Is it a mystery or a challenge?

My friend, Susan Allen, and I are going on a ‘we planned it ourselves’ retreat with a few other friends December 2-4. There will be more on that in future posts. Today I want to tell you about the project Susan and I are planning. I’ll be sharing details along the way for any of you who want to take part from afar.

Susan has collected fabric for years with the idea to make something sort of like, but not really like, the quilt in this photo from Kaffe Fassett’s book, Welcome Home.

And this quilt that is on the facing page:

We had to talk through what Susan was drawn to so that I was sure I got it because we work in different ways. Susan lets a quilt evolve as she goes, I start with a plan. My plan can be flexible, but still… I need a plan. Here’s our plan:

We are going to start with the same 45 fabrics (you could start with any number of fabrics—5, 10, 100…). These are Susan’s fabrics that she generously split with me. Most of the pieces are 1/8 yard. Susan has wanted to work with these for a long time. I own (or have owned) many of them, but this is not my normal palette. It’s going to be a fun challenge for me.

We are each going to make 40 – 3″ blocks, 20 – 6″ blocks, and 10 – 9″ blocks. The blocks can be different—I could make 40 different 3″ blocks, or 40 that are the same. They will be precisely pieced, not improv. We will tradey/halfy our blocks on November 2.

I’m going to draw one (or more) 18″ x 18″ applique blocks that could be used as a focal block or center medallion. My due date is Oct. 1 mostly so we can each be thinking about it.

We plan to work on our quilts in some way at retreat. We can use the blocks in any way to make any kind of quilt that suits us.

For want of a better name, I’m going to call this Mysterious Challenge One (there could be a two in the future). I will post progress updates and the applique block pattern (for free!) so that you and your quilting friends who are interested can join us virtually. Happy planning!

Wednesday Giveaway

Laura Keller is this week’s giveaway winner. She will receive a set of LOQI Destination zip pouches. They are super-strong, chemical-free, long-lasting, water-resistant, washable, extremely good looking, AND light-weight. I find myself using them for all sorts of things that include sewing notions, make-up, and the stuff that used to float around individually in the bottom of my purse.

If you are not Laura and you’d like some of these zip bags, you can find them and all sorts of sewing notions, books, and other fun stuff at!

Shipping is free on orders over $75 every day.

Organic Applique Blog Tour!

(FYI: Melissa Gerber was chosen by the random number generator to be the winner of the ebook.)

Welcome to you who are visiting today as part of the tour celebrating Kathy Doughty’s new book, Organic Appliqué! Kathy is my friend who just also happens to be a wonderful quilter with excellent quilting and design skills. You can also find this post on Instagram @beckygoldsmith.

Organic Applique is packed with good information about color and design. I was struck as I read the book by the ways Kathy’s take on color is similar to, but different from, my own. In fact, I think that my book, The Quilter’s Practical Guide to Color, and Kathy’s Organic Applique are a perfect pair.

Kathy asked us to interpret a pattern from her book as if we were making it. I chose the pattern “Stolen Moments”. The video walks you through the way I would color this quilt. I hope you enjoy it!

For a chance to win an Organic Applique e-book, leave a comment on this post or on the Instagram post. A winner will be chosen tomorrow.

Be sure to visit the next tour host, Rachael Daisy, on Instagram @bluemountaindaisy tomorrow.

Here are the other tour stops:

  • Monday August 26 Wendy Williams @flyingfishkits 
  • Tuesday August 27 Natalie Barnes @beyondthereefpatterns
  • Wednesday August 28 Becky Goldsmith @beckygoldsmith
  • Thursday August 29 Rachael Daisy @bluemountaindaisy
  • Friday August 30 Scott Hansen @bluenickelstudios
  • Saturday August 31 Maria Shell @talesofastitcher
  • Sunday September 1 Anna Maria Horner @annamariahorner

Show and tell…

Marty Anderson sent me an email with this story:

I am recovering some very old chairs that belonged to my grandmother, then my aunt and uncle. After they floated down the Guadalupe River in a flood, my aunt and uncle, then in their late 80’s gave them to me.  I am finally recovering the chairs.  I was amazed to find that the padding in the chairs were an old quilt that had been cut up.  Hand pieced and hand quilted I might add.  I would guess my grandmother did this.  She was a quilter.  I remember her frame that hung from the ceiling.  She loved bright colors, red especially.  I would have been pretty proud to have made this quilt with none of the points cut off!

The red fabric looks worn, like it was washed and used a lot. The quilt could also have been stained before being cut up and used in the chair seat. I think this shows that Marty’s grandmother was a frugal and practical woman :-).

When you hear about interesting old quilts…

Last weekend I was working in my yard when a neighbor approached. He reminded me that I had said I’d like to see his grandmother’s unusual quilts. We set a time for me to come over on Tuesday with my camera.

Emma Lee Thacker, my neighbor’s grandmother, died in the 1990s (I think). She made traditional quilts, like this double wedding ring:

And this Lone Star in very pretty colors!

And this Sunbonnet Sue/Holly Hobby:

I like the different flowers held by each Sue. It’s a small thing, but memorable.

But she also made one-of-a-kind special quilts like her Man on the Moon quilt!

She liked bed-size quilts, so the quilt is double-size. The gold moon is at least 3′ in diameter. The details are so much fun!

I particularly like Michael Collins floating up above the surface of the moon in his capsule, surrounded by stars!

Emma Lee liked to enter the State Fair and I suspect she won more than once.

She was proud of her Native American heritage and it shows in this quilt:

This quilt is also bed-size. It has a red border/binding. These figurative quilts are appliqued, embroidered, and quilted by hand. I suspect that some of the fabric (maybe more than some) has polyester in it.

My neighbor said that she made many more quilts that ended up with other family members. Those include the quilts with High School mascots like this one:

She also made a crocheted double wedding ring bed-size summer cover. I can crochet, but not like this. It was amazing!

We are surrounded by images of cool, new quilts today. Instagram, Pinterest, FB… there is so much creativity in the world. But it’s good to be reminded that it has ever been thus. Quilters/crafters/sewists like to express themselves creatively in fabric and fiber.

One day it will be our grandchildren pulling our quilts out to share with others. I can only speak for myself, but these make me want to make even more playful quilts.

Wednesday Giveaway

Lisa Benson is this week’s winner! She will receive two helpful piecing tools. Use Sewing Edge strips to mark the 1/4″ seam allowance on the bed of your sewing machine. Removable and repositionable, Cutting Edge strips stick to the bottom of any smooth acrylic ruler. No sticky tape, and they last forever. The thickness creates an edge that stops at the fabric.

I’ll be back with another Giveaway next Wednesday. Until then you can shop for all sorts of sewing notions, books, and other fun stuff at!