Tuesday, 25 April 2017

French Quilt Show Part 1

I'm back and ready to thrill - or bore - you with my holiday snaps! I had a really lovely short break in Nantes at Pour l'Amour du Fil, the show organised by Quiltmania, which really is all about the love of thread.

It is a very different show to the ones we have here in the UK and the traders are very different too. It is clear that the ladies of France like to ply their needles as much if not more than they pedal their machines, as the variety of stalls selling materials for hand sewing, and the displays of exquisite hand work - embroidery, ribbonwork, boutis, cross stitch, drawn thread work, wool applique - showed very clearly.

In addition there was much for lovers of reproduction fabrics and old textiles, and some magnificent traditional piecing and hand and machine quilting.  I hope to show you my particular favourites in this and the following post. Be warned, this is a very photo heavy post, but I hope you may find something to inspire you. I am certainly buzzing with excitement at all the possibilities.

My main reason for wanting to visit Nantes again was the fact that among the many very talented quiltmakers exhibiting this year were Di Ford and Petra Prins, both of whom have new and very lovely second books out, published by Quiltmania. I have of course bought both, and the photographs in the books are very good, but the chance to see the actual quilts and to study the fabrics was too good to miss.

First of all, here are some of Di Ford's quilts - and I make no apology for including many close ups: her skill and accuracy and the detail she achieves through clever use of parts of the fabric are superb. Di is particularly known for her wonderful applique and broderie perse as well as English paper piecing and traditional piecing. I have focused on her slightly simpler quilts here, because those are the only ones I might ever have a chance of emulating, and I have included many details so I can remember the amazing way she chooses and uses fabric.




The extraordinary custom longarm quilting is done for Di by Helen Hayes and is a work of art in itself.





A special characteristic of this show is that the quilts are beautifully displayed in room sets.





The richness of the fabrics in this quilt (above and below) make it well-named Silk Road, but look at the fantastic effect achieved by clever cutting and mitring of the serpentine striped fabric.  Di's book is titled Primarily Quilts...2: It's all about the fabric and I spent ages just feasting on every detailIf you ever get a chance to see these quilts I would urge you to go, there is so much to learn from such a master of her art/craft.




I adore these little pentagon paper pieced flowers, so different to the more usual hexagon flowers used in the next 'border' of the quilt, and the fantastic effects achieved by fussy cutting the fabric. 


There is a further applique border on the outside of this quilt which you cannot see in my photos as the quilt was displayed on a bed, but it was also quite astonishing. There are full instructions on this and all the other quilts in the book, should you have the time and skill to attempt one or more of them!



Next are the quilts from Petra Prins & An Moonen's book. Promenade in a Dutch Castle, which is full of interesting historical background and lovely photographs. Many of the quilts are reproductions of actual Dutch quilts from the first half of the 19th century.  


Lots of lovely traditional piecing of triangles and other shapes here, as well as EPP and applique, and the use of many, many fabrics, which always lifts my spirits.



We are so fortunate nowadays to have access to such fabulous reproduction fabrics, and these scrappy quilts are a brilliant excuse to use all of them!

 




And here are some quilts which Petra had displayed on her stall - I especially love the one with all the triangles... That's all for today, much more to come in Part 2 soon.  I'm off to bed to dream of quilts.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

En vacances!

Hi everyone, I am so excited - I am off to Nantes tomorrow for the wonderful French quilt show organised by Quiltmania, Pour l'Amour du Fil.

Just one more sleep then I am away for two nights and, more importantly, a whole day and a half at the show. Stand by for lots of photos when I return!

Meanwhile, my last finish seems a long time ago, and I have scared myself by digging out the next batch of UFO's: three quilts' worth of blocks waiting to be joined into tops and then quilted...



This is a strategic move so I don't go too mad with the spending money at the show, but we'll have to see how long my resolve holds. I have to tell you, my track record is not good.



Will keep you posted! Meanwhile, I hope you have the chance to do some fun things this weekend, quilty or otherwise.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Friday finish- Sunkissed Jewel Box


Hooray for finished quilts.  If you have been visiting this blog the past few weeks you will know I have had a run of finishes to share but I have now almost come to the end.   That doesn't mean I have run out of UFO's, but I have done all the ones which were easiest to finish/where I had fabric already set aside for the back. (In the photo below you will see I didn't have quite enough of the main fabric so I joined in a pink spot in a very similar shade).


So here is my finish for this week, Sunkissed Jewel Box, so-called because that was the name of the tutorial by Mary Lane Brown from Moda Bakeshop (here). She called her Jewel Box quilt Sunkissed because that was the name of the line of fabric she used: I made mine with a mixture of Lizzie by Anna Griffin and Verna and Hunky Dory by Moda, but I am sticking with the same name as the Bakeshop tutorial for my quilt. Those are all old lines of fabric as I pieced the top way back in May 2011, almost 6 years ago,as you will see from this post....



Never mind, it's finished now, and I am pleased with how it has turned out. The quilt measures 67" x 82". I quilted it in the same way as the Thimbleberries Jewel Box quilt, also a recent finish, blogged about here. However I used a different method for the border, the start of which you can see in the photo below.


Basically the border is stitched with a zigzag which is then filled in on either side with parallel lines echoing the zigzag, spaced an inch apart. Easy to mark and easy to stitch with not too many ends to tie in.


Here are a couple of photos to show you the huge variety of fabrics available when you mix several compatible collections: my recollection is that I used some yardage and some charm packs rather than the layer cake suggested in the tutorial, and that I tweaked the method and made four-patches rather than using the strip piecing technique shown. I always think that part of the fun of patchwork is finding solutions which enable you to achieve the result you want with the materials you have to hand, whilst being inspired by the wonderful work of others and the information so freely available in books and on the internet.




The quilt is bound with striped fabrics from the Anna Griffin/Lizzie collection.  I didn't have enough of the blue stripe so the quilt is bound half in the blue and half in the green.  I made the binding when I pieced the quilt so it's a miracle that I was able to lay my hands on it after all these years. Which is not the case for another quilt I have recently finished quilting but can't complete because I just cannot find the binding strips I know I have put somewhere 'safe'; I am going to have to hope that they turn up when I am looking for something else! 


And here's a photo just because I am so pleased with how my pots of tulips are looking at the moment - I am particularly delighted with the soft golden apricot one with the pink feathering, which I believe is called Jenny (I bought it from Sarah Raven).


Despite good progress on tackling my WIP backlog since January, I still have many UFOs at various stages and need to push on with them in the months to come. I am off to the Nantes quilt show in two weeks' time and must take stock of outstanding projects so that I don't go too mad buying new kits and fabric.

I promise to take lots of photos and do a roundup as I have done the past two years (here, here, here and here, if you'd like to look at previous photos, lots of photos!) - it is so lovely to look back and be inspired all over again by the amazingly talented people there are who share our passion for making with fabric.

Enjoy your weekend wherever you are and whatever you are doing. We have sunshine forecast so hope to be out in the garden as much as possible, enjoying the tulips while they last. Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday - do go and have a look as Amanda Jean has a tulip mini quilt for her finish.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sunday finish: Triple Irish Flower Quilt



An extra finish for this week as I didn't have photos of the completed quilt ready for last Friday. Today was a beautiful Spring day so I managed to find time in between bouts of gardening to take some pictures. The magnolia looks wonderful, though it is starting to drop its petals, and everything else is green and fresh. This little quilt feels fresh for Spring too.


I have been pushing on with my quilting over the past few weeks, off and on,  and am glad I have been able to quilt this small quilt which I find I blogged about in July 2014! Here is the link to that post. 


You can find the details of the quilt and the Moda Bakeshop tutorial link in the old post, but for now I am going to feature the quilting rather than the piecing details. Some of the photographs are of the back of the quilt because the quilting lines show up better on that side.



All the quilting was done with a walking foot on my Juki. I started with the crosshatching through the 'chain' to stabilise the layers. It was a little fiddly because I wanted to keep the 'roses' clear of quilting lines, so I had to stitch around them and ended up with quite a few tails to tie in.

I then ditch quilted on both sides of the inner border and cross hatched the pieced border, not in the ditch but across the tiny 1" squares, missing out every other square so the lines are 2" apart. This was much less stressful and more of a statement than trying to ditch stitch so many small squares. No ends to tie in here - I quilted in a series of V shapes on and off the border, alternate lines of squares. 


I then outlined the yellow centre of each rose. Natural/light cream Mettler quilting thread was a good match throughout, better than white which I think might have been too stark.


I could have put my usual parallel lines in the inner border but felt that the floral character of the quilt called out for something more flowing: I used an oval template to create a chain of leaves, marked with a blue pen.  Easy to quilt in a series of sweeping curves along the length of the border and then back on the opposite direction to complete the design.



The empty spaces one always ends up with in an Irish Chain design really do need some fancy quilting, but I wanted to use the walking foot. I used two oval templates which I made to fit the space and marked the design with a washable blue pen so that it was easy to follow accurately.


Yes, it did involve a fair amount of turning the quilt, but this is a fairly small quilt (60" square) so it wasn't too bad once I got into a rhythm. I am really pleased that I made the effort as I feel it honours the spirit of the original Thirties quilt which you can see in the Moda Bakeshop recipe post.


Having used a blue pen for the marking I made sure I finished the quilting fairly quickly so that I could immerse the whole thing in cold water without delay to remove the ink. 

I am not mad keen on this form of quilt marking because of the risk of setting the chemical and leaving a nasty brown stain - heat is the main culprit so one mustn't risk inadvertently leaving the quilt in the sun or by a radiator, or putting it through a hot wash. Cold water first and then a spin and line drying removed every trace so I feel safe now, and the quilt has crinkled up nicely. 


Last couple of photos and I am done.  Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the trouble to read to the end.  I hope you have had a lovely weekend and are rested and ready for the week ahead, whatever you have planned.



PS Needless to say, I haven't done anything with my Lemoyne Star diamonds made with the scraps (see old post referred to at the beginning of today's blog) - I wonder how long it will be before I am able to blog about finishing that WIP!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Taupe Flying Geese - a finished quilt



I have a finish to share with you all today: not the one I intended as I find I haven't taken any photos of that quilt, so that will be tomorrow's task. However here is another finished quilt from a few weeks ago - you can tell by the grey sky and leafless tree that I photographed it at the beginning of the month.


I actually cannot remember when I pieced this small quilt, though I would guess it is at least 10 years ago. It was one of the first things I made with the new Daiwabo taupe fabrics which were then just becoming available in the UK.



I like to think that my piecing would be more precise if I were to make the quilt again today, so please be kind if you spot any faults. I love flying geese, but I would always now make them oversized and trim with a Bloc_loc ruler to ensure perfect points. However if you squint at the quilt from a distance I guess it's not too bad...



I still really like the fabrics (which is just as well as I still seem to have oodles of taupes left in my stash). There is something about the Japanese taupes, that almost but not quite monochrome quality, which actually makes you really look at the fabrics and see the subtle colours that were there all the time, but which you overlook at first.


I had originally intended to handquilt this one - I would handquilt everything if I could but in practice I handquilt almost nothing - so the quilt has hung around for years, layered and tacked (basted) together.  I kept moving it, intending to make a start but never quite getting round to it, and the quilt was therefore rather grubby in places. 

I had chosen a plain calico (muslin) backing to show off the hand quilting (my intention was that it would look a bit like a wholecloth quilt on the reverse) and when I re-layered with basting spray after removing the tacking, I stuck with the original plan.

I am really pleased with the quilting, and it just shows what can be achieved with a walking foot and a bit of quilt wrangling. In case you are interested in having a go on your next flying geese quilt, I will describe how I went about it.


I put in the structural quilting lines first, the verticals on either side of the geese strips, burying my thread 'tails' at the top and bottom. Next I stitched down the right hand side of one of the strips of geese in a zigzag, working from the point down the sloping side of the goose triangle, turned the quilt and then worked along the bottom of the triangle towards the mid point, when I turned and went down the slope of the next goose triangle. 

Continuing all the way down the strip, I decided not to risk turning the whole quilt and working up the strip in the opposite direction - I felt that would probably create puckers and the quilt would not hang properly.  So I finished there and started again at the top of the strip, this time travelling down the left hand side oft the strip of geese and meeting my first line of stitching at the tip/midpoint each time to complete the outlining of the goose triangle.


Once I had done all the strips of geese in this manner and buried all the thread ends, I finished by putting parallel vertical and horizontal lines in the sashing and borders, guided by the woven design of the fabric.

I hope that is comprehensible - if I had any IT skills I could draw the line on to the photo and you would understand instantly, but I don't....sorry! It is not quite as awful a task as it might sound to machine quilt in this way as this is a fairly small quilt (54" x 65") and reasonably easy to turn. I feel it was worth the effort for the amazing texture on the reverse, which does remind me of a wholecloth quilt even if it isn't handquilted!


I am ending this post with two photographs of the quilt taken today, the last day of March and almost a month since the first picture. A beautiful Spring day with the plum tree in blossom. Lots of gardening to do this weekend so quilting will have to take a back seat.


I hope you have a wonderful weekend, however you choose to spend it.  Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.