Wonderful Quilters

Friday was such a fun day. Each Summer the North Carolina Quilt Symposium is held somewhere in the state. This year it was in Asheville so I made a date with a friend/quilter to attend for the day.

We went to a few quilt stores on our way north and after a yummy lunch, found our way to the UNC Asheville campus. This year they had an amazing group of teachers who each brought 3 or 4 quilts to hang with the participants’ quilts. When we paid our entrance fee, we were given a plastic glove so that we could look at the back of the quilts. To be able to see the quilts very close and check out the amazing quilting on the back was such a treat! Here are some of my favorites…

Susan Cleveland:

Though I took a class with her some years ago, it must have been before I started blogging. In any case, it was her Piping Hot Bindings workshop. She is an excellent (and fun!) instructor. If you have made bindings on quilts, you can understand that a teacher has to give very simple and clear directions for everyone to understand and be successful! This quilt, Flowered and Feathered Frenzy, is full of wonderful details showcasing her class content. There is a double binding around the wonky edges. There is both machine and hand quilting; the hand quilting she calls her “Morse Code” technique.

I was quite taken by these embroidered circles. And I love the color! I had just been complaining to my friend about all the dull grey quilts that everyone seems to like now. She pointed out that Susan’s quilt was grey. It is indeed, but the colors she used are brights – not the colors with grey added. It’s just wonderful.

Melinda Bula:

You may remember that I took a class with her to make her wonderful zinnia quilt. I can’t say enough about her stunning quilts and easy-going manner in the classroom. Looking at Waratah on the computer screen, I am struck by its beautiful graphic quality. In person you see her layers and layers of machine quilting and the lovely hand dyed fabrics that she often uses.

And her Monet in Pasadena. It was a hot day in Asheville and I wanted to swim among the lily pads.

Lea McComas:

I believe I saw this quilt in a magazine and I was delighted to be able to see it up close and personal. Bike Boys is amazing – Lea used 114 threads which added up to 8 miles of stitching.

This ad below was her inspiration! This is also a good shot to see her thread painting. Can you see how thick it is?

Barbara Olson:

I have seen Barbara Olson’s quilts many times at various quilt shows. Her work is constantly evolving and I was really struck by Life Unfolding. Do click on the picture to see the amazing detail, fabrics, colors and stitching!

And her Peacock Flower. (The Guild labeled this Stroke of Blue but on her website it is called Peacock Flower.) Talk about juicy color…

What is it about seeing art or fine craft in person? I feel refreshed and energized. I hope you do as well!

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Orphan Block Quilt – – – Finally Finished

I certainly do not win awards for finishing projects in a timely fashion! After starting to quilt The Orphan Block Mash Up quilt, I quickly lost interest and it sat under my Sweet Sixteen machine for months. Languishing… it was started over a year ago. Fast forward to the present : I have a growing stack of quilt tops waiting to be quilted, so I have spent the last two weeks getting it done.

I am not thrilled with it. My quilting is not great so I will not be showing you a close-up. But as I have told students in the past, you can quilt samples or practise on “the real thing” and I chose to do the latter. Most people viewing the quilt in my hallway are not quilters, so they will not scrutinize my work. And if I can keep my tongue in my head and not say “Gee, the quilting is not very good”, I am sure they will admire it. (Sorry for the poor photo – I have no walls big enough to hang a quilt and get away from it to photograph, so it was on the floor and I was on a ladder!)

I must say that I am always amazed when I wash a quilt. It looks so much better and you really have to look closely to see the quilting at all; there’s just a nice texture.

Now that it is done, I can get on with the next project and learn some more.

Dresden Star Designing

I am anxious to make something with the Dresden Star pattern, by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. It is an interesting pattern with an unusual construction technique. In Edyta’s class, we bought a kit, which included fabrics, the pattern and templates. At first look, I was fairly sure I didn’t like the fabrics but I figured I could work with them…

Dresden Star pieces

During lunch, I went to her booth and bought a few of her (lovely) batiks to add in. Even adding more fabrics didn’t do it…these ain’t my colors.

Dresden Star layout idea

I understand why teachers supply kits. With a kit, they know that you have everything you need to make the pattern with little fuss and bother. Many years ago, I was in a class where we needed a lot of fabrics for a very scrappy quilt pattern. A local woman showed up with a suitcase of fabric! She proudly laid the fabric pieces out on a table for the teacher to see and admire. The teacher was appalled as the woman had bought the whole Fall and Winter collections of Hoffman fabrics. It was 100 plus fat quarters! The upshot of this was that the woman spent the whole class fiddling with her stash and never got to sewing. She couldn’t make up her mind or perhaps couldn’t bear to cut into the fabric. I am certainly guilty of fretting over fabric choices so I have come to terms with kits. When I got home and looked at the class project, I knew that the colors were not going to work for me. So I finished up the Dresden Star that I started in class to practise more of the technique and think where I wanted to go next, color-wise.

In class, Edyta recommended a large, medium and a small print as well as a stripe and a dot. I really didn’t like the large prints, so I looked for  teeny, tiny and medium prints. And I think one of the many reasons I like her quilts is that she mixes batiks in as well. I cannot understand why quilters can’t just see batiks as fabrics! I thought it would be fun to use a batik flower fabric for the middle and dark purples for the stars.

Debbie's dresden star fabrics

Here is the final cutting. Much as I love those batiks, I decided that the flower-y middle was too busy!

Debbie's dresden star cutting

After sewing the star, I had a lot of trouble deciding on a background for it. I won’t show you all the fabrics I pulled out and auditioned! I wanted a background to blur or tone down the colors, because I think that’s what I like about Edyta’s quilt. This water-y batik seemed to do what I wanted. But I don’t love it…it doesn’t sing to me. I’m not sure what I will try next.

Debbie's Dresden Star

 

 

Procrastination – Sometimes A Good Thing!

There are UFO’s in several closets and I rummaged around last week to find this quilt for our bedroom which I was calling the double nine patch. Sometime ago, I picked out the background fabric and then tucked it away a closet.

Double nine patch background

Procrastination was a good thing in the case of this quilt, because a few weeks ago, Peter and I bought a new mattress. The old one was 25 years old!!! The sales lady kept explaining the features of all the mattresses on sale and we just looked at her, because ours was so basic. The men who came to bring the new one and take away the old one had been doing that job for 20 years. “I’ve never seen a mattress like this one!” they told us. (Needless to say, we are very much enjoying our comfortable new mattress.)

The point of all this is that the new box springs are much smaller, but the mattress is much, much thicker; so much so that the quilt we’re using does not tuck in at the bottom. It’s annoying because it means that every morning the bed needs to be completely re-made. Thus new quilt needs to be a good bit larger.

I put the pieces I’d already sewn on the mattress and moved them around and determined that the best thing to do is to make 9 wheels, instead of 4. Using the original design, there would have too much border. So back to the machine I go…

Nine wheels

 

One More Batch of AQS Phoenix Quilts!

I meant to get to this sooner, but life gets in the way sometimes. There is one more group of quilts to share with you. It really was a good show and I found lots to study and admire. There is something for everyone to enjoy in these shows, that’s for sure!

This one comes first because of its colors. In a sea of brightly colored quilts, this beauty quietly waited for a closer inspection. This quilt is Trellis by Mary Owens. I think the design is lovely – and –

Trellis by Mary Owens

— be still my heart – it’s hand quilted! I want you to see this detail. I was standing in front of it and another woman came and stood with me. After a bit she asked me why the quilt looked so soft! Hand quilting and piecing will do that.

Detail Mary Owens Trellis

This elegant quilt is Celestial Orbs Sylvia Schaefer. The simplicity of the design and the circular quilting is amazing, and she sells this pattern if you’d like to make one.

Sylvia Schaefer Celestial Orbs

I wandered around the convention hall late on Friday afternoon when the crowds had gone home, and enjoyed the quilt show almost alone; and I saw some quilts I’d missed! This colorful quilt is called Yellow Sky and is by Shirley Gisi. She lives in Colorado – might you have guessed? The colors sing and the simple quilting echoes the design.

Yellow Sky by Shirley Gisi

Summer Storm by Peg Collins also has amazing use of color and simple quilting. I think the design is so fresh and pleasing.

Summer Storm by Peg Collins

And of course you know that I save the best for last. This is my favorite quilt; I love, love, love it! I saw it in some quilt magazine or other and thought it was wonderful. And lucky me, I got to admire it in person. It’s called Golden Temple of the Good Girls, by Susan Carlson.

Susan Carlson, Golden Temple of the Good Girls

Here’s a close up for you to admire the delicious fabric choices, lovely quilting and of course, the sweet girls.

Susan Carlson Golden Temple of the Good Girls close up

Upon reading her website and blog, I found that the quilt is a fabric collage! Susan has a lot of information on her work and this blog post talks about designing this quilt. Though you can get quite close up to the quilts in the AQS shows, I had no idea. No wonder the piece has such a richness to it.

Hope you enjoyed my show and tell. Any favorites???

 

Laundry Basket Quilt Class

I’m not sure when I started to notice quilts by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. I really don’t look at quilt patterns – it is rare that I buy one (I like to draft my own) and am always confused when someone tells me “I just finished a “blah-blah-blah quilt”, the latest quilt design by so-and-so.

When looking at the AQS Phoenix class list, I was delighted to see that Edyta Sitar would be teaching a star class. In the morning, she explained the construction and design of many star shapes, and this was the class project, called Dresden Star. It’s quite an interesting variation and before I found this class, I spent a good amount of time, to no avail, trying to figure out how to piece it.

Laundry Basket Quilts Dresden Star

Edyta brought many quilts for us to look at and I discovered this pattern, called Dresden Bloom, a variation of the Dresden Star. O happy day! Everything about this quilt just sings to me – the pattern, the colors, the setting – and I couldn’t wait to get going!

Laundry Basket Quilts Dresden Bloom

First though, here are some other great star pattern ideas. Edyta called this one a Twirling Star. I envision it in much brighter colors…perhaps a Summer throw in red, white and blue… or red, blue and yellow…

Laundry Basket Quilts Twirling Star

And this one is quite the beauty, and it’s called American Beauty! I have to look over my notes as I can’t remember how it’s constructed. (It’s a more complex variation of a simpler star.) We were encouraged to take as many pictures as we wanted and attach them to the pattern sheets so we would remember each pattern and I need to do that.

Laundry Basket Quilts American Beauty

But back to the Dresden Star. It has 16 points, which means 16 different fabrics can be used ( or 8 or 4 or 2). Here is the fabric pack that I got. Edyta explained that in order to get a nice assortment of fabrics she chooses a small, medium and large print as well as a stripe and a dot. It works for me!

Dresden Star fabrics

The lighting in the room was very odd, and made everything look a bit freak-ish. This is the best shot I got of Edyta, holding up the string piecing of my table mate. This was a whole day class and it went by much too quickly. I have taken a lot of classes with many teachers over the years, and Edyta is truly superb. She’s patient and funny and knowledgeable. She managed a class of 25 with no trouble and believe me when an instructor can’t do that it’s a loooong day! Her instructions were very clear and she repeated them as many times as we needed to hear them. Unlike many teachers, she was on her feet and working with us during the whole class. If she is teaching anywhere near you, I would suggest you sign up ASAP.

Edyta Sitar

In case you too are obsessed with the Dresden Bloom quilt, here is a close-up so you can see the wonderful quilting and fabric choices. Feel free to drool…

Laundry Basket Quilt Dresden Bloom close-up

 

 

Japanese Quilts at AQS Phoenix!

The AQS Phoenix show had a special exhibit of Japanese-made quilts. I made a beeline to the back corner of the exhibit hall where they were hung. I can’t tell you how stunning they were and I hope you’ll click on my pictures to get a better look at them.

Flowering by Sachiko Yoshida has the feel of Japanese crest designs (kamon). One circular design is pieced and the next one is appliqued. All the fabrics are from kimono or other Japanese clothing.

Sachiko Yoshida Flowering

In this detail, you can see the careful fabric choices and lovely piecing and applique stitches.

Detail of Sachiko Yoshida

Dianthus – In Memory of My Mother made by Sachiko Yoshida, is a stunning color study! It was hung in a place that could be seen from across the exhibit area and called for a closer look. It’s the perfect example of a quilt that looks amazing from a distance but has delightful details when you are right in front of it.

Dianthus Sachiko Yoshida

In this close-up you can see the lovely kimono bits and hand stitching.

Detail Sachiko Yoshida Dianthus

When I lived in Tokyo, I attended as many quilt shows as I could. The quilts that are made in Japan and stay there, tend to be more like the quilts in this show. (I feel like the Japanese who compete in International quilt shows have a very different style from the women who don’t ship their quilts to shows outside the country.) Most are entirely made of kimono fabric. At a distance, this quilt looked as though “panels” were cut out of a special kimono, but on closer inspection, the “panels” turned out to be hand applique and piecing. This quilt by Junko Yazawa, is called Flower Book.

Junko Yazawa Flower Bppk

Here is a wonderful flower applique.

Junko Yazawa Flower Book detail

Japanese crest designs or kamon may have been the design inspiration of Wild Flowers by Yoshiko Sakurai.

Yoshiko Sakurai Wild Flowers

Each circle is a small masterpiece!

Detail Yoshiko Sakurai

I think that this quilt is my favorite. It was hung so that it could be seen from a distance and as I walked towards it, more and more soft details appeared. Japanese quilts can be so precise, but this one softly undulates. It is Rose Garden by Junko Yazawa.

Rose Garden by Junko Yazawa

Here you can see the movement of the background triangles. I wonder if she drew out the squares or “free hand” pieced each row…. There is minimal quilting so that each piece of fabric can be seen and admired.

Detail Rose Garden by Junko Yazawa

All of the quilts were hand pieced or appliqued and hand quilted. Japanese fabrics would be difficult to sew in a machine and it would flatten the texture and fine details in the weaving or surface design. One of the AQS people said it was going to several of their shows, so if there is one near you, I’d suggest you go!

 

 

Hmong Reverse Applique’

Reverse appliqué is not a very popular technique in the quilting world, but I like to do it. In “regular” appliqué, there is a background fabric and pieces are sewn onto the top. In reverse appliqué, the background fabric is on the top and the appliqué fabric is basted on to the back. The top/background fabric is {carefully!} cut and the fabric turned under and sewn down. Well-known examples of this are the molas of Panama and Hawaiian style quilts. In this signature square for my first Baltimore Album quilt, the background is the creamy white. The lavender dotted fabric is “regular” appliqué. The dark pink fabric was basted under the white fabric, which was cut and then sewn. Then the cross stitched fabric was also basted under the white fabric… You can go on and on with this technique.

Heart reverse applique

If you’ve attended any big quilt show, you’ve seen a booth or two, stacked with lovely and intricate reverse appliqué pieces made by Hmong ladies. On a trip to Laos and Thailand many year ago, I had the great pleasure to meet a group of sewers when we were in Luang Prabong, Laos. These ladies were sitting in a field, stitching away.

Hmong quilter

These pieces are not just for pretty but used on their clothing. I don’t seem to have a photograph of anyone in that very traditional dress, but you can see that the strip of the appliqué she is working on could be sewn on the blue part of her jacket, and a wider piece might go on her sleeve. If you click on the link above or Google the Hmong, you will see that their clothing is quite incredible with the cacophony (?) of the all appliquéd pieces!

Another Hmong woman

Why am I telling you about this? Wait for the nest post to find out!

 

The Orphan Blocks Mash-Up Middle…

… is done!

This is one of the times I wish that I had a tile floor to measure and check the square-ness of the top, but I did the best I could with the lines in our wood floor. It seems to be fairly even and I hope, as I said before, to be able to quilt some of the irregularities out of the top.

Orphan Blocks Mash-Up Middle!

So now it’s on to redesigning the appliqué. Here’s what I started when it was a different quilt. Now the vines need to grow down one edge (at least) and perhaps over the dark log cabin. I love hand appliqué and haven’t done it for a long time.

Orphan Blocks Mash-Up Border

I’m looking forward to some hand work!

And So The Planning Begins…

Here is the latest look at the design wall. The zinnia and sunflower are in a spare bedroom waiting to be quilted and now the design wall is freed up. I keep finding squares that might work for this project, but these are the latest. It turns out that most of the blocks on the design wall are “stitch-alongs” from classes that I taught. The heart and leaf appliqué squares are from a Baltimore Album sort of class and the black and white checked border went with that project. I was designing my own blocks and I do remember getting bogged down as some of the designs weren’t turning out as I had planned. There is an appliqué vine started on the one border. I am debating whether to use the border; it seems heavy, though I do like it…

Design wall for mash-up

The paper pieced flower squares (upper left) are from classes I taught on that subject. The Dresden plate and the flower basket are from a Quilt Drafting class I was teaching. The tiny flowers and stem are about to go back to a bin. They are from a machine appliqué class that I took from Sue Nickels. I don’t think they can be washed, so I will save them for something else.

The squares are pinned on a black and white backing which I discovered in the black and white fabric pile. I don’t recall what it was for! How nice to have the backing for the quilt already pieced. I removed the borders  from the appliqué squares and I also removed the middle of one square whose design I never liked.

Since all the squares have a black and white background, I will continue on with that. I have a large shelf of black and white and white and black fabrics. (I often use the white and black ones for over-dyeing.) I tend to buy small bits of these fabrics and did not have enough for a background, so I had to look for some more. ;-D I googled around online and found  fabric.com – they have 20 pages of black and whites should you need any!!!

Here’s what else I am debating:

  • Most of the squares are red, blue, yellow and green. Can orange and purple play with the group?
  • Am I going to use the black and white border? (It’s a lot of piecing and I know I threw out the scraps…)
  • What new squares do I need to sew for a nice mix?
  • It’s clear that I need to choose a size for this quilt to be. I think this decision will depend on whether I use the black and white border. It has a pattern and the size will be determined by that.

And when I can, I am working on the house quilt, though is a favorite spot for Gizmo to snooze…

Gizmo resting