Friday, November 20, 2009


I know, I know, I'm a terrible blogger. I did warn you though!

I've been really busy, making myself crazy. I finally realized I had to fit in some hand quilting (Slither Eek makes its return) and sewing to get some balance in my life. This is my current sewing project - yes, I started a new one and no, the previous one isn't finished. I want to make a scrappy red and white sampler that's super busy. Don't ask me why, that just sounds fun.

I thought with all the different patterns that the letters would be much harder to read than they actually are.

All it took was getting fabric out to lure Pokey into posing for pics again.

My gorgeous sweet baby.

I have a long list of things for this post since it's been so long since my last one. Have ya'all heard about the new Gee's Bend fabric line and kits that have just come out? What the... Huh? Really??? Am I the only one who sees this as an incredible contradiction?

The quilters of Gee's Bend became famous for their quilts made of recycled clothing and now there's a line of new fabric??? They work in an improvisation style and yet there are kits??? I took a look at one, hoping that it was actually a subversive attempt to get quilters working without rulers etc and just winging it. Nope, concise instructions for making the exact quilt. I mean, exact "cut this triangle exactly this size" and that one that size instructions.

Sheesh, I don't begrudge the Gee's Bend quilters wanting to get a reward for their hard work. I really don't. It just disappoints me. I've been hoping for a book written by the women themselves about how they work, and so far that hasn't happened. Instead we get Quilt Police instructions. sigh.

I did actually buy some of the fabric. I'd call them batiks - like the ones I loved so much from Bali Fabrications that aren't available anymore. I'm hoping they're that easy to hand-quilt through because I love the colors.

In other quilt stuff, I went with a friend to the World Quilt Show put on by Mancuso Brothers in West Palm Beach. It was bigger than I thought it would be and very well attended. We went early on the first day and I think I was one of the youngest ones there. Didn't see a single child. Ah, Florida.

I was disappointed that so many of the quilts were Art Quilts and very little playing on the traditional side of things. Nothing liberated. No antiques. And all the glitz? All those stinking crystals? There were several quilts that would have looked better without them. I mean, you're using silk for goodness sake - it's a gorgeous fabric, don't tart it up.

I did buy some things so that my husband could accomplish some Christmas shopping. In other words, I buy the presents I want and it makes both our lives easier. So no pics.

While I'm on a whinging streak... The finale of Project Runway? Bleah. Dark and uninteresting. I didn't care who won.

Before I go off on a tv tangent, I've got a bunch of quilty links for you, in no particular order.

For anyone lucky enough to live in the San Francisco area, there is a show at the Fine Arts Museum of Amish quilts from the collection of Stephen and Faith Brown. The show is on until June 2010 - definitely one I'd love to go to, but I'll have to be satisfied with the book instead. Apparently you can't have too many books on Amish quilts... There is a good article on the show here.

Comicbooklady made a fantastic Thinking quilt which I truly love.

I love how Bemused Jan is playing with her orphan blocks, including the houses on cheddar.

I'm not sure I ever posted a link to House of Krom Sarah's great Friend quilt that included a free-pieced gnome and mushroom. oops, that was way back in July. Sarah also made this wonderful placemat (I love how the "thanks"glows)... a swap with Knit One Quilt Too Kristin, who made this darling apple placemat.

Scraps and Strings Brenda made a wonderful wonky houses quilt with words and I love the work that she and her Strip Piecing friends have recently made (especially that Noel quilt!)

J's Quilting Blog Joyce also played with houses and words in Kitty Corner and Patchery Menagerie Lynne too! Lynne has been posting a lot, so just take a peek at her November archives. Caitty Quilts Deborah did a bright whimsical houses quilt that includes applique as well as liberated piecing.

Pokeytown Kim added liberated letters to crumb quilts. Wonderful! I've gotten a sneak peak at another liberated project she's working on, so I know there will be upcoming wonderfullness on her blog.

Dordogne Quilter Clare is making great progress on hand-quilting and piecing two great projects.

So happy to have Quilt Words Meg posting again. She finished her lovely soft linen quilt with the gorgeous freehand fans and lines hand-quilting.

I'm sure I haven't managed to link to everything I want to, but I've worn myself out ;) Besides, I need something for another post...

I am actually doing really well, no cause for concern for my blogging absences. Ya'll take care!


KnitOneQuiltTooKristin said...

Great post Tonya! Thanks for all those links to some great quilts. I was taken aback by the Gee's Beend quilt kits too, can't imagine what they are thinking. After meeting some of the ladies I kind of wonder what kind of involvement they might have had in this. It just doesn't seem like them.

Love your red and white letters. It reminds me that I need to get back to my red and white quilt. In fact, if you would like any more red and white fabrics, I'm sure I have some to share! Just let me know.

Glad to hear you are doing so well. As for Pokey, she looks fabulous, you must be taking good care of her!

Teresa said...

I think we are kindred spirits...I agree totally with what you call "whining" - I call it "calling it as you see it." Refreshing. I, too, thought that the Gees Bend ladies were all about a style...a movement. I'm sorry they sold out, if indeed that is what happened.

Long live liberated quilting!! Our stitch group just decided to start a swap of liberated ladies (inspired by the book from 'down under,' "Material Obsession by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke. Once we get our swapped blocks (April Fool's Day!), I want to set my girls with some of Bonnie's wonky stars and your gloreous letters (and maybe some wonky houses, to boot!). I can't wait!

I love your red/white alphabet in progress...there's something totally cool about red and white...I can't quite put my finger on it, but maybe it is za-za-zoo!

Pokey is too cute!!!!! Sorry this is so inspire me!

In stitches,
Teresa :o)

Quiltdivajulie said...

I, too, was seriously disappointed and pretty much disgusted when I saw the Gees Bend "kits" and fabric line news ... overt commercialization just went way too far on this one!

Otherwise, glad you're doing well and are busy!

True Blue Nana said...

Thanks so much for pointing out all these great blog posts. And yes it does seem to be a contradiction for Gee's Bend to be selling kits. what would Gwen say!

Anonymous said...

I too was a bit puzzled by the Gee's Bend kits. But, I work part time in a shop and we sold several before they arrived. A lot of quilters buy kits, I think because there's no worrying about collecting the fabrics you need and you know how it'll turn out. In other words, some one has done most of the work for you. But, I want to make something individual. That's the reason I started sewing garments and it's carried over to quilting. The fabric that came along with the Gees Bend is a great solid. It seems to have a very nice hand and would be great for Gwen Marston style quilts, although the pallette is kind of greyed.

I have a friend who calls it monkey see monkey do syndrome.

As for the Gee's Bend quilter's secrets, I don't think they probably feel there's much of a secret to how they work that could be interpreted by or conveyed to others. I think they did run some workshops. I saw it on some ones's blog-maybe at Sisters? I think they used what they had (did you ever see the basketball uniform quilt? That one is not art in my opinion.) and went with what looked good to them. I hope they are getting a cut of every kit sold, but I bet it's on a scale that an author gets from a book. Everyone gets their cut. Did you buy the book they sold at the museum? It has some great history and photographs. I think their style is some what similar to Gwen's.

I'm also with you on the crystals. I'm not into bling.

Pokey looks good. I'm giving one of my dogs fluids every day, it's not so hard and I think it makes a big difference for her. However, it would be tough to do a cat on your own-to hold her and get the needle in. But, whatever you're doing is working, she looks her beautiful self.

I missed your posts. The red and white letters look cool-what are they going to spell?

Joyce said...

I love the red and white quilt. I hadn't heard about the Gee's Bend fabric but it does seem a bit odd. I wonder if they benefit or some entrepreneur who is using their name.

Kristin L said...

I'm happy to hear that you're doing just fine. I'm loving teh red and white quilt -- all that peppermint is perfect for a December project. Thanks for the linky love too.

be*mused jan said...

Happy to see you back...and IMHO, it was worth the wait. lol But too much to comment on! (Project Runway...ugh. What a disappointment after that long wait. No color! No personal point of view!)
Love the red & white quilt. It will be fun to watch that develop.
The Gee's Bend kits/fabric. Well, having spent some time with the ladies, my observation is that there is no *group thought*...they each have quite independent opinions so it may have just been a majority rules decision. It's still quite a poor region and frankly, they are probably more interested in an income flow for the large group of women than artistic integrity. All that said, they seem very proud of the recognition they have received for their quilts. It's quite moving to hear them talk about the last few years.
(Thanks for the shout-out!)

beth said...

wow! all those links! no wonder you don't blog as often..that took a long time, didn't it? thanks for all the fun stuff. I also liked what you had to say about the quilt show...verrry interesting!

Missy Ann said...

You have a good point. I'm completely on board with you about the fabric line. As to the quilt kits... it's not quite so bad if you look at from the direction of reproduction. Like cross stitchers/embroiders. We make copies of antique and vintage originals all the time.

Disappointing season of PR. If next season isn't better though they're going to hemorrhage viewers.

Anonymous said...

I love the red/white alphabet quilt. And your cat sure is beautiful!


Julie in the Barn said...

Welcome to the COWs club (Cranky Old Women). You are probably too young but I'm a proud member. The trend toward the "paint by numbers" approach to the quilting world is disturbing as well as sad. Thank the powers that keep the planets spinning that there are still quilters like you that inspire those of us who want to create and not just copy.

PR...loosing it's appeal for me. I'm also sad that Monk will be over in a few weeks. I have just discovered re-runs of Desperate Housewives which are all new to me since I didn't get cable until recently. Are there any new shows on the horizon?

Exuberant Color said...

I love red and white quilts. would you like some red/white scraps from the 1980's?

Michele's Quilting Journey said...

Having met the gals and visited with them, and 'met' their manager...the son of Wm. Arnett....who didn't even answer me as I complimented him and asked him a question... I can tell you that they are pretty effectively 'managed' and for profit. The real gals are as down to earth as you can imagine. But these riches they earn are only a fraction of what he and his dad and the 'collective' earn. And the quilters themselves are providing for entire families of cousins twice removed and pretty much have nothing to do with the 'business' side of it all. Although, their college educated children seem to be trying to take their places as the older, original ladies are both dying off and getting too ill to travel. Let's face it...they didn't sell out, they went along for the fanciest, funnest, most amazing ride of their lives and they are genuine woman doing their best in a really hectic worldspin. In Sisters, the told everyone to bring old clothes to sew with in their classes and it was the quilters who weren't sure just how to manage that. Quilters want kits from fancy stores...

Marge said...

It was so good to read your post today with your usual insights and fun links. Pokey looks great. Love the red and white letter quilt since "red is my neutral", even though my quilts are far different from Freddy Moran. (Gotta' credit her with that statement.) It'll be fun to see your progress.

Debra said...

before I comment on anything else, I have to say...Pokey is one awesome looking cat!

i like quilting and designs too ;-)

jude said...

gees bend kits? i want to puke. that is really offensive.

Statch said...

Tonya, so glad to see you're doing well! Pokey's eyes are GORGEOUS, by the way. What an incredible color.

I'm disappointed about the Gee's Bend kits. I wonder how well they'll sell? It's hard to believe that the people who appreciate their quilts would want to make one from a kit.

YankeeQuilter said...

Having spent a few days last week helping a fellow quilter pick out the exact Kaffe Fasset fabrics for her "reproduction" of one of his quilts I can tell you some folks just want to make an exact copy. Not my thing but if that is what they want....

I had a giggle reading the Piece O'Cake Book "Applique outside the Lines. The premise is not rule-no ruler but they still have you make the cumbersome plastic template -duhhhhh.

Anonymous said...

AMEN! I totally agree with you on all counts. I HOPE the Gee's Bend ladies are realizing some profit from all of this. All power to them - they got into the Whitney Museum in NY, which none of the rest of us quilting in NYC can ever dream of doing! I looked askance at the kits of their quilts too, but I must admit the fabrics do look nice. I might have to try them for some Amish stuff. I love Amish, but I hardly ever work in solids, so the irregular dyed stuff is more in my comfort zone.

I haven't been to any shows recently, so I can't speak to the lack of traditional and antique stuuff being shown...but I believe it. I used to think of myself as the Militant Traditionalist in a crowd of Art Quilters. I like Art Quilts, but I just don't "get" a lot of them. It took getting online to find a community of like-minded quilters, for whom "traditional" is not a dirty word.

Good to see Pokey looking so healthy and you're doing well too.


PS - Project Runway WAS totally underwhelming!!!

Magpie Sue said...

Gotta agree with the general concensus here. Fabric and kits to make Gee's Bend quilts does seem like an oxymoron. But I'm sure the Quilters themselves are only doing whatever they can to make a buck, for honest reasons. It's their handlers I'm suspicious of.

If it's all art quilts in the shows nowadays the pendulum is bound to swing back the other way eventually. I remember being frustrated at the overabundance of traditional quilts when I first started going to quilt shows. (They all seemed to be the same.) Calling a liberated quilt "art" is probably the only way to get it accepted into a show. Otherwise it wouldn't be considered good enough. This is why I've pretty much decided to just make quilts for those who will use and appreciate them, not to enter them into shows or exhibits.

I also agree that PR was underwhelming this time around. The best news during the finale was that the 7th season is being aired in January - not long to wait! Hope springs eternal that it will be more fun than season 6 was. (Honestly, what IS is with New Yorkers and the color black?!!!)

Beth said...

I love the red and white, I love hand quilting, I'm lost in the machine quilting world.

Deborah said...

love those fabulous blue eyes

jovaliquilts said...

I was at my LQS when their Gee's Bend kits arrived -- I couldn't believe it! It's an oxymoron.

comicbooklady said...

Gees Bend kits is right up there with the special ruler in one of the Fons and Porter magazines to make a "variable" star (I think that's what they called it, so that all your "variable" stars can look the same!)I ask you, where's the wonky in that?

Anonymous said...

LOL about the New Yorkers and black comment...a friend explained it to me this way: if you always wear black, it always goes together. It took me years to get into the black thing. Major drawback in 3 words: white cat hair.

The quilt shop where I teach just got in some new book (can't remember the title and it's not important) but the cover was a really fun scrappy string thing, and the pictures inside were kinda fun, till I turned to the instructions, and there were all the wonky fun blocks *printed as foundation piecing patterns*! Geeeeez.

I think the pendulum IS swinging back towards the traditional least mine is. At this point in my quilting life, it's very comforting just to sew strips, squares and triangles together.


Brenda said...

well, I think the liberated folks have spoken on Gee's bend. I'd just like to see those in person some time. fun letters, and thanks for the shout out.

Deborah said...

I agree with you on the Gee's Bend kits. Sad. Thanks for the mention. I feel famous! I had my picture in the paper last week for attending 2nd grade pizza night and now I am mentioned in your blog. I guess I'm famous! Miss you. Happy Thanksgiving!
Deborah and Rusty

Kim said...

Thanks for your kind words Tonya on my liberated creations......I'm getting there!
Heck I even joined the Yahoo group liberated quilters so there ya go.

I was lucky enough to see the Gee's Bend quilts when they were shown at the Whitney in they were liberated. I sure wonder who came up with the kit ideas?
Think it will liberate the makers?

Love your red and white alphabet,,,so crisp. Glad I'm not the only one who gets struck with an inspiration and just runs with
it no matter the number of projects already underway!

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Sewing

Clare said...

Je suis d'accord!

It makes me so cross to see wonderful work like theirs commercialised!

Glad to see you posting. I've been a very bad blogger too!

KathieB said...

I'm in the anti-crystal camp too, but then I'm not much for glittery anything.

And on the topic of Gee's Bend--I with you on the incongruity of kits for improvisational quilts. And I hope those quilters are getting a cut of profits for the fabric line. My understanding is that they haven't been fully compensated for everything derived from the Gee's Bend quilts.

Meg said...

Gee's Bend kits and fabric line? (sigh.)

Thanks for the links! It's great fun to open them up. So many quilters doing all sorts of interesting things!

Glad you're feeling so well.

Cheryl Arkison said...

I just wrapped up my first Improv Piecing class. What a refreshing experience - to have quilters quite used to patterns and kits open up and play with their fabric. It was a hard rethink for a couple of them. And quite "liberating" for most.

But I can tell you that the LQS where I taught was a hard sell. The owner knows her customers and they want defined products at the end. And she sells classes based on the customer coming in and saying I want to make THAT, not on I want to learn that TECHNIQUE.

Kits of any kind just simply disappoint me. At the same time, though, at least it gets people sewing, right?

And how about the fabric designers that are pushed to design a quilt - quite often a ridiculously borning or simple one - to sell with their fabrics?

Viola said...

Very sweet baby!

jacquie said...

was so interesting to read your comments on the gee's bend quilts...i felt the same way...weird that their work is so improvisational and free and then kits...but then i felt the same about denyse schmidt's book...patterns rather than her process. i guess that's what most people want. so wonderful to hear about your book well deserved! don't work yourself to the bone.

Diane said...

Gee's Bend quilt kits? That's just one step away from PREPRINTED PANELS! The quilt industry is very pattern/kit driven right now. Having worked in a quilt shop and for a quilt magazine, I've witnessed the public's insatiable desire for patterns and kits. There just aren't a whole lotta free thinkers out there.

Keep up the liberated focus, Tonya, and quilters will follow. Your work is always inspiring!!!!!!!!