Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Virginia Consortium of Quilters Celebration!

 As you read this, I am traveling to the Skelton 4-H Center in Wirtz, VA for Celebration! with the Virginia Consortium of Quilters aka VCQ.  Celebration! 2022

This is a Homecoming for me. When I was a "baby quilter" in the mid-late 1980's, VCQ was a brand-new statewide guild that held meetings around the state of Virginia a few times a year. The first Celebration was held at a 4-H Center in Front Royal, VA and I was thrilled to attend it.

It was my first "Retreat" as a quilter and it was amazing! To be enveloped in all things QUILT for several days, away from home and my two little boys, and to be FED 3 meals a day--what a huge treat! My passion for quiltmaking was firmly established by then and it was the beginning of my lifelong love affair with the art.

Sadly, I moved from Virginia to Alabama in 1988. BUT--quilters have built-in friends wherever they go and I was welcomed here to a large guild, the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville. Soon, I was teaching lots of classes at a local shop, Patches & Stitches. A new passion was born--sharing what I knew with those who wanted to learn too.

I returned to the second Celebration! after I had moved to Alabama--it was so good to see old friends again. It never occurred to me one day I would return again--as FACULTY. Of course, that was supposed to happen in 2020--but was postponed two years so it is happening NOW.

The workshops I am excited to teach are 5 Easy Pieces, based on an antique top I bought at a yard sale 5 days after arriving in Alabama. The first one I made is an exact replica of the original, with a LOT of Set-In Piecing. That was too hard for most students so I adapted the quilt pattern to a much easier project. 

My replica of the original, machine pieced and hand quilted by me:

The easier adaptation, machine pieced by me, hand quilted by a friend:

The antique top. This rarely comes out of deep storage but will make this trip so the students can see all these amazing old fabrics. It was dated Circa 1875 by Merikay Waldvogel, a quilt historian/author who really knows her stuff:

As you can see, the outer border is totally shot. And there are weak spots in some of the blocks. It is hand-pieced, which makes all those set-in blocks easier to do.

Silly me, as a baby quilter I thought every top was supposed to get quilted so I bought it with the plan to hand quilt it, after replacing the outer border. When I found out how old it was I decided to replicate it and preserve it in its current condition. 

There is a long, informative story about this top and the quilts it inspired. Read it HERE if you want to know the lessons we can learn from old quilts/tops.

The second workshop is Kisses + Hugs, a great scrapbuster quilt. It has the added benefit of helping quilters improve their piecing skills:

I am going to have a grand time and will have much to report, I'm sure, when I get home. 

I wonder if there will be any of my first guild members there. The VA Star Quilters of Fredericksburg, VA taught me to quilt. I often say I am so fortunate that they didn't look at my early work and say "My dear, you should find another hobby." Instead, they said "Let me show you how..."  And so began my Joyful Journey.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, April 24, 2022


 Ever since Alex Anderson talked about Neutral quilts, almost two years ago, I have been thinking about making one. I have her book om Neutral Quilts and it helped me look at fabrics in a new way.

My plan was to use a variety of "Disappearing" Blocks---nine patches and four patches--to create a type of sampler quilt with all neutral fabrics. 

The problem? Getting the overall block sizes the same. The more you cut up larger squares to create the pieced blocks, the more seam allowances so the math is different for each block.

Here are the first two blocks BUT they are not the same size:

When working with neutrals, you still need CONTRAST. Remember, color gets all the credit, but contrast does all the work. Just a few of my working pile of neutrals:

Since most quilters are drawn first to color, with a neutral quilt the design is all important. You have to LOVE the design. 

Here are a couple of the ideas I was working on:

 Since neither thrills me, I'll go back to the drawing board and start over.

Stay tuned...

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

My Personal Garden Party

 It's that time of year, Spring, when my garden looks the best.

Here are a few photos as the garden comes back to life.

And just so this is a little bit quilt-y: in the past few days I have made both of the Month 5 blocks for Garden Party Down Under:

Block 6

Block 7

Let's quilt.


Sunday, April 17, 2022

Washing Quilts

 After writing about the large number of quilts I am storing, I decided to give a few away. Non-quilter friends asked for these two and I was happy to pass them on:

Hot Summer Nights, original design, 84" x 84"

Faceted Jewels a Glad Creation pattern,
52" x 84"

Thank goodness for labels. Hot Summer Nights, made in 2000 "to use up some of my huge fabric stash"! I  had no idea then what my stash would grow into. And "Faceted Jewels" was made in 2001. Both longarm quilted by Terry Owens, when I was just starting to have a few quilts machine quilted:

November 2000


Both of these were class samples way back when. And I knew they wouldn't be classes ever again. Faceted Jewels has been hanging on a guest room wall for almost 20 years. Hot Summer Nights has been taking up space on the bookshelf for many years too. 

Before I gave them away, I decided to wash them. It seems likely they had not been washed ever before, seeing how nice and crinkly they came out of the dyer.

Color Catchers are mandatory when I wash quilts. Here you can clearly see how much dye was released from these two quilts, washed in separate loads. The white one on the left is a Color Catcher new out of the box. The green one came from Faceted Jewels and the really dark one from Hot Summer Nights:

It is likely there is still plenty of color in both of these quilts judging by how much color is in these sheets. I will include a few new Color Catcher sheets and the box lid when I give these quilts to my friends--so they know to use them at least during the next washing. Eventually, there will be almost no dye lost and I wouldn't use them going forward.

Every kid going off on their own should be taught about these Color Catchers--so new blue jeans don't turn new white t-shirts a lovely shade of gray. 

I don't wash my quilts very often, only when first complete, if they get dirty during use or when giving them away. These were put in a front load washer on Express Wash (30 minutes) with half a teaspoon of Orvus Paste as the detergent. And one Color Catcher. Water temps were warm/cool. The dryer setting was high. If I didn't love the crinkled look, I would air-dry flat.  

For a better look at the colors, here are "glamour shots" of these after washing/drying, laying on a spare bed:

How do I decide which quilts I can part with? When I am happier at the thought of a specific quilt being with a friend, then I am having it in my possession. Unfortunately, I have a lot I can't consider parting with at the moment.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

AdventureLand Quilts

 About a month ago I saw a new quilt pattern on Instagram that was soon to be released by Suzy Quilts. I had not heard  of that company before but thought the design was simple and interesting. When it was released, I bought the PDF pattern, dug out a blue/white jelly roll and made the baby size at my Joyful Journey retreat.

The Baby size, about 41" square. I find after washing/drying, this one is a bit "wavy"--fine for a simple baby quilt but it would have benefitted from blocking--something I don't want to do for a "utility" quilt:

Easy enough, so I got out another jelly roll to make the Throw size, about 60" square. I couldn't handle the Kaffe Fassett fabrics side by side so I inserted a blue or green solid between the busy prints. After washing/drying, this one is much less wavy--could be better quality jelly roll strips: 

The instructions are clear enough. The directions to press all the seams open are not what I would do, IF I intended to stitch-in-the-ditch. You need to HAVE a DITCH if that is your plan. But I usually follow the directions the first time. The small blue and white one has seams pressed open but all the strips are stitched in the ditch as well as down the center of each strip. It would have been easier to do the ditch quilting had there been a ditch. The large white triangles are free motion quilted with paisley feathers, more or less.

For the larger quilt, I pressed the seams to one side, toward the prints, then first quilted in the ditch across the two center diagonals. Then I quilted "swirly circles" in two quadrants of strips, "swirly leaves" in the other two quadrants of strips, and in the large blue triangles I quilts "curvy cross hatch".  No marking, easy quilting, great way to practice free-motion or ruler work quilting. 

All in all, the quilt tops were quick to make and quick to quilt. Not likely to become a "go-to" pattern for me, but fun enough to whip up for something new.

A few "glamour shots":

Throw size, the front

Throw size, the back

Baby size, the front

Baby size, the back

To see a large number of these quilts, go to Instagram or Facebook and search for #advernturelandquilt or #adventurelandquiltsa   Wonderful fabric selection can really make this a beautiful quilt.

The pattern includes instructions for two additional bed sizes, twin and queen/full--those sizes use yardage as jelly rolls are not long enough.

There is a Sew-a-Long going on for this quilt at the moment--see the link above to Suzy Quilts.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Traveling to Teach

Recently, I was pleased to be invited back to lecture/teach for the Cumberland Valley Quilters Association (CVQA) in Franklin, TN.  A short two hour drive up the road for me, I remembered my 2018 visit there fondly so was happy to return. They have been meeting by ZOOM and were excited to gather together again.

A few quilts on display: 

Easy technical set-up, the only real challenge: 
About 75 women attended the morning lecture and it went very well. "Time Management for Quilters" is always well-received and I often hear from people weeks or months later to say they learned some tips that have made them more productive., which is the point of this lecture--using the time you have to maximize your creativity. 

The next day 10 women met in a large room for the Western Sun workshop. Lots of space, and the rain held off until machines and supplies were in place. A sampling of the students' progress:

I had a wonderful surprise during the lunch break when Jeanette showed me her Two-For-One mini size block quilt she made in a class with me a few years. back. She had seen the quilt when I visited her guild four years ago and then drove down to Huntsville to take the class from me at  local shop. Look at this:

Those are HALF INCH FINISHED SQUARES! Amazingly beautiful. Usually taught with 2" strips, this mini version uses 1" strips. The size difference is really something. Great job, Jeanette--thank you for much for bringing it!

As the weather was supposed to be "severe thunderstorms" between there and home Wednesday after the workshop ended, I opted to stay another night at the Drury Plaza Hotel--a very nice place. My king-size  Western Sun got it's first outing on this trip:

I had awoken each morning with a stuffy head, typical for hotel room nights. Thursday I was also really tired, not unusual while teaching either. The two hour trip home was easy on a beautiful sunny Spring day. But when I got home I was exhausted so immediately took a two-hour nap. Woke up coughing. You know where this is going, right? No better Friday morning, I took a home test for Covid and was positive. 

I immediately let the guild know so they could notify their members. Checked with my doctor for recommendations for treatment--just a Z-pac for me as I am not at risk for severe complications. Trying to stay away from my husband so he stays well isn't easy. Time will tell.

Fully vaccinated, first booster gotten last September, my antibody counts were very high when checked last September. So I was surprised. Fairly mild symptoms, the worst of which are body aches and a  wracking cough. By Saturday I felt somewhat better but still just wanted to lay around, nap in the afternoon and just plain take it easy. 

As much as we want the virus to be a thing of the past, that seems less likely as time goes on. The variants may keep this virus around much longer than originally thought.  As soon as I can get the second booster, I will. 

Take care of yourself so we can quilt.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

So Many Quilts!

 What to do with them all?  

The spare bedroom is home to a lot of quilts. This bookcase is full. Some are class samples/traveling quilts for teaching jobs, some are just because they have to go somewhere  and some are favorites:

The spare bed is the staging spot for quilts going to the next job--so I don't forget the class sample or teaching supplies or quilts that support the lecture:

Every room in the house has quilts on the walls, on chairs/sofas, in progress, etc. There are just so many:

Living Room

Master Bedroom

Even the bathrooms have quilts in them: 
Master Bath

 Master Bath

One of the earliest on display, in the half bath, made in 1994, when I first learned paper piecing: 

Detail, when I hand quilted everything I made. The upper kimono was made from a real cotton kimono my husband brought back from Japan in 1979. When it wore out I cut up the parts that were salvageable and used a bit in this tiny block:  

Of course, the Studio has lots of quilts, finished and in progress: 

The best quilts--the family heirlooms--are in a safe place in storage. They don't come out very often. But what to do with all the rest?

I've sold some over the years. And will do that again, next year most likely. 

I've given more than a few away. And will continue to do that as I find the right quilt for the right recipient. 

And since not making any more is simply NOT AN OPTION, there will continue to be more made that need a place to reside.

Do you  have a plan? What will you do with all of your quilts? I can't be the only one with a sizeable stockpile of my quilts. 

I am not even addressing the antique quilts and tops I have bought over the years. They will need a home too. 

Time to finish the next one. Let's quilt.