Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Have your say on Hand Quilting

This week the American Quilters' Society (AQS) is running a survey about hand quilting.  I've taken the survey, and I encourage you to do it too before Sunday 22 April.  It only takes 1-2 minutes, and our answers will let this influential body know that hand quilting is still an integral part of quilting today. 

The AQS Hand Quilting survey is here.

This photo above is from when I hand quilted my Bears Paw quilt with Perle 8 cotton.

You can find previous posts I've written about Hand Quilting on the tab at the top of my blog. 

It includes what threads I use, and what patterns I choose to quilt.

Please do remember to take the survey - especially if you're a hand quilter.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

AQC - Jolly Jumpers with Gillian Travis

I chose to go to AQC because there were two tutors I wanted to take classes with.

The first was Willyne Hammerstein and I talked about her quilts here and here.

The second tutor I wanted to learn from was Gillian Travis from the United Kingdom (UK).

I first saw photos of Gillian's work from the UK Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago.  I just loved her Jolly Jumpers quilt and even purchased her Nordic Journeys in Stitch book via her website.  Needless to say, I never got around to making my own jolly jumper blocks, so when I saw that Gillian was coming to AQC, I decided to take her class. 

Gillian had many samples in the class room for us to study her various techniques.

Rather than embarking on a large wall hanging that we might never finish, we worked on little kits that Gillian had prepared in advance.  We made blocks that we can turn into needlecases and pin cushions when we get home.

We did some screen printing (not very successfully in my case), and then used either hand stitching or machine embroidery to embellish our jumpers.  Here's my first jumper:

We didn't know which colour pack we would get, so couldn't take our own threads.  We just had to use what was there.

The good news is that there were spare packs available for purchase, so I have more pieces to start again with all my own threads.

Gillian also had a number of quilts in the exhibition.  My favourite was this one which is part of her "Israel and Jordan Markets" series. I loved the colours in the background, but also the message it sends about the women.

You can see more of Gillian's work on her website

Gillian is very well travelled, and gets inspiration from her travels. I'm very interested to see what she will make after visiting Australia. 

On my final day in Melbourne I saw this in a shop and had to smile.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

AQC - Moncarapacho by Willyne Hammerstein

Following on from my previous post (on Willyne's Ballet with Kaffe Fassett quilt), I'd like to show you Willyne's Moncarapacho quilt which was also in the AQC exhibition in Melbourne. This quilt is on the cover of Millefiori Quilts 3.

Those with eager eyes will see that this quilt has the same starting rosette as Ballet with Kaffe Fassett.  However, there are many, many 10 pointed stars in this quilt.  People who have started Ballet with Kaffe know that 10 pointed stars are quite difficult to get perfect.

Like all of Willyne's quilts, this one is hand pieced and hand quilted.

Some of my readers have asked about the advantages of hand piecing over English Paper Piecing (EPP).  Willyne spoke about the extra time and expense involved in English Paper Piecing. Her points were:

1.  With hand piecing you just draw the sewing line on the back of the fabric, and then you stitch two pieces together with a simple running stitch.  This method uses less thread than what many people using for English Paper Piecing.

2.  English Paper Piecing requires paper pieces which most people prefer to purchase (for accuracy).  Even if you make your own paper pieces, it's time and money.

3. Paper pieces have to be basted - either by thread or glue.  That's more expense and more time spent basting.

So, although English Paper Piecing has some disadvantages compared to hand piecing, many people are more comfortable hand sewing with EPP.  I don't regret making my la passacaglia with EPP.  I wasn't confident to do hand piecing, so I went with the method I was familiar with.

People in The Netherlands start hand piecing from a young age and that's the only method they know for hand sewing.  Whereas we often start with sewing a few English Paper Pieced  hexagons together, and so we start down a different track.

I'm slowly transitioning to hand piecing now, but that's only after taking a lesson with Jen Kingwell and seeing her method of hand piecing and finished quilts.

Although I attended the Ballet with Kaffe Fassett class with Willyne and studied her hand piecing method too, I will still finish my Ballet with Kaffe Fassett quilt with English Paper Piecing because that's the way that I started it. 

Sunday, 8 April 2018

AQC - Ballet with Kaffe Fassett class with Willyne Hammerstein

I'm back from my class with Willyne Hammerstein at AQC in Melbourne.  I feel very lucky to have met Willyne, and to have seen two of her quilts in real life. I took lots of photos and putting them here on my blog where I can refer to them in the future.

Sharon Burgess (Lilabelle Lane Creations), Willyne Hammerstein, Wendy Welsh - AQC Melbourne, April 2018

Willyne told us a bit about herself, and how she came to be a published author. The editor of QuiltMania (Carol) had heard about Willyne's quilts, and asked if she could come and meet her.  Carol liked what she saw, so she asked if QuiltMania could write a book about Willyne's quilts.  Willyne agreed, and let them photograph her quilts, but she had no involvement in the pattern writing or proof reading.  She only saw the books once they were published.

Willyne's Ballet with Kaffe quilt, published in Millefiori Quilts 2

The first book is just called "Millefiori Quilts" because QuiltMania never expected there would be a second book.  But la passacaglia became very popular, and the first book sold well, so QuiltMania asked for more quilts for a second book.  And now there is a third, and Willyne is currently making quilts for Millefiori Quilts 4.  Yes! There's going to be a fourth book one day.

Willyne is Dutch, and the Dutch people hand piece.  They don't English Paper Piece at all.  Wrapping the fabric around papers is just an unnecessary step in the process to them.  When she is preparing the fabric for hand piecing, Willyne just draws the sewing line and eyeballs the seam allowance when cutting out the pieces. (I don't recommend that for those new to hand piecing!)

Each of Willyne's quilts is hand quilted.  I asked if she uses a hoop and she said, "Yes - always". However, she enjoys the piecing stage much more than the quilting stage.

Most people in the class tried hand piecing.  I didn't try it because my Ballet with Kaffe quilt is already half made with English Paper Piecing.  But I watched and learnt, and I will definitely use hand piecing for my next Millefiori Quilt.

I met lots of members of the Millefiori Quilts Facebook group at the show, including Beryl Cross from Tasmania, Sue Griffiths from New South Wales, Zarina Samsudin from Malaysia, and Sharon Burgess from Victoria.

I hope you've enjoyed these photos. You can see my other posts about my Ballet with Kaffe quilt on the tab at the top of the page.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

AQC - Australasian Quilt Convention

Tomorrow I fly to Melbourne for the Australasian Quilt Convention.

I've enrolled in two classes:

Friday - Ballet with Kaffe Fassett by Willyne Hammerstein.   Yes, I already know how to make this quilt, but I really want to meet Willyne and see her quilts in person.  I also want to study her hand piecing technique so I can eventually move away from English Paper Piecing.

Saturday - Jolly Jumpers with Gillian Travis.  I've admired Gillian's work since I saw photos of her Jolly Jumpers quilt at the UK Festival of Quilts a few years ago.  I even own a copy of her Nordic Journeys in Stitch book, but it's always easier to start something new with a teacher on hand.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the quilts on display, including the Best of QuiltCon. There might even be time for some shopping at the show too.

I'll be at the gala dinner on Saturday night, so if you're there, and see me looking lost, please say "Hello".

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Picnic Quilt (previously known as BOM HST)

Last week I started hand quilting my Picnic Quilt.  I've decided to call it a Picnic Quilt because it reminds me of mum's quilt that we sat on at picnics when I was growing up in the 1970's.

Mum made most of our clothes, and many of the scraps were included in the picnic quilt. I remember sitting on that quilt and identifying all the fabrics I liked in the quilt.

It's grown bigger than this now

My quilt is made from Half Square Triangle blocks that I won at Capital Quilters Block of the Month last year.  So it contains scraps from lots of guild members. The blocks are 4.5" unfinished - 4" finished.

I didn't have to sew it up in this way, but I really liked the design so I just kept it that way.  However, sewing together blocks trimmed by other people can be a bit difficult, so I put in some borders to reset the alignment.

Not a great photo with the light shining through, but you get the idea.

I'm hand quilting straight lines on this one with Aurifil 12wt in red.  I like big stitch hand quilting so the stitches show and add character to the quilt.

  I'm also echo quilting in the opposite direction in grey so the coloured sections pop out (you can see that around the central motif).

I've been really good at keeping on task so far this year. This quilt is number 5 on my Quilting Priorities for 2018 list.  I've finished numbers 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 are still WIPs.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Cobweb Quilt / Millefiori

About a month ago I dug out my Cobweb Quilt that I'd started in a class with Chris Kenna on 1 April 2017 - almost exactly a year ago. This pattern is by Chris Kenna and I've included details of how to get a copy further down this post.

Chris Kenna's Copbweb quilt hanging up

I'd made quite a few cobwebs at our guild's retreat in July 2017, but I really hadn't touched it since.

So I decided to sew a few more cobwebs while I took a break between other WIPs.

You're possibly thinking that these fabrics are quite different to my usual colour palette - well, you're correct.  I'm deliberately trying to use different colours and values, so my quilts don't all end up looking too much alike.  I like variety and I want to try out lots of different types fabrics (possibly with the exception of French General - but never say never!).

I like to sort my pieces and cut them to the required lengths before I start sewing.
I got on a roll and I've spent the last four weeks working on this quilt every day.  I've now finished all of the segments for the quilt. The cobwebs AND the stars.  Yay!!

Now I'll be able to assemble it at our next guild retreat in July 2018.  This quilt isn't easy or quick - it's very labour intensive because every single piece is foundation paper pieced.  There's a huge amount of cutting, pressing and sewing involved, but it's the variety of fabrics that makes it look so good. I developed a system of piecing a number of blocks at the same time, to avoid jumping up and down to the cutting board and iron too frequently.

Many people have asked me about this pattern.  The best way to get this exact pattern is to email Minerva Book Shop in Wellington, New Zealand. They can post you a copy (anywhere in the world), and will be sure to include the correction to the template published in the magazine. If you've got an old copy of the magazine at home, be sure to email or phone the shop and ask for the corrected template before you start sewing.  Otherwise your star points won't meet nicely.

However, there are a number of similar patterns available - just google "cobweb quilt pattern". Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke have good ones in their book Material Obsession Two.  (Pop Stars and Maple Leaf Rag - page 116.)

Tips for joining Foundation Paper Pieced sections.
1.  It's important to get the seams meeting up nicely when you join the pieces.  I very carefully put pins straight through the two pieces to be joined, making sure that the seams match up.

2.  As I'm ready to sew each piece I replace the pins with Clover Clips - flat side down.  Clover Clips hold the pieces more firmly than regular pins which tend to distort the pieces as you remove them

3.  I use my walking foot to sew the pieces together - it's so much easier!!

4.  I lower the stitch length to 1.70 for all foundation paper piecing.  This makes it much easier to remove the paper later because the holes are punched closer together.

5.  Although the pattern in the magazine says to trim the seam allowance off the papers before you start, Chris told us in the class to leave it on.  I prefer to leave it on myself.

6.  When you do come to join up your blocks, Chris told us that the points will sit as shown in this photo of her quilt.  The slight indentation is unnoticeable in the finished quilt.

"How will I quilt it?" I hear you asking? Well, one thing is for certain, I won't be quilting it on my domestic machine.  Therefore I'll either get it quilted by a long armer, or hand quilt it.  I'm still thinking about that.