Category Archives: Quilt Competitions

Barking up the Wrong Tree?

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I confess that I may have spent more time experimenting with thread than preparing for 4 days in the classroom but everything worked out well and I enjoyed teaching an enthusiastic bunch of kids. The older members of their class were away on a residential trip so it gave me carte blanche to do fun stuff with them like make slime, introduce them to algorithms, Scottish monsters, make rocky road and fidget spinners using cardboard and 1p coins. It was nice to be met in the playground each morning and get reports on how their slime experiments were going but I was shattered after 4 days – goodness knows how teachers manage to keep going for 5 days, week after week!

I had 2 exhibition rejections this week. Unsurprisingly, “Shield Maiden” was not juried into Fine Art Masters at FOQ but it looks like I am in good company as several well known British art quilters also had their pieces turned down. I have decided to keep plugging away at that competition because I will take great pleasure spending that elusive £5000 prize one day. Touch the Pickle was not one of the 59 final pieces selected from 500 entries to go on tour in the USA but it will be in the Threads of Resistance online gallery. I keep telling myself that “You have to be in it to win it” but it does irk that you have to pay more than regular show entry fees to enter these competitions and there is no refund if you don’t make the grade. Sometimes I feel like it is almost like buying a raffle ticket – you win some, lose some.

I attended a fun Saturday workshop at Grays School of Art on screen printing to see if I would like to study textile printing in more depth. The art school had great facilities and the tutor was lovely but I already knew how to do what was covered in the class. To be honest, I would rather teach than be a student but since I do not have an Art or Textiles degree, that just won’t happen.

After the class I drove down to St Andrews to collect Freya, her friend and all of their worldly belongings for the summer break. I honestly could not believe how much stuff they had and was not convinced that even half of it would fit in the Landy. It took 2 hours to stow it, lash it onto the roof, stuff every crevice, and even then the girls were squashed into their seats with their feet on boxes and bags on their laps. All the extra gear made the Landy extra sound-proof so the journey home was quite pleasant (for the driver)!

The incentive for unloading the Landy on Sunday morning was that we had to pick up our new family member. Bumble the Scottie has come to live with us and she has made herself at home. She just likes to hang with whoever is around, does not bother cats (who are not best pleased so far), can manage to jump on the sofa but can’t be bothered to go upstairs and will even watch students play monopoly or strum guitars. After the summer when everyone goes back to school and uni, I expect she will even watch me quilt. I actually feel a bit like Doctor Who because she is exactly the same shape as his robot dog companion, K-9!

I am hoping to get most of the background quilting done on BzB this week as I have got the cotton thread for that but I still don’t have all of the Aurifil lana that I need to re-quilt the large motifs. A couple of quilting friends were on a mission to track it down at Malvern so in the end I should have enough. However, I will also be taxiing students around, chatting to my new hairy friend and gingerly testing the Furze Fizz;)

Quiltcon Savannah 2017

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My Quilt-Show-Travel-Friend, Ellen and I decided that we need to attend Quiltcon East in Savannah to really get to the crux of “The Modern Quilt Movement” since the definition on the MQG website is wide open to interpretation. (Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. “Modern traditionalism” or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting.)

After journeying for 24 hours we arrived at out apartment in the Historic District of Savannah to a pleasant temperature in the high 20’s C (or well above 70 in F). The convention centre was across the wide Savannah river and was accessed by a free ferry ride.

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Savannah, a coastal Georgia city, is separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. It’s known for its manicured squares, horse-drawn carriages and ornate antebellum architecture. Its cobble-stoned historic district is filled with squares and parks like Forsyth Park, shaded by magnolia blossoms and oak trees covered with Spanish moss. The historic district’s architectural landmarks include the Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.

The best in show quilts were displayed prominently just inside the show hall and were very impressive with plenty of lines, solid colours and improvisational piecing.

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As we studied all of the quilts it was not always easy to work out why some of the entries were categorised as “Modern” quilts. Occasionally they seemed to address only one or two of the descriptors in the MQG statement. There were many that could have been influenced by the Gee’s Bend style, some that were traditional in all but colour and the majority were quilted with straight lines. I was particularly interested in the negative space category because that would be where I hoped to see some awesome quilting. I was surprised that some entries had taken the idea of negative space almost literally and had really gone for minimal quilting whereas others went to town showing off their motifs and fillers.

I enjoyed discussing the attributes of the Modern quilts with other visitors and I took lots of photos on my phone as my camera (and knickers!) were lost in transit. Sometimes you need to look at a photo of a quilt after the show to appreciate it fully because as with any large quilt show, visitors can be overloaded with visual information and stop looking properly.

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I was delighted by the visitors’ responses to my quilt, “Tartan Tattoo” which was in the Modern Traditionalism category. They enthused about the quilting and colours and many lovely people told me that they would vote for it as their Viewer’s Choice. The quilt angels were repeatedly asked to show off the back which is pale grey and every stitch is on show. I did an impromptu and very off the cuff video interview with Teri Lucas, a fellow Bernina ambassador and community editor at Generation Q Magazine.

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We interspersed our study of the quilts with forays around the vendor booths. Several fabric companies had big show-off areas but nothing to actually buy. There was plenty of fresh, modern fabric to choose from from shops and designers as well as plenty of solid ranges. Longarm machine companies were all well represented but I was unable to spend money on any gadgets or rulers that I do not already have;) I had to buy other things instead, including an Elizabeth Hartman “Forest Friends” pattern and fabric bundle, a couple of books/patterns that I fancied and another set of Double Wedding Ring templates to see which I like the best (in the manner of my extensive ultimate carrot cake recipe research). There were a few other bits and pieces and far less thread than I anticipated so it all fitted rather nicely into my suitcase, padded out with TT for its journey home.

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I would like to have attended some of the lectures but demand had been so high that the website crashed and everyone we wanted to listen was sold out.

Although I had taken along my new selfie-stick, I found myself too embarrassed to actually use it and I hate going up to folk and asking them to be in my photo. I met some younger quilters – Emily, Snaleeleena, Shruti and Jen – who gave me a spontaneous tutorial on Instagram while we waited to collect our quilts at the end of the show. Typing #quiltcon2017 into Instagram shows well over 9000 photos from the show, the visitors and what they got up to.

It was lovely to meet so many enthusiastic quilters including Ellen’s delightful Twilter (Facebook) friends. I also ran into British and German friends who were attending Quiltcon for the first time. The people of Savannah were so pleasant. Many of the waiting staff were students at the huge art SCAD Arts College. We also had a most memorable and informative trolley bus tour with Denise who reminded me of the sassy character, Minnie from “The Help”.

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It is a good thing that we walked so much around the easily navigable streets and squares because the food was incredible. I ordered delicious shrimp at every opportunity but I had less success with snow crab legs which were long, skinny and difficult to extract. Whenever we got hot and had achy feet we stopped for beer, margarita or ice cream!

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The town of Savannah was beautiful and historically very interesting. The architecture was amazing and since the 1950’s efforts have been made to ensure that new buildings are sympathetic to the colonial style. We wandered around the graveyard where soldiers had camped during the Civil War. The prolific Spanish moss hanging from the trees was atmospheric, which is more than I can say about the night-time ghost tour:P It was interesting to hear the story of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts of America. (Juliette Gordon Low, 1860-1927, was the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA with help from Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting Movement. Low and Baden-Powell both shared a love of travel and support of the Girl Guides. Juliette Low joined the Girl Guide movement, forming a group of Girl Guides in Scotland in 1911.

In 1912 she returned to the United States and established the first American Girl Guide troop in Savannah, Georgia that year. In 1915 the United States’ Girl Guides became known as the Girl Scouts, and Juliette Gordon Low was the first president. She stayed active until the time of her death.

Her birthday, October 31, is commemorated by the Girl Scouts as “Founder’s Day”.)

Although we did a lot of travelling in one our shortest trips to the USA, we really enjoyed the whole experience. I like the concept that Quiltcon moves around the USA – I think I would quite like to teach at a future Quiltcon, maybe I should aim for Nashville in 2019?

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Are You All Set for Christmas? (- Grr!)

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I know folk are only trying to be festive when they ask, “Are you all set for Christmas?” but it drives me mad! I would like to have made a pile of beautiful home-made presents but to date I have not written any cards, wrapped any gifts or purchased any Christmas food. By Sunday afternoon each week I wonder what I have been actually been doing frittering away my time then I jot down a few reminders for my blog and realise I have really managed to fit quite a lot in;)

I did semi-custom quilting on a customer’s “Silent Movie Star” and my free-handing felt seriously rusty after doing mainly computer pantos and lots of lines lately. I was reminded why I have a thing about gold lamé as the quilting on it positively glittered!

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I met Freya on the train to Edinburgh for our trip to the Russian Consulate to obtain our visas. I was concerned when the very plain building in which it was located looked deserted apart from a tiny hand-written note advising visitors to turn left, go through a car-park and enter from the rear of the property. We had to have our fingerprints digitally recorded then handed over forms, passports and the pricey fee but we still won’t know for another week whether we have been successful.

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We spent the rest of the day wandering around the Christmas market. By chance I spotted a poster for “The Goldfinch” which was on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland. It was  thrilling to see the real painting on which Donna Tartt’s fictional novel about its theft was based. The exquisite, small bird’s portrait was painted in 1654 by Dutch painter, Carel Fabritius.

It was lovely to catch up with Freya as I had not seen her since October and we were both very excited to discuss plans for our weekend in St Petersburg. It is a good job we had lots to say to each other as our train home was delayed by almost 3 hours.

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I received a surprising email from The Modern Quilt Guild about my QuiltCon entries. “Tartan Tattoo” has been accepted for the modern traditional category but “Shield Maiden” was rejected from the show. I was so sure that the SM quilt was just the sort of thing that QuiltCon would be looking for. I am in “good company” as far as rejections go – there were many amazing rejects on Facebook and Instagram so it will be very interesting to see what quilts have actually been selected. There were some good social media posts about why entrants should not get so het up about rejections and I will certainly enter “Shield Maiden” elsewhere but it is always disappointing to make a quilt specially for a particular contest then it does not make it.

My week ahead is likely to involve a last minute attempt at making something Christmassy, sellotape, glitter, a frantic scramble for the last mailing dates, wishing I had bought wrapping paper in July and hunting for Brussels sprouts!

I Can’t Seem To Do Subtle

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Now that it is on Freya’s bed in Uni Halls, I can post photos of her “away” Christmas quilt. It is a Betty Quilt pattern that I downloaded from Erica Jackman on Craftsy. It was quick and easy to piece and I used a computer panto called “ Let it Snow” by Natalia Majors at http://www.sunstonequilting.com The fabrics have a fun Scandi look but I will have to warn her to use a load of colour catchers if she ever washes it since red dye was obviously coming out while I ironed the binding!

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I have got Shield Maiden to a point where it could be hung (on a sturdy batten as it is so heavy!) Hand sewing linen is seriously heavy duty, especially when the edges have been overlocked to stop them unravelling. The deadline for Quilt Con is in 10 days so it at least needs to be finished looking for photos. I can add some stitched runes if I think they will work. I want to paint the trickles gold then experiment on a piece of sacrificial linen to see if a radical idea might work… The quilt is subtle but in my opinion it currently lacks “Oomph”.

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Purdah was rejected from the SAQA Layered Voices exhibition with a very professional let-down informing me that only 23 out of 535 made the cut. Those were high odds but I had hoped that Purdah was relevant to that sort of exhibition. I don’t know where Purdah can be exhibited. It clearly is more of a statement than a competition piece, like so many other things I have made. I wonder whether some quilters win consistently in competitions because they aim to perfect a particular style of quilt. I am obviously still busy experimenting, trying to find “my” style;)

RandR with TT and Friends

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After yet another hectic week working on customer quilts and being at school it was great to stay with Ellen overnight then meet Kay for brunch in IKEA near Edinburgh before visiting the Scottish Quilt Championships. Kay had several customer quilts in the show as well as a super new kaleidoscope quilt, “Brewster’s Reflections”. For some daft reason my camera battery was dead so I have posted Facebook photos of the quilts but I’m sure Kay will have some good ones on her blog www.borderlinequilter.blogspot

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Tartan Tattoo came 2nd in large wall quilts and was awarded a judge’s choice certificate by Susan Briscoe! It seemed to be a popular quilt with the visitors which is hardy surprising at a Scottish show;)

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I finally found a day in which to iron Vilene onto my piece of linen and the woad dyed shawl. Drawing out the shield maiden motif onto freezer paper and cutting it out neatly was tricky but it is now ready to attempt the reverse appliqué which I hope to do in a few spare hours before my first classroom observation in 20+ years. I am telling myself not to get in a pickle over the latest teacherish jargon and just carry on regardless. If it all goes pear-shaped I will just have to carve out a career as a quilt artist:P

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FOQ 2016

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It is a fair indication that if I go to bed without reading a couple of chapters then I am really tired! This year FOQ felt incredibly busy – there was an energy about the show, with more quilts than I have seen in a while, many of which were of an incredible standard. It took a good two days to set up the imposing Bernina stand which was bigger and grander than ever in order to accommodate 2 full sized Q24 longarm frames and 3 Q20 sit-down tables. Machines had arrived from London, Cardiff, Steckborn and New Orleans so there were many boxes to unpack amidst electricians, carpenters and a guy with a paint roller. In addition to UK chief technician, Alan and his willing helper, Chris, we had Aggy from Switzerland and Regina from Germany in the set-up team to make sure that everything was done perfectly.

I was timetabled to teach up to 10 x 40 minute slots of sit-down quilting each day to a pair of students. Most of those sessions were fully booked and I barely had a chance to look up and wave at passers-by. My teaching background came in handy as my pupils were of all ranges of ability, age, nationality and character and I had to put all of them at ease with free-motion quilting, ensure they had fun and maintain a jolly demeanour throughout. After a while I decided that I could easily apply for a job on a shopping channel and talk enthusiastically for hours about any kind of gadget until the producer switched off the cameras.

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Her Majesty’s quilt looked fantastic under the spotlights and it was great to hear more about the block makers and their inspiration. I was complimented on my quilting, particularly the border and binding so I was both relieved and delighted. My Mother came to visit for the day on Saturday so I was able to give her a brief tour of the show between my classes. She was impressed to see so many incredible quilts and enjoyed meeting all of my international friends.

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Before the show opened I had a gloomy feeling that my quilts did not stand up to some of amazing entries. “Touch the Pickle” obviously did not belong in the Contemporary category but I had deliberately put it there to cause more discussion than it would have in Quilted Creations where the audience expects the unusual. There were viewers who did not realise that it was a series of washable sanitary pads, some looked affronted but it got many people discussing the issue of how lack of sanitary provision affects the lives and education of girls and women in other countries. “Tartan Tattoo” seemed to have been hung too high so its centre was above eye-level and it did not look as good as it should under the NEC’s orange-tinted sodium lighting. “Pretty Hippy” really only went for an outing  as it was never intended to be a competition quilt.

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I scrutinised the quilts in the Fine Art Masters gallery to see what qualities they had that “Purdah” may have lacked. The entries were interesting – some simple, some weird and certainly “arty” but I felt that Purdah really could have fitted in there and nobody would have questioned its provenance. It was actually hanging on a white wall in an area of the Art Quilts without good lighting and the first time I walked by someone screwed their face up and simply said, “Why?” All I could think was that I had wasted months of my time creating something that had no appeal to the public. However, later on I was told that an amazing steward had started to give “guided tours” of Purdah that were pulling in crowds of people. Before long, the stewards were timetabling themselves 15 minute slots to take it in turns to reveal the hidden layers. When they were asked why it had not been displayed to show all of the layers separately, they explained that the POINT of “Purdah” was that the chador shawl was designed to make you consider what could be underneath. I was delighted that so many visitors the grasped what it was all about. They were able to interpret it in different ways, some thinking that what was hidden was about women’s oppression while others considered that the chador could be providing a type of protective liberation. This was exactly the kind of thinking that I had hoped to provoke. Some viewers were emotional as they told me about their responses and said that they had put “Purdah” forward for the Visitors’ Choice Award. I took a wee video on my phone of one steward and love hearing, “Oh, Wow!”

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On the whole, everyone was pleased with the selection of FOQ winners this year although there was some discussion about whether quilts using non-original patterns should be “allowed” to win prizes. The best in show was a fantastic cream whole cloth by longarm quilter, Sandy Chandler. As usual I found that judges’ comments on my quilts were incredibly varied despite supposedly having the same criteria applied. One judge noted that “Tartan Tattoo” had superb and skilful quilting but only scored that element as “good”. One of “Purdah’s” judges advised me to improve my piecing and scored it as “satisfactory” which just made me laugh. Because the scoresheets were so inconsistent and thanks to the wonderful reactions of visitors to the show, I have finally decided to stop worrying about how the judges see my quilts!

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Of course, in the evenings it was great to eat out with friends and unwind. The international ambassadors for Bernina came out for a Balti at my favourite authentic Indian restaurant house and enjoyed a selection of curries and poppadums. One evening I was given a lift back from the pub in the cargo section of a van which only had 3 cab seats and we just laughed about the silliest things. Kay is a great room-mate because I can be angst ridden one minute then excitedly coming up with obscure ideas on how to win that elusive Fine Art Masters the next. We stayed up far too late drinking wine or gin then woke up for tea and shortbread around 6am ready to start another day. Even though it is mentally and physically hard work to be on a booth at a major quilt show, we are always sad when it is all packed up and time to go home so she has already booked our room for next year!

On My High Horse

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Towards the end of the week I finally received a notification email from FOQ that “Purdah” had not been juried into the Festival of Quilts Fine Art Quilt Masters competition. After about 5 seconds of consideration, I decided not to take the moral high ground and drafted a response. I messaged it to my Quilt Besties who immediately approved and sent back their opinion in capital letters – SEND IT!

Apart from this elusive competition I have previously suffered disappointment about quilt show judges’ decisions but never before felt the urge to have a strop about it. This, my second rejection for FAQM, – the first was for the Spring Totems – has made me question my ability and credibility as a quilt artist. Here is what I wrote…

“Thank you for letting me know that my quilt has not been shortlisted for FAQM at Festival of Quilts this year.

Obviously, I am disappointed that it was not selected. I understand that the judges had to make tough decisions. My work has been juried in and rejected from many such competitions around the world but I have never felt that I was being patronised by being told that “the standard of entries was extremely high”, making me feel that my quilt was not worthy of consideration. 

It is a shame that an elite competition such as FAQM does not allow the entrant to submit more than 2 photographs and a 50 word blurb. I did not feel that I was given the opportunity to demonstrate the months of research and construction that went into such a complex piece of textile art. “Purdah” is a multi-layered piece that conveys current political and feminist themes. 

I would welcome feedback from the selection jury on how I can develop my work to produce quilt art that “transcends craft and demands equal billing with work shown in an art gallery”. Perhaps it is naive of me to understand that FOQ is primarily an exhibition of Quilts with many superb and varied examples of that Craft. The wording that I have quoted from the entry form seems to suggest that most quilts are not worthy of this accolade.”

So there – glad I got that off my chest! I have not yet received a reply. Either it will be ignored or I will be served with a life ban from FOQ;)

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After diligently working on Paperwork I was going to allow myself time to work on the 30’s Revamp Quilt. However, I went off at a tangent, deciding to make some weights for placing on tissue paper dress-making patterns, as featured on BBC’s “Sewing Bee”. I made couple of prototypes using an equilateral triangle template but they were a pain when it came to getting the last corner neat. It may have helped if I had actually followed the instructions. I decided that it would be FAR easier to use 2 squares, like my triangular zipped pouches. Obviously, I could not just make 3 or 4… I cut out enough squares to take to school so my class could make 3 rice-filled bags each to use as juggling sacks then I went on to mass produce another 20, in case I want to give some away as Christmas gifts. I had not got around to finishing them when I decided to cut out a dress pattern and just used 5 beach stones instead!

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I had a busy couple of days fitting in the DIY customers before the summer break and I had fun working on a small African wall-hanging. The borders and sashings are mostly geometric quilting patterns and there were a couple of simple fills around the scenes. I was pleased with the cross-hatch around Africa and I might consider adding some machine embroidery stitches around a few of the blocks.

For the week ahead I have 2 simple customer quilts, a DIY quilter, and a school day so I had better not get my hopes up about what else I will manage to do. But at the very least I hope to run up a frock and stuff my large collection of pattern weights with special-offer rice.

Not the End of the Road

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I spent almost an entire day completing entry forms for Festival of Quilts, UK. It made me think how useful it would be in future to measure a quilt as soon as it is finished and enter that information onto a spreadsheet. The biggest challenge was writing the blurb for each quilt in a mere 50 words and considering that I had written an essay on Purdah, this was not easy! Only 2 images are allowed for the Fine Art Masters entries – one of the main quilt and ONE showing a detail. This is impossible for a multi-layered piece like Purdah so I sent a photo of the quilts being pulled back. I honestly don’t know whether potential judges will be able to understand what a complex piece I have created just by reading a 50 word blurb and looking at 2 photos.

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Amazingly, “Tartan Tattoo” and a colour brochure from Paducah arrived back here only 4 days after being dispatched from Kentucky. The $20 show catalogue was packed full of colour photos of all of the entries, their sizes and makers. If FOQ entrants had to submit a good photo in plenty of time then I can’t see why we could not have a similar, high quality show guide in the UK for Europe’s premier quilt festival.

The rest of my week was filled with DIY quilters, teaching, making another cube bag using the excellent instructions by Hunters Design Studio and starting to sew the African pancake quilt together. It is not large enough to be a bed quilt but it can easily be extended later.

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Freya and her chums painted a huge banner for their last day as Banchory Academy pupils dressed up as festival goers, partying and having a BBQ in between late April snow showers. They celebrated the end of their school-days with some high-jinx followed by a ceilidh. After exams and summer travels most of them will be off to University to study all sorts of cool subjects.

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I was very pleasantly surprised when the Landy Man called to say that it had scraped through its annual MOT test. It does need a new prop shaft and more baler twine to hold the mudflats on but I had really wondered if my Defender was rattling towards the end of its road.

I met up with Ellen and Kay at the new Knitting and Stitching Show in Edinburgh. We were obviously too busy yacking to remember to take a group-shot-selfie. It was a lovely day out. There were a few really good exhibitions and plenty of interesting traders. The show felt spacious and there were even spare seats in the cafe area. I made a few unnecessary purchases including a multi pompom maker for Fenella, dress patterns that will be lucky to be taken out of the packet, and some fancy interfacing for all of the pouches that I seem to be manufacturing. I should hide my new purchases from myself until I have finished all outstanding customer quilts and ongoing projects…

An Honourable Mention!

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I was surprised to wake up on Monday morning and see that I had been sent an email from AQS congratulating me on receiving some sort of award at Paducah for “Tartan Tattoo”! I had to stay up late on Tuesday night and watch the awards ceremony live to find out what sort of rosette that might be. My name was announced as one of the Honourable Mentions chosen by the 3 judges: Ricky Tims, Karen Kay Buckley and Donna Wilder.

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LARGE WALL QUILTS: Longarm Machine Quilted sponsored by Nolting® Longarm Quilting Machines

1ST #625 JUDGEMENT OF OSIRIS, Georgia Spalding Pierce, Seattle, WA

2ND #624 ‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Linda Neal and Jackie Brown, McKinney, TX

3RD #636 A QUILTER’S GARDEN, Kristin Vierra, Lincoln, NE

HM #634 TARTAN TATTOO, Linzi Upton, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom 

Andrea Brokenshire kindly send me photos of TT hanging very nicely. It was well lit and the colours looked bold. I think it is a fairly understated quilt with no paint, sparkles or clever binding so I am really pleased that the judges decided it was worthy of the HM ribbon.

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I loved seeing all of the Quilters’ Facebook posts from spring-like Paducah and will certainly make a return visit there some time, hopefully when the Quilted Yurt is ready for display.

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I had a pretty busy week with DIY quilters, private tuition and a day in school but I was determined to have a go at making a cube shaped zippy bag. It is a fun shape but could do with being made of stiffer stuff so it holds its shape better. I learnt a new way of making neater box corners courtesy of Hunters Design Studio’s blog so I might have to buy some more long zips and play around with those. A fun workshop could be to use woodblock stamps to decorate the fabric then turn them into zippy bags. Obviously on a bit of a mission with zips, I watched a Youtube video on making a zip with lining, which I thought was quite impressive. When I have time I may have to invent a new version of my wee bag project.

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I roped Mo into helping me come up with a hanging system for the Purdah series. We were going to cut down an existing curtain pelmet but decided to go to B&Q and custom make one instead. Due to Health and Safety nonsense they would not cut the plank of wood so I could fit it into the VW Beetle. We bought a cheap saw and hacked a bit off in the carpark. I should have taken a photo for the comedy value of using a shopping trolley as a saw-horse in the rain. A tin of black spray paint made the net-curtain-rod-contraption look quite professional. Now that it has been strung up with a bunch of IKEA curtain clips, it will only need a couple of screws to hold it to a display batten, making it relatively easy to hang at a show (with the help of an annotated hanging digram).

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I spent some time at the weekend hashing around with Purdah’s artistic blurb. The FOQ entry form only allows 50 words of description so I will have to précis my essay considerably. The other tricky matter is that I can only submit 2 entry photos so I will have to think creatively how to send in a detailed picture that somehow shows off the hidden layers. I took the photos outside in good light but I am worried that the shawl looked a bit wrinkly. I just need to complete the entry form, post it then wait and see whether the FOQ FineArtMasters judges “get” it.

 

Tartan Tattoo is a Winner!

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The gloomy weather, sewing withdrawal symptoms and no exciting trips planned were making me feel rather like I was in the doldrums. An unexpected Facebook message from Andrea Stracke changed all that when she let me know that Tartan Tattoo had won 1st place for Longarm Quilts at The Open European Quilt Championships at Maastricht in The Netherlands! I waited impatiently until I could see “proof” online with photos of the red rosette. It is a show that hangs the quilts well with plenty of light and space and it was even displayed so the back could be seen. I was thrilled to receive congratulations from friends on Facebook from family to quilting friends and even some quilt “Legends.”

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This good news really cheered me up and spurred me on to finish the piecing for the other 2 Purdah quilts. The red and black one was tricky. I had not pieced it using paper foundation piecing so the quarter inch seams were a little variable. I managed not to knock too many points off in the end and I love the rather Welsh/Amish red and black simple look.I have been swithering about the quilting but I think that pumpkin seeds of some sort will cross cultures. There may also be some woodblock stamps with a seeded theme. The black and black one was a bit dreary to work on. Despite having a reference book out to calculate the size of squares needed for corners and setting triangles, I ended up making a few test squares from scraps until I decided that the measurements would work. This one is going to be quilted in regimented straight lines but I have “found” some variegated red and black thread that should add interest. The thing that is still eluding me about this project is what to add to the plain black shawl that will hide everything. I want it to be extremely subtle, almost non existent, somehow conveying a strong message about Purdah. I expect inspiration will come along eventually, inevitably around 4am one morning.

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Typically, just as I was thinking that I did not have a backlog of customer quilts to worry about while I worked on my own projects, 6 quilts arrived within 24 hours. This is a good thing as it keeps my business afloat and a bit of pressure always makes me more productive. I am looking forward to getting some quilting practice – I feel that I have done more than enough piecing for a while and it is time to do what I enjoy most.

Vivienne sent me the final proofs for “Deviant Quilting” so I could look for any last minute typos and corrections. We are both really proud of how it looks. The pictures are fantastic and I actually enjoyed re-reading my text. It is just about ready to launch forth and I really hope that it is a success that will lead to more books in the future. I am hopeful that it will get a few good reviews and that people spread the word so I can earn enough to take my long-suffering kids on a trip to the USA. Disneyland is unlikely to be one of the destinations – Paducah and Nashville are more what I had in mind but long as I take them to some old-fashioned diners I’m sure they will have a great time:)

Self Promotion

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I feel quite uncomfortable about “showing off”. Kay and I have had many discussions and laughs about how our generation was not encouraged to blow our own trumpet. We send each other messages when a new quilter on the scene lands an incredible deal designing fabric or has a thread range named after them wondering how they got noticed. We reckon it is because they are good at self promotion. I argued with myself then finally plucked up the courage to send out messages to some Big Cheeses in the Quilt World to ask if they would do a short video introduction for my Ebook. Most of them ignored me but I was delighted that a generous handful agreed to endorse my book, even though they have not even received a review copy yet. I hope to have a few “Stunt Reviewers” who will introduce the book in their own unique ways, in different languages and accents using their phone cameras. I might even have another go at introducing it myself without fluffing up my lines. I asked Fergus whether it would be possible to lip-synch or subtitle Bluecat. I am keen to make sure that a bit of quirky self-promotion may actually sell this book which took so long to produce and that it does not need to be immediately discounted as a flop!

After checking that my ETSY shop was still open, despite all of the listings having elapsed, I managed to upload Tartan Tattoo as a PDF pattern for $10.00 – sales in the first 24 hours have not exactly been brisk;) http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheQuiltQuine

Maybe there will be a rush after TT has been exhibited at the Open European Quilt Show in Maastricht! A very nice acceptance letter from Ada Honders arrived this week so I will soon have to think about re-blocking it before packing it up to travel to Holland.

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I used the Bernina Q24 to freehand some snail-spirals onto my nephew’s quilt and the Milliennium was used to quilt a honeycomb pattern all over Eleanor’s reversible quilt. Because she had added over-sized plain borders onto one of the quilts, it was easier than usual to make sure that the 2 quilts were properly centred. She asked me to complete the binding and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

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I completed another Merchant & Mills trapeze dress using the cardboard pattern. I added two simple pockets onto the front but I was annoyed that I while I was busy listening to The Archers on Radio 4, I forgot to pattern match the multi-coloured zebras and then discovered that the fabric did not fare well with unpicking so I just had to leave them alone.

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Since I seemed to be ahead of myself and I was not ready to launch straight into one of my Big Projects, I experimented with couching threads on the Q24. Some of the yarn went through the couching foot and was attached successfully while other yarn did not get caught so easily. I spent most of an afternoon swapping threads and yarns so I know what to look for when I visit a specialist yarn shop. I also had a go with a twin needle which looked great on the top of the quilt but a bit messy on the back. I was curious to see how the Q24 would manage with quilting through some old leather that I have been “saving”. It stitched very nicely indeed and it looks like it will not be necessary to soften it first. Some other pieces of the vintage leather are quite brittle and dry so I soaked a sample in baby oil and hung it outside to dry. Several days later it was still slimey so I think a different moisturiser might be necessary.

I am pleased that I have got on top of my customer quilts so I can enjoy a 2-day course with Australian quilt teacher, Gloria Loughman this week. This time I intend to “stick to her script” and not go off and make a far larger piece involving fabrics that shred or melt…

A Different FOQ for Quilt Quine in 2015

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FOQ felt completely different for me this year in many  ways. Instead of loading the Landy with gear and driving all the way down I flew in and “supervised” the Bernina guys putting the longarm frame together. I loved being part of the professional and friendly  Bernina team which included representatives from Switzerland and Scandinavia. It was great to have the chance to discuss techniques and projects that they have tried out on the Q24. I was thrilled that everyone loved the brand and that the new Bernina Longarms proved very popular with the visitors to the show. They were all so impressed with the quality of the stitches how I could easily swap feet to add couching or twin needle stitching.

The centrally located stand was incredibly busy and I did not have any time to wander off or stand idly chatting. I dashed around the show quilts first thing in the morning, not really giving the quilt galleries the time that they deserved.  Even my shopping was done in less than half an hour on Sunday afternoon;) I demonstrated and explained longarming non-stop to all sorts of quilters from all over the world.

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My Tartan Tattoo quilt looked good even if I say so myself – nobody spotted the disaster area or commented on the wobbly lines that only I know about. I wished that I had entered it into the competition after all so I definitely want to enter it elsewhere to see how it gets on. Michael Oakshott was impressed with the use of his fabrics which made me think that I ought to publish a pattern and offer it for sale.

Vivienne and I were privileged to sit with Luana Rubin at the Gala Dinner and we spoke about all sorts of topics including how Amazon gives authors such a poor deal. Luana and I realised that we have a mutual friend in Wisconsin and our conversation seemed to flow naturally without any heirs or graces from such a well known quilting personality.

I took very few photos at the show and since there are plenty of pictures of the winners online, I decided just to show a few unusual quilts on my blog that made me look twice as I passed them at a trot. I am always entertained by the 3D category and often baffled by the Fine Art Masters.

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Kay’s double-sided quilt looked splendid and is bound to win prizes in other places. (I am delighted that she shared the Visitors’ Choice award with Dutch piecer, Coriene for “Stonefields”.)

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I felt guilty about leaving the show just before it closed on Sunday in order to catch my flight home but I was not sorry about missing the melee of teardown and van jostling. At least one FOQ tradition was maintained – the annual trip to Shabar for a Balti with old friends! I am already looking forward to next year and I am determined to enter at least one new quilt…;)

Glasgow 2015

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Monday was spent figuratively girding my loins and preparing for the trip to SECC Glasgow with the Yurt, Coracle and Henge. Freya looked disgusted that the totems had all been taken off their shelves and she dreads putting them all back again next week.

The whole family travelled to Dunfermline in Fife for my Uncle’s funeral on Tuesday. Despite it being a sad occasion, it was nice to reconnect with long-lost family and friends. My folks will be relieved to return to their own lives after a few difficult weeks.

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Sat-Nav lady shouted at me after I had ignored her for several junctions and navigated me to the SECC via the East End of Glasgow in my huge white van. I was given 3 helpful but clueless guys to help me set up the Yurt. Two rafters got broken and mended but the structure was eventually made sound, although a touch wonky. No wonder it has only been erected a handful of times since 2010!

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It is so gratifying to hear the wonder and amazement of quilt show visitors who cannot believe the scale and audacity of The Quilted Yurt. It was wonderful to have enough space to display the Henge and Coracle next to it. I just wish that a museum would offer to curate the entire collection so it does not have to be stored in bubble-warp in my garage most of the time.

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I met up with Ellen and enjoyed a wonderful curry in Glasgow’s South Side. We had intended to trawl the sari shops but forget that they would close early for Friday prayers. I set her the task of tracking down some family history as she is a bit of a genealogy whizz. It was fascinating to find out more about my Grandfather who lived in the Gorbals of Glasgow in the 1920’s.

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My non-machine quilting classes at the show seemed to go down well. They were more like a stand-up comedy routine. I kept telling my pupils that there are no rules and they could just do whatever took their fancy. This show looks like it could grow and develop at the SECC. It should double in size next year and I think it is a really good venue. My hotel overlooking the Clyde was lovely and if I had been more on the ball I could have booked tickets for all sorts of music events at The Hydro.

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“Bifrost” did not win a prize at the show. It was well lit and looked pretty good but was overlooked in favour of simpler, less complicated pieces. Ellen has given me “permission” not to work on a major project this year. I need to concentrate on completing the Ebook and work on some samples for Bernina. I had good intentions to work on book edits in the hotel each evening but I was so tired that I just watched a bit of inane telly then fell asleep.

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On a busy final day the visitors continued to be very complimentary about all of my pieces and wondered why I had not managed to find a museum home for them. I managed to tear down the yurt quickly with the help of a couple of porters and drove the van away at 6pm, completing my drive north in 3 hours. I spent the whole of the next day tidying everything away and was delighted to get help from Tania in exchange for a couple of strong mugs of coffee. Now to crack on with one of my lengthy To-Do lists…

FOQ 2014

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FOQ gets bigger and better every year! Ani, Kay, Sally, Ellen and I set up the APQS long arms and dressed the stand knowing exactly what we were doing since this was the third year that we had worked as a team. We had fewer people who were amazed to see a long arm machine in action for the first time and more who were doing thorough research into all of the available brands and features. We were petty busy most of the time apart from a couple of afternoon lulls when I would scatter M&M’s onto the quilt top and chase them around for a while before eating them.

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I was disappointed that The Quilted Henge did not receive any judges’ accolades but it was greatly admired, although most people had not bought the expensive show catalogue that explained what it was all about. Kay Bell received 2 Highly Commended awards for her painted whole cloth and a customer quilt. A beautiful quilt that the judges over-looked was voted Viewers’ Choice by the public!

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As a quilter I can’t help myself muttering about a number of the entries not really being quilts or even quilted. This was not confined to the Art Quilts, some of which had minimal stitching and only 2 layers of chiffon. In the Quilt Creations category were 3D items that were felted or machine embroidered. These were all fabulous pieces of textile art but I wonder whether the Festival of Quilts should be rebranded.

Getting up early allowed us to have a look around the show quilts and exhibits before the crowds arrived. I was inspired to join SAQA after chatting to Sandy Snowden. It would be great if a museum or gallery would house some of my pieces for a while as it is getting tricky to navigate around my workshop.

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It was fun to meet up with friends and colleagues from all over the world – apparently it is actually called “networking”. We were thrilled to meet Bonnie Hunter who had been on a tour around England with Jim West. I had one or two brainwaves and mad ideas at 3 am, one of which was a plan for my second book, even though technically the first one still needs to be completed;)

I had a super chat with Aggy and Sarah from Bernina and they helped me to make a list of essential feet for the B710. I bought a large Sewezi table for it as I hate using a sewing machine that sits on top of the table, particularly for free-motion quilting.

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After a week of late nights, early mornings, rather a lot to drink and a couple of great curries, it was time to make the 11 hour drive home, unpack and decide what colour to dye the white shirt that I unwisely wore while eating a Balti with chilli and turmeric pickle.

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