Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oops, almost forgot the label!

A reader asked what the back of the Cinco de Mayo quilt looked like with the variegated quilting thread, and I was going to tell her to look at the picture of the label...but than discovered I forgot to post it.

I love labels on quilts, and whenever I document quilts I pay attention to the labels. Some are simple, and others are elaborate, but there is such a wide variety of labeling techniques being used today. I'm always interested in seeing how people label their quilts.

Here's the label of the Cinco de Mayo. If you click the picture you can see some of the quilting on the back. As with the rest of the quilt, the label is very well done. It is machine embroidered and sewn to the back. Here's the full view in case you missed it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Details: Cinco de Mayo

The Cinco de Mayo quilt made by the Buda Bee quilters in Texas is definitely the largest, most ambitious example of this pattern that I've ever seen. It is 64 blocks, and most of the other examples I've seen are 36 blocks. The extra row of blocks on all four sides allowed for the completion of the circles around the perimeter. That gives it a greater sense of symmetry and graphic impact.

Needless to say, there are lots of details to be seen. Here are some close-up pictures. Don't miss the variegated quilting thread, rick rack, and decorative ribbon detail.

Even though the Cinco de Mayo quilt is just four years old, it's quite rare. The pattern was published less than 10 years ago, and it requires great skill and a lot of effort. Not many have been made. Experienced quiltmakers look at it with wonder, and it's the kind of thing quilt show judges tend to favor. No surprise, this quilt won a blue ribbon when it was entered in a quilt show.

Since the Cinco de Mayo pattern is so recent and serves as such a high benchmark for demonstrating sewing mastery in a quilt, the people making them aren't exactly selling them. In fact, I've never seen one available on the open market. This one happened to come from someone who won it in a raffle. I suppose, if there was a way to get hold of a Cinco de Mayo quilt, I'd find it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, 2008, made by the Buda Bee Quilters, Texas
In 2004, Karen Stone published her most complex design, Cinco de Mayo. It's been one of my favorite patterns since I first saw it, and I've only known one or two people who dared to make it. Cathie Favret of the Tillamook County Quilters made one a few years ago. I wanted that quilt, but I don't think Cathie was going to let go of it easily. Can you blame her? It's a lot of work to make one of these quilts.

Cathie Favret with the Cinco de Mayo quilt she made
Cathie Favret's Cinco de Mayo
Last year, in Paducah, Kitty Ledbetter was telling me about a Cinco de Mayo raffle quilt she had won, and that it was available if I was interested. I saw pictures of it on her cell phone, and I was interested, but would have to catch up with her when I had money to spend.

Kitty Ledbetter, lucky winner of the Buda Bee Cinco de Mayo raffle quilt
The Buda Bee quilters made this quilt 2008 and raffled it off afterwards. Proceeds went to the Onion Creek Senior Citizens Center, where the group has met and made quilts for years. The quilt received a blue ribbon in the 2010 New Braunfels, Texas, Holiday Magic quilt show for best Group Bed / Wall Quilt. I wasn't at all surprised.

In Lincoln, I asked Kitty if the quilt was still available, and it was. Lucky me! I thought it would be the perfect quilt to add to the collection as I prepare for next year's exhibit in San Jose. It arrived this week, and it's amazing. There are many variations within the blocks, which is what makes it such an exciting design. Karen Stone saw the pictures I posted on Facebook, and said, "Oooh it's beautiful!"

Thrilled! I'll try to post some detail shots this week. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wonky Star Progress

The Wonky Star was calling for attention, so I did a little piecing yesterday. I started it last Thursday in the Liberated Medallion Quilts workshop with Gwen Marston at Stitchin' Post in Sisters. After this set of borders, I will will either finish it or continue building. Originally, I was going to do just a couple borders, but it's just as easy to keep going. Either way, it looks like I'm going to end up with a quilt!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Here's the latest progress on the piece I worked on at the Contemporary Folk Art Quilting Retreat in Sisters. I'm working on vines and playing with colors, but today, I'm not going to talk about anything technical. For some people, that's what it's all about- but not for me. There must be a raison d'être. What is the point of doing all this work, if I'm only making a decorative object? What's the message?

This quilt is about the sunny community of Sisters, Oregon. When I was getting ready to go to Sisters for the retreat, I thought about the last time I was there in July. Flowers grew, and the whole town was decorated with magnificent, vibrant quilts. My mother and I were there together. It was one of the most colorful experiences we had ever shared. She was so impressed, she's planning to come back next summer with friends from Maine.

Since I would be working on the piece in Sisters, I wanted to do something that expressed the joy of being there. People come from around the world to see the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show each summer, and the town draws many visitors for quilting workshops and retreats at other times of the year. While I work on this piece, I'm thinking about Sisters. What a wonderful place it is. What amazing experiences I've had, and what beautiful flowers live there. 

One Week Left for "Changing the World" Exhibit

"Wine Country" by Sharon Morton, North Olmsted, Ohio
Hard to believe nearly two months have blown by since I installed the "Changing the World" exhibit of quilts from the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative at Anne Amie Vineyards in Carlton, Oregon. There's just a week remaining if you're passing through and want to see the quilts. For those who can't make it, there is a catalog available in print and as an eBook.

All 15 quilts in the exhibit are included in the catalog, along with an introduction to the collection. I hope this exhibit and catalog are the first of many. At this point, I have almost enough new AAQI quilts to do another exhibit of the same size. Eventually, it will be a large exhibit. As long as AAQI is selling and auctioning quilts, I'll be buying them.

I will always encourage friends who make quilts to contribute to AAQI. Recently, I bought a quilt made by Barbara Sanders, who is a fellow member of the Northwest Quilters here in Portland. Barbara was at the Retreat in Sisters with her husband, Larry. Here's her wonderful quilt.

"Columbia Gorge at Sunset" by Barbara Sanders
She must've been there the day Lisa Ellis talked about AAQI. During Show and Tell, I shared my little collection and encouraged everyone to make quilts, because I wanted to collect their work. "You make 'em, and I'll buy 'em!" How else would I be able to collect the work of so many people whose quilts I admire?

Anne Amie Vineyards is located in Carlton, Oregon, in the rolling hills of Yamhill County, where there are many fine vineyards. The wines at Anne Amie are outstanding, so I hope anyone within driving distance will take a drive over, try some wines, enjoy the quilts, and maybe bring a couple bottles home. My mom and I happen to love their Pinot Gris. For information and hours, please visit the Anne Amie website- click here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Why was Sisters such a success?

I was thinking about the marvelous workshop and retreat in Sisters, and realized why it was such a great success for me. I didn't draw any blood! With all the needles, pins, rotary cutters and sharp scissors, it's a miracle I didn't seriously injure myself. See those hands? No cuts!! ;)

More pictures from Sisters

Detail of Sue Spargo's fancy stitching
Yesterday was the last day of the Contemporary Folk Art Quilting Retreat in Sisters, and I grabbed a few pictures before dashing off to get back home. I was sorry to not get pictures of everyone's projects, but was able to catch most of the ones being done at the back tables where I was seated. I was also sorry not to get everyone's names connected with their pieces, but if you see yours up here, speak up so we can know who did what!

Sue Spargo discusses fancy embroidery
Gwen Marston doing a demonstration on needle turn applique
Jenny's tree
I can already tell this one's gonna be great!
Elsa's tree
Anne's fully sustainable, local, organic vegetable garden :)
Love the bird in its adorable little nest!
These two quilts show how the wool applique is layered, piece by piece. 
Kristin's spooky Halloween tree.
All I can say is "uh-may-zing!"

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Act of Bravery

Every now and then, I throw caution to the wind and wash a quilt. When we were looking at this 1930s pink and white New York Beauty at the American Quilt Study Group Seminar in Lincoln, Nebraska, the dark spots on this quilt, which I was aware of, really jumped out at me. I thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if it could stand a washing?"

Washing a quilt is always a supreme act of bravery for me. But the quilting in the pink and white New York Beauty is dense and the fabrics are strong, so I pretreated the stains, washed with regular detergent, and when it had dried, the stains were considerably lighter. The quilting puckered a little with the washing, which was good. It stands out even more than it did before.

Washing a quilt is always a judgement call. Will it withstand the washing? Will the fabrics dissolve? Will the seams pop open, or batting migrate? The interesting thing about the whole discussion is the idea that many quilts really were constructed well enough to be washed. The key is to look very closely at the quilt, assess its fabrics and construction, and avoid anything that could compromise the stability of the quilt. Although this quilt was a success, I still don't think I'll be washing quilts often. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Contemporary Folk Art Quilting Retreat, Day 1

Working on applique flowers, and yes, I'm keeping the pom-poms!
Today was the first day in a three-day Contemporary Folk Art Quilting Retreat with Sue Spargo and Gwen Marston, hosted by the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon. It was a large space full of people, I was the only guy, and there were wonderful things to be seen in all directions. There were stunning quilts by Sue and Gwen, beautiful works in progress, and happy faces all around the room.

I learned a few things. Just the right touch makes applique really sing. If you pull too hard on the thread, it can cause the ground fabric to buckle and become wavy. Pull just the right amount, and the applique is secured without creating the need to quilt it down. I also learned that threading needles will probably always be a hopeless adventure for me. But the most important thing I learned is "Quilter's Vitamins" help a lot! Here are some of the quilts Gwen and Sue had hanging up around the retreat center.

Two more days, I can't stand it! What an amazing, wonderful experience this retreat has been so far. Even though I really don't know how to sew, everyone's made me feel at home and offered advice, which has all been very helpful. If you're reading this blog and feeling a little envious, I totally understand. The Stitchin' Post does a magnificent job running these quilt retreats and workshops. My first quilt workshop and retreat, and I'm sure it won't be my last.