Friday, January 31, 2014

The Importance of Sharing Our Quilts

As a traveling lecturer and teacher, I attend lots of quilt guild meetings and my favorite part is  Show & Tell . . . . at least most of the time.  I'm always interested to see quilts but the number of members that share varies widely from guild to guild.  Even the simplest quilt can give me an idea for a color scheme or wake me up to a block I haven't seen or a new setting idea.   I believe every member of a group has a responsibility to share what they are doing with the rest of the group.  Too often, quilters self-judge the quality and appeal of what they are making and hold it back.  They may be intimidated by the member who comes every month with a "bagful".  In my own group, I always try to beat that person up to the front of the room -- better to go first than last!!  One of the good qualities of a group is the "give and take" -- the "take" is easy but everyone needs to "give" as well.

So why share stuff when it's not "good enough".  Well it encourages newer quilters to see that not everyone is making complex masterpieces.  One of the things I appreciate about the "sharing" I see in quilting blogs is that it eliminates the direct comparison aspect of a face-to-face gathering.  Seriously, I've never seen anyone during a guild "show and tell" "shouted down" for sharing a simple quilt.  I also think it stimulates conversation between members, it generates interest and enthusiasm for quilt making, and that keeps the group vital.  Quilting blogs generate the same interest and enthusiasm through the "comments and replies".

I moderated a group of traditional quilt makers who wanted to develop a more creative approach to their craft.  One of the requirements of the group was to enter a judged quilt show annually.  At first, most were very reluctant, but today (13 years later), I notice that most of the group enters our regional judged show as a matter of habit even though the group has been disbanded for a couple years.  They have grown to enjoy the benefits of participating in the show, not to mention the "free" pass for this six week long exhibition.

So here's my sharing for the week!

This is my only start for the month of January and my finish for the week!   (Look Mary Ann, I finished a totebag -- you weren't expecting that!?!)  It's the Cross Town Carry Regan's Bag by Marlous Designs (   Totebags aren't my favorite project but I got through this one in fairly short order and it is designated as a gift!
And here's a  full view picture of my 6-pointed star sampler, Pieceful Constellations.  I've been posting little peeks of it for the past month holding back until after the judging for the Lake Metroparks Farmpark Quilt Show.   I apologize for the boring setting (it's my work wall) -- I've since read a terrific post about photographing quilts ( and will do better in the future.
This quilt was so exciting to make and I'm thrilled with the results.  It was completely inspired by quilts that other quilters graciously shared.  The original inspiration is the marvelous Candied Hexagons quilt made by Kerry Dear in 2007 in Australia.  (If you've never peeked into that rabbit hole, google "candied hexagon images" and be prepared to get lost for an hour or so!)  Kerry's quilt has without a doubt triggered hundreds of quilt makers to tackle all things "60 degrees". 
Armed with Marti Michell's Template Set G (hexagons, 60 degree diamonds, and relatives), a big assortment of fabric, and the technique for chain-piecing through set-in seams which student, Mary O'Keefe shared with me, I happily cranked out a couple dozen stars in a short time. (Kerry's original quilt was also made and inspired by the cover of Marti's template set which is a scramble of blocks that can be made with Set G.)

And then it was time to set them together!  Candied Hexagons is a "honeycomb" setting but how to fill in all the space around the stars?  The answer presented itself in a quilt shared by Janet Shannon which I had pinned to my 60 degree diamond board on Pinterest.  Janet's quilt is an inspired piece of art and I love the tumbling blocks cascading down through the center of her star sampler.

I will always be grateful that Janet shared her lovely quilt because it inspired me to go back to the work wall with a new vision.  The "constellations" were a happy accident of moving the stars around and standing back and moving them some more and standing back again.  I was astonished with the ideas that presented themselves right through to the end of the quilt.  It was so much fun to make this quilt but without the sharing of Kerry Dear and Janet Shannon, my quilt would not have been created. 

To continue the sharing, I offer workshops to help quilters begin their own 6-pointed star sampler -- have workshop, will travel!!   And in March, I hope to begin to host a "sew-along" based on Pieceful Constellations through this blog.  Investing in my DVD workshop, Set-in Piecing Simplified, will help you prepare to participate in that!

By the way, did I say it took a blue ribbon at the show?   Wahoo!!!

Mary Huey


  1. A fantastic post Mary! Love the premise of sharing and entering quilts in a judged show - great advice. Your quilt is just beautiful and congratulations on the Blue Ribbon! Woohoo!

  2. Blue Ribbon? Well it does match the quilt. Congrats. For the sake of sanity in piecing hexes I hope everyone gets your DVD;
    Well done and thanks for sharing.

  3. Congratulations on the Blue ribbon!! I love the projects and the piecing that can be done with Mati's templates! I made one of those totes a few years ago, I need to get it back out!

  4. Loved this post and outlook on the quilter's show and share. I am going to share it with my guild members for your views on the subject. Our quantity of members bringing their quilts has improved in the last few years, but even more would be welcome!

    Congrats on your BLUE ribbon. No surprise there!

  5. I knew you would finish the bag, you just needed a little heckling!

  6. Congratulations on the blue ribbon. Such a beautiful quilt! And, the tote-bag is great! Happy quilting.

  7. Really spectacular, Mary! Congrats!

  8. I totally agree with you re show & tell. I have challenged our quilt group which meets on Fridays to enter the local show. Its not judged, but one step at a time. Some I think will probably enter. The impetus is that my 7 year old grand daughter is going to enter the quilt she made totally herself (except for rotary cutting). I am planning to hole that up to them as an example. Congrats on your ribbon.

    1. Some guilds I've visited give show & tell participants a little reward -- that seems to generate interest. And I think friends of quilters love saying "I know her (or him)" when they see a quilt hanging in a show!

  9. I love your diamonds and stars quilt - a really interesting setting. I totally agree that sharing quilts and ideas is a wonderful part of quilting - I think my quilting would be very boring without the inspiring eye-candy I see online every day! Everyone has to start somewhere, and we all started there too once upon a time.

  10. Well written and congrats! It looks great.

  11. What a beautiful quilt. I totally agree that quilting is about sharing. We are all part of a large community and generations of women. Makes me proud to be a quilter.

  12. Congratulations Mary - beautiful quilt!
    Thanks for the binding tutorial - there was some new to me information that was very timely.

  13. Congratulations Mary! I saw your name when I looked up the winners list the other day. It is always fun to say, 'I KNOW that winner!' when sharing the quilt show with friends.