“The most vivid day of the year in Sisters” — that’s how one quilt group describes the second Saturday of the year, when the little town of Sisters in Central Oregon is covered in quilts. That’s the day of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, now in its 40th year.
Forty years! Little did Jean Wells Keenan know that summer day in 1975 when she hung a few quilts outside her quilt shop, the Stitchin’ Post, that a great tradition had just been born. This year some 1400 quilts were on display, extending far beyond the quilt shop to buildings up and down the main street and two blocks in on either side.
Here is a representative sample, shown pretty much in the order I snapped them:
Something for every taste, wouldn’t you say?
I took so many photos at the quilt show that I’m dividing my show-and-tell posts into two segments. I do hope you’ll come back for more.
Two years ago today my friend Lee Fowler died, succumbing to a rare form of cancer called leiomyosarcoma. Lee was a nationally recognized quilt artist, designer, and teacher who also loved to knit, craft, hike, garden, and travel.
The first quilt blog I ever followed was Lee’s. It was called The Polkadot Debutante, so named because she absolutely loved polkadots and because she actually had been a debutante — in the true Southern tradition in which a young woman on the threshold of adulthood is formally introduced to society at a ball or cotillion. That experience was decades removed from the woman with the hearty laugh who collected ceramic monsters, loved the color orange, and dressed up in outlandish Halloween costumes she made herself.
Lee was also a professional longarm machine quilter. I met her in 2009 when she was recommended to me as a longarmer especially skilled in free motion quilting. I didn’t know it at the time but she was already fighting cancer. She quilted three quilts for me before the progression of the disease forced her to retire from longarm quilting for clients. However, she continued to quilt, knit, craft, and enjoy the great outdoors right up to the end of her days.
For the last two years of Lee’s life, she was a member of our small quilt group, the Quisters (short for Quilt Sisters). Lee and I represented the Portland contingent; Peggy, Deborah, Vickie, and Vivienne were the Salem contingent. Every month or two, the six of us would get together at one of our homes to sew, chat, laugh, eat homemade desserts, and share our latest crafty and quilty creations.
I well remember the last time all six Quisters were at my house. It was June 28, 2013, two weeks to the day before Lee died. A few weeks earlier, with time running out, Lee had put out a request to her many quilting friends asking for help in creating a quilt she had always wanted to make: a Pickle Dish quilt.
Now, this pattern is not for the faint of heart. Take a look at the basic block:
A block is made up of four quarter blocks, each usually featuring nine rings made up of wedges (trapezoids). The rings are joined to other curved pieces. One block typically contains 88 pieces.
Lee had seen a Pickle Dish quilt made by Australian designer Kathy Doughty in the Fielke/Doughty book Material Obsession 2 (STC Craft, 2009). The quilt pictured in the book hung in the 2013 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show:
Lee started planning her own version. She figured that if enough friends agreed to make a ring or two using fabrics from their stashes, she could combine the rings with fabrics from her stash and create a scrappy Pickle Dish quilt in reasonably short order. Her request was that those of us making blocks choose fabrics with bright colors and – of course – polkadots.
Before long Pickle Dish units by the dozen were flowing Lee’s way and she was at work putting the blocks together. With a bit more help from a close cadre of friends working at her home, she completed the quilt top in June. Janet Fogg quilted it and finished the binding the day before the gathering at my house.
The Quisters were among the very first to see Lee’s finished quilt. The big reveal:
Isn’t it stunning? Lee took a vast array of blocks made by 25 different people and created a colorful, cohesive quilt that sparkles with the kind of energy and vibrance that characterized her quilting – and her life, for that matter.
The ring I made for Lee’s quilt is the fuchsia and lime green one in the top center of this picture:
At the service in August 2013 celebrating her life, Lee’s Pickle Dish quilt was on display. Most of us who worked on it were at the service, and Lee’s husband Rick LePage managed to round us all up for a photo:
Rick dubbed us the Pickle Dish Gang. Then he announced that Lee’s quilt was going traveling. Each one of us would have Lee’s Pickle Dish quilt in our own home for a month. Can you imagine how thrilled we all were?
Ever since then, I have been patiently waiting my turn. And now it has come. Lee’s quilt was delivered to me last Sunday when I arrived in Sisters, Oregon for a weeklong getaway with my Quisters, and it will have pride of place in my home until it’s time to hand it off to the next member of the Pickle Dish Gang.
A small park at the east edge of Sisters served as a backdrop for some pictures of Lee’s gorgeous quilt. Here’s my favorite:
I treasure my memories of Lee and will always treasure the time that her Pickle Dish quilt was mine for a month.
In my last post I showed you a few of my favorite quilts made by the artists and quiltmakers who taught at Teacher’s Affair, the week of classes preceding the 2014 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon. Now I want to show you — in no particular order — a sampling of the 1300 or so quilts that lined the main and side streets of Sisters on July 12, the day of the quilt show.
There you have it — just a few of the quilts that caught my eye. A mere two percent of the total number of quilts exhibited! Despite the fact that my friends and I walked the streets for upwards of seven hours, there were sections of town, and a few hundred quilts, we didn’t manage to see. Still, it was a thrill to see so many kinds of quilts — and the efforts of so many quiltmakers — displayed on the streets of Sisters, Oregon on a single sunny summer day. A huge shout out to the owners and employees of the Stitchin’ Post, the merchants of Sisters, the sponsors, and the many volunteers that made this year’s show such a spectacular and memorable event.
Next year the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show celebrates its 40th year. I’m already looking forward to it!
Where does one begin when faced with the prospect of trying to view 1300 quilts in the space of a single day? Saturday morning, July 12 — the day of the 2014 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon — my quilt group, the Quisters, and I headed straight to the Teachers Tent. On display were dozens of quilts made by the talented men and women who taught during Quilter’s Affair, the week of classes preceding the quilt show.
Among my favorites were these:
I’m sorry that the image above isn’t sharper.
Sarah made Cannery Pier Hotel, Astoria by paper-piecing fabric onto 2″ and 3″-wide strips of calculator paper. I learned her method during Quilter’s Affair in her “Cityscapes” class — what fun! I’ve put my little project on hold for the time being but will definitely return to it.
As you can see, the morning sun was shining behind the quilt above. By the time I got to some other quilts, including those of Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts and Sheila Sinclair Snyder of licensetoquilt.com, they were completely backlit by the sun. I planned to return to the Teachers Tent later in the day to get photos of their quilts. When midafternoon rolled around, I was on the opposite side of town. The temperature was in the mid-90s. I was hot, tired, and thirsty, and — yep, you guessed it — I didn’t make it back.
I did take many more pictures throughout the day, though, as my friends and I strolled around Sisters. I’ll post them soon, so please stop back by. In the meantime, I’d love to know which of the quilts above you like best — and why.
In the week leading up to the second Saturday in July, when the town of Sisters, Oregon hosts the world’s largest outdoor quilt show, the Stitchin’ Post quilt shop in Sisters puts on classes taught by local, national, and international quiltmakers and artists. This week of classes is called Quilter’s Affair. For several years my quilt group, the Quisters, has rented a house in Sisters and attended classes. One of our members, Vivienne, taught four classes this year.
I thought you might enjoy a look at what we started creating in some of our classes. Vickie took Vivienne’s class Rhumba, making some spirited blocks in a variety of batiks:
The blocks are constructed using an improvisational piecing method, then trimmed to size. Vickie is going to set her blocks as above, with the stripes alternating direction in each block. Here’s a look at Viv’s original quilt top, employing a different setting:
(That photo was taken last summer at my house, at a gathering of the Quisters.)
. . . while Peggy’s version is made of lots of different batiks:
I stepped way outside my comfort zone to take a class from Laura Wasilowski, known for her whimsical art quilts made using hand-dyed fused fabrics and embellished with embroidery. In her “Stitch After Fusing” class, we made a small flower quilt using her hand-dyed fabric. My flowers and leaves are a bit strange but I really like my little flower pot:
(I tried a few different stitches, which is why you see those strands of perle cotton — hand-dyed by Laura — hanging down the front.) I’ve never been a fan of raw-edge appliqué but I may be undergoing a conversion.
Our Quilter’s Affair week whipped by at lightning speed. Saturday, July 12, was a different story. It was the day of the 39th Annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. We spent a leisurely day walking around town seeing as many of the 1300 or so quilts as we could manage between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm. What a fabulous show!
I took lots of photos but haven’t had a chance to organize them yet. My twin sister Diane is visiting from Atlanta, Georgia, and now we are heading off to a family reunion in eastern Oregon. I’m planning at least a couple of posts showing off the quilts from the Sisters quilt show so I hope you’ll check back soon.
Picking up where I left off a couple of days ago, here are more of my favorite quilts from among the 1300+ displayed last Saturday, July 13 at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS) in Sisters, Oregon.
Kristin Shields of Bend OR was a featured quilter. Here are a few of her wonderfully whimsical creations:
The Cover to Cover book club created quilts inspired by The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznic. My favorites from this group:
A peek at the back revealed that these kaleidoscope blocks were made from a focus print of . . . mushrooms!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little presentation of the quilts that caught my eye this year. The quilts you see here and in my last post represent fewer than 4% of the quilts that were displayed. Simply astounding when you stop to think about it.
Is it any wonder that I have already marked my calendar for July 12, 2014 — the second Saturday in July — for the 39th Annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show?
Saturday, July 13. A perfect summer day in Central Oregon: temperatures in the low 80s with a light breeze. Thirteen hundred quilts hung just for the day on the fronts, backs and sides of buildings in the tiny town of Sisters. Dozens of other quilts hung inside businesses all over town. Thousands of quilt lovers and other spectators strolling the streets taking in the sights and sounds of the 38th Annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS).
I was lucky enough to be there for the show and the week leading up to it. For the last seven or eight years (we’ve lost count), my quilt group, the Quisters, has rented a house for the week leading up to the quilt show in order to participate in Quilter’s Affair, a week of classes organized by the Stitchin’ Post Quilt Shop in Sisters. In addition to the talented teachers living in Central Oregon, instructors come from across the country and overseas to share their expertise.
This year I opted not to take any classes so I could continue to work on my ever-growing stack of Works-in-Progress. I was sorry not to have taken at least one class, especially after seeing how excited my fellow Quisters were about the ones they were taking, but I did come home with three completed projects — WIPs no longer! — and the show itself provided a plethora of ideas for new ones.
There was something for everyone at this year’s show: beautiful traditional quilts, edgy modern quilts, and everything in between. Below, in no particular order, are a few of the quilts that caught my eye:
The Portland Modern Quilt Guild was represented by several beautiful quilts, including these three:
Every year the Stitchin’ Post Quilt Shop issues a challenge to its employees to make a quilt based on a theme, and all of the quilts are displayed on the side of the Stitchin’ Post building on show day. This year’s theme was “Streams of Color.” This shot captures most of the quilts:
Two of my favorites are this one, incorporating hexagons . . .
. . . and this one featuring New York Beauty blocks:
Continuing on with the show:
Oh my! I just realized I’m not even halfway through my photos. I think I will end today’s post here and present another batch of quilt photos in the next day or two. I hope you will come back for more.
After returning last month from a week in Sisters, Oregon, home of the largest outdoor quilt show in the world, I posted about the quilt show and the terrific class I took. Before I had a chance to write a third post about what I accomplished that week, my husband and I left on a road trip to California to visit our two youngest granddaughters (9 and 12). We brought them back to Portland to spend a few days with us. My sewing and quilting projects languished but I didn’t mind because I was having such fun with the girls.
They are home in San Francisco now. The house is quiet. Elfie the cat has come out of hiding. And I’m back in my sewing room taking stock of the projects I worked on in Sisters. Remember the sewing machine cover designed by Monique Dillard of Open Gate Quilts that I posted about here? This is my version so far:
When it’s finished, it will look something like this:
I finished binding my pink and green quilt, Framboise, made from my 4-Patch Wonder pattern:
When the label is on, I’ll declare the quilt finished and post a proper picture in my Gallery. That’s Elfie, by the way, who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in my quilt.
I’m very excited about my newest design, the Monterey Bay Apron. After making eight versions and tweaking each one, I’m finally satisfied with the cut and the fit. Here is a look at Number Nine:
The belt is secured to the back with buttons. In the photo above, the ends of the belt were temporarily pinned to the back, adjusted for my model, Geri. The ends can be positioned anywhere along the back, making the apron one-size-fits-most. Here is a close-up of the front:
The pattern should be available in just a few weeks!
Free motion quilting is not a skill that comes easily to me. In fact, I really struggle with it. Because of that, I try to take at least one class a year from an expert. When I learned that Janet Fogg was teaching a day-long class called “Basic Drawing for Machine Quilters” during Quilter’s Affair, the week of classes leading up to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on the second Saturday in July, I jumped at the chance to register.
The best part was . . . we didn’t have to bring our machines! We were asked to bring a sketchbook and a pen, plus a quilt top that we planned to quilt ourselves. Janet led us through a variety of drawing exercises, showing us how to build a simple quilt motif, build on it, travel with it, and transition to other quilting designs. We did that all morning, filling pages and pages in our sketchbooks with motifs and notes. She gave us a fantastic handout which included many of the motifs she has used on her own award-winning quilts.
In the afternoon, Janet treated us to a slideshow of her amazing quilts, all quilted freehand, and then we took turns displaying our own quilt tops, getting feedback from her and fellow students on ideas for quilting. I am really excited now about putting my classroom learning to the test at home.
On the day of the quilt show I took special notice of quilts that had been machine quilted freehand. Here are some closeups, starting with Janet’s own quilt, Hippo Love. (I neglected to get a photo of the entire quilt but you can see it on her website: http://janetfoggquilts.home.comcast.net )
Here are other examples of free motion quilting I admired:
As you can see, the bar is set very high. Janet echoed the advice in every book I have on the subject: it takes a LOT of practice to become a proficient machine quilter. I’m on a road trip to California right now to visit my grandchildren, so all I can do is think about practicing. Does that count?