Friday, September 30, 2011

Diablo Valley Quilt Show

There's nothing more fun than a local quilt festival and the chance to see some real home-grown talent right in your own neighborhood ! On Sunday, September 25, we visited a wonderful show put on by the Diablo Valley Quilters, based about 25 miles east of San Francisco, California.

Expanding Star, 79 x 77",  by Judy Mathieson at Judy's Place

Judy Mathieson creates magnificent half-wheel designs from her precise paper-piecing techniques. This kind of piecing requires a high contrast between the foreground and the background, so that the viewers eye can take in the pointed symmetry of the diamonds and triangles. Judy says that this design was inspired by an ornamental gate that she saw at the San Francisco Legion of Honor in 2005. 

Cosmati Star, 79 x 77", by Judy Mathieson at Judy's Place

The term "Cosmati" refers to 13th century mosaic designs by a family of Italian craftsmen who had a distinctive artistic style.  Judy drew her inspiration from marble and wood floors with the beautiful stars and fan design shown on the inner border of this quilt.

Scrappy Happy Houses, artist unknown

This quilt show included a "challenge" contest to see who could make the most interesting quilt with the theme of little houses.  The artists' names were intentionally left off each quilt, so that the quilt could be anonymous.  Guests at the show were then given a ballot and asked to vote for their favorite  "Scrappy Houses" quilt.  Because we saw so many really cute quilts, it was difficult to make up our minds.  Here's one of our favorites: a Christmas sugarplum village, all ready for the holidays.

Scrappy Happy Houses, artist unknown

Here's a quilter who's very talented at working with miniatures, including incredibly small pieces of cloth. Look carefully, and you will see the tiny people in the windows. We love the dazzling periwinkle or blue violet Bali batiks that she used for the sky.

Scrappy Happy Houses, artist unknown

A lively four patch border set en pointe complements this enchanting "Main Street" theme, whose blocks are all tied together with a white picket fence and a lamppost.

Scrappy Houses, close up

Look at the adorable details on this little house ! Click on the photo to expand it, and you will see the sign which reads, "We love quilts." 

Stack n' Whack Fans, 79 x 80", by Faith Andresen

Faith used a beautiful color combination of copper, terracotta reds, black, and camel beige to design this sophisticated and exotic quilt. She explains that she drew her inspiration from Bethany Reynolds' book, Stack-n-Whackier Quilts.

Flowers and Gears, 27 x 38", by Lynne Douglas

Lynne writes, "I took a class at the Empty Spools Seminars in Asilomar, California [to learn how to create this kaleidoscope pattern quilt] and I feel that parts of this resemble a flower, and the other parts resemble a gear." We really enjoyed the wild, frenetic energy generated by these quilt blocks. They seem about to jump right off the quilt and have no intention of becoming tame and placid anytime soon. 

Homage to Jane by Bonnie Sherr at Quilterbbs's blog

Bonnie writes,  "When I read Brenda Papadakis' book in 2003, I never thought I'd be able to complete all of the little squares and triangles.  My Dear Jane quilt group, led by Laura Frage (known affectionately as "Mama Jane")  encouraged me. Visiting the Bennington Museum to see the original quilt provided more inspiration." To learn more about the engrossing world of Dear Jane® quilting, which was inspired by Jane A. Blakely Stickle's 1863 quilt, please see our blog post, Crazy About Jane.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quilting in the Garden Quilt Show

Organized by renowned quilter and television personality Alex Anderson,  "Quilting in the Garden" is a yearly show that features nationally known quilters as well as local quilt guild members in Northern California. Join us on a sunny autumn Saturday as we visit the outdoor quilt show on September 24, 2011 at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, California.

In this inspiring setting,  the quilts wave happily in the breeze, suspended high above the ground from clotheslines hung between giant oak trees.

Dresden Plates, by Mary Walcher, Amador Valley Quilters

Mary Walcher brings a fun, fresh, approach to traditional Dresden Plate blocks. She has done an excellent job by designing a sampler quilt where the plates are arranged in a contemporary, original setting, like a bouquet of giant, colorful flowers.

Australian Wedding, by Lou Ann Smith at Lou Ann Smith Art

We loved this contemporary take on traditional log-cabin blocks, done in lavenders, grapes, golds, and cocoa browns.  Lou Ann Smith started out with solids, then added Kiwi prints and Aboriginal-inspired patterns to form the centers. An accomplished print-maker and ceramicist, Lou Ann shows a fabulous sense of color and composition. We really regret that the plants and shrubs in the way prevented us from moving in for a close-up of these blocks.

Faded Glory, by Verna Mosquera at The Vintage Spool

Here's an applique tribute to an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration, featuring bunting, balloons, skyrockets, flags, and an antique wagon and tricycle.  The lively, realistic figures provide an energetic contrast to the subdued, ice cream sherbet-colored pastels in this very eye-catching quilt. The beautiful detail can be seen in the close-up photo, below.

By concentrating the quilting on the background fabric and leaving the applique figures relatively untouched, Verna's creative applique figures really pop off the quilt. The "Faded Glory" pattern is available at The Vintage Spool.

Roseville by Sandra Mollon at Sandra Mollon Quilts

A prolific designer and teacher, Sandra Mollon became fascinated with Baltimore style appliqued quilts about twenty years ago, and has been winning awards for her fabulous hand applique work ever since.  What makes this quilt so entertaining is the diverse array of containers and flowers represented in the Roseville design by Maggie Walker.  This stunning heirloom hung in the trees about fifteen feet above our heads, waving back and forth in a strong breeze,  otherwise we would we have gladly provided some close-up shots for you !

Rose Cottage, by Verna Mosquera at The Vintage Spool

One of the Featured Guest Artists at Quilting in the Garden, Verna Mosquera has created an adorable cotton-candy cottage surrounded by a fanciful garden of flowers and trees. Notice how Verna ties together these charming elements by using the border fabric for the roof of this little fairy-tale home.

IBS Sampler, by Paulette Williams

We love basket sampler quilts, especially when they are updated in a modern medallion setting like the ones shown here.  This clean geometric lines of the baskets and inner borders are complemented by the high contrast ribbon border of navy and yellow.

IBS Sampler by Paulette Williams

A staff member at Livermore's local quilt shop, In Between Stitches, Paulette shows a keen eye for arrangement and composition of traditional Amish blocks done in Bali batiks.  Paulette has provided lots of neutral background space to the medium value Balis, so that each block pattern can be appreciated.  With its intricate patchwork and cool colors,  this quilt is both serene and intriguing.

A beautiful braided border of periwinkles, aquas, deep greens, and lavenders provide great visual interest and the perfect complementary balance to the neutral background of the body of this lovely quilt.

Scuba Time, by Rob Appell

A Featured Artist at this year's show, Rob Appell very kindly took some time to talk to us about his brilliantly colored quilt,  Scuba Time.  Michael Miller Fabrics commissioned Rob to create a landscape quilt with an undersea theme and designed fabrics specifically for this quilt. Based in Morro Bay, California,  Rob has incorporated his love for the ocean into many of his quilt designs; and his work has quickly become nationally and internationally known.  For further information about Rob's fascinating work, please see Quilt Inspiration's interview with Rob Appell here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Circle of Nine: an interview with Janet Houts

Hi everyone, this is Laura Grabow and I am thrilled to be a guest blogger today for Quilt Inspiration. Working in my local quilt store, The Sun Valley Fabric Granary in Sun Valley, Idaho, I have the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. This summer, I met Marina, one of the co-authors of Quilt Inspiration, and we soon became great friends. I mentioned to Marina that The Fabric Granary has a quilt designer who teaches and sews at the store, and that this designer just published a book with her sister called “Circle of Nine”. Well, Marina was intrigued, so the two of us sat down with this all-around wonderful lady named Janet Houts and talked to her about her background, her book, and what inspires her to quilt. Here is our interview.

Janet Houts, quilt designer and co-author of "Circle of Nine"

Q: Janet, tell us about your background and what brought you to quilting?

A: I grew up in a family of four girls and we all learned to sew at an early age. I also loved designing and drawing and as a girl spent hours drawing patterns in a graph paper book, little knowing that I was in reality designing patterns similar to quilt designs. After studying fine art in college, I worked for a while as a graphic artist in the technology industry. One fateful day while visiting my sister Jean Ann Wright, then editor of QUILT Magazine, Jean asked me to help her with a deadline and illustrate a quilt pattern. Being a graphic design artist, I thought that this would be fairly straightforward, but I soon realized as I worked on that pattern that I really needed to understand how the quilt was made to properly illustrate the quilt. As soon as I finished illustrating that quilt, I went out and bought fabrics and quilt instruction books and dived into the world of quilting. Needless to say, I was hooked from the start and knew this was to be my life’s work.

Jean Ann Wright and Janet Houts, co-authors

Q: What did you do next after learning to illustrate quilts?

A: Once I started illustrating quilt designs and understanding the techniques of quilting it was natural to progress to designing quilt patterns, and I then started to design quilt patterns for fabric companies to showcase fabrics from their collections. I currently design for Benartex Inc., Andover Fabrics, Hoffman California and Blank Quilting.

Q: What inspired you and your sister Jean to write your recent book, Circle of Nine ?

A: Jean retired from editing QUILT Magazine and began to work with me designing quilts for fabric lines. One day while working on a particularly difficult design we realized that by using a block setting, be it a Sawtooth Star or any other one of our favorite block designs, and then placing that block in a circle of nine blocks and finally connecting those blocks with spacers instead of sashings, an almost unlimited variety of quilts could be designed. In our book we have 24 patterns using this design method, but clearly many more options are available. In the back of the book, we show a variety of block designs to help quilters to choose blocks for their pattern.

CIRCLE OF NINE, available at

Q: What makes this book a must-have for quilters?

A: One of the reasons we were so pleased to be published by Landauer Corporation is that they believe in publishing books that teach people how to quilt. This means that with our book Circle of Nine we are able to teach people to be creative with fabrics and designs and be inspired to quilt rather than have to follow a specific pattern using a particular set of fabrics. Naturally, this creative process allows people to have fun and sew quilts using their own personal style and fabric preferences. That, in my opinion, is what quilting is all about. Also the Circle of Nine method is an incredible stash buster.

Q: What do you think is important when designing and choosing fabrics for a quilt?

A: Working with values, or the lights and darks of a fabric group, is essential to a good quilt design. By value I do not mean what the color of a particular fabric is, but rather whether the fabric 'reads' or looks light or dark. If you focus on values or the darks and lights of your fabrics, you can create contrast, and that makes your quilt visually exciting or “pop”. In our book we show examples of how values are used in our patterns, and this in turn helps our quilting readers to learn to create visually exciting quilts.

Q: What is your favorite pattern in the book?

A: My personal favorite is Midnight Moonlight (below). We used fabrics from Lonni Rossi, and the luminosity of her fabrics makes the quilt look as if it is shimmering.

Midnight Moonlight, 68 x 68", in Circle of Nine by Janet Houts and Jean Ann Wright

Q: Finally, what is next for Janet Houts and Jean Ann Wright?

A: We will continue to design quilts for fabric collections and we are hoping to publish another book with Landauer in the very near future.

From the editor: Many thanks to Janet Houts and Laura Grabow, and to Rebecca Mitchell, owner of the Sun Valley Fabric Granary. If you are in Sun Valley, Idaho, be sure to visit The Fabric Granary at 122 S Main Street, Hailey Idaho (telephone 208-788-1331).  Circle of Nine is a new and totally ingenious approach to setting blocks !  For more examples, see the Circle of Nine Quilts website. Also see Janet Houts' website at Mercury Studios, and Jean Ann Wright's website at Jean Ann Quilts. They will be teaching a full day workshop on the Circle of Nine method at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Houston, November 3-6, 2011.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free Pattern Day ! Autumn Leaves

For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, autumn is on the way. We've collected 25 free patterns for leafy quilts and for the warm colors of fall.  (Note: Patterns were updated on August 7, 2015.)

Falling Leaves quilt, 56 x 68", free pattern by Stephanie Sheridan for Windham Fabrics

Maple Stars quilt, 52 x 52", free pattern by Diane Nagle for RJR Fabrics

Tumbling Leaves wall quilt by Gail Abeloe for All People Quilt

Treeline Drive quilt - Autumn colorway, 59 x 71", free pattern by Wendy Sheppard at Ivory Spring

Modern Maples throw quilt by Amanda Woodward-Jennings at Lark Crafts

Super Sized Maple Leaf Throw Quilt by Anjeanette at Moda Bakeshop

Maple Leaf Quilt from France by Pom at Atelier Papillon.  Free pattern by Cindy Carter at Carter Quilter

Leaf It To Joe, 67 x 67", free quilt pattern by Joe Wood at Thimble Creek

Fluttering Leaves lap quilt, 54 x 75", free pattern by Bonnie Spencer for McCalls Quilting

Forest Floor quilt, 63 x 75", free pattern by Stephanie Sims for Clothworks

Harvest Leaves quilt, 46 x 46", free pattern by David Textiles Inc.

Falling Leaves quilt, 88 x 88", free pattern by Freddy Moran for RJR Fabrics

Maple Leaf Log Cabins quilt, 35 x 44", inspired by Pam Buda, free pattern at All People Quilt

Scrappy fall leaves, free pattern by Cindy Carter at Carter Quilter

Scrappy Maple Leaf quilt, free pattern by Cindy Carter at Carter Quilter

Fall Leaves Table Topper, 18.5" square, free pattern at All People Quilt

Vineyard quilt, 97 x 111", free pattern by Dereck Lockwood for RJR Fabrics

Mirrored Leaves quilt, 65 x 83", free (archived) pattern at A.E. Nathan Co., Inc.

Autumn Splendor, free pattern by Lynn Dash for the Jinny Beyer Palette collection at RJR Fabrics

Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin quilt, 60 x 69", free pattern (including leaf templates) at Anthology Fabrics

Autumn Leaves, free pattern by Jan Krentz at Jan

Hotflash Brick Quilt, by Luella Doss for Free Spirit Fabrics

Mambo, by Janet Houts, for the Mambo Collection by Rosemarie Lavin, for Windham Fabrics

Fire Island, by Janet Page Kessler for Tuscan Garden Balis at Benartex Fabrics

Autumn Ripples, free pattern by Denise Russart for Hoffman Fabrics

Falling Leaves by Nancy Rink for Hoffman California Fabrics  (includes leaf applique template)

Safari Quilt, free pattern by Margrit Hall for Native Arts at Robert Kaufman 

Acorn Autumn, by Cheryl Almgren Taylor for McCall's Quilting

Autumn Melody quilt by Janet Page Kessler at Benartex

Autumn Bliss wall hanging, free pattern by Lisa Bongean for All People Quilt 

Sienna by Lisa DeBee Schiller for Windham Fabrics (includes oak leaf applique templates)

Country Road quilt, ~49 x 49", free pattern by Nanette Berkeley for Kona Bay Fabrics

Changing Seasons quilt, free attic windows pattern by Rhoda Nelson for RJR Fabrics

Scarecrow's Puzzle, free pattern by Angie Hodapp for Quilters Newsletter

Maple Leaf Applique block, free pattern by Kimara at Wee Folk Art

Oak Leaf Applique block, free pattern by Kimara at Wee Folk Art

Falling leaves, free foundation piecing pattern for aspen leaves, at Quiltmaker magazine

Harvest Windfall, free pattern with templates, at Piecemakers

Scrappy Maple Leaf Pillow, free pattern with templates, at QUILT Magazine

Image credits: All images are copyrighted by their owners. Please respect their generosity in sharing their free patterns, and the restrictions they have placed on the use of these designs. Complete information can be found at the designers' websites provided in the links. Some of these are tutorials while others have downloadable (.pdf) patterns; we have tried to note which is which in the title above each photo. If any links are broken, we'd love to know; email us at quiltinspiration [at] blogspot [dot] com.
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