Monday, December 30, 2013

Let's Go Party

As New Year's Eve approaches, here's a dazzling contemporary quilt which reflects the fun and festivity of celebrating the arrival of 2014. We wish you a safe and Happy New Year, filled with joy, peace, and prosperity.

Let's Go Party, 77 x 78", by Keiko Ike, Kochi-city, Japan

Blue ribbon winner for Best of Country at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival, Keiko notes, "I tried to express circles with narrow lines [of cloth]. While I was cutting the colorful fabric, it inspired me [to think of] colorful dresses at a party.  A lot of [brightly colored] fabric made this quilt fun !"   This quilt reminds us of streamers and confetti floating in the midnight sky as the calendar changes to the New Year.

Let's Go Party by Keiko Ike

Keiko's original design is machine pieced, machine appliqued, and machine quilted. She has done an excellent job of selecting pure solid hues which really "pop" against the dark background. Notice the variety of quilting patterns displayed here which add to the spontaneous and intriguing design.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival

Friday, December 27, 2013

Flowers in the Night Sky

In just a few days, we'll be celebrating New Year's Eve, December 31, in California and Arizona, U.S.A. Thank you to all who read Quilt Inspiration this past year !

Where are you celebrating New Year's Eve this year?  We know we have readers from many different countries.  In the Comments section below, please let us know from what country you are writing, and send your fellow readers a greeting. Happy New Year to quilt lovers around the world !

Hani - Bi (Flowers in the Night Sky) by Yoshiko Kobayashi, Osaka, Japan

In this pretty quilt, Yoshiko has portrayed the Hana-bi ( fireworks) that often light up the night sky during midsummer festivals in Japan. However, we like to imagine that this fireworks show is celebrating the arrival of the New Year, along with new beginnings for each of us.  

Close -up, Hani - Bi (Flowers in the Night Sky) by Yoshiko Kobayashi

Yoshiko's vibrant, creative work is machine pieced, quilted, appliqued, and embroidered. She writes: "When I was thinking about ideas for my quilt, I was impressed with a scene in an old American movie. The scene was that of two old men speaking while seeing distant hana-bi fireworks. I  thought I might be able to express the fire trail of hana-bi with a Sawtooth pattern. Hana-bi are common to the Japanese since olden times."

Close-up, Hana - Bi (Flowers in the Night Sky) by Yoshiko Kobayashi

In this close-up, you an see some of the lightweight gauze-like fabric Yoshiko used to portray the fireworks as perhaps seen through mist or fog. You can also see a variety of quilting patterns on the dark background, which reminds us of the trails of moving light that fireworks leave as they dissipate.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston IQF.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas (Feliz Navidad) !

For Christmas Eve, here is a lovely quilt that relates to Mary and Joseph's search for lodging in Bethlehem, so that the Christ child might be born. To all of our readers around the world, Merry Christmas !

Feliz Navidad by Betty Busby , Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival

In Betty's home state of New Mexico, the southwestern U.S.A., and  Latin America, the Christmas traditions revolve around the celebration of  Las Posadas.  It is the re-enactment of the search for shelter as the birth of Jesus draws near. A procession of people walk to a home, as Joseph and Mary walked to the inn at Bethlehem. The leader carries a lighted candle with a paper shade around it, known in Spanish as a "farolito". These farolitos (sometimes called luminarias) are also used to decorate the homes and buildings of the surrounding area, as you can see above. The paper bags are filled with sand, then a small candle or battery-operated light is placed inside the bag.  Betty writes........"Our whole neighborhood glows with these simple decorations during the holidays."

Close up photos, Feliz Navidad by Betty Busby

In Feliz Navidad, Betty has depicted her own home in New Mexico, beautifully decorated with farolitos. Gorgeous shades of pale lavender, golden brown and tan, plus deep purple, are used to portray the peaceful, snow covered landscape of a New Mexico winter.  Betty used turned-edge machine applique and machine quilting to create this memorable work.

This close-up shows some of the extensive applique on the tree branches and surrounding farolitos. The horizontal quilting pattern of the snow and sky give an artistic,expansive depth to this realistic landscape scene. You can almost hear the voices of the Las Posadas procession, singing carols as they approach the front walk, anticipating the fiesta inside.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration. Betty Busby is an award-winning quilt artist whose works have been exhibited around the world; for more of her beautiful works, see her website, Betty Busby Arts.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Advent of Christmas Day 17

With its pure, vibrant, red tones, here's one of the most "Christmasy" quilts we saw at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Show.

Memories of Scarlet Serenade by Sharon Schamber

Memories of Scarlet Serenade is a version of  Sharon's original quilt, "Scarlet Serenade", which won "Best of Show" at the 2005 Houston International Quilt Festival, as well as numerous other awards and recognition in quilt publications.  Sharon notes, "Over the past few years, I have been exploring machine embroidery techniques and pushing the limits of what can be done in the hoop [embroidery machine]. This quilt is the culmination of that journey."

Close up, Memories of Scarlet Serenade by Sharon Schamber

Sharon has expertly combined both contemporary geometric motifs like the Mariner's Compass blocks here with traditional rounded floral motifs of the red flowers, vines, and small berries. This work is perfect for the holiday season, as the motifs in vivid colors provide a  festive, cheery look to this flawlessly constructed quilt.

Close up, Memories of Scarlet Serenade by Sharon Schamber

Sharon notes that the techniques used to create this show-stopping quilt include original digitized machine embroidery, machine piecing, original digitized machine quilting, and free-motion longarm machine quilting. She used hand-dyed fabric, machine embroidery thread, and wool batting. (Wool batting provides slightly greater depth of material in order to more easily show all the beautiful machine quilting designs).

Close up of border, Memories of Scarlet Serenade by Sharon Schamber

Sharon's sawtooth border creates excellent visual interest by drawing the viewer's eye to the high contrast between the strawberry red fabric of the quilt body and the off-white tones of the border.

The digitized embroidery designs for the original Scarlet Serenade can be found at Sharon Schamber's website.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston IQF.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Advent of Christmas Day 16: Little Darlings

For Day 16, here's a quilt which celebrates the delight and innocence of children everywhere.  The "Little Darlings" theme relates to the Hummel images of children shown in each block. These drawings by Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel  (1909-1946)  of Germany gave rise to the world renowned Hummel porcelain figurines and Hummel embroidery patterns, which Gerlinde collects.

Little Darlings, 55 x 82", by Gerlinde Hruzek, Sun City, Arizona

We saw Gerlinde's Little Darlings quilt at the 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild Show. Winner of $1000 for Outstanding Traditional Quilt at the 2013 Road to California Show, Gerlinde notes this is her 12th crazy quilt; and this entire work is hand-made.

We're showing this quilt during the Christmas season, because the expressive faces of the Hummel figurines remind us of the enchantment with Christmas displayed by children around the world. Gerlinde's opulent work reflects the richness of blessings celebrated by friends and families during this time of year.

Please enjoy viewing all these close-ups, which show the fabulous lace, embroidery stitches, thread painting, and embellishments which make Gerlinde's quilt so beautiful. This artist has clearly undertaken hours of work to make a treasured heirloom and a precious tribute to the joy and charm of children.

Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Day 15: Christmas Crazy

Yesterday we featured "Crazy About Christmas" by Australian designer Linda Steele. Today we wanted to share a photo of her award-winning, hand embroidered "Christmas Crazy" quilt. It won two prizes at the 2013 Victorian Quilters Showcase: a first in Mixed Techniques, and Excellence in Embroidery and Embellishment. We saw this quilt in the World of Beauty exhibit at the 2013 Houston IQF.

close up, Christmas Crazy by Linda Steele

Placing the blocks in Christmas ornaments was such a clever idea!  The quilt has 9 different intricate ornament blocks, which are hanging by chain-stitched gold thread from a scalloped curtain. The ornaments were part of Linda Steele's crazy quilt journal project in 2012, and the whole quilt was finished in 2013; an 18-month journey. 

close up, Christmas Crazy by Linda Steele

After completing the ornament blocks, Linda designed a wintry scene for the top of the quilt, with an appliqued and embroidered reindeer and a sleigh filled with presents. The block that surrounds the scene is embellished with various stitches and threads.

close up, Christmas Crazy by Linda Steele

This was one of our favorite ornament blocks.  We loved the royal blue fabric against the green background; there is even some marbled fabric in this block, which looks like the reflection from a real ornament.  The nutcracker's bushy white beard was done in a turkey stitch and there is an embroidered Mouse King - complete with crown - to the right of the nutcracker.  In addition, this block has a tiny Christmas tree and an evergreen vine with red candles.  

This block is described in Linda Steele's 2012 June Crazy Block blog post.  To read about the overall design and auditioning of fabrics for Christmas Crazy, see Designing Christmas Crazy.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston IQF.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 14: Crazy About Christmas

Here is Day 14 of our Advent of Christmas quilt series. This year we've been impressed by the work of Australian artist Linda Steele, whose crazy quilts have been winning awards - like crazy - at international shows*. On her website, Linda says: "Crazy Quilting proved to be the perfect vehicle for me to commence my original design work. Using this technique I was able to freely combine my love of color and fabric with embroidery." 

Crazy About Christmas by Linda Steele (Australia)

"Crazy About Christmas" was exhibited in the silent auction at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival. The circular center block is filled with Christmas-themed embroidery and surrounded by yellow daisies. For the square embroidered border, Linda Steele first chain-stitched a square with gold thread; she then wove a stem stitch vine over the border and added some lazy daisy leaves and flowers. The entire piece was beautifully quilted with feathers on both sides of the embroidered vines.

close up, Crazy About Christmas by Linda Steele

The delicate green wreath in the center of the block was made with tatting and decorated with small beads.  The block includes a Christmas stocking with green candy canes, a trio of candles, a  snowflake, the outline of a gingerbread man (to the lower left of the wreath) and sprigs of greenery along with many pretty flowers and beads. 

Image credits: Photos of  "Crazy About Christmas" were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.  *We previously featured Linda Steele's "Naturally Crazy" quilt, which won a blue ribbon for Best in Country - Australia at the 2013 Pacific International Quilt Festival.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 13

From the 2013 AZQG, Visions of Christmas symbolizes the sights of the season, with its vibrant blocks of applique. Wreaths, mittens, candy canes, stockings, gingerbread people, toys, and of course Santa, all invite us to sit and gaze awhile at this cheery quilt.

Visions of Christmas by Eva Kilgore

Eva notes, "Since Christmas is my favorite time of year, I wanted to make a quilt that conveyed the joy and excitement of the holiday. "  We think that Eva's done a spectacular job with her high contrast, pure colors.

Close up, Visions of Christmas by Eva Kilgore

A slightly cross-eyed Rudolph the red nosed reindeer sporting a giant green bow gives a very merry and whimsical touch. Eva quilted "Visions of Christmas" herself, and here you see how her echo quilting pattern gives Rudolph lots of personality and a energy.   He seems to almost pop right off the quilt.

Close-up, Visions of Christmas by Eva Kilgore

Vivid solid color buttons work perfectly as tree ornaments placed among bric-a-brac used as garland.  We love the use of very creative embellishment which really makes this little tree sparkle.

Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 12

The first day of winter, December 21, is quickly approaching in the Northern Hemisphere! To herald its arrival, we're featuring this lovely quilt from the 2013 Arizona Quilters' Guild Show in Mesa, Arizona.

Snow Daze by Linda Koerner, quilted by Jodi Driver

Linda writes,  "This was a challenging pattern: use of neutral colors, the old tradition of hand embroidery, a lot of free-hand drawing, and the piecing of the quilt."  Linda has done an exemplary job in selecting beautifully muted and tinted tones of taupe, tan, and silver gray. This quilt reminds us of a winter day in the country, when nature seems to be hushed, silent, and in deep repose.   The "Snow Days" design is by Meg Hawkey at Crabapple Hill Studio.

Take a look at the close-up below to see Linda's  fabulous embroidery depicting winter scenes and activities.

close up, Snow Daze by Linda Koerner

We really enjoyed seeing this intricate and detailed hand embroidery showing a cozy house, schoolhouse, and their snow-laden roofs, surrounded by trees. In the distance, a child playfully sleds downhill, interrupting the stillness with happy activity.

Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild show.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Day 11: Christmas in Scandinavia

Every year on December 13, Santa Lucia is celebrated in Scandinavia.The Lucia tradition can be traced back to St Lucia of Syracuse, a martyr who died for her faith in 304. The festival is also a symbol of the coming return of the sun and the lengthening of days. Danish artist Bodil Gardner, who is known the world over for her art quilts, created this delightful piece called Santa Lucia.  It was a showstopper in the "Traditions" exhibit at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Santa Lucia, 51 x 62", by Bodil Gardner (Denmark)

On Saint Lucia day in Sweden, lights are turned off and girls dressed in white, carrying candles and singing the Lucia song, are led in procession by the Lucia bride with candles in her hair. Bodil Gardner has incorporated the lyrics of the Lucia song in her quilt. We were captivated by the figures in this quilt: their large and expressive eyes, rosy cheeks, and the textures of their hair.  It is her use of a flat perspective that makes us feel as if we are seeing every aspect of their faces; although we are viewing them from the side, you can see that their mouths are open in song.

close up, Santa Lucia by Bodil Gardner (Denmark)

Bodil Gardner has been making patchwork pictures since the early 1980's.  She works with second-hand fabrics, mostly cottons,using applique techniques.  The dog in this quilt was created with a brocade-like print, and the Lucia dresses were created with a textured lace fabric that may have been a dress or tablecloth in a former life.

On her website, Bodil says: "Material is bought at flea markets or it arrives as gifts. Faded, well-used cottons are fascinating and nice to work with." "My hope is that by exhibiting I can give other women courage to exploit their own creativity. Most of them have a sewing machine and some remnants of material - no need to invest in expensive gear."

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.  For more information on Bodil Gardner's work, including techniques and a gallery of quilts, please visit her website at Bodil's Patchwork Pictures.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 10

For Day 10 of our Advent of Christmas series, how about another bright, heartwarming quilt?  "Yuletide Joy" is a fabulous sampler quilt that includes some of the best-loved themes by designer Sue Garman.  Karen Michaels hand-appliqued and hand-quilted this beauty.

Yuletide Joy, 61 x 63", by Karen Michaels at the 2013 Diablo Valley Quilters Guild

Karen Michaels says:  "A 14-year project finished! I began this hand-appliqued BOM project in 1998, finished the top in December 1999, and began hand quilting in July 2001. The quilt was displayed every Christmas, basted and partially quilted, until Christmas 2011. I then quilted until it was finished in March 2012." 

We loved the pretty colors and many whimsical characters.  Check out the sleeping Santa Claus in the lower right corner, and - right above him - a snowman who has lost his head!  In the close up photo below you can see several of the blocks which were beautifully appliqued, including a lop-eared bunny in the snow.

close up, Yuletide Joy by Karen Michaels

Image credits:  Photo were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Diablo Valley Quilters Guild show.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 9

For  Day 9 of our Advent of Christmas series, here is a beautiful applique quilt with a Christmas message of Peace, Noel, and Joy.  There are so many fun blocks in this quilt:  see if you can find Santa Claus, two elves, gingerbread people, a church, and an angel with flowery wings.

Christmas Quilt, 63 x 54",  by Sharon Mazanec, hand quilted by Aileyn Ecob

The colors were lovely, and the poinsettia fabric was a perfect choice for the border. Sharon Mazanec says: "This quilt was started over 20 years ago and has progressed through the years. It has some of my favorite patterns and I recently decided to put them together and finish it for Christmas 2012. My friend Aileyn Ecob helped me finish it by doing the hand quilting.”

close up, Christmas Quilt by Sharon Mazanec, hand quilted by Aileyn Ecob

The potted pear tree was a highlight of the quilt.  The main stem was covered with holly leaves, and the tree was surrounded by red berries. As you can see in the photo below, Aileyn Ecob hand stitched around each of the elements and also stitched within the birds, star, leaves, and pears.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Guild of Quilters of Contra Costa County show.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Advent of Christmas Day 8: Christmas with Dear Jane

Here is our third and final "Christmas with Dear Jane" post. The quilt was made by Sue Mead, who says:  "This quilt is a selection of blocks from Dear Jane, Sylvia’s Wedding Quilt and [the] Farmer’s Wife Quilt. The borders are Dear Jane blocks made by my retreat group."

Holiday Tree, 60 x 72", by Sue Mead, quilted by Suzi Dillinger 

The blue background with scattered pinwheels gives the appearance of the night sky, and the animal silhouettes under the tree add to the feeling of the great outdoors.

close up, Holiday Tree by Sue Mead, quilted by Suzi Dillinger

The ruffled-looking edges of the tree were made with appliqued holly leaves on a half-square triangle, accented with cheerful red hearts.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Diablo Valley Quilt Guild.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Advent of Christmas Day 7: Christmas with Dear Jane

As our celebration of Christmas continues, here is another sparkling quilt! The Dear Jane® blocks alternate with hourglass blocks made of paisley and ivory prints, creating a jewel-like setting.

Comfort and Joy, 47 x 64",  by Christine Taylor, quilted by Suzi Dillinger

There are 39 different Dear Jane® blocks in this lap-size quilt.  Christine Taylor says, "This quilt is made from blocks I received in an exchange of Christmas themed 'Dear Jane' blocks.  I love them all."

close up, Comfort and Joy by Christine Taylor

Since the paisley print has all the colors of the quilt, it unifies the composition.  We enjoyed seeing the Christmas-themed fabrics which were used for the blocks, including the candy cane stripes shown above.  You can also see the pretty quilting by Suzi Dillinger in the photo below. 

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Diablo Valley Quilters Guild show.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Advent of Christmas Day 6: Christmas with Dear Jane

How about a Christmas quilt made with Dear Jane® blocks?  You probably know the history of the now-famous quilt.  It was made by Jane A. Blakely Stickle in 1863 and "discovered" by Brenda Papadakis, who documented and drafted all 225 blocks.  Since then, the little blocks have inspired legions of quilters.  We first featured Dear Jane® in two posts in 2010 (see Crazy About Jane and Crazy About Jane II).   We love seeing creative variations, such as this pretty Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree by Netty Soares, quilted by Suzi Dillinger

Netty Soares says, "This was made from squares I made in a Dear Jane exchange".  She used forty-two different blocks to create the Christmas tree and borders of this quilt.  

Close-up, Christmas Tree by Netty Soares, quilted by Suzi Dillinger

Suzi Dillinger has carefully quilted precise, symmetrical snowflakes into the background. They beautifully contrast with the curved holly leaves which comprise the outside of the tree.  Charming valentine hearts complement the rounded features of the leaves and echo the heart-shaped cardinal shown above.

Close-up, Christmas Tree by Netty Soares 

Many different shades of red and green were used to create these traditional squares, which play a large part of  America's quilting heritage. We especially like the gaily colored red polka dot block and the candy-cane striped asterisk block, which reminds us of peppermint sticks arranged like a pinwheel.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Diablo Valley Quilters Guild show. Dear Jane® is the registered trademark of Brenda Papadakis and is used with permission;  for more information see the Dear Jane® website.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 5

We loved the elegant simplicity of this quilt.

Christmas at the Hoffmans by Karen G. Fisher, 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild Show

Third place winner for Small Mixed Techniques Quilts, Karen writes, "I used my 'Graduated Grid: Circle in a Square' pattern from my book [that I wrote] Easy Grid Quilts to make this quilt for the 2011 Hoffman Fabric challenge." Karen's work depicts a set of lovely Christmas ornament balls in different sizes, all ready to hang on the Christmas tree.

Close up, Christmas at the Hoffmans by Karen G. Fisher

The swirled quilting was done in red thread, which really shows up on the gold background fabrics. What a lovely way to showcase large floral Asian-themed prints! You can fussy-cut them if you wish to spotlight the centers or petals of the flowers. Look closely, and you'll see the sparkly silver tops of the ornaments, embellished with tiny silver rings.

Close-up, Christmas at the Hoffmans by Karen G. Fisher

Tucked fabric adorned with beads gives an original and creative dimensionality to this border outlined in a hue of warm festive red.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild show.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 4

For Day 4 of our Advent of Christmas 2013 series... here comes Santa!

Close- up, Sew Many Santas by Annie Gaunder,  2013 Arizona Quilters Guild Show

Here are some examples of the pretty embroidery detail of this quilt. Note the chain stitch on Santa's belt and the blanket stitch around his feet, coat, and hat.

Sew Many Santas by Annie Gaunder

Annie notes, "This was a Block of the Month project for my California guild." This quilt features an array of Santas for the seasons.  Can you find the July 4th Santa, the Valentine-shaped Santa, and the Santa who is visiting the birds of springtime?

Close-up, Sew Many Santas by Annie Gaunder

Delicate embellishments really help to dress up this quilt. Note the sparkly beads near the star and the metallic tassel on Santa's hat. The clamshell quilting design of the background really helps the Santa figures pop right into the foreground.  We can tell that the construction of this quilt took hours of handiwork, by Annie, and the result is both cheery and artistic.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild show.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Advent of Christmas: Day 3

We're counting down to Christmas with a collection of quilts we've enjoyed this year. Here is Day 3!

A Sleigh Ride with Santa, 50 x 55",  by Dennie Sullivan, 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild Show

Dennie Sullivan's "Sleigh Ride with Santa" is based on the Friends for Christmas pattern by Lynette Anderson Designs in Australia.  Dennie states,  "I machine appliqued and added some embellishments. ....I was just waiting to find the perfect focus fabric. "  This quilt has so many fun folk-art motifs to it. The Amish stars in the border add an extra sparkle and visual interest.

Close- up, A Sleigh Ride with Santa by Dennie Sullivan

Tiny details really add to the charm of this quilt. A jovial snowman stands next to a whimsical reindeer with a tiny bird perched on his back.  Extra merriment is provided by the roly-poly heart adorned penguin who looks as if he's ready to party.

Three very cute penguins wearing Wise Men's crowns arrive at the tree, bearing a star, a gift, and a Christmas treat. Even though their bearing is dignified, it seems as if they are set to play as soon as they set down their gifts.  Dennie's precise workmanship can be seen throughout this delightful quilt. 

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration at the 2013 Arizona Quilters Guild show.
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