Donnerstag, 29. August 2013

Thoughtful (Technique) Thursday - The Papers (sewing templates)

By now, I have the feeling of having gotten acquainted with the blogging world. Seeing that many EPPers struggle with problems I know only too well from my mainly self-taught history, I thought, I'd spend some Thursdays to share my thoughts on techniques and material, design and quilting.

Let's start with the base of all EPP: The Papers.
You could think, there was nothing much to say about Papers. I think, actually, that this is one of the more important things in EPPing since it influences how the entire piece handles.

What possibilities do you have? There are a lot, actually.

- Newspaper. The cheapest solution, often sewn through.

- "Normal" printer paper. Definiely the easiest solution when using shapes off the Internet, from incompetech or other sites. (Try out, it's German, but I like it a lot since it's got almost every shape you might ever need and you can save the pdfs to print again and again and...)

- Thin cardboard. With a grammage of about 120g/m² most modern printers can use it, it's resistable and my fave for self-made papers. Many die cut papers ( and prettyanduseful) are from paper of this grammage. Re-usable for several times, depending on the size, the shape and how you handle them. I'd say ten times is the minimum.

- Coated paper. Used by Patchwork with Busyfingers it is very good for the glue-basting method since the glue easily will separate from the paper.

- Mylar. Also known as Quilt Patis or Brandy's pieces, these are almost indestructible. Unfortunately they're thicker as most cardboard and don't bend well. Personally, I don't really like them.

- Overhead transparency. Never heard of that? I didn't find it on the internet, but I tried it myself. You can print on those transparencies, they are easily cut by scissors, feel about as stable as thin cardboard and are not thicker. You can bend and even fold them and they are re-usable beyond belief. Oh, and if you use the laser-printable variety, they even stand ironing.

Myself? - either I'm using thin cardboard (die cut where available, I'm lazy) or laser printable overhead transparencies for my works. I do have some of the Patchwork with Busyfingers papers and as long as I'm glue-basting I'm okay with them. I don't like them for thread-basting, though, and that is my preferred method of basting.

What I found out really fast is, that as long as you cut along the lines, the self-made templates are as consistent as die-cut ones. The tenth-millimeter you are off on your self-cut ones? Ignore it. The fabric will be thicker in the end :D

Dienstag, 27. August 2013

Tuesday morning Star Count

I didn't get it finished on Monday Morning. Not even on Monday evening when I'm honest since last night was spent at a phantastic concerto instead of sewing. When the MD's secretary comes in waving four tickets to a Prokofieff and Dvorak concerto, for free, "It's just, it starts in two hours..." Who'd say no? I didn't. And spent a great evening. Not sewing.

But: I only have to close one seam and add six pieces, then it's done. Since I easily will do that tonight, here's what I managed. 111 pieces pieced as today, if I take the picture below we're at 117 pieces and finished.
Now you should have all the pieces in the puzzle to put the square design together. Admittedly, due to fabric constraints (ten fat quarters are more than enough for this, but you have to make colouring compromises if you've sort of over-used one colour. Which I did in my design.) I had to rework the exact colouring scheme on where to use which colour.
When I'm done piecing tonight, I'll have almost three weeks left for the quilting. I think, that'll be enough for a 24" x 24" thingy. Even though I plan this to be my first real attempt at Trapunto quilting. Naaah, nothing as complicated as stuffed feathers. I merely decided to stuff the fifteen namegiving patches so they don't only stand out colourwise.

See you next WIP Wednesday?

Mittwoch, 21. August 2013

WIPs galore...

Isnt't that every quilters destiny? For every finish there's at least two new WIPs. I finished one of my Birmingham "children", the little mug rug, but there's still some more to do. The Mystery Project, of course, which is going rather well and hopefully completely pieced by this weekend.

Then, there's my first art quilt, started under the tutelage of Sophie Furbeyre who has a solo exhibition at Val d' Argent this year.

This one - when finished - will be my Holiday Memories Mini Quilt, since it will remind me of the great day working with Sophie. Presently I plan to add a little more red and to cut back on the black tulle with a soldering iron.

Life sometimes running in strange ways, maybe, one day I'll teach Sophie how to tat :D She wore a waistcoat during the class whose ornaments strongly reminded me of tatting. I asked her if she ever tried to combine tatting and patchwork and she told me she didn't know how to tat and found it rather difficult. I promised her that I would teach her how to make the first ring within one hour and she told me that she might try that promise one day...

But back to my WIPs... there still are two cushion plates to finish from the Sunday morning workshop with Karin Hellaby - Curvaceous windows.
This one is done so far, it only needs a border to be finished.

 Rather than being curvaceous, these are sew simple attic windows.

Playing around with the possibilities Karins technique offers, I started on "fabrigami" and folded wildly around. We all liked this variety very much.

 It needs a a button in the middle, and the horizontal and vertical red lines will be curved in. There also still is a border to be made, but I'm not entirely sure how I will do that in the end.

Hope to meet you all at WIP wednesday at Freshly Pieced to see, what you have under the needle at present.

Montag, 19. August 2013

Post-Birmingham Monday Morning Star Count #4

Seems like I've still got soooo much to tell you about the NEC exhibition at Birmingham, but vacation's caught me up and I don't think that there will be more than some pieces whenever I've got a finish or something pops up in my mind.
First of all, the quilt I entered, you remember?  This one:

First of all: we did get judged, yeah!!! And won three "Excellent", quite encouraging, don't you think?

During our stay, I wrote something about our workshop with Paula Doyle. I managed to turn the little sample into a mug rug, using the binding-less backing technique she described to us. Here it is.
 I just quilted a little in the ditch... Too glad we got a pattern for a handbag and Paulas book... I will have to do that again :)

And now, last but not least, the Monday Morning Star Count to be liked with Life under Quilts - which to be honest is to be a "monday evening star count" since I'm only now done...

 A little teaser first... this is my "workbook" with a lot of pre-cut pieces showing the "true colours" of my little project.
 And here's what I managed to sew during the last two weeks. Yes. I know. I wanted to be done. But reality caught up with me and I needed the time during the holidays to just plain relax.
114 pieces done, which brings me up to 230 pieces done, with 117 still to go. I'm convinced to be finished with the top by next week's monday.

Donnerstag, 15. August 2013

That last day at Birmingham and all the remaining vacation days...

I know, I promised you some more Birmingham stories. But actually, this post is just a quick "I'm still alive".

On the fourth day of Birmingham festival we took a class with Karin Hellaby on "Curvaceous Windows" where we learned to do a lot of things with the good old Attic Windows block. I managed to almost finish two cushion size tops which I will have to show you next post... the "good" camera doesn't go with my tablet.

After that, we did some final shopping, got our quilts back and then stayed the last night at Birmingham. The next day we drove to Shrewsbury (a must-see for all the Brother Cadfael fans out there...) and from there to Welshpool, where we took quarters in the most amazing of farm B&Bs you can imagine. Tynllwyn farm is sited on a hill out in the (almost) nowhere and the perfect place to just relax.

Of course we did some trips starting there, visiting the Welsh Quilt Center at Lampeter, enjoying a Steam Train trip in Llangollen and traipsing through Powys castle. Too sad, the vacation's over and we return to Germany tomorrow. I'll embellish this post with a lot of pictures then. Promise.

Samstag, 10. August 2013

Two more days at the festival of quilts

Saturday evening. What???? Already?
Yes, it is. Yesterday I spent all day in class with Sophie Furbeyre, an art quilter of a certain fame here in Europe. She actually managed to overcome my prejudices on the genre and I happily worked on my first art quilt in her class titled "Paint and draw with fabric". And that's what we did. First we painted on Tyvek, then we applied the heat gun to quite a number of different artificial fibers and then we combined all this on top of a piece of white fabric. Along the way I made my first experiences on free-motion quilting, since that was how we were to sew the quilt together. One more WIP...

 It still needs some serious quilting and addition of further pieces of red. And, of course, batting and backing.

On our third day on the festival, we "only" had the plans to attend two lectures. The first one in the morning was with Marti Michell, "Quilting in Sections". We learned quite a lot and after this lecture I think that we'll be doing 99% of our quilting ourselves since she told us about so many tricks that make elaborate quilting possible on a domestic machine.

We went for a quick lunch and were moving through the exhibition, when we recognized another face sitting behind a table. Tula Pink was presenting her quilting and autographing her books. A chance we couldn't let pass by, don't you think? We bought some of her SaltWater collection fabrics in the turquoise colourway and Ellen got herself a book.

Wandering around, we passed by the booth of Margaret Beal (for the n'th time...) and I finally fell completely in love with her fusing and cutting processes. End of the game? Even though I hadn't planned on it, I'll fly back to Germany with her book, a soldering iron and a handfull of rulers. Not to forget the fabrics.
Enough for one day? Hmmm... yeah, that's what I would have thought, too. We went to the lecture of Kaffe Fassett, "Glorious Colour" - and enjoyed it hugely. I expanded my view on colour quite a bit and gave me the good feeling that simply following one's gut feeling isn't the worst idea when designing quilts.

Of course you can't just leave after such a lecture without a handfull of fabrics, above all when they're so attractively priced. I started out with one fabric, as I do most of the time and started combining suitable ones. When I had a bunch of five chosen fabrics, a male voice asked from the side "Can I help you?" Not thinking of anything since there were so many shop assistants running around the Cotton Patch booth that I simply voiced my thoughts "I'd like something violet-ish to go with these." Only then I turned to see that the question had come from Brandon Mably. I gulped. But he simply nodded and took a closer look at my selection. For a short explanation - the three on the left were my choice. I had a green and a blue shot cotton to go with them. His first suggestion was to let go of the shot cottons and replace them by the rightmost fabric. I liked that much better too. Then, for the violet, he suggested the second fabric from the right which has quite some violet, even though you don't really see it on this picture.
Here you are with today's "Designer Approved" selection of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics that will make a gorgeous Japanese Folding Technique handbag.

You know what's the best? There's one more day to come! And... I wouldn't bet what adventures this one might bring.

Donnerstag, 8. August 2013

International Festival of Quilts at NEC, Birmingham, day 1

After a long drive from Heathrow to Solihull last night, we could jumpstart our first day at the festival with full English breakfast, which we enjoyed a lot. It builds such a good foundation for a long day running around fairgrounds.

At 10:30 we entered our first workshop, Mini Mosaic Quilts with Paula Doyle. She showed us the (more or less) quick and easy way of working mini blocks from squares the size of 1" finished. Working with such an inspiring teacher - even if it was only for one hour - was waaaay fun.
 This is what we made under her tutelage - she had prepared and cut most of the fabrics for us:

 At home I'll finish this into a nice little mug rug, from now on it's only sewing straight seams.

After that, we visited our quilts at the exhibition. Of course we didn't win, but then, who really thought? I was absolutely proud to see my quilt hanging prominently between so many other pieces of art. See my grin?

Not that the day was over at this point... we spent long hours admiring other peoples' quilts and - of course - spending money. During the "spending money" we had our next encounter. I spied a stall selling Marti Michell templates, and I'd planned to acquire a set of her perfect patchwork templates to complement the strippers we already have at home. It took me a long while, before I realized, that it was Marti herself explaining to me why those templates were so good, and before long we were chatting happily.

Last somewhat unreal experience of the day was seeing the team of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably at a stall selling traditional Hungarian prints talking to each other. And watch, how inspiration strikes. I am waiting to see his next collections and maybe think to myself "I watched him having that idea!"

So much to see, and that was only the first day! Stay tuned for more of my adventures in Birmingham!

Mittwoch, 7. August 2013

Off to Birmingham

Faster than I thought possible, August 7th has arrived, and thus the first day of my vacation. Wow...Right now I'm sitting at the airport in Stuttgart, waiting for my flight to London, all the while enjoying my newly bought EPP-bag.
Yes, I was sooooo sure I would use Jess Alexandrakis wonderful pattern for an EPP bag, but then, time is something I didn't have in the last weeks. So then, this morning I went off to buy something suitable. At first, I set my eyes out for a bag that looked pretty much like what Jess suggested. In the end it was the sales that changed my mind. I found the perfect bag. Originally it's meant for toiletries, but then... the size fits, and the idea of being able to hang it on the seat in front of me? Perfect.

That's my new bag closed.

 As I usually have big handbags, I don't need more than the small carrying strap. Though there would be a possibility to fix one.

This is the bag opened up. Maybe you start getting an impression, why I love it so much. The mesh-zipper-baggies let me see what's inside, and it has a second bag (invisible here) that is made from clear plastic to keep the project itself in.

For now, I'm using the bag and its contents for what EPP often is for me, a possibility to calm myself down, as I'm really, really excited to go to the Birmingham festival of Quilts for the first time in my life, and also because I have a quilt entered into the competition and have no idea whatsoever if I'm going to be good or bad.

As long as I have WiFi-access, I will be blogging, promise.  A

Montag, 5. August 2013

Monday Morning Star Count #3

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Another long, lazy weekend gone... Birmingham is drawign nearer and nearer and I'm all excited on how my quilt is going to do in the competition. I do hope that the judges have the same opinion on it as everyone giving me a notice...

But then it's Monday Morning, and I've got some counting to do.

This is, what I accomplished during this week. Another 50 pieces done, bringing the piece count up to 116, leaving  231 still to add. Phew... and only ten days left to my self-set piecing deadline. I'm going to be dead on line, I suppose. But then, on Wednesday I'll be off on vacation, first to Birmingham, then to Wales. With hopefully a lot of piecing time.

Linking this up to the Monday Morning Star Count at Life under Quilts with Jessica Alexandrakis.

btw: Yes, I'm still in the "finding my design"-phase, sorry, if the blog looks different every now and then.

Samstag, 3. August 2013

Übung macht den Meister or... TGIFF

Strange title for this post? Yes, sort of. And then, not. Übung macht den Meister is German for training makes a master, and that's what I finally decided to call this piece of qulting art (at least it is to me.):
The block and borders is "Square Dance" by Sue Daley, the rest springs from my own imagination.
It was finished about two weeks ago on a Monday, the day I originally had planned to send it off to Birmingham for the NEC Festival of Quilts. And it was a TGIF-feeling, since I had been hand-quilting like mad despite the heat to get finished on deadline.

The quilt is entered for the Festival of Quilts under the title "Dancing Colours" but, that name only marginally fits it, now that I'm done. The category is "My first quilt" - and that's what it is, the first full-size quilt. It's mainly EPP'd, then appliquéd to the background. Finally I hand-quilted the whole thingie, since I don't yet dare to quilt feathers FMQ.

Here you can see the placement and design of the feathers... most of the quilt was cross-hatched, but it's meant to be a summer quilt, light and soft. It's made with a silk batting to help along with the lightness.

The hand-quilting part is responsible for the name, since I managed to reduce my stitch count from seven per inch to twelve per inch without really realizing what I was doing. I only tried to keep the stitches as short and even as possible. I didn't even know that twelve is really, really, really good, until I was at a mini-retreat with more experienced quilters who couldn't believe the shortness and evenness of my stitches. Blush... I learned to embroider from my mum when I wasn't even at school yet. Guess, that helps.

Last but not least the big question of why didn't I publish this before... simple. I didn't read the rules close enough and simply assumed (...never assume anything except an occasional air of intelligence...) that I was forbidden to show the quilt beforehand. I am not, so here we are :) Right in time to share it with you on TGIFF, hosted by Quokkaquilts this week.