Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Santa Fe Quilts

What does a quilt magazine editor/certified quilt judge do on vacation? Participate in quilt-related activities, of course! I was invited by the Northern New Mexico Quilt Guild to judge their every-two-years Quilt Fiesta in Santa Fe, an invitation I accepted with pleasure. And what a wonderful show it will be! The talent runs deep in this group, from lovely hand stitching to exquisite machine quilting to wildly imaginative narrative and innovative designs and techniques — eye candy for anyone who appreciates textile arts.

As in most groups, there is a corps of dedicated volunteers organizing this show, including guild president and show chair Lynne Horpedahl, shown above with her quilt entry named Our House. The show runs from Oct. 1-3 at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds, and you can find more details at If you happen to be in the Santa Fe or Albuquerque area later this week, don’t miss this great show.

And if the quilt show, art galleries, folk art museum, and fabulous food weren’t enough to draw you to Santa Fe, you won't want to miss Santa Fe Quilting, 3018-A Cielo Court. This is truly one of the most well-stocked, diverse, and colorful shops I have ever explored – and I’ve seen more than a few in my time. Whether your quilt preferences are contemporary, traditional, or somewhere in between, you’ll find fabric, thread, patterns, embellishments, kits, and an abundance of beautiful finished quilts on display. Owner Mary McCusker (photo below) and her staff are knowledgeable and helpful.

The judging is over for this show, but the quilt fun continues. I’m getting on another plane tomorrow en route to Charlotte, North Carolina. My horoscope (I'm a Capricorn) predicts more quilts and fabric in my immediate future…

Monday, September 27, 2010

Aligning sashed rows

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine)
One of the most obvious and frequent mistakes made by beginning quilters when joining rows of blocks is poor alignment. This is especially true when working with sashed blocks and rows that don’t have cornerstones (the squares usually found between block sashing), causing the rows to look crooked (fig. 1).

To prevent this from happening, as you line up your sashed rows for sewing be careful to match the sashing seams between blocks on the two rows (fig. 2). To check before sewing, fold down the top row to make sure sashing pieces are aligned (fig. 3) then pin to secure.

Monday, September 20, 2010

International wedding story

Weddings seem to be on my mind lately, no doubt due to my new status as a future mother of the bride. Helle-May Cheney, a talented quilt designer who will be featured in a future issue of American Quilter, recently sent me this charming wedding story.

“I am a first-generation Estonian-American with nearly all my family still living in Estonia. After 50 years of Soviet occupation, Estonia regained its independence in 1991, finally allowing me the opportunity to visit and get to know my relatives. This summer our visit had a very special purpose—to attend the wedding of my cousin Liina and her Norwegian fiancĂ©, Harald.
Of course this meant a wedding quilt was in order! I wanted it to reflect both homelands also be a memento of the occasion. For the center, I made a patchwork version of the traditional striped woven wool skirt that my cousin would wear at the wedding. The border reflected the colors of the Estonian flag (blue, black, and white) and the Norwegian flag (blue, red, and white). A blue ribbon weaving through a white chain represented the joining of two cultures, families, and the multitude of friends.
The wedding ceremony took place on a picture-perfect summer day at a church built in 1534. The 100 guests, about half from Norway, were invited to wear the traditional dress of their native country and region, which made for a colorful wedding!
From the church, the guests joined the wedding party in a motorcade to Liina’s mother’s house where both bride and groom had to demonstrate their readiness for married life by chopping wood (groom), darning a sock (bride), and donning a two-person apron to jointly peel a potato! Once the tasks were performed to the satisfaction of the Norwegian and Estonian grandmothers, we were on our way to the reception.
After a champagne toast, I presented my quilt to the couple and invited all guests to sign the quilt in the white chain. As is the custom, Liina changed into her national dress at midnight and was presented with her married woman’s apron and hat by her mother and mother-in-law. The band played on well into the night with a combination of Norwegian and Estonian pop favorites, and all language barriers were broken with dance and laughter.
The wedding was a beautiful merging of cultures, traditions, and ages. I was so happy to have been a part of it all!”

Read more about Helle-May and see her quilt designs at

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quilt Tzedakah

The Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown this coming Wednesday, is a time for introspection. A busy Jewish quilter in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who prefers to remain anonymous, sent me this message to share with others as we approach the High Holy Days:
"When I became a Jewish woman in 1996, I learned two phrases in Hebrew: tzedakah, which translates as justice and refers to charitable giving; and tikkun olam, which translates literally as “to repair the world” and means social action in English. It was not until ten years later, when I began quilting, that I found a way of making these words truly my own.

Every third or fourth quilt I make now is what I call a tzedakah quilt (one is shown here). Through my guild, many other quilters and I have donated quilts to our community’s women’s shelter. Learning about this program also inspired me to start donating quilts to a local children’s hospital, where there is an ongoing need for twin-size and baby quilts for the children admitted. I have also donated quilts for benefits, such as for our hospice care facility, and of course, I have given away many quilts just to family and friends.

These are my ways of giving back (tzedakah) and repairing a broken world (tikkun olam). The gift of a quilt has always been a gift of practicality and beauty, given with the hope of brightening a person’s surroundings and providing a pleasing, meaningful memory.

All forms of tzedakah and tikkun olam are important. It’s just nice to find a way of doing it that expresses all the love and care that a quilt does. I’m grateful to have discovered this tradition."