Thursday, June 30, 2016

Reunion Quilts, Revisited

If you've been following our blog since last year, you may remember that I (Teri) shared the story of how quilts are an intrinsic part of our family reunions each year. To read that story, read the post Reunion Quilts.

Alas, I still have not come home with one of the family quilts, but quite a few happy family members did. It is such a joy to see that my family appreciates the love that is put into these quilts. I know that every creation is cherished for the care put into it.


When we first arrive at the pavilion, all of the quilts are placed on tables with a numbered sign-up sheet for each age group. Numbers are drawn to see who will win the door prizes.

About mid-afternoon, after our meal and some visiting, the drawings begin. I love that the three quilts made for the youngest age groups were story-related: Winnie the Pooh was in the baby quilt, and the Peanuts gang and the Grinch were stitched onto the next two quilts. 

This quilt is a special one; it is known as our traveling quilt. It was made in 2002 by all the members of the family who were in attendance at the reunion that year. Each family created a block, and the "family quilting ladies" put it together and quilted it. A rack was donated, and each year, someone wins the honor of having the quilt for a year. It returns the following June and then goes to a new home. I'd love to know the stories of family that this quilt could tell—it certainly is a quilt with history! This year, my dad won it. Doesn't he look pleased?

The moment we all wait for with bated breath is the unveiling of The Quilt. This year's quilt was a stunning design called "Peeking Poppies," with vibrant colors and striking contrast. Here it is, surrounding by its makers: my great-aunts and second (and maybe some third) cousins. They gather every Tuesday afternoon and evening to stitch together. Yes, I'm a bit envious, and I wish I lived closer. How wonderful a tradition they have! The love they share for the art of quilting combined with their love for family is a blessing—both for them and for those of us who receive their gifts.

Isn't it lovely?!

There is always a heart-shaped label on the back, which tells the quilt's story.
Here, this year's quilt is presented to its happy winner. 

My great-aunt brought this to share with us: my great-grandfather's Confirmation Certificate from 1898.
I can see a couple of lovely appliqué design inspirations in this beautiful document!


This sampler was made by my grandmother. How she loved our family reunions, which sometimes fell on her birthday, making them that much more special to her. Though she is now resting in Heaven, I feel her presence each year at our reunion, and I can hear her laughing with delight as each member of the family walks up to pick up a cherished quilt. And the stories in these quilts will live on for generations. What a legacy these women have given to us!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Crazy Quilt Wrap-Up

A journey we started six months ago came to an end last Saturday. We had the last class in our Crazy Quilt: Start to Finish series, and it did not disappoint. You can read about our students' progress over the last six months through the following links:

Crazy Quilting—Start to Finish
Crazy Quilting—Start to Finish; Session One: Constructing the Blocks
Crazy Quilts, Session 2: Marking and Stitching Motifs
Crazy Quilts, Session 3: Ribbon Fun
Crazy Quilts, Sessions 4 and 5: Progress

Every student had a different take on what they wanted their project to look like. Whether it was the fabric choices, colors, or motifs, all of the projects displayed the unique stamp and personality of their creators.

Joanne displaying her progress

Inspiration taken from Joanne's love of birds

Linda sharing her inspiration

Each of these blocks had a theme

The stitcher's birthplace

This is a block all about the creator; her love of cats, hats, and roses

What sweet ribbon roses made by Theresa, an avid gardener and flower arranger

Some of our ladies chose to stick with four blocks, while others had more ambitious plans—and one is preparing to do 42 blocks for a large crazy quilt!

Denise chose these lovely earth tones 
and is considering framing her four blocks

Betsy has nine wonderful blocks made with her stash

Laurel has already put together 12 of her 42 blocks and chose
black centers to be the common thread in each block.

Our Wednesday students completed their four block projects and definitely fulfilled the "start to finish" aspect of our class.

Norma's completed project contains some of her beautiful hardanger work.

Rebecca's gorgeous fairy tale crazy quilt, complete with border and binding

A beautiful variegated ribbon flower in the border

As one final lesson, we did a combination stitch, round-robin activity in class. A 7x5" piece of flannel-backed linen with two drawn lines was given to all, and we each had to stitch a "seam" stitch.

Our round-robin pieces
Then we passed our fabric to the next person and they put another stitch down to combine with the first one. We passed it two more times so that each piece had been stitched by four different hands. The goal of the activity was to help our students with the combination-stitch thought process. Folded in half, these would make simple needle book covers if left as is, or they could be embellished a bit with more combination stitches or even a few small motifs. 

A good practice for all the stitches learned

We have had an amazing journey with our students and have loved getting to know them and helping them bring out their crazy quilt creative side. Both Teri and I have been thrilled to share our love of crazy quilting and embroidery, not just with our students in class, but with you, our readers, as well.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Native Alaskan Inspiration...and a few more quilt shops

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Anchorage, Alaska, be sure to visit the Anchorage Museum. It is not only an incredibly informative museum with an entire hands-on learning lab for children (young and old alike), but it is also filled with inspiration for stitchers. I (Teri) would like to share a few of the pieces of Native Alaskan items that screamed appliqué inspiration to me. Enjoy!

This traditional apron from Eastern Siberia was worn by men and women; it is heavily beaded and trimmed with fur.
How fun would this be to embroider?

I love the appliqué and embroidered design on this hunting bag from the Alutiiq people of southwestern Alaska.

The simplicity of the embroidery design adds to the beauty of the sewing bag, also from the Alutiiq people. It is made from bleached seal throats and painted skin, and it is embroidered with caribou hair. 

This sewing pouch was also embroidered with caribou hair, but was from the Unangax people, also from southern Alaska.

These beautifully beaded mittens are made from moose skin; they are from the Athabascan people, traditionally from Interior Alaska. The mittens often were beaded with leaf and flower designs. 

This Athabascan baby belt was used to support babies held on their mother's or sister's back.
What a beautiful appliquéd border design this would be on a quilt!

A wealthy Athabascan man might dress his sled dog in one of these elaborately embroidered and beaded blankets.

This beautifully beaded octopus bag, named for its eight dangling arms, is from the Tligit people, of the southeastern panhandle of Alaska.

This dance tunic has the Killer Whale crest design, also of Tlingit origin.
I am not sure how this was made, but the design it certainly striking.

This Haida dance tunic has a Bear crest: red wool appliquéd on black, outlined with shell buttons. 

Red wool hunting bag with beaded designs, also of the Haida people from southeastern Alaska.

There is a story of a halibut depicted on this Tsimshian button robe.

Sculpins are represented on these dance leggings, appliquéd and beaded; the tails rested on the top of the dancer's moccasins.

Inspiration is everywhere! I was completely enthralled by the beauty in the stitching of these artifacts, with such intricate designs and needlework. To think that in the midst of surviving such harsh conditions, time was taken to create such lovely patterns and pictures with their needles—both on ceremonial and everyday items. It does support the importance that such artistry has in our lives, doesn't it?

And with all that inspiration, what's a girl to do but visit more quilt shops?! I found three more in Anchorage. At first I wondered how one city could have so many quilt shops, but it was easy to see that each shop had its own unique flavor and offerings. I could be in deep financial trouble if I lived so close to all these shops. There was so much to tempt me, and so little room left in my suitcases!

First, we found the shop that had the booth at the market that I wrote about last week in At Home in a Quilt Shop. Seams Like Home had a bit of everything—machines, quilt fabric, classes, yarn, ribbon, silk, and friendly staff!

Yarn! And ribbon and embroidery threads.

Less than half of the store's fabric selection—an impressive inventory. 

The next stop was The Quilt Zone. The minute I walked in, I was drawn to the corner of beautiful Japanese taupes. The store was filled with lovely selections of modern brights, as well as reproduction fabrics. The owner is a designer, and her stunning work hangs throughout the shop. 


From neutrals to brights, her quilt designs are impressive and fun to study, as is her fabric selection.


Our final stop for the day was The Quilt Tree and Yarn Branch. I wasn't able to spend as much time here, as it was nearing closing time; but again, what a lot this shop had to offer, as you can probably surmise from its name. 


Top left: a corner filled with yarn and supplies. Top right: buttons galore!
Below: a section of Alaskan-themed fabrics.
A tiny sampling of what is available in this shop. 

Well, that about wraps up my travels to Alaska. I have returned home with so much inspiration and ideas for new projects—and dreams of hopefully returning next summer for another visit to this quilter's paradise! Thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope that you, too, have found something to inspire a few of your stitches.