Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Dutch Treat, The Happy Quilt

I saw a Dutch Treat quilt a few years ago, that was made by Clare Kingslake. At my then local quilt shop, a few ladies came together once a week to sew a block together with Clare helping out and giving advise. I envied the ladies their skill and determination, not thinking that I could ever do that, but I bought the book by Judy Garden anyway, just for in case, and started collecting lots of red and white prints for one day.
Then in December 2012, I decided that it would be my evening sewing and that I would just do a few blocks and see how it goes. Rather than doing it in all the red prints, I decided to use a collection of fabrics that I had bought on a trip to Colorado, which would look better in our house.
The fabric collection is called "Suede" and is by P&B Textiles. I had bought 14 different colours and the Dutch Treat quilt is made up of 14 rows of 14 blocks, so that seemed to be it's destiny. I had a lovely mottled caramel/gold/cream fabric, that looked really good with the other fabrics, and had enough of it too, so no need to get any extra.
My first block was stitched using a blending cotton thread, but I was not happy with the result, so started experimenting with different threads. I definitely got the best result using YLI 100wt silk thread, although a friend of mine has used Superior Bottomline for hers and she recommends that. Another friend suggested that I try out the Superior Monopoly thread, which she uses for appliqué, but I am very happy with my silk threads.
I used the same colour thread throughout, as it blended really well with the top fabric.

When I first started making the blocks, I did 3 or 4 a month, just whenever the mood took me. A year later, I realised that this could take many years to complete and not being blessed with a lot of patience decided to set myself a target of doing at least 10 every month. For a while this worked really well, but then things got in the way again and the project got put aside. I then discovered a group on Facebook for people doing "Dutch Treat" quilts, so I joined the group. This was just what I needed to restore my enthusiasm, so with renewed energy, the last few blocks were tackled.

Blocks done in 2013

If I ever do another block quilt like this, that is what I will be doing, join a group, because if nothing else, you get so many ideas on the group, you see so many different ways that people are doing the same design, there is always someone that can advise if you get stuck or don't know if the colour is working and it also keeps the momentum going. Some ladies in this group has made 4 Dutch Treat Quilts and although I got to the point where I hated this quilt and would never ever do another one like this, I am actually now considering doing another one, but in different fabrics, maybe rather than using all the designs in the book, to draw up some of my own and make it "my own treat".
This is the first attempt at doing reverse appliqué for me and some of the blocks were really hard to do, like the "Field of dreams" block, which I redid 3 times. Others that I thought would be really hard, turned out really well and was much easier than I thought. Some will always remind me of where I was when I did them, like the Napa Valley block, which I stitched on a quilting trip in France travelling through lots of vineyards. Rather than call my quilt "Dutch Treat", I have decided to name it "The happy Quilt" as the colours are so cheerful and I am so happy to be where I am right now, at the moment, today, this month, this year!

First time I laid out the completed blocks
Field of dreams block

"Napa valley" , the grapes that I stitched in France
I still have 8 blocks to do, but have started putting all the sashing strips in, hopefully I will have them all done before the weekend, when I go to Houston, so that I can measure out the border and mark the design out to start the appliqué on this while I am away from home. I don't have the backing fabric yet, but I have located a few shops that stock extra wide fabric in this range, so will be buying my backing while I am on the Quilter's Quest shop hop in Virginia and Maryland, after Houston. I might even be looking at fabric to do my next "treat" with!

Starting to play around with ;about

Deciding which colour to use for backing

While I am Houston, (I am not going to market, just to festival), I have enrolled in a few classes and hope to meet up with some friends from around the world, like Alex, who live in Australia, and Anne, who lives in the UK, but far enough that I only see her at quilt shows! And of course I will be meeting and making new friends, some that I have been corresponding with through good old Facebook, very excited about this.
I will not have a lot of free time to shop or look at all the amazing quilts, but will make use of every spare minute to go and enjoy the exhibitions and will post photos once I am back home. Now off to go and pack my class requirements, yippee!!!!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Radiance challenge 2014

Radiance challenge
I have been asked by so many people what this challenge is about, that I decided to explain here, then I can refer everyone to my blogpost in stead of explaining, yet again LOL.

Lisa Calle, owner of Stonehousequilting and Bernina ambassador, has set herself a challenge in May to relearn how to quilt on her new Bernina sewing machine. Not that Lisa has not quilted for a while, or need any practise to quilt or indeed learn anything at all, she is an award winning quilter that many of us follow avidly. It is just quite hard to go back to quilting on a domestic sewing machine when you have been used to quilting on a long arm machine for a while. I guess Lisa wanted to explore and use her new machine to it's full potential. The challenge was set with Teri Lucas, award winning quilter, teacher and also Bernina ambassador. An open invitation was extended to anyone to join in this challenge.

I am in a closed Facebook group of Handiquilter owners in Europe. The group was set up about two years ago and started with a handful of people and we now have over 80 members. We are all new to long arm quilting and the longest anyone has had their machine is about 3 years now. For most of us, the challenge would not be to quilt on a domestic machine, as until very recently, that was the way we did our quilting. In stead, the challenge would be to quilt on the long arm. I contacted Lisa and explained that we would like to join the challenge, but that we would like to do it on our Handiquilters. Lisa was very supportive and delighted to have us join the challenge.

So, I set the challenge to our group. Some needed a LOT of persuasion to take up the challenge, others needed very little convincing. Eventually we had 26 members join in the challenge.

The challenge was to produce a wholecloth mini quilt, approximately 18" square, using Robert Kaufman's Radiance fabrics. Any design in any style was permitted, no limitation on threads, but no painting or altering the fabric was allowed. What I did not realise at this point, was that the Radiance fabrics are not readily available in the UK, in fact, we could only find 1 shop that sold a very limited number of colours, we wanted every member to have a different colour of fabric, so I ordered all the fabrics from the USA. Then came the allocation of colours and to be fair, I offered choice in the order that members signed up to the challenge.

Some of the colours of Radiance fabric that we used

Great excitement when all the fabrics finally arrived, but also lots of awesomeness with several members stating that they could not possibly cut or sew these lovely fabrics. First hurdle…convincing some that it was okay to sew on the silk/cotton mix, much easier than stitching on pure silk!

It took ages before anyone was willing to start the stitching and with several members indicating that they have never before done a wholecloth and had no idea where to start, I started mine and posted constant updates and pictures. Very slowly the quilts started coming in, when some had issues, or second thoughts, the group was there to offer advise and encouragement and without this encouragement, some may never have finished their quilts, but if you see what has been produced, you would never guess that.

I have had an offer of prizes for winners, but have declined this. The challenge has been set up for our group, to encourage everyone to do something "out of their comfort zone", to learn a new technique, with the help and support of the group. We are all working together and helping each other out and learning together. For some designing and drawing out the design is the biggest challenge, for others it is using rulers and for some it is stitching out a design when they have never done anything other than use groovy boards before. Some have no idea which type or colour thread to use, but there is always someone that will give advise.  We want everyone to feel that they can post photos of their progress on the group page and ask for help and for those that know how, to share their knowledge. This will not happen if there is an element of competition. The group was set up to educate and support all the members and if after the challenge, some want to enter into competitions, they will have the support and encouragement of the group.

The amazing thing is that this group has brought so many of us together, we are all in different parts of the UK and Europe and some of us have never met, yet we are all in touch with each other on the internet if not daily, at least weekly and have built up a huge support network. We even have a few members from the USA! Some of us recently met at a workshop and we all felt as if we had known each other for years!

I have now spoken to Grosvenor shows, the organisers of some of the quilt shows in the UK and the quilts in our challenge will be on display at the following shows:
   Malvern Autumn show 2015
  Ardingley, Edinburgh, Exeter and Duxford in Spring 2016

For most, this will be the first time that  they will have a quilt in a show, for most, there have been some challenges in producing their quilt, but looking at the end results, you would never guess that. Every quilt has got a story to tell and is a huge achievement for the maker. Some members have used their 'spare' piece of fabric and produced a wonderful second piece to enter! I would say that this first challenge has been a tremendous success and I have set a new challenge for next year, which a lot of members have signed up for already. We are hoping to have a new challenge every year, joining in on this challenge is not compulsory, but it is such a wonderful opportunity to learn in the group and be active in a very supportive and friendly group, that we hope that most members in the group will take part.

All the quilts are not yet finished, we have extended the deadline to the beginning of December, I am posting the ones here that have been finished (in no particular order) so far and will do an update post later in the year with photos of the remaining quilts.

"A Persian Tale" by Annelize Littlefair, UK

"Hearts a Fire"by Lynda Jackson, UK

by Vee Jenkins, UK

"Ginko" by Adrienne Quinlan, UK

"Le Brave" by Anne Garner, UK

by Mindy Powell, Utah, USA

by Jill Lindstromm, Sweden

by Jacqueline Bertho, France

"Face" by Adrienne Quinlan, UK

By jacqueline Bertho, France

"Arachne's day off" by Nel Eyre, UK

"Mufasa" by Marjorie Cook, UK

by Tatyana Duffy, UK

by Joe Bennison, UK

"Go with the flow" by Annelize Littlefair, UK

"With a little help from my friends" by Jayne Spark, UK

I am so excited to see all these quilts displayed together and because they will be on show at several different shows, everyone taking part in the challenge should have a chance to see their quilt displayed with all the others!