Sharing fabric cuttings with my worldwide friends

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Remembering Kerry With Love

Today is the second anniversary of losing my beloved big sister Kerry. Cancer took her from us too soon. Thinking only of positive aspects however I'd like to honor her memory today by showing you how she lives on in her youngest nephew, my #2 son.

Kerry was always happy to make things for others, be that on the computer, the sewing machine, in her kitchen or a variety of other locales.Her nieces and nephews loved to visit and learn from her as much as they loved receiving her thoughtful, creative presents as well as her guidance and support. She was a great treasure in our family.

 Here's a photo of we three sisters (Kerry on the right) on the last trip we all took together in April 2011 when Kerry did all the planning so we could be together for the New Zealand Quilt Symposium held that year in Queenstown.

Jumping right ahead to 2015...

Several months ago #2 son asked me if I thought he could make a quilt to give to a friend who was expecting her first baby. Thinking that "we" had time to make only one quilt I abandoned my idea to make a baby quilt and instead guided and assisted #2 son as he worked diligently to bring his creation to life. Not content with a simple design he chose a paper pieced pattern of sheep (for the baby was to be born in the Year of the Sheep) colored in a bold way. Explaining that a quilt with white sheep would not be practical for something designed to be used, #2 son chose to make all the sheep purple with one renegade pink one. The setting chosen was an attic window one; yes, those Y seams are not for the fainthearted beginner but he boldly stitched on.

Not content with all the detail on the front #2 son also put a lot of thought into the reverse side of the quilt. There are blocks of fabric featuring the rabbit and the dragon to represent the baby's parents. Then there is a label with his personal message to the baby and another one, at my insistence, with all the other details that belong on a quilt label like when, where, why, who.

I'd like to think that AK would be proud of her youngest nephew.

Here's another photo of the sisters trip to Queenstown in 2011. Kerry had organized an fabulous trip up through the Dart River valley towards the Mt Aspiring National Park. The bus pulled over for a photo stop near to this picturesque scene in the vicinity of Paradise. This resonates because we were the daughters of a sheep farmer and because #2 son made his quilt to feature sheep.

I miss most keenly the comfort of my big sister; a friend, a fellow quilter, a shoulder to lean on and a family gem.

Kerry left us on October 29 in the early afternoon in New Zealand. But because of the time difference, altho it is still October 28 here in the USA it is right about now that the spirit of Kerry fluttered away and left us.

Remembering Kerry.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

GFS Studio Tour 2015 Final Day October 18

Will we see you today on this, our third and final day for the Great Falls Studio's annual Studio Tour?

Friday was a bright, clear autumnal day and this is what you saw as you walked up the driveway to studio #26.

Up the steps and to the front door...

Now you are inside at my area...
I am showcasing my "Poppies for JPC' quilt so I have arranged a couple of vignettes. The army uniform hat was used to base the color scheme of my quilt on. When I went to the fabric stores I walked along the racks holding the hat to find the fabrics that would fit with my planned colors.

This is my homage to New Zealand display: photographs of my Grandfather and my Father in their army uniforms. They both worked with sheep so I have included a photo I took in January in my sister's back yard of sheep she had to "mow the grass" in her back field/paddock. There is the small quilt I made for the "My Mother Always Said" series in 2014 - my saying was "There's One in Every Crowd". And to round out this display my "Heritage Aotearoa" quilt.

Will you stop by to pick up a cookie, my "thank you for visiting my studio" item? Today's cookie, made from an old New Zealand family recipe, is Peanut Coconut Brownies. My dear neighbor Maud very generously volunteered to do the baking for me as she knows how busy I am in transporting and setting up my "pop up" studio. Thanks Maud!

You will have a lot to look at in Linda Jones studio; here is her painting "Alaska Blue".
And adjacent to Linda's studio you will find our friend and colleague Richard Masaniello ready to show you his beautifully hand crafted sterling silver original pieces of jewelry.

Come on over and visit! Pick up one of my new "business" cards - I am ridiculously thrilled at our well they printed. The day has begun with the first frost for the season in my garden so let's hope for a clear sunny day to tour although you may need to don that jacket.

All details about the Studio Tour can be found by going to

Thursday, October 8, 2015

You're Invited: Studio Tour 2015 October 16,17 and 18

Once again it is my pleasure to participate in the annual Great Falls Studios Studio Tour. You are invited in to the studios of artists working in a wide variety of media during this event. Meet them, chat with them, maybe watch a demonstration or spend some time looking through their inventory. The event is free, family friendly and makes a lovely outing driving the backroads and admiring the autumnal scenes.

For all the details go here

I will be showcasing my two big recent finishes, "Poppies for JPC" and "TOM Flies Free". If you have visited me before on the tour you'll know I love to chat with you about my quilts. My focus this, as last year, is on weaving history into my quilts.
 This is "Poppies for JPC". Regular readers of this blog will know it is to honor the service of my Grandfather in World War I so I added a few props to my photo. The quilt is 56" square and beautifully quilted by Su Gardner of Fairfax.
 Again, another familiar quilt for you regulars, this is "TOM Flies Free" which was an online project in 2014 about the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Grey with splashes of lime green to brighten it and a bird in each block to represent the concept of flying to freedom this quilt is 58" high x 75" wide and also expertly quilted by Su Gardner.

 "Wedding China" is a small piece from the June Bride series a few years back. Measuring 24" square it was masterfully quilted by Cheryl Kotecki.

Most of my pieces are display only but there may well be a few for sale this year so come visit. Each day I will have available a freshly made home baked cookie using a New Zealand recipe from my Mum. Come early while supplies last - if you don't want to talk about quilts then we can chat about recipes!

There are 44 artists ready to meet you on this Tour. Many are in their own home studios but some of us, not having studios user friendly for visitors, are in alternate locations. I am indeed fortunate to be invited to join the talented artist Linda Jones, in her home studio. We are stop #26.
 Linda paints frequently with watercolors and above is her recently completed "Muted Morning". This prolific artist also uses acrylics and sometimes even fabric in her works. Come explore her studio full to overflowing with a wide variety of art to admire and purchase.

 Downstairs, adjacent to Linda's studio, we are thrilled to have silversmith Richard Masaniello with us again this year. It is fascinating to talk with Richard about the process he uses to create his original, handmade and unique pieces of jewelry. Most all of Richard's pieces can be purchased during the tour but he will also make you a custom piece if the one you want is already gone or not quite what you'd love to have.

Friday October 16 - noon to 5pm

Saturday October 17 - 10am to 5pm

Sunday October 18 - noon to 5pm

Towlston Woods Studio, 804 Towlston Road, McLean

We look forward to seeing you and sharing our creativity with the community!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Thrilling End to the Drought

Events this summer have overtaken me and I have not been keeping up with my blog.

But the announcement last night of some great news is my incentive to write a post.

As you might remember I am the exhibits chair for a local art group. For September I organized a juried all media show titled "Rock Stars!" as it is hanging in the US Geological Survey building. I thought making the show feature rocks fit the location.

I was excited when my piece, "Uluru; Star of the Outback" was accepted by the jurors in early August and then thrilled to have it announced last night that it had been awarded the Judge's Commendation award for 3D.

There are 59 pieces of hanging art and of course most of them are paintings and photographs but here and there are three pieces of fiber art hanging also. More 3D art is in a display case.

Here you can see my piece hanging next to a similarly colored painting, "Milky Way Over Bryce Canyon" oil painting by Gail PĂȘan and a portion of "Marina Diva" watercolor painting by Betty Ganley.

The title for the exhibit was announced to the membership in January. At the time I was away in New Zealand attending the Quilt Symposium there. A wonderful class I took with the amazing New Zealand quilter Chris Kenna inspired me to try depicting Uluru in a wall quilt.

And it worked out. The comments from the judges confirmed that my piece was taken seriously as art. One of my long term passions, and perhaps the reason I joined the art group to begin with, is to have quiltmaking accepted in the art world. This brought additional meaning to winning an award last night.

In case you do not know Uluru is the big red rock formation in the south western portion of the Northern Territory of Australia. It was previously known as Ayers Rock but several years ago, in recognition of the sacredness of the site to the Australian Aboriginal people, the decision was made to once more let it be known by the ancient Aboriginal name, Uluru.

If you are in the area I do hope you stop by and look at the exhibit before we take it down on September 30.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scrappy Bits and Pieces

If you've been waiting and waiting for a report about the Poppies exhibit, I'm sorry, this isn't that report. But it has been all go lately and instead of waiting any longer to get caught up I thought I'd post a few candid shots... They're taken at night and thus poorly lit but they tell the stories I want to share with you.

 Last weekend I was away from home at a three day quilt retreat. This time I finally wised up and took something fairly easy to sew. With a 20 or so quilters all sitting together with sewing machines, fabric, sharp cutting instruments and good stories it is not always easy to keep your mind on some intricate project. Above is what I worked on. One of my small groups needs to raffle a quilt to raise funds to buy fabrics to make our charity quilts. To save money I said we could make something using fabrics from my stash - which then morphed into my designing the top and doing a lot of the piecing. Over the weekend I got all the blocks put together and now need to come up with some applique to put in the corners before I hand this over to another of our members to quilt. The blocks are 4 1/2" finished - 13 nine patch and 12 assorted pieced blocks. After the applique I think I will add another narrow border of that solid green - or maybe just make a wide binding. Hopefully I will remember to show the finished product in a couple of months before it gets raffled off.
 At this time of year #2 son is often busy sewing his own costume to go to a comic.con (or similar) convention. But a few weeks back he decided he would make a baby quilt for a high school/office friend who is expecting her first baby. Now most people would choose something easy for their first quilt (thinking back, my first quilt was also a baby quilt made in a triple Irish Chain pattern which was simple piecing). In this case the choice was to make paper foundation pieced sheep which will be set in an attic window setting. Since this is a baby quilt it will need frequent laundering so he decided that white sheep would get dirty and that purple would be a much better choice! The pattern is from an older Margaret Rolfe book "A Quilters Ark".

 I think he is making a wonderful effort and it will look great when it is all done. Since I took this photo he has three more blocks done which means only one more to be done for the 3 x 4 setting. The faces are meant to be embroidered but now we are rethinking that and wondering if embroidery floss is (a) color fast and (b) will stand up to frequent laundering. Your input is welcomed.

 Meanwhile I am beavering away on a "secret" project intended as an entry for a juried show so I don't want to show you too much. But here are some of the pieces - these blocks finish at 3". On the weekend people would look at my 4 1/2" blocks and remark how small they are but after working on 28 of these orange and blue blocks the pink and green ones were not nearly as tedious to make.
So that's what is being created here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Where Poppies Grow On Exhibit

I am delighted to share with you the news that my quilt "Poppies for JPC" will be one of the twenty on exhibit at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City this upcoming weekend - June 19, 20 and 21. You can read all about the exhibit and indeed the Museum by going here to the Museum page but be sure to look at page 2 for this weekend's events. It looks like a fascinating museum.
I did get the binding on my quilt within days of the post on April 25 but I realize I have not posted a photo of it. So here it is. The binding has a thin flange of the same fabric as the crosses.

This photograph of Grandpop, James Patrick Coughlan, was taken when he was at Officer Training School in Oxford England in the waning months of the war.
I'm including the photo above for several reasons. It does give a lovely view of the masterful quilting job that Su Gardner did on her longarm machine. But I also show you the small badge that I used to create the pattern for my center medallion - that badge is barely 1" across in reality so I was really pleased with how my center turned out.

My quilt and I leave for Kansas City tomorrow so today I have been putting the final touch to the quilt with the label. It will be a great honor to have my quilt be part of the exhibition and I do hope there are many visitors.

In addition to the exhibit at the Liberty Memorial there is also a major quilt show, The 2015 Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival on at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland, KS. More details are here.

This trip is a double thrill for me as a quilter because I also have a quilt in the Beatles collection which will be hung at the KC Quilt Festival.

And the capstone for my excitement happened earlier today when I found that Barbara Brackman had included mention and photographs of my quilt on her blog. Go have a look here. Be sure to look at the links that Barbara has provided - as usual they are full of fun and interesting details.

This is one of the facets of quiltmaking that I love the most; the opportunity to meet and mingle with others in distant places but united by a love of quilt making. In addition to at last being able to meet Denniele who created the project to begin with (she will be at the Liberty Memorial fulltime for the three days) I am also hoping to at last meet Barbara while I am at the KC Quilt Festival. As you know I have made several projects as a result of the wonderful research and sharing of knowledge that Barbara so generously puts up on her blog. And won't it be fun to see our Beatles collection hung so far from where they started!

Do look out for me if you find yourself at the show - I'll be the one floating along on cloud 9! I might even have on my Beatles (Yellow Submarine) hangtag to alert a passerby to chat to me about that exhibit. I'd love to meet and greet with new people while I am in an unfamiliar part of the country.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Come on Over...

Today is day two of our local quilt guild's annual quilt show so if you're in the area I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to come see our quilts.

All details can be found here

 On Thursday the show got set up.  As you might recall I have a quilt in the "Inspired by the Beatles" project. Those 150 quilts are currently "on tour" and the entire collection is on exhibit here at the QU Show; many of the 150 quilts were made by QU members. Above we see the first box being opened on Thursday afternoon and the volunteers are going to unpack the quilts and get them up on the quilt racks.
 By Friday, the show is on and here we can see the quilts being admired. I hope people take time to actually look at the quilts after they have photographed them!
My "TOM Flies Free", the quilt I made from the Barbara Brackman project "Threads of Memory" in 2014 is on display. Additionally "Sarah's Troubles" from the Barbara Brackman "Dixie Diary" project is on display and "Sticks Adrift in a Stony Sea".

If you tire of looking at the quilts you can have some retail therapy with lots of fabulous vendors.

In between visiting the quilt show I want to make time to also visit my friends who are showing, and selling, their art in our Spring ArtFest on the Green. There will be lots of lovely art for all to see at this event and perfect browsing for summertime gift needs whether for graduations, Fathers Day, weddings or yourself. There is also a plein aire painting competion and a quick draw on Sunday morning when you can see art literally being made.

Maybe I'll see you at one or the other event!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

An Anzac Day tribute: Poppies for JPC

Anzac Day, April 25, has a special significance this year as it marks the centenary of when the Australian and New Zealand troops joined the battle for Gallipoli in Turkey during the Great War of 1914 - 1918. Regular readers of my blog will know that I have been working on a quilt since January 2014 that focuses on World War I and wanted to blog about it on this day.

I apologise in advance for the size of this post but I kept thinking of things to add...

For those who need a refresher please go back and reread the first blog posting about it written on March 22, 2014. This was a block of the month project presented by Denniele Bohannon and Janice Britz and focused on the wartime service of Denniele's Great Grandfather, Almo O'Keefe,  a medic with field hospital no. 3 of the First Division commanded by General John J. Pershing for the US Army. The project, as presented by Denniele, was a stirring piece in a patriotic red, white and blue colorway with a dramatic setting. She turned her project into a book that includes several other projects.

My paternal Grandfather, Jame Patrick Coughlan, enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force at the age of 25 yrs on September 1, 1914 and sailed for Europe on October 15, 1914. He was one of the fortunate ones and did return to New Zealand and was discharged on May 21, 1919. During his war service he spent many months on the Gallipoli campaign; a battle that was disastrous for the ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) troops. The overall casualty date for NZ troops during WWI was 58% - making it one of the highest rates per capita at a time when the total population of our fledgling nation was only just over one million.
 This photo of James Patrick Coughlan (aka Grandpop) was taken towards the end of the war when he was posted to Officer Training School at Magdalen College in Oxford England

Thus I decided to make my quilt in honor of the service of my Grandfather and now present it to you on this historic anniversary.

Keen eyes will note that I have not yet got the binding on. I'll get to it but I so wanted to show this today that I decided to go ahead and publish without the final finish of the binding. The quilt measures 57" x 57"; each block is a 9" one, the center panel is 20" square.

Rather than use the red, white and blue colorway of Denniele's original I chose to use the colors of the ANZAC's uniforms and set myself a challenge in locating a variety of fabrics in the khaki/taupe colorway. All blocks were to use the same background fabric, P & B Textiles Suede range in the color Light Moss and had to feature at the center a poppy sourced from a fabric in my stash, "Through the Garden Gate" inspired by the photography of Valori Wells for Quilters Only. Aside from those fabrics all other fabrics could appear only in one block. Had I known in advance how difficult this colorway would be to find in fabric much less how difficult to photograph and show the color accurately I may well have abandoned my color plan!

Early on I decided that my setting would be a medallion style and the centerpiece would be an applique block although quite what that pattern would be remained unknown for most of the year. I had sent a request to my sister in New Zealand to forward to me some items suitable to use for my project and I was thrilled to receive a small selection of photographs and pins/badges to use for inspiration.Some of these I used to illustrate blog posts during the year but one I had not used was a pair of "collar dogs" (small pins that were used on either side of the collar of the dress uniform jacket).  My centerpiece for the quilt is thus a pattern I created using that badge and enlarging it; this was a challenge to my abilities but I am pleased I persevered.

This is a well known badge used by the New Zealand forces during WWI.

I wanted to incorporate certain words about my Grandpop's service details right here on the face of the quilt. Su and I decided those would be best achieved by her longarm quilting machine. But the word ONWARD I hand embroidered.

For my quilt border I wanted to acknowledge the huge number of  servicemen who surged ashore with thoughts of victory in their hearts but who never saw that wish fulfilled. They gave their lives so we might never have to go to war. Many of them are buried far from home in the military cemeteries there at Gallipoli. My border of sombre crosses is to acknowledge their ultimate sacrifice.
The photo above is of the RSA area in the Te Awamutu cemetery and I include it here to show the crosses with their poppies (specially decorated like this each year on Anzac Day) and it is my sister's hometown. This photo is by Mike Subritzky who kindly makes it freely available.

My quilt was longarm quilted by Su Gardner of Fairfax. I gave Su a research project when I asked her to quilt ferns in the border; the silver fern is an oft used symbol of our country as it reminds us of the many ferns that grow in the bush areas of New Zealand. Although the silver fern symbol was not nearly as widely used one hundred years ago I wanted my quilt to be both historic and contemporary to represent both my Grandfather as he was in his wartime service years and me as a quilter in 2015 working half a world away from the country of my birth. Thank you to Su for all her diligent work in giving this quilt a very unique finish.

The photo of the ferns I took in New Zealand a few years back shows you some of the design inspiration for Su to create her quilt motifs.

One more touch of New Zealand was my request that wool batting be used. As the daughter and grand-daughter of a sheep farmer this one was a no brainer!
These sheep were wondering why I was bothering them with the camera when I was visiting my sister in Te Awamutu in January - they were grazing in her back paddock.

Grandpop liked to write poems and below I am showing you one he wrote about Gallipoli in 1970. he was in hospital at the time and a nurse very kindly wrote down his words for him and typed them up. To read this you'll need to place your cursor over the photo and left click to enlarge it and, hopefully, you will be able to read his poem.

Finally, some closeups :
the lower left hand side (above)
the lower right hand side (above)
the upper left hand side (above)
and, lastly, the upper right hand side.

This has been a sixteen month marathon but, personally, it has been  a very satisfying quilt to make. It would be great to be able to exhibit it and there is a chance of that in June. However in the meantime I have to finish applying the binding and then create a well documented label for the back of my quilt.

Thank you for reading this long post about my project. Thank you to Denniele for creating your quilt which inspired me to make my own based on your ideas. Thank you to my friend Cheryl who also made a quilt using Denniele's patterns - we had a lot of fun each month comparing notes and photos. You can see Cheryl's quilt on her blog Reems Creek Chronicles (click on the words Reems Creek Chronicles underlined). Thank you to Su for your patience in quilting my quilt. Thank you to Diane, a very skilled applique artiste, for your kind tips when I was attempting to begin the center panel.

But most of all, a posthumous thank you to my Grandpop, James Patrick Coughlan, and all his military brothers for their great sacrifices and courage to go to war to make a better life for those who would come after them.

To close I wanted to share with you a stanza from a poem Moina Michael wrote in November 1918 and titled "We Shall Keep the Faith" .

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

Lest we forget...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where Poppies Grow Progressing towards a Finish.

The last couple of months have been dominated by working to put together my quilt top for the Poppies project.

The top is now what I am calling done and ready to go to the longarm quilter. I say "calling done" because a couple of weeks back I thought I was done but then decided to make a few changes.

When you are working on a block of the month project things evolve during the process. Sometimes what you did at the beginning,and seemed right at the time, no longer look quite as right once all the blocks are done.

The February block, Love Entangled, as made I was quite happy with. This is how it looked:

However, once all the blocks were made and together as a set that pale color in the outer edge really jumped out. It is said that if one particular fabric or color jumps out at you the solution is to add more of it. But in this instance, with all the blocks made, I could not come up with a way to add more of it. So the only solution  was to remake it:

I think the block looks less interesting now but it does fit more happily into the set.

The September block, Red Cross, was one where I needed to ignore one of my own rules about the colors I was using. Because of the name of the block I really did need to use the color red and this was how it looked:
Again, when I had made the block I was quite happy with it. But put together as a set and those four red squares in the corners really needed to go. I auditioned several fabrics in there but eventually decided that plain corners looked the best and so the block had a renovation and now looks like this:

Golly, it looks vastly different doesn't it? Really all I did was to change out the corners. But this is the result of using two different cameras as well as photographing outside versus inside. Ditto the first block.

The original blocks as made by the designer were in a red , white and blue colorway. By choosing to make mine primarily in the taupe/khaki colors of the army uniform it did change how the fabrics contrast with each other.  In remaking the February block I happened to look back at the original pattern and see that the way I have arranged the fabrics in that outer edge is different from the original, thus making it my own version.

My Grandpop was in the devastating World War I battle that took place in Gallipoli, Turkey in April 1915 with huge loss of life among the Allies. New Zealand and Australia have long marked this battle by the observation of Anzac Day on April 25. This year, being the centenary of that battle, the services on Anzac Day will be ever more poignant and many added special observances will be taking place there. My way of marking the centennial will be showing you my finished quilt so don't forget to check back here on that date and see the finished quilt.