Sunday, June 5, 2016

Oops.... I'm running late!

Dear friends --

If you read my post last month, you know that I've got a big challenge on my hands.  I've spent quite a few days out of the last three weeks getting tests and treatments at MD Anderson Cancer Center -- and getting a tiny bit of good news, too.  Still, I am spending an enormous amount of time just "resting."  And I think I need a bit more rest before I post my blog for this month.  It might not even appear until July 1 -- this particular chemo that I'm on is enormously fatiguing, more than I ever imagined.  I'm hanging in there, though, thankful for the incredible prayers and wishes that many of you have sent my way.  They are all deeply appreciated.

Best wishes -

Sue Garman

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Spring Retreat, Studio Tours, and More


I apologize for not having a post in April, but I'm back in the saddle now and can't wait to share some wonderful pictures with you this month; I'm so excited!  First, my guild's Spring Retreat was last month, and second, my guild's biannual quilt studio tour was just a couple weeks ago.  I think you'll get lots of ideas when you see all the pictures.  And I have a lot of pictures of quilts that friends and blog-readers have shared with me.  I haven't been able to do a lot of quilting myself, but I'll show you a couple things.  And then, after you see all those pictures, I have a few personal items to share -- please be sure and read through to the end.  So let's get started!


Every year for the past 7 years, I've chaired my guild's Spring Retreat.  I rent out a huge well-lit ballroom down on Galveston Island and fill it with over 100 women.  We love the fact that we can all be in the same room (though this year we had to have an overflow room because we had an additional dozen women sign up!) and sew to our heart's content from Wednesday morning through Sunday at noon for the price of $45.  I don't make any arrangements for lodging or food; there is a café on-site, plenty of wonderful restaurants across the island, and if folks want to stay in the hotel or commute or rent a nearby beach house, they are welcome to do so.  It's a sweet deal.  So now I'm going to show you some of the things that the gals and one guy worked on last month.  Our guild is full of very talented, very inspiring, very clever quilters, as you'll see.
 
 
First of all, my guild sells "little quilts" at every quilt show it holds.  At the Spring Retreat, we all got a sneak peak at several of these little quilts; these quilts are all smaller than about 30 inches on any one side.  Here's one with baskets.  These are simple to make, and they start off with a silent auction (bid on the quilt, on paper...) but if you REALLY want the quilt, you can pay a $75.00 Take-It-Now price.  This will definitely be a take-it-now quilt!
 
 
 
This is a simple sashed quilt with great civil war reproduction fabrics. 
 
 
 
I loved this one with its wild border print at the combination of different gold blocks.  It sold at the retreat before it ever made it to the guild's quilt show.  These quilts were all made by Becky Stephenson - a generous and prolific quilter!
 
 
 
This quilt was also made by Becky and was my favorite.  It came home with me!  I love that these little baskets have a little berry on the top; they remind me of ice cream sundaes.  What is funny is that I donated those berries to Becky, as they were extras and she was clever enough to add them to her basket quilt.  I think it is a master touch!
 
 
 
Becky does not like doing a lot of applique, but took a workshop on prepared edge (starch/freezer paper) applique.  She used these extended nine-patch blocks and added a wonderful little bit of applique to the bottom corner.  Doesn't it make this quilt unique?
 
 
 
Becky's bird design was a take-off on one of Lori Smith's patterns, Mary Ellen's Garden.  We can all take a lesson here:  mix and match patterns to make your own unique quilts!
 
 
 
Meanwhile, Gail Roman was working on an interesting combination of 3-inch pinwheels and nine-patches, all set on point.  I loved this when I saw it - especially her interesting choice of a gray alternate block.
 
 
 
And when I walked by Gail again a bit later in the day... lo and behold, she had added another set of little blocks around the center of the quilt.  See how easy it is to just start with a few blocks... and add a border that sets off what you've already sewn?  That's how medallion quilts start!  Note that a beautiful thing about civil war reproduction quilts is that you do not have to work hard to make the quilt sparkle; the prints and colors do a magnificent job of "playing" together and making a beautiful quilt.  I hope I get to see Gail's quilt later, as it progresses.
 
 
 
At another spot in the room, Janice S was showcasing the blocks she had finally assembled into a sharp-looking Boston Commons quilt top.  Retreats are great times to assemble quilts, power-sew on mindless projects... and finish UFOs!
 
 
 
What I'm sure you could not notice in the above quilt is something unique in Janice's quilt.  Take a look at the close-up of the block below.  Can you figure it out?
 
 
Answer:  every single fabric that Janice used was full of polka dots!  Once she pointed that out to me, it became a delightful task to examine all of the different fabrics she had amassed in order to make this quilt.  Wow!
 
 
Jerrianne Evans is a master quilter and has been making a take-along project with a ton of simple Oak Leaf Reel blocks (I think these are Jo Morton designs).  Several gals at my table were enamored of her blocks but wanted to know how they could make them... but make their quilt different.  Jerrianne is setting her blocks with a double nine-patch done in an assortment of red prints and red/white shirtings.  I love the happiness this quilt brings!
 
 
 
So our group of quilters got out some blocks to see how other setting options might play out.  Here's some snowball blocks (pretend the colors are red/green - these were just to inspire ideas).  I like how they look, too.
 
 
 I suggested taking large half-square triangles and making diagonal runners through the Oak Leaf Reel blocks.  In the right colors, this would work well, too.  Inspiration and creativity kept growing in our group.
 
 
 
Someone had brought along some triple-four-patch blocks and we tried those as an alternate blocks (again... imagine different colors here!).  I like how these look, too.  As you can see, the ideas kept flowing.  There seems to be no end to creativity!
 
 
 
Some of our out-of-town guild members that live up in east Texas brought along a raffle quilt so we could all have the opportunity to win it.  If you're not from Texas, you simply cannot understand how boots, hats, longhorns, and cowboys are just part of our culture.  You see them everywhere.  Every month, our guild has a lottery block where members make a specific block and a winner wins half of them while the guild takes the other half and puts them in our annual auction.  The boot block is probably the favorite of everyone!
 
So here is the raffle quilt:  full of boots, Texana, stars, and rope.
 
 
You may get bored, but I just have to share some close-ups of the boots.  Those who make them use the most insanely crazy fabrics to carry out the theme.  Take a look...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's a close-up of one of the boots.  This entire quilt was hand-quilted - a rarity in today's world!  Take a look at the star that was quilted into the body of each boot.  Awesome!
 
 
And I loved the fabric that was chosen for the rope around the quilt's border.  It is a simple homespun check - perfect for "rope."
 
 
 
One of the gals in the retreat was working on feathered star blocks and setting blocks.  I was intrigued by her grand choice of colorful fabrics.
 
 
Each setting block was unique in design. 
 
 
Aren't the colors just SO happy?!!
 
 
And there were tons of the smaller blocks.
 
 
I hope to see the assembled quilt in one of our guild's show-and-tells!
 
 
 
Jeannette was busy making these wonderful zippered vinyl-fronted project bags.  She has smaller ones (maybe about 15" square?).  She is so much fun and gave me one!
 
 
She was also making larger project bags.  How fun is this?!!!
 
 
 
And once I turned around and saw a great quilt that someone had just assembled for one of her children.  The use of black with a bright sparkling color accent in each block was quite clever in this sampler.
 
 
 
And I turned around again... and someone else had just finished assembling a quilt top.  Talk about a productive retreat!
 
 
Here's a close-up of the block in the above quilt.
 
 
 
Behind me, Pat K was busy making half-square triangles.  Someone pointed out that as she whipped them through her machine... they were falling onto the floor and making their own flower design.  Cute!
 
 
 
Tonda, a very creative guild member, was using this focus fabric and choosing the colors from it to make some pieced hexagons.  Starting with a focus fabric makes fabric selection SO much easier.  And this is a delightful fabric in terms of motifs and color.
 
 
Here is an assortment of the pieced hexagon blocks she made.  I was surprised at how different they all are; I had never imagined piecing hexagons into so may different designs.
 
 
I couldn't stop looking at them and studying them.  Awesome!
 
And there were LOTS of them.  All so unique.
 
 
And more... 
 
 
And more.
 
 
When Tonda had them all up on the design wall, it was a delightful array of beautiful pieced hexagons.  Whee!
 
 
 
Marsha Fuller was working on the binding on her Afternoon Delight quilt.  I've seen this quilt (which is my design) done in dozens of different fabrics - civil war, batiks, and more... but Marsha chose a surprising route that was fantastic.  Her quilt used 1930s/Aunt Grace fabrics.  Those fabrics are nothing short of happy and cute!  And so was Marsha's quilt.
 
 
Again... I'm just going to show you an assortment of the blocks in Marsha's quilt.  You will see that she used clever combinations of the fabrics, fussy-cut some of the units in the blocks, and embroidered the edges of some to make them stand out.  This is a fun, fun quilt to make!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I hope you noticed the unique quilting done on those blocks by Lee Ann Lively.  She is a wonderful longarm quilter.  Below is the border - notice the quilting in it, too.
 
 
 
And a quilt is not done until it is quilted, bound, and HAS A LABEL ON IT!
 
 
 
In the back of the retreat room, two gals were busy stitching up little bags that are designed to hold travel irons - and when unbuttoned and opened up, they are pressing mats.  Anyone who wanted one could go back to their table and choose the fabric for their own travel bag.  I loved the red/black/white one and could not resist buying it!
 
 
 
In another corner, Carolyn H had put her hexagon quilt on the wall and was busy putting the finishing touches on the design/layout.  Nice job!
 
 
 
Last year, I made this quilt, which I called Bean Soup.  I had not intended to have empty alternate blocks, but as the quilt grew... I ran out of steam and decided that setting the blocks on point with an alternate background block was the right choice.  All my extra fabrics, which I'd already cut, went to my guild's auction.
 
 
Guild members bid on three sets of these - one with already-made blocks and two with just the fabrics and paper foundations ready to stitch.
 
 
 
Someone who bought one of the un-sewn sets of blocks brought them to the retreat...
 
 
And was busily and quickly putting all of her blocks together.  How exciting to see these babies be birthed so quickly!
 
 
Mary Jo and I along with several others in my guild were taking a border-on-border class.  This usually starts with a single block and borders are added to the center block, forming a medallion-style quilt.  Mary Jo decided to take my A Little Bit of Feathered Heaven kit that has four feathered stars in the quilt, and use those as the center of her border quilt.  Here's her quilt center.  You just can't go wrong with reds and tans and feathered stars, can you?!!
 
 
So what will be the next border on Mary Jo's quilt?  She was already hard at work on it...
 
 
And was testing it out along the edge of her quilt center.  I think it is dynamite!
 
 
 
I had started my medallion quilt with a unique star that I call the "Halo Star" and across the retreat, I worked on making stars for the border surrounding the center block.  I'm ready to stitch them together now... and finished doing that once I got home.  My next border will be some uniquely-set flying geese blocks.
 
 
Between the center block above and the star border, though, I had to fit a "floater" - a border that would make the pieced stars not end up being chopped off.  Some people know how to cut border strips and miter them with ease, but I don't.  Instead, I sew on one border, and then sew on the next border up to the intersection of the two, as shown below.
 
 
Then, I fold one of the borders at a 45-degree angle, press it, pin it, and applique it along the mitered angle.  It works for me!
 
 
 
Against one of the walls in the room, one of our quilters was busy assembling blocks.  It is so much fun to see quilts start coming to life!
 
 
 
She was using what looks like a complicated block pattern, but however she was doing it, it made it look simple!
 
 
 
Here is her quilt center.  Magnificent, I'd say!
 

 
 
Ann M was working on another kind of block that she mastered to perfection.
 
 
 
 
I just love Ann - she can be so much fun and I don't think that I know many people that love quilting more than Ann does.  Look at her beaming smile!
 

 
 
Georgann Wrinkle had pulled an old rabbit out of a hat... an OLD UFO - a set of tumbler fabrics in plaids that she'd purchased as a kit, years ago.  She made good progress on her work!  That's what's fun about retreats - you can work on projects you might not ever finish at home, and be happy with doing that.
 
 
 
It seemed that every time I turned around, another striking quilt popped up.  Here's one where the use of color made the blocks real eye-catchers!
 
 
At the same time, when I walked around, I also saw quiet little projects being worked on, like this one.  It is so sweeeeet!
 
 
 
Here was another darling project that a quilter was working on.  I'd never seen this design before and loved its simplicity!
.

 
 
Another block that my guild offered as a lottery block during the past year was just a string-pieced block.  One of the gals at the retreat took her winning blocks, sashed four together, and sashed the sets together to make this quilt top.  It's a simple, colorful quilt made entirely from scraps.
 
 
 
Here's a close-up of the block.  It is also a wonderful scrap-eater.  Use the string-pieced strips as leaders and enders if you do that kind of power-sewing (I don't - I haven't quite figured out why note though!).
 
 
 
Another gal also had a bunch of string pieced blocks.  She set hers without the interior sashing, and look how it turned out.  Isn't it wild how color and setting can change a quilt so much?
 
 
Here's a close-up of her blocks.  Note first that color choices don't matter; just grab a strip and stitch it to the others.  Note also that none of the strips are the same size - just cut them as straight strips, stitch them together, square up the blocks... and voile!
 
 
This quilt was another amazing quilt to me.  I thought these were simple but grand evening star blocks.  The colors were beautiful. 
 
 
And then I looked closer.  This is not an evening star block!  It's a flip-and-sew block of the simplest kind!  I love this - it may become my new quick-and-easy way to make evening star blocks!
 
 
 
And last but not least, I could not fail to show a memory-lane picture of Kitty, owner of Kitty's Seaside Café, the inhouse restaurant at our retreat center.  This woman has one of those deep, booming, southern voices that commands a room.  If we wanted something special for breakfast, she'd rustle it up; I had her cook up shrimp and grits one morning -- if you've never had them, you are in for a treat!  The night we first arrived, Kitty came in and announced that after dinner, she'd have a huge pan full of peach cobbler with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream for all of us - only five bucks each.  Love ya, Kitty!
 
 
 
Okay - the retreat ended with me feeling only half-alive, as I was still quite sick and managed to make my way through the five days with the help of my friends and a lot of unheard of (for me) naps. 
 
So what's next?  Our guild has a Quilt Studio Tour every year we have a quilt show.  We round up five or six quilters who are willing to showcase their homes and their sewing rooms for the rest of us.  It's open to the public and is a pretty good fund raiser for the guild.  And just when you think you've seen everything... you see ideas that you never thought of before!  So let's start in Cathy's house.
 
Here, Cathy has a table topper sampler quilt - perfect for her dining room.
 
 
 
Here is part of what I love SO much about studio tours.  You see things that you would never think of by yourself.  Look at how Cathy has taken a bed spring, painted it red, and hung it on the wall to hold an assortment of little cards and other treasures!  And here' s a secret:  see all those ribbons to the right?  The sign says, "I thought they said Rum."  Ha!  Too funny.
 
 
 
Cathy is in the minority among many quilters.  See this shelf of fabrics?  That is her stash.  Her entire stash.  Whoa - I am almost ashamed of the size of mine, by comparison!  But it has never stopped her from making beautiful quilts.  So everyone has their own method of working - and this works very well for Cathy.
 
 
Here is Cathy's sewing area - clean and elegant.  I wish I could say the same for myself, but such a nice view inspires me to do a little cleaning up in my own sewing room.  I also love the Faceted Jewels quilt on the wall.  Cathy chose a unique set of fabrics to make her version of the quilt and I love how bright and happy they are.
 
 
 
Cathy is also a longarm quilter.  She is SO neat!  No junk lying around, no piles of "stuff" - why can't I be more like that?  Well, I guess I could... but why aren't I?  Tsk, tsk...  I need to have a private little chat with myself.  It has got to be inspiring and less tiring to work in a very clean environment.
 
 
 
And this simple nine-patch quilt - perfect for a small spot beneath the television!
 
 
 
Okay, here's another idea that floored me:  Shoe holders that hang on the back of closet doors... but used to house spools and cones of thread.  Wow - what a marvelous idea!
 
 
 
This quilt was another stunner on Cathy's wall.  Those blocks are not easy to make, but look at how beautiful they look!  I like Cathy's choice of a striped fabric for the inner border.
 
 
 
Simple little signs... that tell the truth.
 
 
 
Carolina Lily blocks set with four-patch blocks.
 
 
 
An assortment of quilts on an old antique wooden ladder. These ladders are hard to find at reasonable prices nowadays.
 
 
 
A nice lap quilt on the sofa.
 
 
 
And each studio had an assortment of snacks and sweets to share!
 
 
 
Here's a different set of fabrics in a Faceted Jewels pattern.  Gorgeous!
 
 
This quilt has me completely intrigued!  I love intricately pieced quilts and this one certainly has that covered, hands down!  I can't even imagine how it was made and pieced so well!
 
 
 
The next studio was that of Cindy G.  She has two longarm machines in her air-conditioned garage.  One of them runs edge-to-edge computerized quilting, while the other one Cindy uses to do custom quilts.  She is a workhorse -- a longarmer, a full-time physical education teacher that has a ton of extracurricular activity involvements with her students, a busy family, and more.  Below you can see her two longarms.
 

 
 
On the longarm in the back, she is quilting a Faceted Jewels quilt.
 
 
 
On the machine in front, she is working on... ta-duh... MY quilt!  So why is she quilting my quilt when I'm a longarmer and quilt my own quilts?  Well, it's simple:  I have had this quilt top finished for a year but could NOT figure out how to quilt it.  Answer:  Give it to Cindy!
 
 
 
She does the most stunning and unusual quilting of anyone I know.  I'm a simple quilter:  stitch in the ditch, simple fills like cross-hatching, feathered vines and wreaths.  Cindy doesn't think like that.  She sees quilting lines where they don't exist.  She creates new visual lines that are fantastic.  I can't wait to see what this quilt looks like when it's done!
 
 
 
 
If I had quilted this quilt, I would have probably put feathered vines in the sashing strips.  But then what?  What would I use for fill in the blocks, themselves?
 
 
You can see how Cindy has already started putting diagonal lines across the quilt.
 
 
 
And diagonal lines in the outer border.
 
 
 
Here's a little better view.  I can't wait to show you her magic when she is finished quilting the quilt.  I now I will be ecstatic!  Also, because I know I'll be asked... yes, I'm working on the pattern for this quilt.  I never finish a pattern until the quilting is done on a quilt, because I need a cover photo for the pattern.  So hang in there... it's coming!
 
 
 
Here is Cindy's sewing area.  She uses a Featherweight!
 
 
 
And the ever-present closet of threads that every longarmer has to have!
 
 
 
And beneath everything:  more storage!
 
 
 
 Leaving Cindy's house, you see a cute little garden relic.  Love it! 
 
 
 
 
The next studio was that of Georgia W.  Georgia has spent years making wearables but picked up quilting along the way... and now has a big longarm in her studio.  Storage is at a premium in every quilter's house, but Georgia masters it with shelving and plastic bins.
 
 
 
The ruler-holder on her cutting mat is ideal; when you press down on it, it will not move
 
 
 
Georgia was in the middle of making an art quilt.  You see her waving at her husband, who is out on a paddleboat on the lake in their back yard - with all the animals and such that exist in her beautiful world.
 
 

 Here's Georgia's sewing table.
 
 
And her easy-to-reach threads.
 
 
 
And her stash, in bins, etc.
 
 
 
Isn't it nice to have such a big closet for your quilty things?!!
 
 
 
Georgia had a number of different quilt things on her wall - all sweet.
 
 
 
And a lovely applique/pieced quilt...
 
 
 
And a cozy quilt on a bed.
 
 
 
 
But it's time to move on to Sharon M's house!  Sharon has a magnificent two-story entry hall in her house.  She's used it to advantage by hanging quilts there.  Here is her recently-finished Afternoon Delight quilt.
 
 
 
And looking up at the balcony rail, you can see a gorgeous Judy Niemeyer quilt.
 
 
 
And to the right, on the high wall... more quilts!  You feel like you're in a quilt museum, surrounded by beauty.
 
 
 
Here's another stunning Judy Niemeyer quilt that Sharon made.  Her color choices are always spot-on!
 
 
 
In her family room, her large Little Baskets quilt sits on the back of a sofa.
 
 
 
Here's a close-up of those baskets - some large, but small baskets that serve as visual sashing strips.
 
 
 
And why not use selvages to make simple "mug rugs" for guest's coffee?
 
 
 
Here is a close-up of some blocks in Sharon's Afternoon Delight.  I love her use of civil war fabrics!
 
 
 
 
 
Sharon's studio is upstairs.  She has a wall of shelving units - all glass-fronted.  That is certainly nice, as it keeps the fabric neat and clean!
 
 
 
Up on the wall is Sharon's Gecko art quilt, "Can You See Me Now?"  I love this quilt!
 
 
 
On a table, Sharon had one of my favorite old quilts of hers - fruit blocks set amidst different blue fabrics.  This is such a happy quilt - a beautiful one for a kitchen setting, too.
 
 
 
Sharon has plenty of little displays in her sewing studio.  Here is her Featherweight, ready at a moment's notice.
 
 
 
And she is working on her own rendition/layout of a Jacqueline DeJonghe quilt.  I can already tell that it will be a knock-out!
 
 
When I could not attend Mary Elizabeth Kinch's workshop last month, Sharon took the class in my place.  You can see she started the strips they used to make a Pumpkin Peel block.  Here is Mary Elizabeth's block....
 
 
And here are Sharon's starter strips.  I'm envious!  I so-wanted to take this class!
 
 
 
Sharon and I both started Pearl Pereira's Happy Trails quilt a couple of years ago.  Being Texans, how could we resist?  I think we have both finished four of the blocks.  Pearl's designs are fantastic - and she is one of the sweetest people in the world!
 
 
Sharon is in the borders class that I'm taking, too - you can see her progress on the red quilt, below.  Sharon had some very large panels hung on rollers, so she can move these around on the wall, giving her a huge design wall area.  Nice job!
 
 

 And here is another Judy Niemeyer quilt that Sharon made.  I love the "excitement" she puts in her quilts through her color choices!
 
 
 
And around the corner... a soothing and quiet study/office area. 
 
 
 
On the desk in there Sharon has her ultra-cool light box.  When she saw mine, she had to get one too.  They are not inexpensive... but oh my, they are worth every penny!  We laugh about how we have to be careful, as airplanes might mistake these as runway lights from the sky, they are so bright!  Sharon is working on the Grape Quilt design I put together earlier this year.  Mine is coming along in reds and greens; she chose to use a cheddar background with red and purple grapes.  It will be a knock-out, too, when she is done with it!
 
 
 
And here is a four-block challenge quilt with baskets and tulips; one of my bees took a block and we each modified it in unique ways; Sharon made unusual vases and used nine-patch blocks to sash the blocks together.  Love it!
 
 
 
And if you do not have a block-carrier like this one, you should!  It's big enough to carry 18 inch block in.   The instructions for making these are in an old Elly Sienkiewicz Baltimore Album book. 
 
 
 
Sharon's guest bedrooms have beds covered in quilts, of course.  And gorgeous ones!
 
 
 
And here is a drop-dead beautiful Pineapple block antique quilt.  The colors are as vibrant today as they must have been a hundred and fifty years ago.
 
 
 
And Sharon was born on an island - Galveston Island!  So why not have a Hawaiian quilt to reflect her island heritage?!
 
 
 
 
Once again, it's time to move on.  This time, it's a trip to Marci's studio.  Marci welcomes everyone into the new addition she added on to her home, just for quilting.
 
 
 
Here is her sewing and computer area.  Again - I'm jealous of the neatness!
 
 
 
Here is a darling wall hanging... I love the quilting design on it!
 
 
 
And the centerpiece of Marci's studio:  her beautiful longarm!
 
 
 
Now here is another idea that I never thought of:  using an antique rake as a place to hang things.  This is SO cute!
 
 
Every longarmer has to have shelving of some sort or storage of some sort.  Marci has a nice set of sturdy shelves.
 
 
 
This spool quilt was on Marci's longarm.  I love the colors on those spools!
 
 
 
In a bedroom... another border quilt shows up!  My guild has a lot of people who have made border quilts because we have a local teacher, Winnie Fleming, who attracts a wide following.  I've taken her class three times!
 
 

 And what a great way to showcase a set of quilts - a large quilt stand.
 
 
 
And here is another way to showcase quilts:  a new ladder.
 
 
 
What?  Another Faceted Jewels quilt?  You've seen several already, and here's another!
 
 
 
And then there is the antique ladder - perfect for hanging another quilt.
 
 

 And again, when you're in Texas... everyone knows it!
 
 
While it may not be a true Texan bucking bronco, here's a horse - another good resting spot for a quilt.
 
 
 
And the true test of a longarm quilter:  a case full of threads!
 
 
 
The cutting table conveniently holds plenty of storage beneath it.
 
 
 
Wild and crazy colors on a cowhide chair?  Yee-haw!
 
 
 
And, again, the longarm.  Spectacular.  Marci has a Gammill with a Statler Stitcher on it.  She is a fantastic quilter who I would trust with any quilt top I gave her!
 
 

 
And here we are, at the last place on the Studio Tour - Ronda Stockton's Pieceful Stitches: And Sew it Began quilting and craft center.  Ronda bought an old 1920-1930 era home and completely revamped it, making it a true delight!  Located in LaPorte, Texas, near the Painted Pony 'n Quilts (one of the largest quilt shops in Texas), you can reserve it for retreats, workshops, and more at www.andsewitbegan.com.  You will not be disappointed!
 
 
First, there is a comfy living room with a fireplace for just relaxing and talking - or sitting with sewing in your lap.
 
 
 
Around every corner, there are antiques and quilt items.
 
 
 
And signs and wall quilts.
 
 
 
Here is an antique baker's rack that Ronda uses to house old quilts.  Delightful, I'd say!
 
 
 
Eachof the rooms in the house is well-appointed with quilts and antiques.  Your eyes just can't stop dancing as you walk through the house!
 
 
Here is a close-up of the block in the quilt on the left, above.
 
 
 
Here is another room with a Carolina Lily quilt on the wall.  Note that every bed has its own basket with towels in it - and colored clips so you can mark your own towels.
 
 
 
And an Edita Sitar quilt on the wall.  Cute!
 
 
 
My favorite room is the "red quilt" room.  I think it might be yours, too!
 
 
It is filled with red and white quilts.  Lovely!
 
 
And above the quilts on the wall, Ronda has hung crocheted red and white doll clothes!  They are just TOO cute - I want some!!!
 
 
 
Here's the 1930s room.  I love this quilt, too - I love them all, in fact!
 
 
 
And along the ceiling edge, more crocheted doll clothes.  I love these!
 
 
Is there no end to them?  They just make me smile!
 
 
Isn't this a simple but oh-so-sweet wall hanging?!
 
 
And across the room are the other 1930s bed quilts. 
 
 
How could you NOT love staying in this retreat center?  I think it holds 16-20.
 
 
 
Now here's another unique idea.  Ronda took a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top... and it is now a shower curtain!  This is a great idea!
 
 
There is a wall of mini-quilts in the house.  My mouth just won't stay shut!
 
 
 
Here are more little quilts - but notice the chair hung with the teddy bear.  SO CUTE!
 
 
 
The dining room has a beautiful quilt - and sweet treats for all.  Whee!!!
 
 
 
And the breakfast room has even more.  Anyone would feel right at home here!
 
 
Here is the red-white/blue room.  I love how Ronda decorated each room in a theme. 
 
 
More red/white/blue quilts....
 
 
 
And the table in the room has a little mini-flag on it... and the lamp is actually made out of an antique sewing machine.  SO COOL!
 
 
 
But that's not all.  This retreat center also has a washer and dryer for your use.  And more of those darling little crocheted outfits.
 
 
 
And the house has a day bed on the back porch - with a great Texas bluebonnet quilt on the wall. 
 
 
 
The sewing room in the retreat center is just a step away from the house.  Well lit, covered in design walls, and spacious, it could be the perfect place for your next retreat or set of workshops!
 
 
 
Ronda also has a small amount of fabric and kits available at her retreat center.  At your service!  Make your reservations while you can!
 
 
 
Finally, as you leave through the back door, here is a darling little quilt hung on a garden rack.  Love it!
 
 
 
 
 
The studio tours are done now... but I still have a few things to show you.  First of all, Becky Stephenson was at a guild function and someone said she had this "old quilt" that she was going to use as a cutter quilt for stuffed animals, framed block, etc.  Whoa - wait a minute!  Becky grabbed at it and bought it on the spot.  Who could cut this baby up?
 


 
 
In pristine condition, though some of the fabrics have shattered, it is still worth keeping whole.  Becky intends to find similar fabrics and to recreate the quilt.  Take a look at this block.  First of all, note the crazy use of plaid fabrics.  Second, take a look at how the blocks are framed in a feathered wreath.
 
 
Here, you can see the shattering on the plaid fabric.  Sad, sad, sad....
 
 
 
I'll show you some more blocks.  This has a blue/red center Lemoyne star; five of them are blue/red while the others are all red and green.
 
 
 
Here is the anomaly in the block set:  the only piece of cheddar-colored fabric in the batch!
 
 
 
My guess is that the tan colored pieces in this block were browner, years ago.
 
 
 
And this gal kept to her colors - she used a yellow fabric in each of the non-plaid units.  Of course, this is another variant:  a brown/green center Lemoyne star.
 
 
 
More....
 
 
 
And I love this block - it was the bright standout amongst the other blocks.
 
 
 
 
 

In between the feathered wreath quilting, this quilter quilted pumpkin peel designs.  I've never seen those two designs combined!

 

And in true miserly fashion, if a piece was not big enough... piece it out of two or three other scraps.  Take a look at how many pieces were used to piece the brown pieces of this Lemoyne star block!
 

The zig zag borders were a wonderful addition to this quilt.

 

And the pumpkin peel quilt designs filled the border areas.

 

But this quilt did not stop with its anomalies.  One border... apparently was short of the pink fabric used on the other borders.  Not a problem?  Nope -- just use alternating different pink fabrics for each zig zag!

 

Take a look at the narrow binding.  I want to do that on my quilts!

 

And here is a picture of the back of the quilt with its perfect hand-quilting!

 
 
 
So what have I been working on?  Actually, being so sick last month gave me almost no stitching time.  I worked a bit on getting kits ready to put on my website, and also for my booth at the Houston quilt show this Fall.  As of now, I have three kitted quilts, ready to go!

First, the four-block feathered star quilt, A Little Bit of Feathered Heaven. 

 

Second, Baltimore Squared. This is a simpler but nonetheless beautiful Baltimore Album quilt.

 

 Third, Little Baskets.  This fun little quilt is sweet and pretty!



Within a couple of weeks, I will also have the kitting done and posted online for my Christmas in New York quilt.  It will include all of the paper foundations and the pattern has been updated and extra color photos added to make the quilt-making easy as pie!
 
 
Other than that, I've been working on a couple of summer projects that will be disclosed in a month or two... my lips have been sworn to secrecy until then!

In my spare moments, I've been doing some repair work in my Smile quilt with all of its circles surrounded by circles.  I call it my Smile quilt because I can't help but smile when I look at it!



Some of the interior rings and circles have come unstitched, so I'm stitching them back down, bit by bit.  I was amazed as I started working on this quilt.  The original maker used only a 1/16th inch seam allowance.  Say what??!  You heard me!  No wonder some of it had come unstitched.  But it is easy to repair, and relaxing for me.




** ** ** ** ** **


 

And now I have some news to share with you that may take you by surprise if you have not heard already.  I have been fighting a cough for three months.  It got progressively worse and to make a long story short, I spent 5 days in a hospital earlier this month, having a half gallon of fluid drained from one lung lobe, and then 5 days in MD Anderson Cancer Center Hospital, where they saved me from a large lung clot, and exhaustively tested and examined and started treating me.  Out of the blue, with no warning and no apparent cause, I have been diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer.  It is so advanced that I am beyond surgery or radiation.  An MRI ensured that it has not yet moved to my brain, a favorite place for lung cancer to move.  I don't know why I have it and it doesn't really matter.  What I do know is that I have seen a million blessings in my lifetime.  I have a deep and quiet faith undergirding all that I do.  I have an incredibly supportive family.  And I have found that my circle of friends is much deeper and wider than I could ever have imagined.  I am blessed.  There is no "fighting" this disease; there is living well with it.  There is no "getting better" with this disease; there is making every day a good day to be alive.  I am waiting on a molecular profile study to be completed that will tell me if my median life span is one year or two years.  The toughest thing of all is seeing the pain in my family's hearts.  My husband asked me if I was as scared as he was and I honestly did not even know how to answer him. 

I have canceled plans for a booth at the Houston show this year.  My daughters intend to carry on my business and have already started handling a lot of the day-to-day details until I can get a leg up on the chemos that burden me with fatigue.  I'll keep blogging until I run out of ideas.  My plans are to continue living, not dying, for as long as possible.  Who knows?  That could be longer than the median, or shorter.  But you can bet that I will be stitching away until the last minute, hugging family and friends close, and praying that research helps those beyond me.   After all, I still have a lot of quilt designs stuck in my head that are screaming to come out!


Lastly, below is an antique quilt block I bought a year or two ago. 
 
 
The center of the block says, "Hope is a cheering companion."  Yes, it is.


With love to all,


Sue
(c)2016 Susan H. Garman