Neuleiningen Grapes

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(around 90″ x 90″)

So many times we were stationed near this castle; you can see it at the top of the hill in the right upper corner. It is called Neuleiningen Castle, and has a wonderful restaurant called the Burgschaenke. Just writing about it, I can still smell the smoke from the huge fireplace that you smell lingering as you walk in, even if there isn’t a fire burning. In all the years we’ve been going there, the menu hasn’t changed that much. It is rustic elegance. You can go there, have great wines, have a great meal, have a great dessert, you can spend hours there and at the end, you hate to leave, it is such a wonderful, fun, atmospheric restaurant.

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This is one of my earliest quilts. I had an idea about making a lot of different colored grapes with snowball-like blocks; I used corners I had cut off half-square triangles I was making for something else and just cobbled together rural looking fabrics to make the grapevine fields and plowed fields on the long slope leading up to the castle.

This area has some of the finest white wines, icy and dry, I have ever tasted. They live in my memory.

I finally finished the quilt, years and years after it was conceived. What held me up? I never could figure out what to do with the big borders I had put on it; I kept trying to do grape bunches but the chalk would wear off, it just never worked. Finally, I just figured “finished is better than great” (and it had been like 12 years since I started it) so I did straight rows, thinking it is a lot like furrows, so in touch with the feeling of the quilt. Whatever – it works. The quilt is finished. My husband loves it, and we really need a trip back to Neuleiningen and the Burgschaenke 🙂

Chained Islamic Stars

I actually started this quilt many many years ago, I believe while we still lived in Germany, and I got 37 squares finished and ran out of steam. It is a very fiddly design. I designed it myself. The finished square was 9 inches and the post and sashing was one inch, but it was all one inch, (cut 1.5″) and man, it was tiresome.

I also didn’t quite know how to make the chain work, but last week as I sorted in preparation for packing up the quilt room, I knew what to do. When I had a surprise and one morning of my week fell open, I was able to stitch 36 into a nice quilt top that I can use as a table cover – or something. I got to show it at the Qater Quilt Guild meeting yesterday, before it gets packed up. It will be months before I can get to it once more.

The truth is, even after 10 years, I love the intricately patterned fabrics I found for the stars. Ten years later, I rarely use white as a background – now, I am itching to try this same pattern (I can figure out now how to do it with less fuss) with a dark background. I love the way it has all gone together.

For my Kuwait friend – I don’t think you ever even saw this unfinished one, but slowly slowly I AM working on that pile of UFO’s you assigned me!

I’ve Got a Secret . . .

but I had better tell you all about it now, because soon it is not going to be a secret anymore!

First, I apologize for not writing for such a long time. I’ve been busy – quilting, sewing, my days are full with workshops and with projects. My good friend and quilter, Coeurcountry is hosting a bazaar to benefit the Animal Friends League in Kuwait, and I am proud to be a small part of the good work she is doing. It will be held October 25th, for those of you in Kuwait, and will have really really cool things you can’t find in other places, many hand made items, a home-made bake sale, and some specialized vendors.

OK, now – the secret.

I have a friend who owns a quilt shop – and it is a quilt shop I love, clean and airy, always full of people with new ideas and inspirations – Quilting by the Bay in Panama City, Florida.

Her shop has been selected for the Better Homes and Gardens Special Quilt Shop edition, coming out soon!

And, if you are really lucky, you can order some of the fabulous batik fabric specially designed to celebrate this honor:

Isn’t it gorgeous? You can only order it from Quilting By the Bay – it’s an exclusive.

Sandy, my heart sings at your success. (We were in the same quilt guild in Germany.)

Cats Are the Stars

Several years ago when I first started quilting, I designed and made a quilt for my sister, who had a collection of Laurel Burch coffee cups. Burch had just begun designing fabrics, and I found a great fabric, and had a collection of great vibrantly colored fabrics to go with it. As I see it, it is the colors that make this quilt.I had a great time making this quilt, but all photos disappeared with the box of quilt books in my last move. Yesterday, I was able to photograph it again. It has suffered a little fading from the sun, but as I look at it, it still delights my heart. 00sallysquilt.jpg The top border:00sq2.jpg    Square:00sq3.jpgAs I look at it closely, I remember all the hand quilting I used to do:00sq4.jpg 

I Left My Heart in Africa: The Original Map Quilt

This is the quilt I told you about earlier, the Africa Quilt. It took me so long to get a photo up because the quilt is humoungus. When I was busy cutting out all the fabrics for the quilt, carefully collected over the years, one of my friends said “It shouldn’t be called ‘I left my heart in Africa’, it should be called ‘I left my BRAINS in Africa.'”

It was a labor of love. I was still fairly new to quilting, and so unsure of my machine quilting skills that I actually did a lot of hand quilting – I hand quilted 1/4 inch all the way around the continent, I hand quilted a hand of Fatima in the upper NW quadrant, along with a Tunisian tea pot and a caravan of camels going in and out of Ouagadougou.

(When we were at the Embassy in Amman, one of the state-department wives jokingly told me that if you were bad, you got sent to Ouagadougou, and it always gives me a big grin to think of it.)

While making this for my husband, I had to hide it every night before he came home. One night I was still working – he hadn’t called me – and I saw him drive up. I was still desperately trying to stuff it all in the closet when he got home, and he got a fairly cool and distracted welcome, something like “you didn’t call me to tell me you were coming!” which hurt his feelings.

At Christmas, when he opened the quilt, I told him that’s what had happened and we both got a good laugh. He loves this quilt, and he has told me he wants to be buried in it.

We often go to Africa. We love to go there, and every time we go, we sew another heart on. We have been to Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. Lots of hearts! So we say the quilt is still a work in progress.

I machine stitched in the ditch for the continent, and then did a wave stitch in the ocean, which is actually about half of the quilt. You can see how using a very light blue at the coastline, and then graduating into the darker blues makes the continent really pop out.

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Northwest quadrant:

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Hearts across South Africa:

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This one is entirely 3 inch squares (there is a giraffe fabric that I couldn’t go any smaller, and that drove the size of the entire quilt) and half squares. What was really fun is after getting over being aghast at the scope of the quilt, many friends came up with fabrics for it, especially Egyptian themed fabrics, all of which adds to our joy in using the quilt. I have some fabric bought many years ago in Tunisia with Berber symbols on it which I used in North Africa, and Sudanese fabrics I used in the West African sections. There are a very few pure black squares, in places where truly awful things continue to happen in Africa.

Did I mention we love this quilt? 😉

Update: If you want to make a map quilt, just click here. If you want to see other map quilts I have made, click Map Quilts under the Categories on the right side of this blog.

Pine Trees Quilt

This was the second quilt I cut out and started, but probably the ninth or tenth quilt I actually finished. I did all right putting the trees together, but when I was finished, not all the tree blocks were the same size, and I had to gain some experience before I could figure out what to do.

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(I cut borders in dark green and sewed on to each block, then trimmed so all the blocks would be the same size.)

I love green and white – must be some Scandinavian heritage thing – and I loved working on this quilt, and for all its flaws, it is still one of my favorites.

Flaws? I should tell you? *she sighs* Ah yes. Well, if you look closely, you will see that the tips of some of the trees were cut off because I didn’t leave a consistent 1/4 inch at the top of each block.

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And, I took months hand quilting snowflake motifs on the border and on some of the tree blocks, only to discover that it was a waste of time, the snowflakes did not show up as snowflakes, not unless you are like 2″ from the quilt! I liked the idea of a snow-y pine forest, but there are probably better ways to accomplish it.

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I learned something about myself doing this quilt – the greens I like are very blue kinds of greens. I have an antipathy to yellow greens, although they have their place and sometimes they are the only appropriate shade . . . my heart is blue-green!

I used the more yellow-green leftover pine trees on Dad’s Alaska Quilt.

Mom’s By the Sea Quilt

This is an early quilt from my love affair with Kaleidescope quilts. Although the quilt looks blue, it is predominantly purple in one corner, green in another, arctic ice in yet another and blue in one. The trick is to blend these colors and make them flow, at the same time creating a sea-like motion.

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I have done several variations on the sea quilts since. I have an entire shelf of fabrics of sea colors. My delight in the kaleidescopes is using the same piece of fabric in one place as a dark, and in another place as a light.

In the bottom left corner, I quilted sea grass. I hand appliqued fish and sea horses, and even an octopus on the finished top, then quilted in a huge octopus in the purple corner, (the appliqued octopus hints to the location) and sea horses in another spot, and swarms of fish in various other places. I don’t tell people about the quilting, I just leave it to them to discover it for themselves. Some do, some don’t. I always tell them there is a secret or two in every quilt.

You can see some octopus tentacles if you look closely, but it is hard to see the entire quilted octopus:
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My pre-digital camera photos of this quilt were taken on a clothesline in a small farming village in Germany. Gone! Gone forever!