Kathleen grew up in a sewing family, and was exposed to the quilting bug at an early age, but it didn't take then. After a couple of forays into the world of quilting she was seriously bitten by the same bug in 1985. She started a quilt as a project for a graduate course in American Architecture and Design, and was thoroughly hooked. Since then she has quilted nearly non-stop, becoming involved in almost all aspects of quilting. Kathleen started teaching quilting with a group of eight to ten-year olds in the Village of Hillburn, progressed to teaching an adult course in the Village, then began teaching for her own quilt guild and other local guilds.
In the world of quilt exhibits and quilt shows, Kathleen exhibited her first quilt in 1991, not because she expected to win a prize, but because "If people don't enter their quilts in quilt shows there won't BE any quilt shows!"
In 1992 she entered another quilt in the Arts = Quilts = Arts exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, NY, an annual international juried show, and took the first of many awards there and at other shows. Some deserve special mention: Best Hand Workmanship Award at the New Jersey Quilt Convention (2005); Judge's Choice ribbons in 2002 and 2008; and Best Hand Quilting awards at the Warwick Valley Quilters Guild shows (2004, 2006 & 2008).
Kathleen currently teaches workshops and multiday classes for quilt guilds, libraries and other organizations. She is also available to give presentations showcasing her quilts, original designs and techniques. A list and description of lecture and workshop topics can be found on this website.
She lives in Hillburn, New York, with her husband Walter. They enjoy distance running, traveling, and their granddaughter, Gwen. Kathleen is enjoying her retirement from high school teaching and is spending a lot more time on those activities, especially quilting!
P.O. Box 1193
Hillburn, NY 10931
845 504 0917
Download Brochure (requires Acrobat Reader)
Quilt Professionals' Network (wwww.quiltprofessionalsnetwork.com)
Mid-Atlantic Quilt Guild Network (MAQGNet)
Arts Council of Rockland (ACOR)
National Quilting Association (NQA)
West Milford Heritage Quilters Guild
An alternate title for this lecture would be "How One Quilt Inspires Another". Often I finish a quilt and make another similar one because I have leftover fabric, or loved the design, or someone I know wants one. This has resulted is several pairs, or even sets, of similar, but different quilts.
I have many quilts that were started by someone else, some old and some new. I even know the makers of some of the quilt tops. Where I got them and what I did with them is the focus of this lecture. Somehow I owe these other quilters the completion of their quilts, and I try to maintain their vision.
I start this lecture by asking members of the audience to answer a few questions about their lives. Their answers are an outline for their own life album quilt. I then share two and a half quilts I have made, one celebrating my life, one celebrating the life of my son, and one (in progress) celebrating the fourteen years of my current marriage. The focus is on individual blocks, and creating something unique to each individual.
This interactive lecture works for 60 participants or fewer. The audience is divided into six smaller groups. Each group gets one of my quilts and a blank evaluation form, which the group fills out during the next ten minutes. Then the quilts are passed to the next group and the process is repeated. When each group has filled our the quilt evaluation form for three quilts, I share with them the actual judges' responses to the same evaluation forms so they can see how their perceptions measure up against those of certified judges.
This is your basic trunk show of how I got from being a knitter, crocheter, hooker, embroiderer, sewer to quilter in a very short time.
This talk presents an overview of quilts, how they are made, and the different techniques used in making quilt tops. Examples of old quilts and newer quilts in the various styles will be shown.
Using fabric and two-sided fusible interfacing, make a container that can be used as an evening bag or a gift box. Sewing machine required.
This is a washable drawstring pouch made almost entirely by machine, with eight pockets for thread, sewing notions, or earrings, if you choose to use it for travel.
Learn basic hand applique and beginning embellishment techniques in this block that can be used as a pillow, as one block in a sampler quilt, or to make a larger quilt.
Take an old pair of jeans and create a new one-of-a-kind lined handbag or tote. Sewing machine required.
Using just five fabrics and elementary stained glass quilting techniques, create a small piece that evokes a landscape, mood or theme. Hand-applique will be taught, but if you are experienced with machine applique you may use that method.
Learn to make five or six different flowers, some by machine, some by hand, and some using both methods. The flowers can be used to embellish quilt blocks, clothing or accessories.
Bring quilts that need binding, sleeves and labels. You'll finish and sew on a label, make a sleeve, and get a good start on fool-proof binding. Sewing machine required.
Machine piece one (or more!) kimonos, using your choice of Oriental (or other) fabric. The kimonos, when combined with a paper foundation pieced lantern (pattern supplied), can make a wall hanging or quilt.
Choose from one of four patterns, from easy to advanced, to make a stained glass panel out of fabric. Hand applique will be taught, but if you are experienced with machine applique you may use that method.
Learn basic fabric construction for crazy quilts, and several techniques for embellishing. You'll use ribbon and lace edging, buttons and beads, embroidery, couching and overlay, to create a fancy block. Machine and hand sewing will be used.
This is a true scrap quilt - the more fabrics the better, although you can choose a favorite set of colors. The finished quilt looks very complicated, but in fact is quite easy once the tube technique is learned. Sewing machine required.
Where did it go? You'll start with large nine-patch blocks, cut them up, rearrange them in one of several ways, then sew them back together to produce a quilt that looks nothing like a nine-patch. Sewing machine required.
Redecorate your sewing room with new accessories. You'll make a custom fit sewing machine cover, a stiffened fabric basket. a thread-catcher, and a block carrier, if time allows. Sewing machine required.
Make three dimensional flowers (see description in Half Day Workshops), arrange them in a hand appliqued vase on a background fabric to produce your own fabric still life.
Learn to make four or five different fans using machine piecing and hand applique. Fans can be embellished as desired, and set on point to make a wall hanging or a larger quilt.
Use twelve or fifteen T-shirt with logos smaller than 12" square to make a sashed quilt.
Use T-shirts with any size logos to make a quilt with each block framed in its own fabric.
See Full Day Workshops
See Full Day Workshops
See Full Day Workshops, adding needle case and utensil holder.
Here is a listing of Kathleen's events:
|May 10, 2014||Lecture: TBD||Empire Quilters Guild, Manhattan, NY||1 PM|
|July, 2014||Class: Quilted Tote Bag||No Guilt Quilt CLub, WA||10 AM - 4 PM|
|October 3 - 5, 2014||Fussy Cut to Fabulous||Mohican Outdoor Center, Blairstown, NJ||Weekend Retreat|
|October 28, 2014||Lecture: "Two By Two, Quilts Come in Pairs"||Warwick Valley Quilters Guild, Warwick, NY||10 AM|
|October 31 - November 2, 2014||Disappearing Nine Patch||Frost Valley YMCA, Claryville, NY||Fall Quilting Weekend|
|January 20, 2015||Workshop - Stained Glass Applique||Warwick, NY||10 AM - 4 PM|
|March 5, 2015||T-shirt Quilt classes start||Otisville, NY||Alternate Thursdays 7-9 PM|
|April 24 - 27, 2015||Space Camp 2015: Bring UFOs||Mohican Outdoor Center, Blairstown, NJ||Two or Three Day Retreat|
|October 2 - 5, 2015||Wave Action||Mohican Outdoor Center, Blairstown, NJ||Two or Three Day Retreat|
I've never really liked basket blocks, but I may have changed my mind. Every year the Quilt Professionals' Network selects a member to honor for her service to QPN. The award consists of blocks made by the other members, in a style, color and size selected by the honoree. For this year's award Lorraine Fenstermacher was chosen, and SHE chose basket blocks, using red and green. It was surprisingly difficult to find patterns for a 9" block, but coincidentally, the Spring Block for the West Milford Heritage Quilters was a basket! Mary Larsen designed the pattern for a beautiful and simple block, which I made for Lorraine, filling the basket with three-dimensional flowers. Here it is!
Dear husband Walter gave me a book for Christmas, Celebrate the Day
by Shannon Shirley. The specific reason I wanted it was because it includes my quilt "Hot Air Balloons". (See November 2012) I've been missing this quilt for over a year because it has been traveling with other quilts from the challenge. I won't get it back until July 2016, when it finishes its U.S. tour. The reason YOU want it is because the quilts are gorgeous, imaginative and inspiring.
I also got Let's Get Creative With Quilt Labels, another of Shannon's books, this one as a gift from my sister. If you've taken one of my quilting classes you KNOW I won't let you leave without a label on your quilt!
(For more about labels see the News Post of June 2012.)
Do you remember the blue strippy quilt I started last June at the West Milford guild retreat? I didn't think so. The only people who saw it were the women who were there! I finished the quilt top at the retreat, and it then went into incubation - or hibernation! It was a baby quilt for a boy who is now several months old. I promised his Mom, a long time friend and fellow theatre buff, that I would have the quilt done before the weather got cold. I lied. I finished it in December. I'm looking forward to delivering the quilt and meeting young Phinn. I'm even hoping there's some more cold weather ahead so he can cuddle up in "Phinn's Blue Quilt".
Here's the intrepid group that met at the Mohican Outdoor Center in Blairstown, NJ, for a weekend retreat that I've been organizing for about ten years now. The group photo showing off the annual retreat T-shirt has become part of the tradition. I was a little worried about teaching "Fussy Cut to Fabulous" for the first time, especially since there are (at least) two different ways to cut the pieces, but things went quite well. These quilters are smart! And talented!! And creative!!! Both techniques were enthusiastically embraced, and the quilts produced were beautiful. I hope some time you can join us for this wonderful October weekend.
This is the article that QPN published online as part of their “300 Words About Quilting” series. The topic was “My Proudest Moment as a Quilter”, and this is what I wrote.
The first quilt show I ever attended was in Brisbane, Australia, years ago, maybe decades. I was visiting friends Suzy and Ted, who were living there while on sabbatical from the University of New Hampshire. Ted asked me if I would ever enter one of my quilts in a show. I responded that although my quilting skills were adequate, my creativity was not, and my quilts could never measure up to the beautiful pieces I saw hanging there.
Fast forward many years. I was quilting more, attending local quilt shows, and yes, entering my quilts in those shows. I figured that if people didn’t enter their quilts in quilt shows there wouldn’t BE any quilt shows, and I would do my part to keep the exhibits going.
In my other life, my “real” life, the one where I set an alarm, got up in the morning, drove to work, slaved all day, came home, and collected a paycheck every two weeks, I was a chemistry teacher. I was often asked to tutor students trying hard to pass the New York State Regents exam in Chemistry. I was in the middle of a tutoring session one afternoon when the phone rang. I asked my husband to answer it - I didn‘t want to interrupt my brilliant explanation of some obscure topic. He said it was for me. I asked him to take a message. He said the woman on the phone really wanted to talk to me. A little irritated I took the phone.
“Hello. I‘m calling about the quilt you entered in The State Quilt Guild of New Jersey show. I‘d like to let you know that “Fan Fair” has been awarded the ribbon for Best Hand Workmanship at the show.”
I, who talked for a living, was speechless!
Fussy Cut to Fabulous is the title of this year's October weekend quilt retreat at the Mohican Outdoor Center in Blairstown, NJ, and here's the sample I made. Quilts like this can be made using (at least) two different techniques. One of them involves stacking the fabric and cutting identical blocks (squares, triangles or diamonds) randomly or not, from the pile. In the other method you cut pieces individually from one layer of fabric, using sticky clear plastic and a marker to make sure the cut pieces have identical printed designs. Note the squares sewn together in the center of the quilt to make larger squares; note the triangles along the bottom sewn together to make hexagons. Half square triangles sewn together will give you pinwheels; diamonds sewn together will have you seeing stars. I'll be teaching this again in 2015, if you want to learn this neat technique.
I've finished another block for the Marriage Quilt. Imagine!! This one celebrates a Fall Foliage Cruise that Mom and Walter and I took in October of 2010. We cruised out of New York Harbor under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on an superb Autumn day, by itself worth the price of the whole trip. We stopped for a day in Boston and walked the Freedom Trail. Next stop was Portland, Maine, where our friend Suzy met us with her car and took us on a lighthouse tour of the area. The last two stops were Saint John, New Brunswick, which I missed due to illness, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, a city I would happily visit again - one day was just not enough. The life preserver in the foreground celebrates the rescue of the many miners in Chile who were being brought to the surface one at a time during the cruise. We actually watched TV on the ship!
Granddaughter Gwen, eight years old, has finished her second quilt! I stayed with her for two weeks in June and helped her get used to my sewing machine, which I brought with me, as she continued working on her quilt. The process was a new technique for me, as well as for her. I had cut 5" squares of muslin and 4 1/2" squares of freezer paper during my last visit with her. She ironed the freezer paper to the muslin, then drew pictures on the muslin with her crayons. We pressed the blocks with paper towels to absorb any extra crayon wax, although there wasn't much. Gwen chose pink fabric to sash the blocks. I cut all the strips and she sewed them to the blocks in rows, added the longer horizontal strips, then sewed the quilt sandwich together, trimmed the seams and turned it right side out. She named her quilt "Nature River", since all her drawings were scenes from nature. What's next for this talented girl? She's asked for purple!
For the first time I entered the NQA quilt challenge sponsored by Sew Batik. It's titled "SOS - Save Our Seas", in keeping with the theme of the show - "Going Green". The background is pieced using Chop Suey blocks, each one of which includes a piece of the green batik challenge fabric. The black images appliqued over that represent the sea creatures we have destroyed and continue to destroy through pollution, climate change, propellers, noise, sediment and other traumas. I hope the quilt helps raise awareness of the damage we're doing to our planet. The quilt now becomes part of a traveling exhibit. It will be in Reno, Nevada, from June 12 - 14, in Lincoln, Nebraska, from September 11 - 13, and Louisville, Kentucky from October 9 - 11. It's a good thing I photographed it before sending it on its way, as it won't come home for months!
My theme for this year is IMAGINE. Imagine if all your goals came to fruition. Imagine if all your dreams came true. Imagine if even some of those wonderful things happened. My imaginings are off to a pretty good start. I entered "Pink Snowdrops" in the Warwick Valley Quilters Guild show and it earned two ribbons: one for best hand quilting, and a red ribbon in the "special techniques" category. I showed you pictures of this quilt in April and May of 2012 while I was working on it, so you’ll have to wander back a couple of years of News Posts to see it. It was one of Mary Kerr's challenges to Quilt Professionals' Network members to construct a new quilt using vintage textiles. Thank you, Mary, for getting me involved, and please please please give us another challenge next spring. I should be hearing about the next "imagining" pretty soon. I can't wait.
April featured the Quilt Professionals' Network annual Conference in Bird-in-Hand, PA. We were a small group, but creative, supportive, enthusiastic and imaginative. We also ate a lot, laughed a lot, and sewed. Two Conference events stood out for me. I had been chosen the 2014 QPN Honoree, and was made a block in my choice of theme, Oriental, from each of the members. The photo shows the blocks I've received so far, laid out on a piece of speckled pumpkin colored fabric, which I think will do very well for sashing. In a few years it will be a quilt! Don't hold your breath though - there are a lot of other UFOs ahead of it on "the list". The other big event was being elected President of the group. We'll move forward, onward and upward, I hope. Imagine!
Space Camp must have given my creative energy a boost. Hard to believe, but I started another block for the Marriage Quilt. That's the second one I've made this year, a block to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary in 2008. I considered hearts, but they seemed a little trite. I considered Pennsylvania Dutch (that's German) doves and hearts and flowers, but that's not really my style. I pondered, and decided on a (very) modified Double Wedding Ring. Here it is, in mostly pinks and blues, colors I have used often in other blocks for this quilt: a blue ring for Walter, a pink ring for me, and our wedding dated inked on one of the circles where the two rings overlap. It's a lovely design to celebrate the intersection of two lives. Happy Anniversary, Honey.
I've been organizing a Fall weekend retreat for years, teaching some process or technique, designing a block for a block exchange, planning a separate little evening project, raffle prizes and giveaways...the whole ball of wax. (Who keeps wax in balls?) The major drawback to this kind of weekend is that I don't get a chance to sew. I was asked repeatedly to put on a Spring retreat, too, but it's so much work I didn't respond very enthusiastically. Until, that is, a UFO retreat was suggested. That was it! I could do the organizing ahead of time, then sew for the weekend. And quilters who already had uncountable unfinished projects didn't have to add to their pile. And so "Space Camp - a UFO Retreat" was born. Here is the intrepid group in their Space Cadet T-shirt designed by Virginia. And I got to sew!
It's back to sewing doll clothes for Grandma. Gwen wanted a cape and hat for her American Girl dolls. "Gray with swirls, please", she said. From my quilting stash I pulled gray fabric with swirls. Amazing, isn't it, how much fabric we quilters have! She wanted bright colored trim, while conservative me would have picked white. Gwen was right - the bright red accents on the cape and hat are just perfect. Happy Birthday, little girl.
Sometimes it's hard to start a project. It requires a certain kind and level of creative energy that isn't always available. That's why I'm so far behind on the Marriage Quilt blocks. You saw the block celebrating Walter's and my 2005 trip to Italy (see March 2013), and I said the next block would celebrate our tenth anniversary. I lied. Inspiration struck me one day - I must have found a little bit of that precious creative energy - and I started a block to celebrate our trip to Egypt in 2009. It includes the pyramids, of course, a camel (yes, we tourists rode a camel), the moon, the Egyptian flag (without the center details which I will have to ink or embroider), and in the upper left corner the Eye of Horus, which will protect us, according to Egyptian mythology. I even had a little creative juice left over and started thinking about the design for another block in the Marriage Quilt.
Here is another one of my favorite Disappearing Nine Patch quilts. This one is made by Evelyn Wells, holding the quilt she made at the Mohican Outdoor Center retreat in September of 2013. I'll be teaching this process at the Frost Valley YMCA Fall Craft and Quilting Weekend in October or November of next year, 2014. Information about the weekend retreat isn't on the Frost Valley website yet, but check www.frostvalley.org in the summer or late spring of 2014. When you register you'll find you have a choice of several instructors teaching different weekend classes, and several different levels of accommodations. I'll be there. I hope you will be, too.
The project I taught at the September 2013 retreat was Disappearing Nine-Patch. I learned to make this pattern years ago when the West Milford Heritage Quilters used it for a service project, making quilts for veterans. I gave that quilt away, of course, and happy to do so. That meant I had to teach the class without a sample, which may have been a blessing. Instead of following my (quilt) example, students had to create their own block layouts. What a treat for me to watch their amazing quilts take shape. This one is my favorite, a bed-sized quilt by Virginia Sanborn.
September marked the seventh retreat that I've organized at Blueberry Hill Lodge, part of the Mohican Outdoor Center. MOC is an Appalachian Mountain Club facility located near the Delaware Water Gap in Blairstown, NJ. Twelve to fourteen quilters share four bunk rooms and three bathrooms for a full two day weekend, working on a project that I teach, or one of their own. The "big project" is supplemented by a block party raffle, a fabric exchange, a mini project, lots of laughter, and even the occasional adult beverage. Breakfasts and dinners are provided by the AMC; lunches are provided by the quilters, who are also fabulous cooks. This picture shows most of this year's participants. My mother, who turned 94 the first night of the retreat, stayed in bed and missed the photo op!
Inspired by a black and white sketch of an unnamed block, with no name attached, I designed a block I've named Spring Sunset. I could have named it Spring Sunrise, but I'm never up early enough to see a sunrise to know what they look like! I used the block for a block raffle for the West Milford Heritage Quilters in the spring, then decided to use it again for the block party raffle at the annual weekend quilting retreat I organize at Mohican Outdoor Center near the Delaware Water Gap every fall. It's a neat block which you can make using traditional piecing or paper foundation piecing, plus a little bit of appliqué, either by hand or by machine. It is made a little oversized so it can be cut down to exactly 8 1/2", a bonus when many different people are making blocks which will end up in one quilt. I got so caught up in the fabric possibilities that I made FIVE of them, instead of just one. Here is my favorite.
I did it. I finally did it! I sent out one of my quilts to be quilted. I have resisted doing this for years, but finally came around to the viewpoint of many others: too many quilts, too little time to quilt them all by hand. My own machine quilting skills are too poor to complete it that way. One of these years, maybe when my hands can no longer handle the stress of pulling a tiny needle through layers of fabric, I'll buckle down and learn. The quilt itself, "Whirling Octagons", is made from blocks taught by Mary Larsen as a mystery project at an August meeting of the West Milford Heritage Quilters. I liked the block so much I chose it as the pattern for my Box Party project the following year. The blocks were made by eight different quilters, two blocks each, since they are made in pairs. (Can you identify the pairs? Can you find the one block that is totally different from the others?) I made one of the blocks with a very pale blue center so I could use it on the back as a label. Cheryl Winslow did the machine quilting, and I just love it!
I've made five T-shirt quilts: three for me, one for my daughter-in-love Angie, and one for a long-time race director, using shirts from races he directed. I had not made one for my husband Walter, even though he gave me a stack of shirts years ago. That was my cover! Out of sight, out of mind. I started his quilt as a sample for the T-shirt quilt classes I taught yet again in Middletown, NY, in March. I used the shirts that represent his fourteen-year college and high school cross-country coaching career, and luckily, there were exactly twelve. Fifteen would have made a bigger quilt, but twelve was fine. I presented it to him on his birthday this year, and he was totally surprised. The label reads simply "COACH".
My quilt guild, the West Milford Heritage Quilters, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As part of that celebration a challenge was issued: a full length "self-portrait", 10" x 12", quilted and bound. I don't usually participate in these annual challenges, having too many UFOs, but this one spoke to me. I had planned for a long, long time to make a quilt that made some use of the doll clothes I made when I was younger - much younger! I used the pattern provided by the challenge coordinator for the appliqued doll, and dressed her in doll clothes made for my 8-inch doll, Irene Lee, sometime around 1958. For the background I used one of the Van Gogh reproduction prints from a panel I bought a few years ago, representing his 1888 oil painting "Flowering Garden", hence the title.
Here's a new/old quilt for you to enjoy. It's pretty old, 1996, but I haven't ever posted its picture, so it's new to you. My former guild had a "Block Party" raffle each month. Participants would make one or more blocks described or patterned in the Newsletter, and enter them in a drawing. I won these eight blocks and had the challenge not only of laying them out in an interesting way, but of actually FINISHING several of the blocks, as some quilters must have found the applique more difficult than expected. The pattern is reminiscent of traditional Hawaiian applique, although many of those traditional quilts have one large paper-cut pattern instead of several smaller ones. It is quilted in typical Hawaiian fashion, echo quilting, in which the shape of the applique is repeated at regular intervals to the edge of the quilt. It took me five months to finish, and I quilted every day. Never again! At least not until I make my second Hawaiian quilt.
I'd rather show you pictures of completed quilts on these pages, but that's not always possible, given how slow I am at hand quilting my pieces. So here's the most recent completed project, a block for a long term project, The Marriage Quilt. I decided many years ago to make a block for every year my husband and I have been together. I've made blocks celebrating our running, our granddaughter, our two new kittens, retirement, Peru, China and Switzerland. This block celebrates our 2005 trip to Italy (yes, I know I'm a few years behind). I loved the tiles I saw in so many buildings; my interpretation of those tiles is found on the right and the bottom of the block. The Tower of Pisa is as lovely in person as it is in photographs. And finally, Walter and I were in St. Peter's Square for Pope John Paul II's final public appearance, hence the papal mitre. I'll quilt along the blue lines you can see on the tower to create the details. Next block will celebrate our tenth anniversary, in 2008!
I finished a UFO! It wasn't technically a UFO, since I hadn't yet put scissors to it, but the panel HAD been sitting in my stash for years. It was waiting for the right occasion. The right occasion was granddaughter Gwen's seventh birthday. I had originally planned on hand quilting around all the countries, but came to my senses some time in the last few years. I machine quilted it along the meridians, the lines of longitude and latitude printed right on the quilt. How simple can you get? I didn't even have to mark them! The fabric I chose for the back doesn't really match the front, in color OR in theme, but it's a farm scene, so when she gets tired of looking at Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan she can play Farmville!
Remember "Sunrise/Sunset"? That was the stained glass applique quilt I mentioned in my post last July 10! I added a border using a "quilt as you go" technique, which worked well except for the very dense area around the seam. I can barely count how many layers of fabric and batting are in there. Quilting it would be out of the question. I chose a piece of fabric hand-dyed by me in a workshop years ago, the first time I've put scissors to my own hand-dyes. I quilted it in a whirly pattern that looked like the wind, and bound it with the same bias tape I used for the stained glass applique. There were a few moments when I thought I didn't have enough of the bias tape, then I found another pack in the closet. You never know what's lurking in there...
Late last spring I was invited to make a quilt. This was a challenge quilt, in way. The dimensions were specified, 18" x 30", and the theme was limited to a few hundred choices. Interesting. The themes were the various "Days of the Year", such as National Dill Pickle Day, National Safety Pin Day, National Ice Cream Day, and so on. I chose National Hot Air Balloon Day, June 5. I have wanted to make a quilt using hot air balloons as design elements since a friend chose them as her theme for a West Milford Heritage Quilters box party project. The wild colors and sensuous shapes are appealing, as is their promise of adventure. I was also taken by the possibilities of constructing part of the larger balloon in bas-relief. If I find the right dolls, there will eventually be "people" in the basket. My quilting is now tying into my early love of dollhouses and other miniatures. The background is made from 45 Chop Suey blocks, all different, oriented to give the effect of a landscape, from sunlit skies above, to trees and other vegetation below. I have loved the "challenge" aspect of this quilt. I've gone from near paralysis at having to make a piece that fits a theme, a color or a size dictated by the challenge, to enjoying the process. I think this represents a new direction for my future quilting.
I must have been busy, not to post anything for over a month, and I have been. I spent the last weekend in September, plus the first day in October, with the Country Quilters' Guild in Pine Bush, NY. What a great bunch of women! I gave lectures on Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, and attended a lecture by the other speaker, Diane Rode Schneck of NY City, who was terrific. I entered three quilts in their show: "Pink Snowdrops", "The Drummers" and "Several Circles Short of Kandinsky", and came away with three blue ribbons! I've already posted pictures of the pink snowdrops (in the News posts) and "Several Circles" (in the Gallery) so here's a picture of "The Drummers", a whole cloth, hand quilted batik panel I made for my husband in 2008.
My granddaughter Gwen, age 6, finished her first quilt! When I visited her in July she finished sewing the rows to each other, and chose a backing from the purple fabric I had brought. I was sewing the layers together around the outside edge, and Gwen asked me what I was doing. When I told her, she said "How can you turn it right side out if you sew all the way around?" I was astounded that she even asked that question! Even adult quilters have some problems with the spatial aspect of layering, sewing and turning quilts. She named it "Summer Teapots" because one of the blocks has little teapots on it. Can you find it?
You may think I have ADD. I may actually HAVE ADD the way I jump from project to project. In anticipation of traveling to the Midwest to visit my granddaughter and her parents, I dropped all my current projects to make things for Gwen. At Christmas she had requested a sleeping bag for her American Girl dolls (all four of them second or third hand). She wanted dark and light green, with a matching pillow, so I set to work. Here is the result: Gwen with the sleeping bag, pillow and doll. I would say they all look pleased, as was I.
I spent two weeks on the west coast in June and had to find a hand-sewing project for the trip. I grabbed a little stained glass piece that I had made as a class sample a few years ago, cut a piece of batting and backing, threw it into a bag with some safety pins, thread and a needle, and tossed the bag into my suitcase. I soon realized I had forgotten a thimble. After a few days of quilting I realized that I had also forgotten to add a border. And this piece needs a border! So now I‚Äôm figuring out how to add a border to a quilt that is already sandwiched and partially quilted. Taking it apart to add a bigger piece of batting and a larger back is out of the question. My best idea as of today is to use a really wide binding that will serve as a border, too. I'm still thinking.
Labels. Why put a label on your quilt? You know who made it. And you know when you made it, at least for now. If you're like me, in a month or two you'll forget exactly when you finished it. You know why you made it, but not too many other people do. It will end up in someone else's hands or closet eventually, and they will want to know who made it, when and where and why. I don't want to be "Anonymous", and I hope you don't either. A label will also help you locate your quilt if it is ever lost. How many of your quilts are currently made by "Anonymous"? Please fix that now - your work deserves it!
I'm DONE! I auditioned pink, white and green for the binding, and chose pink. The white made my white border fabric look dingy, and the green didn't emphasize the snowdrops in the center, hence my choice. I'm happy with how the binding picks up the pink embroidery in the center, and the pink fabric of the inner border. I had enough of that pink fabric to make a sleeve (why does such a small quilt still need a four inch sleeve?), which will leave me only the label to make. More about that coming up: labels are important enough to merit their own News paragraph!
I've been working on the Pink Snowdrops quilt. I couldn't find a quilting design in my stencil collection that I liked for the border, and realized I would have to design something myself. I wanted curvy lines that would complement the embroidery, which I had adapted from a quilting design in a book by Helen Squire. I added some feathers, which echoed parts of the embroidered design. Then I drew in some swirls, which echoed other parts of the embroidered design and filled in more of the empty space. I usually mark my quilts with a blue washout pen and rinse out the marks as soon as I finish quilting each section, but I left the marks on the quilt this time so you can see them. I wasn't sure if I'd need to quilt along the embroidery, too, and decided that I did. I finished the quilting last night. Next decision?? The binding.
My quilting of the Pink Snowdrops has, of course, been interrupted. I'm teaching a group of women how to make quilts out of their T-shirts, so I had to get my own T-shirt quilt one step ahead of theirs. This is the fifth time I've taught T-shirt quilt classes, so why, you ask, do I have to make another sample quilt? This class is different. This class is version 2.0. Instead of sashing the stabilized T-shirt quilts, we're framing each of them with its own fabric. I have never made a quilt using this technique, hence the need to keep ahead of the class. The fifteen shirts are all sewn together. That's the quilt there on the right, that's my kitchen, and that's my husband Walter behind the quilt. It's nice that he's over six feet tall! I now have to figure out whether I want a border on it. Decisions, decisions. When can I get back to quilting!
I'm finally quilting - actually quilting! I've been sewing non-stop since before Christmas, but it's not the same as quilting. I hemmed tablecloths and napkins for Christmas gifts. I made two drawstring sewing pouches, for my granddaughter and for my son's girlfriend. I completed a dozen or so small fabric gifts for my husband's family and other friends. I finished my third and fourth T-shirts quilts, one as a Christmas gift, and one as a gift for a road race director I have worked with for over twenty years. I did a lot of hand sewing on the Cathedral Window project. I designed and assembled the 2012 Vintage Block challenge quilt, doing extensive embroidery around the outer border, and finally, at the beginning of April, sandwiched and pinned (I'm a "pinner" not a "baster", as you can see) the challenge quilt. I've finished quilting the center section, in a swirly water pattern, and the pink inner border, in a sunburst pattern. I'm designing the quilting pattern for the white outer border now, since I couldn't find anything quite right in my collection of stencils. Stay tuned...
About that Cathedral Window quilt . . . When I lived in Alaska, many, many moons ago, the sister-in-law of a very good friend stitched together colorful little squares during Sweet Adeline rehearsals (yeah, I did that, too). How I wanted to learn how to make those delicate curvy blocks. Fast forward thirty-five years (how many moons is that?) and the president of my quilt the West Milford Heritage Quilters, guild gives a mini workshop on Cathedral Windows!! I started my quilt that night. I've been working on it for a year and a half now, and it may be half done. Or maybe not. I haven't yet decided how big it's going to be, or how I'm going to finish the edges. You'll hear about that when I get there. It's my take-along project, perfect for trips and travels, meetings and office waits.
After an outstanding Quilt Professionals' Network conference I drove another 11 hours to the Midwest to visit my six year old granddaughter Gwen. During a summer 2011 visit I was working on a Cathedral Window quilt (more on that later) and Gwen was interested in the little fabric squares I was carrying around. She proceeded to lay out nearly a hundred squares in a grid that looked like a quilt. I asked if she wanted to make a quilt. She said yes, and I was thrilled. When I visited again at Christmas I brought thirty-five 3 1/2 inch squares in colors like the ones she had played with in the summer. She laid them out in typical quilter's fashion, moving the fabrics over and over until she was happy with the design. I showed her how to put the right sides of the fabrics together for sewing. She would bring a pair of squares to me for pinning and to mark the seam allowance; she would thread the needle (she learned how to use a needle threader); I would knot the double thread and take the first stitch; she started sewing. That Christmas she completed four rows. During my visit last week she finished the last three rows and we began the next step. I showed her how each row needed the seam allowances to be pressed to opposite sides in each successive row. She did her first ironing (don't tell her mother!), and starting sewing the rows to each other. When I visit again in the summer I think she will finish. She's already told me what she wants to do for her next project. A quilter is born!
The Quilt Professionals' Network Conference last weekend was absolutely wonderful. Seventeen quilt professionals of many different stripes met in Bird-In-Hand, PA from Friday afternoon to Sunday noon. Our primary presenter was social media expert Maria Peagler. With information from her I was able to set up a Facebook business page, and establish a board on Pinterest. If you are a quilt professional in the northeast section of the United States, consider joining us. Each year's conference focuses on a different issue of value to quilt professionals.