Sunday, June 30, 2013

It Might Be a Really Long Summer...

Houston hit 107 degrees yesterday.  Thankfully, I live south of Houston in Friendswood, where it didn't get nearly as hot - only 104 degrees.  I shouldn't even joke about it...  early summer heat often portends a hot Gulf... which leads to hurricanes.  Eeek!  Those of us who have lived through season after season of storms pay close attention to the weather starting in September, but this year, we're already paying attention.

So let's look at quilts and relax for a while.  This month, I would show you what I've been working on, but it is such a bewildering array that you might think I've become deranged.  Who knows - maybe I have!  Actually, having agreed to do lectures and workshops, I've been swamped with getting everything organized and samples prepared...  which has taken much more time than I had realized it would.  Perhaps next month I'll show you a few of the things I've been working on... but in the meantime, I'll just show you some of the antique quilts that were on display in Houston several years ago.  They still thrill me, when I look at the photos!  Unfortunately, I have no information about these quilts, so you will have to be satisfied with my comments, alone. 
I love red and green quilts.  This one is really pretty -- notice the circle cut-outs in the leaves; that's an unusual treat and adds a special airiness to this quilt! 
Here's a close-up -- take a look at the birds eating the berries in the border.  I think that's a clever design motif.  And notice, too the different flower pots (or vases).  Aren't they strange?  Some are so tiny, some look upside-down, and some... they're just a surprise!

The quilt below has been published in various books and magazines - it's a lovely red and green quilt.  With plenty of half-square triangles in the blocks and two small half-square triangle borders, it must have been a piecing challenge - quilt makers of the 1800s didn't have all the wonderful tools that we do!

Here's a great Carolina Lily quilt - with an unusual secondary pattern formed by the leaves and the little pot the lilies sit in.  I am still in awe of those quilters who did all of this work... by HAND!

Log cabin quilts were often scrappy delights.  In this old quilt, there is a use of uncommon colors.

Here's a close-up.  I love how quilters used pairs of colors in log cabin blocks - it gives each block an interesting look.

I have always loved Princess Feather quilts -- this one is unusual, as the corner princess feather blocks have flowers in one quadrant.  Another unusual feature is the center star - I've not seen another princess feather quilt with a similar center in it.

The quilting on this princess feather quilt is exceptional, with what appears to be some 1/4-inch diagonal stitching, along with an assortment of quilted motifs.  Hand quilting such as seen in this quilt is not often found in today's quilts.

Here's a quilt where the quilt maker obviously loved orange.  Lots of orange!  Again, I have to remind myself:  quilts like this were done without all of the wonderful patterns, tools, and notions that are available in today's quilt shops.  Oh, my!

This lovely quilt has some nice trapunto in it.  But what I like more about it are the timid little rose buds in the border.  I also love the fact that despite all the wonderful work in this quilt... every single large flower is very imperfect.  Yet... it doesn't detract a bit from the overall look of the quilt.  We should be as forgiving in our own work, at times!

Here's another quilt with birds pecking away at fruit in the border... and a princess feather design with the alternate feathers replaced with flowers.  It's delightful!

Look at the cute little flowers in this quilt.  It's fun to look at the units in this quilt!  Did you notice that this quilter did not even attempt to have the borders on each side of the quilt connect up with each other - or end in a special way?  Nope - she just let them run off the edge of each side.  It makes me laugh to see it.

Take a closer look at the birds and the grapes.  Some of the grapes are obviously not quite ripe -- they're still green!  And each bird has an orange wing or top feather - that's a nice touch, too.

I have always wanted to make a cherry quilt.  I've had the red and green fabric for years, sitting on a shelf... waiting for the right moment...  Here's a great example of a cherry quilt -- with a unique border.

What is even more unique is that 1) the grapes in the outer border are red and green, and 2) each block is surrounded by tiny green piping, and 3) the applique on the sashing strips between the blocks mimics the vine in the outer border.

Here's another red and green quilt - with beloved eagles in it.  Take a look at the border flowers.  These vines are so intertwined... that they do not end!  They just connect up with the vines in the adjacent flower pot.  I love seeing things like this that don't necessarily make sense - it increases the "smile" factor in a quilt. 

Here's a close-up.  The stylized roses - and unique little 5-petal flowers floating like dandelions in the air - add a special touch to this designer's quilt.

Coxcombs are another favorite motif of mine.  It's not just that they are red and green, though that's great; for me, the combination of the coxcomb, the center poinsettia, and the windblown berries are all a visual dance to me.  The outer border on this quilt adds yet more interest.

Here's a close-up of part of the border.  This garden has run amuck!

And here's a close-up of one of the center blocks.  Notice the four little flower buds that grow out from the center flower - they look so funny to me!  It's always amazing how such a "formal" quilt can have so much folk art whimsy hidden away.

This lovely old quilt is simple... something that could easily be done by a group, which each person contributing a single block.  My guild bees often take on a project like this to put in our annual guild auction.

Here's a quilt with a bit more complexity in it.  It's nice how the quilt maker added applique to a wonderful pieced block.

And take a look at the wonderful applique border!

Now here is a REALLY complex pieced quilt!  Even though it's wild and crazy, I love the combinations of Lemoyne Stars and the lone stars.  The fabric choices are unbelievable -- what was she thinking?  But, somehow, this craziness works!

The quilt below offers a more refined view of piecing and applique... mostly applique, though.  It's a much older quilt than the ones above.  I wonder what the original colors were before age took its toll.

There are some crazy baskets and other motifs in this quilt.  Take a look, below.  I bet the quilt maker had a barrel of fun, making these!

Here are some more baskets, hearts, Lemoyne stars, and hexagons - along with a little whirligig and a butterfly.  Such fun!

Here is another princess feather quilt - we don't often see pink and navy princess feathers.  Notice the orange flower in the center of each side border.  What was in her mind when the quilt maker chose that color?

This is yet another princess feather - it's pretty primitive and chunky.  That's what makes it so appealing to me...

The blocks rather remind me of an octopus!

This quilt would be quite a challenge for any of us to make today.  My guess is that it was made in the 1800s - and pieced by hand.  The vibrant color choices make this quilt a winner in my book.

The quilt below is a favorite of mine.  I bought it a few years ago because I was (and still am) in love with cheddar.  I fully intend to make this quilt with today's fabric; I've spent 3 years trying to decide if it would lose its beauty if I paper-pieced the Lemoyne stars... or if I need to sew them by hand.  Hmmm...  I think I'll think about it for another year or two before I decide...


That's all I have this month - just a stack of eye candy for everyone.  Be patient; soon enough I'll show you what has been on my plate. 

Happy stitching, everyone!  Let's hope for a cool summer with an occasional dusting of rain for the flowers.

(c)2013 Susan H. Garman


  1. Hi Sue, I wait all month to see what you've been working on or have come up with for us to drool over.
    These antique quilts are fabulous. I do a lot by hand, but nothing as intricate as these, they are outstanding. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. My mother-in-law who lived on Galveston Island started tracking hurricanes June 1. Out would come the magnetic map of the gulf, gulf states and east coast... each hurricane was tracked with different colored magnets.

  3. I often wonder if these intricate applique quilts were the sanity projects of their makers. Imagine how tough life must have been in those days, sheer day to day drudgery. I know that not all women had it hard, but it is a thought. I know when life deals me lemons I feel the cares draining away with each tiny stitch on my applique.

    It's winter here in New Zealand so it's hard to imagine that heat right now.

  4. These quilts are all so amazing - thanks for the show! So inspiring!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful quilts! I looked over them all several times each, they all have some special little something. Thanks again!

  6. Just a thought on the odd shaped baskets in the first quilt. Do you think they could be the shapes left over from cutting out the leaves. They look vaguely like they fit each other and it would be a great use of the wastage. Fabulous show and tell . I so look forward to seeing your new post. Many thanks.

  7. Wonderful quilt show! Thank you for sharing these special pieces with us!
    I too just love those old Red & Green quilts.
    Looking forward to seeing what you are working on!

  8. Thank you so much - again. This is so energizing, sseing all those magnificent quilts. In Belgium we finally have our first day of summer.

  9. have enjoyed the quilts, thank you for sharing

  10. Thank you for sharing these beautiful quilts