Thursday, 28 July 2011

Festival of Quilts 2011 - Preview Part 2

Our Preview of the Festival of Quilts 2011 features Nik's description of how a quilt that will be on display on The Cotton Patch stand A24 began...

The first of many we feel...

Patchwork & Quilting for People Who Don’t 
by Nik Sewell

I am responsible for producing Newsletters, advertising and selecting fabrics here at the Cotton Patch.  While I love working with fabric and helping customers choose fabrics in the shop (when I can) I have to confess that up until November 2010 I had never done any sewing – not even threaded a needle, hand or machine.  Then one day last November I picked up a copy of Jane Brocket’s book, The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making, and took it home to read. Jane had visited our stand at The Festival of Quilts back in August where she was signing copies of her book and we had a selection of her wonderful quilts on display. 
Jane’s book had first caught my eye because she is a fan of fabric designers Kaffe Fassett and Philip Jacobs and their fabrics appear in several of her quilts.  I also enjoy the colour and exuberance of their designs so I was interested enough open the cover and read her introduction.  Now I have seen enough quilts made over the years to know the degree of dedication and commitment that is required to complete a quilt and that alone has been enough to convince me without much further thought that patchwork and quilting is not for me; I’m far to busy. However, certain phrases in Jane’s introduction such as “my aim is simplification”, “use(s) beautiful fabrics rather than complicated designs” and “ignore the tyranny of perfection” made me rethink my reluctance to have a go. 

At that time had recently taking delivery of two new fabrics, one from Kaffe called Line Dance, in red and another called Japanese Chrysanthemums, in green.  

Line Dance

When put together they create an intense contrast of saturated colours and I when I first saw them I thought they would look great in a quilt.  Having read Jane’s book I decided to see if I could find a design in which they would work “if I ever had the time to make something, which I don’t”.  In the end I didn’t choose one of Jane’s designs, but picked a design called Floral Parade from a Kaffe Fassett project book called Quilts in the Sun (now out of print). There were two reasons: firstly it has a one star rating and uses big squares of fabric (not too much piecing); secondly the centre block uses a piece of fabric no less than 19” square – perfect for displaying the larger-than-life Chrysanthemum design in all its glory.  After that it was just a question of picking the coordinates, definitely the most enjoyable part of the whole process if you follow Jane’s philosophy.

The piecing of the quilt was done much quicker than I expected. In hindsight I should have given more thought to how much space an 84” quilt occupies, but then again that might have put me off ever starting!  As I mentioned I had never used a sewing machine before, but decided to just go for it. My first block ended up in the final quilt. A couple of others didn’t, but having worked out that accuracy was the key there was a general improvement.  I can definitely say that I managed to “ignore tyranny of perfection”!

Working in a patchwork shop does have certain advantages and I was fortunate to be able to quilt on the Handi Quilter Avante HQ18 longarm  machine at The Cotton Patch Studio. 

Another first and a very impressive result using the “Breeze” design on the optional Groovy Boards (you follow a pre-set design rather than free-motion quilting).  I appreciate that the actual quilting part is a major hurdle for many potential quilters and the reason that many quilt tops remain stored away unfinished.  When I started I hadn’t considered the Avante option, I was just going to follow Jane’s straightforward method.  For her Hydrangea quilt which features on the cover of her book she simply added horizontal lines of running stitches and that’s it. No complicated quilting designs and it still looks stunning!

Having completed the quilting, I found the end was still not quite as close as I had imagined. Cutting, folding and hand stitching over 28’ of binding turned out to be somewhat time-consuming, but was possible to do with one eye on the TV.

Was the end result worth it? Absolutely.  What more proof can I offer other than I am working on quilt number two at the moment!  You can see my tropical version of the Floral Parade quilt on display at The Cotton Patch stand at the Festival of Quilts. 

It’s there not because it represents a fine example of patchwork. Far from it, it’s full of errors and imperfections. It’s there to show that a quilt doesn’t have to require a huge amount of time and commitment if you choose a simple design and let the fabric do the talking.  You may not be a fan of Kaffe and Philips colour-saturated fabrics, but there are a plethora of beautiful designs out there that are just perfect for this style of quilt.  Pick your favourites and just dive in!

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Festival of Quilts 2011 - Preview Part 1

It seems to be fast approaching so to help you with your planning for the Festival of Quilts 2011, which will take place at the NEC, Birmingham from 11th to 14th August, we'll be updating this  Blog and our Facebook pages and sending you information by Email Newsletter in the weeks before the show (if you're not signed up for our Email Newsletter and wish you were, click here.)

In our First Preview, we'll be focusing on Marti Michell and Sandy Chandler.

Marti Michell has visited the UK for the Festival of Quilts almost since its inception.  A recipient of the Silver Star at the 2004 International Quilt Market and in 1991 she was awarded the first Quilt Industry Lifetime Achievement Award. This year she is giving three lectures on various techniques. Her one hour lectures are always full of information that are complemented with excellent handouts. They're sure to make you laugh as well as inspire you to make more quilts!

Lecture Places are still available - book now to avoid disappointment! Visit the Twisted Thread site for more information.

250 Top 10 Reasons You Need More Fabric!
Whether you have lots of fabric because you love scrap quilts or you make scrap quilts because you have lots of fabric, you’ll love Marti’s trunk show.There are always new quilts and tips! Marti will talk about fabric selection, value (light and dark) and maintaining control of design with so many fabrics.
Friday 12th August 1.00pm to 2.00pm

283 How to Build a Log Cabin (Quilt!)
Let Marti share tips and tricks about fabric selection and construction methods that will make your Log Cabins last for generations! Enjoy her trunk show of Log Cabin and Log Cabin variation quilts. Watch for Flying Geese and Bear Paws too!
Saturday 13th August 2.30pm to 3.30pm

302 Learning to Love Hexagons and Their Relatives!
Follow Marti’s transformation from hexagon-resistant to ‘Hexagon Princess’ (self-appointed!). Perhaps rotary cutting, machine piecing, combining hand and machine piecing, Seven Sisters with no set-in seams or numerous other 60 degree family quilts will inspire you to take the same journey.
Sunday 14th August 1.00pm to 2.00pm

Marti will be available on the main Cotton Patch stand at C19 for advice, guidance and book-signings when she's not at lectures. 

Marti is accompanied by her husband Richard who can also demonstrate the benefits of "blunt corners" and explain the range of Marti Michell templates. If you've never used Marti's Perfect Patchwork Templates before make sure you stop by and have a demonstration; learn how easy accurate piecing can be when you use Marti's templates!

And if that isn't enough we'll have some great show specials (with FREE patterns) as well as Daily Prize Draws to win Marti Michell products so DEFINITELY stop by the stand for a chance of winning those! We have spaces on the "American Beauty Block of the Month Program" and you can start at any time.  PLUS we'll be launching the "Marti and Me Club" - more details at Marti's lectures and on the stand.

Sandy Chandler has been a regular visitor to our stand for the past few years and we're delighted that she's coming back again to demonstrate her Curve Master sewing machine foot.

Piecing curves is one of those techniques that people tend to avoid once they've done their beginner's Drunkard's Path and ended up doing it by hand. Well with Sandy's Curvemaster curved seams are easy.  The Curve Master Presser Foot allows us to sew any curved seam without pinning!  It also does perfect straight seams.  It adapts to fit any home sewing machine regardless of brand or age of the machine. You can use it for paper piecing arcs, pieced Dresden Plate with no applique, inserting circles into holes, circles and overlapping circles, Giant Dahlia, setting in sleeves, inserting a handbag bottom plus the more obvious designs such as Drunkard's Path, Double Wedding Ring and Winding Ways

There will be some tempting Show Specials on the Curve Master Presser Foot, the Tweezers and Seam Roller - visit Stand C19 for Sandy's demonstration -  don't miss out on these great deals!
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