Monthly Archives: October 2015

October Is Quilt Show Season

In parts of the country where winter makes its presence felt, spring and fall are the times to hold quilt shows. Northeast Ohio’s most recent and newest show was held October 17 and 18. The Mutton Hill Quilt Show was actually three shows in one: heirloom quilts, a Quilt National traveling show exhibit, and a judged quilt show.

I showed you my heirloom favorites, so it’s time for my judged show faves. Some won ribbons, some didn’t. I didn’t have a chance to photograph all my favorites. I kept stopping to chat with people I knew or who knew me.

Yummy Fruit, Felice Troutman, second place small duet

Yummy Fruit, Felice Troutman, second place small duet

Eat Your Veggies, Felice Troutman, 1st place small duet

Eat Your Veggies, Felice Troutman, 1st place small duet

Two quilts by the same person with wonderful embroidery of fruits and vegetables. The asparagus spears are works of art. (Note: patterns for these are available.)

Rainy Day, Carolyn Coleman, 2nd place Pictorial

Rainy Day, Carolyn Coleman, 2nd place Pictorial

Carolyn describes the process she used to create this quilt on Indigo Stitches, her blog.

Tumbleweed, Kathy Kreiger, 2nd place medium duet

Tumbleweed, Kathy Kreiger, 2nd place medium duet

There were lots of quilts made from Judy Niemeyer patterns at the show, but this one had the best color scheme. Note the gradation from darker in the upper right corner to lighter in the lower left corner.

Silhouettes, Christine Allchin, second place small applique

Silhouettes, Christine Allchin, second place small applique

Christine hand appliqued and quilted this.

Ace on Sax, Lisa Berris, 1st place Pictorial

Ace on Sax, Lisa Berris, 1st place Pictorial

This guy has great hair.

Poppies and Butterflies, Renata Yochum, 1st place large applique

Poppies and Butterflies, Renata Yochum, 1st place large applique

Beautiful detail from this large quilt. It reminded me of the hooked wool rugs in my parents’ old bedroom.

Morning - 4th of July, Paula Wedig

Morning – 4th of July, Paula Wedig

Nice variation of a flag quilt.

Lexies Hexies, Carol Williams

Lexies Hexies, Carol Williams

I just love the colors in this quilt made for a granddaughter.

Sunflower Obsession, Karen Miller

Sunflower Obsession, Karen Miller

I like the little pinwheels and the quilting.


Filed under Quilt Shows

The Past Is Prelude

The recent Mutton Hill Quilt Show featured heirloom quilts from the Summit County Historical Society’s (SCHS) collection, in addition to the traveling Quilt National exhibit and a judged quilt show. I’ll wrote more soon about some of the judged quilts, but today I want to focus on the heirloom quilts that were donated to SCHS over the years.

Photos of my favorites with a detail shot are below. If you click on any of them you can see all in a slide show.  I’ve included any dates given. I notice that my picks could be considered modern. Most are scrappy. What a surprise. I love all the fabrics the makers included.


Filed under Quilt Shows

Comforter Weather

As the temperatures trend slowly lower, I’ve begun to dig out my trusty lap quilts and drape them on chairs, sofas, and ottomans. They are mostly scrap quilts made with no artistic intent. Sturdiness, warmth and wash-ability were my goals.

Since I didn’t give these quilts names, I’ll refer to them by color or material. First up is my blue and green Nickel Quilts book quilt made about 2006, I think. A lot of half square triangles went into this one. I always liked the secondary pattern made where the blocks meet. The quilting is basic, diagonal lines that follow the triangle edges, but it’s held up through several washes.

bluegreenMy other go-to lap quilt is made of flannel. When I was making it about 2003 I couldn’t find flannels that didn’t have gamboling lambs and other nursery graphics on them. I went to thrift stores and bought men’s plaid flannel shirts for $1 each. I think the pattern is by Alex Anderson. It’s paper pieced, which was a pain to do, but it helped prevent stretching and made it possible for me to match up most of the points.

flannel quilt 2Again, the quilting is basic diagonal lines that cut through the block centers. I did my best to avoid a regular color pattern.

These are in readiness on our TV watching chairs. My husband says the forecast is for a warmer winter, but the temperatures are bound to drop below freezing soon enough.


Filed under Completed Projects

Old Ties

While cleaning up some old digital file folders I came across this Quilt Inspiration post of quilts made with men’s ties and silk tie fabrics. Here’s a hand pieced tumbling blocks stunner from that post. It’s called Universal Ties, and is by Nancy Ota.

Universal Ties by Nancy Ota, 2013 Houston IQF, photo by Quilt InspirationI’ve made two quilts with old ties and can attest to the need for special handling of the fabrics. I picked apart the ties I had and fused the silk to interfacing made for knits. The resulting fabric is stable to work with but bulky. I pressed my seams open to reduce bulk.

Here are my efforts.

Tie sticksTie Sticks is based on the simple chinese coin pattern. I was pleased to have found a use for the skinny ends of the ties. The legs at the bottom belong to my son, and aren’t part of the quilt.

Taffeta Ties is old, circa 2006. In a burst of hubris I decided to make a quilt with old silk ties and synthetic taffeta and satin.

Taffeta Ties1As I recall, I treated all the raw seam edges with Fray Chek to stop the raveling.  That added difficulty to stitching in the ditch.  Then I used variegated 30 weight quilting thread in contrasting colors to stitch a simplified cable pattern.

Taffeta Ties quilting detailTaffeta Ties thread

I spray basted a plaid backing fabric onto the rest of the quilt sandwich as I was worried that pins would cause pulls in the taffeta fabric. Because I wanted to be careful about fumes, I did my spraying while the layers were draped over the hood of my car in the garage. (Outside was covered with snow.) Let me tell you, that plaid was not a good choice. I didn’t position it on the batting straight and didn’t notice that until I had done the quilting.

Taffeta Ties backAs for the quilting, I didn’t yet understand about knotting and burying your thread ends.  A gentle breeze will cause some of the quilting to come out.

I think Taffeta Ties is a sterling example of what not to do when making a quilt – the  fabric and thread choices, the quilting used, and the basting method. It has a hanging sleeve, so at some point I actually displayed it.


Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

Lessons From Quilt Judges

Earlier in October I had a quilt schlepper’s view of judging a quilt show. My role involved moving piles of different categories of quilts to and from the tables used for judging, fanning the quilts (fast forwarding through a pile of quilts so the judges could get a preview), and holding each one up. That meant I got to eavesdrop on the judges’ comments between themselves, the comments that may not have been officially recorded.


Example of quilt being judged at Garfield County, Colorado, fair.

I’m certainly not going to report specific comments on individual quilts, but I did pick up some hints about what judges focus on in the three or so minutes allotted to each quilt. If you already do all these hints, you can have the joy of feeling justified. If you don’t, maybe they’ll help with the next quilt you enter into a show.

While the tips below are heavy on close up aspects of a quilt, the judges do spend a bit of time looking at each quilt’s design as worker bees hold it up. I learned that quilts made with wool are heavy.

First, bindings – their straightness, the sharpness of their corners, the security of their stitches, their fullness. Judges spend a fair amount of time on them. Hand sew down the miters on the back side edges if you want to impress a judge. The judges I observed didn’t care if a binding was completely sewn by machine as long as the stitching line was unobtrusive and of a consistent width. They also didn’t disparage butt end edges as long as the edges weren’t bulky.

Judges will measure for consistent width of narrow border strips. I know it’s hard to keep one inch borders even on a large quilt, but they do make a difference.

Removal of markings is important as judges will put their noses about four inches from your quilt top. I thought I had removed all markings from my quilt, but the judges found some blue dots. If I had examined my quilt under a surgical light I would have found those marks.

Straightness of quilt edges is important. Wavering edges show up when judges put the quilt edge next to the table edge. So, square up your quilt before binding it. In fact, square it up after each addition of borders.

For hand and machine quilting, judges check for even stitch length, quilting evenly distributed across the quilt, hidden starts and stops (bury those knots), and stitch tension on the quilt back. Free motion quilting will be checked for stitch tension especially. One problem the judges noted with FMQ is that long straight piecing lines can get distorted as numerous passes over those areas push the fabric a bit. This can make the piecing lines look crooked, even if they aren’t. I gathered that stitching in the ditch first helps prevent this. Another tip is to make sure the quilting goes to the raw quilt edge; don’t stop a half inch in, thinking the binding will cover that area. Some of the quilts had a half inch of puffiness between the edges of the quilting and binding.

The judges talked about problems with use of batiks. Apparently the close weave of batiks can cause waviness at the edges.

Judges don’t like animal hair on quilts. If you have a pet, either don’t use black or other dark fabric, or invest in many sticky lint rollers. Use those rollers before you pack your quilt and after you unpack it at the judging location. Remember, cats use different criteria for quilt judging.

funny-cat-pictures-quilt-competition-judgeis-thoroughOur show judges went through over 100 quilts in one day and remained good humored throughout. They voiced no nasty, disparaging remarks, and strove to appreciate each entry on its own merits. I’ll let you know the public reaction to their ribbon choices later this month.




Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

Different Kinds of Quilting Scraps

I confess to a weakness for good informational graphics.  Edward Tufte’s books on information design and data visualization continue to fascinate me.  Occasionally my eye is caught by nicely packaged quilting related graphics.

Thanks to Quilter’s Pastiche, I found a great chart for quilting related acronyms.

tumblr_nvvwx30bcL1rtyq4xo2_500 quilting acronymsMy favs are FART, WOMBAT, FOB, and SABLE.

Here’s a handy guide to batting from Fabric Depot.





Filed under Commentary

Through The Gate

Back in the spring I set aside some custom made fabrics with similar colors for an improv project. After I began arranging the bits on my design wall I found I needed the wall for another project, so I took the picture below and removed the bits from my wall.

Ginkgo leaf idea

Six months later I decided to revisit the bits and the photo. This time a different arrangement happened which reminded me of a Japanese temple gate.

torii gate itsukushima

I decided not to fight kismet but build on it.  Some of my fabrics are stamped with ginkgo leaves and I have silk screened dragonflies, so I think they reinforce a Japanese theme. The circle and half circles also echo symbols in Japanese art.

ToriiRight now my gate is in two pieces which I plan to join after much of the quilting is done. At this point I’m mulling how to quilt it. I have some coarse weave fabric plus velveteen and silk organza to quilt over, and I may use hand work there. Otherwise, my plan is to layer the top pieces with batting and crinoline (yes, the petticoat stuff which I use for stability), quilt them, and do an envelope back. Once the pieces are enclosed I plan to slip the bottom piece into an opening left in the top and sew them together.

I have never tried such a technique before, but I want to echo the shape of a torii (the Japanese name for such a gate.) I fear that I’d mess up the acute angles if I tried to finish the pieces as a single unit.

My method will result in a false back, which will disqualify this piece from many quilt  shows, but I don’t care. Honestly, I feel like a carpenter. Maybe I should try wood glue.


Filed under In Process

Sometimes Cuddly Beats Showy

In the dog world there are show dogs and field dogs. The former exist to be looked at. Field dogs exist to be useful.  The world of quilts has a similar distinction between the show quilts designed to impress and the functional quilts made to live with, on and under.

Since I often make wall quilts, much of my work is designed for show. Every so often I decide it’s time to make a quilt for use. Yellow Jacket is my latest functional quilt.

Yellow Jacket2It’s a large lap quilt, 60 by 80 inches, with a polyester batting and totally machine sewn binding. I already washed it in my machine to start the softening process. Recently I’ve put to use on my bed as the temperatures dip into the 40s.

Yellow Jacket detailAs I wrote earlier, I dipped into my black and white fabric collection to make an enlarged version of a design by Kim Schaefer. The black and yellow fabric is by an Aboriginal designer.

Yellow Jacket backThe backing is made with the two largest hunks of fabric I owned. It’s not black and white, but gives the user the option of a different palette.

In case you’re wondering, I used to call this quilt Bumblebee. However, a nasty experience with a large wasp next led me to rename it Yellow Jacket, in honor of my husband’s bravery.


Filed under Completed Projects

Arty Mug Rugs

Even art quilters turn out mug rugs for swaps. We had a good time trading our rugs at a recent meeting of a group I belong to. The deal was, you got to choose a rug for each rug you brought. In the interests of fairness the selection was done in rounds.

I took five and ended up with seven, thanks to over production by some members.

mug rugsAll kinds of techniques popped up – discharge, decorative machine stitching, painting, piecing, and raw edge applique. One person even brought a beaded rug.

Here’s one I’d like to have guard my morning cup of coffee.

rhino mug rugWorried about coffee rings? These are pre-made.

batik discharge mug rugThis rug was cut from a larger painted fabric, and they all looked beautiful laid out.

painted mug rugTalk about the ability to cover up stains!

decorative stitch mug rugscrappy mug rugAnd for your dainty tea cup.

floral mug rug



Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Do Quilts Still Get No Respect In The Art World?

I pose this question after viewing all the 200 plus entries for the 2015 Akron Art Prize. Among the paintings, photographs, sculptures, plates, installations, prints, etc., I found eight fiber related pieces. Two of them meet the traditional three layer definition of a quilt. One is a fiber sculpture. Three are weavings. One is a paper dress, and one is cloth panels printed with photographs. Let’s see, that works out to 4% of the entries.

Here are photos of the eight entries I’ve put in the fiber category.

Since this prize is a people’s choice thing, the boundaries of what constitutes art is stretched a bit. Much of the work strikes me as more craft than art. Of the entries shown above, only the sculpture meets my personal definition of art. Some of the raw materials used show ingenuity, such as old rock group tee shirts and paper napkins. But I am more aware of the materials used than the overall pieces.

Why so few quilts/fiber creations? My speculation is that many of the prize entrants are art students, and fiber may not be one of the mediums stressed in art school curricula.  A local university has excellent costume and fashion design programs, but those are generally not viewed as art. I know there are art quilters around Akron, yet they may not be part of the local art network.

Why didn’t I enter, you ask? Well, so do I, after viewing the entries. Maybe next year.



Filed under Commentary