December 5, 2016: 1. Fabulous antique applique quilts at NEQM! 2. Quilt making is dangerous! 3. Updates

Greetings!  This past Friday I went to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA (a convenient one hour drive from here) to see a FABULOUS exhibit of antique, mostly red, green, and white quilts from the Christ collection.  I was totally in quilt heaven and I strongly encourage anyone loving these traditional quilts to make a trip to see this “must see” exhibit before it closes at the end of the month.  Not only is the appliqué outstanding, but the hand quilting is amazing too.  Today I’m going to share 3 of my favorites with you and will share many more over the next several posts!

This one was probably my favorite.  I love the basket design with the berries (over 1500!!), but the quilting was astounding as well!!!  Be sure to click on the pics for enlargements/closeups:

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Even though the design on this next one is simple, it captured my attention and love.  I’m seriously thinking about trying to reproduce this one as I don’t think it would be difficult and I just love the overall effect.  Love those spiky leaves in the border and the cheddar color in the pomegranates!   This exhibit certainly makes me want to start a red, green and white appliqué quilt!

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I loved the overall visual effect of this “whig rose”.   I liked the size of the red centers and the use of pink in the flowers; also liked the primitive vine border.  There were 3 whig rose quilts in the exhibit and I think I liked this one the best though they were all great!

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I’ll share more next time, but do go see this very special exhibit if you can!  In addition to the appliqué quilts – there are some more recent ones that are not “red, green, and white” as well – there was an exhibit of smaller, wall quilts on the “spice” theme that were interesting and there was an exhibit of antique log cabin quilts in another room.  I have pictures from all these exhibits to share eventually, but, again, nothing beats seeing them in person if possible!

Meanwhile, the “Blue Star” special occasion quilt is finished!  I picked it up last Wednesday and had the binding done by this weekend.  We are now planning when to present the quilt to its recipient.  I think my closeup gives you a chance to see the nice ginkgo leaf/clamshell design the quilter used, which suits the quilt nicely:

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At the same time I picked up the “blue star” I took my neighbor’s “memory” quilt with me to the long arm quilter, Linda Bevins, to drop off for quilting.  I took my neighbor as well so he could pick out the quilting design and he loved meeting Linda and seeing her studio.  He was amazed at the size of her 2 long arm machines; I do think those that don’t know anything about quilting are very surprised at the size of the equipment for this type work.

I finally got the top for gift Baby Quilt #2 done, by adding the sashing and getting all the rows sewn together:

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I had enough of the sashing fabric to make the entire backing out of it and now it is ready to be layered and machine quilted.  I’m comfortable machine quilting a baby quilt, place mats, table runners, etc. with straight lines, ,but wouldn’t want to attempt anything more complicated!  The baby is due in early January so I am right on time!

I have also been working steadily on “Twinkle.”  I spent much of yesterday making the vines for the second border and hand appliquéing them on, making and appliquéing the center star, and making the leaves.  I have 3/4 of the leaves done – hand appliquéd – on the left border:

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Making quilts can be dangerous!  Over the years I’ve had numerous superficial burns from inadvertently touching my iron and I have occasionally nicked myself with the rotary cutter, but nothing that required any medical care.  I did something the other day that I have never before done in all my years of sewing – I inadvertently reached under the sewing machine needle while forgetting to take my foot off the pedal and the machine needle went right through the distal part of the nail and tip of my left second finger!  What a shock!   Luckily there was no needle stuck in the finger and I was able to stop the bleeding after after a few minutes.  It’s a little sore, but not bad and there’s no reason to think I won’t heal just fine.  On the same hand, just proximal to the thumb, I have a healing iron burn.  You can see the burn and the bandaid over the finger tip – I’m sparing you the gory details!:

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As is common with accidents, this happened because I was cutting corners.  I always pin! – but not this time!  This time I was sewing a seam and thinking I didn’t need to pin and because the edge of the 2 pieces of fabric was not as together as I wanted it as I sewed down the seam, I reached in to pull them closer together and that’s when I forgot to take my foot off the pedal.  Moral of the story – be mindful, and don’t cut corners!

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

 

November 29, 2016: Quilting for comfort

Greetings!  As I was perusing blogs recently I saw that a book featuring over one hundred quilts from a collection of antique quilts was released this summer; it’s called “Comfort and Glory.”  It looks like the type of book I’d eventually like to have in my collection.  That started me thinking that those are two major reasons we make quilts.  We make utilitarian quilts to sleep and snuggle under, i.e. for “comfort”, and we make “show” quilts to win competitions and/or complements, i.e. for “glory.”  Also, the process itself of making a quilt can provide comfort, especially if the stitching is easy and meditative, or it can be challenging and sometimes even stressful.

I am currently quilting for comfort.  The death of my friend, the election results, adjusting to retirement, the coming winter season – all of these have made me want comfort from my process at this time.   That’s why I chose to make a simple vine border for “Twinkle.”  For me appliquéing leaves is easy and comforting – “meditative” if you will.  Challenging designs are not for me right now, though I’m sure I’ll get back to them.  In between the cooking and time spent with family over the Thanksgiving holiday, I managed to find time to appliqué the leaves for half of one border (click on pic to enlarge):

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The hand stitching is so relaxing!

Because my granddaughter was here we pulled out the quilt top we put together over the summer – I hadn’t touched it since then and hadn’t decided how to quilt it –  by myself on my machine or send out to long-armer.  My daughter hadn’t seen the quilt yet, either.

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After showing it to my daughter and discussing how special this project is, I decided I need to hand quilt it!  My machine quilting is not great and the hand quilting will make the project and the quilt more special.   Who knows if we will ever do a quilt project together again!  I will just do a straight line grid so it shouldn’t take too long  – but it is going to delay other projects!!

For family and friends,here are a couple of family pictures from Thanksgiving:

My daughter and grandkids at the piano – Christmas songs start right after Thanksgiving!:

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My son with his niece and nephew the morning he left to go back to NYC (just as he was leaving and not the best picture!):

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When the family is together we play lots of games and this visit was no different:

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Here’s hoping that during this busy upcoming holiday season all you quilters will find comfort and relaxation in your stitching!  Be kind, be grateful, and cherish each day,  Gladi

 

November 23, 2016: Design decisions and prep work; Neighbor’s top completed; more Cocheco show pictures

Greetings!  I finished sewing all the pieces together for my neighbor, Jerry’s, quilt top (click on any pics to enlarge):

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I had a few fat quarters in my stash that I showed him to get an idea of what kind of backing he might want and he wanted something very simple and traditional so I made a trip to Keepsake Quilting last Saturday to pick out the backing.  It’s about 75 minutes away and a lovely drive along Lake Winnepesauke with mountains in the distance.  I tried to find something more locally with no luck and knew that I would find something at Keepsake because they have such a large and wide-ranging inventory of fabrics.  Sure enough, I found something just right:

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I have cut the 6 yard piece into two 3 yard pieces, washed them, and now will sew them together down the middle and this will be ready for long arm quilting!

While at Keepsake I  also bought a large piece of reproduction fabric for the backing for “We Are Stardust”.  I debated whether to piece the back with many smaller pieces of reproduction fabric from my stash but decided I didn’t want to have to hand quilt through any extra seams – already there are many, many seams in the top that I will be quilting through.  Here it is:

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I love that it’s red!  I ordered a silk batting on line for Stardust – very nice for hand quilting – and also ordered a silk batting for the Japanese circles quilt.  Two more quilts to add to the hand quilting pile!:

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Once Stardust is basted, I may start quilting it even if “Spirit of Japan – Kurumu” – is not completed yet!  (I am still hand quilting this a little bit almost every day.)

“Twinkle” is back on the design wall and I’ve decided on what the 2 side borders are going to look like.  As of now, I think the top and bottom borders will have different appliqué designs than the side borders.  I cut border strips to finish 6 1/2 inches after studying various widths for a couple days.  I knew I wanted a vine border – nothing new there!!!   I sketched some flower designs, but finally decided that just leaves work best for this quilt.  I tried two different widths for the vine and decided on the narrower one.  The picture shows some trial pieces pinned on and the narrower vine is above the star,  the wider one below:

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I decided to go back to using the needle-turn technique of appliqué with paper templates on top of the leaves for this project and proceeded to cut out 30 templates and leaves:

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I am loving working with the bright colors in this quilt as everything outdoors turns drab!

I still have pictures of quilts from the Cocheco show last month to share with you.  Today I’m sharing quilts made by friends who are in my “bee” – the “Durham, Lee, Madbury (DLM) quilters”.  We’ve been going for 15+ years!!

A friend and I met Havrilla in a class and when we found out she was from Durham we invited her to join the group.  She does her own wonderful long arm quilting and has a knack for color.

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Rosemary is in her 80’s and is still making lots of wonderful quilts.  She is a role model for me!

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Nancy is the friend I traveled with to Japan in 2010 to the Tokyo International Quilt Festival:

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Pat has been doing a lot of beautiful sashiko recently:

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Kate is a relatively new member of our group:

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Janice is also fairly new:

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These next 2 quilts are not by DLM members but I wanted to share them anyway.  Jacque is a prolific quilter and was chair of the quilt show this year.  Love her appliqué quilt:

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I enjoyed the fact that the next quilt is made from antique blocks;
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I hope all Americans who read my blog have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My family won’t be celebrating until Saturday because my daughter works Thursday and Friday, but we will all be together then.  My son arrives tomorrow.  I am especially grateful this year to have the family together yet again because just last week we lost a good friend.  She was my age and rather quickly developed a serious cardiac problem that required surgery and didn’t make it through the surgery.  More than ever, I feel the need to “cherish each day.”

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

November 16, 2016: 1. Helping a neighbor 2. Closeups of Lorayne Dodge quilts

Greetings!  Our next door neighbor of 32 years, Alma, recently passed away.  Her husband of 59 years (!!!) asked me to come over and take a look at some bags of her clothing, wondering if I could recommend someone to make a quilt out of them.  Of course, I knew I had to take on the job.  Almost all of Alma’s summer, cotton, clothing was blue and white with a few pink polo type shirts thrown in.  Jerry included some of his own blue stripe and check shirts in the mix.  I’ve never made a quilt out of clothing before, but figured I had enough experience to do it, especially since Jerry wanted something “simple.”  I decided random squares was the way to go and used my rotary cutter to chop apart the clothes, following that with using a ruler to get even squares.  A queen size quilt was requested so I cut 196 six inch squares.  With pieces of clothing that weren’t big enough for the squares, I cut 6X3 inch pieces for top and bottom borders.  In order to include a few pink squares, I had to stabilize the fabric from a pink shirt with some fusible interfacing.     I have many of the squares now sewn together and here is what my design wall looks like (click on to enlarge):

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Jerry came over 2 days ago and is very happy with how it’s looking.

We plan to have it machine quilted and I’ll soon be shopping for backing and binding fabric.  I know Jerry is going to love having this remembrance of his wife and I’m so happy to have the time to do this for him!  In the meantime, of course, my projects are on hold though I have continued to hand quilt the Spirit of Japan when I’m tired of cutting and machine sewing the squares.

Here are the closeups of Lorayne Dodge’s quilts from her special exhibit at the Cocheco quilt show that I promised to share a couple of posts ago.  Don’t hesitate to click on them to enlarge them so you can enjoy the hand quilting.  Lorayne has been heavily influenced by the work of Kumiko Sudo.

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My Japanese maple was spectacular this year!  I just love this red.  Unfortunately the picture below was taken a couple of weeks ago and now the tree is bare (as are most others as well!).

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Loved my cabbage plant today with droplets of water from the rain.  Aren’t these purple and green colors beautiful!:

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

 

 

November 9, 2016: So disappointed!!; Stardust top complete and other retreat pictures

Greetings!  I write these blog posts mostly for sharing my quilting activities and occasionally there’s a little sprinkling of commentary on and pictures of family and friends and other activities.  Mostly I avoid political commentary, but I have to vent that I am disappointed – actually, horrified – with the results of our election.  HC was not an ideal candidate, but clearly superior to DT and qualified to lead.  In fact, I was hoping to celebrate the election of our first female president.  We need change to move forward from the gridlock in Washington, but DT isn’t the change we need.  Based on what I saw during the campaign, I am seriously worried that DT is unfit for the presidency.   I firmly believe that character matters.   I don’t understand how we elected someone who boasts of predatory sexual behavior, sees women as objects, judges solely on appearances, makes fun of those with disabilities, insults freely, is severely narcissistic, doesn’t read, doesn’t think deeply or carefully, has no idea of the complexity of both foreign and domestic issues, doesn’t believe in climate change, wants to build a wall instead of bridges, is proud of not paying taxes, and is a racist and bigot.  I hope I’m wrong, but I’m worried about the future of the country and the planet.   What to do?  Take deep breaths, be kind, be grateful for life, and cherish each day, as I say in every post.   But we also need to stay hopeful, continue to work for what’s right and decent, and work to undo this in the next election.

I enjoyed a lovely retreat this past weekend!  No one talked politics as we were all sick of the long campaigns and it was great.  I accomplished all my goals!  The best one was finishing the top of “We Are Stardust.”  I had a floor space big enough to spread it out and then I had a couple friends hold it up so I could get a picture (click on pic for enlargement):

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Next I have to sew some fabrics together to make a backing for this – I’ll use larger size pieces of reproduction fabrics that I already have rather than buy one large new piece.  That will be less expensive and keep me using fabrics I already have.

I cut and sewed all the fabrics for the back of the Blue Star gift quilt and yesterday took the quilt and back to the long armer for quilting.  I think you can see the signature blocks if you enlarge the picture:

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I’ll next show it after it’s quilted and I get the binding on!

I also made a bag as a gift for a friend who is retiring and has a party this Saturday.  Here it is without the grommets and tie for closing the top (finished those today but forgot to get an updated picture!):

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My other 2 goals were to sew the blocks for my second baby quilt together – did that, but no picture – and get some more hand quilting done on my Spirit of Japan quilt – did that too.  A very productive retreat!!!!  And so much fun to talk and laugh with other quilters.  Here are some pictures of the retreat and projects others were working on:

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Be kind, be grateful (takes extra effort today!), and cherish each day,  Gladi

November 2, 2016: Project updates; the beautiful quilts of Lorayne Dodge

Greetings!  November if off to a great start as I am currently packing to leave tomorrow for a 3 day quilting retreat with about 15 of my quilting friends in Kennebunkport, ME.  We’ve been doing this every year around this time for several years now.  I’m sure I’m taking way more to do than I’ll ever accomplish, but it’s going to be so much fun sharing stories and doing what I love with others who feel the same.

Here’s an update on my projects and you’ll get an idea of what I’ll be working on at the retreat.

I finally finished sewing all the berries and leaves on the 4 “Stardust” borders.  I initially cut my appliqué borders larger than needed because of possible shrinkage from the appliqué so I had to cut these down to the correct size after measuring the quilt numerous times – not easy, especially when it’s a big quilt – 94 inches square with the borders.  I have no floor or wall space big enough to fully lay this quilt out for accurate measuring.  However, I managed to get it done!  Then I studied possibilities for the corners, came up with an idea, and completed one of them.  Here are some pictures, though I didn’t have space to get the whole thing open for a good shot: (click on pics to enlarge)

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Here’s a picture of a corner with nothing in it and a closeup of the one corner I designed and mostly finished:

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I plan to work on the other 3 corners while on retreat.  I have all the new leaves and berries and stems prepped and ready to be arranged and appliquéd.  Then I’ll have it basted on a long arm and will hand quilt it!

I have taken out Spirit of Japan #3 and gone back to hand quilting it.  I’m now on the 10th “wheel” – out of 16.  Back in January I mentioned I had hoped to have this done for the Cocheco show this year, but now I hope to have it done for next year’s show!  I will take this to the retreat and work on it when I’m in the mood for doing something more relaxing and meditative:

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I’ve been calling this quilt “the wheel” but am not happy with that.  I looked up this block and it’s also called “ladies fancy,” probably because each quarter quadrant is essentially a fan.  Am currently pondering other possible names…..

I am taking fabrics to the retreat to cut into large squares to sew together for the backing of the special occasion – “blue star” – quilt which I showed in a recent post.  I’ll be incorporating the signature squares which I just picked up.  I am also taking all the things I need to make a bag for a friend who is retiring and the squares to be sewn together for my next baby quilt.  See why I said I’m probably bringing too much?!!!  I hope to have retreat pictures to share next post.

I finished the designer Japanese circles quilt!  I originally thought I would make a bed size quilt with a medallion center, but the more I studied this and played with ideas, the more I felt like the quilt is best as a smaller wall quilt.  I played with lots of “border” ideas to go around the center, finally came up with something I liked, and decided this would be the final border, not just something between it and the rest of a larger quilt.

Initially I thought I might try these red and orange triangles, but they looked way too bold and fought with the center for attention:

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Then I tried a multitude of different fabrics for the borders, thinking a combination of warm and cool colors might be right:

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I finally decided on 4 different warm colored sateens with narrow sashing strips:

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Closeups:

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I’d love your opinion – does it look complete (hand quilting and binding to come, of course) as is?  I have lots of other circles cut and will perhaps make some matching pillows.

I’ve also been working on this block for “Sweet Journeys”:

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It wasn’t easy to appliqué all those hearts with their inner deep inner and outer points!  This still needs small appliqué folk-art hands holding valentines in both lower corners.

This year’s Cocheco Quilt Guild show featured a special exhibit of quilts by long time guild member, Lorayne Dodge.  Lorayne is 91 years young!   She has been strongly influenced by the work of Kumiko Sudo.  Today I’m sharing pictures of the quilts as they hung in the show from a bit of a distance and next post I’ll show some closeups.  Most of these are hand quilted and hand pieced and they are beautiful!!!  Lorayne included the ribbons she originally won when each quilt was previously exhibited in our show.  There are many well deserved blue ones!

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

 

October 25, 2016: The work of Rainy Stevens, quilter extraordinaire!!

Greetings!  The weather is colder and more than half the leaves have fallen.  Winter approaches – more quickly than I’d like!  I have enjoyed this fall more than any time I can remember, probably because retirement has allowed me to be more observant and mindful moment to moment of the colors and other sensual experiences as well as the time to think philosophical thoughts about time, the seasons, and the metaphor of being in the “autumn of my life” .

As promised in my last post, I am today sharing with you the work of my fellow Cocheco Guild member, Rainy Stevens.  She is a handwork devotee and her hand appliqué and hand quilting are phenomenal!!!   She also hand pieces most of her work.   I’m so lucky to be in the same guild with such a talented artist whose craftsmanship is top notch.   She’s a wonderful person, too!!  This year, as the person in charge of planning the “Meet the Quilter” exhibit for our show, I chose Rainy as one of the exhibiters and she did a fantastic job of planning and setting up her area.  Following are pictures of Rainy and her exhibit area with lots of closeups of her work.   Included are many challenge quilts she made over the years (most of which won prizes!).  The work goes back to the 1980’s (I think, or at least the early ’90’s) up through more recent projects.  As you look through these please click on pictures for enlargements and keep in mind that all of this work is done by hand!!!!  The Baltimore Album she is currently working on is embellished with lots of embroidery.  She is amazingly accurate with even the tiniest pieces!

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I’m sure you agree this is fabulous quilt making!

Next post I will update you on my projects and show more quilts from the Cocheco show.  Eventually I hope to share more pictures from my recent NEQM trip and I’m planning to go to the museum again soon to see their new appliqué quilt show and should have lots of pictures from that too!

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