Teaching in Cheyenne, WY: Kaleidoscope Puzzle Quilts

In late April, I taught at the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters’ Guild in Cheyenne, WY. It was a large class of 19 ladies and each designed their own unique Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilt. It’s always fun to see the patterns emerging and the variety of fabrics that the students bring to class. They learn a great deal by looking at the fabric combinations used by their fellow students and also the importance of choosing a variety of values, (contrast between the different fabrics), so that the patterns they create are easily visible. They could design squarely set or on-point quilts. Here’s a sampling of their work.

The Quilted Corner, Cheyenne, WY

In late of April, I taught in Cheyenne, WY and visited The Quilted Corner quilt store at 309 W Lincolnway, in the heart of downtown.

The store is inviting, with over 2,500 bolts of quilting cottons and many lovely quilt samples hanging on the walls. I particularly liked the striking Snail Trail pattern in combination with the stars.

The local specialty fabrics have the Wyoming W and the bucking bronco motifs. These are produced especially for retailers in WY and aren’t available anywhere else. The quilt behind the lamp is made with one of these bucking bronco fabrics.

The store offers a large selection of Accuquilt cutting dies and has a club that meets one a month to offer tips on using these. There is a classroom in the back and they teach a variety of quilting classes.

If you are in Cheyenne, pop in and check out this store. As well as fabric, they are well stocked with notions, books and patterns.

Nifty Pin Cushion

When I was teaching recently at the Cheyenne Heritage Quilters in WY, one of my students had these nifty wrist band pin cushions. The original one, with the cream flower-head pins, came from Stretch & Sew over 35 years ago. She found the new one at the Creative Needle, a quilt store in Littleton, CO. I like this design. The plastic base under the felted area prevents pins from going all the way through and pricking the wrist, and the pins are all vertical, so are easy to access.

New ones are also available on Amazon here.

Ann Person founded the Stitch and Sew company in the late 60’s. Sewing was taught in home economics classes in schools, but the curriculum rarely included sewing with knits. Ann taught home sewers how to create a multitude of knit garments through her classes, patterns, and instructional materials. Her novel technique, “Stretch and Sew”, employed a straight stitch or zigzag stitch so was easy to execute using a home sewing machine. She opened her first store in Burns, Oregon, in 1967, where she sold patterns and fabric and gave sewing lessons. Franchising was becoming popular in the United States at that time, and she took advantage of the trend. In the mid-’70s, there were 353 Stretch & Sew stores worldwide, as far away as Canada and New Zealand. She wrote dozens of instructional books, most of which can still be found on Amazon, eBay and other online sites; created over 200 patterns; and even developed her own sewing machine. Ann passed away at 90 years of age in August 2015, leaving an amazing legacy.

 

One Quilt Place, Fredericksburg, TX

I was delighted to revisit the quilting store, One Quilt Place, in Fredericksburg in March when I was teaching in the area. I first went there three years ago, when my host at the New Braunfels Area Quilt Guild took me sightseeing in the Hill Country. It was fun to reconnect with Beverly Allen, the owner, and to see how the store has expanded with a 1000 square feet addition making more space for inventory, and accommodating two long-arm quilting machines. They offer classes in long-arm quilting and rental of the machines, and are also dealers for Handi-Quilt machines.

I was impressed with the variety of fabrics in this lovely light and spacious store. Special areas were devoted to holiday fabrics, patriotic, batiks, solids, 30s-40’s reproduction, Civil War reproduction, TX wildflowers and more. There was a nice area especially for wool. In addition to the fabrics, they had a great selection of books, patterns and notions.

This store is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Hill Country. If you are lucky, like me, you will see swaths of bluebonnets outside too!

Kate Hunter, Quilt Artist and Teacher

On my teaching trip to Texas in March, my host at the Vereins Quilters’ Guild in Fredericksburg was Kate Hunter. I stayed at Kate’s home for three nights, enjoying her kind hospitality and seeing her quilts. Kate has a degree in mechanical engineering and worked at Boeing in the Pacific Northwest until she retired about six years ago. After many years of writing airplane repair instructions and teaching other engineers, she has changed her focus to designing quilts and teaching quilters.

Kate’s specialties are quilts inspired by travel, wall hangings that capture travel memories, and techniques that can be used to capture the travel themes. Many quilters enjoy travelling and collect fabric, postcards and a variety of souvenirs as well as taking photographs along the way. Kate teaches how to use this memorabilia to create a travel memory quilt. Here are a couple of small examples.

In this larger piece, Kate has created a map of the area around Fredericksburg and added the local highlights. She uses a variety of techniques and materials including piecing the background, applique, photos on fabric, couching and embroidery. The cowboy boots are ultra-suede with reverse applique to create the colored patterns.

Kate travels to teach and would be delighted to come to your area. Check her website to contact her. It’s always fun to see how other quilters organize their studios. Kate is good friends with Lois Hallock, a quilter with whom she used to work at Boeing. Lois travels and teaches quilters about organizing their quilting space and making good ergonomic choices. She sold Kate on storage boxes for supplies and projects. Kate has these nicely labelled and stacked above her shelves. She also has useful and attractive containers for storing fat quarters.

 

 

Valli & Kim Quilt Store, Dripping Springs, TX

Last month I visited Valli and Kim, located in Dripping Springs between Austin and Fredericksburg, when I was transferring from the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild in Bryan to the Vereins Quilt Guild in Fredericksburg. It was a great meeting point and we spent an enjoyable time perusing this colorful and vibrant store.

The building looks industrial from the outside, but the inside is  painted in bright colors making an attractive backdrop for the numerous quilt samples and displays of racks of fabrics. The place has a modern, fresh feel appealing to both the younger new quilters and the more seasoned of us.

There are large collections of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, solids and more as well as a wide selection of notions, books and patterns. This t-shirt amused me!  They have a long arm quilting machine which was in use when I was there and they are also Handi-Quilter full-service dealers. There are classes including several for kids and a summer sewing camp for kids. I recommend visiting if you are in the area, or you can go on-line.

Lyndon B. Johnson Quilt

During my teaching trip to Texas last month, one of my kind hosts took me to LBJ’s Ranch also known as the Texas White House. We enjoyed a walk in the grounds and a tour of the house. This quilt was hanging in one of the education rooms.

It looks a little tired and dated, but is of interest because the blocks reflect important events at the time that it was made. For “Operation Stitch Quilt Project” as it was called, the blocks were made and donated by staff and volunteers associated with the Lyndon B. Johnson State and National Parks, and the Southwest Parks and Monuments Association. Each donor was asked to produce a block that depicts something of importance to them regarding the Texas Hill Country and/or the President who made this park a reality, the former President Lyndon B. Johnson. The quilt display at the park was presented for public viewing in March 1994. Here are some detailed shots of the blocks.

There was a book accompanying the quilt, naming all the makers of the blocks and the hand quilters. I recognized some of the fabrics as old friends from my early days of quilting.

 

 

Teaching trip to TX

I spent two weeks in March teaching at four TX quilt guilds. Spring was definitely springing in TX, where they had unusually warm weather in February, combined with enough rain to make for a bumper crop of gorgeous bluebonnets. Here I am in Bryan, surrounded by these beauties. I loved the brilliant swaths of blue along the highways, then patches of rich orange Indian paintbrushes and areas of delicate pink primroses. Of course, time with quilters always involves visiting the local quilt stores and I relished several on the trip. Here are some lovely TX wildflower fabrics sold in most of the stores there, (check at a later date for blogs on the TX stores). These are so appropriate for this area.

My first engagement was with the Greater San Antonio Quilters’ Guild. I taught my Op-Art Kaleidoscope workshop the day before the guild meeting. Several of my students continued piecing their blocks and quilt tops at home that evening, and here they are putting on a nice display during “Show and Tell” at the meeting. After the meeting, I did a half-day UFO class discussing quilt design and problem projects. The next stop was the Brazos Bluebonnet Quilt Guild in Bryan where I taught my Bargello Quilts with a Twist class.

From there I transferred to the Vereins Quilt Guild in Fredericksburg and The Hill Country Quilt Guild in Kerrville. In Fredericksburg, my students worked on precision piecing of triangles to make Sawtooth Star Bear’s Paw blocks. Here are some partially completed blocks. My final class in Kerrville was the Gateway to Mongolia. In all classes, it was such fun to see the variety of fabric choices and results.

Visiting four quilt guilds made this trip logistically complex, but with careful planning and collaboration all went smoothly. As I was transferred between the groups, guild members took excellent care of me and made me feel welcome wherever I went. I taught five workshops and they were all different.  After packing the essentials of the quilts for my trunk shows and workshop materials in two suitcases and my hand-luggage, I only had 12 lbs left for two weeks’ worth of personal effects. Both suitcases were within less than a pound of the maximum 50 lbs. I sent five packages of books, patterns and Mongolian items for sale by mail in advance. So, lots of stuff!

It’s always inspiring to see the work of other quilters and I enjoy the “Show and Tell” at the guild meetings. I’m blown away by the talent and also the generosity of quilters who support many philanthropic organizations with gifts of quilts stitched with love and care. Guild members come together to make opportunity quilts as fundraisers for their guilds, the proceeds of which pay for education and the likes of me coming to lecture and teach. Here is the beautiful red and white raffle quilt made by the Hill Country Quilt Guild in Kerrville. The theme for their next quilt show, taking place on Memorial Day Weekend, is “A New Twist on an Old Favorite: Two Color Quilts” at which this quilt will be displayed. I am drawn to this traditional classic look and love this quilt. Talking of the generosity of quilters, I’d like to thank the members of the guilds of San Antonio, Bryan, Fredericksburg and Kerrville for their incredible support for the Mongolian Quilting Center. We raised a whopping $3,650!

Fabrics Unlimited, Lake Havasu, AZ

In January, when I taught in Lake Havasu, my quilter hostess took me to the local quilt stores. Two were located in homes (see earlier blog on Monica’s Quilts) and were only open a couple of days a week. Fabrics Unlimited is a regular commercial store open daily except on Sundays and Mondays. Their address is 2089 W Acoma Blv, #1, which is easy to find. The store is well stocked with not only quilting supplies, but general sewing supplies, sewing machines, notions, fabric paints, buttons, books and patterns, and a wealth of useful items for a variety of crafts.

They have a large classroom which was busy when I visited. Gina Perks was teaching a long-arm quilting class as part of the Quilting at the Lake event at which I taught. The students did classroom exercises and then gathered around the long-arm machine where Gina demonstrated.

This quilt store is extensive with several areas to explore. They have the products attractively displayed, combining some antique furnishings with more utilitarian shelving.

I encourage you to check it out if you are in the area.

Quilting with Kids – 5th Grade Project

In January and February, I made several trips to Chestnut Hill Academy in Bellevue to quilt with the 5th Graders in collaboration with my daughter who is their science and math teacher. I loved the fresh enthusiasm of these kids who embraced both hand and machine sewing and were so excited to see the two quilts come together.

There are two classes of 15 kids and each class made a quilt. We cut out 45 hearts backed with fusible webbing, ensuring that every kid had a nice variety from which to pick. This is where having a good fabric stash comes in handy! I included some really funky fabrics and was surprised that the kids thought that they were cool, e.g. spoons and forks, clocks, and water melons. We fused the hearts and then taught the kids how to hand blanket stitch around them. For some this was really challenging, but they persevered and everyone finished.

We gave them a choice of fabrics for the corner triangles on the blocks and I took two sewing machines into the classroom working with two kids at a time for the sewing. They practiced on graph paper to get the feel for the stitching speed and sewing in a straight line before sewing the triangles.We made color photocopies of all the blocks and put them up on the bulletin board. The kids each received a copy of their block for their work portfolio too. After I had assembled the quilt tops and we had basted them, I went back into the classroom with my sewing machine and worked one-on-one as each child machine quilted around their heart. Then, I finished the quilts.

The quilts will were auctioned in early March at the annual school fundraiser. Here are some detailed shots.  I have to smile every time I see the heart with a grinning dinosaur and the cartoon eyes in corners of the block.

 

The kids were very enthusiastic about the project and excited to see the finished quilts. It was a rewarding experience for me and I’m really proud of the job they did. I encourage you to quilt with kids, girls and boys, to keep this beloved tradition alive and to have the joy of completing projects together.