Dry as a bone

and hotter than… well, you know.  That pretty much sums up our Summer here in Des Moines.  We had a brief thunderstorm Saturday morning, with maybe a half an inch or so of rain falling in a very short span of time, and that was the first rain we had in. a. very. long. time.   The sound of the thunder and the flashes of lightning were such a welcome sound and sight.

Typically, mid summer in Iowa the grass is a bright shade of green, the flower beds are bursting with color and blooms… (these pics were taken mostly in Des Moines Water Works Park, professionally maintained and manicured flower beds).  Most of the grass in Iowa has gone dormant, dry brown patches are the new norm, and many flower beds outside of area homes do not look nearly as nice as these.

The day I was at the park snapping these photos, and trying to get good style shots of our newest quilt, it was 98 degrees, and the humidity was incredibly HIGH.

It’s been hard to enjoy typical summer activities like bicycling, sightseeing, going to the park, etc., because it is just difficult to remain outdoors for any period of time.  Thankfully Saturday’s thunderstorm brought a little relief, and my sweetie and I were able to take the bicycles out for a ride Sunday afternoon–a very welcome break and a wonderful diversion.

I love the shot of that pink zinnia, one of my favorites, but the colors and the sunlight are just so rich.  The bumblebees and dragonflies were busy that day, and not minding the heat nearly as much as I was…

See the eye of this bumblebee?  Wild, huh? It’s amazing what you can do with a point and shoot camera when you put in a little effort.

As I said, my main reason for being out and about that day was to snap pics of our newest quilt for the new pattern cover.  I received a lot of strange looks as I carried two quilts around in nearly 100 degree weather!  This shot shows the Des Moines River in the background.

Hard to get a good quality, true color shot in such bright sunlight, but when the sky doesn’t provide you with cloud cover, you gotta do what you gotta do… (and Photoshop helps!)

Question for you quilters out there: Do you take your photos inside or outside?  Do you wait for the perfect weather conditions to come around to take your pictures?



3 Great Reasons to be in Des Moines, Iowa, This Week

1.  The Blue October concert tomorrow night at the amazing Hoyt Sherman Theater.  The acoustics in this fabulous, historic theater are uncomparable.  One of my faves, Brandi Carlile will be there on Monday!
2.  Th Iowa Artists Installation at the Des Moines Art Center, as well as Friday evening’s  
Manhattan Short Film Festival.  Who says Iowa doesn’t know arts and culture? 
 3. And, of course, the AQS Quilt Show and Contest opens tomorrow, September 28 and continues through Saturday. 
  • There is a huge Merchant Mall with all of the latest quiltmaking tools, fabrics, vintage quilts for sale, quilt-related gift ideas for your favorite quilter–a dream shopping experience for any textile lover! 
  • Quilters compete in the juried show for more than $44,000 in cash awards 
  • in the AQS Contest
  • Annual show of the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild
  • Many more non-judged special themed exhibits. 
  • An Education Center will be available for children and adults to learn more about quilting. 
  • Some of the 150 quilts that will be presented to the Des Moines Veteran’s Home patients will also be on display.

I’m spending my day there on Thursday.  Even if you aren’t a quilter, I’d highly recommend you visit this show just to take in the beauty of the exhibits.  

If you can’t make it to the Des Moines area this week, I’ll give you one good reason to come back and visit my blog… a chance to win a pack of my favorite brand of thread!

Midwest Modernistas

Last night was the fourth meeting of the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild.  It was a fun get together on a rainy and dreary evening.

Members Jill Guffy & Marny Buck, of Modern Quilt Relish, presented the program.  They were invited earlier this year to judge the Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Challenge: No Prints Allowed! for the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild.  They reviewed thirteen entries submitted for judging, and based on the elements of design, critiqued each quilt, giving every quilter very positive feedback on their entry.

Having been on “the other side of the judging fence” they have an interesting perspective on analyzing, critiquing and judging modern quilts.  We discussed each of the 13 entries, the final selection, and how they came to their final decision.  Thanks, ladies–it was very enlightening!  Here are a few posts from the Ann Arbor Guild, here, here and here.

Following the program, we did our potholder swap.  This is the potholder I made for the swap, inspired by a Hungry Caterpillar fabric scrap, I added scraps of food fabrics in a log cabin style….

and bound it in some leftover bias binding from some other project I can’t even remember any longer (this is why I keep all my leftover binding pieces!), btw, do you love that tea towel from Target with the produce names on it?:

and the back is a scrap of apple fabric…

This is the potholder I received (made by the very talented Jill!):

Made with Denyse Schmidt (and is that heather Ross?!?) fabrics…it’s just my style and I love it, Jill!

There were 10 potholders entered, each one quite unique.  Here’s a look at all 10, individual pics of all on our flickr page:

Next Meeting will be September 15, 6:30 p.m., and we will be revealing our Habitat Challenge Quilts!  I should probably start mine one of these days…

Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild is off and running!

Last night was the inaugural meeting of the Des Moines chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild, Linda helped me organize and lead the meeting…we had about 25 gals show up, and we have at least 18 other members who could not make it.  

Some pics from our show-and-tell last night:


More pics here.  Thanks to Eva Marie for offering to take pics with my camera…for all the ladies who came and brought their smiles and great projects and quilts to share!  Can’t wait for next month!!!

Just another Wednesday….

…HARDLY! It was day ONE of the American Quilter’s Society Des Moines 2009 Show, and I spent the day in QUILT HEAVEN! (Warning: this is an image-laden post, dear readers! Click on images to enlarge for better details.) Some detail shots from a few of the quilts that KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF–full shots to come in another post…My personal fave, done by a member of my guild, Leigh Lussie, and shown in the AQS juried portion of the show…an applique bed quilt of a pattern by Kim McLean.
An amazing wall quilt of life-like sunflowers and grapes…STUNNING…I have to double check who made this one…
A detail shot of the BEST IN SHOW quilt, and yes, it truly was. Very hard to photograph (it’s HUGE) and I did my best, but my photos will not even begin to show the beauty and craftsmanship of this quilt…
Cynthia England is one of my quilt idols, and this is a shot of her shoreline pictorial quilt, One Fine Day, which BLOWS MY MIND. I’d love to know how many thousands of pieces go into one of these quilts of hers.
And a hand quilted, hand appliqued Broderie Perse style quilt done with older Amy Butler lines, Ginger Bliss and some Charm pieces. It is a beautifully done modern take on an age old technique. Artist is Jean Clark from Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin.
Okay, maybe this goldfish and water lily quilt was my fave…and could have been my vote for “Best in Show”, lifelike, gorgeous, and mouth-dropping. The artist is Sherrie Coppenbarger from Morton, Illinois. I’m going to have to reassess my vote for fave when I go back tomorrow… And, I have only seen about half the vendor booths, but I seriously doubt I will find one that tickled my fancy like this one did:
The display and vendor booth for Handbehg Felts, a supplier of felting tools, wool roving, hand-felted wool balls, jewelry kits, accessories, etc…They had a corner booth with this awesome dress form adorned with a wool ball kits and toilet paper roll skirt, and this great “bouquet” bursting from the neck:What initally drew my eye to the booth (I was in a daze at this point, and saw into the booth before I saw the dress form…yeah, really tired and in a daze….) were these fun stockings in the Christmas fabrics I have in my stash! How cute! I haven’t checked out their website yet, but I’m betting it’s awesome, too!

Our Des Moines Area Quilting Guild is fortunate enough to have our Annual Guild Quilt Show in association with this AQS show. In exchange, we provide them A LOT of volunteer hours to man the show, assistance in planning and set-up, etc. I entered three quilts in the Guild Show this year, and nothing beats seeing them hanging amongst other lovely quilts in a large space… my Gertrude and Friends growth chart and my Canoe Crossing quilt…

Well, okay, nothing beats that feeling except maybe rounding the corner and seeing your quilt hanging amongst other lovely quilts in a large space with a RIBBON DANGLING FROM IT!

That’s right, my Gypsy Django quilt earned a Third Place ribbon in the Non-Traditional Wall Quilt category. I was thrilled to say the least, and since I was alone at the time, I whipped out the cell phone and started calling people…three phone calls and NOT ONE ANSWER later, I ran to the nearest table being manned by a friend and mine to delightedly declare “I won a Ribbon!” She obliged me with the appropriate amount of enthuiasm and took a quick break from her duties to run over and view it with me. Gotta love quilt friends. (And seriously, loved ones, where are you when I need you to answer your phone?!?)

In the afternoon, I took a class with Frieda Anderson, called “Fast & Fun Freemotion”, and guess what?!? I think I finally get freemotion quilting! She’s a very thorough, no nonsense teacher and we all concurred it was a fabulous class. Here are shots of my four “sandwiches” of doodles I made:
stippling, square meanders, and M & E’s…
Sticks and twigs & shooting stars….
and there are even some hearts, McTavishing style echos, and feathers in there, that don’t look too bad for a first time attempt! Now, I need to find time to practice in the near future at home, lest I forget everything I learned…

And last but not least, there had to be some shopping…my booty:
a Supreme Slider and Magic Genie Washers, recommended by Leah, some fun Michael Miller and Monoluna FQs, a piece of Kaffe Fassett Aboriginal Dots in a color I didn’t have!, a new Clover thimbletwo Minnesota fabric FQs for my sweetie who hails from St Paul, a stack of Art Gallery Blenders (yum!), and of course, some LOVEStay tuned for additional AQS Des Moines posts…good things are happening in our Capital city!

Happy sewing,


Another round of Fall Quilt Shows

Inside the Church of the Land, 10/04/09

You might recall, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, that last October was the first Des Moines American Quilter’s Society show (the first of at least SIX, I’m pleased to say!) and along with it were several area quilt shows. I blogged about them here, and here, here, and here…it was a Des Moines Virtual Festival of Quilts. This last weekend was the first of the 2009 round of shows…

My sweetie and I went to Living History Farms to see their annual quilt show, which is held in the Church of the Land. The Church was built in 1980 on the spot where Pope John Paul II said Mass on October 4, 1979. We were there on the 30th anniversary of that historic visit.

See that quilted banner behind the Pope’s altar in this photo?
It was there on Sunday, in all it’s glory. My mother went to see the Pope that day, along with 300,000+ other people, I went with my Dad and my four siblings to visit my grandparents that day. To see the Four Seasons quilt in person was very powerful for me, raised a Catholic in the Midwest we knew how historic and important that cold October day was to our State, and to our Church. I actually got choked up when I first walked up in front of the quilt…

The design is recreated in stained glass inside the Church…


verrrry Tiny hand quilted stitches…

The quilt show is hung inside the church, and each year shows different quilts from the permanent museum collection of Living History Farms. I’m always amazed at the tedious craftsmanship these vintage pieces show…

And the fact that they know something about the makers of many of them, because they were donated by families to the museum. I’d like to think one day, my best work, will be hung for people to enjoy long after I am gone.

They had a small collection of Hmong quilts on display, something new to me, they are very detailed story quilts about events of every day life. This one showed scenes of tasks as mundane as feeding the hens and planting seeds, all the way up to playing football (soccer) at the end of the quilt…

This was my fave…a sunflower star quilt, I’ve always loved this block and would like to make one for myself one day…

Seriously. Stunning.

The colors in this quilt from the 1870s were amazingly planned and pieced to make a lovely composition. The stars are all hand pieced, the setting squares are all solid (set-in, not pieced) also by hand, and the borders were added by machine. It was however, hand quilted.

Loved the homespuns and plaids in this quilt…it even had an early example of a novelty print, a riding crop and gloves in white on an indigo background.

And this pink and brown quilt also made me want to go home and create one of my own…

I didn’t, since there is just a project or two ahead of that one… ;->