Quilt Show Time

One of the delights in my life is the family that has come to me in quilting.  The work entailed in getting ready for our quilt show every two years is rewarded by the opportunity to spend three days with my closest friends.  As with any family, reunions are treasured times together.

Sharing our quilts with non-quilters is important, too.  We hope to educate people about the joys of quiltmaking, the processes involved in that endeavor, and the love that goes into every stitch. We always meet fellow quilt makers and want-to-be quilt makers and I never know which is more fun – talking with new friends who are already addicted, or sharing the fun with people who are just getting interested.

In between meeting and talking with new quilt friends, there is time to visit with fellow guild members.  For me, one of the biggest pleasures at the quilt show is examining each others’ quilts and sharing details of the techniques involved.  Just visiting.  As I’ve heard Susie say before, “it’s OUR three-day party.”  Though we see each other at meetings once a month, that’s only a couple of hours, and we are sometimes busy with, well, business.

But at the quilt show, the work has been done ahead of time.  We spend one day hanging the quilts and setting up, then the two days of “the show” to admire our collective work and visit.  On the evening after the quilts are hung, our spouses join us to see the display as we vote for our favorites.

The idea of reunion is continued here.  Jim and Ted reconnected at our guild’s show in 2012, having not seen each other since Army days 40 years prior.  Ted’s wife is a quilter, too, and seeing an announcement on Facebook about our show brought the guys together!  Such fun we always have visiting with them!

The photos here are from past shows. Like the photos here, if you visit with us, you will see quilts of all colors and sizes, using varying techniques and fabrics.  I hear that the total on display next week is 147 quilts.


This year, the show is March 9 and 10 at the Methodist Childrens’ Home in Macon.  This is a new location for us, and oh, so appropriate, since every resident at that facility is given a handmade quilt as they are settling in.  This tradition is nearly forty years old!  Some of those quilts have been made by members of my guild and by members of other quilt guilds in Georgia.  Stories of those quilts and the impact on the lives of the recipients can be found in a book entitled Patches of the Quilt.

If you live nearby, I hope you will join us.  If you aren’t close enough to come to our guild’s show, I’ll bet there’s one near you.  Spring is a popular time to schedule a quilt show!

The basket quilt you see at the top, and the closeup photo featured is by Alice Smith.

Earlier posts about quilt shows are here: http://sandygilreath.com/the-ribbon-maker/ and here: http://sandygilreath.com/my-new-friend-janet/ and here: http://sandygilreath.com/deadlines-are-good/.

Love Birds

What better way to welcome Valentine’s Day than stitching a heart?

This was the lucky shot I captured on our recent trek to see the trumpeter swans visiting here from northern climes.  When Jim tiptoed to the truck for a shorter lens, I caught them swimming and their long necks forming a heart, skewed perhaps; but I saw a heart!  I like “wonky” in quilts anyway, so the heart they formed was perfect!

I printed the photo on silk fabric, layered it on wool and cotton batting.  I quilted the entire photo with silk thread, then added hand stitching with a heavier red thread when done.  Beads were hand stitched as eyes.

Some unknown person who tatted the edging on the placemat contributed to the piece as I used that as a mat for the photo.  A bit of red fabric created an inner border.

All is stitched to a black canvas ready to hang on the wall.  For Valentine’s Day, or any time one wants to think of love.  Or visiting swans.

The photo image measures 7” x 10”.  The finished canvas is 16” x 20”.  Click on any image to enlarge it.

More details of the swans’ visit is detailed here, if you missed that one.

Cemetery Fog

The atmospheric conditions yesterday morning were not what most people think of as a perfect day for photography.  But since our destination was the cemetery, the dense fog was perfect!

We headed to Rose Hill Cemetery with a few devoted photography friends and I came home with lots of images for angelic quilts.  An earlier post about my first Galadrielle quilt is here and includes a bit of history of this magical place.

Yesterday I captured images of some more angels that I think need to be on fabric.

Little Martha, made famous by the Allman Brothers, is especially pretty in the fog, I think.

Other angels spoke to me, too.  This one sits atop the tomb of Parthenia Raines.

And here is a different interpretation of Galadrielle in fabric.  This time, her image is stitched to a vintage placemat with elaborate embroidery.  I added many pearl beads by hand, securing her to a remnant of an old quilt dipped in the indigo vat.


A reclaimed doily serves as the label on the back.

Swan Songs

“Have we told you about the time a swan came to our front door?”

That’s a question we’ve asked birding friends recently.

There’s been a lot of chatter about rare birds, trumpeter swans, in our area.  These birds normally live in western Canada and Alaska.  They don’t like the South.  In fact, the pair now visiting Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge near Juliette, GA, are believed to be the first ones to ever visit GA.

Our Minnesota friends recently posted photos of a huge flock of swans near them.  I was enthralled and obtained permission to use their images in art quilts, thinking I’d not be likely to see any of these birds.   Then, we heard there were some swans near us!  (More of Mary Ellen’s Minnesota stories are here.) This photo by Bruce Lundstrom.

On Saturday, Jim and I drove to Piedmont and were fortunate to find the pair close to shore at a pond.  We quietly approached the group watching, visited with old friends and made a couple of new friends.  Then everyone else left and we slowly walked out on the deck and got even closer to the beauties.

We had heard that the two stayed on the far side of another pond, so Jim took his big lens.  The birds were so close to us that he couldn’t get the whole bird in a shot.  I had carried my camera thinking, “this is a waste, I can’t see them well enough to photograph.”  Wrong.  I could, I did.  Jim went back to the truck (walking ever so slowly and quietly) to get a smaller lens.

I was thrilled to capture a few images, but I was so mesmerized by the glassy surface of the water, by the reflections of the trees and the birds, and by what I saw as parallel behavior of the swans, that I would forget to put down the binoculars and pick up the camera.

But snap the shutter, we did.  Jim got great detailed shots of the birds, I got some surprisingly nice images, too.  I love the two birds with the loose feather floating on the water!



I was thrilled when I realized I had captured a heart in one shot!



Their balancing acts as they preen, stretching that long graceful neck into Mobieus-like positions, that one big black foot in the air, the thrill of them when they unfurl those huge, huge wings – all formed   indelible moments in my mind.

I knew standing on the dock on Saturday that   this elegant swan would be the subject of my next drawing in Mark Ballard’s class..  From the moment I snapped the shutter, I said, “that’s the pose.”

Oh, and the earlier encounter with a swan was on Mother’s Day, 2004.   Our Welsh Corgi, Dixie, greeted a mute swan at our front door.  We lived a couple of blocks from the nearest lake, so our photos of her are not surrounded by reflections or ripples of water.  But the visit was memorable.

That swan twisted her long neck into crazy positions, too.


Next project:  stitching some swans!

70 and Still Wearing Jeans

The world’s greatest husband had a birthday.  To celebrate this milestone, I completed a project for him that I had started several years ago.  Yes, it was a project in progress for a while.

I had collected some novelty fabrics and made 9” Ohio Star blocks.  The working title for this project was Things Jim Likes.  Construction stalled when there were some categories that had to be included but were difficult to find.  Fabric with cameras, birds, maps, were some of the most elusive.  I put everything in a box and put it on a shelf until I could collect more fabrics.  By everything, I mean a diagram of the quilt I had designed in EQ7, notes to myself about the possible sashing and setting triangle fabrics, and a list of themes I had and wanted to add.

When I would find fabrics that were appropriate, I added them to the box, and time marched on.





As this birthday approached, I decided that this would be his “three score and ten” gift .  Yes, he walked in the sewing room several times while the blocks were on the design wall.  And, no, he didn’t realize what was there.  I worked as quickly as I could with them on the wall, and I lied a bit (ok, a lot) about what I was doing upstairs in the weeks before Christmas.  (His birthday is December 26 – the design wall photo was taken Sept 23.)

Once assembled, I knew I couldn’t hide it long enough to quilt it myself.  And, it’s big and would take me a long time.  So Dewey Godwin became my partner in secrecy and did the quilting in record time.  Knowing the theme and seeing the trains, Dewey incorporated a railroad track into the border.  Perfect!

While I was working on this, Jim was playing Amanda by Waylon Jennings with a line  “finally made 40 and still wearing jeans.”  There’s where the title came from.  Not 40, but still wearing jeans.



My partner, my assistant, my musician, my photographer, my soulmate now has a new quilt of his own.  And, just in time for the coldest weather in a very long time.  It works at nap time in front of the tv.



Some of the things represented are cameras, lighthouses, scientific instruments, football, windmills, Christmas lights, birds, travel, the great outdoors, banjos, guitars, railroads, geology, the US Army, and even  sharks (those represent the years he taught Oceanography and dissected sharks in his lab, gaining notoriety for the smelliest classroom at school).

The patchwork back is made of fabrics whose motifs wouldn’t fit in the star design, but fit the theme.





For email subscribers, here is a photo of the whole quilt.  It measures 65″ x 80″ .  For more detail, go to the website and click on any photo to enlarge.

Christmas Quilts

I love to stitch with the colors of the season.  I know professional artists have to work ahead of the season, getting seasonal prints, cards, books ready during the summer for Christmas, working on Easter themes during snowstorms.  Not me.

I love to sew on pumpkin colored fabrics in the fall, pastels in the Spring, and give me some red and green to stitch while the tree is up.

Right now, I’m stitching on a project called Mistletoe and Holly (that’s the name given to it by the designers, Barb Adams and Alma Allen – and my working title now.  But as the stitching goes on and the design evolves within my life, that name is subject to change).  This is a design I’ve loved for years.

Here is a photo of their finished product. This Christmas season finds me stitching on lots of bindings, finishing some projects for gifts, some for our guild’s upcoming quilt show.  But I had to start a red and green project or the season wouldn’t feel right to me.

Earlier in December, I stitched this wool appliqué piece from a block-of-the-month from Maggie Bonanomi.  I believe this project will be in her book coming out in 2018.



My quilt ladder shows evidence of my fascination with red and green.  In the center is Five Seasons in Bonaire folded with the Christmas season showing.  The top and bottom are Tree Farm of Lorane and Small Tree Farm. These are two sizes of a quilt I designed and made for my daughter’s family a few years ago.  Friends saw it, loved the simple technique, and patterns were born.

Pomegranates and Poinsettias is in the dining room, Miss Lily’s Baskets are in a basket, and a red and green Irish Chain I made for a challenge one year (but did not enter it, I liked another project better for the competition) are around, too.  Detailed descriptions of these projects in earlier posts are here and here.


Above the playhouse hutch, a Santa marches through the woods (based on a design by Jan Patek).  Just as I finished this piece a couple of years ago (needed something seasonal to fit the space), I found the wooden Santa you see on the top shelf marching along in an antique store.  Serendipity!  Oh,  we do know how to spell Noel in our house, but when I bought these blocks in the 1980’s, Jim said to the clerk, “Do you think I should be worried?  I don’t know anyone named Leon.  Why do you think my wife is buying this?”  Her laughter still rings in our ears.  So as a tribute to that memory, we sometimes display the blocks that way.  I forgot to move them when I took the photo.

If history repeats itself, the Mistletoe and Holly thing will be part of next year’s display.  I have another couple of ideas in my brain, too.  But the ideas sometimes flow faster than these fingers can stitch, so only time will tell how much gets done.

Lace Day

Yesterday was Lace Day.  It’s not on your calendar as an official holiday, but I’m proclaiming it.





Sometimes when I’m out shopping buttons call to me, other times it’s tattered linens who beg to be cut up and sewn back together.  Yesterday it was lace.  Everywhere I looked I saw lace.

There was white tatting, crocheted edging in white, black, and beige.  Technically, these may not be lace, but they are lacy and perform the function of lace in some of my projects.  All in today’s hunt were bargains.  Most were handmade.

If it’s stained, I will dye it.  If it’s not stained, I may dye it.  But I love giving a home to someone’s pieces with a memory.  I keep it out of the landfill and get to add more history to a  photo on cloth, or just a collage of vintage remnants.

I love walking through antique malls.  I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.  It soothes my soul to see old things.  Memories surface at the sight of roller skates like I once owned, a towel in a stripe like my Mother had, even a can that held a ham.  The can may still hold a ham.  I didn’t want to know.  But when have I thought of those Sunday menus?  Ham from a can and orange macaroni and cheese from a box.  My Mother grew up wringing the chicken’s neck for lunch, so she embraced all the convenience foods available to her once they moved to town.

Inspiration comes in many forms.  The color palette here suggests a touch of black with some neutrals and that green.  Wow – that green.  If you subscribe to Julia Cameron’s advice in The Artist’s Way, to take your artist self on a date each week, this is the kind of thing she’s talking about.

I didn’t buy all you see in the photos.  Displays in the antique malls are inspiring, even if I don’t always make a purchase.  The way the pieces are displayed in a drawer, or old suitcase, or in a basket make me smile.


I bought some home with me.  Here is the pile of treasures.  I love the vintage bias tape and seam binding in the original package.  100% cotton, unstained.  At 25₵ each, I didn’t buy them all, but I did add to my supply.  And even the basket came home with me.  I love the double-handled  baskets for storing and carrying projects in progress.  The Longabergers are so sturdy.  I never bought them when people were having parties; I missed that boat.  But when I find them for a song (this one was $14), I grab them!

I don’t know what these finds will become.  But I know they will find their way to a project filled with memories.  Memories that include the fun time shopping for them and memories unknown to me but stored in the fibers of these pieces with a past.

The Farmhouse

My husband is a magician.  Not only can he see beauty though the lens of his camera, but in post processing, he can emphasize whatever he wants.  Recently, he’s put the emphasis on my quilts.  I love what he can do, don’t you?

Yesterday found us riding backroads with quilts and cameras in the car.  We ended up at The Farm House.  An old sharecropper’s cabin with numerous additions, good food, and decor to please any southern girl; it’s one of our favorite destinations.

We had a nice lunch in the dining room with a fire burning in the open fireplace.  Outside, guineas were roaming around, a scarecrow was standing guard, and piles of pumpkins adding color.  The menu included candied sweet potatoes, turnip greens, and corn muffins – more evidence that this is a place to please any county soul.

Surrounded by old quilts, old baskets, old ironstone, I feel like I’m visiting relatives from my childhood.  Since much of it is for sale, visitors can take elements of the past home.



I personally brought a wreath with a crow inside, and a pair of earrings made from feathers from the wandering guineas.




The owner gave us permission to take all the photos we wanted; her goal is to share this place with all who will love it.  Quilts posed on farm implements, beside pumpkins, in the garden, and on the porch.



My talented husband worked his magic in post processing.  Some samples are here, more (with details of these quilts) will follow in upcoming posts.

Let’s Strip

Some of my best friends are strippers.  One member of our organization moved away and became a hooker, but stripping seems to remain a favorite activity.

My quilt guild’s annual challenge quilts were presented this week.  This year’s challenge title was “Let’s Strip.”  So, strip we did.

The rules were simple.  Make a “strippy quilt”, any size, any color (no orange required this year), any technique.  That was open to interpretation by the maker.  Refer to antique English quilts, Amish bar quilts, recent jelly roll collections from manufacturers – or any other type of quilt in which you assemble the units in strips.

Members mingle and socialize while examining all the entries before casting their vote.  In addition to choosing their favorite quilt for ribbon awards, members study the quilts for evidence of personalities in the work.  One of the most coveted prizes of the day is the one awarded to the winner of “Guess the Maker”, the person who is able to identify more quilt makers than anyone else.

In the photos, you see Queen Tess moderating.  She periodically announces how much time is remaining for judging and reminds us again to follow directions we tend to ignore.  Here, she is standing in front of Marie’s entry, One Golden Autumn Day.  As winners are announced, they reveal the story behind their entry, then all other members do the same.

This year’s third place ribbon went to Joyce, for Maui Sunrise.




Second place went to Mary, one of our most prolific members.  Mary always does amazing work and has fun doing it.  This fun piece, Chicken Buffet, was no different.  Evidently, the block with the toilet paper was really an interesting one to make!


And, lucky me!  My entry, Autumn Elegance, won the blue ribbon!   My piece measures 29” x 47” and began as a jelly roll (a collection of strips 2 1/2” wide by 40” long) from Cherrywood hand-dyed fabrics.  I added batik leaves, and then quilted it densely using a variety of motifs.

Carol’s entry had to have a name change.  Carol began with strips of flying geese she bought at one of our guild auctions (we clean out our closets and bring things we no longer need and buy and sell from each other).  Thinking they were brought by Betty, she had titled the quilt Miss Betty’s Geese.  Learning that in fact Tess had made and discarded the strips, the quilt title is now Tess’s Geese.

Members aren’t limited to one entry.  Marie finished her large quilt early, then had scraps lying around and made a table runner that complied with the guildelines, too.  (it’s the red and black one with tiny squares in one row).

Susan made her challenge quilt  (behind Tess in this photo) using our friend Candace’s pattern called Sonja’s Windows  (available here).  Susan shared another quilt (the one she and Tess are holding) from the same pattern, not assembled in rows, too.   In addition, Susan made a strippy red and black quilt for the contest.

DeAnn, who is busy building a new house, created a pattern with a story in each panel.  Times in the Garden depicts scenes from each house DeAnn has owned. so this wall hanging is filled with memories she will take with her. to her new home.

Hilda’s title, Study in Black and White, Oops, (seen in the background of a group photo) conveys the message that quilts have a mind of their own sometime.  That red fabric just jumped in!  Janet likes black and white, too.  Her Silhouette came from a pattern she found in McCall’s quilting magazine.

Linda’s Sunrise, Gladys’ Kaleidoscope Pinwheels, and Angie’s Happy Scrappy, added to the inspirational display.


Carolyn’s Rework Nursery Rhymes depicts familiar scenes rendered in hand appliqué and framed with red calico.


Sharon and her grandchildren love to make bubbles, so Sharon made a bubble quilt using some unique materials to depict transparency.

Oh, if you are still wondering about the member I mentioned who left our group, she still keeps in touch.  And she shares photos of the beautiful rugs she’s hooked from strips of woven wool.  So, I guess that makes her a stripper, too.

Our meeting day was a rainy, dreary day, not the best for photography.  I’ve included some views of my quilt in the great outdoors with sun shining on it.

Click on any image to enlarge.



The Camera

Sometimes the camera tells a story.  Sometimes the camera is the story.

While exploring in some antique stores on Friday, I found some treasures.  Bits of lace, buttons, old hand embroidery.


And photos of unknown folks with a story to tell.





Jim found a treasure, too.  A miniature 35mm camera with leather case, original box, and paperwork.  He enjoys giving these tools new jobs to do, running a roll of film through them, letting the camera tell stories again.

On Saturday, he took it to a local shop to get a new battery.  The store owner, George, said, “I remember an occasion when I worked on a camera exactly like this one time before.”  It was at a gathering hosted by Phil Walden in the 1970’s.  A fellow came by with a camera like this in his hand, profanely exclaiming that it wasn’t working properly.  George asked what seemed to be the problem, adding, “I work on cameras, I can look at it for you if you like.”  Taking the offered camera, making the necessary adjustments, George got the camera working and handed it back.  Andy walked away and continued photographing the social event.

Years later, the two men’s paths crossed again in New York.  Andy looked at George and said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”  After hearing, “I repaired a camera for you once in Macon, Ga.,” Mr. Warhol muttered, “Oh, yeah,” as he walked away.