Thursday, 19 October 2017

Green Tea and Sweet Beans at Symposium

My first class at Symposium was Green Tea and Sweet Beans with Jen Kingwell. I enrolled in this class because I really wanted to learn Jen's way of hand piecing and hand applique. At the end of the two day class I felt very happy with what I had learnt, and knew I would get faster with more practice.


I don't know if I'll ever make a full Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt, but the techniques I learnt will certainly be put into practice in other quilts.

On the first day I hand pieced two tiny Propeller blocks.  We learnt how to make our own plastic templates, and how to hand piece neatly and accurately.


On the second day I made a quarter of a Halo block.  I consider this a bigger achievement than it really is, because Jen was teaching the Halo quilt the next day, and I had already made a quarter of a block in my Green Tea class. I could go ahead and make a whole Halo quilt if I really wanted to, but I still find curves a little bit tricky.



I also hand appliqued some clam shells.  Again we made plastic templates, but this time we drew the stitching line onto the right side of the fabric.  I've previously English Paper Pieced clam shells, so this was also something new for me.


I loved using the new Aurifil 80wt for the hand applique. 

Jen had a suitcase full of her beautiful quilts to show us. She didn't mind us handling them to get a sense of just how soft they were.  Jen uses Quilters Dream Cotton Request batting in all of her quilts, and hand quilts them with Aurifil 12 wt.

Halo quilt
Queen's Cross

Queen's Cross

Queen's Cross

Glitter on the left
I also took the Glitter class with Jen, so I will write more about that next week.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Free Motion Quilting at Symposium

As most of you know, I don't do Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).  Well, I didn't until I spent a day in Deborah Louie's class at Symposium.


We learnt lots of different patterns, and I now feel ready to start FMQ'ing some of my own quilts.  I won't be pushing huge quilts through my Bernina, but I will certainly feel more confident about tackling some of my smaller quilt tops.


Deborah took us through a class that she has taught many times.  She also covered thread choices and batting.

Batting
Deborah likes Matilda's Own 100% cotton batting because it's cuddly, but has a low loft.  Her second favourite batting is Matilda's Own 60% wool / 40% cotton batting.  It drapes nicely and is great for bed quilts.

Threads
Deborah explained how cotton and polyester threads are constructed differently. Her favrouite for FMQ is Mettler Poly Sheen because it sits flat and won't form a lump if you quilt over the same spot multiple times.

All of the symposium tutors were very giving with their time, and happy to give advice on other aspects of quilting.

Deborah's class is actually available to purchase on her website if you want to watch it at home.  Once you've purchased it you can watch it again and again forever! I might be buying it myself if I forget all she taught us.

Here are a few of my examples, all stitched by me during our six hour class.




Deborah bought along some great quilts to show us examples of the possibilities with different styles of FMQ.  I took lots of photos so I can use some of the patterns for inspiration in the future.








I really enjoyed this class and was pleased that I had chosen something outside of my comfort zone.  It would have been easy to pick comfortable classes, but I think it's good to chose at least one challenging thing when there are so many experts available to learn from.

Many of the tutors bought quilts for the Tutors' Exhibition which was on site at St Andrew's College. This is Deborah Louie's quilt.




Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Vibrant Curiosities

Here I am with my Vibrant Curiosities quilt at our national Quilt Symposium in Christchurch last week.


And here's another photo with slightly better lighting:





I started this quilt a whole year ago in October 2016 when I was looking at photos of all the fun people were having at Quilt Market in Houston.  I had a bundle of Tula Pink's Slow and Steady fat quarters, and decided it was time to rip into them and start making something pretty.


I do love English Paper Piecing, and Paper Pieces in USA had recently started advertising octagons and squares papers.  The idea of working with octagons appealed, because I was born in Dunedin where they have a big octagon right in the middle of town! Yes, not a town square, but an octagon.


So I started to play around with the shapes and thinking about what I could make from octagons and squares.  All quilts in our national symposium have to be original designs.  They do not accept quilts made from a pattern.

Although many people enjoy fussy cutting Tula Pink's fabrics, I decided that I was more interested in letting the colours shine through.  I did make sure my stripes and diamonds all matched, but I didn't fussy cut any animals of flower motifs. Interestingly Jen Kingwell said that she also thinks too much fussy cutting can detract from a quilt, rather than enhance it.


After about two months of making blocks I had enough to start joining them up.  A lot of thought went into balancing the colours.  As usual, I had a couple of blocks left over that just didn't suit my quilt, so rather than forcing them, I just made a couple more that did suit the overall effect.


I used my kitchen floor to plan the layout of my blocks. I've used Tula Pink fabrics on the outside round of each block, and sometimes in the centre too.


Once the top was finished I hand quilted it with my favourite Aurifil 12wt thread.



I'm so glad my quilt got accepted for symposium.  It was very special to know that my quilt was one of the ones hanging in the exhibition. I could have put a price on it and offered it for sale, but I want to keep it.  I just love all the rich colours - hence the name, Vibrant Curiosities.

My quilt had a great position in the exhibition, just underneath a lovely stained glass window in the Great Hall at the Christchurch Arts Centre.



Details:
Finished size: 80" x 80"
Hand quilted with Aurifil 12wt
Octagons and squares have 1" sides

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Home again, and already registered for Auckland Symposium 2019

I'm just home from Symposium and there's so much to catch up on.  The very first thing I did was place an order for 150 capsules for my Nespresso machine.  Yes, 150!! I didn't realise how much I relied on coffee until I was restricted to drinking instant, or queuing in long lines to get the occasional flat white. 

The original block at St Andrew's College, Christchurch

The other thing I didn't realise was just how many New Zealanders read my blog!!! Every day I had people coming up and introducing themselves to me because they recognised me from my blog or Instagram.  It was lovely, but quite unexpected.  Thank you to everyone who said "hello".  It made me feel very welcome at my first symposium.

I don't do selfies with strangers, so can't remember most people's names, but I do remember one lady in the coffee queue from Whananaki in Northland.  We had a laugh while we huddled under a verandah out of the rain on another 12C day.

Rhododendrons hanging over the school fence

I have lots to write about Symposium, and do promise to fill you all in on all the wonderful classes I did, and my quilt in the exhibition, but I must unpack my bags and try to restore some order to my sewing table.

a little stream runs through the school grounds
The grounds of the school were beautifully maintained.  The sports fields were looking particularly lush thanks to all the rain that fell during the time we were there.



I've already registered for the next Symposium which will be in Auckland from 1-6 October 2019 - yes, two years away.

I had people from Australia and America in my classes everyday except the last day.  Many people came from overseas because of the great tutors on offer.  As well as my classes, I attended lectures by:

Michele Hill - from William Morris and Michele (Australia)
Jacqui Gering - from Tallgrass Prairie Studio (USA)
Luke Haynes - from Luke Haynes (USA)

If you're at all considering coming to Auckland Symposium in 2019 I would encourage you to register now for $35 for New Zealanders, and $60 for those overseas.  You will then receive a registration number which determines your priority for choosing classes later on.  Low registration numbers are important.  I'll see you there!!!

The driveway at St Andrew's College, Christchurch

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

NZ Quilt Symposium

Tomorrow I'll be off to Christchurch for our national Quilt Symposium. The symposium consist of five days of classes and lectures, plus exhibitions.  There are plenty of international tutors and it's all going to be great.

Here's the flyer for the exhibitions which are spread around Christchurch.  I'll let you into a secret - my quilt is one of the ones shown on this poster!


I can't show you my whole quilt yet, but it will be on display at the Arts Centre in central Christchurch.  The Arts Centre was one many buildings that were badly damaged in the earthquakes, but it's progressively being strengthened and rebuilt.

part of the Arts Centre
photo by Greg O'Beirne, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3104764

We haven't had a symposium in New Zealand since the Manawatu symposium in January 2015, so it's been a while.  Back then I wasn't into quilting as much as I am now, so I just made a day visit to Palmerston North and visited the exhibitions and merchant mall that year.  I didn't take any classes, but I did do some shopping.

This year I've enrolled for four different classes, and three lectures!! Talk about busy.  I expect to come home exhausted, but that's OK - it only happens every two years.


My classes are:

1. A two day hand applique class with Jen Kingwell for her Green tea and Sweet Beans quilt.

2. A free motion quilting class with Deborah Louie from Australia.

3.  A foundation paper piecing class with Chris Jurd from Australia to make the Pickled Fish quilt on the cover of the Quilters Companion magazine above.

4.  Finally I'm taking another class with Jen Kingwell to learn hand piecing and start a glitter quilt for our bedroom (see top left in photo above).  I intend to use these fabrics below for it, so it will complement our new wall paper and curtains.



I'll also be attending lectures by Michele Hill (who I met a few weeks ago at the Craft and Quilt Fair), Jacquie Gering from USA, and Luke Haynes from USA.

I'm looking forward to meeting lots of people I talk to online - on Instagram, through my blog, and through facebook groups.  Please come up and say hello if you spot me before I spot you.

I won't have time to blog from Christchurch, but I certainly will tell you all about it when I get back, including details of my quilt in the exhibition.



Thursday, 28 September 2017

Holey Moley progress

Before I became a quilter, I used to love doing embroidery.  These days I have to make time for embroidery because quilting seems to have taken over my leisure time.
 

Back in March I showed you these gorgeous threads I had chosen for my pulled thread work called "Holey Moley".
 

We've had four lessons so far, and have learnt some new techniques.



I'm currently spending a lot of time stitching the outlines and then filling the areas with Rhodes stitch in pink.



This is a unique design developed for us by our tutor.  Please respect that, and if you'd like to make something similar, please be sure to modify it to make it uniquely yours.  (Sorry to have to say that, but I have to say it because it's not my design.)


See how big the piece of linen is!!! See how much more I've still got to do!!

Yes, it's going to be lovely when it's finished, but that is still many months (dare I say "years") away.



I'm going to keep plugging away at it, especially because we've got two more lessons to go yet. It's always easier to keep motivated when you know you've got to report in again.