Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The holiday season


 

It will be Thanksgiving tomorrow and even though this is not a celebration in France, I always enjoy this time of year and remember to be thankful for the people in my life,  my family and friends who surround me in good and difficult times.

Thanksgiving also marks  the beginning of the holiday season. This year I have decided to work on a small Christmas project to be in the atmosphere of the season. I have chosen a quilt by Jan Patek which is called Holly Jolly Christmas.

A red bird, stars, pine trees and Santa Claus, of course... this little quilt has it all.

 



I am halfway through piecing the top so having it handquilted and bound for Christmas is still manageable.

Yet, if I don't have time to handquilt it before Christmas, I still can use the top as a decorative item and quilt it later for the following Christmas.



It is a fun and lovely quilt to make and I balance my quilting time between handquilting a very large quilt and piecing and appliquéing this smaller project.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all ;-)

Until later,

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A form of meditation

Since the handquilting class, I have handquilted almost everyday. I work full time, I am also busy at home and do a lot of sports but handquilting is a little time for myself every evening. When it's the weekend, then I allow myself some more time for quilting.

It has a least three benefits :

1. A top is magnified and will soon be a quilt and will leave its UFO friends. I could have added that it reduces my UFO stack but that would have only been true if I was not  adding a new top regularly... but if you're a quilter, you know what I'm talking about, right?

2. The more I handquilt the more regular my stitches are. Besides, you get so used to doing it that it is completely effortless... which brings me to the third point.

3. It is a meditative time to reflect about your life. I don't know you but this fast-pace lifestyle that I really enjoy requires that I take some time out for myself and handquilting gives me this opportunity. When I start a big quilt like the one I am currently handquilting, I feel like it will take forever. But if you quilt it a little bit everyday, break your final goal into smaller ones like finishing quilting  a block or a row, without you realizing it you get to the end in "almost" no time. Well, it does take a little time but it is pure bliss. You may even wish you don't finish it so quickly... if you had not that UFO stack waiting, of course ;-)

When I handquilt, I treat myself with an expresso or some tea, depending of the time of the day. I may have some dark chocolate too. I gather my thimbles and create my little handquilting corner. I turn the radio on or put some music, classical, pop, rock depending on my mood and I quilt on.



Every hour, sometime less, I take a little break. If I quilt more than two hours, I take a long break (30 minutes or more) before resuming quilting.

I have said it many times in this blog, but I think that a top really comes alive when it is quilted. And choosing how to quilt it is part of the fun.



Have a wonderful weekend,

Until later,

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A traditional handquilting class.

This a class I took last week at home. I had organized this class earlier in the year with Alexia Rosfelder who teaches traditional Amish hand quilting on a frame.



Alexia was Esther Miller's student and represents her and teaches her technique. Most people know who Esther miller is, as she is very famous for her hand quilting. She has also designed the most fantastic and beautiful hand quilting frame. Esther Miller is Amish and has always quilted. When she moved to Europe in Germany, she met a group of quilters who created beautiful quilts but the quilting was not as nice as the quilts deserved. Esther discovered then that people were interested in her technique and started teaching it.

I have been dreaming of learning this technique for years. I had met Esther Miller at the Saintes Marie Aux Mines quilt show in 2006 where I had bought my Roxanne thimble and  needle glider (porcelain thimble). I have used both thimbles teaching myself thanks to the only video I had found. In fact, thanks to these many years of practice, the technique was not so difficult to learn. I have also  learnt many tips and I am now a lot better at quilting in all directions. In fact when I quilted on my floor stand hoop, I had the habit of turning my hoop instead of changing quilting direction. Now, I prefer to change direction and not turn my hoop.

Another reason, I had organized this class is that I really wanted to try quilting on a traditional floor frame before acquiring it.

Many people have been interested in the class and we were 12 people attending. I had to make room at home to welcome everybody for two days.

It was fun, filled with laughter and sharing time.... nothing can beat a bunch of passionate like-minded people together.

Alexia's professionalism, attention to each and every one, her clear explanations and demonstrations have helped us all learn the technique. We have not only learnt about quilting but also about batting, needles and thread! Now, only practice will help us master the technique.

I think that I can now quilt easily in every direction using Roxane's thimble when I quilt towards me vertically and diagonally, and Ted Storm's thumb thimble when quilting away from me vertically and diagonally. On my left hand, I wear the needle glider which is a porcelain thimble which helps make tiny little stitches.

Since this class, I have been quilting a little bit every evening. It is a good, relaxing time after a long day at work and I have found that it is also a reflective time that I enjoy more and more every day.

But I suppose you would like to see photos, right?

I had made room in my winter living room upstairs so that the three frames could fit. I also had decorated every corner and shelves with stitched and quilted projects  I had made.






 





A few friends were staying overnight, so I had decorated the bedrooms and bathrooms with fresh little bouquets of flowers from my garden in jam jars and had put magazines in case they could not sleep because of the excitement of these two days ;-)






As you can see on the following photos we were all very concentrated...










 ... and a little bit afraid... but  as Alexia said, "Keep calm and quilt on" ;-)




 We had a design with vertical, horizontal, diagonal lines and feathers... no directions had been forgotten!





The lighting was good on each side of the frame.



Seeing the demonstrations is of great help to master the technique. That's why I think that taking a class is really important.





The workmanship on the quilt frame is incredible, just the frame is a piece of art!!!





Alexia had brought a few quilts that she had hand-quilted.


 



 And one quilt that she had machine-quilted. Alexia is not a hand quilter snob like me and does beautiful work with her long arm too!! So if you look for a long-arm quilter, you can contact her.

 

 To finish this post, a photo of the group taken in my garden, and my quilted piece of fabric after the two days.






I want to thank Alexia for this fabulous class and all the people on this photo. I knew some of them but there were people I didn't know before and I think we all have made new friends :-)

Until later,