Monday 23 February 2015

My time at QuiltCon

So if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you may already know that I am currently in Austin, Texas, at this year's QuiltCon. This is a quilt exhibition created by and organised by the Modern Quilt Guild of America, and as I am obsessed with modern quilts I thought this would perfect for me!

We, that is me and Justin, decided to make a little holiday of our time here, so we flew into Houston on Tuesday - a very long day - got some sleep, before driving down to Austin. While the roads here are HUGE, they are mostly easy to navigate (my job) - it's the cities I tend to get lost in!

After more sleep it was Thursday, first day of QuiltCon! We walked downtown in blazing sunshine (just so know, four days later and it's zero degrees now!) passed the impressive Capitol building...


...I soon left Justin to wander the streets, got my pass and headed in.

Now, I would like to think of myself as a bit of a old hand at quilt shows, particularly the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, our annual big quilt show. So I was expecting to be rammed into narrow aisles, being swept along with the crowds, and struggle to see the quilts on show long enough to take a snap. How wrong I was...


There were no crowds, no hustle and bustle, that first morning I was able to quietly wander through the quilt hangings, taking in their splendour, snap as many pics as I liked, and have a totally enjoyable experience!

The quilts on show are truly beautiful. The colours are bright and cheery, the blocks simple but fresh, and the quilting... Well, I'll let the photos talk for themselves.

I've been reading about many of these quilts in Love Patchwork & Quilting and Quilt Now mags over the last year, and it's so nice to see them in person! I am now so excited to get home and get down to some serious free motion quilting!

And as for the shopping... There may not be as many stands as the NEC or, as I'm told QuiltMarket, but to be able to get up to the fabrics, lay a few out to match and browse the notions to my hearts content was bliss. Obviously I've spent far too much and bought way too much fabric than I need, but hey, you only live once right?


Unfortunately by the time we decided to come to Quiltcon, most of the workshops were sold out, but I did mange to book a couple of lectures by the brilliant and inspiring Angela Waters, a incredibly accomplished longarm quilter, who gave me so many ideas as well as the confidence to just have a go. As she says, "a finished quilt is better than a perfectly finished quilt top!". I just need to save up for a Gammil longarm now... Ahem :)



I was also lucky to see QuiltCon's keynote lecture by the ladies of Gee's Bend, a quilting collective who's innovative design compositions and geometric simplicity have been a keystone to the development of the modern quilt movement.


Similar to traditional quilters, their ancestors began quilting for necessity, passed their skills down to their kin who further developed their skills to create the works of art being made today. When these lovely ladies weren't talking about their upbringings and families or their quilts, they were treating us to some beautiful gospel singing. As I'm English, this is not my culture or history, but I was moved by the emotion and high esteem the audience held for Gee's Bend. I have included a couple of their quilts below.



Now all the quilting is over :( we're off to explore the Hill Country, though I have been told there's a lovely fabric shop on the way... Poor Justin ;)









Tuesday 10 February 2015

My Bargello Beast

It's been a while since my last post... sounds like a confessional.. anyway, I have been very busy, but I do aim to blog a lot more this year.. more on that later. For now, I wanted to share another first with you... my first Bargello quilt.

I am very lucky to have been asked to make up samples for fabric company John Louden & Co, and was presented with some of their fat quarter packs to have a play with. When I unwrapped the five packs of Tie-Dye fat quarters and spread them out in colour order, I just thought "this will have to be a Bargello", even though I've never done one in my life... but how hard can it be!!

I started sewing sets of five fabrics together which made it easier when it came to the cutting. Once I decided what width strips I wanted to create the Bargello pattern, I used my hall as my design wall and with the help of some pretty useless masking tape, I went along moving each strip up or down to create this amazing wave effect. Luckily I made a note of each strip number and width as one morning I woke up to find half the strips on the floor... did I mention it was useless masking tape!?!

Anyway, so I then went about unpicking the relevant seam and reattaching it to the top of each strip, which completed this fantastic pattern. Once I'd sewn all the strips together, then came the really tedious bit, pressing all the seams open to reduce the bulk! This took 3 hours, and I really hate ironing at the best of times!

Having said that, flat seams really did help when it came to quilting - for speed I decided to do some free-motion swirls over the entire top, which did get a little tricky over the thin strips because of all the seams, but I think it looks effective and breaks up the vertical lines of the Bargello.

I was over the moon to wake up to a sunny bright day at the weekend, and decided to do some location photography. As we live near one of Middlesbrough's famous landmarks, the Transporter Bridge - we actually got engaged on the carriage, but that's another story - we decided to shoot this bright and colourful quilt with the bridge in the background thinking that the blue of the bridge will pick out the colours of the quilt. I think it looks really effective!

For full colour instructions including a very detailed plan of your strip layout, please contact John Louden.