying at Home" special of $19.95 for 6 months, or $39.95 or 12 months won't last forever. You get the great Afternoon Delight pattern, a $90 value, and 13 YEARS of shows, so much to learn and enjoy!

Let's quilt,


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Wednesday Already?

The week got away from me.

Lots of secret sewing and parts of the Sawtooh Star project:

Running out of design wall space to properly lay out the Sawtooth Stars--there will be 50 of these blocks, 6" stars set on point are now 9" blocks. There will be 2" sashing between:

I made a few more masks for my sons and their women. Looks like we'll be wearing masks for some time so I will make more for all of us soon. The women both love their "Wonder Woman" mask:

I will get to see my eldest son and his girlfriend this weekend as we gather for a "birthday girls" celebration--Stella and I have birthdays one day apart. We will meet at Lauren and Andy's house--the first time we've all been together since Christmas. Stella will be 5 and Sam is 21 months--how fast they are growing!

While together, I will give Joshua and Cait quick sewing lessons on how to use their new machine. I was able to get my friend, Janet's 1958 Singer 401A Slant-O-Matic machine--she received it as a wedding gift that year. A few new parts were bought and my husband cleaned it up very well, oil and lubrication, and it sews a beautiful stitch:

Joshua recently asked me if buying a $100 brand new sewing machine online was a "good deal". I said "NO!" They would be far better off finding an older heavy-duty solid machine. We started looking on Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, etc. Those offered for sale usually were not guaranteed to work, as the sellers often said things like "My grandmother's machine, I have no idea if it works". And parts were often missing. So when I found out Janet had this one, I jumped on it.

I've put together a basic sewing kit, scissors, thread, rulers, some fabric, etc., so Joshua and Cait can play with the machine as they learn how it works:

Too bad they live two hours away. But it will be so good to see everyone.

Now it's back to that secret sewing for me.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Latest New Quilt Project

While doing "secret sewing" I can't show you, I am making another quilt at the same time:

This is not the final design placement and there are many more blocks to go, but you get the idea.

The corner triangles are being sewn on as "leader/enders" while making the secret quilt. Easy and it gives me a sense of accomplishment as each star goes from 6" to 9" finished and finds a place on the design wall.

At the first Joyful Journey Retreat, one of the women was working on an old project she was eager to get finished. I really liked it and thought I would want to make one like it someday:

All of April's Sawtooth Star points are the same light off-white fabric and the centers and backgrounds are different fabrics. The sashing and cornerstones tie it all together. I like the wide variety of fabrics very much, especially in the outside perimeter triangles. But when would I have time to start yet another quilt from scratch?

While laying in bed, when I should have been sleeping, I remembered I had 40 6" Sawtooth Star blocks I received in a swap, from Barb Vedder's blog: Oh, My Stars Swap  Perfect!

I "did the math" and decided to cut 80 squares, 6" each, to provide the 160 triangles needed to surround each star. Rather than dig out 80 fabrics, my original plan, I quickly decided to cut 2 each from 40 fabrics, in a wide variety of colors.

Once the four triangles were sewn on the four sides of the star, I pressed them firmly and trimmed the block to 9.5" square. This allows the stars to "float" just a bit. To float them even more, I could have cut those squares larger, say 6.5", 7" or even 7.5". That would make the stars larger. 

Once all the stars are surrounded with triangles and trimmed to 9.5",  I will decide what sashing and cornerstones I want to use. This makes for a larger quilt and gives each star room to shine.

Swaps are notoriously challenging--I have participated in many over the years. Even though Barb's instructions were clear and spot-on, not all of the blocks I received followed those instructions. A few had bias on the background triangles instead of straight-of-grain, and the requirement to use "quilt shop quality muslin" wasn't always followed.

Adding your own fabrics to blocks received in swaps is a good way to control the quality and fix block sizes that are not exactly perfect.

I once participated in a swap of Dear Jane blocks done in Halloween fabrics--fun! It was a big swap with people from several countries and many US states. The person who coordinated it was up-front from the beginning. As she received your blocks, they would be sorted into 5 "quality levels"--A, B, C, D, and E. If you sent in A blocks, you got A blocks in return. If you sent D blocks, that's what you got in return. I can only imagine what any E blocks looked like! I tried hard to be sure I sent in A's.

Here is a poor photo of what I did with those Dear Jane blocks. I gave the quilt away and now cannot find any other photo of it:

My recommendation if you want to create a swap: choose the participants wisely, be sure all agree to follow whatever the rules are, and be sure everyone understands the rules. Also set a time requirement that allows adequate time but not too much time--most will do their blocks right at the deadline.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Take A Minute

Recently, I received a card in the mail:

I call it a "love letter". It was from one of the Sunday Sew & Sews, and someone who also attended the awesome Joyful Journey First Retreat in March.

She took the time to tell me what our group and Retreat mean to her. How much she has learned since she was a "baby quilter" when we began our journey together, just over 3 years ago. How much she gets from the joy of quilting.

It was one of those notes that bring tears of joy to the eyes. Over the years I have received many of these, from students mostly, and they are all saved in a lovely basket:

Someday my kids will find them and see their mother in a different light.

SO, take a minute--is there someone who means a lot to you? Are you sure they know the positive impact they make in your life?

Take a minute--send a note, handwritten, in the mail--to let them know. If for no other reason than it will make them happy. It will touch their heart.

If you haven't mailed anything lately, first class postage is currently 55 cents. I buy a book of "Forever" stamps when I need them so have to look up the current rate.

Send a note, it only takes a minute. Then:

Let's quilt.


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Announcement, Announcement, Announcment!

Guess what? There will be a Special Exhibit of my life's work at International Quilt Festival Houston this Fall, October 2020.

International Quilt Festival Houston--George R Brown Convention Center

To say I am "over the moon" is putting it mildly. The Exhibit is entitled "My Joyful Journey" and will feature quite a few of my quilts from the mid-1980's when I was a "baby quilter" to my current work, and a few award-winning quilts.

I consider this my "Lifetime Achievement Award"--to present my progression as a mostly traditional quiltmaker, from the early days when they were "less than lovely" to where I find myself today.

My first International Quilt Market was 1996, when I attended as  the "buyer" for my local quilt shop, Patches & Stitches. I have attended every Fall Market since and every Festival since 1999, when I began working for the Education Department of Quilts Inc. There is much about that experience that I love, I have written about it many times, but this, oh, this is really a special dream come true.

This collage was assembled by Quilts Inc. and represents just a quick look at the past. So much has changed with quilting and yet much has remained the same--our passion for playing with fabric and thread to create a vision as well as make useful objects. I especially like that it features 1996, the first year I stepped into the George R Brown Convention Center, when it was somewhat smaller than it is today:

Yes, I know this is a weird year. And, yes, I know many people might not come to Houston this year. But as long as there is a Festival, and that is most definitely the plan today, my quilts will be there and I will get to see them hanging as a collection. Pretty cool....

In the  next few weeks I will know which quilts are included. Some of these:

Maybe some from my "Artsy Period", like this one:

Maybe one of my favorites, like this one I worked on for 7 years:

They have a lot to choose from so I will be very interested to see which quilts are selected to represent my work and make an interesting Special Exhibit for attendees to enjoy.

I hope you will make it to Festival this year--a show that only needs to go by one name: "Houston". A place I feel at home, a place filled with people I love and admire, a place I am so honored to be able to share my work.  Make your plans and I'll see you in Houston!

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A Quilter's Legacy

A couple months ago, a quilter friend of mine passed away after a long and fulfilling life. Find out more about Janet here:  A Tribute

Janet made lots of quilts for donation to various organizations, like the hospital NICU, Veteran's home, and others. Her daughter found a large stack of these in progress. Janet had a goal to make 50 of these but did not complete her task.

The Sunday Sew and Sews agreed to finish this project in her honor. Recently, Janet's daughter brought four carloads of stuff to my house for this reason. It has taken some time to organize all the quilts to get them ready for the Sunday Sew and Sews to pick up but they are ready:

Janet was very organized. She had a notebook with four typewritten pages of all the donation quilt tops she had made. That was enormously helpful to me as I found each top, selected a back, batting and binding for each and got it ready for someone to complete:

 The binder also held many patterns Janet had collected over many years for donation quilts--from magazine pages to those printed off the Internet, all neatly stored in the binder.

Just one page of four

The sizes she used the most for various purposes

It took the better part of 2 days to get all the quilt tops ready. There were at least 50 bins of fabric to go through for backings and bindings and bags of batting to cut. I found good selections for each quilt, including the 3 that needed borders added or backing pieced together.

Dining Room Command Central

Garage Staging Area

Janet had two favorite designs she liked for the quilts she made for children. One pattern she designed in 2004, she called the Sawtooth Star Quilt. Janet loved Seminole Piecing and often added it to these quilts as well as her own:

With Seminole pieced border

Very simple border

The one she called "My Favorite Donation Quilt: is very simple--she let the fabric do the talking:

Super Simple

Seminole Pieced borders
Some little boy will love this
Both of these patterns finish at less than 45" wide so one length of fabric makes the back. It take 1.25 yards for the back and just over 1/3 yard for binding.

When people say "I don't have time to make donation quilts" I will think of these and how easy they are to put together. 

Once in a while she made a more time-consuming quilt to donate:

Floating Stars--she probably got these in a swap

Two of the Sunday Sew and Sews volunteered to quilt a bunch of them on their longarms. Robin took 16 and Holly took 10. All I had to do was be sure I gave them all the yardage needed for big backs and batting and binding for all those quilts.  There was a full roll of Warm and White batting and many bags of 3 yards of 90" wide batting, so plenty on hand for the longarmers and plenty to cut into pieces for the remaining 20+ quilts to be done on domestic machines.

When the 26 being quilted by Robin and Holly are done, they will pass them on, along with the binding I included for each quilt, to another Sunday Sew and Sew for final completion.

Now the Fun Part: Once I had all the quilts prepared, I could look through the bins to see what I might want. Oh, yes, we each get 3 bins for our own personal use. There are thousands of yards of fabric here:

As I am making Quilts of Valor at the moment, I was thrilled to find yardage of reds and blues I can use for borders and backs--thanks, Janet! She tended to buy everything--all colors--all styles, fat quarters and 3 yard pieces. The women will have fun this weekend picking out their 3 bins to take home.

One simple rule: no cherry-picking, you take the whole box. Fortunately, Janet had things pretty much in organized groups in the bins. There is sure to be something here to make everyone happy. Three people have already come to get quilts to work on--they were surprised to see all these boxes to choose from.

There are also lots of books--some she even had two copies of. Sadly, today most quilters don't want books, they want to find everything for free on the Internet or YouTube. There are some real gems here, some from 25 years ago, some very recent. I hope they find a new home. If you are looking for a specific book from the past, let me know, it might be here  and I'm  happy to share:

Last Summer, Janet did a giveaway of TONS of fabric and she told us there was still plenty left. Read about that here: Do I NEED More Fabric?  She was right...

I thought I have a lot of fabric, now, really I don't feel so bad. While I often say "I have a sinful amount of fabric"  what I really mean is "I am the curator of an extensive personal textile collection".

Janet would be pleased to know her 50 or more donation quilts will be finished and donated in the next few months. We are pleased to do it in her honor and memory and her family is ever-so grateful. Do you have a "final arrangements plan" for your stash? Since none of us will live forever, that's not a bad idea. 

Let's quilt,