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!

Antique Signature Quilt

At the June meeting of Kitsap Quilters Guild, our guest speaker was Susan Underwood, member of the American Quilt Study Group and co-founder of the Washington State Quilt Study Group. The American Quilt Study Group establishes and promotes the highest standards for interdisciplinary quilt-related studies, providing opportunities for study, research, and the publication of work that advance the knowledge of quilts and related subjects. Susan has researched and collected quilts since the 1980’s, with a particular interest in 19th century signature quilts and the 20th century quilts that we are likely to find on the West Coast.

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This beautiful quilt top is a spectacular example of an 1840’s signature quilt and is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The style is like those made by the Quakers but the names are Dutch and can be traced back to Dutch immigrants from the Dutch Reform Church. Signature quilts may be useful for genealogists especially when there are dates and blocks with the names of several family members. This quilt top traveled from Pennsylvania to Eastern Washington and Susan purchased it at the estate sale of the daughters of Mary Vanartsdalen. Mary’s signature is shown below along with the date of 1843.

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The quilt top has a great variety of turkey red fabrics including several better quality pieces from France, England and Scotland. The lower quality pieces were made in the USA where the production process was not yet as sophisticated as that used by manufacturers in Europe. The 64 red and white Turkey Tracks blocks are all signed in the center white squares, except for the final column of blocks on the left side which are blank. In this Victorian era, fancy stationary was all the rage and people used inked stamps with ornamental designs, then added signatures. They used these on fabric as well. Some examples are shown below.

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Thank you to Susan for permitting me to share this incredible quilt top.


OR Opportunity Quilt

This stunning raffle quilt, There’s No Place Like Home, 90″ x 90″, was hanging at the June meeting of Northwest Quilters in Portland when I lectured there. The Log Cabin is such a classic pattern and I love this star setting which is offset beautifully on the wide white border with floral applique. The Beautiful Cascading Roses applique pattern was designed by Joy Nichols. Joy, Nancy Tubbs, Gunnel Seitz and Trish Barrilleaux hand appliqued the roses. Long-arm quilter Debbie Scroggy of All Quilted did a spectacular job on the machine quilting. Several guild members pieced the blocks and helped with the completion of this gorgeous quilt.


Raffle tickets may be purchased from Northwest Quilters members and at their 42nd Annual Quilt Show, May 6th and 7th, 2016 at the Portland Expo Center. The drawing will be on Saturday 7th May at the end of the quilt show. The proceeds go to cover room rental for community quilt project sew-ins and materials. The quilts are donated to Habitat for Humanity, Quilts of Valor and Portland Firefighter’s Toy and Joy Program (dolls and teddy bears are wrapped in quilts).


Texas theme quilt

One of the many things that I enjoy about traveling and teaching, is staying in the homes of kind quilters who share their quilting treasures with me and are inspiring. On my trip to Texas last month, I stayed with Deborah Woolley at her lovely lake side home in Cypress on the northwest side of Houston. This quilt, Deep in the Heart of Texas, was hanging in her living room.

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Blue is my favorite color, so I was immediately drawn to the quilt and then enjoyed looking at all the details invoking Texas in the blocks. Carrol Stewart, a long-arm quilter and teacher in the Cypress area, altered a pattern by Glenda Stephens called Nowhere But Texas. Deborah pieced and assembled the quilt and Carrol quilted it. Of course there are plenty of cowboy accessories, long-horn cattle, a windmill, stars, the lovely Texas bluebonnet and the central map. Here some shots to help you catch the wonderful details that include embroidery and embellishments.

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Texas Opportunity Quilts II

Here’s the second beautiful raffle quilt that I saw in the Houston area when I was teaching there. This one was made as a fundraiser for the Mainland Morning Quilt Guild. This group meets on the morning of each third Thursday of the month at Bayou Vista Community Center.


The queen-sized quilt is called Bird’s Eye View and was pieced by Carolyn Hughes and machine quilted by Errol “Pete” Hughes. Here are a couple of detailed shots so you can get an idea of the intricate pictorial quilting patterns.

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Texas Opportunity Quilts I

At two of the quilt guilds where I lectured recently in the Houston area of Texas, nearby quilt guilds brought their raffle quilts to sell tickets and promote their guild activities. These quilts were gorgeous so I wanted to share them with you.


This stunning red quilt was presented by the Bay Area Quilt Guild. Pearl Anniversary, 68″ x 82″, was pieced, appliqued and quilted by Marcia Brenner and Melba Brenner. It is based on the design “Robin’s Roost” by Cyndi Walker of Stitch Studio, found in Pretty Patchwork Quilt, Traditional Patterns with Applique Accents, published by Martingale & Company. The guild’s biennial quilt show, entitled Through the Years, 1985-2015, is coming up soon on April 10th and 11th in Pearland. If you are in the area, it promises to be a great show and not to be missed.

See the blog next week for the second raffle quilt.

Kitsap Quilters Guild Show – Viewers’ Choice

The ballots were tallied and the awards for our quilt show last weekend were made at our guild meeting on Tuesday. I had to share the fantastic Viewers’ Choice quilt with you. The quilt, Daddy’s Home, was pieced and long-arm quilted by Marybeth O’Halloran.MarybethQuilt The center is a Lone Star and the four corner stars are made using a pattern by Karen Stone. Marybeth made this quilt for Jeff and Sena Harvey using three generations of men’s silk ties and Italian shirting. Working with the ties was challenging especially on the corner stars. The silks added to the lush richness of this quilt and were well complemented by the beautiful quilting patterns.

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Look at Marybeth’s exquisite quilting. It’s been fun to see her skills develop over the last few years and she keeps getting better and better! She runs a long-arm quilting business, White Lotus Quilting, on Bainbridge Island, WA and was our quilt show chairperson this year. Congratulations Marybeth, and thank you for sharing your outstanding talents!

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Scenic Colorado in the Fall

One of the joys of traveling to teach is seeing new places. Mid-October was a wonderful time to visit Colorado and I can’t resist sharing some scenic snapshots with you. Between lecturing, teaching workshops and visiting local quilt stores, my generous guild hosts took me to beautiful places.

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Adele from the Columbine Quilt Guild, and her two hiking buddies took me to Castlewood Canyon State Park, south of Denver not far from Castle Rock. As you can see, the fall colors where spectacular. We did a four mile hike up the canyon, past the ruins of the old dam and back along the canyon rim. It was a perfect temperature for walking.

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Adele also drove me along the Peaks to Peaks Highway. This chapel is a popular wedding venue and has a gorgeous view of the mountains. We walked around Lily Lake and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

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Most of the aspens had already dropped their leaves, but there were some in sheltered spots that were still brilliant golden. These two shots are in the Rocky Mountain National Park where had a picnic and saw a large herd of elk in the meadows. There was a huge buck with a harem of 35!

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Angie, from the Arapahoe County Quilters took me to the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The red rocks form a craggy outcrop and nestled between two huge sections is the amphitheater up at 6,500 ft. This is a popular venue for concerts and during the summer, there are rock bands scheduled about every three days. Even the Beatles appeared here in the 60s! At the entrance to the museum area, behind the information counter, hangs this amazing quilt depicting the rock formations. The quilt is entitled, Walk the Rocks, and was made by Judith Trager for the Public Art Program in 2003, City and County of Denver. We marveled at its beauty and the workmanship.


New Quilts from an Old Favorite contest

My quilt, Almost Modern Jacob’s Ladder, (78” x 78”), is a finalist in the National Quilt Museum contest, New Quilts from an Old Favorite 2013. Each year there is a quilt block theme and contestants are challenged to create an original design derived from the block. My design idea gelled when I found the perfect large scale prints. I emulated today’s “modern quilts” by enlarging the Jacob’s Ladder block and including large areas of negative space. However, this quilt is contrived, with fussy-cut fabrics and a precise border, so it isn’t entirely “modern”. Then again, it was made in 2012, so by definition, it must be modern!

quilt-_02The quilt was completed in collaboration with my good friend Wanda Rains, who did an outstanding job on the machine quilting. Here’s a detailed shot which I hope will showcase her beautiful work.


The quilt will be displayed in the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky from March to June this year. Then it will tour the United States for another 18 months, so when I sent it away in December, it was good-bye quilt for two years. It will also appear in the AQS book – Jacob’s Ladder, New Quilts from an Old Favorite, available soon. If you attend the AQS show in April, be sure to make time to visit the wonderful museum and to see all the finalists in this contest.