Tag Archives: Quilt guild

Auction Haul

I can’t keep up… I tell people I will contact them (Mary, Jill… ) and don’t. I intend to do some financial paperwork (taxes?!?) and don’t. I plan to write blog posts, design quilts…

On the other hand, yesterday Jim and I got a lot of housecleaning done. While I wouldn’t put that in the category of FUN!, it does make me feel in better control somehow.

Last week my guild had an auction. It’s a great opportunity to donate quilty items to support a good cause. My guild provides quilting education through speakers and workshops; we encourage our area 4H quilters with prizes at the county fair; and most of all, we provide 150-200 (or more!) quilts and other items every year to the local community. At our auction in 2016 we made almost $2000. This year’s might have done even better.

Besides a good way to donate things, it’s also GREAT for buying! We sold completed quilt tops,  boatloads of fabric, a new sewing machine, two large cutting mats and many rulers, hundreds of books and patterns, a broad pressing surface, and notions galore. Items for sale were separated into lots. The lowest sale price for a lot was $5. The highest price was $300 for that sewing machine.

I bought four lots and a book for a total of $67. What did I get for my money? A haul!

Lotsa fabric, an interesting small quilt top, and a book. I did good.


This and That

It’s better to have too much to do than too little, isn’t it? I’ve been getting a few of my “too much” checked off my list, freeing up space for other things.

Tomorrow is my guild’s auction. We have one about every other year, bringing in a real auctioneer to lead the proceedings, and it’s a decent fundraiser for us. Since I’m both on the program committee and also president, I’ll have double duty during the meeting, as well as prepping for the sale. Guild members donate unwanted quilty things — wonder fabric (I wonder why I bought this!), kits, duplicate notions, projects in process — and the committee sorts and packages them into lots for bid. I went through my own quilt assets to choose some donations. The “big” thing I’ll contribute is a 24″ x 36″ Fiskars cutting mat, lightly used. Since I am not much of a shopper and don’t accumulate a lot, I don’t have other notions to donate, and not a lot of fabric.

Another thing on my list was a small repair. If you’re like most quilters I know, mending is NOT a welcome task. We don’t mend, we don’t do alterations, unless we absolutely have to. But my favorite purse was coming apart, with the zipper coming unstitched from the leather. Do you ever sew on leather? I figured this would be a tough project, simply from sliding a needle through the leather to restitch. In fact, the holes were large enough for me to do that easily. It took a couple of inches of backstitches to mend.

I restitched the last couple of inches.

This is the purse I got in Cuba. I almost always get compliments on it.

I also worked on my house quilt (AKA, the pink and brown strip quilt.) With Jim as my consultant, I tried arranging the flying geese a variety of different ways. (Remind me to post about all the different ways you can use them.) Putting them beak-to-butt, chasing around the quilt, is a traditional arrangement. But it seemed like way too much activity for the subdued center. We agreed it was better using fewer of them, arrayed wingtip-to-wingtip. Also, the set of geese included both teal and brown ones, as well as pink and red. I chose to only use the pink and red ones. (There are more than 80 geese left, more than enough to make an actual strip quilt. But that will wait for another time.)

Then it seemed that all that pink and red was a bit unrelenting. To break it, I used teal in the corner blocks, and a narrow border of olive green.

Notice that there are only two pieced borders in this quilt, the variable stars middle border and the flying geese farther out. There is absolutely nothing tricky about it. The rich fabric of the inner borders makes it look more intricate than it is. And the spacer blocks and unpieced strip borders mean that piecing accuracy and even “quilt math” is pretty unimportant.

Another busy week coming up, and plenty on my list of things to do. What are you working on these days?


Engagement is on my mind. My son recently announced his engagement to his sweetheart. Jim and I are thrilled for them, and excited for their future. (Thank you, thank you. I will pass on your congratulations.)

But engagement is not only the formal agreement to marry. It can refer to any emotional involvement or commitment. It can be a commitment to employment, or to defense, or even to meet someone for dinner.

Emotional involvement can vary over time, whether to our romantic partner or our career or a hobby. When you feel a lull in your quilting, for example, you may not feel very engaged in it. Other things might capture your interest, or you might feel distracted or simply bored. In hobbies that may be okay. In your marriage or career, it may be wise to find ways to re-engage.

For myself, I’ve found that if I want to feel more engaged, I need to be more engaged, make more effort. Maybe it’s a “fake it ’til you make it” strategy.

This is my eleventh year as a member of my guild. In seven of the eleven years, I’ve held one position or another, with varying requirements on my time. Recently I took a couple of years off. It was GREAT. Honestly. I didn’t have to get to meetings early, nor stay late, nor work on committee efforts at home. I didn’t even need to go to meetings if I didn’t want to. And a lot of the time, I didn’t. Did I mention, it was GREAT not being involved?

The problem is, some things are worth doing and having even when we don’t want to do them all the time. For example, there is a small-town festival near here that Jim and I go to occasionally. It’s fun and interesting, but honestly, it’s not a big deal. And there’s an entrance fee. But when we go, we agree it’s good to go even when we’re not excited about it, because it is a thing that should continue to exist. And it will only continue if people go, and if they pay their entrance fee.

Someone has to do it, or it will cease to exist.

Well, guild can sometimes feel like that. (Okay you local guild members, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. And if you really don’t, I’ll look for you on the volunteer list next spring!) I think it is valuable, even when I don’t want to participate in it.

So after the couple of years I realized that there was only one way I could fix my lack of engagement, of personal commitment. And that was to recommit. I volunteered for a committee, one of the most active ones, at that, and held that position for more than a year. And then we had “elections” for officers and no one was running for president. A friend asked me to run as co-president with her. So I did. This year I’m co-president AND on that committee, and pretty soon I’ll run an ad hoc committee to review and revise our bylaws.

Now I am fully engaged, both nominally and emotionally. Guild is important to me. It is a thing that should continue to exist, even when I don’t feel particularly like being the one to participate. Someone has to, and sometimes that has to be me.

Another area for disengagement for me is blogging. Blogging has slipped in importance in my life, partly because I’m busy elsewhere. And partly because I feel like I’ve already told you most of what I know about medallion quilts, one of my main goals when I started this site.

I’m not engaged in writing, and I don’t even read a lot anymore. (Yes, my blog friends. If you’ve sensed my absence, it’s been real.)

But I think my blog has value, at least to me, if not to you. And I want it to continue. As I shared with a friend recently

what I REALLY REALLY want, in my heart of hearts, is for other quilters to feel powerful in how they work. And whether they make medallion quilts or art quilts or old fashioned block quilts or modern quilts or whatever they make, I want them to make them from their souls. I want them to express their real selves in their making, to exercise the little power any of us really have, and make what they WANT to make, not what someone else tells them to make. I want them to make what they WANT to make, without fear or concern about what someone else thinks. And they can do it best when they fill their tool box with useful stuff, like how to think. Technique is hugely important, the HOW to do stuff, but if you don’t know how, it is great to have some mental skills to figure stuff out. Right now Austin Kleon has been doing some art with tape and magazines, and he says NO, I’m not going to demonstrate how to do this. I already told you it’s tape and magazines. Now go play!! He is asking people to grab their OWN power to create art, not make his art. That’s what I want. I want to help people make their own quilts, not my quilt.

I can’t help you do that if I’m not here. And the only way I can feel more engaged is to be more engaged. I need to write more. Or at least more often.

Thus begins my journey back, hopefully back to excitement about sharing new ideas, funny thoughts, successes and failures. Hopefully back to helping you make your own quilt, your expression of self from your soul, with power, not fear.


Guild Presentations — Always a Pleasure

For almost a quarter of Americans, public speaking is their greatest fear. I’ll admit that’s one fear I’ve never suffered from. I actually enjoy getting up in front of a group to speak, whether it is three people or three hundred. And it is always an honor to be invited.

Tomorrow evening (Monday) I’ll be presenting at a guild meeting, one of my favorite things to do. This presentation is on medallion quilt design basics, with some tips and tricks for success. I love sharing my knowledge about these special quilts, and showing some I’ve made in the last few years.

Here is one of the quilts I’ll show.

My own quilt, finished August 2013. It’s about 73″ square.

I made this in 2013, what I consider the early part of my medallion focus. Since then I’ve studied design concepts and learned more strategies and techniques for creating unique, exciting medallion quilts. By changing the elements of color, value, shape, size, line, and placement, there is infinite opportunity for a new quilt every time.

If your guild is interested in medallion quilts, made individually or in round robins, get in touch. I’d love the chance to visit with you about presenting for your group. You can reach me at catbirdquilts at gmail dot com.

Red and White Quilts, Part 2

Red and white quilts are stunning in both their simplicity and complexity. Two simple colors provide exciting contrast, capturing our attention and holding it long enough for us to notice details. The details, or complexity, show that no two red and white quilts are alike. Indeed, the most famous exhibit of red and white quilts, in early 2011, was titled “Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts.” The show in New York City displayed 650 American red and white quilts, no two of them the same.

While that is the most famous, and likely deepest show of these quilts, it is by no means the only one. Since 2011 there have been exhibits mounted by Quilts, Inc. through its International Quilt Festival (IQF,) and at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah in 2015. Local guilds also include exhibits of these glorious quilts. My own guild is showing a selection in our show (yesterday and) today.

Red textiles have a tradition much longer than here in America. In the 1500s, European explorers in Mexico found a small insect called a “cochineal” created a red dye. In Europe the dye was in short supply and high demand until the mid-1800s, when synthetic dyes were invented. Here are two interesting articles about the use of red dye in textiles and cochineal in particular.

Another popular, natural dye in the 18th and 19th century was called “Turkey red.” This is probably a more familiar term to most of us. Turkey red was made from the root of the rubia plant, and the process originated in India or Turkey. It was considered color-fast, meaning it didn’t fade or readily wash out. You can read more about it in wiki.

According to The Quilter Community, the peak years for using red and white in quilts was 1880-1930. (I’ll have to research more to see if that’s true. Red and white quilts followed on the popularity of red, white, and green quilts of the early 1800s. The greens faded quickly, and lost favor as a color to include, leaving the reds and whites as the surviving characteristics.) You can see examples of antique red and white quilts at Rocky Mountain Quilts, an antique dealer with ever-fascinating photos of quilts for sale. Barbara Brackman, quilt historian, shows some examples here. And there are dozens more examples at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM) if you use the search function. Plug in “red and white” under the keyword search to find them.

Here are a few photos from my guild show. There are about a dozen red and white quilts entered, including eight on the altar. Enjoy.