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.

Next Steps on Rock Around the Block – Jack’s Chain Quilt

Now that December has come and gone, I am trying to spend more time in the studio – and it’s back to the Jack’s Chain quilt. Knowing that I did not have enough of the background blue hand dyed fabric, I had to fiddle around with a final layout for the top. I finally decided that a center 3 square by 5 square strip, with a strip on either side using the new fabric would work for me.  I shopped around a few quilt stores and found a darker, but similar hand dyed blue.The center strip of the quilt top is completed and I am working on the rows with the new fabric. This pattern is not as circular as the original, more difficult pattern; it is more wavy.

Working on strips

A new addition is little hexies that I have hand appliqued in the middle of every other block. {Looking at the photograph, I am now wondering if I should make one for every middle, but will wait until I have finished with all the blocks…}

Hexie middles

It has been hard to find time to work on it, but I am back to making one square a day.

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

Houston’s Ruby Show: Florals

Flowers… I’m always drawn to them, either in the garden or a convention center. Every year, the floral quilts seem to get better and better. Here are some of my favorites.

Murdererskill Crossing by Janet Atkins was a surprise to me – it is entirely hand made! Generally speaking, the quilts in that category are very traditional in design with subdued color. Janet worked outside the box and everything about this quilt is wonderfully wonky. The color sings because blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel – it’s a pleasing combination but also punchy, because of the intensity of the values she chose. She won a prize for this beauty.

Murdererskill Crossing

Andrea Brokenshire created Yellow Mellow in Paradise. I quote from her description :”hand painted fused appliqué turned edge on a confetti-style background”. That’s a mouthful, but it makes for a stunning quilt. There is something almost etherial about the lemon yellows – you can see this quilt from quite far away. It sings like Fall colored leaves do on a dim and gloomy day.

Yellow Mellow in Paradise

I like Cleomes in my yard and so Spider Lilies appeals to me as well. Carol Morrissey is the maker of this quilt and it is fused and painted appliqué on a whole cloth background. The size of the flowers makes this quite stunning.

Spider Lilies

In Bloom, by Renee Caswell is machine appliquéd and stitched. This design has the feel of a botanical print of old, but has a more contemporary feel to it. As she says in her statement, it’s a flower that won’t fade.

In Bloom

This last quilt is the complete  opposite of the first one I wrote about and I did want to separate them for that reason. Magnolia, by Sylvia Gegaregian, really drew me in. I love the simplicity and stylization of the flower! Sylvia used a variety of techniques to create this piece, all by machine. Do click on the photo to examine the juicy center, which is nicely balanced by the magenta diamonds around the flower. This is one elegant quilt.



AQS Chattanooga Show

AQS had another new show in Chattanooga, TN last weekend and Peter and I decided we would take a road trip and check it out; neither of us have been there before. I spent Friday at the convention center, enjoying all the beautiful works of art. I am pleased to say that the lighting was good and so I did not need to tweak my photos!

The juried show was not as large as the one in Charlotte, but I saw lots of great quilts. This masterpiece won best of show and I absolutely agree! I have seen pictures of the quilt in some other blogs and was very pleased to view it myself. Marilyn Badger is the maker of Exuberance.


I took many pictures of this quilt so that I could study her work. I think you need to see this close-up so that you can admire the amazing appliqué, piecing and quilting! Her colors remind me of my favorite hand weaver – Randy Darwall. I have taken several classes with him over the years and he creates the most amazingly colored scarves. In the first class I took with him, I learned how he used purple as a neutral and how wonderful it looks with brown, as you can see in Marilyn’s quilt.

Exuberance detail

This multi award-winning quilt is made by amazing Japanese quilter Hiroko Miyama. I assume she owns Gold Retriever dogs, as she has used their images in several other quilts. This is a pieced quilt but it’s so realistic – particularly the tails. She won a major prize in this show.

If They Were in P.E.I.

Mary Ramsey Keasler is a favorite quilter of mine. I took a picture of this quilt with my phone and when Peter and I were walking around Chattanooga, I showed him the picture in front of an actual yellow and orange Lantana! It’s an amazing likeness.

Ms. Lantana

This quilt, Through the Cracks, is also by Mary Keasler! If you check out her blog, you will see the variety of quilts she has made. I follow her blog and have seen both of these quilts in progress. I don’t know of many quilters who experiment (successfully!) with such different sorts of designs.

Through the Cracks

This is quite an amazing Baltimore Album style quilt. It’s a large 4 by 4 square design, but I thought I would show you a detail so you could see the incredible workmanship. It’s called Sailing the World on the Waves, by Betty Jeffries.

Sailing the World on the Waves

And here’s another detail shot, this time of Grandmother’s Rose Garden, made by Donna Gilbert. The pictures I took of the whole quilt were fuzzy, but you can see in this close up what amazing hand appliqué she does.

Grandmother's Rose Garden

Lots more is coming about the show and the town!

AQS Charlotte Show; Color!

Wow – I haven’t been to a (big) quilt show in a very long time so I was excited to attend the new AQS show in Charlotte. They have added several new shows this year and I am also hoping to go to Chattanooga in September. I hopped in the car early Friday morning and headed off to Charlotte. It was a good show and I enjoyed being inspired. Because I am not a fan of posts where the blogger just posts picture after picture (it’s boring!), I have decided to break down my collection of pictures into categories. Today’s is color, my favorite part of quilting!

Rainbow Star was made by Carol McDowell and Kim Burterbaugh. There were two of these Judy Niemeyer quilts in the show and this was my favorite. (Didn’t it photograph well?) It’s hard to see in this photo, but the variety of fabrics in the flying geese border is amazing. The color moves so well from family to family. Carol must have an amazing fabric stash!

Rainbow Star

At every quilt show, I think I am tired of Baltimore Album type quilts, but then I find one that is different in its use of color or design. This is Autumn Journey at White Oak by Kathryn Zimmerman. Rather than having a variety of appliquéd squares, the many borders around the beautiful center square makes it quite unique. The yellows are so inviting and the red-orange (which didn’t photograph that well) adds such a pop. Being a fan of hearts, I very much admire the designs of the heart squares.

Autumn Journey at White Oak

And yum – how delicious are these colors??? This beauty is Adagio by Diane Hire. Her quilts always are amazingly colored and beautifully designed. The cool exterior moves into such a bright and warm middle. Here is another link that tells more about her work.


This has to be my favorite quilt! It is Grande Finale and was made by Tami Graeber. The color called to me from across the convention center.

Grand Finale

From a distance it looked to be all the same orange fabric, but there are subtleties when you look close up. I really liked the surprise of the jeweled button or brooch in the middle! So many of the flowers and butterflies are fussy cut and done in a broderie perse fashion. And it’s not overly quilted – just enough to highlight the design.

Grand Finale detail

This is an astounding use of color! From a distance this quilt looks like Chinese or Japanese embroidery. As I approached it, I wondered if the quilter had used silks for the appliqué. But no, she picked intensely colored hand dyed fabrics to give the look of silk embroidery!!! Susan Marra made this beauty.

Japanese Fighting Roosters

Next post: Modern Quilts…


Stitchin’ in the South Quilt Show

I have joined a local quilt guild, the Foothills Piecemaker’s Quilt Guild, in order to meet “others of my kind” and we had a show this last weekend. Peter and  I went on Saturday afternoon to see the show and to help take it down. It was a good one, and it was fun to see quilts – – – it’s been some time since I attended a show.

The best in show quilt took my vote as well! “Blooming Botanicals” was hand appliquéd by Kristin Kipper, the president, and quilted by Barbara Phillips. The colors are lovely and there are so many of them. The background color is so unusual and it’s not a solid fabric as it appears from a distance, but a tiny, vine sort of print. The pattern is from Piece O’Cake Designs.

Kristin Kipper

Another impressive hand appliquéd quilt was made by Joanna Yost. It is called “Long Hot Summer” and was hand quilted by Kathy Rivenbark. It really was a masterpiece!

Joanna Yost

This modern inspired quilt by Carol Alperin was beautifully quilted. Not too much, not too little, and one design flowed nicely to the next. She calls it “Modern Poppies”, a quilt made to celebrate her California heritage. There wasn’t much information on the tag, so I cannot say if this is an original design.

Carol Alperin

I am assuming that this pattern is a log cabin, but it is sewn around a triangular center rather than a square one. It’s called “For Display Only” and was made by Sandy Wolf. There’s no more information on the tag to tell you, but I do like the many colors that she skillfully put together.

Sandy Wolf

This machine quilted masterpiece is by Johellen George and it’s done on a piece of silk from her Aunt Bess. It is a pale, pale blue, difficult to photograph in the glaring lights of the church hall! It’s entitled “Remembering Aunt Bess”. Maybe I will be able to machine quilt like this some day…

Johellen George

There were quite a few nice entires in the miniature quilt section. This one is called “Warp and Weft I” by Brenda Wall. She said that she had a package of 2.5″ squares of Oakshott cotton and decided to use them in this tiny quilt. I really like all the straight line quilting. It felt very Japanese, to me.

Brenda Wall

“Point Taken” was made by Sandy Wolf. She used Civil War fabrics ro make this small beauty. Doing tiny piecing can be difficult, but all her points were pointy!

Sandy Wolf

I enjoyed the show! It is put on every other year which I think is a good idea. The guild numbers somewhere around 100 and it gives us all time to make great quilts. My machine quilted quilt did not make this year’s show. More about that sad story later….