Santa Rosa Quilters

In mid-May, I taught at two quilt guilds in Santa Rosa. My host was a guild member, Janet Tonkin. Janet took me to see a small exhibit of her quilts at her local church. The Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County has a quilt show coming up and the theme for their challenge this year is fire, in light of the horrendous wildfires that swept through Sonoma County last fall . Here is the quilt that Janet made, Sonoma Strong, approximately 24″ x 24″.

Janet’s small quilt conveys the all consuming power of the fire and the destruction it caused. The black tree hanger is a perfect complement. In Santa Rosa, over 5,000 houses were destroyed by the fire and the impact on the whole community is immense. There are entire neighborhoods that were wiped out. The rubble has been removed and the lots now stand flat and bare. Re-building is not happening very quickly. Many people have moved away, or are still fighting their insurance companies to receive their claims. The hillsides have charred trees, several of which have survived and have small green areas on the tops and shoots sprouting away at the base of their trunks. The undergrowth is coming back with lush green grass and wild flowers. In the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, 17 guild members, “Cinder Sisters”, lost their homes and other guild members have reached out to help them.

At the Guild meetings, these bundles of fabric are free for the “Cinder Sisters”. Other guild members may purchase them and the money goes to the fire victims to help them replace their quilting tools and anything else that they need. A teacher who had recently taught at the guild just before the fires, was teaching at a Texas guild and suggested a fat-quarter drive for the fire victims. Word spread quickly after there was a post on the “Quilt Along with Pat Sloan” Facebook page. 908 packages arrived from 80 quilt guilds around the nation, donors from 49 of the 50 states, and from overseas (Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Mexico, and Scotland). Someone in the guild had a new shed which was used to house and sort all the fabric and guild members put together the bundles. The amount received was enough to fill 30 pick-up trucks! 178 finished quilts and 52 tops were also received; 124 of those quilts have been distributed to fire victims. Even after the request for donations to stop, more kept coming but are now down to a trickle. This demonstrates, once again, that quilters are big-hearted and very generous.

A Thanksgiving tribute to Nancy Zieman

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you are sharing the day with family and friends delighting in good food and fellowship. I have much for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving, including the recent birth of my twin grandchildren! I also greatly appreciate the friendships I have made through quilting and traveling to share that passion throughout the United States and beyond.

Last week, we said farewell to Nancy Zieman who passed away after a battle with cancer. She was such an inspiration to so many people and she will be greatly missed. Thank you Nancy for your wonderful contribution to the quilting and sewing world. Sewing with Nancy was the longest running sewing and quilting TV program ever, with over 30 years of programming in which Nancy taught numerous techniques and invited other teachers to share and participate. I had the privilege to be interviewed about the Mongolian Quilting Center twice for Nancy’s Corner and to do a two part series with her on my Bargello Quilts with a Twist technique, and so I appeared in four Sewing with Nancy programs. The photo was taken during our recording of the Bargello Quilts with a Twist programs. Nancy had friendly and comfortable manner which came across in her TV teaching and endeared her to her large audience and devoted followers. She immediately made me feel at ease in the TV studio. She was also extremely professional and thorough in her approach. It was a pleasure to work with her and a great experience. The company that she founded, Nancy’s Notions, lives on and is a great resource for sewing and quilting supplies.

For a wonderful YouTube tribute to Nancy, click here.

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.

 

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.

 

 

Quilting with Kids

I recently donated this quilt, Octopus’s Garden, that was made at Blakely Elementary School in 1997 to the Bainbridge Island Kids Discovery Museum (KiDiMu). This fish print quilt is featured in my book, Creative Quilting with Kids, now out of print, but still available second hand on Amazon. See the book for more pictures. The quilt looks great in the toddler play area of the museum, hung on the yellow wall. I’m delighted that it is now out for people to enjoy, rather than being stored in my closet!

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I worked in collaboration with the Art Specialist, MJ Linford and the fourth graders. We had a real octopus, rock fish and cabazon donated from the local grocery store. We used rubber fish too, which I have also donated to KiDiMu for their art projects with kids. The fourth graders were eager to paint the critters for printing. The background piece was prepared ahead of time. There are wonderful fabric possibilities to create the rocks and weed. These were applied using Steam-a-Seam2 fusible applique. The painted critters were arranged carefully and the background cloth placed over the top. We pressed the fabric gently using the back sides of spoons and the palms of hands. It was astonishing so see that even the suckers on the octopus’s tentacles were printed and the kids were very excited to see the results. They wrote the words of the Octopus’s Garden song in the border around the quilt. It was a fun project. The kids also brought t-shirts to school to print with fish so that they had a take home memory.

Bargello block baby quilt

I made this quilt for my new great-niece from my Bargello blocks as featured in my book, Bargello Quilts with a Twist. This month, I am going to England so will be able to deliver it to baby Bea in person.

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I used 20 Bargello blocks arranged in the style of a Log Cabin Straight Furrows pattern. The fabric was designed by me when I was a consultant for David Textiles several years ago, and we produced three lines that would appeal to young quilters. The detailed shots below show how I machine quilted the quilt on my home domestic sewing machine (Viking Designer I).

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The serpentine stitch is very easy using the walking-foot and also really forgiving. It is much easier than stitching in the ditch or stitching an accurate straight line from corner to corner of the block. The pattern created by the blocks is strong and the fabrics are busy, so there is no need for an elaborate quilting pattern which would not show up. You can see how the stitch is much more visible on the light colored fabric which reads as a solid. On the floral fabrics, the stitch disappears.

Quilt N’ Cruise to Alaska

I was thrilled to be one of the quilting teachers on this 10 day Quilt N’ Cruise trip to Alaska on-board the Golden Princess cruise ship, sailing from San Francisco on 10th August and returning on 20th August. This enormous ship had about 2,000 passengers, 70 of whom were quilters taking classes from the four teachers. Not a moment at sea was wasted! We had a two day class while we were sailing north to Juneau, and then two days of classes on the way back from Ketchikan with a break of a day for a stop in Victoria. The Alaskan scenery was spectacular and the quilting was great fun!

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The camaraderie was excellent and my students were enthusiastic and productive. I loved making new friends and acquaintances and the benefits offered by two day classes giving us more time to get to know each other and to make progress with the projects. My concerns about the teaching space were soon dispelled when I saw the size of our dining room classroom. It was a huge room divided into different areas. Despite my large class sizes, my students had plenty of space to spread out if they wanted to lay out their blocks etc. Each teacher had their own area and we didn’t disturb each other at all. We couldn’t have irons in the classroom so used wooden irons which worked out just fine and students could go to the laundry rooms to iron their completed strip sets and blocks.Here I am with my 26 Bargello Quilts with Twist students.

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In addition to class-time quilting, students could sew in their own cabins and there was a room available on several evenings for communal sewing. Some people opted to stay on the ship instead of going on land excursions. I was astonished at the work done and the progress made. By the end of the trip, several people had their Bargello blocks assembled into quilt tops. Coline Simmons worked tirelessly and completed 100 Bargello blocks to make this lovely queen-sized top! Coline also took my second class on the way back to San Francisco and completed 49 template-free Kaleidoscope blocks! Here is Marina Muller with her Kaleidoscope Puzzle quilt top. I taught Marina at the South African Quilt Conference in 2013. It was such a delight to have her with us on the cruise, all the way from Namibia!

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Thank you to all of my students and to Terry Caselton of Pam’s Travel for giving me the opportunity to teach on this cruise. I hope that I’ll have the chance to meet some of my students again, if I teach at their guilds or we are able to cruise together another time. Here’s my Kaleidoscope Puzzle group.

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Studio Tour

My new house is 1,250 square feet and has a single car garage. While I was in away teaching in April and May, the landscapers removed two enormous bushes from my front garden and extended the retaining wall. I’ve enjoyed planting my choice of shrubs and flowers,

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My studio is the upstairs room with the large window above the front door. The room won’t stay this tidy for long! As soon as I have caught up with my administration, I’ll start quilting again and the surfaces will become covered with fabric and new projects. This half of the room, (left picture), shows my cutting table, office area and on the right hand side you can see my work wall. The IKEA shelves for storing part of my stash fit nicely on the back wall. In the bottom left of the picture is the corner of my sewing table.

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The sewing table occupies the other half of the room. This large piece was custom made for me about 15 years ago by the cabinet-making husband of a quilting friend. He also made my cutting table. In my house search, a pre-requisite was a room large enough to accommodate these two bits of furniture and my desk. I have the lovely big north-facing window so there is plenty of natural light, but no direct sunlight which is perfect. The view looks out onto the other town houses and a stand of tall Douglas Firs. Right across the street is a cherry tree that was loaded with beautiful blossoms when I moved in. It’s very quiet as the main road is over on the other side of the house.

Another important feature is having adequate storage space. Here’s part of the closet behind the sewing table. I have more fabric and metal shelves housing my plastic bins of patterns. This cupboard extends much further to the left and I have a smaller set of IKEA shelves and a more plastic storage bins. The bathroom off my studio is another storage area. I have a tall skinny bookcase in there for all my files, my two travelling suitcases, and I use the tub for miscellaneous items.

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I’ve been used to having a spare bedroom with a bed to store all of my quilts flat. My new house has two rooms upstairs – my bedroom and my studio, so I no longer have this luxury. I have two quilt racks which I use for large quilts, one in my bedroom and one in the living room downstairs. The dilemma was how to store the many quilts that I haul in and out for my lectures and workshops. Several months ago one of the speakers at my local quilt guild, Kitsap Quilters Guild, brought their quilts rolled on Styrofoam swim noodles. This is my solution and so far it is working well. I have eight or nine noodles and the quilts are rolled by topic, e.g. Bargello block quilts, template-free Kaleidoscope quilts. These rolls are stored in a lower section of my large built-in bedroom closet. They are easy to access and I can unroll them or roll them back up again on the bed.