Monthly Archives: April 2012

Paducah: Appraisal Day 2

Hands on appraising was the order of the day as we were divided into groups to appraise quilts.  We used the standard AQS format and style to record our written appraisal and with the information gathered, we determined a value.  Once the group determined the value of the quilt, the scribe reported the value to the whole group and then the four instructors, who of course are all certified appraisers would tell us their opinion and how they would have valued it.

We got a lot faster and more accurate as the day went on.  We appraised both antique and new quilts and learned the difference between the two types of appraisals. The day was packed with information and learning.  By the end of the day, we were both exhausted and exhilarated.   Wonderful day!

Gerald Roy explains a key point on a quilt

Marie Webster Poppies Quilt – a kit quilt

Antique Quilt being appraised

Some of the purple fabrics have faded to brown on this quilt

Detail of the purple quilt

Pine Burr, an unusual pattern for a 30’s quilt adds to quilt value

Gerald Roy explains the difference in value between four doll quilts

Lone Star – unusual corner blocks adds to the value of the quilt

Antique quilt in pristine condition has additional historical value because it came from the estate of a Michigan state senator

Label attached to the back of the border would have come from the mill on the fabric. Much of the label has been removed, making it difficult to identify the mill where the fabric was made.



Paducah: Appraisal Classes

Learning new things expands one’s horizons.  Taking classes at Paducah has been a mind-expanding experience for me.  I opted to take a couple of courses on Quilt Appraisal with instructors Carol Elmore, Linda Honsberger and Gerald Roy.

Gerald Roy explains a key point on this 1930’s quilt

The instructors explain the importance to appraisal value of viewing a quilt hanging to get the full visual impact.

Appraisal class participants examine a pre-1840 quilt.

Detail of the quilt showing a block with pre-1830 Chromium blue fabric.

Chromium Blue fabrics – Pre-1830 fabric

Gerald Roy gave us a quick lesson on dating fabrics with  quilts that illustrate the major styles from 1840s through to 1970.   Pictures could not be taken of these quilts, so I can only tell you that they were wonderful to see and helped us to understand trends and put the periods into perspective.

During the class, Sheila Holland, a quilter whose work appears in miniature quilt display in the AQS museum came to the door to give a miniature quilt to Gerald Roy.

Sheila makes miniatures exclusively from vintage fabric.  He appraised some of her work and was so impressed with her work, that he went home and pulled numerous yards of tiny print vintage fabrics from his collection to give to her.  She made this quilt for him as a surprise thank-you gift.  The cheddar fabric, which Gerald calls Chromium, is dated from 1870.  The blue is called Lancaster Blue and it also dates from 1870.  Gerald said he would probably donate the quilt to the AQS Museum, and laughingly added, “but not until after I die!”

Update: Sept 7, 2012:  You can check out more of Sheila’s work on her website at .  Her work also appears in the “Oh Wow!” exhibit of miniatures at the Museum of the American Quilters Society.

Paducah: AQS Book Sale

Another fun element of the Paducah experience is the AQS Hurt Book Sale in the back room of the historic Hinkel Building.  They say the books are hurt, but I could not find anything wrong with them.  The prices were great.  Most were $5.00 each, but others were 2 for $5.00.  Being a book lover, I took advantage of the opportunity.   It was too hard to resist!

AQS Back Room Book Sale

Paducah: Hancock’s back room

During my research to prepare for the trip to Paducah, the back room at Hancock’s of Paducah was a consistent recommendation of something not to miss.    So of course, I followed the advice of my fellow quilters!On Monday afternoon, I took some time to drive out to Hancock’s.  It is located out of town a bit, close to the main highway.  The outside of the building is not fancy, but the inside is amazing.  It is a huge fabric store with almost everything a quilter could want.    I was surprised at how many people were there on the Monday before the festival.  In the back room, there are many bins of good quality fabrics at $5.98 per yard.

There were so many choices that it was hard to resist!  Compared to most of the shoppers, I was very restrained in my purchases.   The three pieces I did buy are for two specific quilts I am making in the next few months.    It is good to have a souvenir, right?

Line of cutting tables in the back room at Hancock's of Paducah

Paducah: Bryer Patch Studio

One of the advantages of arriving before the crowd is the opportunity to spend more time enjoying what you really like.  Apparently, this town of  approximately 25,000 people will swell with an additional 50,000 visitors during the quilt festival from Wednesday to Saturday.  I arrived in Paducah on Sunday evening.  So Monday morning after participating in an early aqua-fitness class at the downtown pool, I was ready to start enjoying all the town has to offer.

Caryl Bryer Fallert’s studio was my Monday morning highlight.  Because the crowds are not yet here, Caryl had time to spend with visitors, to chat and explain her work. She was warm and welcoming and encouraged us to tour her living quarters.

Another view of the studio

Chromatic Feathers by Caryl Bryer Fallert

Feather Detail

The famous Phoenix quilt:

Caryl is explaining how she designed her feathers

A quilting star and her fan

After asking Caryl about the process for designing her feathers, she took me upstairs to her private design studio and showed me a Corel Draw presentation on how she designed her feathers.  Then she gave me a tour of her studio and showed me how she constructs her quilts, and some flimsies she has in progress for a 40 quilt exhibition she has promised for Houston later this year.  All in all, this was a wonderful experience and I learned a lot from this studio visit.

Here are a few of the photos I took when touring Caryl’s home, attached to the studio.

Ornament in Caryl's living room

Lizard decorations in hallway to kitchen

Corner of Caryl's livingroom

Linking Goals and Rewards

One of the key elements of both teaching and parenting is to reward what you value, the behavior you want to see repeated.   In our house, we have consistently rewarded academic achievement and not surprisingly, we have two educated children. Sometimes adults tend to downplay the celebration and rewards for goal achievement.  I now ignore the little voice in my head that says enthusiastic celebration is a tad childish and instead make a conscious choice to celebrate my achievement of goals.

So how does this apply to quilting?

In 2011, I set myself a goal of completing one project per week throughout the year, for a total of 52 completed projects.    It was an ambitious project and I worked hard to complete the 52.   To sweeten the pot and keep me motivated, I set a reward of a trip to the 2012 AQS Paducah Quilt Festival if I completed my goal.  I was proud of myself for accomplishing the goal by Dec 31, 2011.  This s week, I am feeling thrilled about that achievement because this is quilt week in Paducah, Kentucky.

While this is indeed a big reward for a big accomplishment, there is equal value in setting small rewards for small accomplishments.   For 2012, I’m going to figure out some smaller rewards to keep me motivated throughout the year.  Awesome!  Hooray! You did it!  Wouldn’t it be great if we all heard that more often?   Perhaps consistent self acknowledgement and self-reward would be an effective quilting motivation technique.  I plan to experiment!


Creating a Personal Quilt Retreat

One of the benefits of a quilt retreat is the necessity of focus.  Changing my location means changing my sewing environment,  I have to limit what I bring with me to my quilting retreat.  It is not possible to bring every UFO, every scrap bin, every project in progress.  I have to be selective, taking only the projects I want to complete. The benefit of limiting what I take with me is that I also limit my distractions.  If I only take three projects, then those three are my only options.  I cannot get sidetracked by the projects on my design wall, by the quilt on the long arm, by the pile of scraps waiting to be cut  to size, by the bin of UFOs, but the several designs I have pinned to my bulletin board.  With all of those distractions, it is a wonder I get projects finished.

Sometimes I need a mental break from all of those distractions call to me.  That is when I escape to the solitude of our small lakeside cabin in Northern Ontario where we have no television and no internet.

My 82 year old neighbor took this photo as she came to visit me on the dock where I was stitching the binding on a quilt.

A weekend away typically gives me three days to quilt without the interruptions of daily life.   No phone calls, no drop-in visitors, no electronic entertainment.  A piece of heaven.  This past weekend, I went to the cottage alone and spent my time rotating between piecing quilt tops, raking leaves and cleaning gardens and sitting on the dock to hand stitch the binding on a quilt.

My sewing resources are also limited.  I have an old sewing machine that I leave at the cottage, one cutting mat that I put on the kitchen table, a rotary cutter, ruler, pins, and a few cones of thread.  My sewing area in a corner of the living room holds my machine on a small printer table and has just enough elbow room to set up an ironing board at my right hand.

My cozy sewing space in a corner of the living room where ironically, I assemble more quilt tops than I do at home in my large sewing studio.

Because I have so little room, I have to be economical with my use of space.  With the machine and iron close to each other, it is a great arrangement for piecing.  To make the best of what I can do in the space, I prepare for my retreat by cutting pieces in advance, and then kitting the project so it is ready to take with me for a retreat weekend.   Recently I spent a day cutting the pieces for several prairie braid quilts because they are such great “take and make” projects.

Having my sewing space in this corner adjacent to the kitchen means I can continue sewing as I keep an eye on supper cooking.  I can fit in many small seams in this way.

After years of wasting travel time and impatient swinging on a porch swing, I discovered how much I enjoy hand sewing.  At home, I am far too busy to sit and stitch, but at the lake,  it is a wonderful calm activity.  Now a bag of hand stitching is always ready to go with me on my retreats too.  There are times when I do not want to be inside, so having hand work to take to the dock gives me rest time that is both soothing and productive.   When my neighbors see me sitting on the dock, they will canoe over for a pleasant chat, knowing they will not disturb me.

Creating my own retreats for intensive sewing has helped me get many more quilt tops done.  Limiting my available projects, keeping them simple, using the best of my space and preparing kitted projects ahead of time all influence the amount I accomplish.  I’m sure that having no computer, no internet and no television to suck the time out of my day all influence the amount of quilting time available.  This media-free environment really is a retreat from the distractions of the world.

Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.  Jim Rohn

2012-7 Baby Outreach

Sometimes it is fun to just doodle.  This little quilt was a fun little project that gave me a chance to just play and doodle.    This top that was made by someone in my quilt guild who likes to piece but not quilt.  That is okay with me.  I don’t mind doing the quilting.  In fact, I prefer to do the quilting on charity quilts rather than the piecing.

I recently installed zippered leaders on my long arm and now just sew the backing by machine to the leader with the longest possible basting stitch.  What a huge time-saver!  I can load a quilt in less than 5 minutes.  I can unload a quilt in 30 seconds.  I just unzip it from the leaders and then rip the quilt from the leaders.  The basted seam rips easily and is then trimmed off when I trim the quilt.  Very quick, very easy!

This baby quilt was surprisingly quick to do.  It was done from start to finish, including the binding in less than two hours.  I chose a freehand swirl meander to quilt the sandwich.   I cranked the speed up high and just kept swirling.

The fabric is a pique type material, so it is a bit thicker than normal quilting fabric, which is why I chose to make the stipple fairly dense.  That way, it lays a bit flatter and tames the fabric into submission.   The thread is a coral colored polycore which matches the backing and binding.  Finished size is 40″ by 45″.

This quilt now goes back to the guild from where it will be donated to some deserving mother and baby.  I’d love to walk down the street someday and see a baby in a carriage covered by something I quilted.  I’d never let on my connection to the quilt, but my heart would smile.  And given that I live in a small town, it could happen!

2012-6: Autumn Outreach

This is an outreach quilt for my guild.  Another member of the guild pieced the top and I quilted it.  Melanie, our outreach coordinator, tells me that many of the members like to piece, but are not keen to quilt the tops.  I was looking for some easy quilts to do to “prime the pump” to get me in the quilting groove, so that I could start on quilting some of my own tops.  I’ve been enjoying piecing tops and have not felt the urge to quilt them.  Since I only post when I have completed a project, it feels like I have little to post.  Seems like a good time to have a finish.

So today, I mounted this top on the longarm and proceeded to play.  I like when there is no pressure to do anything fancy.   Then I can either experiment with something new or do something simple and easy.  Today I opted for simple and easy.

The centre of the quilt is done in a medium density stipple with a YLI thread in variegated autumn tones.  I like how the thread blends with the blocks.

This quilt feels a bit rustic, like it belongs in an outdoors man’s cabin.  Deciding to forgo frilly feminine feathers, I opted for a freehand fern-type feather on the borders. They add a bit of a rustic appeal to the quilt.   I like how the variegated thread shows clearly on the dark brown borders. 

Once quilted, I quickly added the binding to the back and top stitched by machine on the front.  For a donation quilt, I prefer a durable machine-stitched binding.  Finished size is 60″ by 84″.

I love having a finish.  It inspires me to complete another. I think I’ll go mount another quilt before I go to bed so that tomorrow if I get a few minutes free, I can dive right into the quilting.

This quilt received unanimous approval from my family.  They all like the autumn palette.  It now goes back to the quilt guild from where it will be given to a new home.  It could be a comfort quilt or a donation quilt.  Wherever it goes, I hope the recipient likes the quilt.

2012-5: Another Scrappy Nine-Patch

This scrappy Nine-Patch is the final afghan-sized quilt of the group of eleven quilts that my 95 year old mother has made in preparation for the eventual weddings of her eleven grandchildren.  The deal is, she makes the tops and I quilt them.  After being quilted, I return the to her and she binds them.

The quilting is a simple feather meander using a poly cotton thread.  The backing is a shirting cotton and the batting is poly.

This is the final quilt of this group of afghan-sized wedding quilts.  Now, whenever anyone gets engaged and married, there will be a full group of quilts from which to select.

It feels good to have the whole group done and another commitment stroked off my list of things to complete!