Gail Garber Designs
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My First Quilt – 1980

Just last week, I was invited to visit the New Mexico Quilter’s Association for their monthly meeting.  They were honoring past presidents and asked each of us to bring our President’s Quilt, our First Quilt, and our most recent quilt.  I got to thinking that, for all of us who quilt, that first quilt made such a difference in our lives, something we all share.  For, if there had never been a first, you and I would not belong to the sisterhood of quilt makers! Here’s my story!

My First Quilt - 1980

My First Quilt – 1980

Wow – 1980!  That’s 34 years ago!  It seems like yesterday.  My friends had talked me into taking a quilting class, saying I would love it.  They were right!!!  I immediately fell in love with this art form, even though, way back in the dark ages of quilting there were SO MANY RULES!  Rules like, “If is isn’t made by hand, then it really isn’t a quilt”.  Machine stitching of any sort was shunned.  I labored along with my hand needle, painstakingly stitching each block by hand.  Kay Pike was my first teacher, at a quilt shop called the Quilt Works, which is still in business today.

First Log Cabin

First Log Cabin

The shop provided kits for the class, so students didn’t have to purchase anything, not even the backing or batting.  Notice the humble fabrics of that day – small calico prints with muslin for the background.  I remember being befuddled by the Log Cabin block, wondering how I would be able to draft it into any size other than the 9″ blocks in our sampler quilts.

My First Applique - Tulip

My First Applique – Tulip

When it came to that first applique block, I was less than impressed by the technique, and determined to never ever do that again!  It went like this:

1.   We cut our templates out from thick plastic
2.   We stretched our fabric pieces over sandpaper and traced around the shape with a standard lead pencil
3.   We basted all the edges under
4.  We pinned the piece in place
5.   Finally, we got to stitch it down
6.  Then, we removed the bating stitches and we were done — with that piece only!

The curves weren’t very curvey and the points were anything but! I didn’t see much potential applique in my future.

Grandmother's Flower Garden

Grandmother’s Flower Garden

Then there was this block, Grandmother’s Flower Garden.  Let it suffice to know that I have NEVER made one of these again!

By 1984, I took another applique class where I learned the needle-turn technique, falling in love with this method!  For many years, I was known for my southwestern applique quilts.  I was hungry to learn more about my newest passion and took all the classes I could!  I dabbled, I learned, I loved!

A while back, my quilt collection was appraised for insurance values.  Imagine my surprise then the humble quilt above was valued at $1,500!  I querried the appraiser, only to be told that all first quilts are highly valued because they are irreplaceable.  In each of our lives, there can only be one first quilt.

Now, 34 years later, I remain just as passionate about quiltmaking, but my quilts are very different.  Below is my most recent quilt, finished with Kris Vierra in 2013.

Climate Change (c) 2013 by Gail Garber and Kris Vierra

Climate Change (c) 2013 by Gail Garber and Kris Vierra

I am sharing this story as part of the Quilting Daily Blog It to Win It Contest.

Blog It to Win It

 If I am fortunate enough to win, I’d select:

T1436 – Color Magnet

14QM11-EP8282 – Grouped – Digital Surface Design

T1987 – Fabric Surface Design

13QM28-EP7571 Grouped – Dynamic Fabric Art Portraits

13qm29 – EP7572 Grouped – Quilting Arts Workshop – Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork

 

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Flickr Group

Hooray! There is now a Flickr group dedicated to sharing your work created from my classes, patterns, and books. It is always a pleasure to see the work of my students. If you have a completed quilt or work-in-progress you’d like to share, join the Gail Garber Student Work Flickr group and upload your photographs. The online community is full of inspiration. Won’t you join us?

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Blog Reader

Bloglovin’ is a blog reader that notifies you when any of your favorite blogs adds a new post. Instead of cluttering your e-mail inbox with multiple blog subscriptions, it consolidates new posts in an organized central location. As a bonus, it keeps track of which posts you have viewed, allows you to mark your favorites, and simplifies sharing posts on social media.  You can search for blogs by name or category. Word has it, they are going to add a sewing category soon! If you already have a Bloglovin’ account, you can follow my blog by clicking the button below.  If not, give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

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Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part 2

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with no evidence that it should have been wintry.  Our hearty crew was hard at work early on.

Sweatshop 2014

Sweatshop 2014

Stitching, stitching . . .

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

It wasn’t long before the different blocks began to emerge.

Star Block in progress

Star Block in progress

Keep Calm and Carry On was the mantra of the day.  For a while it seemed like the stack of block kits was getting larger, not smaller.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year's retreat.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year’s retreat.

We were twelve strong, including two newbies, Pat Folsom and Allison Schacht.  Both had such a good time, they have already signed up for 2015.

First Look at the Middle

First Look at the Middle

It wasn’t long before the center star was completed.  Here, Cynthia Figuerora-McInteer shows the results to Steve E. and Laurie Marnell, while my dog, Gabby, looks on.  He’s probably not terribly impressed.  After all, this is his 9th quilt retreat.

The Center is done!

The Center is done!

Shortly thereafter, the inner border of Flying Geese completed the center.  Now, to stitch that to the already existing Flying Hawk circular border.  And so it went, until late afternoon when all the blocks were completed and we began to stitch the final borders.

Sami Sews on the Border

Sami Sews on the Border

We took turns stitching on the final borders, so four sewers each attached one border.  It is a one woman stitching job at this point.

Snoozing

Snoozing

As our excitement mounted, the dogs remained unimpressed.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

and, finally as the dinner hour neared . . .

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

by this point, it really helped to have a holder to keep the weight of the quilt top from dragging on the stitcher!  And, Ta-Da!  We finished at 5:59 p.m., one hour earlier than the 2013 quilt.  We celebrated in style that evening and then posed for the final photo the following morning.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.  Image by Steve Elkins.

From L-R: Pat Folsom, Anita McSorley, Sam Sanborn, Chellye Porter, Miss Elaenia, Gail, Gabby, Barry, Laurie Marnell, Steve Elkins, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Ed Chappelle, Allison Schacht, Mary Chappelle, and Layla!  A good time was had by all.  Many thanks to all who participated.  The quilt top has now gone off to Lincoln, NE where it will be magically quilted by Kris Vierra!  Look for it to make its debut at the Monte Vista Crane Festival, in Monte Vista, CO in early March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part One

Raffle Quilt 2014 - Sneak Peek

Raffle Quilt 2014 – Sneak Peek

It all started about a week before the big event, when several of us worked on pre-sewing the birds so we would have a chance to complete the 2014 Hawks Aloft raffle quilt in one day which is always our goal.

The Cabin.  Image by Steve Elkins.

The Cabin. Image by Steve Elkins.

Three of us, Ruth B., Laurie Marnell, and yours truly, decided to retreat to the cabin on Thursday for some relaxation.  Laurie brought her dog, Barry, along for the weekend.

Laurie and Barry

Laurie and Barry

Playful and unbearably cute, Barry got along well with my dogs, Laney and Gabby.  They played themselves into exhaustion,

Ruth with Gabby and Barry

Ruth with Gabby and Barry

while Miss Elaenia practiced looking cute!  It’s one of her best skills and I believe that she practices in the mirror when I am not home.

Laney, the Cute!

Laney, the Cute!

Friday afternoon, the rest of the crowd arrived and we worked on cutting kits for the individual blocks, with Ed, our master cutter, a.k.a. Mr. Precision!

Ed

Ed Chappelle

Ed and Mary brought their newly adopted dog too, Layla, who wasn’t too sure about Barry!

Layla

Layla

It was a Four Dog Night!  While the dogs all got acquainted, so did we!

Dinner in the New Room

Dinner in the New Room

Enjoying a sumptuous dinner by Ruth and Chellye Porter, we relaxed in style in the new room, for tomorrow would be all about stitching.  Could we do it?  Would we succeed in finishing quilt top #21 in just one day?

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year and New Beginnings

As I sit down to write this I realize that it has been almost a month since my last post.   I apologize for slacking off during the holidays this year.  However, even though I haven’t been posting, I have not been idle!

Butterfly Filigree

Butterfly Filigree  

Many thanks go to my longtime friend and colleague, Donna Barnitz, who came up with the idea for the filigree work.  The butterflies are part of a quilt in progress and this was our first attempt, using UltraSuede and hand painted fabrics from Mickey Lawler, of SkyDyes.  This work in progress let loose an entire Pandora’s box of ideas for similar work.  Next up on my list of projects was to design the Hawks Aloft raffle quilt for 2014.  (Pam Eastman, of Edgewood, NM, won the 2013 quilt.)

Cooper's Hawk in Flight.  Image by Doug Brown.

Cooper’s Hawk in Flight. Image by Doug Brown.

Through my work at Hawks Aloft, I am very fortunate to know some incredible photographers, like Doug Brown, who allow us to use their images in our public outreach, and social media pages.  Donna and I came up with the idea of doing a filigree bird for the 2014 quilt.  Actually, the idea was more hers than mine.  So, we started looking at Doug’s images and settled on the above image of a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in flight.  Of course, our work would only be an interpretation of the image, not a literal translation.

One Hawk

One Hawk

The silhouette of the hawk fit perfectly into the space that it needed to fill.  Donna traced the shapes onto fusible web that we then fused to UltraSuede.  Then, we cut out the shapes including all the filigree spaces within the larger shape.  Donna thought that adding an emblem unique to New Mexico, would enhance the overall design, hence the Zia symbol.  We divided up the cutting out process among five of us, Donna, Afton Warrick, Mary Chappelle, Laurie Marnell and yours truly.  Once those were cut out, we cut another piece of fabric, a batik, and placed it beneath the UltraSuede and fused everything to a background.  All was well, except that we weren’t comfortable that the fusible would be secure enough without extra stitching.  And, we had only seven days in which to complete all 12 of the hawks!!!

Afton Warrick and Donna Barnitz

Afton Warrick and Donna Barnitz

We had a stitching party two days ago, with the goal of getting all the zigzag stitching around the outside of the hawks.  Donna, Afton, Laurie and Laurie’s dog, Barry, joined me!  Oh, what fun we had!

Laurie and Barry

Laurie and Barry

Barry was especially helpful as he helped folks do special things, like washing our hands with his large tongue and wagging tail.  Actually, the best part was that Barry got along so well with my dogs, Gabby and Laney, that they wore each other out and had to take loooong naps later in the afternoon.

The Sewers - Laurie Afton Donna Barnitz, and Laurie Marnell

The Sewers – Laurie Marnell,  Afton Warrick, Donna Barnitz

We began stitching at 10:30 a.m. and by 3 p.m. all 12 hawks had been secured with Superior Threads Invisible Polyester Thread.  We stuck them to my design wall so we could photograph our handiwork.

Afton the Angel

Afton the Angel

Afton even sprouted a pair of wings for her angelic efforts!

Birds on Design Wall

Birds on Design Wall

And, here they are – 12 hawks adorning the wall, interspersed with other works in progress.  After my sewing buddies all went home, one more task remained: trimming all the hawk blocks to size and stitching the circular border together.  Then, I also added the outer border to square it up!

Raffle Quilt 2014 - Sneak Peek

Raffle Quilt 2014 – Sneak Peek

And here it is!  The official Quilt Retreat takes place next weekend at the cabin in the Jemez Mountains.  We will have 12 quilters on hand, and we hope to complete the remainder of the quilt top in one day!  Do you think we can do it?

Stay tuned . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back at Home: Rainbow Crow Class at Bernina Sewing Center

Oh, what fun we have at our local Bernina dealer, Ann Silva’s Bernina Sewing Center!  I taught a two session class on my Rainbow Crow design on two consecutive Saturdays.  Nine wonderful students joined me, including an 80-year-old quilter!

Rainbow Crow by Gail Garber

Rainbow Crow by Gail Garber

Each was given the pattern, and instruction covered freezer paper foundation piecing and curved seam piecing.  At the end of the first class, students went home with some pieces completed and a lot of homework.  I worried that it might be too much homework!  But . . .

Rainbow Crow in Progress

Rainbow Crow in Progress

almost everyone returned with all their foundations stitched, or mostly stitched.  So we focused on curved seam assembly in the second class.  And, look what happened!

Rainbow Crow Class at Bernina Sewing Center, Albuquerque

Rainbow Crow Class at Bernina Sewing Center, Albuquerque

Didn’t they do great?  Check out the Rainbow Crow on the left.  She used this wonderful feather print that made her piece just sing, like the beautiful voice of the Rainbow Crow.  I have proposed to teach this class at International Quilt Festival in 2014.  I hope they select this class for me to teach!  My students are the BEST!!!!

 

 

 

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International Quilt Festival – New Mexico Quilts in Special Exhibits

What great representation we had from the Land of Enchantment at International Quilt Festival.  Although I tried to photograph as many New Mexico quilts as possible, I am sure that I missed some.  Great job ladies!

Adobe Row, by Michelle Jackson, Albuquerque, NM

Adobe Row, by Michelle Jackson, Albuquerque, NM

Adobe Row was juried into the Tactile Architecture exhibit.  Michelle Jackson writes, “My inspiration is always color and, in this case, using color to show the unique interaction of nature and the adobe.”

Avian Architecture, by Judith Roderick, Placitas, NM

Avian Architecture, by Judith Roderick, Placitas, NM

Judith Roderick is a very well know artist throughout our state.  Her work often features the birds that are her passion and hundreds of buttons that accent her designs.  Judith writes, “The male bowerbird clears a space on the forest floor.  He creates a large structure, a bower, or display area out of twigs, branches, sticks and grasses.  He decorates his bower in an amazing manner using his beak.  He chooses similar colored objects and carefully arranges them to decorate his area.  He chooses flowers, pebbles, moss, berries, and manmade objects, particularly if they are shiny. The drab female then comes and inspects the bower to see if he is a good enough architect and decorator to be her mate.”  This quilt was in the Tactile Architecture exhibit.

Ode to Dad, by Nora Bebee, Rio Rancho, NM.

Ode to Dad, by Nora Bebee, Rio Rancho, NM.

Also exhibited in the Tactile Architecture exhibit was Ode to Dad by Nora Bebee.  She writes, “Doors in New Mexico are not only functional, but pieces of art.  Their structure and elaborate designs fascinated me.  My father was a building contractor and I spent many hours following him on job sites, looking over blueprints, emulating his work in whatever form I could.  It only made sense to me to quilt a door.”

Watermelon Moon, by Patricia Gould , Albuquerque, NM

Watermelon Moon, by Patricia Gould , Albuquerque, NM

Patricia Gould commented that her design inspirations were the Sandhill Cranes wintering in the Rio Grande Valley and the beautiful Sandia Mountains.  She writes, “I’m entranced by the beautiful pink colors of our Sandia Mountains in the winter.  The full moon also turns pink at times.  Sandia means ‘watermelon’ in Spanish so it is easy to see how the mountain range got its name. Sandhill Cranes from Nebraska spend the winter in the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico.”

Los Mambesis, by Jennifer Day, Santa Fe, NM

Los Mambesis, by Jennifer Day, Santa Fe, NM

Jennifer Day is a well known photographer as well as a quiltmaker.  In Los Mambesis, she writes, “This quilt is based on a photograph I took of an old man on the plaza in CubaLas Mambesis refers to the guerilla Cuban independence soldiers who fought against Spain in the Ten Years War (1868-1878).  This man would have been in his thirties in 1959 when the United States broke off relations with Cuba. Maybe his hat is a comment on international relations! He is a musician playing his instrument on the plaza for free for all to hear.  He is very happy with his craft.”

Eight Ravens, by Judith Roderick, Placitas, NM

Eight Ravens, by Judith Roderick, Placitas, NM

Another of Judith’s trademark quilts featuring birds, this time the playful raven.  She writes, “I love watching ravens flying and wheeling through the big blue New Mexico sky and sitting on telephone poles as I drive along. A friend is a wildlife rehabilitator so I have spent much time with Po, her raven.  I have sketched him repeated and taken his portait as he exhibits his particular behaviors.  In this quilt, I have shown him in many of his guises, flying, standing, squawking against a background of a southwestern landscape.”

Geology, by Lorraine Hollingsworth, Albuquerque, NM

Geology, by Lorraine Hollingsworth, Albuquerque, NM

Lorraine writes. “Geology is inspired by the many layers and colors of the New Mexico landscape, from the soaring red rocks to the rivers and meadows and all the layers in between.”

Chaco 1, by Sally Wright ,Los Angeles, CA

Chaco 1, by Sally Wright, Los Angeles, CA

Okay, so this quilt was NOT made by a New Mexico quilter, but it was inspired by a trip to New Mexico, so it deserves to be included in this post.  Chaco 1, by Sally Wright was inspired by the makers trip to the iconic Chaco Canyon.  Sally writes, “Several years ago, my husband and I visited remote, starkly beautiful and mysterious Chaco Canyon in the Four Corners area of New Mexico.  There we were, fascinated by the distinct architecture of this ancient trading and religious center in the middle of the desert where the Chacoan culture flowered between 800-1250 AD.  This quilt was made from photographs of a series of doorways in the Pueblo Bonito.”

Corona, by Betty Busby Albuquerque, NM

Corona, by Betty Busby Albuquerque, NM

And in the silent auction to benefit the International Quilt Association, I found this treasure by Betty Busby, of Albuquerque , NM.  Sadly, I wasn’t there at the end to see how much this little treasure raised for the group.

Abo Canyon, by Gail Garber, Donna Barnitz and Michele Hymel

Abo Canyon, by Gail Garber, Donna Barnitz and Michele Hymel

Lastly, there was our quilt, hanging in the exhibit, “In the American Tradittion.”  Abo Canyon Memories was inspired by my love of the Ganado Red style of Navajo Rugs typical of northern Arizona.

Thank you for joining me on a mini-tour of the quilts on exhibit at International Quilt Festival.  It was one spectacular show and I was privileged to be a part of the faculty.

See you there next year!

 

 

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