06 August 2013

my fabric treasury

Last weekend I visited my mother on the Gold Coast for a few days. As the acclaimed exhibition, Quilts 1700-1945, is on at the Queensland Art Gallery we decided to drive up to Brisbane to see it on Saturday.
The original exhibit, Quilts 1700-2010 Hidden Histories, Untold Stories, was put together by the Victoria and Albert Museum of London and shown in 2010. It was one of the most successful exhibits ever shown at the V&A, with visitors coming from across the UK and around the world. Although, some visitors were thwarted in their efforts to see this wonderful exhibition by the eruption of the Finnish volcano in August 2010, closing down air travel around Europe and delaying flights from the Southern Hemisphere for over a week.
The volcano had been threatening to erupt for months, first spewing lava in March that year. It chose to erupt the day I was due to fly to England, with a group of 17 quilters, to visit the annual Festival of Quilts and Birmingham, Pour l'Amour du Fil in France and various other significant textile destinations, including the exhibition at the V&A. Due to the clouds of ash, all flights were cancelled and we were turned away at the check in counter.
To be able to see the smaller, curated version presented exclusively in Brisbane was a dream come true. It's always fun to see quilty things with my mother, whose been a quilter for more than 30 years!
My memories, plus the book, will be permanent additions to my textile treasury!  (At only $39.95 the book is great value!)

I was lucky enough to further enhance my textile treasury with three quilts that mum gave me...

Amish Thousand Pyramids
She made this Amish Thousand Pyramids in the early 80s. It hung on her walls for more than a decade, spent a decade or so in storage and now it's come to my house to adorn my walls.

It's a cutie
And she gave me this little cutie for safe keeping.

Family Favourite, hand pieced and quilted Whirly Gig

This much-loved family favourite was entirely hand stitched and quilted. I am going to sleep under it for the rest of winter, at least.

Thanks for spending time with me mum, and sharing quilts and enriching my textile treasury of memories, experiences and quilts. Oh, and thanks for sharing some of your stash to go with the new fabrics I bought at East Coast Fabrics (Burleigh Heads), for only $7 a metre!

what a treasure!

01 August 2013

DWR - a new trend is coming on!

Double Edged Love by Victoria Findlay Wolfe

Early this year, at the inaugural QuiltCon event, Victoria Findlay Wolfe won Best in Show for her quilt, Double Edged Love, a modern interpretation of the traditional Double Wedding Ring Quilt. Then in June this year, at the annual Quilters Guild of NSW (Australia) quilt show, Rings and Roses by Janet Treen won Best of Show. Janet’s quilt is very traditional.

Rings and Roses by Janet Treen

Inspired by Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s quilt, and following on from the success of the EZ Dresden Plate Challenge last year, the NYC MOD Quilt Guild have recently announced the 2013 Double Wedding Ring Quilt Challenge.

They partnered with EZ Quilting/Simplicity, Interweave and Juki to challenge quilters all over the world to use Double Wedding Ring templates or patterns to create a project, then enter it to win amazing prizes from numerous sponsors!

Don’t be afraid of the Double Wedding Ring! Google Double Wedding Ring Images and you will see lots of ideas, or look up photos on Flickr or Pinterest. To get your creative juices flowing, The Quilt Alliance (one of the generous sponsors) has put together a PINTEREST page with examples of Double Wedding Ring quilts included in their Quilt Index.

There are three categories that you can enter and you can enter up to three quilts – one in each category, but the projects must have been started this year – (I suppose that means I can’t enter the one I began in the early 80s based on Mary Ellen Hopkins' machine pieced method?)

SMALL: ONE RING! Easy! size: under 20in or smaller.
This is a great way to play and learn your curves, and try your own version of making this fun design!  

4 rings or larger 

Make the traditional double wedding pattern by using the template and your choice of fabrics…not straying to far from the traditional style. Four rings or larger for this category, must have three layers and bound.

MODERN:  4 rings or larger… ANYTHING GOES!  
How can you interpret the double wedding ring, put a MODERN spin on a traditional design? Piece it, applique, fuse, whole cloth? Possibilities are ENDLESS!  No rules other than it must have three layers and bound.

You don’t need to use EZ Double Wedding Ring Templates to enter this challenge. Check out this video to see how to use the EZ Double Wedding Ring Templates.

The judges are Darlene Zimmerman (EZ quilting), Vivika DeNegre (Interweave), Lisa Mason (president of NYC MOD), Victoria Findlay Wolfe (Quiltcon Winner, with Double Edged Love) and Elisa Albury (former editor of Quilters World).
There are amazing sponsors who have donated FANTASTIC prizes! See the website to see what you could win. Check out all the details over at NYC MOD Quilt Guild blog.

25 July 2013

Mary Ellen Hopkins Memorial Service

A memorial service is planned in Santa Monica on 10 August for quilting teacher, author and fabric designer, Mary Ellen Hopkins, who died a week after suffering a stroke, on 9 July in California. 

I wish I could be there, but I am sending my best wishes on a wing and a prayer wherever she is.

Thoughts and sympathy cards for Mary Ellen Hopkins can be sent to her son – 
David Hopkins, 946 Woodgrove Drive, Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007.

Those who knew Mary Ellen knew that her age was a big secret, and because it was a secret we wondered all the more. Now, in her passing, the secret is revealed – she was 81 years old. Mary Ellen was born in Peoria, Illinois and lived in a number of Midwestern cities while growing up. During her lectures I recall her telling us that her family were circus people, I suppose that is where she got her sense of ‘theatre’, that fabulous sense of presentation and antics that she used to embellish her lectures and seminars and even her daily life! 

She and her then-husband, Bill, and their four children moved to Santa Monica, California, in 1963. Mary Ellen opened Crazy Ladies and Friends Quilt Shop in Santa Monica in 1977. 

In 1982 she self-published The It’s Okay If You Sit on My Quilt, which she called an ‘attitude adjustment quilt book’ and Quilters Newsletter described as, “Great for beginners – takes quilts out of the realm of preciousness and encourages just jumping in and doing it.” MEH went on to publish more instruction books, including her ‘Connector’ series. 

She didn’t teach hands-on workshops, preferring to regale quilters with hilarious stories about her ex-husband, funny stories about her shop customers and a fond story or two about the favourite men in her life. In between these entertaining stories she weaved the magic of practical information in six-hour ‘lectures’ that many quilters chose to sit through time and time again.

Her first book was a how-to on machine-pieced Double Wedding Ring, in 1980. After she published her Its Okay if You Sit on My Quilt Book she started to teach 35 day workshops to shop-owners who wished to teach her methods through their own stores.

My mother, Lorraine Moran, was embarking on her own rotary-cutting-quick-piecing journey around the same time, and when she met Mary Ellen in America in late 80s their mutual passions for practical, fast, easy, non-fussy patchwork created an instant opportunity. Lorraine, who at the time owned and operated a wholesale/importing business on the Gold Coast, was the first wholesaler of Mary Ellen’s books.

In order to help quilters and shop owners to get their head around MEH’s methods Lorraine and I started organizing MEH seminars and lectures in Australia, we continued through to when Mary Ellen decided to manage the appointments herself, when she engaged a local Australian quilter who had experience with her methods.

She produced numerous fabric ranges the first in the early 1990s and the Mary Ellen Collection II was produced by Kona Bay Fabrics in 2006. 

Mary Ellen is probably best known for creating the ‘connector’ and ‘perfect piecing triangles’ concepts and the PPM – Personal Private Measurement.

She gave up her public life in the quilting world around 2010, preferring to live in a retirement community (playing and winning bingo, crocheting and knitting), near her eldest son, David and his family in California.
Mary Ellen’s books were books of quilt concepts. Through her guidance, and practical approach, she encouraged quilters to make quilts their own individual quilts, without the need to copy anyone else's. 

Double Wedding Ring – 1980

The It's Okay If You Sit On My Quilt Book 1982

Hidden Wells #3 –

Baker's Dozen Doubled – 1988

Connecting Up – 1990

Continuing On #4 1/2 – 1990

A Log Cabin Notebook #5 – 1991

Even More Well Connected  #4 7/8 – 1995

Kansas Connections #4  9/10 – 1996

Connectors Collection #4 11/12 – 2000

20 June 2013

Quilt Labels

I have always believed adding a quilt label to be of great importance. The most important reason being so that future generations can know the provenance of the quilt.

Have you ever been to a presentation by a quilt historian, and listened as they described the pieced-together information that could be gleaned by fabric type and print style and maybe even where and when, but they cannot tell who made it. What every historian and descendant wishes for is a label on the quilt.

Everyone feels the ache of lack of knowledge, the void, where information could be captured and shared. Imagine your future family members pondering the quilts you lovingly made, and knowing everything about them- and a little about you too. 

Adding a label also helps with identification should the quilt become lost, misplaced or stolen; adds to the value should you wish to have your quilts valued and can inform to whom the quilt is intended for when left in a will 

If you will be entering your quilts in shows, travelling with them, or sending them by post or freight you should include your name, address and phone number on the label! 
A quilt label should include at least the name of the quilter, name or pattern of the quilt, date finished, and the city and state or country. 

Additional information is charming to read and helps place stories in future minds. Why was the quilt made? Is there a story behind the colours, blocks or technique used? Was anything special going on in the world at the time this quilt was made that influenced you?
If it is a gift you may want to include the name of the recipient and the reasons for making the quilt. This quilt was made for me by my mother for my 40th birthday. It’s not very easy to see, but she has hand embroidered a message in black embroidery thread – which includes my first name and the date of the birthday – but not her name, sadly, for future information.

a sentimental message
If you are gifting the quilt to someone who is not so savvy in the laundry you may wish to include washing and care instructions. In my case, it would be fairly simple – gentle machine wash, tumble dry or hang on the line. (I hear a collective gasp, not only from historians – sorry people I am a little non-precious about washing conditions, and make my quilts to (hopefully) withstand some degree of wear and tear.)

It’s sad, but true, that quilts get lost or stolen. If this concerns you consider putting your name in a hidden area that could be uncovered to prove the quilt is yours. Conceal it in the area under a hanging sleeve or along the seam allowance under the binding. Use a Pigma© pen to write your full details onto the fabric. 

You can buy labels already made or make your own. Generally a label is stitched/appliquéd in place on the back of the quilt. To ensure it stays in place for as long as the quilt’s life, secure it with double-sided fusible web before the quilt is quilted.
Design a label in a computer program such as EQ. Use a permanent marking pens in your own handwriting or make it fancy and try calligraphy. You can hand embroider or machine embroider. 

Photo tansfer certidficates and photos
Photo transfer is handy for including information that is already printed elsewhere such a wedding certificate! I adhered mine to the centre back of the quilt, along with a photo and a spare block, before the quilt was professionally quilted. 

This labels on two quilts entered into the 2012 Guild Quilt Show were meant only for purposes of identification should the quilt be misplaced during the execution of the show – but clearly lacks the type of information of interest to future generations! 

name and address label
Lastly, I found a quilt made by Mary Pettway of Gees Bend. In this case, the details on the back add a LOT of value and credibility to the quilt for now and future generations. 

A valuable signature and label
Finding quilts in my house is normally pretty easy – on the bed or in the linen closet. At the moment many are packed in boxes as my new linen closet gets built. Of the dozen or so I did find only FIVE had labels.  My wedding quilt, the quilt made by mum for my 40th and the two quilts I entered into the 2012 Guild Quilt Show.  I am sure that none of the other ones have labels at all. Facing this fact is quite sobering, I must create labels for my quilts!

Oh, there is one more, somewhere in a box, that was a gift to my daughter when she was born, from mum (granny) – it has an embroidered message similar to the one shown on my 40th quilt above.  

I think it’s time for a NATIONAL LABEL DAY! Check your quilts, are they labelled? Let’s get that info recorded – maybe you and your quilting friends/group/guild could have a Label Day. ..

31 May 2013

Beautiful Bali & Batiks

I am currently in Bali researching cultural and textile-related destinations as well as workshops in various batik techniques. I am excited to say I have found  some great workshops, an amazing haby store and bead shop and pinpointed some of the countries most beautiful and enchanting cultural experiences.

All of my discoveries will be woven into a specially constructed itinerary for Bali Textile Lovers in a 7-8 day tour mid 2014.

Tanah Lot Temple
The tour will be booked through World of Quilts Travel and myself and a local English-speaking textile expert will be guiding the tour.

One of the highlights will be witnessing and participating in batik creation, both the traditional method that uses a tool called a chanting to apply wax in fine lines and the more modern method of applying wax by stamping with a wood block.

In my travels I also acquired some batik fabric produced in a local Balinese factory using the stamping method. The fabric is 100% cotton specially produced for use by quilters.

I have 3 metres each of a limited number of fabrics for sale. Each length is $50 (aus), free postage in Aust. Email me if you would like to purchase. Remember, only one 3m length of each is available.
Check out my SHOP page for more Bali Batik fabrics Fat 1/4s and Jelly Rolls

Fat 1/4 - $38 aust
free post
going for a swim now...


27 May 2013

Black - a little or a lot?

The use of black in the western world is most commonly associated with mourning, the end, secrets, magic, power, violence, evil and elegance.

The use of black in the quilt world takes on various roles
, depending on the desired outcome. Regardless of whether black is a colour or not; large amounts of black, especially when combined with white, results in a graphic, contemporary design. The use of black as a predominant colour in a traditional pattern, except Amish quilts, is remote. However, the use of black as a background is quite stunning. Its use as an accent in a traditional quilt design is always influential to the outcome.

Maybe you'll be inspired to add a little dash, or a lot, to your quiltmaking once you see how agreeable and supportive this colour can be.

Modern Dresden Plate
So let's start with a traditional design that uses black to create a modern quilt with intrigue and, in this case, a wow factor. It's no secret that I love Dresdens, and this little cutie captured my eye. Cathy from Cabbage Quilts posted the story of how she made this for a friend who loves pink at Lily's Quilts blog. Cathy says she chose, "... lots of yummy bright pinks" for the Dresden plate and attached it to a fabulous Jacobean style black-and-white background, "... and I added a punch-you-in-the-eye black-and-white centre!" she explains. Let's face it, pink and black go together VERY well.

Over at Cactus Needle blog I found this very unusual black Hawaiian quilt made by author and quilter Annette Mahon. What makes it unusual is that traditional Hawaiian quilts do not feature black due to superstitious reasons, and nor is it common to see a modern-made one in black. But wow, how good does this one look?

Black and white
Hawaiian Applique
Nedra from Cactus Needle took this photo, along with others, when Annette shared a show and tell about her Hawaiian quilts. In one of Annette's novels, Above the Rainbow, the quilt-shop owner makes a quilt called In the Black at the Pink Plumeria. Annette says, "After several quilt friends asked if I'd made the quilt described, I decided I should ... and this quilt was used as the basis for the cover design of St. Rose Goes Hawaiian." Pop over to Annette's website to see this pink and black quilt and others, find out about her book series, as well as a great list of links to find out more about Hawaiian quilts and quilting.

Black and White and Finished!

Kay Sorensen shares this contemporary quilt, and some detail photos,    over at her blog, Color + Quilts. I invited her to share her thoughts on her use of black in contemporary quiltmaking... "I often choose black when creating as it is the perfect color to set off almost any color. Used with white it creates the strongest graphic image." Kay designed this quilt by making some components and then playing with them on her design wall, adding and subtracting as necessary, "I let the quilt tell me what to do, how far to go and when to stop," she concludes.

Many Amish quilts use black backgrounds with muted colour geometric shapes. The interplay between the colours and the black, or dark, background of traditional Amish quilts remains an integral component of modern interpretations.

I found this Amish Steeplechase Quilt for sale over at Rocky Mountain Quilts. Made in circa 1940, it is the quintessential Amish quilt. Black is a dominant colour in the oldest Amish quilt styles, particularly in quilts made in Eastern Pennsylvania. Subtle and sophisticated, the deep black provides the perfect counterbalance for the subtle pop of the steeplechase design.

Pineapple Log Cabin
Log cabin quilts are one the most recognisable traditional patterns. Over at Generations Quilt Patterns you'll find design ideas and layouts, printable colouring pages and a free downloadable paper piecing pattern in two sizes. You will find this quilt with the Pineapple Log Cabin blocks set on point. The use black as the pieced backgrounds shows off the pattern and illustrates just how black can make other colours pop and zing.

24in x 24in
This is another example of the use of a Pineapple Log Cabin block. This time an amazing 23in x 23in miniature quilt that uses 6,300 pieces of fabrics, made by Geraldine Nall. Diana of Dutch Baby blog observes that this piece, "Using only the pineapple blocks pattern, was created with 140 tiny 1 1/2in - 2 1/2in squares. The result is a stunning, balanced interplay of black and white."

Geraldine, who has earned the title Queen of Miniatures, was the featured artist at the Loomis Quilt and Fiber Guild's quilt show, held early 2013. Click here for an article on Geraldine over at The Loomis News.

1847 Baltimore Bride's Quilt
Black backgrounds provide an amazing 'palette' for modern or primitive appliqué patterns. The blocks in this quilt are based upon an 1847 Baltimore Bride's Quilt made by Mary Ann West that has been adapted to suit wool appliqué by Jackie Bennett of Lakeview Primitives. The original cotton quilt had 25 blocks and was made in the turkey reds and greens of that period and now resides in the collection of Rita Wolochuk. Jackie selected 12 of the blocks and converted them to suit wool appliqué - of course, it would also work well in cottons, particularly as a raw-edge appliqué.

The, 1847 Baltimore Bride Quilt pattern is available from this blog click here to purchase. if you would like to purchase the pattern and wool fabrics as a BOM visit Lakeview Primitives for more information.

I think there is a whole other story in using black in a more subtle manner within quilt design, particularly in modern quilt design. I will explore that subject further and share it with you all at a latter date.

Meanwhile, I would love to see how you are incorporating black into your traditional and contemporary quilt designs. Visit Facebook.com/StitchOneQuiltToo and load images of your quilts, we would all love to see them!

x dls

19 May 2013

What I know about knitting

I learned to knit at the knee of my maternal grandmother when I was a child. When I was in my late teens-early 20s I knitted lots of items. Including a complex cable vest for a boyfriend and an amazing sweater for my husband (not the same person). Sadly, then-husband didn't like the sweater, so it was gifted to the father-in-law, and that marked a rather significant lack of interest in knitting for quite some time.

20-year-old me knitting the boyfriend's vest
A few weeks ago I decided to knit a scarf. As I struggled with the creation (as evidenced below) I found myself being reminded that when I haven't been doing a certain sewing/crafting technique for some time it takes me a while to get back into the swing of it. And, by the time I'd finished, with various errors along the way, I recalled all I know about the technique of knitting.

The finished, albeit short, scarf

So, this is what I know about knitting...

Do not use thick/thin textured yarn when knitting an intricate pattern.
You can see (photo above) that the pattern is not very recognisable - I couldn't visually check my progress to ensure the stitches were correct. 

Check the tension before you start knitting to ensure the item will be the correct size/length.
My scarf was 15cm too short - which was enough to mean that the cowl could not be linked over my head to be doubled.

Do not knit in low light, with the television on and/or needy children around.
I frequently lost my counting, and found myself 'knitting backwards' (undoing stitches) to an error that occurred near the beginning of the row of 110 stitches

So, with all that in mind I pulled it all undone. 

Now you see it, now you don't
The luscious, textured red yarn will be used to create a scarf with a simple pattern, and the beautiful yarn can become the hero.

Today I purchased un-textured yarn and larger size needles, I will do a tension check and I will stitch this pattern during the day when the kids are at school, and the sun is shining. The good news is that this pattern does knit up very quickly, and by the end if this week I should have a new cowl.