A gorgeous friend of mine, Robbie, is always immaculately dressed and because he is both generous and extremely well put together he allowed me to take a look at one of his (I think) most excellent pieces with the express purpose of purloining a small bit of his style for myself. It’s a beautiful draped woollen cloak which he found in a second hand store in Tauranga and it’s precisely the kind of gender-neutral drapery I have been lusting after for some time now. Taking inspiration from that I made some changes to make the design my own, including using a knit fabric so it would have a little more body and bounce to it and making it quite a lot longer because I have a fondness for dramatic swooping and set to work. I picked up heavy 100% Merino from The Fabric Store who are lovely and also about 10 minutes from my studio (convenient) and then, buoyed by my own successes in making a cape-cloak which I can also use to take a nap in naturally set to work taking selfies.
Anyway, I apparently underestimated the degree to which my pals (particularly on Twitter) also need an outfit for dramatic swooping and impromptu naps because this has far and away been my most successful selfie yet – I’ve had three orders come through. I look forward to making the look du jour for Wellington an elegant nap blankie, and with that in mind popped a listing up on Etsy right here if you would like one for yourself.
Other things I’ve been up to in the last few weeks include attending the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne last week. This is the second year I’ve gone and sadly I didn’t have time to take quite as many photos as I would have liked this time around, but I did pick up some useful bits and pieces. I’m making a commissioned single bed size quilt in blues, blacks and whites and grabbed some nice fat quarters for that.
I also grabbed a rotating cutting board which I’m very excited about for squaring up blocks. While trying to be lazy/speedy the other day I ran over my knuckle with a rotary cutter because I was trying to cut sideways, so hopefully I can avoid more sewing injuries now I have it.
I also took a quick look around the exhibition side of things and was very taken with this (it has a rainbow gradient in it, I know you’re all shocked.) It’s called Dear Angela, made by Phil Thomas and is hand pieced and hand quilted.
I do have to say, since it would be kind of remiss not to mention this, that I would really appreciate it if the AQC declined to let exhibitors/vendors sell Golliwogs at the show. As far as I could see it was just one table, but boy they really went all out in terms of every possible textile craft in which one might want to make a super-racist children’s toy. I kind of can’t believe this is still seen as a remotely? Acceptable? Thing? in 2016 but apparently the AQC didn’t think it was worth mentioning. Quilting in general seems to skew very white and towards an older demographic, which I think is a great shame, particularly given the histories of quilting within non-white cultures and communities (and in fairness there were some great vendors selling fabrics from Japan at the show, including Wabi-Sabi Designs so it’s not like this was completely missing from the convention) . But y’know, maybe the community as a whole would be a bit more welcoming and open if the first thing you see upon entering a convention wasn’t a whole table full of racist caricatures.
Anyway, I kind of hate ending a post on a bum note, because I try to use sewing and quilting as an escape from a lot of my studies and work which often involves grappling with very depressing and grim topics, but I also feel pretty strongly you shouldn’t opt out of critiquing problematic stuff just because it’s inconvenient. (Some time I’m going to really have a spew on here about my frustration with having to sift through stacks and stacks of fabrics which appropriate traditional designs without attribution, but that’s a post for another day.)
I have a finish and an almost finish to show you all today! First up: the teal chevrons.
This is the wideback I chose for the backing – colours were influenced by the request of the friend commissioning the quilt. I mostly pulled the fabrics from my stash, which was exciting – nice to use what I had on hand instead of ordering and waiting impatiently for fabrics to arrive.
Here’s the finished product – the recipient was extremely happy which is always gratifying. Another commission is also almost complete – I’ll be spending tomorrow sewing up the binding. I wrangled my Brother-2600 into free motion quilting which I’m quite proud of – it doesn’t have droppable feeddogs, so I just turned the stitch length down to 0 and hoped. It worked very well in the end, although I need a higher quilting table because being hunched over the machine for five hours today means I spent a solid 10 minutes working the crunchier bits of my shoulders over with a tennis ball this evening.
Pin basting stage.
I used a Gutermann Sulky 40 weight thread for the quilting. In general I liked it – I love the shimmery barely there quality of it, and how it ties all the colours together. I don’t particularly love how it snaps as soon as I ramp up the speed on my machine (strangely only the top thread, not the bobbin thread) although that seemed to happen mostly in the first 30 seconds after I rethreaded the machine. I had a theory that maybe winding on a new bobbin was pulling at the thread and changing the tension, but winding the bobbins off a second reel of the same colour didn’t repair the issue, so the only solution seems to be to sew slowly.
The inspiration for the colours and shape came from a shot on Instagram I saw of a colour theory talk being given at one of the major quilt conferences in the USA – someone had illustrated a colour wheel using a hexagon and immediately I was drawn to the geometrical possibilities. I chose a forest green for the backing fabric for this one and I’m happily back using the bamboo/cotton blend for the batting. Such a dense quilting pattern has given the quilt a satisfyingly heavy hand.
Well, not quite my first convention, but the first I’ve been to since I was in my teens. I made it to the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne last month and really enjoyed myself. It’s held in the Royal Exhibition Building which I’ve often walked past and wanted to look around so this served a dual purpose of allowing me to finally get a bit of a tour.
The exhibition itself was split about evenly between vendors and the exhibition of competing quilts – I restrained myself from spending too much but got a new rotary cutter and a few fat quarters, plus a whoooole stack of pamphlets for machines for me to lust after.
I also got a chance to drive a couple of long arm machines for the first time ever. This is the Juki Virtuoso (excuse the poor lighting) and you drive it with two joystick like handles, then the machine automatically adjusts the length of your stitches as you speed up or slow down (I know this is probably very elementary to a lot of people reading, but I’d never seen one in action before.)
The quilts I was most taken with in the exhibition were the wholecloth quilts and those which used a couple of very large blocks of colour and very fine and detailed quilting.
This is a detail from Sanderson’s Apprentice by Karen Terrens:
And this is a detail shot of Turkish Delight by Phillipa Thomas. I’m particularly fond of her use of silk as a construction fabric – as much as I love patterned cottons I’ve been interested in using other materials for some time (I think I posted a sample block of a chevron quilt pattern in dupioni silk a few years back) and it’s exciting to see someone constructing a bed sized quilt out of silk.
I should also add that the posted information about sharing photos from the exhibition indicated it was allowed as long as appropriate credit was given to the makers – if anyone whose work is featured in this post would like the images removed please leave me a comment and I’ll take them down immediately.
As for my own quilting, I’ve been working on a chevron commissioned quilt – it’s close to done, actually. Some pictures of it in progress (I’ve been sewing it while visiting my Grandma).
Toasty warm in front of the fire.
George stayed home, but Pudding here helped with the all important basting process, making sure the fabric didn’t move while I was pinning it.