Big stitch hand quilting: troubleshooting the tools

While it’s great to start a quilt knowing exactly what tools you’ll be using, sometimes you just have to figure things out as you go.

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Duck motif done with big stitch hand quilting in Sweet Water perle cotton thread #8 from Cottage Garden Threads

I recently made a flannel baby quilt and decided to add some big stitch hand quilting to some areas. I’ve done this before — quilted most of a quilt by machine and then added big stitch quilting for impact in certain areas — but I’d never hand quilted flannel before. So when it came time to start, I assembled what I thought would be the right tools for the job because they’ve worked for me before: perle cotton thread #8 in a few different colors and from different manufacturers, big stitch needles and my open-backed Roxette thimble. And then I sat down to hand quilt for the first time in a few months.

At first I thought I was having difficulty perhaps because my skills were a little rusty, or perhaps because it was warm and the thimble felt like it was sliding off my finger. Then I thought maybe it was because of the late hour, so I put my hoop down and decided to try again in the morning. But when I struggled again the next day, I knew it was time to do some troubleshooting. I didn’t think the problem was with my thread choices, so I started with going back to using my old ridge-top metal thimble, thinking that perhaps I would get more power if I directed the stitch from the tip of my finger rather than from the pad.

Big mistake. First of all, my hypothesis was all wrong — I actually felt as if I had less force and control when I went back to pushing the needle using my finger tip. I didn’t realize how accustomed I’ve already gotten to quilting with the Roxette just this past year (I blogged about trying it for the first time in January). But I kept at it with my old thimble until I realized I was getting a blister above my knuckle from the uneven pressure of the thimble on my finger. So back to the Roxette I went and I felt better immediately.

OK, if the trouble wasn’t with the thimble, it was time to look at the needle I was using. I had started with one I thought would be better for going through flannel, but I think it was too thick and offered too much resistance to the thicker fabric. I ended up going back to my trusty chenille size 24 needles, which continue to be the right choice for me. Because I usually only load two stitches at a time with big stitch quilting I like a slightly shorter length than some other quilters do.

As for my threads, they worked just fine once I figured out I was using the wrong needle, even though they all came from different manufacturers, including Cottage Garden Threads perle cotton #8, Finca perle cotton #8 from Prescencia, 3-strand cotton floss from Weeks Dye Works and even Lizbeth #20 cotton thread from Handy Hands.

08B002 Big stitch hand quilting: troubleshooting the toolsI got the duck motif from The Quiltmaker Collection: Quilting Motifs Vol. 2, which is a fantastic resource (and I’m not just saying that because it came from our sister publication).

If you’re new to big stitch hand quilting, I recommend doing your own exploration of tools and threads to find out what works best for you. The needles aren’t that expensive and it’s worth it to spend a few dollars if only to figure out what doesn’t work. I had already tried out a variety of needles and thimbles and I know what works for me, but for some reason I thought I needed to use different tools just because I was working with flannel. The lesson I learned was not to overthink things before beginning; better to start with what experience tells me works best and then troubleshoot from there if necessary.

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Sunbonnet Sue

Last week, some of us at the office were talking about the advantages of storing quilts flat. They don’t get wrinkled; they don’t get permanent fold marks. The best place to store quilts flat is on a bed.

We moved out of our house and packed all the excess into storage in January. I brought some of my quilts to the apartment and they’ve been hiding in boxes since then. Partly as a result of that conversation and partly because the quilts on the bed don’t take up storage space in the closet, I put them on the bed in the sewing room this weekend.

The bed is noticeably higher. It makes me think of the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea. I “only” have 15-20 quilts on the bed. There are quite a few more in boxes in the storage unit.

But while I was unpacking I came across a couple of quilts I really like. I have 3 Sunbonnet Sue quilts. The first is one my Grandma Brown made for me as a baby. I don’t have a photo of it. I’ll try to remember to share a photo with you when I have all my quilts with me again. It’s a wonderful quilt. It’s pretty thread bare, obviously well-loved and extra special to me now because it is one of only two quilts I have left that my grandmother made.

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Onie’s Sunbonnet Sue

This second one is a mystery. It is something I found in my mother-in-law’s things. There is no label. There are no family stories – nothing to identify this quilt. The sashing and borders are peach-colored cotton. The skirts, bodices and bonnets are 30s prints but the fabric appears to be more tightly woven than flour sacks.

Sunbonnet Sue Onies Deta Sunbonnet Sue

Look at the pretty embroidery.

This quilt is hand appliqued, hand embroidered and hand quilted. It has been well cared for. It’s one of my treasures.

Sunbonnet Sue Mine Sunbonnet Sue

My Sunbonnet Sue – the Cracker Quilt

My quilt guild and family made blocks for a signature quilt for me. It is 5 blocks wide and 6 blocks long.

I stipple quilted it and, in fact, it is seriously over quilted.

One of my sons spent the night with us shortly after I’d finished the quilt. It was on the bed in the guest room. He came out the following morning, more than a little grumpy and said the quilt was like sleeping under a soda cracker so we call it the Cracker Quilt. Note to self: don’t stipple quilt late at night when you are feeling stressed.

I think part of what makes quilts special is their stories. I always tell people that this is the Cracker Quilt and I explain why. It’s part of the fun of this particular quilt.

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Hand embroidery

Some of the blocks are more decorated than others. My friend Mary made this one with hand embroidery. The patches are appliqued with a simple zigzag stitch.

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Machine Embellishment

My mom made this block. The patches are blanket stitched down. She added ribbon and lace. She signed her name by embroidering MOM with her machine.

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Mom’s Sunbonnet Sue

Mom also has a Sunbonnet Sue quilt. It’s also a signature quilt with blocks given to her by her quilting friends. I smiled when I saw it. It is very similar to mine. Her quilt has half Sunbonnet Sue blocks and half Overall Sam blocks.

She stitched in the ditch to quilt it. It’s nice and soft – no cracker quilt here.

I’ve got several things I need to tend to so until next week, happy quilting. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website.

Posted in Inspiration, Lori Baker, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cutting Edge Technology, continued.

Have you picked up your copy of the August/September 2014 Quilters Newsletter? It’s our 45th anniversary issue! You can find it at the Quilt & Sew Shop if you’ve not yet seen it. It’s full of all kinds of cool stuff – stories, products and beautiful quilt patterns like the one for our cover quilt, Bonnie’s Rocky Mountain Star, designed by QN founder Bonnie Leman’s daughter, Mary Leman Austin. There’s also the conclusion to our quilting technology series, in which ZJ Humbach writes about the die cutting and digital cutting technology available today.

Well, there’s another product that we weren’t able to squeeze in before the issue went to press, so I’ll tell you about it now. Silhouette has 2 models of electronic digital cutters, the Portrait and the Cameo. Click on the links for the specific information about each model, but they can both plug directly into your PC, like a printer, but instead of printing they cut out whatever shape you desire. They also sell cut-out motifs through their online store.

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The Silhouette Portrait digital cutting machine

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The Silhouette Cameo digital cutting machine

These machines seem to be somewhat similar to the Brother ScanNCut. I have tried the CM550DX model and am very impressed by it. It’s very exciting to be able to scan any shape into the machine and have it cut out perfectly. This machine is discussed in the magazine article, and the main difference from the Silhouette models seems to be that you do not plug it into your PC, but you can scan designs into the machine as well as upload designs from a USB drive. The Brother and Silhouette machines have other similarities and differences in how they function, however, so do your research to figure out which machine might work best for your needs.

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The Brother ScanNCut CM550DX digital cutting machine

Another interesting feature that both the Brother and Silhouette companies were demonstrating at Spring Quilt Market was the ability to sync your embroidery machine’s designs with the cut-out design shapes. This makes it easy to cut out a desired shape from the electronic cutting machine, applique it to a background, then embroider all around the shape with a satin stitch for a secure, stylish and stitched applique motif. It was very cool to see in action.

I have not been able to test this feature for myself, but the manufacturers should be able to provide more information about it. There are also third party companies, like Fabric Confetti, that offer .svg files for sale to enter into your digital cutting machine to use with their embroidery patterns. But this is only one of the many things that these machines are capable of.

All the electronic cutting machines are available online from the manufacturers’ websites, and I saw the Silhouette machines featured prominently at my local fabric/craft store when I was there last weekend. I don’t know everything there is to know about them, by any means, but if you like fusible applique (or scrapbooking, or making cards, or almost any craft activity that involves cut-out shapes), you should definitely check out this exciting technology.

We did get a Brother ScanNCut to try out at the office. It’s pretty incredible! Among other cool features, you can scan just about any shape into the machine, manipulate it on the screen as you like, and cut the shape out of paper, vinyl, fabric, and more.

Just to make sure that it works well for fabric, I set it up to cut out a motif that had several tricky characteristics – small sections, complex curves, straight lines and narrow areas – to ensure it was capable of cutting out intricate motifs that would be extremely difficult to cut by hand. So I uploaded the Quilters Newsletter logo into the machine, and it was cut out accurately and quickly. Since you attach the fusible to the fabric before it’s cut out, it makes everything very easy. I was able to use the left-over fabric with the cut-out spaces to make sure my applique spacing was correct. Take a look!

QNlogo Cutting Edge Technology, continued.

Quilters Newsletter logo cut out with the Brother ScanNCut and appliqued.

Have you experimented with any of these new machines? The creative possibilities are virtually endless. We like to discuss these things, and so much more, on our spaces at Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and our website. Have an inspiring weekend!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Tools, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mineral Forest Giveaway!

AS14Cover 200 Mineral Forest Giveaway!


Quilters Newsletter August/September 2014 officially went on sale yesterday, and we’re very excited about this issue, as it happens to be our 45th anniversary issue. The cover quilt was designed by Mary Leman Austin, the daughter of Quilters Newsletter founder Bonnie Leman, and not only is this a very special quilt, the full pattern is also available for it in the issue!

There are so many other wonderful inspirations and patterns in this issue as well, I could go on for a long time about them, but one of the other really special anniversary celebration points in Quilters Newsletter  August/September 2014 is that each of the blocks made for the Staff Picks section was made with the pattern from the cover of the very first issue of Quilters Newsletter back in 1969, a pattern called Moon Flowers which we’ve posted on our website as a free web extra if you’d like to make a block yourself.

Here’s Moon Flowers made from the collection we’re giving away currently, Mineral Forest by Andover FabricsMoon Forest Block Mineral Forest Giveaway!

And here’s a picture of the bundle of Mineral Forest by Andover Fabrics that we’re giving away (18 fat quarters in all): AS14a 002 550 Mineral Forest Giveaway!

To enter to win this bundle of fat quarters from the Mineral Forest collection by Andover Fabricsleave a comment on this post below telling us about a special quilting project you’ve made (or plan to make) to celebrate an anniversary. Comments must be entered by 11:59 PM Mountain Time, Sunday July 27, 2014. Open to anyone worldwide who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the past 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

Once you’ve added that new variation of our editorial questions email to your “safe senders” list, be sure to visit us all over the web on: FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestInstagramYouTube and our website for all the latest quilting inspiration and news from the quilting world.

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A Finished Quilt – Just for Me

I finished a quilt last week and the more I looked at it, the more I wanted it for me.

Frequently, my quilts these days begin with a pattern Quilters Newsletter published or a pattern we are going to publish. That was the case with this quilt. Here is the original. Along the Way was designed and made by Melanie Greseth and Joanie Holton of Tailormade by Design and featured as a pattern in Quilters Newsletter’s February/March 2014 edition.

AlongtheWay 580 A Finished Quilt   Just for Me

Along the Way

The original was 64½” x 73”. I wanted my quilt to be a large queen-size quilt so I added two rows to the width, two rows to the length and I made the outer border a little wider. My quilt is 92” x 97½”.

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Along the Way – My Way

I started my quilt to prepare for a video  for Quilters Newsletter TV: the Quilters’ Community explaining how I sew curves when I’m making a quilt with curved seams. That video aired last Friday. You can check it out here.

As you can see in the video, it wasn’t finished. I had the top all together and I had it pin basted but the quilting was not done.

I had a hard time deciding on the quilting for this quilt. I absolutely love the fabric. The prints are from the Monaco collection by Red Rooster Fabrics and the teal solid is Kona cotton by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I didn’t want the quilting to detract from the pretty, pretty fabric.

So here is what I decided to do. I stitched in the ditch around the half circles to stabilize everything and then echo quilted in the dark teal print. In the light print, I did a decorative stitch – I lengthened it to 33 mm so if I made any wobbles it wouldn’t be as noticeable and I used a width of 6.5 mm. The border is just straight line quilted. The batting is Warm & Natural by The Warm Company.

Along the Way My Way 003 A Finished Quilt   Just for Me

Detail of Quilting

Often, when I finish a quilt, it goes in the closet to be a gift. Actually, much of the time, it is a gift and the occasion is nearly here and I need to hurry up and finish the quilt so I can deliver it on time. That wasn’t the case with Along the Way – My Way. I didn’t have a plan for it. And since I like it so much, I put it on my bed. I am going to keep it. I may have to make all new quilts for the walls in our bedroom because they don’t seem to go together very well. But that’s a great excuse for the next couple of quilts – as if I need an excuse.

Now, until next week, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website for the latest news and quilty ideas.

Posted in Inspiration, Lori Baker, Staff Quilts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Off the Wall Basting

The thing about ideas that are just crazy enough to work is that a person must be crazy enough to try out the idea, to see if it will in fact work. As we’ve been settling into our home and filling it up with more furniture, the nice big floor spaces on which I used to spread out and baste my quilts are no longer very big. It’s really no fun crawling around on the floor to baste a big quilt, but basted they must be and it’s a tried and true method that works.

While I’m running out of floor space, there’s still plenty of wall space. Maybe I could use that instead?! If it worked, I’d be able to stand up straight and pin everything together without discomfort. While I’m sure my co-workers would help me baste a quilt that needed to be finished for work, I had a quilt top and back that I made just for fun, for me, and I wanted to get it out of my unfinished pile. I don’t remember the exact size off the top of my head, but it’s about 70″ square. You may remember it, I blogged about making the top. I decided to give my wall-basting idea a shot.

I started by pressing my quilt back so it’s nice and wrinkle-free, then I put two long strips of regular masking tape along the top, on the wrong side of the fabric. I used the 2″-wide kind of tape so there would be plenty of adhesive on both the fabric and the wall.

wallbasting1 Off the Wall Basting

Two long strips of masking tape at the top will hold the quilt back in place, so I can tape the perimeter of the quilt back to the wall.

I did need my husband’s help just to get the quilt back initially stuck onto the wall so it hung straight. We each held one of the strips and stuck them to the wall, then his job was over and I was able to tape all around the perimeter by myself. It worked out well because I could pull the fabric taut since it was stuck to the wall on top, and tape the edges down. It was obvious if there was any distortion and the tape was easily readjusted as necessary.

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The quilt back is nice and smooth, taped all around the edges. It’s a little hard to see since the wall is almost the same color as the masking tape!

Next comes the batting, of course. I had the idea that cotton batting would stick pretty well to the back and stay put without any tape, but I did have to tape the upper two corners in place while I smoothed it over the quilt backing. I cut off the excess batting, which was adding unnecessary weight, and then with a bit of manipulation and patting out folds I got it nice and smooth against the quilt back. So far, so good.

wallbasting3 Off the Wall Basting

The batting, trimmed to size, stuck pretty well to the backing. It was a little tricky in the bunchy areas where the batting had been folded, but patient manipulation worked that out.

The quilt top, being smaller and lighter than both the quilt back and batting, should adhere nicely to the batting, I thought. It did. Once one corner was anchored and smooth, it was really easy to smooth out the rest of the quilt top and it stayed put without any tape or anything. It was actually much simpler that crawling around on the floor to get wrinkles out, since on the floor you usually have to put your weight on the quilt and that distorts the smoothing out you just did. I was able to get the backing, batting and quilt top on the wall in about half an hour.

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Layer the backing, batting and quilt top. On the wall. Done!

Then it was time to pin it! I was nervous that the safety pins might add more and more weight and eventually pull the tape off the wall, but I figured that by then I’d have a good amount of basting already done and then I could just move to a table or something. So I just started pinning at the top and before I knew it, I was done! It worked really, really well. I did have to squat and then sit on the floor to pin the very bottom, but it wasn’t for long and still preferable to crawling on hands and knees.

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It’s not too apparent, but there are safety pins all over the quilt. No knees were harmed in the basting of this quilt.

So, wall basting. Have people been doing this all along, but I just never heard about it? It’s pretty great. I guess it helps to be tall if your quilt is pretty big, and I had made my quilt back about 6″ larger than the front so even with the slight distortion that happened when I removed the masking tape from the fabric, it didn’t affect the working area. My husband was a little concerned that the masking tape might damage the paint on the wall, but it came off with no trouble at all and the wall looks just fine.

My quilt front and back are perfectly smooth, basted, and ready to quilt. I think this will be a good project to practice some more free-motion quilting.

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Close up of the front, basted.

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The back, basted. No wrinkles!

Please tell us all about your quilting adventures and ideas, innovations and dreams! We’re always on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website. Have a stitcherrific weekend!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Golden Age Fabric Giveaway!

CoverJJ14 200b Golden Age Fabric Giveaway!


It’s almost time for our August/September 2014 issue to hit newsstands (next Tuesday the 22nd if you’re counting down), so we’d like to give one last hurrah to our fabulous June/July 2014 issue with another Staff Picks fabric collection fat quarter bundle giveaway. (Don’t forget to grab your copy of Quilters Newsletter June/July 2014 if you haven’t already, because it’s packed full of intriguing techniques like using LED lights with conductive thread, history articles like “Cheddar Quilts” and intermediate and challenging quilt patterns!)

One lucky winner will receive 24 fat quarters from the Golden Age collection from Collecting Threads, a densely decorated series of opulent prints to give your next quilting project the royal treatment.

JJ14SPL 002 550 Golden Age Fabric Giveaway!

To enter to win this bundle of fat quarters from the Golden Age collection from Connecting Threadsleave a comment on this post below telling us about your favorite summertime place to quilt. Comments must be entered by 11:59 PM Mountain Time, Sunday July 20, 2014. Open to anyone worldwide who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the past 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

Once you’ve added that new variation of our editorial questions email to your “safe senders” list, be sure to follow us your preferred form of social media: FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest,Instagram and YouTube, and don’t forget to visit our website for previews of what’s in the latest issue (currently June/July 2014 which can be purchased at your local quilt shop, bookstore, or online at Quilt and Sew Shop)!


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More about the Denver Art Museum

Gigi told you in her blog post on Friday that we went to the Denver Art Museum for a media open house. We saw so many wonderful things, Gigi couldn’t possibly include them all. In fact, even after I tell you about the high spots for me, there will still be many, many noteworthy items we haven’t talked about. I have so many wonderful photos. It is truly hard to choose which I’m going to write about.

The first exhibit we saw was Beyond Pop Art: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective. I loved his art. At the start of his career, Wesselmann did two-dimensional art. Our tour was part of a private media event and we were fortunate to have our tour of this exhibit guided by Claire Wesselmann, the artist’s widow.

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Bedroom Painting #38 (1978)

Later on, he started doing three-dimensional art. His metal work was amazing to me. I have sons who are welders and I know they would love to see Wesselmann’s art in metal. This one is charcoal on cut-out metal.

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Monica Nude with Cezanne (1988-1992)

These beautiful flowers are oil paint on cut-out aluminum.

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Mixed Bouquet (Filled In) (3D) (1993)

I was already in love with the Denver Art Museum and we hadn’t even gotten to the textile exhibit.

When we got there, the first thing that caught my eye was this log cabin quilt. The logs are slightly less than ¼” wide.

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Barn Raising Quilt – Log Cabin Variation

According to the placard, it is from the United States in the 1890s. They speculate that the center was made by one person and the borders were added later by someone else because of the quality of the workmanship. There is even one piece of border fabric on the upper left hand side that doesn’t match the rest.

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Here is the border fabric that doesn’t match.

Then there was an excellent example of a quilt made with neckties.

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Ties Quilt, Sue V. Bulkeley, 1950s

Besides being lovely, this quilt brought back a fun memory for me. One of my favorite uncles had a collection of ties. As children, my brother, my sister and I were amused to find the underside of the ties sometimes held surprises (nude or barely clad ladies). We’d go to the closet where his ties were, just to check. This quilt had one of those designs included.

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This made me smile.

This quilt was unique. It looked like it weighed a bunch!

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Label Quilt, Libbie Gottschalk, 1973-2003

The placard said this was “a mending project gone mad,” a 30-year project originally using labels to repair a beloved quilt that belonged to Gottschalk’s grandfather. Eventually she decided to cover both sides with labels.

The QN team made sure I noticed this quilt. It’s all yo-yos.

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Yo-Yo Quilt, United States, 1970s

When I first started working at Quilters Newsletter, we were working on an issue that had cute little Christmas trees made of yo-yos. The team invited me to a session in the sewing studio to make some and even as the “new kid on the block”, I turned them down. I really don’t like handwork and my yo-yos (the one time I made them) don’t even turn out round. In case you’d like that issue with the little Christmas trees, it’s still available in digital format here.

I always try to remember to say that even though I don’t like to do handwork, I really appreciate it. I think it’s beautiful when it is well done. I just don’t do it myself.

Here’s one last quilt.

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Pine Tree Medallion with Borders Quilt, United States, late 1890s-early 1900s

Mary Kate and I talked about this quilt and all the math involved. Each of the plain borders had to be just the right width so the pieced border next to it would fit. We loved this one.

In the activities area, there was a small display of weaving.

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A Weaving Display

At the very top of the display is a piece of weaving using fabric and yarn; what I think of as traditional materials. At the bottom of the display are crayons, Q-tips and matches woven together. It was eye catching.

We had a delightful time at the Denver Art Museum. If you get the chance to go, you’ll be amazed. Gigi and I haven’t even begun to tell you about all the things to see. There is something for all ages. It is so worth your time. Special thanks to Dr. Alice M. Zrebiec, Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art for the museum, for giving us a personal tour of the quilt exhibit.

And now, until next time, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website.

Posted in Inspiration, Lori Baker, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Yesterday we were lucky enough to go and visit the Denver Art Museum for their media open house, which was an introduction to the exhibits and programs that they will launch this summer. There was a fascinating retrospective of the work of pop artist Tom Wesselmann, an exhibit of 20th century Japanese prints and a collection of recent portraits by the talented painter Daniel Sprick. But we were there for the quilts, of course, which were displayed in the new textile gallery in an exhibit titled First Glance/Second Look.

When we arrived at the museum, it was great fun to see the huge community quilt in the lobby, for which we made a panel last year.

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Bottom half of the SPUN community quilt. Our panel is in the third row from the left, second from the bottom.

Curator of Textile Art, Alice Zrebiec, was kind enough to give us an in-depth tour of the First Glance/Second Look exhibit and explained why each of the quilts were chosen. Out of more than 300 quilts which are currently in the Denver Art Museum’s collection, this exhibit contains more than 20 quilts, selected to illustrate different traditional techniques and patterns that are still popular today, like log cabins, stars, mosaic, applique and more. It’s a diverse and engaging show, and if you make it to the Denver area in the next year or so, I highly recommend a visit.

I’ll show just a few favorite quilts from the exhibit, since there was so much more to see besides that!

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The Matterhorn Quilt made by Myrtle May Fortner, 1934. Alice says this is one of the most popular and most requested quilts in the collection.

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Detail of The Matterhorn Quilt. It’s made up of 9,135 squares that each finish at 3/4″

DAMmedallion Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Medallion Quilt from England, 1820s. We all loved the large patches and the use of printed stripes as sort of cheater patchwork fabric. Modern quilt concepts go back a long, long time.

Here’s an example of patchwork that was not used in a quilt. Alice said this man’s shirt was added to the museum’s collection around the 1940s.

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Seminole piecing on a garment.

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detail of the piecing

Adjacent to the exhibit, there was a great activities area for kids and adults alike, surrounded by examples and explanations of just about everything to do with textiles, sewing and quilting.

DAMdyeing Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

This section was all about different dyeing techniques like shibori, clamping, wax-resist and more.

In the activities area was a really fun and clever companion exhibit featuring quilts made by member of Studio Art Quilt Associates. It was in a big chest of drawers, and each drawer contained a little treasure of an art quilt. I thought it was a thoughtful, space saving way to display the quilts – while you have to take a bit of trouble to open the drawers to see them, each one becomes like a little secret surprise that you’ve uncovered. Even though they’re under glass in the drawers, you can get nice and close to look at the details.

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Chest of drawers containing quilts by SAQA members

DAManderson Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Yo Yo Botanica by Faye Anderson of Broomfield, Colorado.

DAMhill Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

It Takes a Village – California by Gretchen B. Hill of Carlsbad, California.

DAMadams Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Progress? by Dierdre Adams of Littleton, Colorado.

There were also two ladies demonstrating tatting, or lace-making, the same way that it’s been done for centuries. It looked very cool but it was hard to tell what exactly they were doing with all those pins and strings!

DAMtatting Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Lace tatting demonstration

DAMtatting2 Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Tatting up close and in action!

DAMtatting3 Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Tatting finished product

There were also frames where people could try their hand at quilting stitches, and a big table and a board, both with a grid, along with cut out squares and triangles to create patchwork designs. It is a great introduction to everything about quiltmaking, and the hands-on activities really give a nice perspective and insight into everything that went into making the quilts shown on the wall. I had to be dragged out of there when it was time to go!

DAMframe Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Try some quilting stitches on the frame…

DAMtable Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

…or make a patchwork design!

DAMboard Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

A fun way to get your work onto museum walls.

On the way back down (the textiles are on the 6th floor), we passed this very interesting piece displayed in the room with all the amazing Oceanic art. The scale and history of the artifacts in this room are really impressive. This piece fits in pretty well, it’s a skyscraper of blankets! All the blankets were donated to the artist, and attached to each one is a hand-written story that shares it’s significance to the donor. Here’s what artist Marie Watt said about it, “We are received in blankets, and we leave in blankets. The work…is inspired by the stories of those beginnings and endings, and the life in between. I am interested in human stories and the rituals implicit in everyday objects.”

DAMblankets Quilts and Activities at the Denver Art Museum

Blanket Story: Confluence, Heirloom and Tenth Mountain Division by Marie Watt, 2013.

If you get an opportunity to visit the Denver Art Museum this year, go! The quilts are so incredible, but there’s a whole lot to see besides those. The staff really make an effort to be interactive and draw people into the spirit of each exhibit with activities and information to enhance the experience. It’s a ton of fun for people of all ages and very family friendly.

For all the latest, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ and our website. Have an artistic and creative weekend!

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So Many Books Giveaway Part 2!


About a month ago, I blogged about how Quilters Newsletter gets books in for review for our “Staff Picks” section in each issue and how sometimes we don’t just get one copy of each book in for review but also one or two more copies to giveaway. Since last month’s giveaway did not clear out our stash of giveaway books, I’d like to allow each of you, our readers, another chance to win some of these wonderful quilt books.

This week, there are four prizes of three books each: MoreBooks 600 So Many Books Giveaway Part 2!

The first prize set (the Hexies set) includes Pieced Hexies by Mickey Depre from Kansas City Star Quilts, Hexagons Made Easy by Jen Eskridge from That Patchwork Place and A Cut Above by Gerri Robinson from That Patchwork Place.

The second prize set (the Traditional set) includes The Blue and the Gray by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene from That Patchwork Place, Civil War Legacies II by Carol Hopkins from That Patchwork Place and Log Cabin Fever by Evelyn Sloppy from That Patchwork Place.

The third prize set (the Seasonal set) includes Patchwork Plus: Easy One-Block Quilts with Seasonal Applique by Geralyn J. Powers from That Patchwork Place, ‘Tis the Autumn Season by Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks from That Patchwork Place and Winter Wonders by Jennifer Rounds and Catherine Comyns from C&T Publishing.

And last but certainly not least, the fourth prize set (the Neutrals set) includes Modern Neutrals  by Amy Ellis from That Patchwork Place, Knockout Neutrals by Pat Wys from That Patchwork Place and Easy and Fun Free-Motion Quilting by Eva A. Larkin from That Patchwork Place.

To enter to win one of these four sets of three books, leave a comment on this post below telling us which of the four sets (Hexies, Traditional, Seasonal or Neutral) you want to win the most. Since winners are randomly selected, it’s not guaranteed you’ll receive the set you most prefer, but we’ll try our best! Comments must be entered by 11:59 PM Mountain Time, Sunday July 13, 2014. Open to anyone worldwide who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the past 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

Once you’ve added that new variation of our editorial questions email to your “safe senders” list, be sure to follow us on all our social media sites to make sure you never miss a contest or quilt inspiration or news about the quilting world, on: FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest,Instagram and YouTube, and don’t forget to visit our website for previews of what’s in the latest issue (currently June/July 2014 which can be purchased at your local quilt shop, bookstore, or online at Quilt and Sew Shop)!

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