Monday, September 2, 2013

September Update....

This past month has been a busy one -- family matters took precedence over everything, as well as projects with deadlines and starting up an online business, Come Quilt.  I have barely had time to put a needle in my hand -- or to pick up a pencil and draw out one of many designs that are in my head or sketched out and ready to develop into new patterns.  I miss quilting!  I still got my fair share, though.  This month I'll show you a potpourri of things I've done and will be doing.  Hang on!
First of all, below is my guild's 2014 raffle quilt, "First Love."  I designed the blocks and the setting, various guild members appliqued the twirly ball blocks, and my friend Jerrianne and I assembled the quilt top before handing it over to Cynthia C for quilting.  She is one of the top longarm quilters I know -- below you'll see some of the quilting she did on this beauty.
Take a look at the quilting in the blocks:  quarter-inch cross-hatching!  The setting triangles have 1/2-inch cross hatching.  Lots of longarm quilters avoid cross-hatching because it is hard to keep it straight and even and involves lots of stops and starts - but Cynthia is not afraid of cross-hatching.

In the outer border, Cynthia put in triple bead-board quilting.  It is a nice visual accent for this quilt.

One of the things my guild does is to make a small wall-hanging that they give to whomever sells the most raffle tickets.  I made this quilt for the winner -- the wall-hanging is always a small quilt (32 inches square in this case) that echoes the theme or blocks in the raffle quilt.  I like quilting and I like cross-hatching, but I didn't do Cynthia's quarter-inch cross-hatching!

At the same time, I made another small quilt using red and white twirly ball blocks.  This quilt will be used in a workshop that I'm teaching in Athens later this year.  Athens, Texas -- not Greece, darn it!  But I know the workshop will be great because I love being with other quilters.  I'm actually doing back-to-back quilts in this workshop.  On the first day (Thursday), I'll be teaching feathered star making... and on the second day, I'll be teaching the twirly balls... and doing a lecture in the evening.  This is fun stuff for me!

You might think by now that I should be sick to death of twirly balls.  If they were difficult, I might be... but they are easy, relaxing blocks to work on.  So here is yet another twirly ball quilt.  This one is a little wall-hanging that is going to be auctioned off at the International Quilters Association (IQA) Quilt Show in Houston this coming October.  If you want a "Sue Garman quilt," this could be your chance!  The IQA has silent auction bidding on quilts throughout the show.  This quilt is 24 inches square.

Here's a detail view of the quilting I did on this quilt.


The one quilt that I've really wanted to get done this past month was my 1930s style alphabet quilt.  Here was my inspiration -- an antique quilt that I saw at last year's Houston quilt show.  It's simple, sweet, and a delight.

I managed to finish all of the applique and embroidery, and pushed myself to find time to assemble the quilt.  Here are two of the blocks in my quilt:

And here is the quilt, on my longarm... ready for me to start quilting it.  I haven't decided how I'm going to quilt it yet, but I think, for sure, that the background of each block will be cross-hatched.  The nice thing about cross-hatching is that it is never a distraction in a quilt.  A quilt like this is too simple for distractions and busy quilting.  I'm going to be happy when I find the time to work on this quilt!

In the meantime... I have walked around my house and realized how many quilts I have that are waiting for me to finish them.  I'm not talking about block sets, I'm talking about quilt tops that are ready to be quilted.  I just need to set aside the time...  here is an antique double wedding ring quilt that I started hand quilting a few years ago.  It is still in the frame... and I probably only have about five more rings to be quilted.  I should move this up on the priority list.  It is soooo close to being finished.


 Here's a close-up of the quilt -- just so I can point out that part of its beauty (for me) is that it has pieces of cheddar-colored fabric here and there.  I love how cheddar fabrics bring a bright, happy touch to a quilt.

Here is another in-process quilt -- it's a combination of an oak leaf reel with cherries and a New York Beauty quilt.  I love this combination -- and have waited far too long to finish the quilt.  It's on my pole frame... I'm hand quilting it, which means there is a LOT of quilting to be done since I stitch in the ditch around every single piece in this quilt.  There's much to be done here!

Okay, so those quilts are half-started... and here is a rack full of quilt tops that holler at me all the time:  quilt me!  quilt me!  And I will.... some day....  Nearly all of these quilts are antique quilt tops. 


There are more quilt tops - and tons of blocks waiting to be assembled into quilt tops - in my house... and each will find their time to be worked on.  But first, here is part of what has really been keeping me hopping.  I'm teaching a week-long set of workshops in Tampa, Florida, next month.  I've been doing all the workshop preparations for the past two weeks, and probably have another week of preparations to be done.  The guild where I've been invited to teach and talk loves applique - so I'll be doing a Baltimore album block with lots of different special techniques in it...
And everyone will get a good start on a block that should look like this (or each person's version of this!):

 We'll also be working on this block...

And this block....

And that block can be made into a 4-block quilt if anyone wants to take it a step further.  All of these blocks are 15-inch squares (finished size).

Another project that I've spent quite a bit of time on is a set of blocks for a new Baltimore album quilt.  These blocks will be shown to the Baltimore on the Prairie classes meeting on the Platte River this month... and sign-ups will begin for next year's session, where I've been honored to be invited to teach!  Check out their website ( ) in the next couple of weeks and you'll see what's planned for their 2014 line-up of quilt projects and instructors.  Tresa Jones is their administrator and she does an amazing and wonderful job of organizing this set of classes, teachers, and students.  So here is what I'll be teaching in 2014:

And I'm going to offer it as on on-point block (above) as well as a straight-set block (below).

Here's another on-point block that I've designed for this quilt:

And here is the same block (sort of) as a straight-set block, below.  I guess I must be a glutton for punishment, doing two Baltimore album quilts at the same time, and having to design similar but different blocks for each.  I already know exactly how I want to sash the blocks, which is what is driving me to get the blocks done -- but I'm keeping it a secret for now!

After the first of the year, I'll be teaching at the Applique Away on Galveston Bay retreat on Galveston Island (info can be found at  I'll be teaching an eagle block (not the one above) as well as a solid workshop on basic applique skills with a papercut-applique block that can be made into the quilt below; there are a lot of skill-building techniques involved in making these blocks, so this is not just for a basic beginner's workshop.

Here's a close-up of the quilt, so that you can see the hand-quilting in it.

I hope you all don't think that I'm just hawking my workshops (oops - I guess I am, though...); as always, I really just like sharing the projects that I've been working on lately.  Now, though, I want to share a new project that I haven't started but that I really want to work on!  Those who have spent time with me know that I love applique... but I also really love intricately pieced quilts.  My friend Georgann sent me this picture from Judy Murrah's blog...

When I went to drop off my two quilts at the IQA offices for the Houston quilt show this year, I saw the same quilt as the one in the above picture, hanging in the office hallway:

Oh my gosh -- I'm in love, love, love!!!  This quilt reminds me of the woven blankets of earlier eras... probably because of the design and the indigo and white coloration.  But what makes this quilt ultra-special to me is the quilting in it.  Take a look...

Doesn't it just make you drool?  But now take another look and you'll see how tiny the pieces are... and the quilting... and the trapunto... oh my!  When can I start on it?!!!

The border, in particular, was just stunning.

And speaking of stunning... here is Fern H's "Ancient Stars" quilt.  She sent me a photo of this quilt, made from one of my patterns.  She said it took the better part of six months to make this quilt, which she made for one of her daughters.  It was voted best of show at her guild's annual show.  Hurrah for a beautiful rendition of "Ancient Stars!"  I love when quilters send me photos of their quilts; it inspires me to keep on designing!  (and just so you know, I won't ever publish your photos unless you give me permission, and I won't ever say your full name just because I'm a security freak -- unless you tell me it's okay or unless it's already "public information" such as when your name is published on a sign at a quilt show).  Fern made her quilt version queen-sized -- she did a wonderful job in choosing her colors and fabrics, too.

And now for some quilts from the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston's quilt show!  I was invited by the guild to be one of two judges (thank you, Barbara J and Barbara C and committee, for being such kind and gracious hosts!) -- and I love judging quilt shows!  This month's blog is already long, so I'll only show a few quilts this month and show more in another blog write-up in the future.

First of all, here is a grand quilt, "A Few of My Favorite Things," made by members of the Quilt Guild of Greater Houston.  The patterns for this quilt were all designed and kitted by Mona Follis -- and the finished quilt top was quilted by Linda Bieswanger.  It was a fun quilt to "study" and look at because there were so many really creative and heart-warming ideas incorporated into the blocks. 

Here are some close-ups of the blocks in that quilt.  They are all so delightful!





Aren't all those blocks just wonderful?  They are such fresh and unique designs!

The quilt below was the result of a round robin with Lori Barnes, Cindy Witt, Margie Lawrence, Renee Odem, Debbie Salinas, and Elizabeth Hurst -- with Debbie Salinas quilting it.  I love round robins; they force me to work with colors, motifs, and styles that I might not ordinarily choose.  They force me to be creative!  Can you imagine what you might have added if you had been part of this round robin?

One of the cool things about this quilt was the center block... some of the leaves in it were three-dimensional - adding to the uniqueness of the quilt.

This quilt, Chocolate Cherries, was made by a bee and was auctioned off at the guild's show; they have a live auction of quite a few quilts, which is very exciting!  Even though this is a simple quilt, I loved the color, the simplicity, the technical merit, and the quilting in it... so I chose it as my "Judge's Choice" quilt.  Not every quilt has to be a complex, intricate quilt to be appreciated and loved!

This quilt was called "A Garden in Red and White."  I don't have any other information about the quilt, unfortunately.  It caught my eye because of the beautiful applique combined with a great set of pieced blocks.  Sometimes we forget how well we can combine these two types of quilt styles.  The soft, gentle lines of the applique are a nice counter-balance to the sharp lines of the geometric shapes.

This quilt, "Blooming Baskets," is another where I don't have the details about who made it or quilted it.  I liked it a lot because the scrappy baskets were cheery, and the variation in the flowers in the different baskets was sweet.
Here is a close-up of that quilt.  I like the bird -- it's one of only two birds in the quilt!

This gorgeous beauty (below) was given the Best of Show award.  Debbie McHolick, its maker, purchased some hand-pieced antique blocks while visiting Indiana and used them to make "Indiana Transplant Treasure."  Per Debbie, "the thirty-five blocks sparkle on a rich brown (soil) background" with each "surrounded with blue (sky) and white (snow) to help them keep their cool in the hot and humid Texas."  The photos does not do this quilt justice -- it was a show-stopper; when your eyes lit on it, you just stopped and stared.  The brown fabric was so rich and the quilting was unbelievable.

The quilting was done by Mary Jo Yackley and was exceptional, adding to the quilt's overall beauty.  I also want to point out something on this quilt.  Do you see how, in the second and fourth blocks down, there are THREE little white squares on point on the left side of the block?  And two on the other blocks?  Debbie extended the "march" of squares out across the brown floater strip... by appliqueing these extra little squares in place!  That's just a genius idea in my book -- I certainly never would have thought of doing that.  Good work, Debbie!

Even the back of the quilt was beautiful....

This next quilt, "Morning Has Broken," has an interesting story connected to it.  Suzanna Foote began the quilt in a class on adding borders.  Suzanna said the quilt started out looking very dull.  She added more color and appliqued the sun motifs to the quilt...

And I found it simply amazing that she could just applique (!) these motifs onto the center of the quilt, making them look as if they were pieced in place.  That's a real trick!  Suzanna says the quilt "came into its own" with the addition of the color and sun motifs.  Yes, it did!

"Red Pots/Red Flowers" was made and quilted by Carolyn Hurst based on Jeana Kimball's thumbnail sketches in "Red and Green."  Carolyn made the pieced squares in a guild workshop; the redwork was inspired by a quilt with Baltimore Album style applique blocks done in redwork.  I find the outer border and its little red floater, all surrounding the blocks and the redwork, to be a great way to frame this quilt and focus your eye on the unique blocks. 

Here is a close-up of this quilt.  She used variegated red thread to do her redwork stitching.

What Texan can resist a good old-fashioned Texas quilt?  In "Texas Charm" (30 by 30 inches), Pam Heine found a place for a whole lot of Texas and western-themed fabrics and embellishments.  She made this quilt in a class taught by Catherine at Quiltworks.

I wish you could see all the detail that Pam put into this quilt.  Look at the "barbed wire" she used as an accent along the inside of the outer border.

And what Texan doesn't have a silver belt buckle? 

Part of what was so amazing about this quilt was that Pam put fabrics in designated spots that matched the geography or business interests of the area.  For example, she's got an oil well square in the Panhandle of Texas.  And an astronaut where Houston is located.  And an Alamo where San Antonio is located.  Is this fun or what?!!

Here is a close-up of more fabric in the quilt:

This next quilt, "Winter in the Garden," was made by Marsha Hennigan, based on on the Winter in the Garden pattern by Sheila Wintle.  Marsha found this pattern while touring the New England Quilt Museum; she loved the combination of colors and the opportunity to use back-basting applique.  Marsha, who used to be a member of the guild I belong to before she moved across town, did a great job on this quilt.

Last month I showed you this quilt by Jean C -- based on an antique quilt.  I was cleaning up my photos and found a picture on my computer of the original antique quilt.  Jean put tiny piping between all the blocks...

...which the original quiltmaker did, also.  But take a look at the difference between Jean's quilt and the original quilt.  I always find it interesting to see how quilters add their own unique touches to a quilt.  Here's the original quilt, shown to one of the guild's bees a couple years ago.  What a difference!

So now... where am I with my new online business (which, when it's "live" will be at )?  I wish I could say that it was up and running, but it isn't yet.  It is taking me much longer than I thought it would to get everything ready -- but I hope that the wait will be worth it.  I am "cleansing" all of my patterns by improving the quality of the photos, updating some of the text, and removing all references to another company.  I am filling all orders that come in, even though the website is not up and running yet, so feel free to send me an email if you need anything -- to suegarman (at) Comcast (dot) net -- I have to spell it out to prevent email-address harvesting programs from picking up my email address here and deluging me with spam).  Hopefully my website will be up and running in the next few weeks.  What I have found, though, is that there are a bunch of "forgotten" patterns that were not being made available -- like this one; it's one of my old favorites -- and has gotten a face-lift with a better cover photo and better instructions:

So... hang in there with me.  I'll keep posting on or about the first of the month (I just looked at my watch and I missed posting on the first of September by about an hour, darn it... but a neighborhood event this evening stole a couple hours out of my work time today.  I'll be back in October with more pictures, more information, and hopefully more inspiration.  Until then...

Happy quilting!
(c)2013 Susan H. Garman


  1. I feel as though I've been to a great quilt show after reading this blog post. Love your work and someday hope to take a class from you. I live in Texas so this may be possible soon.

  2. I always look forward to your monthly posts, Sue! Wonderful quilts and inspiration abound. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it all.
    Warmest greetings, Jeanne

  3. Thanks for another great post and such wonderful commentary. I will never be such an accomplished and prolific quilter, but I can dream, right? :-)

  4. What a great way to start this new month! Look forward to your photo packed quilt show/blog each month. And long to take a class with you--hoping for next year!

  5. What a great post! Full of inspiration! And can I just tell you that I love that basket with the feathers coming out of it in the corner of your twirly ball wall hanging! Sweet idea for a feather border! :o)

  6. Thank you for all the work you put into your post for us to enjoy. Your quilts are amazing, I enjoy them so much! The quilting that you do is perfect and amazing. Thanks again!

  7. Wow - what a great post! So many beautiful quilts and so many ideas. It was like reading a magazine. I will need to go back and read some parts again. And I have all your other posts to read too! Heaven.

  8. I, too, am anxious to take a class from you. In fact, I've already signed up for a class at Baltimore on the Prairie 2014!

  9. Oooo! I just loved seeing your different quilts around the house and in the closet - a woman I can truly relate to. :) Good luck with your only company finishes.

  10. Looking forward to the forgotten patterns, maybe it can be a section of your website. An opportunity to get some of your older patterns would be great. Love your monthly posts!!