Friday, October 15, 2010

Quilting Weekend With Mom

I spent a wonderful weekend with my mother in Des Moines this past weekend.
The American Quilters Society - Quilt Show was taking place from Weds-Saturday. We got a hotel room, and both brought our sewing machines and had a weekend full of quilts and sewing.
I saw so much, and learned a lot I think. I don't want to forget any of it, so I'm going to recap some of my favorite bits here.

There were so many beautiful quilts on display. Hundreds, in multiple categories, hung on display, some with ribbons declaring their prowess. I was allowed to take pictures, but I was told the pictures could not be posted online. Which is too bad, because some were quite breathtaking. Mother and I walked through many aisles examining and enjoying the fabric artists' work. Sometimes we could figure out how certain quilts were executed, sometimes they were so complicated neither of us could figure out how they were done.

The second half of the quilt show is the vendors. Everything needed to produce blue ribbon quilts was available for sale in the vendor aisles. :-D If they were selling something new to the fabric art community they usually had demos set up for them to show or for people to try. The thing to remember about quilts is there's 3 layers to a beautiful quilt. The first part, is the piecing of the fabric. (This is the part I'm most comfortable with right now) Cutting and sewing fabric to get a front and a back for the quilt. Good quilters can use fabric colors and piece shapes to suggest pictures or make intricate patterns. The next layer is the quilting. Using thread and sewing the front, back and middle batting together, a good quilter can add depth and a bit of 3-D to the quilt design. Depending on the pattern of the stitching, the eye can be drawn to certain areas of the quilt, in some instances the quilting stitches can be the entire pattern.
The final layer that makes a blue ribbon quilt is the embellishment. As one gal put it, "If it's not embellished, it's not finished." Over the years, quilters who enjoy other fiber arts have found ways to incorporate those into quilting. Now embellishing quilts with beads, crystals, fibers, wool rovings and sparkles are just as common as the more traditional appliques. This is the layer I'm least familiar with. My sewing has tended towards sturdy and utilitarian, leaving the fabrics to speak for themselves. I've never appliqued or embellished anything. So, as I wandered through the vendor village I mostly ignored the thread shops, I bought less than a yard of fabric, but I did buy a few new embellishing items. I bought a small pattern for a wall hanging with a butterfly/flower applique picture on it. I got some Angelina fibers to try out, in shades of blue of course, and a small pack of yarn fibers to round out my initial exploration into embellishment. I'll probably try out the Angelina fibers on the small butterfly wall hanging just to get two new things into one project. The fibers are melted with an iron to form a flat sheet of shiny fiber that can then be cut and sewn onto fabric. They can be ironed with leaves/flowers/etc to give them interesting shapes, clumping or spreading the fibers before ironing can create different opacity. Sounds crazy right? Here are some videos that explain it all much better than I can.

All in all a productive weekend. Besides everything that I learned, I also got some projects done. Rowen's wall hanging that I started when he was born; :-D finally got it finished, with buttons for embellishment. I also made him a cute pillow for his new big boy bed. (Dave switched the crib to it's toddler bed configurations while I was in Des Moines.) Awww.. :-)
Last but not least, I got a good start to the window quilt I'm making for the dining room. I got it designed and 20 of the little blocks sewn together. (I think I need 120 to make the whole thing.)

Mom got a cute cushion made for a bench she gave Rowen a few months ago. She found really cute fabric that looks like the book "The Hungry Caterpillar." That's one of his favorites, and he really likes the new cushion.

My sewing list for this fall is already too much to get done. :-D So I'll be doing quite a bit of sewing as we wind our way towards Samhain.
Hope everyone is enjoying the last of the nice weather.

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