Friday, April 30, 2010

A Paducah Story

For 26 years, dedicated quilters and fiber artists have made the springtime "pilgrimage" to Paducah, Kentucky, for the annual AQS Quilt Show & Contest. Every year generates not only an amazing array of spectacular quilts and enthusiastic quilters, but also new events, exciting developments, and heartwarming stories. Here’s one of those stories.
Annabel Baugher is a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s widow who just celebrated her 89th birthday. She has two sons, two daughters-in-law, four living grandchildren, and two living great-grandsons. When she was very young, Annabel was taught good hand sewing by her mother; she was so young, in fact, that she can’t remember when the needle was first placed in her hand or the thimble put on her finger. Annabel does remember her mother saying, “Keep that thimble on your finger and learn to use it or you will never be a seamstress.”
Annabel was a charter member of AQS and met AQS founders Bill and Meredith Schroeder in 1985 when two of her quilts were included in the 1985 Paducah show. That year she won first place in the Other Techniques category with a wholecloth quilt of her own design, and placed third with a different quilt in the Pieced category. In 1986 she entered a wholecloth quilt made from a Stearns & Foster pattern, and in 1991, another wholecloth quilt placed second in Other Techniques. In 1993, a quilted wedding gown Annabel made for her granddaughter received an honorable mention and viewer’s choice in the AQS/Hobbs Bonded Fibers Fashion Show. Her granddaughter attended the show and modeled the gown.
The photo here shows Annabel and Bill Schroeder at this year’s show in Paducah, one of six AQS shows she has attended over the years. Annabel and so many other wonderful quilters like her are what make the Paducah tradition so special. Thank you, Annabel, for being a member of the extended AQS quilting family. I look forward to seeing you at another AQS show soon!

Click here to view all the winners of the 2010 Paducah AQS Show & Contest:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paducah, here we come!

Paducah, Kentucky, site of the 26th annual AQS Quilt Show and Contest, is buzzing with activity in advance of the show opening next week (read more at By the time we offsite editors arrive on Monday, April 19th, the quilts will have been judged, winners selected, vendors arrived, and general preparations completed. All of the AQS Paducah staff and hundreds of volunteers work long hours for months in advance to pull this incredible show together. I feel privileged to be a part of this amazing tradition and look forward eagerly to it each year.
Three American Quilter magazine editors (Iris Frank, Kathie R. Kerler, and me) will be attending the Paducah show this year. (That's Iris on the left and Kathie on the right.) We'll be interviewing major award winners and doing all the write-ups on winning quilts for the next issue of AQ. But we're also at the show to find new article ideas and explore the newest techniques to present to readers in upcoming issues. Do you have an idea for an article, or have you developed an unusual or creative technique not previously published? We'd love to talk with you. Have you made a quilt from a pattern published in any recent issue of American Quilter? Bring photos or show us your digital images and we'll "publish" you on the AQS Web site.
There are a couple ways to find us. The editors' office is on the second floor of the conference center, in the hallway outside of booth 3801. To speak with any one of us about a possible article, stop by the office and leave a message if we're not there. Or, you can leave your name and cell phone number at the AQS membership desk and we'll get in touch with you. If you see us during the show, please say hello and let us know what you like about American Quilter and what we can do to improve. Feedback from readers is so important!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Inspired by Judith Larzelere

Quilt artist Judith Larzelere has delighted and amazed countless quilters with her stunning use of color since she began exhibiting her quilts in the late 1970s. After reading the profile article on “Jude” (as she likes to be called) in the January 2010 issue of American Quilter, Mary F. Gonzalez was inspired to make her own strip-pieced wall quilt:

“I began quilting in 2001 after taking one class. I fumbled around by myself, learning from my mistakes. In 2006, my husband and I moved to Santa Cruz, California, after living 26 years in Novato, California, where we raised our family. Leaving our friends was difficult, and we wondered if we would ever find new friends in our new home. Luckily we did. I continued quilting on my own and eventually met a group of ladies who shared my interest. We formed a small quilt group which quickly grew to 15 members—we are known as the Sew ‘n Sews.
At our weekly meetings, these ladies offer encouragement, advice, fabrics, patterns, ideas, refreshments, and best of all, laughter. At a recent meeting, someone brought quilt magazines. That’s when I found the January 2010 issue of American Quilter.
As soon as I turned to page 45 and saw the article and art quilts by Judith Larzelere, my heart started racing. I had recently completed a quilt for my son and had lots of scraps leftover. When I saw Judith’s quilts, I went home, read the article thoroughly, and went to work.
Enclosed is a photograph of the wallhanging (called City Skyline) I made for my son using the article as my inspiration. He just loves it, as do those encouraging Sew ‘n Sews. Thank you!”

AQS members can access the complete article and Judith's Tips for Strip Quilting at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Are you ready for a mystery?

It’s just a little over a month until the introduction to a new mystery quilt, designed by Beyond the Block authors Linda K. Johnson and Jane K. Wells, is published in the July 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine. This is a mystery like none you’ve ever seen before: it’s non-traditional, personalized, and a way to use some of your accumulated unfinished quilt blocks. I'm really excited about this project and just can't wait to reveal a few clues to get you started...
First, an explanation to those who have no idea what a mystery quilt entails: You, the quilter, embark on a quilt project without knowing what the final result will look like. You will be given instructions (the clues!) one installment at a time in three consecutive issues of American Quilter.
Why is this upcoming mystery quilt different? (1)The final block layout will be dynamic and non-traditional. (2)You start with your own specially-chosen focus blocks, not just shapes cut from stash or purchased fabrics. (3)You have a chance to win a nice prize simply by participating in the mystery as it is published. (I'll give you more information on that last piece of news in a future blog!)
So what is a "focus block"? You could use hand or machine appliqu├ęd squares; paper-pieced blocks that feature a centered image or design; cross-stitched or embroidered squares; vintage linen squares; photo transfers or photos inkjet printed on fabric; or squares of a beautiful large-scale print or any other special fabric, perhaps holiday themed. You could even use squares cut from treasured tee shirts, backed with lightweight fusible interfacing. The only blocks not recommended as focus blocks are pieced blocks with busy overall designs, as they may not blend well within the mystery quilt setting.
Two more important clues: The focus blocks should be cut at least 8 ½" square so they finish 8". (If your focus blocks are smaller, just add some borders.) Four of the focus blocks will be straight set and three of them will be set on point. Keep this in mind if you are cutting a directional large-scale print.
Intriuged? Take a look at some of these photos for ideas on focus blocks and then read the complete introduction and clues on choosing additional fabrics in the July issue. Even our AQ pattern editor, Marje Rhine, is excited about this project. She'll be making her own mystery quilt (even though she knows the final result!).
Stay tuned for more clues...