Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello, 2011: A New Year's Tribute

Originally from Venezuela and now from sunny Florida, Valentina Ramos brings her playful yet elegant world of fantasy art to cloth.  Valentina began her career as a graphic artist and has now expanded into designing her own creations, such as this gorgeous, exuberant, fat-quarter size tea-towel calendar for 2011.

Hello 2011,  Tea towel calendar, 21 x 18, by Valentina Ramos

Many of Valentina's designs are based on objects in the animal and plant world, such as flowers, leaves, and birds. She often works with Rapidograph pens to carefully embellish shapes with fanciful, intricate ornamentation.  You can learn more about Valentina and her extensive background in graphic art at her website, Valentina Design.  Also, you can read about the creation of 'Hello, 2011' on Valentina's blog.

El Canario Tea Towel Calendar,  21 x 18, by Valentina Ramos

Here's another wonderful calendar design, where a whimsical canary hops onto a branch in a cheerful New Year's greeting.  Notice how the orderly arrangement of the calendar and written fonts contrasts in a delightful manner with the curved, rounded shapes of the canary, flowers, and leaves. Shades of chartreuse and rose pink provide this calendar with lots of visual impact, a welcome addition to any room in the house.  Spoonflower Fabric offers this pattern of Valentina's in linen, quilting weight cotton, crepe de chine, and cotton voile, among other fabrics.

Valentina writes, "Self healing and positive energy are the motivating concepts which ignite my passion to create.  Through my work I hope to inspire and help others follow their dreams."  We are thrilled to feature dynamic, innovative artists such as Valentina Ramos, whose work provides so much encouragement to all of us who are fascinated with the world of arts and crafts. 

And finally, from Valentina's Etsy Shop, here's a design which sums up our approach to living in 2011 with courage, confidence, and hope:

Image credits:  Images are the copyright of Valentina Ramos and are shown with permission. At her web site, Valentina Design, you can find pillows, napkins, place mats, fabrics and iPhone cases featuring her art.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

January shows and exhibits!

Don't you love the New Year? Here are some outstanding quilt exhibits, shows and raffles - in January, 2011.  And a quotation that inspires us:

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. 
The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Exhibits (above). Row 1, L-R: Art Quilts Etcetera - Lonni Rossi Exhibit, through Jan 16 2011, at The Gallery of Waverly Heights (Pennsylvania); Revisiting the Art Quilt, through April 3 2011, at the International Quilt Study Center, Nebraska; Art Quilts XV - Needleplay, through Jan 15, at the Chandler Center for the Arts and Vision Gallery (Arizona).  Row 2: Quilts = Art = Quilts, through January 9, at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center (New York); Quilts - Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum, through Oct 16 2011 (New York); Yvonne Porcella - Bold Strokes, and Cream of the Cloth - Quilts from the Marbaum Collection, through Jan 30 2011, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (California). Also see: Quilt Artistry - Pat Dicker, Loretta Armstrong, Joanne Berry and Sandra Harrington, opening Jan 4, at 142 Throckmorton Theatre (California); Home for the Holidays, through Jan 29 2011, at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum (Colorado); The Art of the Stitch, through Jan 23, at the Visions Art Museum (California); Quilt Visions Biennial 2010 - No Boundaries, through March 13, at the Oceanside Museum of Art, California; the quilts from the 2010 American Quilt Study Group, opening Jan 3, at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center (Oregon); Designer Crafts at the Mall 2011, opening Jan 8, at the Mall Galleries (London, UK); Crazy Quilts and Other Fancies, opening Jan 12, at the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum; and No Holds Barred - Recent Works by New England Members of Studio Art Quilt Associates, opening Jan 20, at the New England Quilt Museum.

Quilt shows, raffles and festivals (above). Row 1, L-R: Heart of the Valley Quilt & Textile Arts Show, Country Crossroads Quilters (Jan 15-16, California); Quilt Fever 2011, Florida Cabin Fever Quilters Guild Show (Jan 21 – 22, Florida); Hibiscus Garden Walk & Quilter’s Marketplace, Hibiscus Quilt Guild (Jan 28-29, Florida). Row 2: Celebrate the Quilt - Explore the Art VI, Largo Cracker Quilters Show (Jan 28-29, Florida); 8th Annual Jefferson Quilt Show (Jan 21-23, Texas); Stitches in Bloom Quilt Show (Jan 28-29, Oregon).  Row 3: Journey 2011 Quilt and Fiber Art Show, Art Quilters Unlimited (Jan 21-22, Florida); Quilt Fiesta , Tucson Quilters Guild (Jan 21-13, Arizona). Also see the Oklahoma Winter Quilt Show (Jan 13-15, Oklahoma); Myrtle Beach Quilt Party (Jan 20- 22, South Carolina); and Quilting in the Desert, Jan 23-29 (Arizona)

International shows: Tokyo International Quilt Festival (Jan 21-29, Tokyo); Road to California Quilter’s Conference and Showcase (Jan 20-23, California)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quilt inspiration 2010: Houses

Did you know that 2010 was our first year blogging? That might explain why we've spent a few days recalling some of our most popular themes.  This is our last "recap" post, before we start a fabulous New Year of inspiration (tomorrow !)

In 2010 we did a series called "Our Town", featuring quilts with schoolhouses, homes, and entire villages.  Methods of construction ranged from log cabin to stained glass, traditional and foundation piecing, and appliqué. As a Realtor would say: We hope you see some houses you like !

Row 1, L-R: Row Houses, by Flavin Glover; Magnolia Quilt,  by Sue Spargo; Hillside Houses,  by Daphne Greig and Susan Purney Mark; Welcome Home, by Alex Anderson. Row 2: Little Houses, and Little Old One Room Schoolhouse, by Ruth Powers; Little Amsterdam,  by the North Sea Quilters; Pedestrian Friendly, by Pat Dicker. Row 3: Wonky Houses, by Carol Morrissey; Firelight and Chimney Smoke, by Martha Milne;  There's No Place Like Home, block and full quilt, by Sonya Chinn. Row 4: Night before Christmas quilt and block, by Sue Garman; Welcome to the North Pole, by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins; Waiting for Santa, by Lynette Anderson. Row 5:  Up on the Housetop quilt and detail, by Cynthia England; and It Takes A Village, by Pippa Moore.

*For more information, see the following articlesOur Town, Our Town Part 2, Our Town Part 3, Our Town Part 4, Our Town Part 5, and Our Town Part 6.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quilt Inspiration 2010: Dear Jane and Nearly Insane

These magnificent quilts were made by quilters in the U.S., Norway, France, Ireland, and South Africa. They were featured in an article called Crazy about Jane; and in a sequel, Crazy about Jane, Nearly Insane and Just Plain Nuts. The full quilts have approximately 5000 pieces. We are in awe of these quilters, and of the perseverance it takes to complete such a project !

Row 1: My Dear Jane (aka “Insanity”), by Karen Goad at Karen's Quilting; Dear Jane(s) - brown and blue indigo, by Tutu Haynes-Smart; In the Heat of the Day, by Marie-Suzanne Charlot at Au-Fil-de-l-Autre.  Row 2: Dear Jane, by Maryellen Sand Bodell at the Santa Monica Quilt Guild; Facets - Rubies, Emeralds, and Sapphires, by Marcie Thompson at The Blue Cat Creations; Rainbow Jane, by Anina at Twiddletails; Baby Dear Jane, by Bernadette Camus at France Patchwork. Row 3: A Baby Jane Quilt, by the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild; Jeepers... It's Jane, by Beth Schillig; Blue Sky and Sunshine, by Anna Krassy at Empire Quilters; Enduring Freedom, by Dear Jane Friends. Row 4: No Pain - No Jane, by Cynthia Garcia at Kwilty as Charged; Jane Plays with Dolls, by Pamela Leonard Wexler at Empire Quilters; Broadway Jane, by the Empire Quilters; In Our Time, (aka "Technicolor Jane"), by Judy Doenias and Diane Rode Schneck at City Quilters. Row 5: Janeway, by Pamela Leonard Wexler; Jane, Past and Present, by Lesley Thomas at Quilts in Ireland; In The Pink, by Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville. Row 6: Nearly Insane, by Hanne Schneider at Hanne's Quilt Corner; Just Plain Nuts, by Liz Lois.

Image Credits: For links to the original images and artists' websites, see Crazy about Jane and Crazy about Jane, Nearly Insane and Just Plain NutsDear Jane® is the registered trademark of Brenda A. Papadakis and is used with permission. Nearly Insane and Just Plain Nuts are trademarks of Liz Lois and are used with permission.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Quilt Inspiration 2010: Flowers

In 2010 we had the privilege and pleasure of showing some glorious flower quilts, starting with a post called In Full Bloom. While many northern cities are now snowed in, these quilts remind us of spring. You can see each artist's distinctive style in the quilts with patterns (upper panel) as well as the original works of art (lower panel).

Row 1, L-R: Red Roses and Rose in a Vase, by Shelley J. Greener; Geraniums and Primitive Rose, by Edyta Sitar.  Row 2: Sunflower and Summer Rose, by Melinda Bula; Passion Flower and Roses, by Cleo Mounday. Row 3. Garden Flowers and Trio of Tulips, by Laura Wasilowski; Virginia Bouquet, by Pearl Pereira; Autumn Mums, by Frieda Anderson. Row 4: Poppy and Georgetown Poppies, by Carol Morrissey; Ashley's Flower Basket, by Sue Nickels and Pat Holly. Row 5: Botanical Artisan Basketry, by Janice Vaine; Plumeria and Iris, by Brenda Yirsa; Flower Basket Medallion, by Kim McLean. For more information, see In Full Bloom and Basket Quilts Part 2.

Original Art Quilts

Row 1: Spring Greetings, by Frieda Anderson; Tipsy Tabletop and Pair of Paphiodilum, by Dianne Vottero DockeryRow 2: Along Shaded Trails - Fuschias and Flowers Entwined - the Tulip and the Daisy, by Marilyn Stewart Stothers; and Peacock Flower, by Barbara Olson.

Image credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of the artists.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quilt Inspiration 2010: Tumbling Blocks

This year we had the opportunity to show some of our favorite optical illusions in quilting.  We love looking at these Tumbling Blocks quilts again !

Row 1, L-R: Amish quilt from the collection of Faith and Stephen Brown, as seen at the Amish Abstractions exhibit; Tumbling Rainbows, by Lynn Harris;  Antique Orange and Blue tumbling blocks quilt, at Material Pleasures; What's In Your Box, by Elisa Lawrance, at the Arizona Quilters Guild.  Row 2: Tumbling blocks quilt, by Penny Halgren, at How-to-Quilt; "Y? Why not !" by Kathy Klassen; Hexagonal Rhythm, by Jane Wilson, at Jane's Quilts.  Row 3: Tumbling Blocks by Ann Moran, at Ann's ULT Embroidery Site; The Big Tumble, by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, at From Me to You Quilts; Hollow Cube, by Carol Capshaw, at the Oklahoma Quilters State Organization. Row 4: The Shirt Off My Back , by Betty Leppin; Tumbling Blocks quilt, ca. 1910, from the exhibit Common Threads, at the Adirondack Museum, New York; Menger's Cube, by Arnout Cosman; Row 5: Hand Painted Tumbling Blocks Quilt, by C. Jean Horst; Blue Cubes, by Martha Borders; Twin Towers, by BJ Reed.

For more information and links, see these original articles: Optical Illusions,   Tumbling Blocks -More Illusions, Cubic Construction, and Tumbling Blocks Divided by 4 or 9.  "Shirt off my Back" by Betty Leppin was shown in Waste Not, Want Not: Quilts from Reclaimed Clothing.  "Menger's Cube" by Arnout Cosman was shown in New Dimensions. "What's In Your Box" by Elisa Lawrance was shown at the 2010 Arizona Quilt Show.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thoughts on Christmas

For today we looked for a quilt to share that would embody the Christmas message: "Peace on Earth".  We found what we were looking for in the work of Carol Bridges.

Can we sew peace by morning?, 53 x 60, by Carol Bridges, at Carol Bridges Art Quilts

In this evocative piece, the world is a quilt. The women quilters express their hopes and dreams for peace by working to hand-stitch the quilt together. Carol Bridges notes that the loving kindness represented by this vision is seen in women quilters everywhere. In fact, it is a common bond we all share as quilters.

You can read about "Can we sew peace by morning?" at Carol Bridges' online gallery, where you will find many art quilts that speak to your innermost desires and dreams. Her artist's statement reads: "Each of my quilts is designed to invite the viewer into a deeper relationship with the Self. If you meditate and visualize yourself entering the scene depicted in the quilt, you will find spiritual treasures waiting there."

Image credits and links:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Carol Bridges.  She creates original works of fabric art in her woodland studio in beautiful Brown County, Indiana. You can also read about quiltaway retreats at the Wild Grace classroom.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

The Adoration of the Magi is the name traditionally given to the Christian subject in the Nativity of Jesus in which the three Magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star, lay before him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. For Christmas Eve we wanted to share a book with quilts that bring back the story of the Nativity.
How far is it to Bethlehem? by Rachel W.N. Brown, from the book Adoration Quilts - Appliqué Nativity Projects, published by Martingale and Company.

For her book, Rachel W.N. Brown created projects based on the Nativity, along with stories, scriptural background and meditations that remind us of the true meaning of the holiday. One reviewer on said: "Ms. Brown takes you on a Biblical and personal journey with each quilt block...After reading the role each block plays in telling the story of Jesus' birth, I felt better prepared to tell the story, creating my own nativity quilt."

Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Kay Shirey at Rachel's Quilt Patch. Rachel W.N. Brown started the quilt shop in 1997 in the beautifully restored freight station in historic Staunton, Virginia.  Rachel's daughter, Kay, also works at Rachel's Quilt Patch.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Town Part 6 : Waiting for Santa

Christmas is almost here, and all we are doing now is 'waiting for Santa'... (we wish !)  In any case, we've been waiting until this morning to show Lynette Anderson's delightful quilt by the same name.

Waiting for Santa, 56 x 66 , by Lynette Anderson

This quilt is filled with everything we associate with Christmas, including angels, reindeer, trees, and Santa himself.   We love the foundation-pieced stars, and the strings of heart-shaped lights, which are carried aloft by doves. Did you notice the little face in the window of the house? That's one of Lynette's sons peering out 'waiting for Santa' to come and visit him!

Image credits and links: The image is shown with the generous permission of Lynette Anderson. Some of the imagery in her work draws on her memories of growing up in a small village in Dorset, England. Lynette and her family now live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia. Along with her books of designs, her patterns for stitcheries, quilts, and more are marketed under the name, Lynette Anderson Designs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Town, Part 5: Up on the Housetop

Cynthia England is an amazing designer, teacher, and author who has published over fifty patterns and two books. Her quilts have won many prestigious awards, in part due to her "picture piecing" technique, which creates vivid, true-to-life landscape scenes. In "Up on the Housetop" we see the arrival of Santa with his flying reindeer, sleigh, and his bag of toys.

Up on the Housetop, 49 x 33, by Cynthia England, at England Design

Here is a snow-covered neighborhood, steeped in the repose of an icy night, when Santa suddenly arrives and lights up the sky. The restful, monochromatic blue tones of the houses, trees, and sky complement the reds and beiges of Santa's sleigh and the bright white rooftops. This holiday quilt does not rely on a red and green theme, but instead incorporates the chilled, muted shades of winter for contrast.

A series of Quick Time videos on Cynthia's website show readers how to prepare a freezer paper pattern, iron pattern pieces to fabric, cut the fabric pieces, pin and pinch-fold the fabric pieces, then reposition and sew the pieces. This technique yields the precise, angular patterns that you see above in the houses, church, and trees.

Along with "Up on the Housetop", England Design offers patterns and fabric kits for other seasonal events and celebrations.  Cynthia's wonderful talent offers all of us the opportunity to learn or practice a vital quilting skill, as well as to create a quilt which can be a part of warm holiday memories for years to come.

Images credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of Cynthia England. We also featured Cynthia's "Cat Nap" quilt in our Best of Cat Quilts series.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Town Part 4 : Welcome to the North Pole !

Here's the North Pole on an enchanted, mystical winter night, as Santa takes off in his sleigh through the star-filled heavens.  This quilt contains blocks of appliqued houses that can be combined in different ways to create different designs. 

Welcome to the North Pole, 40 x 52, by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, at Piece O' Cake Designs  

Piece O' Cake Designs is a wonderful, creative site and online shop, where Becky and Linda sell their books, patterns, kits, and craft items. They are also applique teachers, with a busy schedule that takes them around the world; you can see Becky's class descriptions here.

This close-up of one of the blocks shows an adorable house with the nameplate "Slick's Sleds" over the door.  Notice the sled-shaped roof fixture, the heart-shaped door knob, and the tree trimmed with rick-rack.

The plaid background fabric gives a cozy vintage look to this quilt. It's a perfect project for using up stripes and plaids in your fabric stash. The houses can be mixed and matched to create table runners, wall hangings, and even garments.

Dinner at Santa's House table runner, 14 x 42 (detail)

The Dinner at Santa's House table runner was first published in 1998 and it is designed to go with the book, Welcome to the North Pole. The turned-up roof top, the giant candy cane growing out of the ground, and the gaily patterned trees all contribute to the whimsical charm. We think that the deep blue backgrounds of Dinner At Santa's House and Welcome to the North Pole give a stability and balance to these works which allow them to blend into your home decor very effectively. This restful blue background works better to complement all decor colors than exclusively using red and green in holiday textiles.

Additional resources: Images are shown with the generous permission of Linda Jenkins and Becky Goldsmith. For more inspiration and a look into the lives of these two top designers, please visit the Piece O' Cake blog.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our Town Part 3 : Holiday Houses and Decorations

When we were children, our Dad read the beloved poem The Night Before Christmas to us each Christmas Eve, so this quilt by Sue Garman brings back many fond memories. The twelve blocks are each 14 inches square, and each block illustrates a line from the poem. 

Night before Christmas, 78 x 96, by Sue Garman, as seen at Quakertown Quilts

The blocks are done in bright reds, greens, and blues that are spotlighted by white setting blocks. This appliqued quilt is bursting with energy and activity ! When you look at the blocks close up, you can see the many thoughtfully placed details that add so much to the overall effect of each block. Check out the carefully tied sprightly bows on each of the packages, the garland and lights which grace the trees, the bright red harnesses of the reindeer, and the miniature accessories worn by the snowmen. The curves of the mountains are mirrored in the curved pathways to each house and the rounded sleigh runners. Some of the stars are even surrounded by halos.

Here's Block 8, with a lively cheerful Santa. Notice the precise detail of his costume and his dapper appearance.

And here is Block 2, complete with a plate of cookies, even a spool of thread, and a tiny Christmas mouse down in the wall.

You can read about the design, and each of the individual blocks, at Sue Garman's blog. The patterns and kits for "Night Before Christmas" are available at Quakertown Quilts.

Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Sue Garman. For more quilts with houses, see our earlier posts: Our Town Part One and Our Town Part Two.  The latter post includes a quilt by Pat Dicker named "Pedestrian Friendly", which was based on Sue Garman's "All Around the Town" design.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

tree wrapup

Can you imagine twelve different ways of depicting a tree in fabric?  For the last 12 days, that's been our challenge.  We set out to locate 12 quilts that would stimulate new ideas about quilting, and about  realistic vs. abstract representations of objects. Here is our "tree wrapup"...

Here are the links to the original posts:
Top row, L-R: An Evergreen Bias, by Debbie Grifka; O Tannenbaum, by Ricky Tims; A Christmas Tree, by Anna Grossnickle Hines
2nd row, L-R: Ginkgo Christmas Tree, by Ann Fahl; Santa Baby by Molly Shannon, based on a design by Janet Nesbitt; Ode to a Christmas Tree, by Lyn Mann
3rd row, L-ROh Christmas Tree, by Kellie Wulfsohn; Winter Deluxe, by Jane Sassaman; Baubles, by Louise Papa
Bottom row, L-R; Alpine Wonder, by Mary Lou Hallenbeck; Four Seasons, by Laura Blanchard; Sage Country Christmas Tree, by Laura Estes

Friday, December 17, 2010

The 12th day of Christmas trees

Imagine the lights on a Christmas tree, the northern lights, the fires to celebrate the solstice, moonlight on snow . . . now imagine designing and stitching original quilts that capture these winter lights.  Anna Grossnickle Hines has done just that, sometimes spending more than four hundred hours per quilt, and using more than eleven miles of thread. 

The Christmas Tree, by Anna Grossnickle Hines, in Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts

In this stunning Christmas Tree, each colored light is a tiny piece of fabric within a 1-inch strip. The strips are then pieced together in sections, using a method which Anna calls "twisted strip piecing".

There are 15 quilts in the book, and each one features a different winter holiday or festival.  In many cultures, people celebrated midwinter solstice rituals to encourage the return of the sun and its life-giving light. Such rituals centered around fire and light.  The spectacular "Solstice", shown below, is made with twisted triangles: over 8,450 of them, requiring more than 400 hours to piece.

We bought our own copy of Winter Lights, which is a work of joy. You can read about the design and construction of the quilts at Anna Grossnickle Hines' website:  The Winter Lights quilts are currently on exhibit at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Southern Colorado (until February 5). Her newest book, called Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts about Peace will be out in March, 2011. 

Image credits and links:  The images are shown with the generous permission of Anna Grossnickle Hines, who is the author of more than 60 books for children.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


It's the 11th day of our "12 days of trees" series !  We're having fun showing the many different ways in which quilters have represented trees in fabric.  Today's tree is made entirely of pieced and appliqued triangles,  which give the tree a wonderful graphic quality.

Sage Country Christmas Tree, 49 x 63, by Laura Estes, at Laura's Sage Country Quilts

The arrangement of light and dark triangles create highlights and shadows in the tree, while the light green prints create the impression of a dusting of snow.   This versatile design can also be made in a contemporary style, for example with a white-on-white border.

Laura and her husband Pat live in the beautiful semi-arid region of Eastern Washington State, where the terrain features sage brush and plenty of deer.  Their line of patterns and quilting stencils are marketed worldwide. On the patterns page at Laura's Sage Country Quilts you can find the patterns for the Christmas Tree shown above, and two more "triangular" constructions:  a wonderful Peace Dove Wreath and Sage Country Mantle Tree.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An evergreen bias

It's the 10th day of our "12 days of Christmas trees", and it just keeps getting better! What we love about Quilt Inspiration is that it can strike unexpectedly. Like the day we stumbled upon Esch House Quilts, the home of modern designer (and rising star) Debbie Grifka.  Her clever "evergreen bias"  defines the essence of a winter tree that is decorated for the season. 

An Evergreen Bias, 24 x 30, by Debbie Grifka, at Esch House Quilts

This little tree uses a graduated bias technique that Debbie Grifka developed to make the tree go from wider at the bottom to smaller at the top. It is also a perfect example of her approach to modern quilting:  "For me, modern quilting often has a somewhat minimalist approach to design. The designs are graphic and bold. They often look simple to make, but are not necessarily so. In addition, many modern quilters use negative space in a way that neither traditional or art quilters usually do."

Visit Esch House Quilts to see all of Debbie Grifka's modern quilt patterns.  Also check out her Project Modern entry:  Ephemeral Elegance.  (It'll knock your socks off !)

Image credits and links:  The image of "An Evergreen Bias" is shown with the generous permission of Debbie Grifka. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 fabulous days of trees

It's Day 9 of our "12 days of Christmas trees" series, and are we ever excited to feature a quilt by artist extraordinaire: Jane Sassaman. In the exuberant "Four Seasons-Winter" design you'll recognize her distinctive use of flowing lines, which remind us a bit of Art Nouveau . The bright red ornaments on the tree spiral into the border, becoming holly berries that adorn the green leaves. Wavy quilting lines dance up and down, and silver stars sparkle at the edges, creating a festive scene.

The Four Seasons pattern collection includes Winter, Spring, Summer (Wee Willow), and Autumn, of course; each one finishes at 18" x 18" which means they can be whipped up quickly. We love the slightly exotic tendrils, leaves and flowers, and this message:  "Each patterns' tree speaks to our feelings, hopes and aspirations for the season."

Speaking of gardens, take a look at Jane Sassman's sumptuous fabric collections at Free Spirit Fabrics, including her new Garden Divas. (For a clever broderie perse quilt project, see this recent blog post). And, in case Santa is listening... Jane's "Willow" quilt is on the cover of the New York Times bestselling book, How to make an American Quilt  (hint, hint).

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Jane Sassaman.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ode to a tree in all seasons

Here is a beautiful "Four Seasons" quilt by Laura Blanchard of Plum Tree Quilts.

This 60" x 60" quilt gives us a new appreciation for the color green. We admire the way in which the subtle changes in color in the trees are matched by the movement of color in the garlands, from brown to light green (spring), dark green (summer) and orange (autumn). The leafy garlands provide the crowning touch. The Four Seasons pattern can be obtained at Plum Tree Quilts.

Image credits and links:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Laura Blanchard.  Laura's quilts have appeared in Fabric Trends, Love of Quilting and British Patchwork and Quilting magazines and in Jennifer Chiaverieni's book, Return to Elm Creek. If you love rainbow quilts, take a peek at Arabesque. Her  patterns are also great inspiration for her very popular classes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ode to a tree: Alpine Wonder

When we began our "12 days of Christmas trees" series we talked about how many different ways there are to depict a tree in fabric. This evergreen looks so real, we feel that we could step right into the ethereal scene.

Alpine Wonder, 34 x 44, by Mary Lou Hallenbeck at HD Designs, as seen at Stitchin' Heaven

We've spent a lot of time staring at this quilt to figure out what makes it so effective, and we realized that it is a perfect example of the use of value gradations to create highlights, shadows, and depth.  Amazingly, only four fabrics are used to make this quilt ! The gradated blue backdrop makes it look as if a light is shining down on the tree. The tree looks three-dimensional because the darker green branches are placed behind the lighter ones.  Also, the branches look like real evergreen branches, thanks to clever thread work. 

Note:  This post was updated on June 29, 2012.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Santa Baby

It's Day 6 of our "12 days of Christmas trees" and we're having a blast.  Have you ever heard the crazy song called Santa Baby? The delightful "Santa Baby" quilt shown below was inspired by a Buggy Barn original pattern.  [ Note added 8/30/18:  The Buggy Barn's website is gone, but the pattern may still be available; try Barn Chick Quilts.]  Molly Shannon selected the fabrics and pieced this 40" x 40" quilt for a class she taught at The Quilt Works Inc.

The quilt blocks are half tree, half Santa.  In fact, Santa seems to be hiding behind the trees!  Perhaps he is trying to evade the owner of the house, and her extravagant wish list :

Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Santa baby,  a '54 convertible too
Light blue

(Honestly, check out this '54 light blue convertible.... we'd go for the car over the sable. Any day.) 

Image credits and links:  Images are shown with the generous permission of The Quilt Works, Inc and The Buggy Barn™.
The Quilt Works Inc. is a full-spectrum shop in beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico.  They feature creative classes, innovative patterns and notions, Block-Of-the-Month programs, and more than 3000 bolts of cottons and flannels.
The Buggy Barn™ is just a short drive from Spokane, Washington. Sisters Pam Soliday and Janet Nesbitt have turned the buggy barn into a quilt-filled haven. The "Santa Baby" pattern is in the Positively Crazy book by Janet Nesbitt.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Baubles: a Christmas tree quilt

We've had our eye on "Baubles" for a long time, and it is one of our favorite Christmas tree quilts. It's just so clever !

The Baubles quilt, which finishes at 68 x 63, is an original design by Louise Papas of Audrey and Maude. You can read about the design and construction of the quilt at a previous post on Louise Papas' lululollylegs blog.  The Baubles pattern is available at various online retailers, including Etsy

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh! Christmas Tree

It's the fourth day of our "12 days of Christmas trees" series, and we're excited about...

Oh Christmas Tree, 47.5" x 59", by Kellie Wulfsohn, at Don't Look Now !

Kellie Wulfsohn's fun and fanciful Christmas tree is nearly life-sized, at 59" tall !  The leaves are made of curlicues and scribbles that are constructed with quick-and-easy raw edge applique.

Also see one of Kellie's newest patterns, below, called "First Day of Christmas" (it took us just a second to make the mental connection between the "First Day of Christmas" and the partridge in a pear tree !)

The Oh Christmas Tree and First Day of Christmas patterns are available at Kellie's website, along with her other fabulous designs from Down Under (Australia, that is):  Don't Look Now !

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ode to a tree: O Tannenbaum

We're celebrating 12 days of Christmas tree quilts !  Today's headliner is "O Tannenbaum" by quilting superstar, Ricky Tims.

The tree branches are represented by simple strips of green which are set against a snowy white background,  creating a visual representation of the lyrics of O Tannenbaum :

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,
Your branches green delight us.
They are green when summer days are bright;
They are green when winter snow is white.

Ricky Tims began designing and making quilts in 1991, and he has been recognized as one of "The Thirty Most Distinguished Quilters in the World", among other honors.  He is known in the international world of quilting as an enthusiastic and encouraging teacher, an award-winning quilter, and a talented and spellbinding speaker. The pattern for O Tannenbaum can be obtained at Ricky Tims' website:

Image credit:  The image of "O Tannenbaum" is shown with the generous permission of Ricky Tims.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

12 days of Christmas trees

As mentioned yesterday, it's our "ode to the tree" series this week and next.  Today we're showing  an original design by Ann Fahl, who is a prize-winning quilter, designer and author. Her "Ginkgo Christmas Tree" uses a stylized ginkgo leaf that is arranged in rows to create a realistic miniature tree!

At Ann Fahl's website you can find her gorgeous art quilt patterns, including Ginkgo Christmas Tree. For a treat, also check out Ann Fahl's art quilt gallery. Her specialty includes threadwork, and she has two books and a new DVD on the subject - with C&T Publishing -called Coloring with Thread.  We're also followers of her blog, Ann Fahl's Color and Quilts, where she shows her works-in-progress and provides tips, such as her recent detailed posts about darning feet

Image credit:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Ann Fahl.  The Ginkgo Christmas Tree pattern includes instructions for both a 9 x 12" and a 20 x 26" quilt.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ode to a Tree

An artist friend of ours described one of her drawing class assignments. The teacher asked the students to draw a single pine cone, twelve different ways*. How would you approach it?

This week and next, we're showing a fantastic selection of Christmas tree quilts that remind us of this drawing exercise, because there are so many different ways of depicting a tree in fabric… it stretches the imagination. 

Ode to a Christmas Tree, 69 x 78, by Lyn Mann, at Quilts by Lyn

 "Ode to a Christmas Tree" is a dynamic quilt that features a pine tree in a thoroughly modern red and dark green color scheme. The pine tree quilt block was originally called a "Tree of Paradise" (we like that designation).  Lyn Mann's "Christmas Tree" is set on point, amidst a field of stars.  The dark triangles that surround the blocks take the shape of abstract trees, which echo the triangle shapes of the main pine tree. The pattern for "Ode to a Christmas Tree" can be found on the Quilts by Lyn patterns page.

About Lyn: Lyn Mann is a well known Southern California professional quilt designer, teacher and lecturer who has been quilting since the early 80's. She teaches locally and nationally at guilds, quilting retreats and cruises.  Lyn has made over 440 quilts and designed approximately 70 for mysteries alone.

Image credits and links:  The image of "Ode to a Christmas Tree" is courtesy of Lyn Mann. Block naming: Pine Tree, Orlofsky, 1974; also known as Tree of Paradise, 1897 Ladies Art Company, as per The Quilters Album of Patchwork Patterns, p. 221-2.  * Drawing class hint: The teacher explained the realistic or representational  approach: drawing the pine cone in a recognizable form. This could be done from various perspectives, or magnifications, for example by focusing on just one tip of the pine cone. Then there were abstract and non-objective approaches that focused on line, texture, value, and/or shape. In short, there were dozens of different ways of drawing the same object.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Inspired by red and green - two

Red and green are the colors of Christmas, and of flowers.  The quilts we're showing today have both a floral and a Christmas theme !  They include holly, poinsettia, cactus flowers, and pomegranates to celebrate the season.

Holly Day Wreath, by Pam Bono, at Pam Bono Designs

The ancient Celts believed that holly, with its glossy, prickly leaves of green adorned with red berries, remained green all year due to its magical properties. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, is symbolic of eternal life. Combining the symbolism of the wreath with the believed magical powers of holly, the Romans exchanged holly wreaths as gifts. Once Christianity took hold in Rome, holly wreaths became Christmas wreaths as part of holiday decorations.

The festive Holly Day Wreath quilt by Pam Bono makes a perfect table topper for Christmas, and it reminds us of a real holly wreath (but the quilt is so much softer to the touch). When you visit Pam Bono Designs, also take a look at the radiant red-and-green Remembrance Poppy Quilt, which has been officially recognized as Canada's Quilt Of Remembrance Day . 

Christmas Memories, by Connie Sue Haidle, at Apple Blossom Quilts

Poinsettia is a species of flowering plant indigenous to Mexico and Central America.  The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.

We love the vibrant poinsettias and cactus flowers in the Christmas Memories pattern by Connie Sue Haidle.  We've also been following the handwork of a master quilter (and blogger),  Karen, who has just completed her magnificent Christmas Memories quilt.  You can see some gorgeous photos of the finished quilt in the October post at Karen's Quilting.

Cactus Wreath, by Georgette Dell'Orco, at Cozy Quilt Designs

The Christmas cactus is a common sight in many holiday homes in North America and Europe.  However, its history and origins are of more exotic and warmer climes.  The tropical cactus grows between 1000 and 1700 meters above sea level in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It has flat green stems called cladodes, which resemble leaves, and traditionally the cactus has deep red flowers.

The Cactus Wreath Quilt Pattern by Georgette Dell'Orco combines log cabin and half-square triangle "blossoms", and is shown in the bright reds and greens of Christmas. The quilt is made with 2.5" strips, and is one of the great Strip Club Patterns at Cozy Quilt Designs

Pomegranate and Posies, by Cheryl Almgren Taylor, in Deck the Halls: Quilts to Celebrate Christmas, at A Time To Sew Quilt Designs

In Greek mythology the pomegranate was a magical fruit, and in many cultures the pomegranate is cherished as a symbol of joyous times and good fortune. In Greek tradition, when one buys a new home, it is conventional for a house guest to bring as a first gift a pomegranate, which is placed under/near the ikonostasi (home altar) of the house, as a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck.

"Pomegranates and Posies" by Cheryl Almgren Taylor, which is shown above,  features rich red tones and greenery on a cream and gold background, giving the quilt an opulent feeling. The quilt is one of the projects in the wonderful book,  Deck the Halls: Quilts to Celebrate Christmas.

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of the artists.
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