Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Christmas Extravaganza!

Our November meeting was a chance to see some ideas for Christmas decorations and presents. We had six different demonstrations, free refreshments - including my first mince pie of the season!- a free raffle and of course, lots of show and tell.

Paula showed some lovely little Christmas stockings, which could be used as tree or room decorations or even hold small gifts. A string of these along a mantlepiece would look very traditional!

June had made these cute Father Christmas serviette holders. These were easy to make and would enhance any festive table.

Stephanie demonstrated a Christmas angel which had been featured in 'Patchwork and Quilting' magazine. It's much better to see something than just try and work it out for yourself with the instructions. Stephanie gave lots of tips on how to adapt the method so it was even simpler, and didn't need such hard to find components.

Lynda showed her Easy Advent Calendar. There was some skepticism when she said there was time to make it before December 1st, but after seeing the method, most people agreed it was indeed very easy and very quick!

Di showed how to make those gorgeous Christmas trees made of triangles. They look fiddly, but so delicate and attractive when complete. They give an ideal opportunity to use up all those beads and sequins which seemed so necessary when bought, but somehow lurk at the bottom of your work box unused.Gill gave patterns for some lovely foundation-pieced Christmas motifs, which could be used for cards, labels, bags, table mats or even together in a mini-quilt. Many people fight shy of foundation piecing as it seems so complicated ( not to say ridiculous - putting your fabric on the back where you can't see it and then sewing it to a piece of paper!) but the accuracy it brings and the chance to sew very complex shapes makes it a firm favourite for many projects.

Once they had visited all the demo tables and had refreshments, some people took the opportunity to chat (and sew the binding of their show and tell!)

Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to talk to friends old and new, and wish all a happy Christmas and a healthy new year!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Workshops for 2008

We are busy organising our calendar for next year and have alreay firmed up three workshops.

The first one is on Saturday 23rd February and will be a 'Hexagon Box Day' run by Di Alderman. This will be an ideal opportunity to make something lovely for yourself or a present for someone else.

On Saturday 15th March Jenny Rolfe wiil show us how to make 'Tiny Works of Art'. This will be a stimulating and creative day, playing with fabric, thread and embellishments.

We were all very impressed with the talk by Pat Deacon in September, and are delighted that she will come and show us how to make her 'Curved Flying Geese' on Thursday 24th April. (All those who work on Thursdays will have to see if you can take a day's holiday!)

In the pipeline is a day looking at old quilts, guided by a member of the Quilter's Guild of the British Isles. This will hopefully be in May and will be an opportunity to look in detail at old and antique quilts brought along by local quilters.
Here is a quilt which was brought along to our exhibition by a local lady who was hoping to have it repaired. Unfortunately it is in a very poor state, but we have undertaken to find out as much as we can about the quilt for her. Any information gratefully recieved!

Sunday, 21 October 2007

October's Linus Evening (and AGM)

October is the month when we hold our annual AGM - a necessary part of any group's calendar, but not one we intended to protract!

The highlights of the evening were the Treasurer's report - delivered in Stephanie's absence - and Chairman's report. The group's funds were shown to be in a very healthy state, and have allowed us to buy some ironing boards, irons and extension leads for future use. We will be able to book some well-known (and thus expensive!) speakers for next year. Di gave a round-up of the year, and it was amazing to hear what we had packed in, from a visit to see some of Birmingham's old quilts to our own exhibition. Our workshops had been very popular, and we are already planning some for next year. Andrea and Bunty gave a report on the exhibition, which was a great success. We had 120 visitors over the weekend, and have more than covered our costs as well as giving a lot of people (including ourselves) a lot of pleasure. The Visitors' Choice labels were won by Andrea for 'Country Sampler' and Bunty for 'Back to the Henhouse'. This aspect of the show proved very popular, with 38 out of the 73 quilts being chosen as someone's personal favourite.

Di agreed to stay on in the chair, and Andrea, Bunty, Gill and Paula also agreed to continue as committee members. Lynda had decided that after 7 years on the committee, it was time to let others with fresh ideas take her place. The committee gave her a beautiful bunch of yellow roses and some gift vouchers as a thankyou for all her hard work.

Next, sewing machines were fetched and the Linus boxes were raided for kits of blocks , wadding and backing. Margot decided to put some gingerbread men blocks together, sashing them with yellow.
Chris helped with the arrangement and pressing of the blocks.
Jackie and Eileen won the prize for the fastest team, managing not only to complete a top, but wad and tack it ready for quilting too!

Elaine was doing a bit of un-sewing (some blocks that had been sewn together incorrectly at another time) and Di was giving her some moral support.
Ruth had become intrigued by the Mile a Minute block, and had chosen pretty pink, purple and blue fabrics to have a go at this technique. Lots of people were interested in watching her progress, and she had soon assembled a large team of cutters, pressers and general advisers to help her!
On the night we completed two tops (Jackie and Eileen's and Margaret put together a t-shirt top as well) and started several others, which will be completed for the next meeting. Those people who hadn't brought their machines were able to help the sewers and have a look at some of the possible simple quilts which can be made for this worthy cause.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Exhibition success!

This weekend has been our exhibition and it was a great success.
The committee had several meetings to plan it and have thrashed out such weighty matters as where to put the refreshment tables, who has got the white gloves, who can make an 'A' board and how much to charge for teas and coffees! Seriously, the planning beforehand made the whole setting up of the exhibition, not exactly stress-free, but well organised. Unfortunately, we couldn't set up until 9pm on the Friday night before the event, so people were hard at work till midnight, erecting quilt stands and hoisting quilts, then back at 9am the next morning to add the last few quilts, put the finishing touches to the sales table and add to the other displays. Luckily, we had plenty of helpers, and all was ready for the chairman of Harborough District Council to cut the ribbon and declare the exhibition open at 11 o'clock, bang on schedule!
Here is the banner in place, to welcome people to the hall (and reassure them that they were in the right place, as some had difficulty finding the hall, despite our 'A' board on the main road, and lots of other signs.)
Lots of visitors came to look at the quilts (and have a natter).
We even had some male visitors - I think they really came for the cake!
I hope that lady isn't touching the quilts, as there were plenty of notices to warn, and white gloves in case you felt the need!
At the back of the hall we had a display of cushions, bags, Christmas decorations and small wall-hangings, in fact, all the things which were left over!
Quillows from the recent quillow workshop were much admired, and we were kept busy showing how to fold them away and get them out again. Challenging stuff!
There was a lot of interest in the sales table, as quilters never visit an exhibition without taking their cheque books - just in case!

Final stop for most people was the refreshments room, where teas, coffees, squash and a wide selection of home-made cakes were available. (I was amazed to find that my cake sold out on Saturday! It's usually still hanging around at the end, and then I have to bring it home - and eat it myself!)

By 4pm on Sunday we had had over 120 visitors, all of whom enjoyed their visit. There were many positive comments in the Visitors' Book, and we look forward to welcoming more quilting enthusiasts next time.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Exhibition excitement!

We are getting ready for our exhibition on Saturday and Sunday 13th and 14th October from 11-4 in the Walcote Memorial Hall, and trying hard to get everything right! We have had exhibitions before, but they have mainly been as part of Artsfeast - a celebration of the arts in Lutterworth during its annual Feast Week in August. There were lots of advantages of being part of a larger event (not least the fact that we had free publicity and no venue charges) but there were disadvantages too. St Mary's Church is a spectacular setting for quilts, but it was very difficult to hang quilts safely. Also the timing of Feast Week (in the middle of August) meant that people were often away on holiday, making manning the exhibition problematic.

So, we have decided to go it alone! We have hired the hall for the weekend and will be hanging quilts on Friday night. Although I haven't seen all the quilts, I know from show-and-tell that visitors are in for a treat! There will be a sales table - so make sure you bring your purse - and refreshments (including home-made cakes).

Here is a glimpse of some of the items I am gathering together to take with me on Friday. Looking forward to a great weekend!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Painting and stamping on fabric

On 19th September Chris MacLean treated us to a demonstration of how to paint and stamp patterns on fabric, by using commercial stamps or those made at home. It all looked very easy and the opportunities for creativity are endless.

Here she is, showing some commercial stencils which can be used to decorate fabric.

Here she and her daughter, Jenny, are showing a quilt Chris has made using painted fabrics. The colours are fabulous and painting allows you to have small (or large) quantities of any colour or shade that you need, without having to buy yardage.

Then came the best bit - having a go! Chris allowed us free rein of all her supplies, which gave a fantastic taste of the posibilities that using paint on fabric can bring.

Some people painted with gusto (and not a little success) while others took the chance to catch up with friends and hear their news.

Then came the best part of the evening - show and tell! We had our first glimpse of our new banner, which will be hung outside the hall for our exhibition in October. Members have made individual letters, which Di joined together. (There is an 'e' in Lutterworth, but it's swung up for some reason!)

Here are some of the beautiful quilts which have been made by members recently, including a panel made for displaying round the altar in Saint Mary's church.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Getting quilts out of boxes

It is our aim to get some of the antique quilts currently languishing in archival boxes, wrapped in acid-free tissue paper into the fresh air for us all to appreciate. Quilts were made as functional and beautiful articles, and while we understand that museums cannot begin to dispay all their treasures, we feel that quilts have been hidden away for too long. On a recent visit to Birmingham City Museum's Store, the curator freely admitted that in the five years since she had been in post, she had not even looked inside some of the boxes containing quilts!
Here is one we saw at Birmingham, a stunning use of hexagons as a border for an amazing Mariners Compass centre. It was apparently designed by the donor's father and made by the mother in about 1875-1882. It is made of silk, which means the colours are wonderful (also because they've been in a box for years!) and set off by the use of black. The whole quilt measures 61x59 and the hexagons have a side of a half an inch!
Photo by kind permission of Birmingham Museums Copyright Alison Haselgrove 2006

Monday, 10 September 2007

Cosmic Wonders

This year, Piecemakers' members decided to enter a group quilt into 'The Festival of Quilts' at the NEC in Birmingham. Bunty and Andrea bravely volunteered to organise it, and came up with the theme of 'cosmic wonders'. Members were invited to participate, and 24 of us received a pack of fabrics and embellishments and a sub-theme of rays, planets, Milky Way or comets to inspire us. The brief was to make a small quilt (8" finished, and bagged, so there were no bulky bindings) which were to be joined together in some way. On the due date, all 24 small quilts were returned to Bunty and Andrea, who had the task of displaying them to their advantage, and in a way which would work at the NEC. As you can see, they have made a great job of putting the very different quilts together to form a whole.
We were disappointed not to win anything, but pleased to have entered the competition, and seen our work hanging in such illustrious halls.