Sunday, 30 January 2011

Lost and Found

This afternoon, I thought I'd reached a 

I'd planned to cut out some pieces for Zaki's quilt backing but my cutting mat was not where it should have been.  While I don't have the space for a dedicated quilting area, it should have been with my sewing box, machine and hoop.  Mysteriously it had moved.  I felt like this.

HELP!  For the last few months I'd been hand-quilting the union flag quilt and as I've only been working on one project at a time, I had no need of my cutting mat.  However, after spending the last couple of hours looking for it I'm pleased to report that....

It was at the top of a bedroom cupboard.  Completely my fault.  I'd hidden it up there before I went away for the holidays.  Don't ask me why. Normal business has resumed.  Phew.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Colour Matters

After two days of much needed rain, the sun has returned to Marrakech.  It's never away for long.  Walking with my son this morning I wondered to myself, when I'm planning my quilt designs and thinking about colours for fabrics, do I really need to think in terms of colour wheels?

Complementary colours - the bougainvillea in our garden
Colour harmony
Analogous colours of green and blue
Shades of green and blue
Shades of blue
 Shouldn't I just open my eyes?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making

The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making by Jane Brocket

Last December, my aunt mentioned to me that she'd recently visited the lovely Persephone Books in Lamb's Conduit Street where Jane Brocket of yarnstorm was there with copies of her new book, The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making. A sucker for quilting books, I treated myself to this amazing book while I was back in the UK for the holidays.
Inspiration for the floral frocks quilt

For starters, it's absolutely beautiful and looks like it could be a lovely journal you keep by your bed. But beauty is not only skin deep - as you peep behind the covers, it's beautiful there too. Full of fantastic advice and stunning photos of the gorgeous quilts designed and made by Jane.

Throughout this book, Jane seeks to inspire us with colour and design and to not get hung up on technique. She helps us believe that stunning quilts can be created using simple geometric designs using beautiful fabrics in gorgeous colours. Jane explains in the introduction to her book how in the past she had felt daunted by the prospect of making a quilt. I too was unsure that I could ever create a worthy quilt...would my points be sharp enough, my stitches even, my corners correctly mitred? But as Jane's friend tells her, patchwork is basically cutting up fabric and stitching it back together again. This book is not for quilters who want to learn tricky techniques but for those of us who want to have fun quilting and at the same time, produce stunning quilts which we'll both love and use.

The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making is completely inspirational and has made me look at colour and my surroundings in a totally different way. Now I just have to decide which of the wonderful 15 designs to create and with what fabric.

You can purchase The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making here and you can visit Jane's blog here

Thursday, 20 January 2011

I'm a Quilter Not a Quitter

Detail of Union flag quilt

A year or so ago I found myself languishing; it had been a tough few months - my second career had hit the buffers and there was nothing new on the horizon. Watching too much daytime television I was feeling a sense of frustration. My intuitive mother had noticed - even though we were separated by seas, oceans and mountains . It was during one of our regular phone calls that she suddenly declared, "What you need is a project!" A couple of weeks later a parcel arrived in the post - a beautiful Moda Arcadia layer cake and a "wedding cake" quilt pattern, as well as a rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, sharps and thread. Everything I needed to begin my 'new project'.

With a renewed sense of vigour, I studied the pattern. And studied the pattern. I was daunted. Did the pattern include seam allowances or not? Hmm. What was I to do? I'd lost so much confidence that I was baffled by a straightforward quilting pattern. Should I cut up this beautiful and expensive material and risk losing the whole thing? Or make something simpler? I plumped for the latter and decided to make a small quilt for my young son and one which could be used as a lap quilt when he grew bigger. The blocks were simple - approximately 10"x10" made up of three rectangles. It was then that I started a new chapter in my life. I started to make my first quilt.

A few months later, my husband and I went out to dinner with our good friends to celebrate a birthday. Their teenage daughter was with us and bored with the conversation of middle aged parents and friends, she started to flick through the photos on my iphone. She came across pictures of the nearly finished quilt top and cooed enthusiastically. My friend asked, "Could you make us a Union flag quilt?" The answer to such a question was clearly "No". I'd never finished a quilt, let alone such a complicated design as the Union flag. I'd never basted a quilt, I'd never bound a quilt and had limited experience of piecing. "Yes. Of course I can make you one!" I replied.

Mille grazie to Jennifer Klie who has a wonderful pattern for a Union flag quilt at her Etsy shop. With a copy of Quilting for Dummies becoming bedtime reading and a few tutorials on YouTube, I made the first cuts into the stunning pastel fabrics from Tanya Whelan and Amy Butler and 6 months later it was finished. My first quilt. Completely hand pieced and hand quilted. Not one machine stitch, which makes me a quilting purist apparently (the truth actually being that I couldn't find my machine as I'd lent it to my sister in law). It wasn't all plain sailing...there were tantrums along the way ( difficulties cutting out long strips of fabric on a small cutting mat, not following the pattern correctly, completely unpicking the quilting stiches on a quarter of the quilt after deciding they were too close)...but it was all worth it when it was handed over to its new owner and her smiles said that she loved it. But that's not the end of the story is it? What became of 'the project'? The first project that my mother sent me? Well I've returned to it like an old friend but that's for another day. My confidence is back. I didn't quit and I've found out that I can quilt!