Friday, March 30, 2012

AZ Regional Study Meeting and Centennial Quilt Exhibit

A block from a quilt in
Grand Endeavors

Hello again!
I'm sorry I've been unable to post for awhile. As my dear Aunt Agnes used to enjoy saying, "I have so much to do and I'm so busy besides." She even embroidered the saying on a dish towel for my Mom - they got such a kick out of it...but I digress.

Entrance to the Arizona History Museum, Tucson

I had a great time at the Regional Study Group meeting in Tucson, Arizona last weekend.

A blog post can't do justice to the event but I'd like to share our agenda and some photos.

This quilt exhibit runs all year; through December 2012, so I hope this gives some of you a chance to see it. The show consists of the first 100 quilts submitted after the call was made. The faith and confidence of its organizers, Lenna DeMarco and Anne Hodgkins, were rewarded with a show of wonderful diversity and took pressure off  any panel of experts or judges. Laraine Daly Jones and the staff of the museum designed and hung the show and obviously they know what they are doing!
 Expressions of the makers love of Arizona, from elementary school students to quilt artists, made for a most inspiring show.The Southwest theme in landscapes and motifs was prominent. The placards were large and easy to read and the stories added so much to the viewing of each piece.

I love this one - and the story accompanying it. The star was pieced by the makers mother in the late 1930's. Discovered and rescued fifty years later, Carol was inspired to finish it with a wonderful contemporary fabric for a truly stunning two generation quilt.

"Arizona Colors" by Carol Miller
71" X 75"

"Cowgirl Boots Celebrate Arizona"
by Georgia Heller
33" x 55"

Symbols on these boots represent the various cactus, turquoise gemstone mined in Arizona, native animals, flowers, forests and the colors of the layers of earth and point out the importance of cowgirls!

"A Cowboy's Prayer" by Nancy Arseneault
67" x 36"
Cowboys and ranching are an important component of Arizona history from the earliest days up to the present time.

Inspired by the children's book Cowboy Charlie, by Jeanette Winter, Nancy got permission to use the cover image of the book for her impressive quilt.

A self-described fiber artist, Genevieve is inspired by the Sonoran Desert and expresses her love of nature with re-purposed fabrics.

"Agave Azul" by Genevieve Guadalupe
49" x 40"

The detail in the pictorial quilt below is amazing. Sandy expresses her love of the Sabino Canyon Creek which tumbles 6,000 feet from Mt. Lemmon to nourish a wide diversity of plants and animals.

Abundance - Sabino Canyon by Sandy Lambert
47" x 48

This exhibit was only one part of the two day experience and there are ninety-five MORE quilts to see!!!...You can order the book and accompanying DVD here - you get a discount when you buy both.

Our study agenda included:
Julie Silber with an educational and entertaining historical overview of Quilts in Women's Lives through a slide show presentation.
Helen Young Frost sharing details about the documentation of Arizona quilts with stories from the resulting book, Grand Endeavors. She had some quilts from the book for us to see in person and several others from the book were also brought in for show and tell. That was a real treat.

Janet Carruth has been studying the life and quilts of Emma Andres of Prescott, Arizona. We were fortunate that she was able to share several of Emma's actual quilts for us to see in person. I've seen pictures but as you know, seeing the actual textile is a whole different thing. You may be familiar with her quilt 'Out Where the West was Won".  (also seen in Grand Endeavors.)

Carolyn O'Bagy Davis has been working with Hopi quiltmakers on the various mesas in Arizona. She gave a very interesting talk showing many examples and even having a supply for sale....and then generously presented each attendee with a free copy of her new book!

The always popular "Show and Tell" portion of the event wrapped up a wonderful two days. Attendees brought lots of treasures to show and a special portion of the time was devoted to about a dozen quilts from local collectors deemed to be (or dated in a few cases) from the first two decades of the compliment the theme of Arizona's Centennial.
This was the 3rd Regional meeting the Arizona Quilt Study Group has hosted and plans are already underway for the 2013. If you are interested in joining the group please email me privately. No cost. No obligation. It will just allow you to get posts about meetings and other events.

Now....freshly inspired....back to work on my own projects!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Arizona Quilt Show

Last week I attended the annual AQG show in Mesa, Arizona where I was fortunate to get a very close look at the official Centennial Quilt. 
It was made by a "team of quilters, historians and artisans from across the state" and it will become part of the permanent collection of the Arizona Historical Society. It depicts the history and various features of this diverse state from desert to mountain elevations.

I thought you might enjoy a closer on any photo for even closer examination.

This is the back of it - the names of all contributors are listed. It was quilted separately so basically two quilts are joined into one to allow custom quilting on each side.

The design, artistry and workmanship is astounding. Cudos to those who had anything to do with its creation. It is truly a treasure for the state of Arizona.

I also snapped a few other photos......
Since I'm working on my diamonds these two caught my eye.

And....I was surprised to see this quilt made with fabrics from the 1970's.  I recognized several exact prints in my collection. Maybe they are making a comeback!

Could the rapid rise in cost per yard of fabric today be encouraging us to take a new look at our stashes?

Next Weekend: Regional Quilt Study Meeting
Tucson, AZ

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quilting Makes the Quilt - Amish 'small' Completed

By Lee Cleland
Quilting makes the quilt. I believe this to be true and so does Lee Cleland - she wrote the book on it! ( a great reference for your library if you don't have it)
This is especially true for plain quilts such as classic Amish or whole cloth (where the quilting IS the design) as well as those large plain setting blocks in quilts where the work you put into quilting really pays off.

I finished hand quilting my first little Amish style quilt last weekend. The photo is at a slight angle to show the quilting.
I used motifs commonly seen on Amish vintage quilts; feathered wreath, crosshatch and cables. The red border was narrow so I used a simple wavy line with random pumpkin seeds-all done with navy cotton thread.

I played around with Picasa; altering the colored close-up of the center motif to highlight the quilting stitches.

I've said before that I learn something from each project and on this one I learned a couple of things.
  • Maybe I should have waited to get some dark/black batting. The dark solid cottons don't hide any 'fuzz' that works its way through. After a good working over with a lint remover it's going to be fine. 
  • Test and re-test your marking tool for each project. I thought I had tested this one before but I didn't do it again on these exact fabrics. It was a bit stubborn when I soaked it. I was afraid it would rub off as I worked  (it's chalk-like) so I used a bit too heavy a hand. I will probably give it one more bath and consider it when I mark my little Amish Bars.

Two previous posts on this project can be seen here:
It feels good to have it done - but I'm not making much progress on my 70's  Tumbling Blocks!   I did baste the PA Dutch 4 patch for hand quilting, though.  I know I'm among people who understand!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago I posted my very first blog! The red and white exhibit in New York provided the original impetus and I ended up doing three posts about that here. 
I don't have any new red and white quilts to share but this is red and white and I think you'll like it. It's  part of the biggest 'quilt' I've seen. (Let's not get into "what is a quilt?" right now)

It is composed of Navaho rugs sewn together. As you can see it's quite amazing in size as well as beauty. That's me posing in front of it ( and I'm six feet tall).
It was on display at one of the many Arizona Centennial events.
Speaking of that.......the 100 Years; 100 Quilts exhibit is currently on display in Tucson through December 2012 (see more about it here) and a Regional Study Group Meeting will be held at the end of the month - also in Tucson. Click here for more details. Perhaps I'll meet some of you there!

Who knew where this blogging thing would take me?.... It's been a year of real growth. I have learned a great deal about the process and continue to fine tune with each post.  It takes more time than I knew but I really enjoy it. It was rewarding to have over 50 followers before the year was out. It was a milestone for me!
I don't always get a reply back to each of you but I want you to know that I really appreciate your taking time to comment and knowing you check back  to see what I'm up to now and then keeps me on task.

I look forward to continued exploration of all things quilt and textile related and to sharing that journey with anyone who wants to travel with me!  I enjoy the company!

Monday, March 5, 2012

March Theme - The 1970's!

I hinted in a earlier post that one of my monthly themes this year would have to do with a time period in quilting that gets no respect these days....but I started quilting then and maybe some of you did too.

As a home sewer, polyester blends and knits were the rage for fashion fabrics (no ironing!) but they didn't work well for quilting.

I found this image on-line but I made this! I had the pattern - who knows I may still have the pattern!

The American bicentennial spurred a nostalgic look back at our nation's past.. Quilt patterns began to appear in magazines and community school classes offered beginning quiltmaking. Quilters Newsletter, the first magazine dedicated solely to quilting, was started by Bonnie Leman in 1969. Quilt stores began to pop up and another quilt revival was born.

The very first quilt I made (1974) was this Trip Around the World in small calico prints and poly-blend solids.
(This is a photo re-run from my post last November on One Patch Quilts.) It's the only one I have of that first quilt.

 Reminder: Photograph your quilts!

As it happens, two of the topics chosen by the Minnesota quilt study group for 2012 are 'Quilts from the 1950's, 60's and 70's' and 'One-Patch Quilts'.
So for my first project this month I am combining these topics and making a Tumbling or Baby's Block 'small' from my authentic 70's stash!

I am using a metal 60 degree diamond template which is a bit larger than I wanted so I am tracing the inner line and then eyeballing the seam as I hand-piece.

I am making little groups of three...It's a great take-along project for those found moments or while vegitating in front of the boob-tube.

These are not sewn together but I've laid them out to get the idea.

Cool? Groovy? 

When I showed a friend she said, "I really kind of like it - but don't you dare tell anyone I said that."

What did I tell you about no respect? 
Wait til I tell her I'll be using poly batting!

Then and Now
Always in Fashion

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Starting the Quilting - Amish Diamond in the Square

16" x 16"
I got one of my little tops ready for quilting today.
Do you remember the first of my Amish 'smalls'?

It was easy to do given the size!

It's not uncommon for classic Amish quilts to have a print, stripe or check on the backside so I am using the back of one of the shirts I got at the thrift store recently. (blue check 2nd from the left)

Choosing HOW to quilt a top can really cause a delay in getting the top done/done! I typically think about that all the way through the process; studying old quilts for ideas, but ultimately it requires simply making a decision and then finding a way to mark the top. Stencils are nice but are rarely the right size, it seems.

A feathered wreath is often seen in the center of this particular design. My center square is only 5" so I needed a simplified motif. I found this one on-line at Forest Quilting, which offers a really nice selection of free quilting motifs to print out. Check it out  here.

I thought this was it until I visited my friend, Lynn, who generously shares her books, sewing supplies and fabrics with me. After poring over her many books with quilting motifs I chose this one - and it was already the right size! If not, I would have used the copy machine to reduce or enlarge as needed.

Then I found this nice cable for the border - also just the right size.

We've all heard the 'make-do' phrase in relation to quilt making. Quilters in the past may have had to make-do with what they had more than most of us today but I honor the concept and enjoy using up small pieces, taking apart old tops for fabric and thrift store shopping.

Today I 'made-do' in another way. I created a light box by supporting an Ott floor lamp on a chair slid under the glass dining table in our rented condo and voila! Perfect.

I really like the General's pencils for marking. You can find them at Michael's (in art supplies not quilting accessories) and other art supply stores. They are not a fine line but they come with a sharpener and are available in either Sketch and Wash (graphite) or what they call 'charcoal white'. I have tested many markers and find these to wash out most easily. This means,  however, that they can start to rub off as you work so I mark as I go. I prefer this anyway because sometimes I don't know for sure what I want to do - or I change my mind as I work.

After I finished I noticed another even better light table in front of the couch posing as a coffee table.
 I could lay my small table Ott light on the shelf time!

I used Quilters Dream cotton (Request) batting  and I am using navy blue quilting  thread by Gutterman. The quilting is going quickly. I hope to show you soon!

Next: March Already?
New Theme Project Underway!