Sunday, October 30, 2022

GPDU -- MONTH 11 and 12

Here we are close to the end of Garden Party Down Under. Designed exclusively for The Quilt Show by Irene Blanck, this lovely quilt is sure to be a favorite in your family for years to come. 

Month 11 brings us the last vases--I call these "Skinny Vases". Here are mine in the sample quilt I made last year: 

Here are designer Irene Blanck's: 

I made a tracing of the circular flower for placement help. Here you can see mine is more oval than round but that's OK:

Once the two skinny vases for Month 11 are done, you can complete the left side of the quilt. Then you make the left side Diamond Border, either by applique or piecing--see my post on the Month 10 Diamond Borders for more information.

I liked these Skinny Vases so much I made them again, even though all my previous blocks were already put into two finished wall hangings. It was time to make one more project from my 2022 sample blocks made this year:

Month 12 has you make the top and bottom Diamond Borders, including a floral motif in each of the corners. Once that  step is done, your quilt top is finished!

One more step--upload a photo to the Forum for the world to see your beautiful top: Show Your Finished Top Here    Take a look to see really great quilt tops.

Here are the two wall hangings I made earlier this year with the blocks made as samples for the blogs and videos. It just goes to show you don't have to make a bed quilt if you don't want to:

Months 1 and 2, 38" square

Months 3-7, 50" square

In December I will have closeups of the quilting I did on mine. 

This month we have released BOTH Month 11 and Month 12 patterns so those who joined or renewed at the end of 2021 can still get ALL the patterns without having to renew for another year. Of course, I can't imagine why everyone wouldn't want to renew, The Quilt Show provides a lot of bang for your buck. I learn something from every show--a new show is released every two weeks. AND you have access to ALL the previous shows, going back 14 years.


The patterns are FREE to Star Members of The Quilt Show until December 31, 2022. There are many reasons to become a Star Member, the Block of the Month patterns are one. If you love this quilt, you can make it, just download and/or print and save the patterns in a safe place. After December 31, 2022, we will no longer be able to provide them to you, nor can anyone else. You will be able to buy them from the designer when she regains the rights to the  pattern.

Very soon it will be time to get ready for the 2023 Block of the Month project. It is a charming quilt, full of things to learn and I know you will like it. I am happily working on mine.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, October 26, 2022


In the 1990's I made a lot of bed size quilts and when I think of how busy life was then, with kids, the house, several jobs, and a husband to keep happy I really don't know how I did it all.

Of course, I was younger then, a lot younger. And quiltmaking was absolutely my passion by then. I HAD to  make quilts, there was no other option. That remains true to this day.

Here is the story of another of My Favorite Quilts. 

LONE STAR GARDEN, 1997, 90" X 90" 


The center star was inspired by an antique quilt in the book Star Quilts  by Mary Elizabeth Johnson. Each of the 8 very large diamonds is cut from a border stripe fabric, and each has to be cut exactly the same as the rest. I bought 5 yards of the Jinny Beyer border stripe and got started.

I had to return to the store to buy more yards--those diamonds are huge. I finally got all 8 diamonds pieced together, each is a single piece of fabric. The beauty of using a border stripe is the center will be a big surprise. I didn't know what it would look like until all 8 diamonds came together. I loved it.

I designed the applique blocks/triangles with inspiration from the book Jacobean Designs  by Pat Campbell. Using some of my most favorite fabrics, I cut flowers and leaves and stems for weeks. The hand applique process took months of stitching at night, mostly. 

When the center of the quilt was done it was time to figure out a border. It would have been simple to throw more of the border stripe on and call it done. But, no, this quilt deserved something more challenging than that.

Jinny Beyer had developed a technique she called "Soft Edge Piecing" and had written a book by that name. I knew that was just perfect for this quilt. So I went back to the store and bought the rest of the bolt--by now I had purchased close to 15 yards of this one fabric for this quilt.

I  hand basted the border stripe to a length of the pink background fabric. Then did that 3 more times to prepare the borders. Over many hours I slowly cut on a line on the border stripe, turned it under and hand appliqued the border stripe to the background. This is "soft edge piecing", an appliqued edge on a base fabric.

While it was completed in 1997 I know I worked on it for about two years. I marked it for quilting and took it to a woman who has doing hand quilting for the public back then--she quilted quite a few quilts for me in those years. She liked my quilts because I brought them marked and basted so all she had to do was quilt them. And regardless of the price she asked, I paid her in cash, the amount she asked, AND fabric. She didn't drive and getting out to a store was difficult so she loved having a big bag of fabric to use for her own quilts. 

This quilt was the first I  had exhibited at International Quilt Festival in Houston, It was included in the Special Exhibit "Traditional Treasures" in Houston, 2013. It was a thrill to see it hanging there.

This quilt taught me that a great quilt doesn't get made in a day. Lots of stitches, and time, will make a great quilt, just keep going. Learn new techniques, read a lot of books, get inspired by quilts from the past. And make it your own.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, October 23, 2022

My Favorite Quilts # 1

 Pieces of the Past--Circa 1875 is one of my most favorite quilts:

Made in 1995, when I had ten years under my belt as a quiltmaker. It is 82" square. I hand quilted it and used wool batt for the first time. It is so cuddly, soft, warm and reminds me of the generations of women quiltmakers who came before me. It spends the winter on our bed as a topper, for those chilly nights when one quilt isn't enough.


I moved to Alabama from Virginia in 1988 when my husband retired from the United States Marine Corps. He grew up 40 miles south of Huntsville so we came "home". I was sad to leave my small quilt guild, the Virginia Star Quilters of Fredericksburg, but knew there was a guild in Huntsville where I would be welcome. 

Less than a week after we arrived I went to a neighbor's yard sale and found an old top for $5.00. It was brown, my least favorite color. There was one other, it was blue, but a man got to it ahead of me and bought it. I chased him to his car, offered him $10 to let me have it, but he refused, saying "What's the big deal? You got one." He wouldn't have understood brown vs blue so I didn't try but I did beg him not to use it as  a drop cloth, to respect the work it represented.

I spent all day in a slump, unhappy with the top I got. Finally, I was struck on the head with the realization: I had a TREASURE and all I could think about was the one that got away. I studied the top intently and realized it was a really old quilt top.  

It is fragile so rarely leaves the house now. The border fabric is brittle and torn. It just needs to be cared for in its' current condition.

I had only been a quiltmaker for 3 years then and thought all tops had to be quilted. That was why I bought it. But I quickly realized that was not to be. It would never hold up to the stress and time it would take me to quilt it. So I decided to replicate it.

A few years after I bought the top, my guild had a program with Merikay Waldvogel. A noted quilt historian, she asked us to bring any old quilts we had and she put them in date order. There was only one small quilt she dated earlier than mine, it was circa 1865. My top is Circa 1875. 

It is a fabric treasure for those of us who love old fabrics. Hand pieced, it was well made but the fragile fabrics just haven't held up. Fortunately, it wasn't used, so it survived. It probably spent all this time packed away, waiting for the right time to quilt it. 

The large print in the original has a design I believe to be cotton bolls. In the early 1990's I found a similar fabric and immediately bought 3 yards so I could get started on my reproduction. I hand quilted it with triple diagonal lines, appropriate to the time period the top was made. And easy to mark with 1/4" tape:

Close up of the original:

One more FUNNY part to this story. After it was done, my guild had a program with Liz Porter. We were making new quilts that were meant to look old. During the lunch break I showed her my top. She looked at it closely and said "You know, this brown fabric used to be purple.". The whole room broke out laughing--she didn't get it. My FAVORITE COLOR is purple! She showed us the seam allowances on the back--the large central fabric that looks like cotton bolls was definitely purple when it was new. So this quilt top really was meant to be mine.

Now I have to replicate it one more time---I have the perfect purple fabric just waiting for this next quilt.

The most valuable lesson I learned from this quilt? Appreciate what you have, not what you don't.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

My Favorite Quilts

 A student asked me the other day "How many quilts do you think you have made?" My reply was "Hundreds.". 

I used to  keep a photo notebook as each quilt got done but ended that process in the late 1990's I think. That was back in the olden days when you took a photo with a camera and sent the film off to be developed and printed. Now it's all digital files and computer folders for most of us.

Many of my quilts were teaching samples, most smaller than bed size and there are many of those. I have been giving them away over time when it is clear they will never be a class sample again.

My quilts are everywhere:

Spare bedroom, quilt overflow room

Pile on the chair are too big to put anywhere else at the moment

Little bittys in a basket

Smalls in an antique crib

Shelf in the Living Room

It's Fall, y'all

Since I will be gone to Houston for a couple of weeks soon, I will use this time to mention a few of my most favorite quilts. And tell their story. Every quilt has a story.

Stay tuned starting Sunday October 23, 2022 for My Favorite Quilts.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, October 16, 2022

Antique Rose Star

Recently, I spent the day with 5 lovely quilters as they learned how to make Antique Rose Star blocks by machine.

This is a great class to teach because the technique for mastering this block is something new to most students. And when I see the A-HA moment in their eyes I know they get it!

Only one problem for me--I want come right home and make another one. 

This is a popular class I teach to lots of guilds--it has the advantage of being able include students who want to hand piece instead of machine piece--both can be part of the same class. 

The blocks each contain 72 Kite-shaped pieces, exactly the same shape and size. Here are my samples:

Hand quilted with big stitch, about 65" square

A Table Topper featuring just ONE block--about 36" wide

A much smaller version--these kites are 1.5" high finished

You can even make a table runner. This is a gift I received from my friend Sharon: 

Here are the blocks the students worked on in class:





I  have seen these made in bright, modern fabrics, in Daiwabo muted woven fabrics, in solids. It's  hard to make a bad one if you like your fabrics.

Great job, ladies! I look forward to seeing where you go from  here.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, October 12, 2022


In less than 6 months I will be teaching on an amazing quilt cruise, run by Stitchin Heaven--a very well-known quilt shop in Quitman, TX.

HARMONY OF QUILTING is the theme of this cruise. We will enjoy a week on the luxurious Harmony of the Seas ship, with all the fine accommodations and activities Royal Caribbean Cruises can provide.

Watch this one minute Video to get excited about this opportunity: 

Spaces have been filling quickly. The kits are currently being cut. All you have to do is decide to COME WITH US and register. Find all the details right here: HARMONY OF QUILTING CRUISE

What you bring: basic sewing supplies. And some clothes. And your Passport.

What you don't bring: a sewing machine--you will have personal use all week of a brand new Bernina machine that is yours for the week. 

Fabrics for the two class projects can be ordered as Kits--all you do is show up and your kit will be there waiting for you. If you prefer to work with your own fabric, you will buy the pattern in advance and pre-cut your fabric at home before the trip. 

The quilt I am teaching is Scrappy Plus. Here it is on my design wall when I made it two years ago, for the 2021 cruise that was cancelled, you know why:

I have cruised several times, to the Caribbean and Alaska. I love unpacking once and seeing different countries. I love the beautiful features of these wonderful cruise ships. I love the food. I love the service. And now I will LOVE being able to teach what I am passionate about to others who want to learn. 

My husband is joining me on this trip. Perhaps you have a friend who wants to join you too. There is plenty of sewing time together and plenty of free time to enjoy all the activities you want to enjoy on the ship. Port days will visit St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Coco Cay in the Bahamas. Sailing round trip from Miami makes it easy to get to the ship.

If you have always wanted to cruise, this is your best chance--to cruise and quilt. I hope you will join me and many others as we set sail on a Harmonious Adventure!

Let's quilt,


Sunday, October 9, 2022

Controlled Chaos

 With Houston around the corner, and classes in full swing, my studio space is in a state of semi-controlled chaos.

I have two major quilts in active construction mode. Three classes in the next 6 days. A surprise extra bonus fabric for yet another garment, if I get time to make it. And all the usual house stuff, like paying bills, planning and preparing meals, etc.

Lest you think my studio is always neat and tidy, here you go:

I really should spend an hour putting something away but that hour hasn't materialized yet. So I just move things around when I am creating things.

Before I go to Houston I will make some order out of this chaos so I don't come home to this mess. 

The good news is the two major quilts are coming together nicely and I like what I am seeing. I'll be able to share those projects with you soon.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A Little Look

Students in Two-for-One had a good time and are well in their way to making great quilts. 

Here are a few photos from the second class where they learned how to assemble the blocks:

I was happy to see how much sewing they all did in the week between session 1 and 2. A great group of students.

The only problem for me in teaching this class is I always want to make another one. So far, I have made 2 queen size, one twin size and two Teeny-Tiny size--using 1" cut strips instead of 2". 

Let's quilt.


Sunday, October 2, 2022

It's That Time of Year

Fall brings cooler temperatures which I love. It also means many of us are getting ready to go to Houston for the world's largest quilt show:  International Quilt Festival--often known by only one name: HOUSTON!

I also go to International Quilt Market, so I will be in Texas for two weeks. 

Those who work in the Education Department are often lucky enough to be given fabric from one of several great manufacturers to use for a garment. This helps identify us as "staff" on the third floor where all classes, lectures and special events are held. We can make whatever we like and each day on the schedule is designated for a specific garment.

So, it's time to make the Garment. Here are several from years gone by, some of which will be worn this year:

My new one for 2022 uses fabric by Art Gallery, from their GRID collection:

I made it reversible for twice the use: 

This is Kaffe Fassett's 85th birthday year and there will be some celebrating at Market. Here are two Kaffe garments I made years ago--we had these fabrics in 2005 and 2008. I will wear one of these for the celebration:

And since I'm showing off my IKEA bookcases, here are two of my most favorite things on those bookcases.

Sue Garman, my dear friend and a mentor, was the designer of Afternoon Delight, the quilt we used for the 2020 Block of the Month for The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. I went to Dallas to tape the show, using the sample quilt I made along with great help from the Sunday Sew and Sews.  We had this lovely photograph of Sue on the table during the interview. I felt she was there with me. I see her lovely smile every day and miss her always:

Many years ago I was an Admin Officer in the United States Marine Corps. My first duty station was MCAS Cherry Point, in North Carolina. One of the clerks in my unit, H&HS-28, was a cartoonist and he surprised me with this caricature. He didn't sign or date it and I cannot remember his name, I am very sorry to say. This has been with me for 45 years and is one of my most treasured items:

Also, sad to say, I still have those chunky calves.

Lots to do before heading to Houston. The "Secret Sewing" has begun for the 2023 Block of the Month quilt--it will be revealed very soon. Several other great quilts have to get made or finished. I am always busy, happily so.

Let's quilt.