Earlier this week I relinquished my temporary custody of Lee Fowler’s Pickle Dish quilt. It was the last quilt Lee made, finished just a couple of weeks before she died in 2013, and I was one of 25 friends who helped her make it. I wrote about it here. At the memorial service, Lee’s husband Rick LePage announced that each person who helped with the quilt would get to have it in her home for a few weeks.
In July this year, while I was in Sisters, Oregon with my quilt group, the Quisters, Lee’s quilt was passed on to me. As a member of the Pickle Dish Gang — the name Rick gave to the group of quilters who worked with Lee on the quilt — I had been waiting patiently for my turn.
As soon as I got home I put it over the couch in my living room . . .
. . . and can honestly say that I looked at it several times a day the entire time it was here. It was a vivid reminder of Lee’s friendship and of the love that the members of the Pickle Dish Gang had for her.
A handmade book accompanies the quilt as it makes its way from one member to the next, so that each of us can write a personal message. At the end of the quilt’s journey, it will be returned to Lee’s family along with the quilt. In my entry I included this photo, taken at Creekside Park in Sisters in July:
Everyone who knew Lee knew how much this quilt meant to her. It means a lot to me, too, and I am so glad I got to be a part of its creation.
I made these fabric baskets a few months ago for Deborah and Peggy, my fellow Quisters (Quilt Sisters). Their birthdays are in March but they didn’t receive their baskets until very recently, which is why I held off posting pictures. (The Quisters try to meet every month but this spring and summer our schedules have just not been meshing. We’re working on that.)
Kelly of kelbysews, one half of the design team Hearts and Bees, posted a tutorial in the spring for the 1 Hour Basket. The tutorial is available as a pdf digital download from Craftsy. In no time at all photos began popping up everywhere on Instagram. When I saw them, I knew right away I wanted to make birthday baskets for Deborah and Peggy.
I made one change in the tutorial directions: I lined the handles with the same fabric used for the basket lining. Here’s a close-up of Deborah’s basket:
On Peg’s basket, I turned the handles inside out because I liked the look of the contrasting fabric on the outside:
The baskets are perfectly sized to hold a bundle of fat quarters, so of course I tucked some into each basket before wrapping it up.
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.
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.
I tried to resist, really I did. For several years I was the only one in my quilt group, the Quisters, who didn’t do wool appliqué. Not that I wasn’t tempted or didn’t admire it. I just didn’t want another hobby on top of my quiltmaking obsession. Nor did I need another category of fabric — wool — vying for space with my quilting cottons.
All that changed when I saw Bertie’s Year on display at the Pine Needle’s Open House earlier this year:
Designed and made by fellow Oregonian Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night (“Folk Art designs with a bit of whimsy”), Bertie’s Year is made up of a dozen 13″ x 17″ wool applique projects, one for each month of the year. The projects are bordered by different designs of half-square triangles made of Woolies flannel (designed by none other than Bonnie Sullivan for Maywood Studios). The monthly projects can stand alone or be combined into a quilt.
So am I going to make the entire quilt? Heavens, no! I’m just dipping my toe in the water. I’m going to make one month’s project to see how I like it. My Quisters promised I could raid their wool stashes, which are ample because they are also rug hookers.
The hard part was choosing the month. Every single one of the projects is absolutely charming. I finally decided to make the July project for the simple reason that it makes me smile every time I look at it. Here is Bertie perched on a slice of watermelon spitting a seed. He’s sporting a jaunty hat (probably made from a folded newspaper) and tucked under his wing is a little branch loaded with blueberries:
This little vignette speaks to me of summer, sunshine and good times with friends and family. Can you see now why I gave in to temptation?
This is how far I’ve gotten:
The background is flannel the color of espresso and the appliqué pieces are wool scraps courtesy of my Quisters. Bertie is looking a little bare at the moment but that’s only temporary.
Of course I had to get a bundle of fat quarters in the Woolies flannels:
Bertie is coming along with me on an upcoming trip so I hope to have something to show you in the next few weeks. I am eager to get started!
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.
My quilt group, the Quisters, met at my house last week on a perfect summer day. Between bites of marionberry pie, we had quite a show-and-tell session. Here is Peggy’s Paperweight quilt top, started last summer in a class taught by Pamela Dinndorf of Aardvark Quilts:
Such a happy and colorful top! Peggy also designed and hooked this fabulous rug, perfectly capturing the charm of her beach house on the Oregon coast:
The scene includes her goldendoodle, Lucy, on the left, and her grandchildren on the right.
Deborah recently competed a quilt she started a few years ago in a class taught by fellow Quister Lee Fowler. This is Sushi Rolls:
Love the red and green color combo! I can see this on the back of Deborah’s couch at Christmas but it would work all year round.
Here is Lee’s newly completed Pickle Dish quilt:
Twenty-five of Lee’s friends contributed one or more paper-pieced arcs, and Lee put the rest of the quilt together with fabric from her stash (and a little more help from her friends). I spy lots of polka dots — one of Lee’s favorite design elements — and quite a few Kaffe Fassett prints.
Lee has also been making blocks for a Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt. Here are some of those blocks:
What a great way to use up strips left over from other projects!
Vivienne is currently working on a strippy diamond quilt:
Isn’t that a luscious combination of colors and fabrics?
I spent much of June working on my Sewing Machine Dust Cover pattern. Here’s a picture of the dust cover I made as a class sample:
By the way, I’m giving away a custom sewing machine dust cover and some patterns as part of my first Giveaway, which ends this Saturday, July 6. If you’d like a chance to win, just leave a comment at the end of my previous post, telling me what projects you’re working on this summer.
My quilt group, the Quisters, got together yesterday to celebrate Vivienne’s birthday. Her birthday is not until next month, but finding a day when all six Quisters are free can be a bit of a challenge. Happily, we found a day and yesterday was it. I made Viv an iron caddy:
The floral and dot print and the striped fabric on the inside of the handles are made from Mo Bedell’s Party Dress line for Blue Hill Fabrics. I’ve been saving this fabric for three years, waiting for just the right project. Here’s a close-up of the button and loop closure:
I found the vintage buttons (there’s one on the other side of the caddy, too) at the Button Emporium in downtown Portland. Oh my, what a lovely shop for button lovers!
The fabric for the bias binding was also from my stash. It’s from the Serendipity Sunflowers line by Debbie Beaves for RJR Fabrics. The date on the selvage is 2007, so I guess I’ve had it a while.
I made this pattern for the first time in March, when I was on a retreat with the Quisters. I made a few modifications to the pattern which you can read about here.
The Quisters had a wonderful time, all the more so because Deborah brought homemade strawberry shortcake and lots of whipped cream.
Of the six women in my quilt group, the Quisters, three have March birthdays. We all lead busy lives so it wasn’t until yesterday — well into April — that the six of us were available to celebrate together. We congregated at the Portland White House for lunch, laughter, gift-giving, and dessert. (Dessert was so good it deserves a special mention: Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake served with Blueberry-Lemon Sauce and whipped cream.)
Now I can show you what I made for the birthday girls. For Lee and Peggy, I made iPad Mini covers. Here is Lee’s:
The three elastic strips on the back hold the iPad in place on a padded surface when in use. The elastic strips also wrap around to the front, holding the outside flap securely in place when the iPad Mini is being carried around.
This is what Lee’s cover looks like on the inside:
Here is Peggy’s:
This is what Peggy’s looks like on the inside:
It’s a little hard to see in the photos, but the iPad Mini covers have an accessory pocket on the inside to hold earbuds and a stylus.
For Deborah I made a custom sewing machine dust cover:
It’s hard to get a good look at the lining fabric so for the next photo I turned the dust cover inside out:
I’m working on patterns for both the iPad Mini cover and the sewing machine dust cover, so if you’re interested in making one for yourself or a friend, please check back with me.