Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eek ! ! !


I can't believe I did it... I accidentally posted my May 1 blog yesterday!  Knowing that I would be out of town until the posting date, I had prepared the post early, intending for it to "go live" on the first of the month, as I usually do.  Oh well... don't be confused - the April 25 blog post is really the May 1 blog post... but you get to see it early!

(blush...)

Sue

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My May 1 blog... that I posted a bit early!


This month I will be showing you a wide variety of quilts - things from the 2013 International Quilters Association's (IQA) Maps and the Art Naturescapes division/exhibits, as well as a bunch more of the quilts from the March West Houston Quilters Guild show (with more to come in the future) and my guild's Spring Retreat.  I have been on the road so much that I have virtually nothing to show that I've been working on... but that doesn't mean that I have not been stitching.  I just don't have anything to show you yet!

So let's get started.  First of all, here are some quilts from the Maps exhibit at the IQA's 2013 show in Houston.  I found them to be an interesting combination of quilts.  As the sponsor, Quilts on the Wall, described it, "We usually use maps to help us get where we want to go, but they can also tell us where we are in the universe and more about our surroundings.  This exhibit features fiber art pieces that explore the various ways that maps and our lives intersect."

Annette Guerrero (Pasadena, California) says she made Ice Cores after being inspired by ice cores that are used to map climate change over the past several thousand years.  When polarized light passes through an ice core, the light refracts the water into many brilliant colors.  Annette's machine-stitched circles represent the bubbles of methane gas trapped in the ice.  I love the richness of the colors in this quilt -- and the use of very structured geometric lines interrupted with the circles.



Linda Anderson (La Mesa, California) used raw-edge applique, hand painting, and machine stitching to make One Man's Dream.  Her husband had dreamed of riding Route 66 on a motorcycle since he was a young man.  Linda took a photograph of a family member on a visit to Sweden and used him as the inspiration to travel the iconic route that is famous in American history.  Following the map and traversing the states of this route, also known as "The Mother Road," is rich with unexpected experiences for whoever takes this opportunity.  Gosh - it almost makes me want to plan my own Route 66 trip!  You can see the map of Route 66 within the quilting on this quilt, below - what a novel quilt and what a great way to quilt it.



Carol Nilsen (Laguna Beach, California) made Layered Marks from the Sky after being inspired by aerial photographs by Tom Lamb.  She mapped a runway and taxiway at the buy John Wayne airport in southern California.  She says, "I'm fascinated by using luxurious fabrics to map layers of land and air use.  Mapping the routes of millions of people aboard thousands of aircraft as they hurtle toward landings, criss-cross runways, or lumber off toward distant parts, turns a noisy, dirty and speedy enterprise into a quiet meditation on our beloved flight habits.  The surrounding land maps fragments of time and lives, while the taxiway maps safe transit to and from the sky.  For me, this quilt is an amazing abstraction of the busy-ness of our lives - and our travels, whether they be journeys from place to place, event to event, or even across time.



Carol Baltgalvis (Riverside California) used applique and machine stitching to create Uncharted.  It is based on an antique map with chart lines and traditional compass symbols.  What catches my eye in this quilt is that it is, at the same time, simple and complex.  It makes me stop and figure out what it is showing/telling me.



Bit Map reflects a small part of the interesting personality of the breed of dog known as a Basenji, according to its maker, David Charity.  When considering what quilt to make for the category of "Maps," David thought of the Basenji's love of paper.  "I imagined the dog staring at the map on the wall and not being able to resist having a piece of this prized trophy, scheming a way to get it for himself.  The scene is meant to show how proud he is of having torn off the bottom of the map and possessing a piece of it to shred into even smaller pieces."  I love this quilt -- the design is fantastic, even down to the dog prints on the wall.



Deborah Weir says of her Walkabout, "One purpose for a map is to help one journey safely.  Australian Aborigines learn to follow a mental map of their terrain which serves individuals when they go walkabout.  This is the tradition of taking a spiritual journey, sometimes a rite of passage, sometimes a way to take time to re-engage with one's self.  We all go walkabout from time to time and this is my map of the current global terrain."  I find it interesting that we all have our own images of terrain - some are topographical, showing layers of land, some reflect traveling paths like roads and rivers, others are more ethereal in quality.



Joanell Connolly (Huntington Beach, California) made taking the back roads, saying simply, "when life gives you a choice, take the back roads...."  What a cool and interesting "map" this is!  At first, without knowing what exhibit this quilt was in, I might have just thought that it was an interesting abstract quilt - but as a map, it suddenly makes total sense to me.  I'm not much when it comes to symbolism (I often totally miss the point...), but this quilt is great!



Laurie Bucher (Rancho Palos Verdes, California) says of her Ohashori II, "this quilt reflects on the lines abstracted from an aeronautical chart.  I wanted to place them on my first Ohashori quilt, but it had too much energy and overpowered the peaceful feeling of the first one, so I decided to create another quilt with the pieces.  The colors and lines mimic the ones on the map.  The creases and wrinkles echo the elevation and terrain.  Hand quilting is my favorite part of making a quilt and this one provided ample opportunity to stitch."  I love how Laurie extended pieces of her quilt beyond the "traditional rectangle" shape of this quilt - and her use of a muted palette is great.



Linda Friedman paid homage to the long-lasting map of standard proportions that Leonardo DaVinci gave to the world in her Body Map in Honor of DaVinci's Vetruvian Man.  Vetruvius  Pollio was a first century BC Roman architect who wrote a treatise on architecture that was a major influence on Renaissance architects centuries later.  Linda notes that, "Cartographic recordings may change over time, but Da Vinci's Vetruvian Man provides an unchanging map of the human form that, without birth anomalies, remains unchanged."  This is actually a remarkable quilt with many details of DaVinci's work inscribed on it.
 


Patricia Charity (Temecula, California) was inspired to make It's the Journey by the history and the romance of travel during a time when getting to a destination was only the end of the journey.  She notes that the excitement of seeing new places along the way, saving bits and pieces to remember the trip, assembling the journal for a personal history was all a part of the experience.  She wanted her quilt to speak to the adventure of travel, where arriving at point B is not the event we remember, it is the journey:  "The cool morning air with new scents, the change of light at a new latitude, the beauty of an unfamiliar landscape as it glides past the window of the train, car or plane are all part of the journey."  For me, Patricia's quilt speaks loudly -- it is as if you could create a 3-dimensional day-dream in a quilt.  This quilt is one of the most creative ones I've seen in a long time.


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This next set of quilts are from the IQA's Painted Surfaces category in 2013.  Yes, I'm reaching back in time, but I had not had an opportunity to fit these into an earlier post.  This category is always a favorite because the quilts are always so unique.  There has been controversy in the past over painted quilts that have taken a majority of prizes at the Houston show, but in all truth... they deserved to win!  Yes, we can't all paint, but a great quilt will always stand out, whether it's painted, pieced, or appliqued.
 
Africana was made by Angelines Artero Pardo (Zaragoza, Spain).  She wanted to quilt a figure based on a photograph.  She loves African shields and created 20 that she quilted into the border.  She used digital imagery, machine quilting, commercial fabrics, and shells in her quilt; the design was original, inspired by Brigit Aubeso.  The picture of this quilt does not do it justice - in person, this quilt was quite captivating, with the woman's eyes following you as you walked down the aisle of quilts.
 


Barbara McKie (Old Lyme, Connecticutt) is one of my favorite quiltmakers -- I am always happy to see her quilt in the IQA show in Houston.  Her Chip on an Old Log is based on a chipmunk living near her woodpile; he is often spotted watching her as she watches him - but he rarely sits still long enough to have his picture taken.  Barbara finally got a good photograph and combined it with another photo to make the composition.  She used a disperse-dyed polyester print, trapunto, thread painting, machine applique, and machine quilting to make her quilt - along with 2-4 layers of wool batting.  Doesn't this little chipmunk just look positively real?

Betty Hahn (Sun City, Arizona) started making Escape II on canvas painted with acrylic and appliqued with satin and organza.  It was then reproduced digitally on silk and machine quilted.  This quilt reminds me of so many masterful oil paintings I've seen in museums - isn't it great that Betty was able to transfer such art to a quilt?  I'm always happy to see cross-pollination in the arts; it's inspiring to me!



Cathy Wiggins (Macon, North Carolina) made Carousel Stampede by starting with white muslin and then painting the background and horses using textile mediums and oil sticks.  She used Dover press books to inspire the designs of the horses - I often use Dover press books as a design resource, too, and probably have 40-50 of them.  Cathy estimates about 300 hours were spent in painting, 200 hours in quilting, and 40-plus hours to apply the crystals.  As a child, she used to struggle with the decision of which horse to ride on a carousel - and then run to get the horse of her choice.  She asks, "Which of these beautiful horses would you ride?"  My answer would be ALL of them!


Check out some of the details in this quilt.


You can begin to understand why Cathy had so many hours invested in this quilt when you study the pictures.


But, oh my, it was worth the time!  At least I can say that from my end - it is a joy to see this quilt.



This next quilt was one of the most intriguing, remarkable quilts in the show in 2013.  Made by Christine Alexiou (yes, she has every vowel in her last name!), it is inspired by illuminated manuscripts - but Septem Peccata Mortalia (Seven Deadly Sins) tackles the them of how little human nature has changed since the manuscripts were first created.  Christine says, "I wanted to explore how these seven failings speak to something intrinsically linked to human nature; why we are, in all our seeming morality, still guilty of these sins."  The quilt is "built" as if it were a book with pages, a book mark, and elaborate quilting and detail work on each "page" of the book.  Christine painted designs on each panel and sandwiched them together to make three quilts that were carefully matched and then quilted.  Each was folded in half vertically and bound using traditional book-binding techniques.  Her originality in creating this masterpiece is exceptional.



Helen Godden (Latham Canberra, Act, Australia) created Mark's Magnificent Marlin, Murphy for her dear friend, Mark Hyland, celebrating his joy of deep sea fishing.  She hand painted the image with Lumiere Acrylic fabric paint on black wholecloth, and free-motion quilted it.  It is a spectacular quilt.



Jennifer Day (Santa Fe, New Mexico) created Boy and His Best Friend based her 10-year old son and his Old English Sheepdog, B Bear.  She says "They are definitely best friends who spend hours together every day.  I printed a photograph of them on fabric and covered the images 100 percent in 58 different colors of thread.  The background is free-motion embroidered with less than one-quarter inch between the stitches."  She printed her photo on 5.5-ounce Belgian Linen - and used Gutermann Mara polyester thread in her work.  I love how this work captures the sunlight on the dog's coat, and clearly captures the mood of her son and the dog.  Isn't it just amazing?  This is the kind of work that I can only aspire to doing -- it is way beyond my skills and abilities without me taking a whole boatload of classes.  I do take classes, though, so maybe someday I could do something like this?  Probably not -- I have other classes that I take now - including one coming up with Sandra Leichner!


The detailed work in this quilt is quite amazing.  Can you imagine how many hours it took to create this masterpiece?  Lots and lots!


Even the details in the eyes is incredible.


Human faces and hands are among the most difficult of things to draw realistically.


I suppose animal faces and teeth may be just as hard??  :)



Jennifer Day also made Larry.   This quilt depicts Jennifer's sewing machine repairman - she caught a picture of him as he was repairing her machine one day.  She says, "Obivously, Larry loves what he does!"  She printed his image on Belgian Linen and covered his head, hands, and sewing machine 100 percent in 63 different colors of thread.  The background is done with free-motion embroidery with less than a quarter-inch between the stitches. 


Again, Jennifer has managed to capture expression well - with plenty of details.  I would imagine that it helps to have a photograph to work from!


But photograph or not, Jennifer is a master at creating the work with thread, simply thread!



Patt Blair (Mt. Baldy, California) created Best Friends, saying "Being happy has much less to do with the pocketbook than the richness of family and friends.  These young girls from a Mexican village have each other and could not be happier celebrating their friendship.  Pat created her work with pigment inks on cotton, painted and layering them carefully.  Her design is based on her interpretation of a Thomas Spangler photograph.



In another work, Patt Blair used pigment ink to pain Winter's Veil.  She lives in the mountains where winter cold hangs over the landscape for so very long - hence she painted this snow bunting standing trapped in nature's icy surroundings.  She used poly and invisible thread on the bird in her original design.



Tanya Brown (Sunnyvale, California) showcases a contemplative young man sheltered beneath a Ginkgo tree on a rainy day in her Under the Ginkgo Tree.  This particular quilt has a wonderful quality with its soft colorations and understated outlines.  I love it!



And finally, Terri Stegmiller (Mandan, North Dakota) pulls off A Bright Sun-Shiny Day with its similarly simple lines and colorations.  Her quilts tend to have an air of whimsy, and girls, cats, and birds are her favorite subjects.  She says, "I guess you could say I am creating self-portraits with my quilts, because most sunny days you can find me outside watching the birds with my cats."  She hand-paints her designs on wholecloth fabric and finishes them off with free-motion machine quilting.  I love the face she has given the girl in this quilt.

 
 
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I'm going to switch gears now and show you some more quilts from the West Houston Quilters Guild.  Last month I showed you a good number of them... this month I'll show more, but there are still MORE quilts to come.  If you are a member of this guild and don't see your quilt in my postings, don't think that I didn't like your quilt.  I have a camera that sometimes fails me (sigh...) and I sometimes fail my camera by not holding it still, etc.  If you want your quilt posted here, send it to me; if you don't like my picture of your quilt, send me a better picture!
 
Let's get started - there are a lot of pictures to come!
 
Teresa Rossman made and quilted Crazy About Blue using the Random Acts of Happy pattern.  She had see it on Fons and Porter and thought of her grandmother, who would randomly zigzag pieces of heavy canvas material.  Teresa found this project to be a fast and fun technique.  My recollection is that these kids of blocks are made by stacking squares of fabric and cutting through all the squares - once in one direction and twice in a second direction... and then sewing different pieces from each fabric in the stack into a block.  Yes, it IS fast and fun!
 
 
Sheila Tweed made several quilts and entered them in this show; this one is called Jo's Nine Patch and it was quilted by Donna Warnement.  The pattern is from Jo Morton's Jo's Girls.  Sheila finds herself intrigued by Jo Morton fabrics and patterns and loves the challenge of making small half-square triangles and tiny blocks.  Even though she has quite a collection of these fabrics/patterns, this is the first quilt she has finished using Jo Morton products.  This quilt is small and will hang in Sheila's foyer.
 
 
 
Sheila also made Feline Fantasy (quilted by Donna Warnement), using Debbie Caffrey's pattern from the book, Can of Worms.  She used a portion of her Laurel Burch stash (Laurel was known for her cat-themed fabrics) to make the quilt after taking a class from Debbie at the IQA show in Chicago. 
 
 
The quilt is quilted, at Sheila's request, with her favorite color of thread:  lime green.  Perfect! 
 
 
 Sheila Tweed also made this quilt, Fancy... and it was one of my favorites!  In fact, do you see that little purple JUDGE'S CHOICE ribbon on the quilt?  That ribbon is there because Yours Truly (me!) decided that this was my favorite quilt of all of them at the show.  I can't even put it into words, except to say that I just fell in love with the blocks, the setting, the choice of fabrics... everything about it!  I think that the use of the polka dot fabric made the quilt sparkle in my eyes. 
 
 
Below, you can see a close-up of the blocks and the quilting done by Donna Warnement.  I think that, for a black and white quilt, this quilt somehow managed to avoid that black/white contrast that is more stark than "warm" - this quilt had it's own warm-looking feel about it.  Yep, it's a keeper!
 
 
 
Sharon Dixon both made and quilted Bali Tiles I.  The design is from the book Tiles Play by Cozy Quilt Design.  The pattern is called Swirly Gig by Judy Allen.  Sharon loved the colors and designs of the Bali Tiles fabric and couldn't resist making this quilt.  It is very formal and stylized - and gorgeous.
 
 
Shannon McGaw made a Judy Niemeyer quilt, Summer Solstice (quilted by Geeta Mehta).  She had wanted to paper piece after having not done it for many years, and decided to make a "yellow" quilt... but quickly learned that a little yellow goes a long way!  She donated this quilt for a raffle at the Ft. Bend County's Women's Shelter.  I am always happy seeing quilters be so generous with their work.  Whether it's to raise funds for a cause or an organization, or to provide warmth to people and groups, it means a lot to others when the quilting community supports the wider community.  You rock, Shannon!
 
 
 
I guess that Shannon McGaw did not get enough paper piecing out of her system when she made Summer Solstice, above; she made another Judy Niemeyer quilt (pattern:  Mariner's Compass, quilted by Brandy Rayburn) and challenged herself... and this quilt was definitely a challenge.  It is a huge quilt - hence the name Monster.  Shannon tea-dyed and bleached the sails in the pattern, first because they were too light and then because they were too dark!
 
 
But the picture above gives you little clue as to how much quilting added to the overall look of the quilt.  Take a peek... here are several detail photos of Monster.
 
 
 
Isn't the quilting amazing?  As is all of the piecing!
 
 
 
It's just amazing how detailed the quilting was in this quilt!  It was a really stunning job. 
 
 
 
 
So now, we go from the biggest of quilts to the smallest of quilts!  Texas Wild Flower by Patricia Cook (one of the nicest ladies I met at the show!) was a paper pieced Carol Doak block design.  Patricia likes paper-piecing as it addresses making intricate patterns with ease as well as using a variety of different fabrics with interesting design results.  Patricia says that this quilt started out as a way to use up fabric scraps from another quilt and ending up something entirely different after a few color changes.  It's a small quilt - under 24 inches square if I recall correctly - and just plain sweet!  Patricia did her own machine quilting on this quilt - I love her choice of designs.
 
 
Patricia Cook also made Summer Solstice - you saw another one earlier in this set of photos, but Patricia's colorations are a bit different.  In a class taught by Jan Matthews, Patricia expanded her experience with paper piecing, choosing a wide variety of fabrics for her Judy Niemeyer quilt design.  Jane Plisga quilted the quilt and did a great job on it.
 
 
 
Nita Beard made Landscape with String Ties - another quilt that I found to be original, amazing, and fun!  She had a collection of old men's ties and used them in a "string quilt" design (lots of strips sewn together and then squared up without regard to whether they are vertical, horizontal, or diagonal in this instance) to create an unusual landscape.  What was so fun about this quilt was the placement of different motifs in the ties.  There is a plane flying in the clouds on the far right.  There are other shapes - and the quilting included trees and bushes.  This was a fun quilt to study. 
 
 
 
Nasreen Saeedi was another very kind and thoughtful quilter that helped me when I was doing the judging.  This guild employs a different method of securing scribes:  they partner with another guild and each has their quilt show in a different year... and provides scribes to the sister guild.  That keeps the comments and critiques out of the ears and mouths of guild members, though some members may enter quilts in both guilds' shows.  I thought it was a novel way to improve the judging process.  Back to Nasreen's quilt though.  WOW is the pre-emptive word here - Nasreen had taken a trip to China and was inspired to create this quilt.  It's not huge - maybe around 18 by 24? - but it was so very pretty.  You see... Nasreen hand-painted the entire batik-on-silk surface and then quilted it with silk thread and thread painting on the surface.  Honestly, I initially thought it was just a scarf or Chinese fabric that had been quilted... but it somehow transformed before my eyes when I realized that this was not just a quilt; it was a work of art!  Nasreen got First Place in her entry division.
 
 
 
Lavita Golightly rescued some Grandmother's Fan pattern blocks that were given to her at a garage sale three or four years ago.  She doesn't know who had done most of the piecing, but the fabrics were all antique fabrics, not reproduction fabrics.  She hand-pieced the unfinished blocks and the borders... and then decided to hand quilt Fanning the Memories as it got her through many long days at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center with her brother. 
 

 
Having spent many hundreds of hours at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center myself, I can attest to the saving grace of hand quilting when times are troubled.  I have found that hand-quilting is very relaxing and gives me the opportunity to quietly consider whatever passes through my mind. 
 
 
 
Lillie Hays pieced and quilted Emory's Quilt using the Beary Patch pattern by Denise Starck and Quiltmaker staff.  This quilt was made for Lillie's great-nephew, Emory, whose bedroom employs a forest theme.  Lillie says she knew this pattern would be perfect for him -- but also says,  "Too bad I didn't change the size of the cut squares from 2-1/4 inch squares to something a little larger!"  Regardless, this quilt is a true delight and the quilting done on it is charming.
 
 
 
This quilt, My Husband, was pieced and quilted by Maria Koteras.  Everyone was drawn to it when it hung in the show - the delightful smile and twinkling eyes of Maria's husband was created based on techniques that Maria learned in Esterita Austin's "Dynamic Fabric Art Portraits;"  Maria took Esterita's class and was supposed to do a self-portrait but she had a great picture of her husband that was taken when they were traveling in China.  Esterita advised against using the portrait, as she considered it a difficult first piece, but Maria's skills obviously were up to the job!
 
 
Mary Dinkel used a Moda pattern to make her Maison de Noel (quilted by Barbara Knobloch).  She had a "tower of fabric" and decided that she wanted to use it for her Christmas quilt.  With a tower of fabric that she loved, she easily made the quilt and then used the leftover fabric to piece the back.  Isn't it great when you have your quilt back match your quilt front... and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg because you're using leftovers?  Sweet!
 
 
 
Mary Dinkel used a Crabapple Hill pattern to make Snowman Fun (quilted by Barbara Knobloch).  Mary loves snowmen and redwork, so this quilt was a fun one for her to work on.  She did a lot of the embroidery while on trips in her car, and she changed the border design a bit.  I love when quilters change designs to suit their own needs and desires!  This was a fun quilt to look at - who doesn't like snowmen having fun?!
 
 
Here you can see a close-up of some of the snowmen and the nice quilting pattern.
 
 
 
This quilt, Farmer's Market, made and quilted by Michelle Mitchell, was a very large quilt.  She says it is one of the few quilts that will stay in her house -- keeping them warm in the water.  It is an original design and hand appliqued... the butterflies and fruit came out of Michelle's doodling, and the yo-yos in the butterfly wings were added to give more body to the design.  It is quite a challenge to make such a large applique design!
 
 
 
Okay now... I really try hard to make sure that the photos of quilts I show you are of good quality.  I spend a lot of time squaring up the pictures so you don't see a bunch of trapezoid-shaped quilts or quilts with poor color.  I usually try and take two photos of every quilt that I photograph... but sometimes I fail.  Sometimes, I just leave those photos out of the line-up.  In this case, I simply could not omit Julie Lisle's quilt, Double Nine Patch -- because a) it was beautiful, b) it was a piecing wonder, and c) I really did have a close-up of the quilt!  So below you will see an un-retouched photo of Julie's quilt (okay - I did square it up a bit...), blurry as it may be.  It was just too pretty to omit!
 
 
 Here's a close-up of the quilt, quilted by Sharon Dixon.  I loved that this quilt was made of 9-patches and squares.  Woo hoo for precision piecing!
 
 
 
Joan Rondeau has a nephew that "is into football big time."  When she saw some football fabric in the store, she envisioned this rail fence pattern as a great way to use the fabric.  I Love Football was born - and quilted by Joan Rondeau.  It is always so much fun when we can find the perfect fabric for the perfect quilt for the perfect person!
 
 
 
Joan Aitken used the Good Neighbors pattern she found in the May-October 2003 Quilters Newsletter magazine to make Let's Walk Around the Block (quilted by Tammy Minnick).  She saw the pattern and knew she "just had to make this quilt."  She used only scraps (except she admits that she bought fabric for the three little pigs houses) to make this quilt, including an alligator tree fabric.  This quilt was another "looker" -- people just stood and looked at all of the houses when they realized that so many of the houses used unique fabrics.
 
 
 
Here, you can see the center block of the quilt, full of trees, a rainbow-roofed house, and lots of flowers.
 
 
Here, you can see the homes of the Three Little Pigs - with homes made of straw, wood, and brick.  Too funny!
 
 
I love this one -- the three little bears are in Goldilock's house.
 
 
And might this house be ready for some of us to come join the lady of the house?  Quilts like this take time to make because it takes a while to find the right fabrics - but they tickle our funny bones!
 
 
 
 Jamie Pyles appliqued her Jane Sassamn top and tucked it away into a box for years.  Her friend Donna Simoneaux found it and quilted it for her as a surprise!  She did a great job pulling the fabrics and threads together to give Jamie a great surprise.  What a great friend!!!
 
 
 
Jean Fleming put her embroidery skills to work in Snowman Alphabet from the Crabapple Hill pattern, Snowmen A to Z.  Jean and a friend saw the pattern together and both purchased one... but only Jean's is finished!  Doesn't it feel great to finish something?  I'm deep into UFO completions right now, and going strong.  Already, I've finished five UFOs this year.  More are to come.
 
 
 Check out the great quilting job Jane Plisga did on thi quilt.  It's often difficult to quilt atop embroidery and not destroy the integrity of the design, but this looks great.
 
 
 
Helen Recane is a member of the Monday Night Divas and they decided to exchange 2-1/2 inch width of fabric strips of fabric for six months.  She used her strips to make Diva Keys (from Key to My Heart pattern by Sweet Jane's Quilting) and had her top quilted by Patricia Lopes.  This quilt is not only bright and happy -- it has some surprises in the quilting.
 
 
Throughout the quilting design, you can find quilting motifs.  here is the tomato pin cushion...
 
 
And here are some more things - a needle and thread....
 
 
And a rotary cutter....
 
 
And a spool of thread with scissors... isn't if fun to find surprises in quilting motifs?
 
 
 
Now here is a quilt with some spectacular quilting in it.  Whole Cloth Baby Quilt was made and quilted by Geeta Mehta using a pattern from Kimberley Diamond.  Geeta made one for a daughter's friend and Geeta liked it so much that she made this one - with soft minky fabric.
 
 
 
Here is a little tiny quilt that Gale Davis made and quilted based on an IQA class and pattern by Wendy Butler Berns.  She learned to use Texture Magic to give dimension to projects.
 
 
 
Diane Kuper made and quilted Bird on a Wire basedon Sweet Tweets by Cheri Leffler.  Her granddaughter will be receiving this quilt, which matches the color scheme for her nursery.  Her daughter was very pleased with the quilt and its fabulous random feathers quilting - which are most appropriate on a bird quilt!
 
 
 
Francie Anderson made and pieced Nell after seeing the dog in a book of animals to applique.  She made her dog... and then built her pattern around it.  She plans to give this quilt to her great-nephew when he enters the world in May.
 
 
 
Gale Davis made and quilted Chicken Feathers in a mystery quilt at a birthday party in 2009.  In 2014, she finally decided on the quilting to use in the quilt.
 
 
I love what she chose for the quilting:  chickens!
 
 

 This is a very large quilt -- or you would be able to see the top border.  Debra North made Cinnamon Sticks and Flowers based on a pattern from This and That, and a border pattern from McCalls Quick Quilt, Midnight Garden.  She joined a swap program and started putting squares together, loving the mix of colors... but she wanted a larger quilt.  So... 1,440 half-square triangles lter, along with the applique border, she has a gorgeous queen-sized quilt!
 
 
 
I particularly loved the quilting done on this quilt (by Pam Klien) - it was unique in that it was directional across the half-square triangles.  Wonderful!
 
 
 
 If any of you know an Aggie (an alumni of Texas A and M University), you know the war Whoop!  This version of the classic A and M maroon (yes, I know the A and M should be joined by an ampersand but too many software programs can't read ampersands) would be a treasure for my daughter, an Aggie grad.  The quilt is a string quilt designed by Cynthia Regone - but maker Deborah Huebel inserted Aggie logs for her son who graduated from Aggieland in 2013.  She had been collecting maroon fabrics for a long time and this was the perfect quilt design in which to use them.
 
 
Barbara Knobloch quilted the quilt and did a great job.  Go Aggies!
 
 
 
Lisa Mautz took a workshop with Jan Matthews, using a Judy Niemeyer pattern, and made Just Stars (quilted by Jane Plisga).  This was the first paper-pieced quilt that Lisa ever completed.  Isn't it great to actually start a new project and finish it?  Especially when using a fairly new technique!  The quilting on this quilt takes advantage of large open areas for "playing" with beautiful designs, and Jane did a great job with the quilting.  I've quilted enough quilts now to tell you that when I start a quilt, I am already considering how I'm going to quilt it, just so that I can add appropriate spaces for quilting.  We should all be thinking about the quilting when we make our tops - it will make a big difference when the quilt is finished if the quilting compliments the piecing and/or applique.
 
 
 
Debbie Adami doesn't believe in small baby quilts, so when she made Brynlee Makenna, it was larger than your usual baby quilt.  Debbie created an original design based on the classic Dresden Plate quilt block, and used pink for what is to be a new baby girl quilt.
 
 
Debbie inserted a tiny pink flange which serves to draw one's eye inward.
 
 
The quilting, done by Geeta Mehta, is spectacular.
 
 
It is done with pink thread, which is unique and perfect for this sweet quilt.
 
 
 
Here is one of my very favorite quilts from this show -- Ocean Waves by Cynthia Regone.  I mean, VERY favorite!  This pattern is a difficult one to make -- and Cynthia says it was a true labor of love... AND FORTITUDE!  Everything that could go wrong... went wrong.  But she was determined to finish it and the effort was worth the results (that's easy for me to say, of course!). 
 
 
Ocean Waves is a particularly difficult quilt to make so that it looks good because generally what one sees is that big empty box in the middle of each block.  I think that Cynthia managed to avoid the dreaded empty spaces in her quilt by filling them with a rich, rich red.  Angela McKorkle's quilting added to the spectacular look of the quilt; she is an expert on gorgeous, formal quilting. 
 
 
It's not just that she does great feathers... she does great everything!  On top of Cynthia's incredible piecing, the duo couldn't have made a prettier quilt.
 
 
Look at this border - it's another feather in Cynthia's quilt that makes it a standout.  I love quilts with wide borders; they focus your eyes inward toward the center face of the quilt.
 
 
Again... look at the fabulous quilting in the center squares.  In this picture, you can see the feathers in the black triangles - that is a lot of extra work but it adds so much.  Oh my - what a beautiful quilt!
 
 
 
**********
 
Okay... now that I've shown you another third of the West Houston Quilters Guild quilts, it's time to change horses again... and now you can see all the things that I got to see at my own guild's Spring Retreat.  It is an event that I look forward to every year -- one that I chair and put together every year.  This year we had over 100 participants in a fun, quilt-filled weekend down on Galveston Island.  Does it get any better?!!!  I think not!!!
 
This set of photos is going to be just a raucous, free-wheeling, rambling set of photos of things I took pictures of.  You'll get a sense of all the fun we have.  We charge only $50 but give everyone a $20 gift card to a local quilt shop, so really the whole retreat costs only $30... but it includes no food and no lodging.  It starts on a Wednesday and ends on a Sunday.  Galveston Island is just 20-30 minutes from most of us - though some drive much further because they've learned it's worth coming!  Some folks commute locally, going home to fix dinner and spend the evening with their families; some stay in the hotel where I rent the ballroom; some rent a beach house or a bed and breakfast for the days they are there.  It's just plain old fun!  Of course, I THINK it was fun... you may find that it's as exciting as your best friends all talking about their wonderful summer vacations.  Eek!  I am not a fan of sharing vacation memories!  SO stop reading if you feel this won't be inspiring....!
 
And now... get ready, get, set, go.
 
Jerrianne brought along her New York Beauty blocks to work on.  She's doing them with different navy circles and multi-colored spikes - and all of the shirtings are blue/white or blue/off-white.  Nice!
 
 
She's got most of her sashing strips done, too.

 
The arcs that aren't done are stacked in a box and ready to stitch; it's the best way to guarantee that once you start stitching, you'll be on an uninterrupted roll!

 
 
Quilt friends from up in East Texas drove down for the week... and were working on Traditional Primitives' version of The Gardens of A King - a gorgeous quilt based on a vintage Australian quilt.

 
Just in case Jerrianne finished her New York Beauty, she brought along all of her oak leaf and reel applique.  We are all insane, thinking that we will run out of things to do.  Ha - that would be miraculous!

 
We always walk a bit to the Wal-Mart and pick up silly, goofy, annoying things like a squeaky monkey.  Why?  Why not.  Sometimes it's fun just to annoy your table mates, right?!  Especially when they are annoying you.  You know I'm kidding, I hope!
 
One of my table mates was working on 3" bow tie blocks.  They tried to recruit me into making a bunch of them, too, but somehow I lost that memo.  Yeah... right.  They are making them for the guild's August auction.  I'm making something bigger (and faster) for the auction:  6 inch pieced blocks.  We are gluttons for punishment and somehow loving it!

 
Here are the 6 inch blocks I brought to work on.  I also brought along log cabin blocks and blocks that have 36 half-square-triangles in them - I hope you get to see the quilt top next month!

 
One of the gals at my table was working on this quilt, below...

 
She had all her units pre-cut and was ready to stitch away.


She chose the most wonderful fabric for the backing - something I want to hunt down - Red, White, and Free by Sandy Gervais for Moda.

 
 
My daughter was working on her Pearl Pereira Nesting Goose block.  Since the retreat, she's finished the block, squared it up, and added several borders.  It is gorgeous with those borders - I can't wait to show you!
 
 
Several gals were working on Omigosh and 9-patch blocks using 1-inch wide strips.

 
Table mate Georgann Wrinkle was binding an old, old UFO that she'd focused on enough to finish!  Our guild is on a mission to conquer over 250 UFOs this year... and we're making tremendous progress, having tons of fun, and dramatically improving our participation in show-and-share time at guild meetings.

 
Carolyn H was working on a super-looking sampler quilt - her choice of border fabric was phenomenal.

 
I love these blocks!

 
Here's another...

 
Another gal in our group was making the Wildflowers quilt.

 
At the retreat, she was focusing on the pieced sashings.

 
Cynthia was working hard on nine-patches... and had three bags full before long.  Wow!

 
Becky purchased (on our trip to Wal-Mart) a little cow that yelled Moooooo and pooped out easter egg candies.  Except she couldn't figure out how to get the candies to come out.  I guess the cow was a little shy about that?

 
It was wonderful to look around and see everyone talking, sharing, working, and growing new friends all week!


We each asked others for opinions throughout the weekend... and offered opinions even when they weren't asked for (ha ha).


Gail was working on a project.  Gail is our busy gal who takes quilts to injured soldiers returning form the Middle east to San Antonio's medical rehab centers for soldiers at Brooks base.  She has a heart of gold.


Becky continued to struggle with Mister Moo and his obstinate candy-producing action...

 
The room we get to use is huge -- we have all but about a dozen gals in it; the lucky dozen are down the hall in a smaller overflow room.  They're our crazy, noisy group, so everyone is happy with two options for seating!


One of the gals was working hard on her Lone Star quilt -- and making great progress over the course of the retreat.  That's what is so great about retreats:  we get to sew, we get to be with friends... and occasionally, we actually get to finish things!  Of course there are all those other perks:  no cooking, no cleaning,.... yay!


One of the gals was working on a set of beautiful blocks...  I can't wait to see the quilt and I hope she brings it to the guild's show-and-tell.


Kris was working on some nine-patches -- fun stuff!  She was also working on an angel quilt that you'll see momentarily.


See how large our ballroom was?  It was wonderful to have so many of us all in the same room at the same time -- so much fun, so much inspiration, so much sharing amongst experienced and newer quilters!


Georgia brought along a quilt that she dug out of the UFO pile -- she is on a roll to finish it!


Becky continued to work on Mister Moo and getting his candy eggs to pop out....


A lovely stack-and-whack was pulled together - fantastic!



This quilt looks like a vintage quilt but it's not - it was brought to retreat so that the binding could be applied to it.  I love how it looks!  The blocks are signature blocks from friends.


Check out the block... and check out the quilting.  Wow!


Here is another photo of the fabulous quilting.  Why am I doing this blog and not working on a quilt???  Oh... because I like to (hopefully) inspire you all.  And it's worth my time to do that.


Becky???

 
Sharon was working on her Omigosh nine-patch strips.  Or maybe it was some other nine-patch set of strips.  We teased her about her lack of organization and she laughed right back at us!

 
Georgann is working on improving her piecing skills - so she's been tackling little 4-inch blocks within a larger block.  Cute!

 
One gal won a set of bird blocks at our guild auction last year.  She had set them and gotten the quilt back - ready to bind.  The birds are all original, contributed by bee members to the auction.  Awesome!

 
 Georgann was thrilled with each block she finished.  Yay!
 
 
Jerrianne managed to get some of her sashing cornerstone blocks done - look how that splash of red will change the look of this quilt!  Holy cow, but it's a winner!

 
Our Galveston resident was in the midst of making one of her wild-and-crazy quilts; her work is always original and phenomenal.  This quilt will go to a dear friend. 
 
 
Note the red shoes... and the beach houses... and the ocean... it's all wonderful and fun!

 
  Pauline finished two rows of a quilt she was working on.  I love seeing all the smiles at this retreat!
 
 
Jenny Arkinson worked on her Nesting Goose.... our guild is turning this into a "roosting goose" with instructions for what to add in each border after the center block (designed by Pearl Pereira and taught to dozens of our guild members last Fall).  The first addition had to have at least one flying geese block; the second addition had to have at least one "block" in it; Jenny added a square-in-square block in the corners of her squares-n-point border.  She was auditioning another little floater border outside of this border; we both loved the blue.  I'll update you on her newest additions next month!


Every once in a while, I managed to slip out and go across the street and take a walk on Galveston's infamous sea wall.  Yes, we are quilting across the street from the beach!  Notice the great surf that was up that day.  NOT!

 
Here is another finish - woo hoo!!!!


Becky?  Can I help at all???  You know I can run over to Wal-mart and get you a big bag of easter eggs, right??




Kris pulled out a quilt that she was ready to bind at the retreat.  Guess what?  It was one made with my patterns back in 1998!  Yes, our guild is committed to wiping out some old UFOs, for sure! 
 
Kris had even put a signature label on the back of the quilt with everyone's signature on the block they had made - the blocks had all been part of a Friendship Bee exchange.  Nobody remembered who had made each of the blocks without peaking at that label!
 

 
  I had to look at the label to see which block I'd made -- it was the purple angel in the lower left. 

 
 
 The gal who was working on the lone star was making real progress all weekend... 
  

She put the blocks on the wall as she finished them.

 
 We didn't have a lot of floor space for laying out quilts in the ballroom - but we had plenty of space out in the hallways.  Look at this one!


I think we need a Becky-intervention plan...
 
 
One of our guild members brings these dolls and sells them.  Her sister (sister-in-law?) makes them and they are nothing short of adorable!
 
 
 Again, I take a walk every once in a while... I had a house on the beach front for 20 years on this island, and sold it last year.  It was a tough decision... but a timely one.  Now I look forward to the guild retreat so I can dip my feet in the sea water at least once... and smell the fresh sea air.
 
 Meanwhile, Marsha had finished her Afternoon Delight... and it was a jaw-dropper!  She used thirties fabrics and they were so wonderful!

 
I'm going to show you a ton of the blocks just because the thirties fabrics are such fun ones to work with!  First, though, here's a thrilled Marsha - glad to have this quilt made!


 Now for some of the blocks.  When Marsha saw that any of her thirties fabrics did not have enough contrast against the pale yellow background, she embroidered around them with an outline stitch.  It was the perfect answer.
 
 You can see the blades of this twirly ball block have been embroidered, too.
 
 
 
 
This is one of my favorite blocks!

 

Marsha did a fair amount of fussy cutting when she made the blocks; check out these next few blocks for fussy-cutting!
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
Here, you can see the back side of the background fabric that Marsha used -- she used the "wrong side" of the fabric on the front, because the yellow was otherwise too overpowering.  Good move, Marsha!
 
 
Everyone was captivated by her quilt.  They should be!

 
Someone was working on this block -- very interesting!

 
Grace was making a new one of these blocks for a grand daughter's pillow.

 
Nancy was working on this one...

 
And we had a brand new quilter working on a Cathedral Windows quilt!

 

 Gail and Virginia were working on a Boot Block quilt.  We Texans do love our boots!
 
 
Here's a close-up of a few of those boot blocks.  The fabric choices are always so much fun with these blocks! 
 
 
 
 
 
This boot even has the music for The Yellow Rose of Texas on it!

 
Janet was working on a t-shirt quilt.

 
Peggy managed to put together her wonderful Dresden Plate quilt top.

 
The fabric choices were incredible!

 
Virginia was putting together a bunch of these donated blocks....

 
... which would become a donated quilt for the meeting place we use at their Fall Craft Festival.  It will be a full-sized bed quilt when it is done.

 
 This sweet quilt was done in several shades of pink - so sweet!

 
Nancy was working on this one when she wasn't working on the one I showed you earlier... it's a great border quilt.

 
Pauline managed to put together more than just those two rows of blocks before the week ended.

 
I don't know whose blocks these were but I loved the design!

 
Casi was finishing some quilts to be donated to a fund-raiser; here are three of them.  Awesome!

 
 
 
Here is a quilt made with a ton of churn dash blocks.  Is that Connie hiding out behind them?  Wow.

 
 Connie made this quilt top...

 
And decided it was the quilt backing as she was going to use Mickey on the top of the quilt.

 
Kasi managed to finish another quilt for a baby gift.  It was so sweet!

 
 
So that's the skinny on our fabulous five-day retreat.  Tons of fun, lots of exhaustion, worth every minute. 
 
**********
I'm sure that I have more photos to share but I can only find three more this month.  First of all, here are two feathered star blocks; the first was made by Gail Smith and the second by Maria Aseron.  They were both students in one of my workshops this past month; their stars look great!
 


 
Debbie Yates used some spectacular fabrics and chose to use a fussy-cut floral print in the center of her star, rather than creating a pinwheel.  I love how this star block turned out.  Debbie now has the task of deciding if she wants to make more blocks for a feathered star quilt... or if she wants to use this star as the center of a medallion-style quilt.  Either way, it will be a beauty!

 
I also taught a New York Beauty workshop -- here are a series of the quadrants that everyone was working on... they take a while to make but they are SO worth the effort, and I promise that the method I teach is really ingeniously simple!

The first one, here, was being made with a scrappy collection of Halloween fabrics - too fun, right?!!!  Yeah!!!

 
 
 
This was an interesting set -- the quiltmaker was using men's red underwear that he purchased at thrift shops and other such stores.  The designs were SO fantastic!  He was a skilled foundation piecer so he made tremendous progress on his New York Beauty quadrants... changing the direction of the colors (points out then points in...). 

 
H even left some of the "elastic" fade lines in the fabric he used; they just added to the sense of whimsy in his creation.

 
He showed me how he intends to set the blocks:  quadrants facing out, not in, with plaid sashing strips and star points (roughly shown, below) at the cornerstones.  I love - and I mean LOVE - when people give themselves the freedom to adapt a pattern with their own choices!

 
There were all kinds of fabric and they were all wonderful!  Batiks...

 
Civil war reproduction fabrics with shirtings...

 
Soft solids...

 
Combinations of colors - below, she was using greens and pinks with tan background fabrics...

 
Blue, blue, and more blue...
 
 
Red, white, and blue...

 
Green plaids and red prints...

 
Bright reds and rich greens...

 
Yet more blue... with a dab of red/white...

 
More civil war prints...

 And more...

 
And more... but each has a different quarter-circle in the corner...

 
I am always so pleased to see quilters push themselves and these gals and guy did, stitching feverishly throughout the day, and having a great time doing it.

One of the women in my class was Gail Smith and she brought two quilts that she had made using my patterns.  The first one was from Bed of Roses - her work is wonderful and she always spends a great deal of time hunting down a fabulous quilter.  Take a look at this one...

 
I could not get over how gorgeous the quilting was in the whole quilt but especially in the border.  Wow!

 
The beauty just kept staring back at me....

 
I love how the quilter inserted feathered fronds in this block.

 
And I love how she put a circle of feathers and circles around the center block.

 
Take a look at the little 1/2-inch circles along the spine of the feathered circle.  I want to be a fabulous quilter when I grow up!!!  She also quilted tiny little circles in the narrow sashing.  Now THAT is amazing!
 
 
 Gail also made Hugs and Kisses - and again found a fabulous quilter to quilt her quilt top:  Donna Derstadt, who also won second place in Paducah this week for her own rendition of Bed of Roses.

 
Oh my - quilting really DOES make a quilt stand out, doesn't it?!

 
I study quilting on quilts and try and figure out what there is about it that I love.  In this block, I love the small cross-hatching in the middle of this block.
 
 
 
 
 
We had a nice time in this workshop - lots of space for lots of quilters to work in.


 
Diane Johnston completed Ladies of the Sea (one of my patterns), calling it "Mistresses."  Her husband loves the sea and fell in love with the quilt when he saw my design.  Diane put about 1,000 hours of needle-turn applique into her quilt.  She enlarged the quilt with a block background and expanded the borders so it would fit her king-size bed.  Isn't it stunning?
 
 
The quilter she used stitched with over 4,000 yards of YLI silk sparkle and YLI silk thread.  Wow!  Below you can see a close-up of the border, with a tiny little ladybug added to a leaf; Diane added it, along with a few butterflies, bees, and a dragon fly amidst the flowers, after taking a class from Pearl Perreira (a fabulous designer!).  The quilting is unbelievable!
 
 
Did Becky ever get her candies?  Yes... after we all realized that they would not come out of the cow until AFTER you opened him up and took the candies out of the plastic bag they were stored in, inside of the cow.  Ha - such silly fun we had! 
 
 
I'll be back next month with more pictures.  This past month I've been buried in travel - and this month is no different.  I'm home enough to take care of business but not to spend a lot of time preparing my blog... so it's difficult to add much in the way of tutorials or anything that I've been working on.  Nonetheless, please email me if you think of a subject that you'd like me to address.  I'll try!
 
I'm also in kind of a little creative rut... do any of you have ideas of what you'd like to see me create?  Often, it's YOUR ideas that stimulate MY brain to start creating new things.  I have several ideas but they are not ringing any loud bells for me yet.  YET.  Something will pop up!
 
Until next month, I wish you many days of happy quilting!
 
 
Sue
(c)2015 Susan H. Garman