Longbourne at Castlemaine

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class with Katrina Hadjimichael. http://katrinahadjimichael.blogspot.com.au/

The class was hosted by Corliss of Threadbear Patchwork and Quilting in Castlemaine. http://www.threadbear.com.au/

I have been an admirer of Katrina’s work for a number of years, so when I heard that she was to teach here in Victoria, I knew I had to be there! The quilt being taught was “Longbourne”,  number 3 in Katrina’s Jane Austen series, which currently numbers eight. It’s a feast of applique, fussy cutting and English Paper Piecing. Bliss!

Longbourne class 017-crop

Katrina and “Longbourne”.

Twenty eager ladies gathered in the light and cosy venue for a day filled with lots of learning, inspiration, friendship, laughter and delicious food (that I didn’t have to prepare!!)

When we arrived and found a spot to park our bags, belongings and bodies, we received a lovely little gift bag from Corliss, complete with chocolate sustenance and fabric treasures.

Longbourne class 018 edit

What’s inside?

Longbourne class 019 edit

Treasures!

Katrina also came armed with a gift: a copy of the recent Quilters Companion magazine which included a DVD featuring Katrina and her tips for Jelly Roll quilts.

Longbourne class 027 edit

Then to the real work of the day! Katrina is a very organised and meticulous teacher and led us through the various techniques and processes required to make our own version of Longbourne. All the extensive notes, beautifully drawn pattern sheets, and a collection of photos showing in detail various elements of the quilt, were presented in a display folder for each participant.

Longbourne class 020

Pattern sheets and detailed instructions in a display folder.

Most participants chose to use reproduction fabrics for their quilts as in Katrina’s original, but one other brave soul and yours truly ventured into the realm of brights. I have decided this presents an additional challenge: many of the fabrics in bright modern fabric ranges have larger scale designs on them. For some elements of the quilt, especially the centre panel, small scale designs are also necessary. I found I had to go shopping for some additional fabric. (Oh dear, such a hardship)

At the beginning of the class one lady asked Katrina what her secret is for such accurate and neat work? In short, the answer is attention to detail.  All applique components are tacked onto paper first. Katrina takes great care when tracing and cutting out her pattern pieces. No sloppy workmanship here!

Longbourne class 021-crop

Tacking onto cartridge paper for fussy cut components.

 

Longbourne class 024 edit

More tacking.

Here’s Katrina demonstrating how she makes tiny (3/8″) hexagons. And the thread of choice… Aurifil of course!! (Here she is using 50 weight).

Longbourne class 013-crop

And so, to sew. The bias stems come first.

Longbourne class 022 edit

Ready to applique the bias stems.

I have not done a great deal of actual sewing as yet, but I have done a little playing with various fabric combinations, and lots of thinking about my creation.

Longbourne class 026-crop

Playing and thinking.

And when Longbourne is finished, there may be another of Katina’s Jane Austen quilts calling me.

Longbourne class 003-crop

Lambton, the latest in Katrina’s Jane Austen collection.

Thank you Katrina and Corliss for a most enjoyable and inspirational day.

 

Advertisements

Aurifil @AQC

The Australasian Quilters’ Convention is just around the corner (16-19th April) held at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building.

Melbourne_exhibition_building

This is always an exciting event for quilters: an opportunity to see the latest in quilting trends, be inspired by the work of others, and shop for all things quilty.

Even the venue itself is full of inspiration!

Melbourne Exhibition centre, Calton Gardens

Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Carlton Gardens

2009 AQC, kitchen renovations 019

Stencil detail from Royal Exhibition Building….would look good as an applique border!

Here at Aurifil we have been very busy packing up stock for the Aurifil retailers to display on their stalls.

New Zealand 2015 002

Packing thread for one of our retailers.

Some of the retailers are taking a range of individual spools in various thread weights, while others are running special projects (such as block of the month) and we have been making up small packs of specially selected threads for these.

 

New Zealand 2015 012

We have also put together some new four packs, including 3 new reproduction basic collections, just perfect to give you a range of “go to” reproduction-coloured threads.

 

New Zealand 2015 011

One of three new “Reproduction Basics” collections.

These little four-packs also make great gifts (for yourself too!)

New Zealand 2015 008

New Four Pack: “Purple Passion”

New Zealand 2015 009

New four Pack: “Bubbles”.

The retailers who we know will have Aurifil for sale on their stands are:

Other Aurifil retailers present at AQC are:

In addition, some of the talented 2015 AQC tutors including Deidre Bond-Abel, Kathy Doughty, Karen Styles and Lisa Walton use Aurifil thread.

Look out for Aurifil at AQC and be sure to make certain that you have all the Aurifil supplies you need to successfully complete your current and future projects!

Under the big top

Recently I went away with 49 other patchworkers from my guild to a “Retreat”.  I don’t know how the name was chosen originally, as it certainly isn’t a time for quiet contemplation!  It’s a time for enjoying sewing, and eating meals none of us have to prepare, and making merry (in a very contained sort of way!!).  Our club choses a venue only a few hours away from where most of us live in the  Victorian countryside.  We were very lucky this year with beautiful blue skies and warm sunny days.

Retreat WP 2014 Neerim East

This year the theme for the weekend was “Under the Big Top”. The organising committee cleverly works with this theme in the goody bags we each receive on arrival, entertainment and  the Saturday night ‘ dress up ‘.  There was  an amazing variety of costumes – with lions, strong men, clowns, popcorn sellers, fairy floss fairies, ring masters and even a bearded lady and a sword thrower’s assistant putting in an appearance.  (No photos here – too incriminating I think!).

Many make great use of the time away from other commitments to sew from morning to night – either by hand or by machine.

Beautiful hand embroidery

Beautiful hand embroidery

Some enjoy the walks in the natural surrounds or relax with a magazine or some chat instead of “working”.  It is always interesting to see what everyone has chosen to bring along – some complete a quilt in a weekend, while others work on several projects.

Naturally I found someone using Aurifil !!

Naturally I found someone using Aurifil !!

Japanese case for glasses or rotary cutter

Val’s Japanese case for glasses or rotary cutter

Allison quietly sewing low contrast quilt blocks

Allison quietly (and accurately) sewing low contrast quilt blocks

Beautiful machine applique on a William Morris design from Belinda

Beautiful machine applique on a William Morris design from Belinda

Wendy starting a new project with hand applique

Wendy starting a new project with hand applique

Jeanette's beautiful appliqued borders for a new quilt

Jeanette’s stunning appliqued borders for a new quilt

The “Retreats” have been an annual event for our club for many, many years, and each year the organising committee manages to make our time away even more memorable.    I think everyone came home slightly tired, but in a good sort of way – enjoying the time shared with friends old or new.

 

Reproduction Introduction

This week I had the pleasure of completing a quilt. Yay!! The majority of my projects are hand-sewn, so to reach the finishing line always feels good – to me, it’s a significant accomplishment!

My quilt is called “Reproduction Introduction” because it is the first quilt I’ve made (i.e. finished) using reproduction/reproduction style fabrics. Yes, it’s taken me a while to “catch on” to the pleasure derived from working with these fabrics.

I started with a piece of blue background and some contrasting “strawberry” fabrics.

May 2014 031

The best greens  were these poison greens.

May 2014 047

Marking the design and being able to see it on the background fabric was a considerable challenge, and eventually I made a design transfer overlay which worked very well and which I discussed  in a previous blog. http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/design-transfer-dilemma/

I had fun, needle-turning to my heart’s content…..

May 2014 042

May 2014 040

…and engaged in some fussy cutting.

May 2014 039

May 2014 041

 

I even made a label featuring the centre design and its fussy cutting.

 

May 2014 038

And finally, the quilt was finished…May 2014 003

 

… and on the bed.

 

May 2014 043

And in case you are wondering, this lovely design is “Louisa” by Cherry Pie Designs. http://www.cherrypiedesigns.com/  I made a couple of small adjustments to the original.

For the needleturn applique I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 weight, and to machine the components together and complete the binding, Aurifil Cotton Mako 40 weight was my thread of choice.

My “Reproduction Introduction” is just that because already I have other reproduction quilts in progress or waiting in the wings.  You might say I’ve caught the bug!

 

 

 

A Reproduction WIP (Work in Progress)

Some time ago, I purchased the pattern Queen Square by Sue Ambrose. (A Somerset Patchwork pattern  www.somersetpatchwork.com.au )

I thought this would be an excellent design to use for all the reproduction fabrics I had been collecting.

Queen Square pattern

Queen Square pattern

As you can see from the photo, there are 20 main blocks, comprising three different designs, and two borders.  While some quilters like a totally scrappy look, I prefer a bit of uniformity, which you will notice in my colour/fabric selection.

To construct the blocks I have used a combination of different techniques, including English paper piecing, needle turn applique and tacking over freezer paper. Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne40 and Ne50 threads are suitable for these tasks and enable me to stitch with (almost) invisible stitches. I have used my light-box to trace designs as well as using a placement overlay. You can read a description of the overlay method in my earlier post  http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/design-transfer-dilemma/ 

Queen Square 001

Tracing the design using my light-box.

Queen Square

Placing the applique pieces using a design overlay.

The first block looks like this.

Qld July 2013 057

Block one in construction.

…..and this.

Qld July 2013 056

The first block completed.

The second block design  has twelve blocks, four each of three different colourways.

Queen Square 005

Preparing the hearts by tacking onto freezer paper

The finished blocks look like this…

Queen Square 008

Second block version one.

And this…

Queen Square 002

Second block version two.

And this…

Queen Square 010

Second block version three.

I have not yet completely made the third block, but have prepared all the components by tacking them onto freezer paper and joining them together.  In the picture you can see that I have placed them on the background fabric.  As I sew I will remove the tacking and papers.

Queen Square 001

Third block. The outer ring is pinned ready to sew,. The inner ring is just sitting in place so that I could see how it would look.

This kind of project is a lot of work, but I really enjoy the hand sewing, and it is certainly satisfying seeing it all come together.

Keep watching this blog and I will post more pictures of my Reproduction WIP as I work towards its completion.

Quilts and tutus on show!

Last month I was fortunate to escape Melbourne’s wintery weather and holiday for a fortnight in Queensland.  Fortunate indeed because I was able to visit “Quilts 1700-1945” during my time in Brisbane.  This exhibition of more than 30 quilts, bedhangings and other handcrafted items is from the Victoria and Albert Museum and would, I think, represent one of the most important quilt exhibitions ever to come to Australia. http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/quilts_1700-1945

In addition to this treat, the Rajah Quilt was also on display, something that doesn’t occur very often because of the need to preserve this important historical item. http://www.nga.gov.au/rajahquilt/

Signage for the exhibition.

I joined a free guided tour (provided by volunteers) which was a wonderful way to learn lots of interesting details about the quilts’ history and construction as well details of society of the time.  Who knew that it was the norm for women to entertain in their bedrooms in the eighteenth century? I certainly didn’t, but of course it explains why wealthy women used their bed quilts as a showpiece to display their craftsmanship.

Photos cannot be taken in the exhibition (the light would be detrimental to the textiles), so unfortunately I cannot share visually with you some of the wonderful things I saw.

For example…

…the quilt made by an officer in the British Army in 1864 who was recovering from TB.   Thousands of tiny hexagons made from thick uniform material.

…a clamshell  bed curtain made for a four poster by orphans in the workhouse. Over 6400 pieces!!

… the incomplete Changi quilt made by young girl guides for their leader, using scraps and threads taken from the seams of clothing.  It was worked on for a year before being removed by a guard, and that it survives today seems quite miraculous!

Ladybirdee has alerted me to these short videos which are interesting to view. http://tv.qagoma.qld.gov.au/mediatype/videos/?exhibition=quilts

One of the things that struck me was the colours and designs of the fabric.  The reproduction fabrics so readily available to us today are a true representation of the style fashionable so many years earlier.

Clamshells used in a current project.

Clamshells used in a current project.

This  is one of my current projects, Queen Square by Sue Ambrose.  Four of the blocks use Clamshells, but fortunately for me, only 12 Clamshells are used in each block .   So only 48 to make, not 6400 as in the bedhanging on display in the exhibition..

Here is the finished block.  The colours and design would have fitted well with some of the antique quilts on display.

Reproduction style fabrics.

Reproduction style fabrics.

A display of quilts by Ruth Stoneley (1940-2007) entitled “A Stitch in Time” was also on display in a separate exhibition at the gallery.  http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/ruth_stoneley_a_stitch_in_time Ruth was a very inspiring and innovative craftswomen and I shopped at her store when I lived in Brisbane in the 1990s. Some of the items on display reflected the trends of time in which they were made, but some were ahead of their time.

Qld July 2013 044

“A Women’s Work is Never Done” by Ruth Stoneley.

By chance I happened to also come across another interesting exhibition at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex, just over the road from the art gallery.

Ballet costume exhibition.

Ballet costume exhibition.

This was a free display of ballet costumes used by dancers of The Australian Ballet and Queensland Ballet.  Again, I was not allowed to take photos, but it was a very interesting insight into the costumes, the development of the tutu, and showed how a classical tutu is constructed. (A bit different to how my grandmother toiled to make ballet costumes for me!) http://www.qpac.com.au/event/Tools_of_the_Trade_13.aspx

And as if I didn’t have enough stimulation I also took in a regional food festival held at Southbank on the same day.  Thanks Brisbane for such an enjoyable day!

Not for the Faint Hearted

Everyone who reads my contributions to Always Playing With Thread, knows I can’t resist a good BOM (Block of the Month).  They always seem so ‘do-able’.  You only have to make one block per month and then before you know it, you have made a quilt top.

Esther Aliu, a designer, teacher and artist extraordinaire, has begun her newest BOM, Love Entwined. This is an appliqué quilt that is NOT for beginners. Over the next 18 months. I will endeavour to make my version of this exquisite quilt.

I have spent hours choosing fabric finding many pieces in my stash that contain the colours I plan to use.

Fabric for Esther Ailu's Love Entwined

Fabric for Esther Aliu’s Love Entwined

I have my background  fabric ready and I have SOME threads I plan to use as well.

A Favourite fabric with SOME Aurifil 50wt thread

A Favourite fabric with SOME Aurifil 50wt thread

The first block was challenging for me as it contains 32 TINY circles.

I am not happy with them because some of them don’t look round…as the months progress I will, no doubt, become much better at appliquéing small pieces.

Finished (but not perfect) Compass

Finished (but not perfect) Compass

But for now I will continue on and attempt to keep up.

Wish me luck!

If you would like to join the challenge of Esther Aliu’s Love Entwined, go to www.estheraliu.blogspot.com.au.