Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Landscape Quilts

Living in the country, I am often inspired by the beautiful countryside. My landscape quilts attempt to capture the beauty of the natural world around us.

Landscape Quilts
1. Waterloo County
2. Abandoned
3. Irish Seascape
4. Let It Snow
5. Threatening Skies
6. Evergreens
7. Hills
8. Cliffs
9. Fenceposts
10. Beach

Waterloo County
by Renske Helmuth
(20” x 26")
Hand appliquéd, hand embroidered and machine quilted.

Over the years, I have coordinated quilts for the Mennonite Relief Sale. The latest quilt, "A Bird's Eye View: Interpreting the Aerial Photography of Carl Hiebert", was made in 2005 by members of the Waterloo County Quilters Guild and the Listowel Mennonite Church.

I talked to Carl Hiebert and got his permission to use the pictures from his books. After I had the initial idea, I wanted to try it myself first, to know how difficult a project like that would be. I looked through Carl's books to find the photograph that would be the most challenging to interpret in fabric. This wall hanging is the result.

The hardest part was making the pattern. In a painting or drawing there are limitless possibilities; but when you are working with fabric, the pieces have to be big enough to appliqué! Once the master pattern was constructed, I started the hand appliqué, working from top to bottom. The final result was machine quilted.

After making this piece, I was convinced that it was possible to come up with a quilt based on Carl's photography and that's how "A Bird's Eye View" came about. Here's a detail shot from this quilt:

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by Renske Helmuth

(22.5 "x 20")
Hand appliqué and machine embroidery/quilting

This quilt portrays what is happening all over the country: where there were once thriving farms, there are now weeds and abandoned buildings. The few remaining farms are getting bigger and bigger. In this prairie scene the buildings are gone, except for some grain bins: the last sign that once a family tried to make a living here.

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Irish Seascape
by Renske Helmuth

Hand appliqué and a minimal amount of machine quilting

A member of my quilt guild showed me a picture of a painting that her mother got as a gift in Ireland. She wanted to make a small quilt out of it, but did not know how to go about it. I took her picture with a promise to give it a try. The hardest part was making the pattern. With a painting you have limitless possibilities with your brush strokes, but working with fabric you have to make the pieces big enough so it is workable.

Once the pattern was made and some more fabric had been bought it was time to go at it. The actual appliqué did go fast. I would like to mount this landscape at some point, but for now I have put a border around it. It has been machine quilted, just enough to hold the layers together.

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Let It Snow
by Renske Helmuth
(center is 7-3/4"x4-3/4")
Hand appliqué and machine embroidery.

The inspiration for this landscape came from an old postcard I received years ago.

It took a while to find the right blue fabrics, but it was a fun piece to make -- even the countless French knots for snow!


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Threatening skies
by Renske Helmuth
(center is 7.5"x6")
Hand appliqué and machine embroidery.

I made this small piece for a Christmas gift. After the appliqué and embroidery I took it in and had it mounted behind glass. Framing shows one of these small pieces of really well: the drawback is that they are hard to transport to workshops and trunk shows!

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by Renske Helmuth
(center is 9"x7")
Hand appliqué and machine embroidery.







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by Renske Helmuth 2002



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Renske Helmuth

I like to frame miniature landscapes and also make scenic greeting cards.

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Renske Helmuth
(13"x 11")
Hand appliqué



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Renske Helmuth
Hand appliqué



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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Contact Renske Helmuth

6833 Wellington Road 9
R.R.3 Moorefield ON
Canada N0G 2K0

Tel: 519/343-5312

Email me at

Teaching and lecture fee schedule available upon request.

More postcards

Yesterday was guild meeting and it was good to see so many friends again. I had missed the last meeting, because of illness. As usual there was a big show-and-tell and the program was very interesting. This time I had to stay for both the afternoon and the evening, because it was time to collect all the postcards for our next Relief Sale Quilt. This will be the 5th quilt I coordinate for the Mennonite Relief Sale in New Hamburg with the help of members of the Waterloo County Quilters Guild and the Listowel Mennonite Church.

The first step this time was the making of postcards. Each card must portray something of the work that MCC is involved in all over the world. I hoped to get about 80 postcards and by last evening I had 73 with a few straglers being delivered to the office. Here are pictures of some of them.In the next few days I will check them all out to see if the return address is on etc. Then early next week I will bring them to the MCC office in Kitchener. From there they will be distributed to volunteers all over the world. They are asked to fill in their name and country on the back. There is even some room for a small note. Then the cards will have to be taken to the local post office, where a stamp has to be put on with a little extra glue. After hand-cancelling the cards, they can be put in the mail. And then we wait and wait .....
I hope to have most cards back by the end of the summer.
I have an idea about how to continue.I do want to make a two-sided quilt, so we can see both sides of the cards.Has anybody ever attempted this? Or has anybody any ideas? I have some ideas myself, but somebody else might have a better idea. If so,please let me know.
It would be nice to have the quilt done for some shows next spring. It would be sold in the spring of 2009.
A few days ago I got good news. I have been selected to teach at Quilt Canada in 2008 in New Foundland. I have never been there, but always wanted to, so....this is great.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Still winter here with lots of snow and very low temperatures. I just came in from my daily walk and the woodstove feels great. But it looks pretty with the sun shining.
Our son left Thursday morning for Calgary and by Sunday evening he had arrived. He only had snow for the first few hours and after that it was clear sailing. Now he has to get used to his new surroundings and his new job.
I did manage to put the binding on the crane quilt. I like to enter it in a few shows, so no pictures yet.

I have been working on the embellishings of my crazy quilt block. It is a slow process, but most of the time it's fun. I do know, that I will stop after this one block, do something else and than try another block later.I'm working in the living room right now. Living in an old farm house has it's problems in cold weather. Finally it got even too cold for me upstairs with all the strong winds, so all the little baggies and boxes with "stuff" were moved downstairs.No used to put on a heater,since I'm up and down all the time.
I just hope that Laurence does not sit on a pin or needle. This has happened in the past.Let's say, it's not appreciated.
Saturday I will be teaching for the Dufferin County Quilters Guild in Orangeville.
This will be day 2 of the "Victorian Bouquet"
It had to be cancelled in December, because I was sick.
Next week is our guild meeting and all the postcards for the MCC project are due.
I hope to get lots. Right now I have 25 and I hope to end up with at least 60 to 70

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Go west, young man

It was not that long ago, that I complained ( just a little) about a green Christmas. Well, winter has come with snow squalls, very hard winds and very low temperatures. For a few days more roads were closed, that open. And right in the middle of this, our son decided to move to Alberta, over 3000 kilometers from here. He was planning to move in the midle of April, but he got a promising job and was asked to come as soon as posslible. So tomorrow is blast-of time. I'm glad that 2 0f his friends have decided to come with him for the ride. All 3 of them are used to the big trucks and big equipment, so I wonder how it will work with these 3 tall guys in a Jimmy, pulling a U-Haul trailer. It will be quite different for us. Shawn moved to the house on our farm next door about 10 years ago, far enough not to be in each others hair, but close enough be able to help each other. I don't know how many evenings the big truck would come in the lane, just when supper was put on the table. But he has been a big help for us over the years and we will miss having him close.
Not much I can say. I was only 23 when I emigrated by myself to Canada, never giving it much thought about what my parents though of it all. Though the first years were hard at times I have never regretted making this move. So I hope that it will all work out for Shawn in Alberta.
Back to some quilting. Another hour and the binding will be on the crane quilt. Since I'm planning to put it in some shows I will keep it under wraps for the time being.
These pictures are of the first block of my next crazy quilt. In the center you can see a picture of my father in late thirties. The patterned fabric is from a reproduction line of Dutch fabric used in the different costumes. The wider laces I found on my trip to Friesland. The narrow ones and the old sigarette silks are from my friend Janet in England.
The sewing is done, now all the embroidery yet.

I will be teaching crazy quilting this coming Saturday at

Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph.
275 Woolwich Street
tel 519-822-2790

Monday, February 05, 2007

Award-winning Quilts

The Critter Quilt

(55”x 55”)
Hand-appliquéd by Renske Helmuth.
Hand-quilted by Minerva Clemmer.

The blocks in the center of this quilt were inspired by the botanical appliqués of Ellen Heck. Birds and borders were designed by Renske Helmuth.

Cover Quilt: The Canadian Quilter Newsletter (Fall 2004)


  • 2004 Quilt Canada National Juried Show -- Best Traditional Wall Hanging; President's Award for Excellence in Appliqué; and Viewer's Choice Award
  • 2004 World Quilt Show Grand Rapids, Michigan -honorable mention – Traditional
  • 2003 Ontario Juried show -Viewer's Choice Award

Springtime in Ontario

(50” x 42”)
Renske Helmuth
Hand-quilted by Minerva Clemmer


  • 2003 World Quilt Competition (Lansing Michigan) -1st place of Country Canada
  • 2002 Quilt Canada National Juried Show (Edmonton, Alberta) -winner in the Traditional Large category
  • 2001 Ontario Juried Show (Kitchener, Ontario) -first prize and viewer's choice
  • 2001 Waterloo County Quilters' Guild quilt show -Viewer's Choice
  • 2000 International Quilt Festival (Houston, Texas) -honorable mention in the 2-person category

A Garden Bouquet of Flowers

(72” x 72")
Renske Helmuth


  • 1999 International Quilt Festival (Houston, Texas) -3rd place large traditional appliqué category
  • 2001 Ontario Juried Show (Kitchener, Ontario) -honorable mention in the large category

Thursday, February 01, 2007

More fabric

Yesterday we packed up the cat and the dog and deliverd them back home to our daughter and son-in-law. The cat had made herself at home right away, with the dog it took longer. But now I miss them. It is mighty quiet. But both were glad to be back home again, the owners as well as their pets.
This picture shows some of the old laces I picked up in Friesland. The 3 pieces at the top are very finely crocheted and are at the bottom part of a small cap. Most of the other pieces belong to the bigger cap that goes over the gold part ( for those interested google "oorijzer" or "floddermuts") both Dutch words. This bottom part is a 1 meter long strip, that is washed, starched heavily and than put into a cripper to make "wavy" Once set, it is sewn back to a top part.
Some of these pieces had been stashed away for a long time and were almost brown.
I noticed that my sister-in-law in Friesland put some of these laces in simmering water on the stove. I wanted to be sure, that any left-over starch would be gone, so I did the same thing and it worked very well. I did not want it to get very white, but a creamy color and it worked just dandy. Now I'm working on my first crazy quilt block. More on that next week.
Jeanette had found a quilt store in Hawai and found out that Hawaian quilting is very interesting. She bought books and lots of fabric. I was told, that the books are for me to look at, since she wants to make her own quilt, but she gave me lots of beautiful fabric to keep.
Another project. At times I have a feeling, that I have enough projects to keep me buzy for the rest of my life.