An Iowa Quilt

When we saw the Sum of Many Parts exhibit last January, we also saw the Iowa Sesquicentennial Quilt on display at the State Historical Society. I don’t believe I’d ever seen it before. The log cabin border is stunning, and the quilting is great:

ISQuiltFullIowa became a state in 1846, the Sesquicentennial (150 years) was celebrated in 1996. Each of the 99 counties submitted a block in the shape and scale of their county. Some are embroidered, some appliqued, some just drawn or inked on:

ISQuiltDetail1Polk County is where Des Moines is located (orange block with star on it) and we have a beautiful state capitol building which is in the center of the block. Madison County is famous for its covered bridges

ISQuiltDetail2The one with the John Deere logo is where I grew up, Black Hawk County, home of John Deere Tractor Works and the University of Northern Iowa and named for Sauk war chief Black Hawk.

ISQuiltDetail3This little quilted heart on the Iowa County block is very small, but it really stands out. The hand embroidered sites in the Keokuk County block impressed me as well:

ISQuiltDetail4The background quilting is full a different motifs, corn stalks, stars, banners, eagles, wild roses (our state flower), a goldfinch (the state bird)…

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ISQuiltDetail7I was glad we got to see this, I’m not sure if it is on a semi-permanent display or not. But Frank and I both enjoyed looking it over for little details and surprises.

Happy Birthday to my big brother, Steve, today!

Doris

 

Sum of Many Parts

I mentioned in this post, that Frank and I were headed to see a quilt exhibit when he took that photo of me on our front steps. It was an exhibit on display at the Iowa State Historical Society briefly last winter.

This exhibit traveled to six cities in China between Sept. 2012 and Sept. 2013 as a showcase of American textile traditions created by 25 American quilters. Des Moines, Iowa was its first stop in the United States. And, though my photos were taken in January 2014, the exhibit is still traveling and as a matter of fact, opens today at the The Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, MO. QuiltsatEntryThe three quilts shown above are by Alicia Avila, Edna Patterson-Petty and the one on the bottom right is by Caryl Bryer Fallert.

This Star Quilt by Patricia Renault Stuen (a Chippewa) is made in the tradition of Plains Indians; stars are favored by the Indians in part because the design reflects their beliefs associated with the solar system.StuenQuilt

Louisiana Bendolph is a member of the Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective and a native of Alabama. Her quilt, Housetop Variation, was pieced by her, and then, as is their tradition, women from the collective work together to hand quilt the piece:BendolphQuilt

Patricia Cox’s Floral Fantasy is hand-appliqued and hand-quilted in the Baltimore Album style. Patricia lives in Minnesota.

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Hawaiian quilts–so totally unique and steeped in tradition! Each of Patricia Lei Murray’s quilts tells a story about her family or community heritage. Ku’u Kanae I ka La’l o ka Malu is dedicated to her father.

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This is Rise & Shine, Inner City by Martha Ginn from Mississippi:GinnQuiltShe made the Y-units and then laid them out in gradating colors to piece them together.

I was entranced by these next few quilts. Tomboy Bride by Betty J. Collins of Tennessee is a piecing masterpiece! It is hand-pieced and hand-quilted using more than 120 different fabrics. This is a traditional block pattern that would have decorated a wedding quilt.CollinsQuilt1

The Red One, My Charm Quilt by Beth Donaldson, sang to me. I love a good red quilt and what a great hexagon layout:

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This is Subtle Sixties by Linda Roy, hard to photograph as it was in a dark corner, but the detail on this quilt is astonishing. There is couching, ruched flowers, yo-yos, reverse-applique, metallic thread art, teeny-weeny quilting stitches… you name it. All expertly executed.AppliqueQuilt1

AppliqueQuilt2If you get a chance to see this in St Charles, MO this Spring or Summer… or next up, Winter Park, FL, don’t miss out. These quilts are amazing and the narrative of the exhibit is so well executed.

Just as I finished writing this post, I discovered there is a Flickr Gallery of all of the quilts–better pics than some of mine and the quilts I missed snapping a photo of are included there.

 

National Quilting Day

Yes, there is one, it was yesterday… and it’s no joke. Quilting isn’t just your grandma’s past-time anymore… Today, quilting is a $3.58 billion industry in the United States with 21.3 million quilters, nationwide. 14% of U.S. households are home to at least one active quilter.

The internet has contributed to the explosion of this industry, through on-line shopping, but also by connecting quilters from all areas of the globe. I have quilting friends in India, the U.K., Australia, mainland Europe & Asia. I’ve met some in person, many I’ve gotten to know through my blog (as well as their’s) and through email and social media. I know my family, friends and co-workers think I’m nuts when I get excited for a weekend that I plan to spend quilting. They just. don’t. get. it. But these quilt retreat weekends have been some of the best weekends of my life.

MaryDorisCindyIn the summer of 2010, I took a giant leap of faith (for an introverted homebody like myself, anyway) and met up with a dozen quilt bloggers from all over the United States, at Grubers Retreat Center in St. Cloud, MN.  We hit it off, and had so much fun, we made the weekend an annual event! Every July, we trek to Minnesota from Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Florida and California for a weekend with fellow quilters that became instant friends five years ago. It’s a shame we don’t all live in the same neighborhood.

Group1This is the group that gave me this quilt last year at our retreat. We keep extending a little more time to the weekend each year, because three days together is just not enough.  In July 2014, we were missing Shelly from Missouri and Michelle from Georgia. However, Michelle paid us a visit via FaceTime and her sister’s iPad:

FaceTimeMichelleWe have a lot of fun chatting, laughing, eating good food, drinking (occasionally), sharing, learning from one another… it’s sort of like a slumber party for grown-ups. We even manage to get some sewing done:

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Cindy worked with these gorgeous shot cottons and she made a Sew Together Bag along with Stephanie and Terri.CollageTerri

Terri sewed with beautiful Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent fabrics all weekend–stunning! She also brought me a box of Sandi Henderson fabrics that I need to get around to playing with one of these days! CollageStephanie

Stephanie was working on a Tula Pink quilt kit that turned out wonderfully. She also brought her quilt from last year back for show-n-tell (bottom right pic). These are the Sew Together Bags that Cindy, Terri and Stephanie completed over the weekend:

CollageSewTogetherBagsCollageAmandaAmanda was playing with a new fabric line (which I cannot recall the name of!) and of course, her giant scrap basket she brings along each year!

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I worked a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new book, and I have to admit it hasn’t made much progress since that July weekend. The fabric collection is Vintage Summer for Blend Fabrics (something I saw at Quilt Market in KC and could not pass up!!!)CollageToniToni (who never really took to blogging) finished up a top she had worked on the year before, such bright and cheerful colors!

CollageRene

Rene worked on piecing her Quilting Bee blocks together–a fabulous quilt! (I love the contradiction of technology at Rene’s workstation!) ;-)CollageMaryMary always produces like crazy at these retreats–she finished the Plus quilt top, and made a pretty good dent in the Heather Ross apple core quilt. (it’s the backdrop in our group photo above). The beautiful Marcelle Medallion (top left) is what she brought for show-n-tell.

We also have a tradition of exchanging “happies” at these retreats, just a little something for no reason but to make someone happy.

2014HappiesCollageTerri gave us each notecards with her own graphic design on them, Cindy made us giant pincushions with storage pockets, Mary made us patchwork bags and homemade caramels (yum!), Toni and I gave everyone a matching towel/potholder set, Rene made us journals and we all got a flamingo FQ from her, Amanda’s happy included a spool of Aurifil and the adorable little “happy” flags, and Stephanie gave us each a mini duffle–adorable.

Each year we talk about how a long weekend isn’t long enough, and we need to have a winter retreat, too. Maybe one year we will get that organized… but this year, three of us had a mini-retreat, meeting in Brunswick, MO (home of the giant Pecan) in early December:

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That would be Shelly and Stephanie showing some love to the pecan.PecanMarker

This was the weekend I finished piecing the quilt tops I started in October. We sewed and stayed in the Sew Sweet Quit Shop Retreat Center (which I HIGHLY recommend). Stephanie and I also had the pleasure of attending the Pecan Valley Quilt Guild holiday party with Shelly–they are such a fun group, we had a great time. StephDorisShellyI very much enjoyed getting to see some of these friends in between July retreats! There is always the possibility of a winter retreat in California or Florida, too. ;-)

Keeping my fingers crossed that this July all TEN of us will be able to be together again! Counting down the days…

Happy sewing,

Doris

 

Wrapped in Love (Part III)

In July, I received a second comfort quilt. This one came from my Grubers Retreat friends, at our 5th annual July retreat. Though they live in eight different states, they each made two blocks from the same pattern, sent them to Michigan (I think) for Stephanie to piece the back and front of the quilt, then sending it off to Missouri for Shelly to quilt it, and back to Minnesota for Amanda bind it–all in a matter of a few short months. GrubersQuiltFull

It’s wonderful–they know my tastes so well, many of my favorite fabrics and favorite designers in there (including a Ghastlies block!) as well as some blocks that represent them and their fabric faves! It was fun trying to guess who made each block (but not that easy!):

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The back has a signature block from each of them, such a sweet touch…

GrubersBack1Of course, we had to haul it outdoors for a photo shoot (it helps to have two willing quilt holders!) GrubersQuiltFullPeekingI slept under this quilt at the retreat center, as I have many nights since then. Here it is on the bed at the Grubers Retreat Center (I can hardly wait to spend another weekend there this July with this crew–counting the days…):

OnGrubersBed OnGrubersBed2

Wrapped in Love (Part II)

When one goes through difficult and dark times, you find out who your friends really are. I found out, in the midst of being lost and alone (with my spouse no longer at my side), that I have MANY truly wonderful, compassionate friends. I’ve received bouquets of flowers throughout the year (some for days my friends knew would be tough for me to face without Frank, some arrived at random as a “just thinking of you” reminder). Surprise gifts have come in the mail, and just last week, I received a “thinking of you” card in the mail with a wonderful hand written letter. Friends have invited me to join them for road trips, sewing days, dinner at their home or dinner out…

At Christmas, a woman who works in my building, who was suddenly widowed herself at a young age, gave me a card and gift card — to treat myself, because as she put it “everyone checks in on you those first weeks following the death, but I know from experience after a few months it seems like everyone has forgotten; when you can never forget.” What a sweet gesture, to remind me that just because no one asked me how I was doing anymore, did not mean they didn’t continue to think of and pray for me. I’ve been reminded in countless ways that I am greatly blessed and surrounded by caring, loving friends.

My Des Moines MQG friends started making a quilt for Frank as soon as he was diagnosed last year. In addition, they dropped off a gift card for me each week to use at a healthy grocery store/restaurant near the hospital. When he passed away two weeks later, they decided to finish the quilt anyway, and give it to me. I finally attended a meeting again in June, when they presented it to me:photo

How he would have loved this quilt! Frank played the banjo, guitar, and mandolin and was as interested in music as I am fabric. He knew very little about quilts when we started dating, and I remember us visiting a small neighboring town, and they happened to have a mini quilt show on display in the Public Library. He asked a lot of questions, about what makes a quilt a quilt, the layers, the process, block names. He even read some of my quilting books over the years, learned to identify certain traditional blocks (so he could impress my friends by knowing the lingo), and enjoyed visiting quilt shops with me just to see “how one differed from the next”. The fact that this quilt combines his hobby and my hobby–he would have been over the moon for it!

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Twelve different members contributed banjo and guitar blocks on light backgrounds, one member pieced the blocks together, another member pieced the back (using some musical quotes and sheet music fabric:

QuiltBackQuiltBackLabelthen they passed it along to another member who quilted it (using echoing lines to give it the feel of the music reverberating). There is a label on the back with all of their names.

I love the details in some of these instruments:BanjoCollage1The inside of that red banjo (above) says “hope” the brown and blue banjo (top right) says “pure grace” on the bridge (at the bottom of the strings). The guitar below has tiny musical notes inside the sound hole:GuitarBanjoCollage3

GuitarCollage1It’s a shame Frank never got to see this quilt, he would have been so impressed and so touched. I am. I love it, it reminds me of him, and as I said, the fact that it combines our favorite hobbies makes it all the more special.   QuiltFrontBottomCenterThank you, again, for everything.

Wrapped Up in Love (Part I)

March 2014 was undoubtedly the worst month of my life, and the twelve months since were indeed the hardest year I’ve ever endured. Grief is not for pansies. But, it wasn’t just me whose life changed forever last March 15th; my sweetie has two beautiful daughters in their mid-twenties who lost their awesome Dad way too soon. He also has a now 2-year-old granddaughter who won’t have a memory of the grandpa that was so enamored with her. And his brother lost his only sibling. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t given thought to the loss they all feel as well.

I knew I wanted to make something for his daughters as a special memory of their Dad–using his clothes, the signature jeans and t-shirts he lived in. I’m not a fan of traditional t-shirt quilts, and the carpenter jeans Frank wore to work every day were so a part of his persona, I really wanted to incorporate the denim as well. I found this inspiration quilt — and at a retreat in October, I started making a quilt for each daughter with the idea of finishing them for Christmas.

I finished most of the top for his youngest that weekend:

EliceTop1It includes pieces of t-shirts from places they toured together, a camp they shared memories of, from her college, there’s even a hammer loop from one of his pairs of carpenter jeans (both quilts have pockets from carpenter jeans, button plackets from his shirts, t-shirt collars, etc.):

EliceQuilt1There is some Minnesota fabric in each quilt (the home state of Frank and his daughters), and of course, plaid flannel, another staple of his wardrobe:

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EliceQuilt3The label on each quilt (on the front bottom right) is a banjo–an instrument he taught himself to play over the past few years.

LabelI finished the second quilt top on a sewing weekend in early December:

LacyTop1His oldest was on the first Des Moines based roller derby team, so his Derby Dames t-shirt went into her quilt, as well as a few others that I knew would be meaningful to her:

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LacyQuilting2I used some Chambray in both quilts for the look of denim without making the quilt too heavy:

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LacyQuilt1The quilting is an overall pattern of music notes and meandering. The backing is Navy minky, because I wanted these quilts to be something they could snuggle up in; a comfort quilt. Trina helped me get these quilted in the last few days before Christmas.

BackingQuilting

Here is a full shot of both quilts, photos I took before gifting them and then lost when I got a new phone a few days later. This collage was the only photo that survived because I had posted it to Facebook. Oops. Thankfully the girls each emailed me a few photos of their finished quilts so I could show them here. Collage3

Frank would have thought these quilts were so cool, as he would the quilt I’m planning to show you in my next post, it makes me smile to imagine what his reaction would’ve been. I hope they bring a little bit of that same comfort to his girls.