Monday, October 12, 2009

BIQR 2009 Report

The weather started out cold, windy, and rainy, but that blew away and the next day was beautiful. The leaves in northern Michigan were turning colour and squirrels were collecting acorns for the winter...these squirrels were quite literate and left us this note ;)....

The retreat started off with Gwen's wonderful trunk show, she was raring to go despite this being the 5th time in the past month to give this show! What a wonderful lady!

Christine and Bonnie both had a turn at helping Gwen show off her quilts. It was amazing to see up close some of the quilts we've only seen in her books, like this antique Whig Rose from 1900:

Gwen told us that she once read, that your applique should be in scale with your blocks...well she thought, I don't think so... and Gwenny's Little Bitsy Nine Patch was born.
She reminded us that the old quiltmakers didn't have patterns to follow they just designed their quilts themselves. All your tulips don't have to be exact, and if you run out of a fabric you can use something else. That is why no two antique quilts are alike, they are similar but not exact copies. There are some basic formats you can follow, such as four-block applique, or medallion quilts with the applique in the centre.
Each day Gwen treated us to her mini demos. If you wanted to learn one of her techniques she was on hand to give it to you. She taught her serpentine borders, how to cut out flower templates from folded paper, how to make yo-yos, how to draw feather quilting patterns, to name a few. This year she had a quilt frame set up for hand-quilting demos.
She had plenty of her books on sale, I think she sold out of her Classic Four-Block Applique Quilts book. I used my copy as a yearbook and had all the participants sign it as a keepsake. It is an excellent book for applique!

Christine and I were a little more relaxed this year and we headed out to explore the Michigan countryside and visit quilt stores. We visited The Quilt Cottage in East Jordan, Cousins Quilt Shop in Bellaire, Rene's Quilt Shop in Williamsburg, Now and Then in Elk Rapids, and the Quilting Bee in Traverse City.
We were lucky to have 3 visitors from the Netherlands during our week. Lucy from Haarlem (Quilting from the Past), Joes (Dutch Quilt Cat) and Isabeau from Amsterdam. All 3 of them have been featured in Quilt Mania, a quilting magazine from France. They agreed to give us a talk about Dutch quiltmaking and fabrics from Holland. They knew so much! It was fabulous, a dutch treat!

Below, you can see Lucy holding my Echt Hollands quilt and my Cathedral windows pillow as examples of fabric from Holland. The fabric I used, my cousin bought for me at the store that Lucy works at(!)

Bonnie Hunter from Quiltville, best friends with Lucy, was also there. It was very exciting to meet such an amazing lady! That lady never quits! She had been on the road for weeks before driving up to Elk Rapids. You can read about her experiences at BIQR already on her blog.

Last but not least, here is what I accomplished at the retreat. On the right is the applique I was working on. The applique is not finished, some of the pieces are still just pinned on...I am planning to add some borders, but I don't know what yet. I made 3 little appliqued postcards. I like to make postcards at the retreat and send them from Elk Rapids as surprises. And the final piece on the left is my floor scrap quilt. Every year Gwen tells everyone to just throw your scraps onto the floor and let everybody go "shopping". The centre piece I created and the colourful strips on the borders are all found scraps, I did add the solid purple and black as borders from my stash.
Most of my scraps were from Sue, who was sitting behind me! She was doing this amazing applique where she had fussy cut all these berries and there were some on the floor and I was happy to include them in my piece as flowers or are they just wacky lolipops, I'm not sure!

On Sunday, we woke up to snowflakes! brrrrrrrrr! and it was Good-bye!

In the next few weeks, I will try and put up a few photos of some of the other amazing projects that were being worked on at the retreat.


Kathie said...

oh what a wonderful retreat you were at
I wanted to be there too! A dream to take classes with Gwen Marston.
Been wanting to meet Lucy and Bonnie! and Sue from Maine!
Love your projects and the scrap quilt from the shopping on the floor trip , adorable!!!!!

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

wheeee!!! what a fun time. I love your applique and that lollipops quilt is cute. thanks for all the wonderful pics - those quilts of Gwen's are amazing.

cozy quilter said...

Looking forward to seeing your projects in person!!! Sounds like a wonderful retreat! See you soon.

Quilt Rat said...

I have quilt retreat envy. Looks like you had a wonderful time. Can't wait to see what you brought back to show us.

jovaliquilts said...

Wow, what an amazing experience! You'll be thinking about this one for the rest of your life! The photos are great.

Lucy said...

Hi Carol,

Thank you so much for this post. What a good memorie! I'm working on my posts about this trip. It was so nice to meet you and when you are here in Haarlem be sure to visit me.I will guide you through Haarlem. You are so welcome.


Clare said...

I think this years retreat has topped last years. What a fun time you must have had with Bonnie and Lucy and Gwen. I lover that picture of Gwen at the top.

The lollipop quilt is so lovely. Amazing what can be found on the floor!

KnitOneQuiltTooKristin said...

What a fun time that looks like! I can't wait to go to see Gwen at one of her retreats.


looks amazing!!! I'm just starting to understand the power of many women quilters all together... so nice ot have a community! great stuff!

Susan In Texas said...

Sounds like it was a really wonderful retreat. I like the idea of a floor scrap quilt. From the picture, yours looks like it would make a really cute, off-beat apron. 8-) I think I need to start going on retreats!

All the best,

electricdunce said...

What a bittersweet treat to see all the wonders at the retreat. I really felt terrible that I couldn't come this year. I like the vase of flowers and of course the floor quilt, you have to meld one of those. Next year when I come, I'm going to toss lots of scraps on the floor, it is always such fun to see what people make. And to see Gwen's quilts, a real treat. The snow is the only part I wouldn't have liked. We had snow here on the 17th, I guess winter is worming its way towards nice to see your blog, we had this two month flu bug this summer so I've been quite the slug about doing anything.