Friday, October 31, 2014

Quilts (and free patterns) for Dia de los Muertos!

Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is celebrated on October 31st, November 1st and 2nd. The tradition honors those who have passed, whose souls are thought to come back to drink, eat and be merry with their loved ones. In addition to the inspiring Dia de los Muertos show quilts, scroll down for some free skull patterns, printables and projects! (This post was updated on May 28, 2017.)

Beauty Parlor de los Muertos, 76 x 59", by Nancy Arsenault


Beauty Parlor de los Muertos, which was exhibited at the 2014 AQS - Phoenix show, is another fabulous realistic afterlife quilt by Nancy Arsenault.  The skeletons are engaged in typical beauty parlor activities while under the hair dryer. The woman on the far right is reading a Quilters Newsletter magazine! Nancy says, "This salon scene was inspired by personal experience.  Does it look familiar to you too?"

This good-looking hairdresser is wearing a real white shirt, a tooled vest, and bola tie... in the shape of a skull, of course! Our favorite character is the fluffy white poodle shown below... he is all bones!


Nancy Arsenault is an award-winning Arizona quiltmaker who made the first of her series of Dia de los Muertos quilts in 2006;  you can read an article on Beauty Parlor de los Muertos at Quilters Newsletter. For more quilt inspiration, visit Pinterest and check out Nancy's AZquiltmaker board, Quilts I've Made.

Dia de los Muertos, 39 x 43", by Alice Morgan


In the tradition of Mexican folk art, this quilt is bright and colorful!  The blanket-stitched appliqued skulls are set at a jaunty angle and they have button eyes.  Alice used a broderie perse approach to embellish the blocks with big, colorful flowers. Alice Morgan says, "Don't these skulls make you smile?"


This is an adaptation of a commercial pattern but with lots of embellishments. Alice Morgan's was photographed at the 2012 River City Quilters Guild show in California; the pattern on which her quilt was based is shown below, along with the link.

Sugar Skull, 41 x 44", pattern by Quarter Inch Publishing

Dia de los Muertos, approx 12 x 12", by Rebecca Navarro (Texas)


Rebecca Navarro says, “The Day of the Dead is a time to remember those who have died. The deceased are honored with food, beverages, and flowers."  Rebecca’s original design  was machine pieced, inked, and free-motion quilted. The quilt was embellished with scattered seed beads.


As you can see in the close-up photo above, the flower centers were decorated with tiny skulls. Rebecca Navarro's quilt was exhibited in the miniature quilts exhibit at the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.

Jose Guadalupe Posada's Door, 18 x 24", by Cathy Hawthorne (Arizona)


Jose Guadalupe Posada's Door was exhibited in the Mavericks Art Quilters 2013 Door Challenge. The participating artists were challenged to design an 18" x 24" quilt showing the back door that an artist of their choice might have had on their house. This quilt honors the Mexican artist, José Guadalupe Posada (1851–1913) who was renowned for his drawings of calaveras (skulls).


As shown above, Cathy appliqued many fabric skulls on the quilt using broderie perse, and hung a small skeleton holding a mesh bag of skulls.

My Idea of Heaven, 41 x 53", by Janet Windsor


My Idea of Heaven is one of our favorite Day of the Dead quilts.  Janet Windsor explains: "I love the Dia de los Muertos holiday in Mexico.  I cannot imagine a happier place to end up than at my sewing machine. So I borrowed an illustrator friend’s skeleton and took photos of it sitting at a featherweight sewing machine. I did a drawing from those photos which I then fused, appliqued, and embellished with buttons, beads, ribbons, silk flowers, and milagros."  We  featured Janet Windsors' work in a post published in October, 2012.

Life Everlasting by Ann Horton


Ann Horton says, "In the tradition of The Day of the Dead celebrations, this quilt embraces life after death with happy assurance. [It was] inspired by my 89-year-old mother's faith and life."  The dancing skulls were created with digitized machine embroidery.  We first featured Life Everlasting in our post on the 2013 Houston International Quilt Festival.


The Day of the Dead is becoming very popular in the U.S. Perhaps this is because we don't have a holiday to celebrate and honor our dead.  Here are some free projects to inspire your own celebration!

Free patterns for Dia de los Muertos


Block Party house block with fussy cut skeletons by Pink Chalk Studio


Cross Stitch Sugar Skull, free pattern at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts


Sugar Skull pillow, free fabric painting tutorial at Fabric and Art


Glow in the Dark Sugar Skull: Easy Sewing Tutorial with Rob Appell of Man Sewing


World Tour quilt, free pattern by Parson Gray for Free Spirit Fabrics (note: make the quilt with or without crossbones - as shown in our variation below - for Dia de los Muertos!)

World Tour by Parson Gray; variation by Quilt Inspiration


Sugar Skull Dancers by Larene Smith, free quilt pattern for Dan Morris prints at eQuilter


Frida's Garden Quilt, free quilt pattern by Luana Rubin for Frida Kahlo fabrics at eQuilter


Day of the Dead pillowcases, free tutorial for JoAnn Fabrics by Kathy Cano-Murillo; see the tutorial at Crafty Chica



Sugar Skulls, free printable designs and projects


Above, clockwise from upper left: Free muertos printable in gold or black by Cocorrina, guest blogger, for My Life Box; Free Dia de los Muertos Sugar Skull Embroidery Pattern at Elemental Stitches; see the pattern here and the finished embroidery here; Easy Halloween décor, free colored skull printable, at Hello Little Home.

Image credits: All images are copyrighted by their owners. The photo of My Idea of Heaven is shown with permission of Janet Windsor; for her gallery, see her website at Janet Windsor.com.  All other quilt show photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.  For the free patterns and tutorials, please respect any restrictions the artists have placed on the use of their designs; complete information can be found at the  websites provided in the links.  Some of these are tutorials while others have downloadable patterns; we have tried to note which is which in the title above each photo.  If any links are broken, we'd love to know; please email us at quiltinspiration {at} gmail {dot} com. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Best of the 2014 Pacific International Quilt Festival - Day 4

The Pacific International Quilt Festival, known as PIQF, is the biggest quilt show on the west coast of the United States. In this series, we're displaying some of the fabulous, innovative, and just plain fun quilts we saw there.  This year's theme is  "The Whole Nine Yards", meaning "to show maximum effort in work or play."  Here is Part 4 of our photos!

Peeking In, 59 x 39", by Anne Marie Miro, Florida


We imagine this must be what fish see when a human peeks into their watery underworld. Anne Marie notes, "For the last 4 years, I have taken classes from some of the top instructors in the quilting industry to develop my skills. What started out as a simple face peeking through some kelp, morphed into 'Peeking In.'"
This stunning quilt contains brilliant high-chroma hues which offer us a glimpse into an enchanted world of sea creatures, shells, rocks, and plants. Anne Marie's original design is hand and machine appliqued, hand pieced, and machine quilted.

Detail, Peeking In by Anne Marie Miro


We loved this darling sea horse on the right hand edge, which hung outside the quilt in his own net bag, adorned with shimmery fabric and ribbon. Along with the ruffled upper border, Anne Marie has done an outstanding job of creating a vivid and enchanting three-dimensional quilt.

To Dream Beneath a Tree by Sarge Furman,  California


Sarge's quilt is included in the traveling exhibit of the 2013 Hoffman Challenge Quilts, which has toured the U.S. for the past year.  Sarge says that this work is "loosely based on a Victorian painting and comic book page."  This work makes wonderful use of a split complementary color scheme of aqua blue, lavender, sage green, and various tints of yellow orange.

Close up, To Dream Beneath a Tree by Sarge Furman


We admired the very unified design effect shown here in the close-up photo.  As you can see, the artist created "sleeping beauty's" dress to have a same flowing, wavy, voluminous line as her strawberry blonde hair.

Celebration, 74 x 65", by Susan G. Cobb, Oregon. Quilted by Betty Anne Guadalupe


Susan writes, "The central panel - Celebration by Keith Mallett (2005) - ends at the thick black line of fabric. My effort to augment the title of the panel and this quilt starts with the blue tulip fabric. The panel's selvage with the makers' name, year, and title of panel is at the back of the quilt. Both Betty Anne and I went our 9 yards  (we hope you'll agree) to augment the celebration."

Close up, Celebration quilt by Susan G. Cobb


In this close-up, you can see the central panel by artist Keith Mallett. Susan has done a great job of incorporating the blues, greens, and golds of the dancers' outfits into the surrounding borders. The original design of the outer borders is machine pieced and long arm quilted.

A Mother's Gift by Mary Mix , California


Mary explains, "Throughout her life, my sister was my mentor and my inspiration. Bonnie introduced me to quilting in the 1980's....and I've become passionate about it throughout the years. When she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she used her remaining time to create quilts for those she loved. Her daughter requested a double wedding ring quilt. In 2013, Bonnie gave me a bag of beautiful fabric. I cut the pieced, and Bonnie sewed all 3,000 pieces. I came home with the crescents completed and finished the piecing and applique. A beautiful collaboration and gift of love. Bonnie passed away in February, 2014. "   We were very touched by the moving narrative of how this lovely heirloom was created.

Close up, A Mother's Gift by Mary Mix


In this close-up, you can see the very pretty fabric roses and vines that meander through the middle of some of the rings, echoing the quilting pattern of roses and vines. Mary has clearly put a great deal of love and care into this impressive masterpiece.

Ombre Odyssey by Ardy Tobin, California


Ardy notes, "Ombre Odyssey was made for a 2014 Mountain Art Quilters'  ( Nevada County, California) challenge called "Wild For Spirals". Working from my own drawing, enlarged to full size freezer paper pattern, using ombres from three different manufacturers, batiks, and one Kaffe Fassett stripe, I used both piecing and appli-piecing techniques." The fun and fanciful quilting patterns you see here were done by Ardy herself.

Close up, Ombre Odyssey by Ardy Tobin


Ardy adds, "Machine quilting was done with rayon, polyester, and metallic threads. There are spirals both in the quilt and in the machine quilting. " We love these radiant cheerful colors of orchid, violet, chartreuse, and aqua. They give Ardy's work so much energy and sparkle !

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Best of the 2014 Pacific International Quilt Festival - Day 3

The Pacific International Quilt Festival, known as PIQF, is the biggest quilt show on the west coast of the United States. In this series, we're displaying some of the fabulous, innovative, and just plain fun quilts we saw there.  This year's theme is  "The Whole Nine Yards", meaning "to show maximum effort in work or play."  Here is Part 3 of our photos!

Discovery by Phyllis Cullen, Hawaii


As Phyllis mentions on her website, this quilt is a portrait of her granddaughters, Violet and Zephyr. Phyllis says, "Everything goes into my work - the design, dozens of fabrics, dozens of threads, and all my love for my grandchildren and their wonder at the world around us."

Detail, Discovery by Phyllis Cullen


Phyllis' original design is machine appliqued and longarm quilted. The warm colors of the child's hair and hibiscus flower contrast nicely with her shaded and tinted violet dress.

From Mountains to Desert by Carolyn Villars , California


Carolyn notes, "This view of the San Gabriel mountains from among Joshua Trees on the desert floor demanded attention, so I  fractured and enlarged the scene to surround the original view. Fabric was selected as for colors in a painting and fused on [the background]. "

Detail, From Mountains to Desert by Carolyn Villars


Carolyn's original design is machine appliqued and machine quilted. We enjoyed this scene of the springtime sky juxtaposed against the blooming cactus flowers and the rugged, snow-capped mountains.

Dinghy by Shelly Burge, Nebraska


Shelly notes of her original design in vibrant hues, "When creating this quilt, I went the whole nine yards with color. I decided not to use realistic colors in this pictorial design, but instead to focus on value placement and the use of unexpected color choices. I used commercially printed fabrics for this original hand appliqued design. I machine quilted it on my home sewing machine, frequently changing thread color to match the fabrics in each area."

Trees by Jane Alameda, California. Longarm quilted by Cindi Jo  


Done in sage green, gold, and chocolate brown, with an ivory background, this quilt works well in reflecting all four seasons. The pretty en pointe setting, complete with a small nine patch in each corner, adds lots of visual interest.

Detail, Trees by Jane Alameda


This geometric Amish pattern is a favorite of ours. We really admire Jane's precise workmanship, and the graceful feathers quilted into the triangular borders by Cindi Jo.

Zoo Holiday by Nancy S. Brown, California. Longarm quilted by Laura Lee Fritz


Nancy Brown is well known for her very talented depictions of our animal friends. Nancy writes, "The San Francisco Zoo [residents] have decided to take a holiday and do "the whole nine yards" in visiting the many tourist attractions of San Francisco, California.   Look for the bear wearing the jail cap making his escape from the  notorious Alcatraz Island prison and the elephants in their journey across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Closeup photo, Zoo Holiday by Nancy S. Brown


The artist adds, "This whimsical quilt was designed by Nancy Brown (Tulip) and made by her Bulbs. "  Here's a charming and soulful giraffe emerging above the well known fog banks of San Francisco Bay. Her original design is machine pieced and hand appliqued.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration

Monday, October 20, 2014

Best of the 2014 Pacific International Quilt Festival - Day 2


The Pacific International Quilt Festival, known as PIQF, is the biggest quilt show on the west coast of the United States. In this series, we're displaying some of the fabulous, innovative, and just plain fun quilts we saw there.  This year's theme is  "The Whole Nine Yards", meaning "to show maximum effort in work or play."  Here is Day 2 of our photos.... let us know which quilts are your favorites !

Chinese Journey in Three Parts by Stephanie Crawford, United Kingdom


Best of World prize winner in the World Quilts category, Stephanie says, "This quilt was inspired by an extraordinary trip to China to visit my son, who was living in an ancient temple precinct in a remote part of Hubei. I have three outstanding memories of our journey together from Beijing to Wudang, and this triptych represents them. "

Close-up, Chinese Journey in Three Parts by Stephanie Crawford


These breathtaking views show us a stunning view of the scenery of China, along with some graceful and regal architecture. Stephanie continues about her original design,  "This quilt is wholecloth. It was painted and machine appliqued, then free motion quilted. "

Ruby by Kay Donges, Georgia, U.S.A.


Kay notes, "My quilt goes the whole nine yards by incorporating applique, piecing, and embellishments in order to create a stunning portrait of a mysterious woman. The brightly colored border provides a great contrast to the sophisticated deep black background of this intriguing portrait.

Close-up,  Ruby by Kay Donges (Georgia, U.S.A.)


Kay's original design uses beads, an earring, and jeweled stones are used to embellish the exotic beauty of Ruby. 

The Grapes by Aliza Inbar, Israel


Aliza writes, "One of the seven symbols of Israel is grapes. The grapes represent the richness of the land. They were the inspiration for this quilt. The background is log cabin with fusing on the top and machine quilting. We especially enjoyed the beautiful composition and symmetry of the grapevines and the fruit on Aliza's quilt.

Close-up, The Grapes by Aliza Inbar


The split-complementary color scheme of mauve, violet, aqua green, and yellow-orange really highlights the contrast between the background and the grapevines. Aliza's work is machine appliqued, machine pieced, and machine quilted.

The Peaceful Ones by Denise Havlan, Illinois


First place winner in the Innovative Quilts category of the World Quilt Competition, Denise notes, ["This quilt depicts] two Hopi maidens enjoying the morning sun." Denise has done an outstanding job of  displaying the dignity and serenity of these two Native Americans against the background of their high desert homeland. 

Close-up, The Peaceful Ones by Denise Havlan


Shimmering gold highlights enhance the traditional hairstyle of this Hopi maiden. Denise's original work is machine pieced, hand and machine appliqued, and machine quilted.

Close-up,The Peaceful Ones by Denise Havlan


These prickly-pear cacti sparkle with pretty crystals, and the cactus blossoms show an eye-catching variation of pinks, reds, and violets.

Mount Rushmore by Mary E. Barry, California


Mary writes, " Deciding to make a trip to Mt. Rushmore, I told my husband we needed to do a road trip. It was so impressive! I took many lovely photos to make the quilt, then came home and hand dyed lots of fabric to use with some stash fabric. I then dedicated it to our cherished freedom."  Note that Mary has added the word "Liberty" in block letters at the bottom;  and the bald eagle, the U.S. National Emblem, soars through the sky at the top of the quilt.

Close-up, Mount Rushmore, by Mary E. Barry


Here is a close-up of the stately countenance of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Mary has chosen the perfect shade of gray fabrics which almost perfectly match the gray stone of Mr. Rushmore. Her original design is machine pieced, machine appliqued, and machine quilted.

Image credits:  Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration
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