Saturday, September 26, 2015

Alden Lane Quilting in the Garden

The last weekend in September, Alden Lane nursery hosts an outdoor quilt show where the quilts are hung on lines among the tall oak trees on Saturday and Sunday and classes are offered earlier in the week. The featured artist this year was Freddy Moran and the guest artist was Sally Collins. Here is the colorful array of mainly Freddy's quilts greeting the viewers at the nursery entrance. The central quilt here is titled Red & Black Village. Freddy Moran is renown for her wild, free-form use of a lot of clear colors and bold prints.

Wednesday I attended an all-day lecture/class taught by precision piecer Sally Collins. In stark contrast, Sally's exquisite work is painstakingly accurate and detailed. This Lotus Flower quilt of hers measures a mere 7¼" square so you can only imagine how tiny those HSTs are. All seams are still ¼". A few may be graded afterward to press well – mainly those of pieces that are less than ¼" in size – but initially seam allowances are all ¼"! Photos really do not do her work justice. I saw and could touch and handle a great number of her quilts at the class. I was in awe seeing, in person, the limits to which patient, dedicated workmanship can take the art of quilting.

I learned a fair amount of good techniques that I can apply to my own piecing, but miniatures are not my thing. Sally kept emphasizing she is in this for the process, not the product, so I can relate to that aspect of her specialty. I love to quilt but just how many bed covers or decorative throws can you use? She also advises, "Focus on how well, not how fast, you make your quilts." This resonates with me too. Piecing is my favorite part. Why race through it with an over abundance of speed methods and assembly techniques that randomize fabric placement?

I thought it ironic and amusing that these two quilters, so different in their artistry, were at the same show. I saw them talking with each other and I asked them to pose for a photo together. They agreed that I could pass this on. If you did not already know, could you guess by how they are dressed who is who?

As featured artist Freddy Moran had almost 150 quilts in the show. Sally Collins had about 30 or so. Quilts submitted by local quilters numbered on the order of 100 or so. The rest of this blog will take you on a tour of a few of the quilts that I caught my eye or displayed a creative idea I liked.

Also at the show entrance was this cheerful Chickadee quilt, a local entry titled Fat Chicks. It made me want to get better at appliqué. A bit of whimsical appliqué easily brightens up a quilt!

These next two are Freddy Moran quilts. I liked the concentric wonky squares but what I found amusing was that a few of them had an extra square tucked in somewhere (top leftmost block) or a square band perimeter was interrupted with a different fabric (bottom rightmost block). The very center block has two itty bitty squares tucked in on the diagonal. I studied this quilt quite a while trying to find these little surprises scattered throughout. (There are others.) Freddy titled it Gee's Bend Log Cabin.

I happen to have a fondness for flying geese. Having so many gathered in one spot was engaging, especially when you notice a few reverse the position of the geese and the sky just to mix it up and add interest. It is like the ornithological parallel to the proverbially black sheep. This quilt Freddy titled The Gee's Bend Triangles.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly (GBU) projects was a fun category for the local quilters. For $20 they could buy a pre-filled bag of two yards of "Ugly" fabrics from our shop in Livermore, In Between Stitches.  A portion of bag purchase price goes to breast cancer research (GOOD). Not all bags contain the same fabrics and quilters do not know the contents when they purchase it (BAD). I learned that over 40 bags were sold! Quilters were required to use at least 50% of those fabrics (UGLY) to make a quilt top with a minimum size of 32". Show-goers then voted on their favorite and the winner would get a gift certificate to the shop. No  – winners were not restricted to using the gift certificate to buy "ugly" fabric. (My husband came up with that tongue-in-cheek question.) The entrants did such a good job, I had a hard time telling which were the "ugly" fabrics. This quilt was my favorite. It reminded me of the It's A Small World attraction at Disneyland. I may try this next year just for kicks.

This quilt was again by a local. I liked how she shaded the arms of the stars and graduated the tones on the diagonal squares. It is called Saffron and Shimmering Arrows.

I like the way the flying geese in this quilt, again by a local, were bordered by HSTs. It gives the borders an ordered, tidy, and more substantial look and adds a third color of interest.

This quilt is remarkable in the 3D effect it projects through clever use of color placement. The local quilter who made this titled it A-MAZE-ING.

This quilt becomes more than just black, white, and red when the local quilter added a few light tan cats and some scattered light tan background. I also liked the way the felines are quilted with spirals on their hips. Their red bow ties add a touch of class, too. It was titled simply Cats.

This quilt caught my eye (any my husband's eye, too) maybe because the Singer Featherweight I just acquired is fresh in my mind. The seed packets and newspaper print border lend to its vintage feel. The technique in this one that appeals is the way the quilter incorporated different size panel prints into one cohesive unit.

Lastly, here is a closeup of the opportunity quilt for which the Diablo Valley Quilters guild is selling raffle tickets. Not only is the appliqué beautiful but this closeup shows off the wavy lined checkerboard quilting pattern. The texture it adds is terrific. I have got to try this!

Hope you were able to enjoy the mini-show. In blogging about it, I got to relive it.

On Saturday night all the quilts are taken down and then rehung on Sunday morning. My husband and I were volunteers that helped with the take-down. The nursery has a pulley system strung among the trees and each line is numbered and coded with the quilt numbers it holds. There is an organized method to lower the clothes line, remove the clothespins, fold the quilt, load into pre-number bags and stack onto waiting wagons. It ran as smooth as silk. Ladders are needed in only a smattering of special locations. Here is the tail end of the take down.

Sunday morning at 7:00 am the process to re-hang the quilts will begin for the second day of the show. I think the cow may get to leave her sweater on overnight. It does get chilly here after the sun sets.


  1. Wow, what a gorgeous show! I am sad that I wasn't able to make it this year, I did have a blast attending with you last year (and taking that Jean Wells class). And that photo of Freddy and Sally... well, it does really emphasize the different styles! I don;t know that I'd have the attention span to sew so many little tiny scraps together, though - especially when the seam allowances were larger than the pieces!

    That GBU #96 is amazing and makes me think of the same thing... I love the way they took so many different blocks and worked them into one cohesive design, and the color selection comes together really nicely. "Fat Chicks" also gave me a chuckle, both because of the name and because of the bright, fun design.

    I wonder how many years they've had to perfect that pulley system - how long does the whole process take for the 200+ quilts? That's good that they've worked it out so not everyone has to climb a ladder - at our local quilt show, J saved the day by hanging at least 1/3 of the quilts himself (which required about 200 trips up and down our one ladder), but not everyone quilt guild has an ex-firefighter on call!

    And finally, the quilting on that flower is gorgeous - I second the need to try it!

    1. Maybe we can shoot to go to Road to California in January. If not, perhaps the next one in Houston. Thanks for finding me a reference to GBU #96. I will pursue it - as if I need to add another wanna-do to my list. I am definitely going to try the wobbly checkerboard quilting pattern - perhaps on a quilt I volunteered to do for charity.