Sunday, 22 August 2010

Festival of Quilts

We have been away for a few days, but I was determined not to miss the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, so we returned yesterday, and I have spent a lovely day viewing, being inspired and shopping! I started at the Traditional Quilt category (where better to start?) and was very impressed by the standard of entries.

Unfortunately I didn't pay attention to all the makers of these quilts so apologies in advance to all those who are not credited. This was a beautiful wholecloth hand quilted in the Welsh style by Hazel Ryder for her 25th wedding anniversary. Stunning!
Alexandra Rankin calls this design Indian wedding ring. It was foundation pieced and then all the applique, Celtic knots and quilting were done by hand. She says herself it was 'a challenging quilt'!
This quilt isn't really a prize winner (sorry Karen Hrbek) but I thought it was very good use of a printed panel. I think it appealed to me because it is very like the English medallion quilts, and the colours go together so well. Karen says she just 'started with the panel and worked her way out'! It certainly looks more planned than that!

Two things which struck me this year, were the number of landscape quilts and the use of photos. This hanging by Annie Eggink-Steenhoek is the 4 seasons. I'm sure you can work out which is which. She has used photos and printed images in a really meaningful way - they are part of the quilt design, instead of just photos surrounded by fabric, as can sometimes happen.
This quilt shows that the sampler quilt is alive and kicking!
This quilt made by Tracey Asplin was started by a pack of templates! She fussy cut fabrics to make all the different stars and hand pieced it in the car, on holidays and waiting for children! Apart from the superb choice of background colour, I like the way she has dealt with the tricky problem of the edge of a hexagon quilt. She has added bricks to allow them to float in a lush green field. Excellent!I have no idea who made this quilt, but I thought the marriage of the 'liberated' centre and the lively appliqued borders was perfect! This quilt, Fusion, is in fact a group quilt. Four people worked on it, and it's very suitable for today's trends towards self sufficency - and such an unusual design.
I was lucky enough to be treated to a view of the back of this fabulous quilt by Ferret, and it is even more beautiful than the front - if that's possible! The back is black, and all the feathers have been quilted in yellow, so there is a ghostly bird on the back as well! Thank you quilt angel for this opportunity.
This crazy quilt was sumptuous and must have been a delight to work on. A new quilt from a traditional idea by Fine Cell Work. The signature quilt isn't one often seen today, but the signatures on the stars are of important figures whose lives have some bearing on design, textiles and prison.It was hard to read them (unless one did complex acrobatics!) but here is Tracey Emin amongst others.While traditional quilts are my first love, I am firmly of the opinion that there is room for all in the quilting world, and enjoyed the many contemporary and art quilts too. This landscape quilt was lovely. You could just lose yourself in the scenery!

Another landscape - well, more of a map, really. Great colour choices.Ulva Ugerup calls this 'Fly out, dear Swedish ladies!' She has made applque and stitch portraits of famous Swedish ladies, not many I am able to recognise, but Anita Ekberg is the glamorous one in the top row.This was more of a shrine than a quilt, but Dorothy Crossley's 'Love Conquers All' looked great fun. It was for sale, but I didn't think my husband would be very pleased if I staggered home with it! The theme for the Young Quilters was Citiscapes, and there were many charming quilts made by individuals and school groups. This fantastic town in the air was made by Italian schoolchildren from Varese. Without wanting to detract from the achievement, I'm always wondering how much adult help or instruction went into it. Well, nevertheless, it's gorgeous!

Of course there were many exhibitions by professional quilters, but I couldn't photograph thier work, so what else did I do with my time? Shopping! Lots of temptation there! However, I was very good, and tried hard to buy only what I needed, and not what I wanted - tough with so many goodies on offer! I have never actually tried stack and whack, so bought a book on that. I bough some bargain red fabrics for a Christmas quilt I plan to start soon, some reproduction fabrics for my challenge quilt, including some V&A fabric which was all half price, threads, and tape to make cards or something. A great day, and lots of inspiration. Now for a pot of tea for twelve and a nice sit down!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Design problems

I have recently redecorated my sewing room. Even though I only emulsioned the walls, it was a bit traumatic, as there was clearing, sorting, undercoating, glossing, filling and quite a bit of cleaning to be done as well, so it took me the best part of a week! I'm very pleased with it now, and it was an opportunity for a bit of rationalisation and a sort out. I even went through my UFO box and found these lovely trailing vines.

I had started them as borders to a Baltimore quilt, but got so fed up with them (it's all needleturned) that I gave up and finished the quilt as it was! Hating waste, I just put these into my UFO box and forgot about them. I suddenly realised that they would make the foundation of a great strippy quilt. I decided to make some flying geese for the other strips, and used a pattern from 'Schnibbles times 2' to make some nice 8" ones. Then I put it together.

There is too much cream here, and it doesn't go at all well. Back to the drawing board - or to the quilt shop, actually! I looked for a nice striped fabric, as I thought that would be a quick solution. I managed to find the perfect fabric in the sale for £3 a yard.

With the addition of a few flowers in pinks and purples I'm much happier with it. And I have had a great idea for finishing it. Well, not so much had an idea, but been inspired by Barb's idea. She had made a lovely doll's quilt, in a strippy design, and had used the same striped fabric for the top and bottom of the quilt as for the strips. Have a look at it - it looks great. I have some more flowers to add to the design, but feel as if I'm now cooking with gas!
The only problem now, is that I have three strips of flying geese in my UFO box, which is one more strip than I had before!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Move over, Sherlock!

I have taken the plunge and washed the old hexagon quilt! To refresh memories, here is the quilt in its original state.

Here it is after I had replaced all the pieces which had been nibbled away! Since it is symmetrical, I tried to match the bottom left corner to the top right and used as many reproduction fabrics as I could.

Yesterday, when I had taken out all the papers from the back, and tacked along the edge to retain the shape. I dabbed at all the red patches with some damp tissue, to see if the dyes were likely to run. There was only one red Paisley patch which seemed suspect, but I washed the quilt carefully in lukewarm water in the bath, with 3 Colourcatchers! This is the colour of the water after I'd finished!

And here is the quilt now, all clean and fresh. There are still some stains on it, but that's to be expected, and I'm not about to start scrubbing at them! They're part of its history and badges of honour.

As to the papers, I spent some time examining them for clues to the address of the maker. There were lots of papers which had part of an address on one side, and nothing on the other, which I took to be envelopes. Here are some of them.

By taking information from all of them, the envelopes were sent to
Mrs Glass,
2, Charteris Road,
Finsbury Park,
Now I need to check the 1891 census to see who was living at that address (apart from Mrs Glass) and find the possible maker of the quilt!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Old quilt

I have been busy taking the papers out of the old hexagon quilt I was given. For those who don't rememeber, it was found in an attic, and donated to Linus. I realised it was old (probably 19th century) and took it to a Quilter's Guild meeting for advice. Because it had had about a quarter of it eaten by mice, it wasn't an attractive proposition, and I was advised 'it isn't of museum quality'. Fair enough. However, I thought about the quilter who had spent hours and hours making this beautifully planned quilt, and how sad it was that it was in such a poor state, and unwanted by museums and the Guild. I wanted it! So I used some of my reproduction fabrics to complete it, with a view to making it into a quilt.

Now the papers are out, I intend to wash it. I'm going to test the red fabrics for colour-fastness first and use lots of colour catchers in the water. Then I will applique it to a background and make it up. I will scan some of the papers and a photo of the quilt in its original state, and print the images onto fabric to use as the backing. This way, the history of the quilt will go with it.
On inspecting the papers, there is a lot of information about the quilt to be found.

Some of the papers have postmarks (89, or 91) and some have dates (1892). This places the quilt firmly in the Victorian age! ( Apparently the black edges on the paper meant they were death announcements!)

Some have stamps with the portrait of good old Queen Victoria on them. Hurray!

Some have been cut from printed paper - there are clues here to the place where the quilt was made!

There are examples of different papers, different hands, and even some papers with writing going horizontally, the vertically - a method of saving paper when it was very expensive to buy and to send.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed the words 'Finsbury' and 'Park' written on a couple of the papers. the postmarks only give us information as to where the letters were posted, but addresses would most likely have been on the envelopes, which were received at the house where the quilt was made! I need to have some time with the papers, a large table and Sherlock Holmes, and maybe I can find out the maker's name! In the meanwhile, I'm off to test the reds for fastness. Keep your fingers crossed!