Monday, August 26, 2013

Fudging it...

The Perfect Patchwork Primer by Beth Gutcheon was first published in 1973. Its as old as I am!

Written before the time of rotary cutters, computers and companies dedicated to printing 'quilting fabrics'. I forgot what a great read it was, not only that its a great reference. Partly because it covers how blocks were constructed before the advent of the concept of 'straight seaming'. Where shapes were cut and pieced whole with set in seams rather than in 2 or 3 parts to achieve straight seams for a sewing machine. 

But the thing I like most about it is Beth's take on things. Known more now as a fiction writer, her first 2 books were quilting books, her second being the The Quilt Design Workbook. Both considered classic texts in the field.

It has some really refreshing snippets in it. Ones that still 'ground' me when i'm being a bit hard on myself or when I hear some of my customers frustrations that they feel they can't put something together the 'right way', being it colour, design or skill.

So I would like to share with you some of Beth's wisdom... (hold onto your rotary cutters people....)

"Each piece of patchwork is cut out separately, using care and very sharp scissors..."

"Tearing the fabric is the most desirable alternative because it saves you the rather annoying task of measuring and drawing..."

"Don't worry about pruning the dangling threads close to the material; they'll all be inside the quilt and won't matter..."

"...when one unit is much larger larger than the one its supposed to match, you may even have to sew in some puckers, but with puffy batting behind it puckering isn't nearly as obvious...."

" can take a few liberties with the straightness of the seam."

"A pucker is better than a hole, and if you press the bejesus out if it, once the batting and quilting are added you'll hardly know the difference."

And the best line being this...."Up to a point you can fudge, and the better you are at fudging the better you are at your craft".

Thanks Beth. I feel a whole lot better. Now, where are my scissors....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A part of something bigger.

Being a part of something bigger is an honour. I was really proud to be a sponsor of this years Quilt Showcase by the Victorian Quilters.

But the real joy was being a part of something that was truly inspirational.
All of us who pick up a needle and thread have something in common. We create a stitch. With those stitches we create something that makes us a part of this thing that is bigger than any one thing we make. It is the common thread that joins all of us. Wether it be stitching a quilt or making a child's dress to embroidering a keepsake, it is something we do because we love it and we enjoy it. Be it the process of doing or the finished product.

My sponsorship went to this years Convenors Award. This award went to Lou Smith and Andree Donaldson's Quilt - Lou's Reward. This quilt is part of this joy and inspiration. An amazing story of someone recovering from a terrible car accident who is rekindling her love of sewing with her friend.
Lou made this quilt. For someone who is learning how to speak and walk again and who has nearly lost her eye sight from the accident, this is one truly amazing quilt.

Learning the story behind this quilt made me pick up my needle and thread again after a long break. I too was in a car accident last year and lost some of the feeling in my hand and had stopped hand sewing.  After seeing this quilt I picked up my needle and thread again and got back into it. I can't sew as well as I did before and my fingers were soft and as I said, no pain no gain. But even though its a bit messy and my stitches aren't as even as before, I still love it. I missed it.

It's why we sew, it's why we quilt, its because we love to do it. We share this.

Thank you for your quilt Lou and Andree, it is wonderful.

Monday, August 12, 2013

No Pain, No Gain....

Finally after a long break I am back doing some hand quilting. It's been a long time between projects for myself. In fact most of the time I am 'reverse' quilting, I am unpicking something to re-work or salvage it.

But as I have not picked up the needle and thread to quilt for quite some time my fingers are out of condition. They have gone 'soft'. I am a lap quilter and I have never quite got the hang of using a hoop, let alone a thimble. I sometimes use a bit of tape or a bandaid when my fingers get sore, but I need to investigate some of these new fangled quilters thimbles in leather or the other plastic ones that you stick on.
As I sit and quilt I keep hearing John Lennon from the Beatles White Album going....'i've got blisters on my fingers'.... his were from playing guitar, my sore spots are from the needle making a groove in the edge of my finger.

Along with pricking myself in a few spots too, I am cursing that I am not developing some good old callouses fast enough. So, as they say, no pain, no gain....I need to toughen up!

One day I hope to be able to quilt in tiny stitches, evenly and finely. It takes practice and strong fingers. But until then, its a small job and I need to quit complaining...sigh...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quilt Top Contraband....

There have been a few tips and tricks I have had to rely on over the years getting through airports with too much luggage. Often my carry on gets a little over loaded and more than once I have had to stuff a few things in the top of my pants to get past the check in at the gate. My most preferred method is to wrap a few articles of spare clothing around my middle or stuff a few things in the top of my boots til they tell me my carry on is light enough. Now, I don't recommend any of this, but sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do.

One of my customers came for a visit to the studio. Her husband was waiting in the car, but she spied a 1930s Double Wedding Ring quilt top. And as what so often happens when people visit the studio, they fall in love with a treasure that has to come with them.
The quilt top had to be hers... But what about the husband? Well, as a joke, I said you can stuff it down your pants? Or how about I post it to you? Thinking that posting would be the option chosen...I could have popped it in the post pack and it would have arrived the next day. But no, the option chosen was the former...
So I folded the queen size top into 8th's length wise and flattened it down. Her arms went up and we tightly wrapped the quilt top around her middle and stuffed it into the top of her jeans. Jumper down and coat on top....can you notice? ...No, he won't suspect a thing.

Off she went beaming...was it that she now owned a beautiful one of a kind vintage quilt top....or was it that she got one over on the other half safely home and into the stash??