Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Houston Hoo-Doo Redeux Tour

This jacket is going to Houston...because I'll be wearing it on the plane tomorrow, as Cherry-Cherry & I take off on the Houston Hoo-Doo Redeux Tour!
Friends know that any trip is enhanced by having a catchy name (such as the Wild Hair Tour to Ohio). When we went to Houston the first time, four years ago, it was the Houston Hoo-Doo Tour...thereby this visit became the "Houston Hoo-Doo REdeux Tour"!
The original mid-morning flight straight to Houston got rescheduled as an early morning flight to Dallas, a 4-hour layover, and then into Houston at the same time.
We booked the tickets a long time ago to avoid higher fuel charges (check) and did it before the baggage fees went into effect (also check), so I guess the bottom line is you end up paying one way or another!
I hear there are 14 Starbucks in the Dallas airport.
Our plan is to find some place comfy and have a looooong brunch.
Ye Olde Laptop is accompanying me, so I hope to send you some pictures each evening and news from the show.
Cherry-Cherry and I will be working in the Hobbs Batting booth (# 328 & 429) as a new adventure in quilt show attending, and we have several lectures scheduled.
So watch for a report late tomorrow about the Preview...the show opens early to those who are registered for events!
And don't forget...leave me a comment to get in the drawing for the Wild Roses wall hanging!
See the
Oct. 6 post for details...help me celebrate the first anniversary of Patchwork Pie and the 100th post!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Judging or Judgemental?

please respect the rights of the quiltmakers and do not copy these photos

When you enter a judged quilt show, you will receive some sort of feedback. You may agree or disagree, but the comments are about your quilt, not you as a human being.
However, that seems to be the biggest fear quilters express when it comes to showing their quilts..."I don't want to be judged!"

Kimono 2 by Beverly Hilton of Gainesville, FL has many different techniques done well!

Recently I read this statement in an article on leadership from Kevin Eikenberry's site: "When giving feedback are your statements largely observational or judgmental? If you try to pass judgement off as fact you risk being wrong and setting a stage for defensiveness, resistance or worse. "
I thought this got to the matter I was trying to address by choosing a two-comment form. I simply wanted to share my observations with the quilters. If I suggested they "might want to think about binding technique" it was because the corners could have been mitered, or the edge of the quilt could have filled up the binding, or the binding stitches could have been tighter.
Did any of that ruin the quilt? No.

Did I expect anyone to go back and "fix" that quilt? No.
The idea was to give the quilter a chance to think of doing things differently the next time...or not! Each quilt you make is yours to make your way.

Cornucopia by Mary Kostewicz, Gainesville, FL. There two other quilts in the show using the same pattern. Colors and quilting made them all different.

Judging is not an easy task. Many times when you receive a comment that seems petty or picky, it's because your work was so good that the comments came down to small details. A picky point means you are doing quite well.
You can decide if you want to push your work on to an even "higher" level.
Or, like me, you may just want to get it done and rush on to the next one!
Whatever the judge says is just an observation about that particular quilt, in the minute or two it was being looked at.

Sara's Garden by Lee Starr of Lake City, FL. A simple but very well pieced quilt can do very well when compared to ones who missed the corners.

Usually the judge finishes the job and then leaves town.
I was also giving two lectures, so I overheard a few questions about the judging....often from people who had no idea I was the judge!
I told a few people, with a straight face, that the judge was blind.
In the course of hanging the ribbons, it became a humorous situation when we had to move some of the ribbons so they would show up against a different part of the quilt. The blue ribbons were on blue quilts, the red ones on red quilts, and the white or yellow third places seemed to be matching their quilts!
Of course, I also offered this as the "method" the judge used for deciding which quilts got ribbons!
Then I would have a nice discussion about what might make one quilt an award winner when another quilt seemed just as good. Many people are so taken with the quilt's appearance they never really consider the minor details...and that's what the difference comes down to between two fabulous quilts!

The Deer in My Backyard by Ann Ogeltorth of Lake City was a huge favorite at the show.

It was a real privilege to be able to examine at so many (168!) quilts and give thought to the way they were made. It lead to some personal growth (facing and setting aside any bias) and some inspiration to improve a few of my own lazy habits! It helped to sharpen my eye and to confirm a suspicion or two (yes, it turned out that there were a couple of vintage tops that had been finished recently!).

Christmas in Baltimore by Jill Allen of McIntosh, FL, really was the best quilt there!

And the Best of Show?
It was not a style I would ever make, nor colors I like to use. It was not the quilt I would have chosen to take home.
But it was the most incredibly made, beautifully handquilted, perfectly appliqued quilt in the show, and had an attention to detail that was beyond all the others (the points of the flowers fit into the sawtooth border at the corners). So it won!

And now I am finished talking about judging...it's time to get ready for HOUSTON...the biggest quilt party of them all!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why Children's Quilts Should Not Be Judged

Part of the "Children's Helping Hands" category which had didvisions for ages 4-8, 9-13, and 14-18. Can you tell what the ages of the makers were?

Many people on the business side of quilting are concerned that not enough young people are taking up the fabric habit.
Many quilters would like to see their younger family members show some interest in the joy of creating with their own hands.
So, often quilt shows have a category for Young Quilters to encourage them by providing an opportunity to show their work. We all know children enjoy being recognised for their efforts...we do, too!
When children are in school and have a spelling bee, it's easy to know who has done their homework. In gym class, they can compete in races and other athletic events where the competition happens in front of everyone.
These are the kind of contests where performance is witnessed, and the important life-lessons of winning and losing are relatively fair.
Even a science fair project, where adults may be involved more than should be allowed, can be judged, as that "assistance" can be considered when giving the awards.
But in a quilt show, the only thing in consideration is the quilt itself.
The judge rarely knows who the the quilter is (and if so, has to ignore any knowledge of that person), and cannot make any personal assumptions. The judge can only look at the quilt, and how it is made.
There is absolutely no way to tell how much work a child has done and how much was done by an adult.
This quilt was made by a five year old
A competent 7 year old can do better work than a 15 year old who is sewing for the first time, so age divisions are meaningless.
Most young people making a first quilt need some amount of guidance...but what were their own choices, and what was provided by an adult, or a kit?
How much of the basting, quilting and binding were done by someone other than the stated maker?
Now, these things are not bad in themselves.
It is a joy to work with a grandchild or young neighbor and complete a project.
A new artist could even be born that way...or at least a person who knows the satisfaction of creating a useful item!
It's just that it is not fair to JUDGE the quilt, even if adult help was allowed in the rules.
One of these quilts was made entirely by a nine year old boy. The other was made almost entirely by a grandmother. Who deserves a ribbon when only the quality of the quilt itself can be judged?
A child's quilt completed by an adult quiltmaker is not fair competion for a quilt made entirely by a youngster. When a ribbon is awarded for what is actually an adult's contribution, it is telling the child who did his/her own work that it's OK to cheat...or that if you do all your own work, you will lose (often again).
So let's encourage the young quiltmakers by showing their quilts, regardless of how much help they had. Let's give them a ribbon for sharing their accomplishments. They can all have a ribbon, even a gift bag or other acknowledgement.
Let's celebrate their entry into the world of creating and making, and also the satisfaction that comes with working together.
And some day when they're older, and they decide they have the skills to compete fairly...let them enter the show as equal quiltmakers.
I am looking forward to what they will do!

Amateur Quilt Show Judge

please respect the rights of the quiltmakers and do not copy these pictures.... Part of the Innovative Quilts category at the Suwannee River Quilt Show 10/08

Although I do have 26 years of experience with making quilts and teaching quiltmaking, I have described myself as an "amateur quilt show judge" because I do not have NQA certification.
Much work and training goes into the certification process, and the best judges also take additional classes to keep updated on changes in the world of quilting. When they do a critique, you are getting some qualified feed back.

In the Summer issue of Professional Quilter magazine, Scott Murkin (NQA certified) wrote a great article about judging. He mentions that it is not a judge's job to teach, but to comment on the quilt at hand.

Being a professional teacher, when I was asked to judge the Suwannee River Quilt Show last week I had a slightly different idea about my task. Instead of a detailed form with a rating system, as used in most shows, I came up with a format I thought would be both fair and helpful.
What a delight to give first place in Group Quilts: Small/Medium to the
Children's Library Quilt from Starke, FL (entered by Dorothy Bartlett)

Listening to quilters talk over the years, they seem to have a fear of being judged. It's hard to separate your self from your work, after pouring so many hours into it.
But isn't it also good to have someone knowledgeable point out how you could make your work even better?

I decided to keep things simple and made a two-comment form.
After a note thanking the quilter for taking part in the show, the first statement was "Something really good about your quilt is..." and then came "Something you may want to think about is..."
So far, four days after the show, I have received no death-threats, so maybe I managed to come up with a good idea.

Each quilt has a story, and the fact that it is hanging in a show means the maker had something to share. We have been so trained to modesty, and so quick to point out faults before someone else can beat us to them, that it's often hard to admit to real pleasure in seeing our work on display.

I truly enjoyed commenting on one thing that I thought was good about each quilt. I hope the things I chose were ones that the quilter liked, too.

This is one of my Judge's Choice awards...a very simple scrappy quilt made fabulous by the vibrant turquoise sashing! Untitled by Marcia Wallace of Starke, FL.

For the "thing to think about", I just wanted to nudge the maker to consider learning a new technique or taking time to do better work. I am pretty sure that everyone knows what they really need to improve upon. I also am sure they did the quality of work entered because that's just what they pulled off for that particular quilt. The scribe wrote on her own entry's form "finished is good"...not the nice things I did say!
I know the thing I often think is "Well, that's as much time as I feel like putting into this quilt!" and off I go onto the next one. My choice is to make more quilts, as opposed to making the Best of Show quilt.**
So I'm hoping my "think about" comments were met with just that...and the thought could well be "I meant to do it that way!"

**oh, please don't even get me started on those wonderful quilters who manage to make both the Best of Show and lots more! I will just continue to stay out of their way and admire them!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Quilts Upon the Suwannee River

I am home again after 5.5 days of fun with quilts & quilters at the Suwannee River Quilt Show, at the Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs, FL.
That includes the two days it took to judge the show, and two days when I gave lectures. I'll have more to say about that, but meanwhile, how is this for a quilt show location?.....

No, it's not My Old Kentucky Home...it's the Museum!

There were quilts in several buildings, but let's take a peek inside here...

The spacious center hall allows visitors to walk along two rows of quilts

What an elegant setting for a show! This building was made to house a collection of antique pianos, and around the walls are dioramas honoring Stephen Foster's most famous songs...butI will save the history lessons for another post! I just wanted to give you a taste of this setting.

The Yellow Room at one end of the Museum...

This is the "Innovative" category, a good alternative term for "art quilts". Entries were mostly on the small size. Small quilts invite a close inspection...there is no place to hide imperfection!

....and the Pink Room is at the other end!

The rest of the quilts in the Museum were in the Medium Pieced category. Since this includes most lap quilts, the largest number of entries (48) showed up here.
There were 168 judged quilts, two challenge collections, and 11 vendors.

Check in again tomorrow for some more pictures, and perhaps my explaination (rant?) about Why Children's Quilts Should Not Be Judged!

Monday, October 13, 2008

MOMP Quilting Part II

MOMP quilting (My Own Mattress Pad) has turned out to to be aptly named. It is incredibly mattress-pad quality! And adding the "My Own" indicates it is completely my own fault!
At the top, you can see the wavy lines I chose for the border. This is about as "get-it-done" as possible. MOMP is merely a cute way of saying "utility quilting"!

But then, just because it's simple-minded, does not mean it is simple! Oh, no!

Although the intent here was to show a nice picture of how I chalk-marked the corner turn, I managed to capture a Big Mistake. I measured correctly on the right , but the new line across the bottom marks too wide a section, and won't give the proper space for coming around with the last line of quilting.
Very sad, especially when it is not discovered until some of the stitching (maybe 28"?) is done.
Even sadder when it happens twice!
I have two excellent seam rippers, and put them to good use. They deserve their own post!
Of course, I'm sure you wouldn't be interested in an item you never need....

To put the finishing touch on a truly MOMPish experience, here is the large pleat I discovered when I was sewing the binding! Totally disgusting!
This will entail removing three lines of quilting for about 8 to 12", plus the binding. Then I have to sneakily easy that fabric back in. If I can...
If worst comes to worst, I am thinking this would be an excellent place for a label!

My point in showing you all this nastiness is just to let you know it happens to anyone...everyone...so don't take it personally when something goes wrong. There is not an award-winning quilt anywhere that doesn't have some "how I saved it" story!
Yet, we always think we will be making the perfect quilt when we start out....

So let's get some great fabric! There was a Big Sale going on at the local quilt shop this Saturday. $7/yd batiks!

This fat-quarter wants to be the background for some spectacular applique.

I got a yard of this one because I love anything in the entire blue-green range...

And this one is just so happy & festive looking, I got 3.5 yards!
Well, actually I got that much because Cherry-Cherry did.

Tomorrow I leave for Stephen Foster State Park and the Suwannee River Quilt Show.
168 quilts to judge! Two lectures to give! Fun to have with friends!
And by Sunday (if not before) I'll have pictures to share.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quilting: MOMP Style!

Deciding on the quilting design can be almost as bad a roadblock as basting!
This is my "1-2-3 Celtic Chain" pattern. I was looking for something "fast" to get this done for the pattern cover photo, and settled on what I have come to call MOMP Style.

As always, I meant to do it that way!

That would be My Own Mattress Pad style!
I had quilted another "1-2-3 Celtic Chain" (the church quilt) in a similar way, but with straight lines all the way across the quilt. I wanted to skip over the colored parts on this one, because the very light thread would not have looked so good there, but it does blend in nicely with the background.
First I free-motion stitched in the ditch all over to stabilize the spray basted layers.
Then I drew in blue wash-out pen guidelines (that's what you are really seeing) and did free motion wavy stitching. When two lines didn't meet, I sneaked along the ditch to get to the next line. The wavy lines are very "organic" (natural) and are not meant to be even and identical. The waviness also gives the impression that the lines are continuous behind the colored fabrics although they don't match up perfectly.

I like the blue markers...but why can't they last longer???

This worked well, I could just mark a block or two as I went along.
None of these pictures were taken to show off the block pattern. I'll do that when I get all the lines washed out.
When I'm figuring out what to quilt, I look for shapes that are in the quilt, or places where lines would naturally connect. The blocks are set straight in this quilt, so I thought diagonal criss-cross lines would look good.

I can hardly wait to see how it looks when those blue lines are gone!

The blocks are in a "floating" set... surrounded by background fabric (not touching a border), so I wanted to set off around the edges by doing something different.
Instead of diagonal lines coming from the squares' corners, I drew straight lines both from the corner and at the midddle of each little square. That will make the quilting a bit more condensed or close around the edge to set it off from the central pattern.

I think I'll just do a rather large wandering stitching through the border, and then maybe a lime green binding to match those dots in the brighter fabric. Stay tuned for that!

A special greeting to all the people who have e-mailed me
about my 15-year old Pfaff 1475!
I was going right along when suddenly the needle broke!
It turned out to be the thread had become wrapped around the spindle, and stopped feeding through the machine.
I have a thread stand and a jar and all sorts of other set ups for fussy threads like rayons, but I didn't think this Gutterman embroidery thread would be a problem.
My solution is shown here: I just dropped it down in the thread area, figuring the large disc would keep it in place. That worked quite well!

There will never be too many batiks for me!

One of my tricks for working in a small area is to fold the quilt in quarters when it's time to trim threads. I can work on one section, flip it over for the next, then re-fold and trim the remaining two quarters.
The back is shown here...a lovely piece of that 108" wide batik. I had it turned over to the front and pinned to protect the raw edges & batting, and almost thought it would make a nice binding.
But you know, I gotta go for that lime green!

If I can get the border done tomorrow, and the binding on, then I can wash out those blue lines and see what it looks like!
That's what I call "the sport of quilting"....you just don't always know how it will turn out until the end!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quilted Wild Roses & a State Park

How about some sweet batik wild roses? This piece measures 15" x 20"...and it even looks good turned in any direction!
The centers of the flowers are are gold color embroidey floss.
I am incredibly embaressed to say I am still trying to find the pattern I made this from. She's a Canadian designer...that much I know! When I was in Banff & Jasper two years ago I got this pattern and admired the red maple leaf that marks it as being from a Canadian designer. That would be a great marketing idea for any local!
NOTE (10/16/08): I finally found the pattern! "Wild Roses" by designer Castilleja Cotton in Calgary, Canada.

So...leave me a comment to celebrate the upcoming 1st anniversary of Patchwork Pie, and your name will go in a drawing to win this cutie.
If you don't know what to say, just tell me what you are working on right now. I always love to hear about what people are making.

OH! Look...it's the Carillon (belltower) at Stephen Foster State Park in White Springs, FL!
That must mean it's time to get ready for another quilt show at the park, literally down upon the Suwannee River.
I'll be over there for several days next week helping to get the show hung, giving a couple lectures, and generally enjoying one of the prettiest spots in Florida. This time I get to stay in a cabin right inside the park...and hear all the Stephen Foster songs that carillon will play!
This is a great show that has every kind of quilt imaginable. I don't know if I can get any WI-FI there, but I'll be sure to post some pics at some point!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

CFQG Mystery Quilt Revealed!

I just got home yesterday evening from teaching a Personalized Mystery Quilt class for the Central Florida Quilters Guild in Orlando.
The theme was friendship, so I designed a quilt called "We're All In This Together". It used the traditional Bright Hopes block. Each person had a square of fabric to represent herself, and four other fabrics. The squares were exchanged, then everyone made her quilt using her own fabric, so it would be the colors she liked.

Pink & green...a classic combo! This quilter was trying it for the first time.

Mystery Quilts are rather tricky, as each clue is a separate step of construction and you don't know where you are going with the colors.
There are a lot of papers to keep together, so I always have something for the students to help stay in order. It's different each time, because I go to the Friendly Dollar Store (that really is its name!) and buy something. This was a real find:

The sides of these little items are shiny metallic squares! So tacky & fun!

They are folding stands with a little bag. I am sure you could buy these for many more dollars as something to use for sewing scraps.
To the right you can see the little trays I use to hold the clues...another Friendly Dollar Store find! In the middle of the clues is the crucial element of the class...a bowl of small chocolate bars and peppermints, waiting like a little reward each time you have completed one clue and come up to get the next!

CFQG has a number of Featherweight AND batik lovers

When it comes to a Mystery Quilt, fabric selection can be difficult. There's just no way to tell ahead of time how each color may be used, and the supply list needs to be as simple as possible.
My advice is to go with holiday colors, or maybe the colors of a favorite sport team...at least that way you can be sure there will be some use for the quilt!
Batiks are another good choice. They just always seem to look good together.

Jinny Beyer border stripes are never quite out of fashion!

The block was simple, so the really good part of the class was learning about setting a quilt on point or straight, and how this pattern can be used in differnt ways. The stripes in my sample (above) give it a definite woven effect.

All this came right out of my scrap basket...
...and the BGPC gave me the center squares

My other sample is done in a charm style...each fabric used only once.
If it looks familiar, that's because you've seen it before in my Scrap Basket lecture! Ha, ha...it was hiding in plain sight in public and on this blog! I am going to finish it up with a wild flowered border and give it to my friend, A. Coffee Queen, for allowing me & Cherry Cherry to stay at her house.

C.C. came along with me as a mini-vacation and to help with selling patterns.

What a nice suprise to find this wicker furniture to set up a display!

I recently published Summer Garden, including a sheet of instructions on doing trapunto by machine. You've seen the quilt in progress, and I'll show you the finshing touches in a post soon.

Speaking of soon-to-come posts, I am quickly arriving at two blogging milestones: the first anniversary of Patchwork Pie and the 100th post!
Some bloggers have a drawing or contest to celebrate. I'd like to do that, too. I know you are out there reading my ramblings, but aside from the Mysterious Ms. E and CC herself, there are not too many commenters.
So here's the deal...leave a comment on any post starting tonight (Oct. 5, 2008) through Oct. 31st. I will award a small wall hanging (yes, one that is already finished!) by drawing from the names of those who have commented.
Check in tomorrow for a picture, so you'll know I really do have something finished!