Hello and welcome to The Quilt Lady newsletter page. The newsletters are below, with the most recent first. Simply click where indicated to access the newsletter you wish to read. Alternatively, there is a monthly archive if you are looking for a particular newsletter and you know which month it was published in. I’ll be covering a whole range of quilt related topics, including long arm quilting, antique quilts, patterns, piecing and quilting, tips and ideas, and restoration. You will also find information on the latest workshop dates. If there is something in particular you would like me to cover, please let me know.
Make yourself a mug of something and settle in. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them, and I’d love you to leave comments and share similar experiences, frustrations and solutions.
Hi there, and welcome to another newsletter from The Quilt Lady. Kettle on, biscuits out, pull up a chair and sit yourself down. It’s a damp and grey day in Cornwall, but with those hints of the turning of the season outside comes the not to be underrated side benefit of feeling not the slightest bit guilty about staying in the warm and dry to do some quilting.
Before I forget, I have a couple of diary dates for you:
- Saturday 5th October
I am a speaker at The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles Region 4 Quilters’ day in Wimborne, Dorset. Doors open at 10:30 at the Hamworthy Club in Magna Road. I will be talking about a selection of my antique quilts covering a period of 150 plus years.
- Saturday 16th November
I am the morning speaker at the South West Quilters Open Day in Tresillian, Cornwall. Same idea, but it will be a different selection of quilts and a different topic.
If you are in the area on either day, come along and join the fun, I look forward to seeing you.
And now to that title. How many times have you seen a pattern for a quilt you’d love to make? You buy the fabric, make the top and then the final sentence is “Quilt as desired”. And how many of you have a moment of complete melt down before thinking “oh well, I can always stitch in the ditch or just meander all over”. If you ever felt you needed a little inspiration or guidance, read on, and I may be able to help.
Since I moved back to England to live I have had the very great pleasure of attending several quilt shows, in a professional capacity of course (Yeah, right! Ed). Some shows were very large, like the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, and some much smaller and more intimate, including the shows by Carenza Quilters in Kea, Harbour Quilters in Mevagissey and Falmouth Quilters in Mylor. The workmanship was as outstanding, the range of patterns and colour was every bit as diverse as anything I have seen in other countries, but somehow, for all that, they were identifiable as English, ie, made in England by English quilters.
One of the reasons for that, I think, is the choice of colours, but the main reason that I feel they stand out is the amount of quilting on the quilt. I learnt to long arm quilt in America. I went to many quilt shows there, read lots of magazines, belonged to a local quilt guild and got involved in their community projects. I saw some beautiful hand pieced and hand quilted quilts, and many more machine pieced and quilted ones. I saw group quilts, art quilts, large quilts, small quilts, miniature quilts, quilted wall hangings, table toppers, ornaments, bags, clothing and quilted just about everything else over the course of 3 years!
My personal observation is that the quilting on an American patchwork quilt is different to an English patchwork quilt. They like more. More of it, more patterns, more thread colours, just, well, more ‘more’. And mostly this ‘more’ is gorgeous and rich and textured. But not always. There were times when I wanted to ask them what on earth they were thinking. When the quilting was so dense that the quilt was stiff enough that it could probably have stood up on edge by itself. When the style or amount of quilting completely swamped the piecing so that you didn’t notice the skill that had gone into the making. When it looked as though the quilter had seemed determined to use every sparkly thread and embellishment in their possession. When the quilter had lost sight of what the quilt was for.
But when they got it right, the result was sublime. The quilting enhanced the piecing, working with the pattern so that neither the piecing or quilting was the prima donna, but instead were a successful double act. When the thread colour, the designs and the embellishments were chosen and worked to enhance the mood rather than upstage. Sometimes it was really simple, sometimes daring, sometimes intricate and sometimes just plain fun.
So, I hear you asking, what are you trying to tell us? Well, here’s the thing. Whether you plan to quilt your top yourself, or take it to a long arm quilter, no, especially if you take it to a long arm quilter, be open to suggestions about making the quilting a bit more ‘more’. More doesn’t have to mean a stiff, un-cuddly quilt. There is a happy medium between stiff and not quilted enough so that great areas bag and droop unattractively (yes, you know what I am talking about). There are sometimes other very good alternatives to echo and outline quilting and quilting in the ditch. And yes, sometimes echo, outline and ditch quilting are just what the quilt needs, but not always and not exclusively.
Some, but by no means all, of the questions you can ask before you start quilting, or even better, before you start making the top are:
- Who is the quilt for?
- What is the quilt for? Will it be hung on a wall, displayed on the guest room bed or going to student digs?
- Will the quilt be washed often/never?
- Are the fabrics patterned or plain? Scrappy or ordered?
- Are there large areas of plain fabric?
If the quilt is for a baby or toddler and will be used and abused, have things spilled over it, drawn on and dragged over the floor, then spending a lot of time and effort on beautiful custom quilting is probably not worth the biscuit. If on the other hand it is a present for your son or daughter, or to hang on a wall, then it would maybe deserve a more elaborate design.
A quilt made for show on either a bed or hung on the wall will probably need a more elaborate quilting design than one destined for digs or a teenagers bedroom.
If the quilt is never going to be washed then elaborate and detailed quilting and going wild with the embellishments is fine. But a quilt that will be in and out of the washing machine and tumble dryer will need good solid holding together, rather than delicate and subtle quilting and fancy thread and embellishments.
If the fabrics you have used in the top are scrappy or highly patterned, the quilting can be as simple as you like, you won’t be able to make much of it out against the background. A paler and simpler fabric will show up the quilting far more, so you could and might like to make the design more elaborate.
Large unpieced areas – the plain squares set between pieced or appliquéd blocks, are perfect for showpiece quilting patterns. Feathered or Celtic designs for example, to stand alongside and support the piecing will look amazing.
And of course, if you have started out on this journey to make a show quilt, then the quilting design and thread colour should have been part of the very early design process, along with choosing the block pattern and the fabrics to make it.
If you are not sure what to quilt where, it is worth “auditioning” designs just as you would audition fabric to make sure it is right. A piece of clear plastic and fine non permanent felt tip marker are all you need. Edge the plastic with coloured tape so you know where it stops (very important). Place the plastic over an area of the quilt you are puzzling over and draw the design you think will work. Then go away and do something else for 5 minutes. When you come back look straight at the design and it will either be right in it’s setting or you’ll know it needs something else. If that is the case, lift the plastic off the quilt and rub the pen lines off the plastic, then try another design. You can repeat these steps as many times as you like until you get the right design for your quilt. If, when you come back, you are still not sure, try looking at the design through a camera, or even the wrong way through a pair of binoculars. This gives a perspective that somehow makes everything clear, whether right or wrong.
So that’s it for today. I hope I have given you something to think about, whether for the quilt you are currently working on, or for your future projects. If you’d like to share your thoughts, quilting successes and even failures, then please go to the website, www.thequiltlady.co.uk where you can add a comment to this newsletter. As always, please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends and encourage them to go to the website to sign up to receive it direct.
Until next time,
Hello and welcome to another newsletter from The Quilt Lady. Make sure you have a mug of something and a biscuit or two, and make yourself comfortable.
Thank you all for the wonderful messages when I launched my website. As you can probably imagine, it’s quite a scary step to take, but it feels so much like this is what I am meant to be doing now. I would just like to reassure the person (you shall remain nameless – for now at least!) who expressed concern that I was encouraging you all to eat biscuits and pile on the pounds. And to the other nameless (so far) soul who complained that I only gave you permission to have one biscuit. To you both, I would just like to say “feel free to have as many biscuits as you would like. Just remember to break them in half before you eat them so that all the calories fall out first.”…Continue reading
Hi, welcome to the Quilt Lady’s newsletter. grab a cup of something and a biscuit and make yourself comfortable. Today I’d like to talk about taking your quilt to a long arm quilter. It’s a big and possibly scary step to take if you have never done it before, so I’d like to help take the fear out of the process.…Continue reading