Thursday, March 31, 2011

Come Play!

Saturday morning (April 2), I'll lead a class on improvisational quilting at the Kansas City Museum.

I have just learned we can open this class to kids of all ages. Originally, it was a class for kids only. But the last time I taught it, Moms begged to join the fun. The museum guards even stopped by on their break and made a quick impulsive quilt.

We will work in my beloved improvisational style. I will bring a suitcase of scraps and backgrounds to fuse on. We'll watch a Quilts of Gee's Bend tape and play. Kids "get it" and have no problem putting together these quilts.

If you'd like to recapture that freer time in your life, join us. 10-noon. The cost is minimal, all materials supplied.

To sign up, call Rebecca at the museum, (816) 483-8300 ext. 1402. You can also call the museum visitor center at 483-8300.
See you there.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sue makes an appearance

Yesterday I spoke to our University Women's Club History group. The second Sunbonnet Sue quilt, Death Becomes Her,  has returned to Lawrence so she went along. The label on the back of the quilt says it was made by The Seamsters Union Local 925 in Lawrence, Kansas in 1997.

Several people at the history meeting remembered her last public appearance in Lawrence. Apparently she was on display in the public library, much to the consternation of some librarians.

Sue went on to frighten on an even larger stage - the Ronald Reagan Library in California. If you google sunbonnet sue reagan library, you can read all about it. Sue was on exhibit there in 1998 when she was removed for being controversial. Full of violent images, they said. Sue stabbed by scissors? Burning in a fire? Sucked up by a twister, those images?

I loved the LA Times headlines that chronicled the saga:
"Needled by Complaints of Nazism and Violence, Library Pulls 2 Quilts"
"Quirky Quilts Don't Leave All in Stitches"

Death Becomes Her measures 77" x 94". Each of the 20 blocks is 13" square.

If you'd like to see the well-documented first Sunbonnet Sue quilt made in 1976, check out the Quilt Index. Could it be time to make another? As the quilt historian says, disasters keep happening.....

Here's a link to the red and white quilt show that everyone is talking about. My friend Stevii went and she reports:  "...we finally got to see the red and white quilts. A once in a life time experience. Wish I could see it again. The show will never travel because it was a birthday gift for the 80 year old lady who amassed these quilts. She wanted to give a gift to the city, so the exhibit was free."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quilts with little pieces

Caroline Searls spoke to our guild the other day. She showed us many quilts she has acquired over the years. I really perked up and listened when she said she keeps all scraps that are 1 1/2" square.

Here are close up shots of some of my favorites. The squares in this one measure 2". This quilt was fairly large.

These blocks were in an even larger quilt! The strips are 1/2" wide, each block is about 5" square. Caroline said she named it Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce because she thought that was what it looks like.

At the close of her program she showed this little doll quilt. She pointed out that one end was narrower than the other. She said one day her mother found her dipping this quilt into wash water and stopped her midway - and the wool quilt shrank from that dip in the water. Look at her great label - and a label from registering the quilt with the Kansas Quilt Project in 1986.

Caroline spent 61 years in Rawlins County, Kansas - the last 41 years in Atwood.  When her husband died, she remarried 2 years later and moved to Bella Vista, Arkansas, where she lives today. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Faded Flower Pots

My mom inherited this quilt from my grandmother. I would expect that someone in her family made it but it is unsigned and undated. I don't think Grandma would have kept it otherwise, she wasn't very attached to handmade things.

The quilt measures 72" x 91" - each block measures 13" x 14".

Notice the applique was stitched on by machine. It's machine quilted too. I checked Barbara's Encyclopedia of Applique, this block is named English Flower Garden (McKim), English Garden (Capper's Weekly); and Old English Flower Garden (Kansas City Star).

I suspect the quilt was washed with bleach, speeding the facing of this well-used quilt. Peeking inside the seams shows the sashing was once green. I would love to have seen the quilt before it was so faded.....

Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Kansas Quilt Bibliography

I'd call this block an adaptation of
a colonial ladies design, circa 1930s. This
little quilt measures 16" x 22".
At my talk about 150 years of Kansas Quilts today, I promised an online bibliography. To learn more about Kansas and quilting, check these online sources.

Kansas 150 quilt information from the State Library of Kansas:

Spencer Museum of Art (look for Carrie Hall collection):

Kansas Quilt Project quilts (search for Kansas):

Happy Birthday Kansas by Linda Frost:

Barbara Brackman’s blog:

Quilting in America 2010 survey results:

Kansas Quilts & Quilters, Brackman et al, University Press of Kansas, 1993:

It Happened in Kansas: Remarkable Events That Shaped History by Sarah Smarsh:

Timothy Egan's book The Worst Hard Times about Kansas in the dust bowl days:

Barbara Brackman's book debunking the quilt code myth:

A blog about kit quilts:

Information about the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild upcoming quilt show:

Thanks to the Topeka Public Library for hosting this event, and to Pattie Poe for making it all possible!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness

We note a growing trend of trees with decorations long after the Christmas holiday. My friend Roseann keeps this tree beside her driveway decorated. She does update it for the current holiday (note the shamrock for today).

My front yard pine tree is decorated also. We put the ornaments on in December - in honor of basketball. We love basketball, following our favorite teams keep us going through the long Midwestern winter. We hope to continue to celebrate our teams success for a few more weeks. Go Wildcats! Go Hawks!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

National Quilting Day Talk

I'll be speaking about 150 years of Kansas Quilts for a National Quilting Day event next Saturday, March 19.

I'll link quilts with the turbulent (and not-so-wild) events through the decades since Kansas became a state in 1861.

The talk begins at 10:30 a.m. Afterward, Linda Frost will show her sampler quilt, the inspiration for her new book Happy Birthday Kansas!. There will be quilts on display and demonstrations of different quilting techniques all day.

All these events take place at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.  The library is at 1515 SW 10th Ave | Topeka, Kansas 66604-1374
(785) 580-4400

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Modern Guild meeting report

The Modern Quilt Guild in Kansas City is celebrating it's first anniversary. And it's just outgrown another meeting space. I arrived a few minutes late for last night's meeting and overflow chairs were being set up. There are more than 100 members and 10-20 guests were there for the first time last night.
 It is a quilt guild meeting like other guild meetings but with energy bursting from the seams.

First, you note the sea of heads is not all gray heads. Second, it's clear much of the framework of this guild is on the internet. Third: joy and affirmation dominate the group interactions.

The highlight of this meeting was not a speaker but a show and tell by members for a Kona solids fabric challenge issued a few months ago. The quilts shown ranged in size from small to throw size. There was the usual oohing and aahing from the crowd as quilts were shown. But when one member admitted this was her first quilt, someone yelled, "Standing ovation" and everyone lept to their feet and applauded. And that continued for every first quilt shown....

Many of us are trying to describe the Modern Guild aesthetic. I note quilts tend to have light backgrounds and solids are popular. They are not traditional quilts and often created without patterns.

What struck me most from observing this group is the lack of judgment about what quilting should and should not be. I might be a bit prickly about that, as my quilts have always strayed a bit outside the mainstream. To be part of a group that embraces the concept that there do not have to be rules is refreshing, invigorating. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh....
Way to go, Kansas City Guild.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Giant Cookies!

I"m catching up, it's been awhile since it was Girl Scout cookie time. But I still love this idea so much. It's not unusual to see sales tables at our local grocery store. It IS unusual to see scouts dressed as COOKIES! I had to stop and get a picture of these big felt cookie outfits, aren't they cool? They were made by Laine Delfelder, leader of these fine Brownies from Troop 1917, Quail Run School, Lawrence, Kansas.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Linda figured it out

Look! Several members of my stitch group have opined about how the Log Cabin-ish quilt I posted a photo of on Feb. 16 was put together. Linda Frost made this sample, we think she's got it.

Here is the first block. All the logs are 1 1/2" wide. Here's how it goes together:

1. Start with a yellow center square and one long red log (Linda's center is 1 1/2" square, the strip 5 1/2" long).

2. Attach 2 blue logs (same size as the first log) aligning them with the yellow center. Stop stitching 1" from the end.

3. Attach a light strip (the first is 3 1/2" long, the rest are progressively longer).

4. Continue those steps. The block is complete when you have 1 center, 9 dark logs and 4 light logs.

5. Notice how Linda has attached the center of the next block on the left side.

6. To continue: make rows of these strips, then join the rows together to make the quilt.
Also note: Linda stitched hers completely by machine.
p.s. be sure to visit Linda's blog, you will enjoy her work!