July 13, 2018: Vermont Quilt Festival Pictures, Part 4; What I’m working on

Greetings!  I recently read this on the art quilter Judy Martin’s blog and it really, really struck a chord with me and I just have to share it with you:  “Sometimes I don’t want to understand, I just want to gaze at something delightful that excites my eyes.  Doing this rests my heart for some reason.  Makes me feel as if I’m on a holiday.”  I just love this!!!!!  My quilts generally don’t have “messages”; I’m not necessarily trying to “say something.”  I would be totally happy to make something that “delights your eyes” and/or “rests your heart” and/or makes you feel like you’re on a holiday!  This is how I often feel when I go to quilt shows and is why doing that is one of my favorite things.  I often feel I’m on holiday looking at all the wonderful quilts!  So, without further ado, here are more of my quilt pictures from the Vermont Quilt Festival (click on pics to enlarge and see details):

Here is a lovely rendition of a Lori Smith appliqué pattern.  I particularly like the gold background – it really makes the quilt glow.  And, of course, I love the appliqué vine border with the sawtooth edging!

I’m always interested in log cabin variations!  This one is especially nice and I do like the colors:

Another great star quilt – sorry I didn’t get a closeup.  I like the soft colors, esp. the pink:

I volunteered to do a demonstration on EPP at our guild’s annual quilt show this October so am paying attention to any quilts I see using this piecing method.  This is a colorful one!

I loved the excellent workmanship and the soft colors on this next one.  Look at the edging!:

I always enjoy a well done Tree of Life design and this one was lovely! (Sorry, I don ‘t remember what the special award was for):

Many of the quilt shows I attend have at least one quilt made of ties.  Here’s one from this show – beautifully done!

Still more to share in the next few posts!

I completed 6 of the 9 appliquéd Oak Leaf and Reel blocks for “Time of Plenty” (this picture makes things look a bit more “golden” than they really are):

and I’m now taking a break to “doctor” my blocks.  I have nearly all of the red square centers appliquéd onto the pieced blocks:

and I have started to add embroidery to the appliquéd blocks.  In the first picture you might be able to see the difference the embroidery makes as only half the block was done.  I like the added detail!:

It will take me a while to do the embroidery on all the blocks.  Speaking of “doctoring,”  I let my medical license lapse on June 30th after 43 years!!!  Of course, I will always be a doctor -it’s part of my identity – but I don’t now have a license to practice.  The only thing I can “doctor” (embellish!) now is my quilts!

I have 1 1/2 borders on Summer Breeze quilted:

I took “Time of Plenty” off my design wall and put up the hexagon star project to assess where I am with it and whether I’m still happy with the design.   Each star has some of the background pieced to it, but all stars are individually pinned to my design wall.  I haven’t pieced any sections together.  I was going to have a large hexagon shaped medallion full of the stars as the center.  I wasn’t totally sure that’s what I wanted and now have decided it is not!  Instead of the sloping sides for the hexagons, I want full rows of the stars:

Instead of the “slope”

I want the rows “full”:

This means I need at least 24 more stars and I think I will want there to be more rows overall so that means I need to make a whole lot more stars!  This long – term project is going to be even longer term!!

My latest book recommendation:   I really like the way Elizabeth Strout writes.  Her “Olive Kitteredge” was a favorite.  A year or two ago my book group read “My Name is Lucy Barton” which was excellent.  I just read “Anything Is Possible” which is a series of stories about the same people that were in the Lucy Barton book.

Her writing is simple, but very powerful.  She really makes one stop and think about life.  I highly recommend anything by this author!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi





July 5, 2018: Lots more pictures from the Vermont Quilt Festival!

Greetings!  With the 4th of July holiday and the current heat wave, I haven’t done much sewing the past few days.  That creates a perfect opportunity to share more quilts from the Vermont Quilt Festival on the blog.  Without further ado (click on pics to enlarge for details):

I was impressed with this interesting, fussy cut star beauty!

I mentioned previously that some folks expressed some “Judy Niemeyer design fatigue” but her designs can be quite impressive when done well and with interesting color choices.  I particularly like to compare different color versions when they appear in the same show:

Which do you like better?

They were both well done!  One won an exceptional merit ribbon (and the additional ribbon was, I think, for excellence in machine quilting) and the other a blue!

These next 2 are piecing “tour de forces”!!!  Look at all the different pieces in this first one, a replica of an antique done in more modern fabrics:

And this one is tiny hexagons with the design made purely by color choices.  You have to look at the edge/border in the picture with the name and ribbon – it’s not appliquéd onto another fabric; rather the edge is finished against the backing – not an easy thing to do!!!  It won the award for best pieced quilt!

This quilt was beautifully done and won the award for best small quilt:

The next 2 quilts are traditional style quilts and feature lots of reproduction style fabrics.  Both were lovely!!

Another excellent “star” quilt, but very different!  (Sorry I missed getting a closeup):

Samplers are not may favorite style quilt, but they can be wonderful if the blocks are original and interesting, settings and colors add interest, and the workmanship is excellent.  Here’s an example of a wonderful sampler.   Look at all the great, fun details!!!!

This interesting quilt won a Judge’s Choice ribbon:

This one was Best Pictorial quilt and it was lovely!!!

Last one for today is this version of “Passacaglia.”  I have all 3 of the Millefiore books published by Quiltmania and hope to someday do some (one??) of the designs.  I find them fascinating, but know they are challenging!

That should be enough for today!  I still have quite a few more quilts to share, plus some from the special exhibit of Judy Dales quilts and some from the “Best of Quilt Con” exhibit.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph the quilts from the antique quilt exhibit this year; there were a lot of lovely appliqué quilts in that exhibit!

Another book recommendation!   “Educated” by Tara Westover.  This is a powerful memoir of her growing up in Idaho in a “survivalist” Mormon family.  She never went to school and wasn’t even home schooled, she was physically abused, never saw a doctor, never had a birth certificate, and yet studied on her own and got into Brigham Young University and eventually got a PhD from Cambridge University in England.  It’s a fascinating story and a fast read because it is so interesting and well written.  I highly recommend it!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi


July 1, 2018: Listening to my quilts!; my judges’ scores from Vermont

Greetings!  If you know me or have been reading my blog, you know that I strongly encourage quilt makers to create their own unique quilts without using patterns or kits because it is such a rewarding process.  When you work that you you have to take time to “listen” to your quilt tell you what it does and doesn’t “need” to bring to fruition the overall vision you want to convey.  “Creating as you go” can be a challenge and can be frustrating at times, but can also be exciting.  I also encourage using a design wall as you go.  My design wall is located in a place where I look at it several times a day.  I often stop and assess the current project and ask myself if it is looking good or not, whether it needs any additions, changes, etc. or not.

Recently my current project has been saying “bland” whenever I go by.  The Oak Leaf and Reel blocks needed something more:

I decided to add berries between the leaves:

MUCH BETTER!!!!  Those little red dots add significant punch to the design! (click on pics to enlarge and see details)

Then I started studying the pieced blocks and they needed a little extra “punch” as well.  So I cut some 2 inch red squares and stuck them in the middle of the blocks:

(Sorry for the finger in the way in this picture!)  Again, much better!  I love the additional “pop” that the red gives.  Now, though, I am going to have to appliqué those red squares to the centers of the blocks.  No way am I re-doing all the blocks from scratch or taking any seams out to be able to piece in re-made centers!!!!  To me, the quilt is now quite a bit more interesting with the added details and I really like the extra red color.

I have a tentative name for this quilt – “Time of Plenty.”  I’ve been thinking how this is a “time of plenty” for me.  Plenty of beautiful fabrics, plenty of time to sew since my retirement, plenty of inspiration from numerous sources, plenty of support from family and friends, and overall good health.   I am so grateful for this and my hope is that, given climate change and the current political situation, we are not heading into a “time of deprivation.”  We all need to do what we can to prevent that.

I had several pieces of floral fabrics with much lighter backgrounds that I had pulled for possible use in the above project, but they didn’t get chosen.  I felt an “itch” to use them and to keep doing some piecing with this group of fabrics so I am making half square triangles without having a final plan yet on how they will be used, though it will definitely be a different project:

I’m actually thinking the entire center of the quilt could be 2 1/2 inch half square triangles with a simple vine appliqué border.  Very simple.  Not every piece has to be complex!

The center of “Summer Breeze” is 99% quilted and I have been thinking, thinking, thinking over the past few weeks about how to quilt the borders.

There are 4 different borders on the quilt and they are added in a “staggered” way.  I looked at all kinds of resources – books on Sashiko, magazines, books on design, including how to depict wind, etc. and nothing seemed just right.  I had to keep in mind the center is all circles.  I didn’t want circles for the borders.  I was almost ready to go with long rows of straight lines when I came across this picture in one of my Quilts Japan magazines:

This will be perfect!  It’s kind of a modified Baptist Fan design.  I love the feathers in there, but I won’t do that for my quilt because I don’t think it will show up on the busy background fabric.  Feels good to have a plan for the border!!!

“We Are Stardust” is home safely from the Vermont Quilt Festival.  They have 3 judges and each judge individually scores each quilt on a 100 point system, then the scores are added and divided by 3 for the final score.  My final score was 97!  I’m happy with that!  However, if I had just had one more point I would have gotten a purple “Exceptional Merit” ribbon instead of a blue ribbon.  I’m not complaining though!  Always happy to get a blue at Vermont.  My 3 scores were 95, 97, and 100!  Can’t believe I got a score of 100 from one of the judges!!  The comments were all positive.  A point was taken off here and there by 2 of the judges with no specific explanation, but they were all in the “workmanship” category except for one point off on the “visual impact.”  I’m guessing it’s because some of my points didn’t come out perfectly in the piecing and some of the quilting stitches weren’t even because there were areas of thick seams to go through in places and there was some chintz in the quilt which is hard to quilt through.   Of course I got one point off for my binding – I always do!   I don’t think taking those points off was unreasonable and am happy with my scores!   No complaints!

I promise to share a bunch more pictures from the Vermont Festival in my next post!  Have a wonderful 4th of July (a good holiday to think about how we can best preserve our democracy in these troubling times) and stay cool!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

June 28, 2018: More Pictures from the Vermont Quilt Festival

Greetings!  Today I’m sharing some more quilts from the Vermont Quilt Festival – full shots with some close-ups.  Click on the pics to enlarge and enjoy the details!

First up is my friend Wendy Reed’s “Pot Luck.”  I saw this quilt at the Maine show last summer and was really glad to get another look at it as there is so much to see in it!  Wendy is known for making quilts via the “pot holder” method in which each block is bound and quilted separately and then sewn together.  The backs of the quilts are often interesting too!  And she cleverly finds “food related” titles for most of her quilts!  Her workmanship is outstanding!

This next quilt won the award for best quilt entry from outside the USA.  This is a wonderfully original quilt with excellent machine quilting:

This next quilt is a very traditional 4-block quilt with lovely appliqué.  I’ve always loved this particular block and have been tempted to make it some day.  I love the clamshell type border around each block and love the border fabric which was her inspiration:

The next quilt was wild!! It had wonderful embellishments and great use of color and won one of the Judge’s Choice ribbons:

This next quilt was also a Judge’s Choice winner and I loved it!!!  Wonderful use of more pastel color range, re-use of shirts, and loved the EPP “flower garden” block design:

I loved the colors in this next one – perfect for showing off the lone star design:

Hope Johnson has been making quilts with “Bees” for many years and I always look forward to seeing her newest one at the Vermont Festival.  This one is really colorful!  I like how she got the shaded effect by appliquéing the white areas on the circles:

That’s all for today!  There are many more to come so stay tuned.  I also want to thank the several bloggers who have featured “We Are Stardust” on their  blogs and said such nice things!!!  Positive feedback from my fellow passionate quilt makers really gives me energy and keeps me creating – many, many thanks!!!!

And I also want to thank Barbara Brackman again for her “Stars in A Time Warp” quit along in 2015 that inspired me to make “We Are Stardust”  – thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,   Gladi


June 24, 2018: “We Are Stardust” wins “Best Bed Quilt” at the Vermont Quilt Festival!; pictures of 4 of the top winners at the show

Greetings!  “We Are Stardust” was chosen as the “Best Bed Quilt” at the Vermont Quilt Festival!!!

I was very happy with how the quilt was displayed – it had plenty of light that really highlighted the hand quilting.  Happy with the blue ribbon, too!!  Of course, I won’t see the judges’ scores and comments until my quilt arrives home some time later this week.  I’ll share with you in another post.

At the show I had the great pleasure of meeting up with Christine Wickert and Bobbie Korengold, two of my favorite quilters!!!!  I first met Christine at Vermont 2 years ago and Bobbie last year, when all 3 of us had lunch together.  We three got together again this year and it was the highlight of my day.  Bobbie  won Best of Show for the second year in a row!!!  Christine (who has won BOS at Vermont 3 times!!!) won Best Appliqué:

These were my two favorite quilts in the show.  Both were gorgeous, entirely hand made, and exhibited outstanding workmanship!  It was so wonderful to talk with each one about her process  while making her quilt.  Each one faced some significant challenges as she made her quilt and these quilts show that each one is a top notch PROBLEM SOLVER!  Both quilts are “one of a kind.”  Bobbie’s quilt was inspired by  oriental designs from various sources, but she drew and adapted her own patterns and created her own overall design.  Christine’s quilt was adapted from a Kaffe  pattern which she resized and to which she added her own original border edge treatment and sashing, used a totally different color palette, and made it ENTIRELY IN SILK!!!   What a joy to spend some time with these talented and wonderful women!!!!   I have a lot of close-up shots from both these quilts – please click on the pictures to see the beautiful details!!!  Both quilts have wonderful embroidery embellishment.  Both Bobbie and Christine and known in the quilting world for their fabulous hand appliqué and hand quilting.

Bobbie’s Best of Show quilt:

Christine’s “Best Applique” silk quilt .So sorry I didn’t get a closer picture of the whole quilt other than my pic with Christine above and I also realize I did not get closeups of the unique border edge treatment or one of the border baskets or a picture of her card – darn!   I was so preoccupied talking with Christine that I forgot to take enough pics!!  The quilt is called “Seeing is Beleafing.”  She always comes up with clever titles!!:

I always look forward to seeing a new Ann Feitelson quilt in Vermont.  This year as I neared the end of my viewing of the contest quilts, I hadn’t yet seen something by her and started to worry she hadn’t entered this year.  But as I rounded the corner to start on the last row of quilts, there it was!  I knew right away it was hers as she has a signature style.  This year she won a ribbon for Best Use of Color.  I love this quilt!!!!!

The last quilt I’m sharing with you today is the winner of the “Best Hand Quilting” award.  Megan’s hand quilting is right up there with the best I’ve seen – TINY stitches!!!  And this quilt was made of batiks which can be a bit tougher to hand quilt because of the close weave of the fabric.  But it’s not just the hand quilting that is outstanding – this quilt is visually captivating because of Megan’s choices of fabric and color to carry out her interesting design.  By the way, I almost missed noticing the black border on the quilt because of the black fabric the quilts were hanging against!!:

I’ll be sharing many more pictures in the next few posts.  I’m still “digesting” my overall thoughts about the show.  I think many of the top notch machine quilters seem to have abandoned the Vermont show and I suspect it may have to do with the fact that there are no monetary awards at Vermont and plenty of other competing shows out there.    I didn’t find the fabric selections at most of the vendors inspiring, but that could just be me.  There were only a couple of Baltimore Album style quilts.  Not much hand quilting, as usual these days.  Folks I talked with expressed “Judy Niemeyer quilt design fatigue.”    I still enjoyed the show  very much and am glad I went.

I am an avid reader and haven’t made a book recommendation on the blog in quite a while.  I now have a major recommendation:

For me to read a book it has to be WELL WRITTEN and INTERESTING.  This book is both, in fact, I found it fascinating.  I loved the “Little House” books when I read them as a kid.  This book beautifully describes the time period of the late 1800’s on the prairies and Laura’s family’s struggles to survive.  It  weaves the family’s personal history with the history of the country at that time together really well.  Of course, the story extends through the first half of the 20th century as well and there is a lot about Laura’s daughter, who was also a writer, and her relationship with her mother.  I highly recommend this book!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi




June 18, 2018: Project updates and some “quilty” thoughts

Greetings!  This top center is all put together! (click on pics to enlarge):

I don’t mind sewing all the individual blocks together, but the long seams of all the long diagonal rows is a bit tedious….happy to have that part done!

I showed pictures to my grandson, Dmitri, and he is very happy that he will eventually receive this!  I gave him a choice of colors for the border – red, blue, green, or brown – and he chose red.  Yay!  That would have been my choice too.  Lord knows I have a ton of red fabrics in my stash, but only one piece that would be both right for this quilt and big enough.  I have it saved for something else, so I guess I’ll have to go shopping!

I’ve also been working on the appliqué for the newest project whose name hasn’t yet been determined – Spring Romance??????  Colors say spring to me and the flowers say romance, but not sure….   I am SO HAPPY that I decided on relatively simple appliqué and did not choose complex appliqué blocks that would have turned this project into a multi-year one!! This is block #3 (of nine):

And this continues to be in the hoop and worked on intermittently, esp. when the weather is cooler:

I have continued to work on my English Paper Pieced project off on and since last August.  It is my “go to” project when I travel and when I know I’m going to have some “dead time” that I need to fill.  I am adding the tan connecting pieces one by one to each hexagon star and when that is done I’ll be able to connect all the stars.  There are 11 rows and I am about half way through row 8 so making good progress!

Here are some of the stars spread out a bit so you can see how they will look together once I get to that step:

This is the project I’ll be taking with me to Vermont later this week when I attend the annual Vermont Quilt Festival.  Can’t wait!!!!  You know I’ll be posting lots of quilts from the show when I get back!

“Quilty Thoughts”:

Speaking of the Vermont Festival reminds me that I have had some issues with their judging system over the years – everyone gets “graded” on a 100 point system.  My main “beef” is giving an entry full credit for excellent design when someone else’s pattern is used.  I recently viewed on line the winners from the recent Quilt Canada show (you can google this and view the winners – well worth doing!!).  They have a separate category, “Quilts From Patterns, Books, and Workshops.”  I think this is a great idea for a national level show like this.  And it did look to me like all the winners in other categories were original designs.  Not sure if this would work so well for local or smaller shows where lots of the quilts might be in this category.  But I do feel strongly that original design/original artistry should be encouraged and recognized.

I have been aware for a while that research studies seem to be showing some solid evidence  that “sitting” for prolonged periods of time, regularly, can be detrimental to one’s health.  It seems to increase insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes) and increase risk of heart disease (by adversely affecting the cells lining our blood vessels).   This has got me worried about all the time we quilters spend sitting, especially those of us who do hand work.  Hand quilting, hand appliqué, hand piecing are usually all done sitting.  Most folks sit using a domestic machine as well.

We all need to make sure we counter all this sitting with plenty of moving around, whether it is normal standing and walking or actual exercise (ideally both!) .  I also recommend standing for all cutting and ironing; DON’T set up your sewing area so that you can sit in front of your machine and swivel to cut and iron without getting up no matter how “efficient” that might seem!   Find a good balance and pay attention to how much time you’re sitting.  Of course, don’t forget that studies also show that quilting improves health by reducing stress!

Al and I have been spending time with the grandkids  and we recently attended Svetlana’s elementary school (4th grade) graduation:

I’m off to Vermont in 3 days!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

June 12: The “hand” of a quilt

Greetings!  I finished hand piecing the last lemoyne star block for the recently “unearthed” quilt top and have started piecing the blocks together into rows.  In the picture below all the blocks in the diagonal rows above the empty area are pieced together, but the rows are not joined together yet.  It’s going pretty quickly!:

Block examples:

I’ve noticed that the hand pieced blocks are very soft and flexible and the centers, where eight points come together, are softer and far less “lumpy” than they would be if I had machine pieced the blocks.  The blocks also seem to fit together more easily.

This started me thinking about the “hand” of a quilt – something almost no one talks about any more.  These blocks have a lighter, softer “hand” than machine pieced blocks.  The “hand” of a fabric refers to how it “feels”, i.e. its texture and “drapability”, it’s softness or coarseness.  This can also apply to quilts as well as individual fabrics.  The “hand” of a fabric is important if it’s going to be next to our skin for any length of time.

Completely hand made quilts – hand pieced/appliqued and hand quilted – generally have a softness and suppleness that machine made quilts can’t match.  And even if a quilt is machine pieced, but hand quilted it is generally softer and more flexible than machine quilted quilts.  A major reason for this is that more thread is used in machine stitches (top and bobbin stitches interlock) and the stitches are tighter.  When you cover a quilt with machine quilting, you lose some or often a lot of that “drapability” and softness that you get with hand stitching.

So -with machine quilting we’ve GAINED some things:  e.g. many wonderful completely machine made quilts, including wall quilts, art quilts with incredible quilting designs that can only be accomplished by machine.   With wall quilts the “hand” isn’t as important.  And the ability to get more done.

And with machine quilted functional bed, lap, and baby quilts, we’ve LOST that special soft “hand” that only hand work can provide.  C’est la vie.  I understand this because for all of us TIME is an issue.  My compromise is to machine piece, but try to hand quilt as many pieces as I can.  Just thought it important to acknowledge this LOSS!  And, by the way, I am machine piecing the blocks in this quilt together even though it’s going to be a bed quilt for my grandson.

Here’s the quilt I made several years ago for Dmitri when he was 7:

Time to replace it with a more “adult” quilt as he turns 14 in 3 months!!!!

I have the second Oak Leaf and Reel block made:

I plan to add embroidered veins in the leaves.

Hope you are all enjoying the lovely late spring weather!

Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi