When a Quilt is More than a Quilt

Every once in awhile, a quilt becomes more than “just” another quilt.  The quilt carries special meaning that adds to its beauty and value.  It could be the first quilt a grandmother makes for her grandchild.  A special graduation gift given before a young adults heads off to college on their own.  Or it is given to mark a milestone…in this case a 70th birthday, as showcased in the quilt below.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by my cousin to attend a surprise party that she and her 7 siblings were putting together to commemorate their mother’s 70th birthday.  Her birthday fell on Mother’s Day this year, which made it especially poignant for her children to return home from 3 different states to celebrate.

While a gift was definitely not necessary, I wanted to do something special for this aunt.  As a small boy, she lived up the hill from me.  Many days were spent playing in their backyard with my cousins.  Then we moved out of state to Colorado.  A few year’s later, I was back in Utah attending college.  Being away from home for the first time, it was nice to have my Aunt and Uncle just a short bus ride away when homesickness set it.   To be able to escape to a second home for the occasional weekend made being away from home much more bearable.  Everyone was always welcome and Buz and Jan’s.

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Buz and Jan Allen…picture lifted from Facebook without express permission….I hope that’s OK. 🙂

So, how to celebrate this wonderful woman and her family…how else?  With a quilt of course!!  If I were a baker, it would have been with a special cake.  Since I am a quilter, it was with a quilt.  But, not just any quilt.  This quilt needed to be special and here is what I came up with.


At first glance, this is a quilt consisting of rectangles, squares, triangles and sashing, which is true.   This is no different than any number of quilts I have made over the years. However, each rectangle, square and triangles holds deep and special meaning.  This quilt is more than a quilt…it is also a family portrait.

The rectangles at the top represent my aunt and uncle.  Down the left-hand side, each of their eight children are the smaller rectangles, starting a row that symbolizes each of their families, made up of squares and triangles.  All in all, my aunt and uncle, their children and their spouses and 27 grandchildren are “pictured” in is this family quilt.

They have one “angel” grand-daughter who passed away as an infant.  Baylee is shown in the quilt as a sweet grand-daughter who is currently behind the “veil of heaven” watching over her family.


This quilt was truly a labor of love.  Happy 70th Birthday Aunt Jan!!  Thanks for letting me be a part of your Allen clan.  And, thanks Jan for naming blue and pink as two of your favorite colors.  That was truly the inspiration and jumping-off point for this quilt.

Quilt Show Review

Last weekend, my wife and I made our annual trip to a fantastic quilt show held locally in Utah.  The Home Machine Quilt Show has been a favorite excursion of ours for years.  However this year, it was re-branded as the Utah Quilting and Sewing Marketplace.  Same fantastic show, just a new name.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

This show is a great combination of a vendor mall and a “regular” quilt show…though it is not your grandmother’s quilt show.  The vendor mall is a great way to be introduced to new quilting techniques, products and other fun “quilty” stuff.

For years I have admired quilts that were embellished with crystals.  This year we took the plunge and we purchased a hot-fix applicator and sequins.  I plan to use them on a Christmas quilt I have been wanting to make for quite a few years.  Perhaps this year will be the year to make it a reality. 20170512_000759 (1) My other favorite find was a new seam ripper.  Stacy got one at last year’s show and it is wonderful.  It has a hand-turned handle that just feels so nice in the had.  My jealousy got the best of me and so this year I bought one for me.  The unique finish is created with electricity.  The artisan showed us a video of the process and it was so awesome to watch.

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Seam ripper and seam roller.  Check out their other items in their Etsy shop…Westenskow & Sons

Inspiration Around Every Corner

After strolling through the many booths featuring fancy long-arms, rulers and accessories, it was time to stroll through the rows and rows of quilts.  Each row provided a beautiful machine-quilted masterpieces.  Each quilt has something to offer.  Some are true works of art that I can appreciate, but would never want to attempt on my own.  Others are also works of art, that inspire me to strive to be a better machine quilter and try something new.  What follows are some of these quilts that struck a chord with me.  Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.  Enjoy.

What’s Old is New Again

Old quilts became new again in this first set of quilts.  Vintage quilts were given a beautiful update by the machine quilters.


“Rescued Hexi” by Shelly Sieverkrop of Creston, WA


“Pure Vintage Joy” by Deborah Scott of Haslet, TX.  This was her mama’s  dresser scarf doily given new life as a quilt.

When is a quilt not a quilt?  When it is a vintage, embroidered tablecloth.  In days gone by, something like this would have been a staple in every bride-to-be’s trousseau.  The quilted result is stunning.

“Champagne and Caviar” by Kelly Kline of Lawrence, KS
“Champagne and Caviar” – Embroidery Detail
“Champagne and Caviar” – Quilting detail.  Notice the subtle crystal embellishments in the feathers.

Amazing “Art” Quilts

“Mesa Verde Cliff Palace” by Kathy Adams and Joanne Baeth of Tucson, AZ and Bonanza, OR. These two friends created this 3-panel quilt based on a photograph. This had embellishments galore: paint, heat distressing, gauze, ribbons and beads. Trust me, the picture does not do it justice.
“The Four Elements” by Cheryl Olson of Draper, UT
Quilting detail of “The Four Elements”

Quilting Technique Inspirations

This next group of quilts include quilting motifs and ideas that I would like to incorporate into future projects.

“Fire and Ice” – Pieced by Kimberly Einmo and quilted by Judi Madsen
Quilting detail of “Fire and Ice”
Quilting detail of “Fire and Ice”
“Tree of Life” – Pieced by Marie Haws and quilted by Kim Peterson
Quilting Detail of “Tree of Life”. The change of thread added so much to this quilt. I am always amazed at the results of changing threads, but have never changed threads while quilting. I definitely want to try this.
Quilting detail of “Modern Sampler” – Pieced by Kimberly Einmo and quilted by Judi Madsen
Quilting detail of “Modern Sampler”. I love how the quilting design “breaks” the stop border. I saw this quilt on Judi Madsen’s blog (www.greenfairyquiltsblog.com) a while back. Seeing it in person was incredible.
Quilting detail of “Speculation” by Jane Hauprich of Centreville, MD
Quilting detail of “Orbit” by Michelle LaBarbera of Winter, WI. I love this “wave” look as an all-over. I’ve tried similar with varying degrees of success. This will be a good reference.
“Why Count Sheep? Count Stars!” – Pieced by Claudia Taeubert of Contwig, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany and quilted by Birgit Schueller of Riegelsbert, Saarland, Germany
Quilting Detail of “Why Count Sheep? Count Stars!” Here are those crystal embellishments again. I am excited to give them a try.

As I put this post together, I realized two things:

  1.  Photographs don’t really show how truly spectacular these quilts were.  Not to mention that this is a minute fraction of all of the amazing quilts that were on display.  If you ever have a chance, visit a quilt show near you.  I promise you will walk away inspired to try something new.
  2. I’m a much better quilter than photographer.  This pictures aren’t too bad, but I definitely should have taken the time to do a bit of editing.  But, I was way to excited to share them with you.