Antique hexagon quilt at Lanhydrock House in UK

I saw this stunning hexagon quilt on display at a National Trust property, Lanhydrock House, in Cornwall, UK when I was there at the end of July. The house was built in the early 1700’s and then renovated in Victorian times after a bad fire. The quilt was on the bed in the nanny’s room. My guess is that it dates from the late 1800’s, judging by the Turkey red and the patterned fabrics. On the detailed shot you can see some embroidered crowns on some of the blue hexagons, so perhaps it is from even earlier. If any of you readers can date it more accurately, please write me a reply.

Someone spent hundreds of hours piecing this beautiful quilt and planned the pattern of the colors of hexagons carefully. I love the arrangement of the concentric rings of hexagons with the defining red rows. Even the areas between the red hexagon outlines are well planned in regular patterns with symmetrical spacing of the colors. This is a magnificent quilt.

Awesome Elephant Quilt

My good friend and long-arm machine quilter, Wanda Rains, recently completed this delightful elephant quilt. This appliqué pattern is by Edyta Sitar, Laundry Basket Quilts. Wanda hand-appliquéd the elephants and just for fun, turned one elephant facing the opposite way from all of the others.

Check out these detailed shots of some of the elephants. I love Wanda’s choice of fabrics and all the elephants have eyes. The checked corners in the blocks and border and the dark sashing strips make a pleasing setting for this herd.

 

 

Quilt: Serenade for Anne and Denise

I’ve recently completed a quilt that I’ve been working on for a few months, just in time to take it to Italy to give as a gift for dear friends who moved there in April. I’m so excited about going to visit them and the quilt is a surprise. By the time this blog posts, I will be in Italy. This busy design includes very personalized fabric choices. Anne is an accomplished musician and Denise is an electrical engineer. There’s beer for Denise and prosecco for Anne. The grand pianos and piano keys are a major feature along with the flowers for these avid gardeners.

The large flowers are the new ones in Italy, (Anne and Denise and the flowers they will plant) and the small classical flowers are the Italian ones. Here’s a closer shot for more details. They love cats and have one which traveled with them from US to Italy. After completing the quilt, I realized that I omitted any reference to their sporting allegiances, so I added the Seattle Mariners compass, appliqued on and visible close to the center of this picture. The Seattle Seahawks label appears on the back of the quilt (see below).

In this picture it is a little easier to see the three different blocks in the quilt: Snowball, Jacob’s Ladder and Shoo-fly. The detailed shots below show the corner blocks in which I used technology fabric for Denise. Denise generously gave many hours of her time to completing all kinds of technical projects at our church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. She made tremendous improvements to the lighting, so the fabric with light bulbs seemed most appropriate. The shots also nicely illustrate the grand pianos. One of my students brought some of this grand piano fabric to my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop and fussy-cut the pianos for her blocks. They looked great and I loved the fabric, so I found it on-line and ordered it for this quilt.

I long-arm machine quilted the quilt with the help of my good friend Wanda Rains, using her long-arm machine. Wanda helped me with the set-up on the machine and advancing the quilt after each pass of stitching. I quilted in a watery meander pattern. The back of the quilt is yellow and sunny; sunshine and water to nurture these new flowers in Italy.

 

Fussy Cut Wonders

Last week my blog featured a quilter, Ann Trujillo, whose beautiful quilts were show-cased in a special exhibit at our Kitsap Quilters’ Guild show. Two more quilts displayed at the show and illustrated here were also made by Ann, who thrives on complex, detailed projects. Millefiori-style quilts have become popular recently. Their amazing kaleidoscopic designs are made up of several English paper piecing shapes in which the fabric is often fussy cut to create spectacular results. When fabric is fussy cut, a particular motif or section of pattern is selected for the patchwork piece. Repeated identical pieces used in stars, hexagons, or other shapes generate wonderful patterns. Millefiori (Italian: [milleˈfjoːri]) is defined as a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).

This quilt, Dance of the Dragonflies, took Ann a year to hand-piece and was quilted by Marybeth O’Halloran. The quilt is stunning from a distance, (the overall photo doesn’t do it justice as it was located in a dark spot), but there is so much more when you get up close to look at the all the detailed work. The designs formed by the combinations of the fabrics, many with fussy-cut motifs, are awesome. The pattern came from the book, New Hexagons, by Katje Marek and Ann was inspired by another guild member, Andrea Rudman, who was piecing beautiful sections and started a small group of quilters who met to share this passion.

Remembering Donna, was made by Ann to honor one of our guild’s founding members, Donna Endresen, who passed away last year and is missed by us all. Donna loved reproduction fabrics and loved flowers. Take a look at the two fabrics and note that all the centers of the hexi flowers were fussy cut from the blue fabric and all the background fabrics in between the stars were cut from the beige material. It’s beautiful.

Ann used the pattern, Garden of Fortgetfulness, to make this quilt and it was quilted by Gladys Schulz.

 

Quilting at the Lake, Lake Havasu, AZ

I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to AZ, where I taught at the Havasu Stitchers annual Quilting at the Lake event held at the London Bridge Resort in Lake Havasu. The guild has a membership of over 200 and about a third of them are snow birds. They are an active, busy group who gave us teachers a wonderful welcome. In the lobby of the resort there is a replica of the golden carriage used in Great Britain to take British royalty to their coronations. The railing surrounding the carriage was a perfect place to display quilt tops made for American veterans!

American Heroes Quilts

In honor of Veteran’s Day, I thought I should revisit the American Heroes Quilts project. At our Bainbridge Island Quilt Festival this September, there were several American Heroes quilts exhibited and the opportunity for show attendees to stitch quilt blocks at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Our local American Heroes quilt group meets on the third Thursday of the month at Esther’s Fabrics and is open to all. You can also pick up American Hero blocks at Esther’s to make at home. (This may change as Esther’s is about to have a new owner).

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The American Heroes Quilts project was established in 2004 to provide recognition and appreciation to wounded service men and women who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The quilts are like metaphoric hugs and a way to express gratitude. There are over 800 volunteers participating in the program. As of the January 2016, over 21,500 quilts had be given to deserving service men and women and their families. The quilts are sent to Madigan Hospital at Joint Base Lewis McCord, other Warrior Transition Centers in the US, and directly to bases in Afghanistan.

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The quilts are made using red, white and blue fabrics, often with patriotic prints. Quilters seem to be generous by nature and this is one of many examples of the outreach projects in which they participate.

 

MacGregor Ranch Museum, Estes Park, CO

I spent a week on vacation in CO in June, where I stayed in Estes Park and had the good fortune to explore the surrounding area and the Rocky Mountain National Park. What a gem of a place with such natural beauty. We visited the MacGregor Ranch Museum just outside Estes Park and had a tour of the house and grounds nestled against the backdrop of spectacular rocky cliff faces in the Black Canyon Creek area.

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The MacGregor Ranch is a showplace of early life among settlers and homesteaders in the early Colorado Territory.  Founded in 1873 by Alexander and Clara MacGregor, and left in trust by their granddaughter Muriel MacGregor, the Ranch today is a working cattle ranch and a youth education center. There were a small number of quilts on display in the bedrooms and I was particularly drawn to this one made by Clara MacGregor in the early 1900’s from 1890’s fabric scraps.

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I’m sure all these fabrics have their own stories. There’s a good chance that the triangles were cut out of leftover pieces from dresses or other home made household items. Perhaps Clara’s friends gave her some of their scraps to increase the variety of fabrics in the quilt. The result is beautiful.

Amish Quilts in Shipshewana, IN

In May, I enjoyed a day in Shipshewana, IN and my two previous blog posts feature a couple of stores in that Amish town. In this blog I’m sharing more beautiful quilts that I saw during the day. These were displayed at The Lang Store adjacent to Lolly’s Fabric Store, the Little Helpers Quilt Shop and in the hallway of the building which houses Yoder Department Store and other vendors. The Amish quilters tend to make traditional pieced quilts and all of these are hand-quilted with small and even stitches. The workmanship is outstanding and if I was ever considering buying a high quality quilt with hand-quilting, Shipshewana would be a great place to go. Since I’m not in market for buying one, I simply looked and appreciated them.

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The Lone Star was particularly beautiful with gorgeous hand-quilted feathers and arcs enhancing the design. It was inspiring to see all these wonderful quilts in so many locations.

American Hero Quilts

With Veterans Day coming up next week, I thought it appropriate to write a post about the American Hero Quilts project and to share four beautiful quilts that were displayed at our Bainbridge Island quilt show in September. These quilts were made by a small group of dedicated volunteers who meet on the third Thursday of every month at Esther’s Fabrics from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Each year, this group creates 12-18 quilts, all of which are donated to wounded veterans at Madigan Army Medical Hospital and other military hospitals.

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The American Hero Quilts Organization was founded in 2004 by Sue Nebeker from Vashon Island, WA, to give recognition and appreciation to our wounded service men and women who have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Each quilt is a metaphoric hug sending a message of gratitude for their service. 11 years on, over 800 volunteers have contributed quilting hours and made donations. As of the beginning of 2015, over 17,500 quilts had been distributed to deserving men and women and their families. This is a tremendous project. Click on the link above to visit their website and see how you can help.

Duck Neck Quilt, Skagway, Alaska

I’ve just returned from my Quilt ‘N Cruise teaching excursion to Alaska and it was a fantastic trip. One of the many amazing sights was the Duck Neck Quilt displayed in the Skagway Historical Museum. This quilt, protected in a glass case (hence the reflections in the photos, which don’t do it justice), really is made from the duck neck skins of Mallard, Goldeneye, Teal, Canvasback and Pintail!

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Julie Curry, one of the other teachers on the trip, told me about it and described it to me over lunch. I just couldn’t imagine it, so of course I made a point to going to see it. My size estimate is in the 60-65″ square range. It was gifted to the museum by Jennie Olson Rasmuson, who lived in Skagway for many years and helped establish the Skagway Museum in 1961. Jennie came to Yakutat, Alaska in 1901 as a missionary for the Swedish Covenant Church where she met her husband Edward who was also a missionary and the postmaster. They lived there until 1914 and had two children.

The Rasmuson family learned the skills required for a subsistence lifestyle from their Tlingit neighbours. Elmer remembers his mother’s appreciation for the beautiful iridescent feathered skins of the ducks they hunted for dinner. She wanted to make a keepsake out of the duck neck skins to help recall the family’s times in Yakutat.

Alaska 480Jennie learnt how to preserve the feathered skins with salt, a technique the Tlingit used in making ceremonial robes and ornaments. She then painstakingly pieced the skins together and lined the quilt with peppercorns to keep the moths away. The saw-tooth trim is made of felted cloth which was sent from supporters of the mission. This piece has remained in remarkably good condition and the feathers have retained their glorious lustrous sheen. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before – check it out if you are in Skagway!