Inspiring Quilters

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

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It’s Thursday and as I sat on the sofa watching a show about renovating and contemplating coming down to the freezing studio to blog I was feeling rather uninspired.  And then I Cheryl’s post from last week‘s linky party.  Talk about inspiring quilters!

Cheryl blogs at 22 Applegate Lane and was lucky enough to attend grown up summer camp with the Quilters of Gees Bend.  Do you all feel as weak at the knees as I do reading that? :)  Make sure you visit Cheryl’s blog to see all of the amazing quilts that the ladies worked on, but to give you a taste of what you’re about to be inspired by I’d like to share a paragraph from Cheryl:

“The quilters of Gee’s Bend, led by Miss China, start each day with a prayer, offering up the work of their hands to Jesus. As they work, they often sing. They unselfconsciously shared that tradition with all of us attending Fiber College. One could often hear spirituals loudly, and beautifully, emanating from the quilting tent.”

Now I’m not religious, but I do feel a strong sense of spirituality when I quilt.  To me quilting always feels like meditation.  It’s where I find my peace, where I go to collect myself when I’ve fallen into pieces and where I’ve found my voice.  Through quilting I connect with others, I give to charities and I share the love of handmade.  And I tell you what, I think I’m going to start singing while I quilt :)

I would love you to share in the comments which quilters inspire you and in what way.  I will put all of the comments into a blog post to share, there’s nothing better than losing yourself in an afternoon of learning about inspiring quilters!

Speaking of inspiring quilters…  Next week the talented Crystal of Two Little Aussie Birds is going to host I Quilt.  She has just sewn up a storm as a contestant on Sewvivor and is one of the local Canberra Modern Quilters that I will be travelling to Austin with next year for QuiltCon!  Please be sure to link up on her blog next week and check out her inspiring blog :)

On that note, link up your quilting process <3  Let’s inspire each other to keep growing our art <3  Don’t forget to visit three other linkers!

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Quick and Easy Heart Quilt

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Last week I decided at the eleventh hour that I was going to make a quilt for a very special family friend of ours who was turning seven. I came up with a fabric pull at 8pm on Thursday night for a party at 2pm on Saturday.  Yep, I’m a crazy quilter! I wanted this quilt to be special but I needed to fine a quick and easy quilts.  So I made Miss 7 a quick and easy heart quilt.

Quick and easy heart quilt

Quick and easy heart quilt

I cut 70 3.5″ squares from 23 pink and red fabrics for my heart and used a couple of yards of an off white and red pin dot print that I had on a bolt.  I managed to get all the cutting done on Thursday night in a couple of hours.  Friday morning I was running errands but I managed to piece the entire top Friday afternoon in about four hours.

quick and easy heart quilt up close

The quilting took me a few more hours (having a longarm means I don’t have to spend all that time pin basting which makes quilting so much faster). I quilted large feathers in the negative space and a sort of swirly vine in the heart with her name in the center and pebbles around it to give it some definition.  It’s easier to see from the back.

quilting detail

quilting detail

I managed to have the top trimmed and the binding prepared before I went to bed on Friday night.  Saturday morning it was bound and I even made a label which I never do!

heart quilt

heart quilt

I have to say that while I was working on this quilt a part of me was thinking that the birthday girl would probably prefer a Monster High doll and whilst her parents would appreciate the quilt I wasn’t sure if she would love it.  Unfortunately the gifts weren’t opened at the party so I was left hanging until I got that loveliest phone call an hour after the party.

The birthday girl’s Mum rang me up and all she could say was, “I’m speechless”.  Apparently her daughter had opened the gift in the car and started screaming, they thought something was wrong, but no, she just loved the quilt so much and was screaming in that way that only 7 year old girls can :)  I’m so thrilled.  Isn’t it the best feeling when you make a gift with love and the recipient loves it too?

heart quilt folded

I used my favourite threads of course, Aurifil 2000 50wt in the negative space and King Tut 926 in the heart.  The fabrics were all from my stash and the wadding is 100% bamboo (Matilda’s Own brand).

I’m linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts

Sew Cute Tuesday

Quilting supply tips

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty process!  This week I’m talking quilting supply tips, but before I do that I would like to feature the talented Jessica from Quilty Habit.

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Last week Jessica linked up the matching quilts that she made for herself and her sister.  I LOVE these quilts!  They combine traditional blocks with improv techniques and even better, the fit together to make the bottom of a heart <3

Sister quilts by Jessica of Quilty Habit

I love that Jessica kept these quilts similar yet different.  I have to say, her sunset tones is my favourite and uses some of my all time favourite prints!  Love your palette choices, amazing how matching quilts can look so different using different palettes. But the thing I love best of all are the great sister photos of Jessica and her sister with their quilts.  You totally have to head over and check them out.  I wish I had a sister!

This week I’m talking quilting supplies.  You can find my previous post on wadding here and I’ve given quilting tips here.  But what I wanted to say this week is buy the best quilting supplies that you can afford.

stash for kathreen 2

I only stock products that I believe in.  I use Matilda’s Own wadding, Aurifil and King Tut threads and a range of fabrics.  You should definitely try products out for yourself and go with what you think is best but for beginner quilters there are some general tips.

Wadding should be clean.  Any bits in your wadding are going to cause you a problem.  Cotton seeds are going to exude oil, dark bits of cotton husks or dirt in wool wadding are going to show through light fabrics.  Hard chunks (husks, stones) risk putting the timing out on your machine if you hit them while you quilt.  If your wool wadding smells of lanolin it might stain your quilt with oil when you wash it.  After all the hours that we put into our quilts, you owe it to yourself to buy clean, good quality wadding.

different wadding

Using good quality thread should help your quilts and machine last longer.  And speaking of machines…  you want a machine that is going to give you a nice straight stitch, than you can fiddle with the tension to adjust it as need be and change your stitch length.  And you want to get to know your machine.  Clean it regularly, try out different settings.  Ask other quilters how many stitches per inch their machine is set to (I get 15 stitches per inch when I’m piecing or dressmaking).  If your machine is set to tiny stitches then you can damage your fabric when it’s time to unpick.  You also want to use good needles, I prefer Schmetz brand.

So that’s a few of my tips for quilting supplies.  Please share any you have in the comments :)

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Link up your quilty process and remember to visit at least two other linkers :)

Halloween Quilt in progress

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

After years living abroad I have come to know and love Halloween and this year I’m taking the plunge and making a Halloween quilt.  Halloween isn’t a big holiday in Australia and was never even celebrated when I was a kid.  These days we get the commercialism of it, but many Australian’s refuse to participate.

I have trouble saying no to candy and I love making quilts and costumes and my kids have come to expect Halloween celebrations so this year I’m working on a Halloween quilt.  After sharing a photo on instagram of my initial fabric pull, Kelly of Kelby Sews brought my attention to the fun Quilt-A-long #mybooqal.  If you’re getting spooky with Halloween quilts, please join in the fun and hashtag your work on instagram.

halloween pic 1

Halloween is in Spring in Australia and by the end of October we’re all living in denial of cold weather so there isn’t much point making a lap quilt as no one will snuggle under it.  So I’ve decided to make a Halloween wall quilt.  I’m thinking wonky stars and feature prints and some spooky quilting.  I’m thinking that I’ll hang it in our entry way and on Halloween will put it on the front door.  I’m hoping we get trick or treaters but the majority of our street are at Grandchildren rather than children stage…

halloween fussy cut

My lovely friend Angie of Gnome Angel (that girl is a blogging machine!  Check her out) offered me some of her scary scraps and even had her husband drop them in my letterbox with a block of chocolate one lunch time.  Aren’t quilty friends the best?!  She gave me three of the Halloween prints and the rest were straight out of my stash – this is exactly what I was talking about in my last post; that you can use small prints in the right colours for any project, even seasonal ones :)

halloween fabrics 2

I’ve fussy cut a couple of the prints and just need to sketch out the ideas that I have floating around my head…  Please feel free to share any Halloween quilty ideas you have :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I’m linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced for the first time in what feels like FOREVER!

How to buy fabric

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Did you see the recent post by Diane Bohn from blank pages about fabric addiction?  I started to write about this last week but didn’t want to overload the thinkyness on my Cost of Quilting post.  What I’ve really learnt over the past year or two is how to buy fabric.

Diane talks about her experience with fabric addiction.  I’m so glad that she shared this.  To be honest, I used to use fabric purchases to make myself happy.  Fabric purchases have definitely been retail therapy and much more expensive than actual therapy would have been!!  I hate the money that I have spent on fabric and what I could and should have spent it on.  But these days my fabric purchases are minimal and under control.  I also run them all past my business partner (and husband!) because I want to know that I’m not dipping into our family budget for fabric.  I can honestly say that on the rare occasions that I buy fabric now, it is fabric that I need (as opposed to what I think I need).

For me personally, buying fabric was filling a hole.  My husband was working long hours, I wasn’t working and I didn’t really have an outlet that was giving me professional satisfaction.  Of course I had my kids to keep me busy, but honestly, when you cook dinner and 9 times out of 10 the response is something along the lines of “I didn’t want that!” you really don’t get a heap of satisfaction…

Back when I was buying fabric left right and center I would do things like buy fat quarter or half yard bundles of an entire line.  I would follow all the fabric store newsletters and facebook pages and could never pass a sale.  Of course I would have to fill an envelope or box to get the most out of shipping.  I had a million ways to convince myself that I needed to buy that exact fabric even though some had just arrived.  I could (and still can) identify designer’s work and would lust after my favourites or be hanging out waiting for the release of the newest, bestest lines.  Ironically I NEVER use those designer bundles together and the real impulse buys (read: everyone is buying it so I better get it before it runs out) sit on my shelves waiting to be destashed.

I am totally fine with buying fabric these days but I want to share some tips with you about how I choose fabric.  I really don’t think buying a full bundle of one line is the way to go.

My studio is never going to end up on Pinterest.  I love it and I work hard to make it look good, but I ain’t a gal who is going to wrap fabric around comic book card or refold fat quarters so they’re all exactly the same.

stash sorted by colour

I organise my fabric by colour on shelves with the full sets on smaller, separate shelves (I never use these which is why I don’t think it’s the way to buy fabric).  Where’s the fun if someone has selected all the colours and prints for you?

Organising my fabric by colour means I can easily see what I have the most of and what I’m lacking.  This means that when there is an amazing sale and I actually do need fabric, I know what to look for.  Instead of putting novelty prints in my cart I go for tone on tone prints and I generally go for small prints.  If I buy big prints I get a few yards to use them for backing.

Organising my fabric by colour means I add to the colours that I don’t have lots of rather than instinctively purchasing more of my favourite colours.  I have HEAPS of blue but always need to look out for purple, orange and yellow.  As much as I’m not advocating for blindly building your stash, I did find Pink Castle’s Stash club to be a great way to build up tone on tone prints that I actually use every day.  I unsubscribed though as it’s an easy way of spending money each month without budgeting or feeling much responsibility for the actual spending.

So if you’re trying to keep your fabric spending down but you just can’t avoid a super sale, I recommend that you organise your stash by colour, identify what colours you’re low on and shop the sales for those colours.  Don’t even look at the novelty prints or the designer bundles.  Trust me, you are going to get distracted by those cute foxes or convince yourself that you need some seasonal prints.  In reality, once you have a good selection of colours then you can pull prints to make seasonal (or any) projects using colours rather than needing to buy that once in a lifetime print of Santa riding a kangaroo and shouting “G’Day!”

I agree with Diane that there’s nothing wrong with sharing fun purchases, that doesn’t make people spend money on fabric.  But I do sometimes feel that there is kind of a crowd mentality when it comes to having to buy the latest and greatest fabrics. Which is crazy really because it’s the diversity of quilts, the original, one of a kind quilts that are so special.  We kind of get whipped up into a frenzy to buy what we’ve seen other quilters buying rather than making our own, original quilts from our own, diverse stashes.

My high comes from making beautiful quilts, not from amassing and hoarding copious amounts of pretty fabrics :)  If you’re sneaking fabric purchases and feeling anxiety about it, please head over and read Diane’s post, I really think it has an important message in it.

I’d love to hear your tips for buying fabric.  Do you shop the sales or repurpose clothing?  How do you make sure that you buy what you need and not what you want?

And don’t pass out, I’ve posted more than once this week! ;)

Thanks for stopping by :)

Supernova Quilt

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty goodness.  This week I have been quilting a STUNNING supernova quilt.  I just wish it was mine to keep!

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Alys contacted me a couple of weeks back about sending her Supernova quilt to me.  The pattern is from the book Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen.  My original quilting suggestions were very similar to the original quilting done by Angela Walters (great minds think alike… ;) ) but we came up with a plane to enhance the contrast and angles and I think it turned out just perfectly!

Alys quilt on bed

We selected thread colours to enhance Alys’s piecing (I only ever quilt with Aurifil and King Tut threads because I believe they are the best quality).  My all time favourite Aurifil #2000 in 50 wt, a lovely pale teal #5006 and a verigated pink King Tut (which is similar to an Aurifil 40 wt). We used Matilda’s Own brand 100% wool wadding which contributes to the awesome texture of this quilt.

Alys quilt thread

We went with straight lines in lots of different directions but generally travelling out from the center with circles and swirls randomly in between.

Alys quilt details

The inner blue area was quilted with a diamond shape with a swirl in the center to echo the rest of the quilting.  I quilted a feathery kind of ferny scroll in the teal area and feathers in the pink.  These go in different directions to enhance the movement and contrasts in the quilt.  I’m SUPER happy with how it turned out.  I can’t wait to give it back to Alys!!

Alys quilt back

Speaking of backs…  Pieced backs can cause all sorts of issues with a longarm.  The piecing in them creates tension and you can end up with one side of a quilt stretched tight and the other looking like a parachute.  I have to say, as much as I appreciate a wideback, Alys’s pieced back is GORGEOUS!!  Bring me a pretty back any day ;)

Alys quilt rumpled

It was an absolute pleasure to quilt for Alys, my only complaint is that I can’t keep the quilt ;)  We emailed and chatted on facebook to come up with an initial design and to make changes along the way (we had originally planned to densely quilt the inner pink area but left it unquilted as it gives a fun pop that matches the unquilted sections in the low volume area).  I have to say, one of the best things about being a longarm quilter is getting to quilt all the quilts that you don’t have time to actually make!

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Have you been quilting this week?  Don’t forget to link up your quilty process and visit three other linkers <3


The cost of quilting

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and you’re here to link up your quilting process.  If you’re interested in my thoughts on the cost of quilting please read on and add your comments, if you’d rather link up and run, feel free to scroll to the end :)

First up, a big thank you for sticking around this year.  I have had so little time to devote to my blog.  I have always found that the first twelve months after an international move are pretty tough.  I hope that by the end of this year my blog will be getting a lot more love from me!

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I’ve been home with the flu this week and have been generous enough to pass it on to two of my children.  Although one could argue that I caught it from their school…  Either way there hasn’t been any quilting going on, but there has been a lot of thinking.

Did you see Molli Sparkles post from 22 August?  TGIFF – No Value Does Not Equal Free … It Equals $2,252.40

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO

Essentially Molli breaks down the final costs of the No Value quilt.  It’s a very clever idea and one that has generated much discussion on his blog.  I totally agree that we need to be more realistic about what our quilts are worth and what they cost.  One particular aspect of Molli’s cost breakdown that I want to talk about is the one off design concept fee.

Molli has a $250 line item for the design concept.  Now this item originally received a lot of attention in the comments.  I TOTALLY agree with charging a design concept fee.  I rarely make a quilt following a pattern, I dream my designs up over time, sketch them in pencil on paper, work out any quilt math and then turn it into a quilt top.  As for quilting, I generally make up the quilting design as I go.  This doesn’t work when you’re quilting for other people.

When clients bring me their quilt tops we discuss thread colours and quilting designs.  I ask who/what the quilt is for, I explain that I only use the two brands of thread that I consider to be the best quality available and I start to suggest quilting designs.  I seek feedback, modify my suggestions, continue this process and then sketch up the agreed quilting design.  I always reassure my clients that I quilt much better than I draw! ;)

Without wanting to sound self righteous, the key to my business is my quilting talent. People bring me their quilts because they like my work.  All my custom work is hand-guided, in fact, until recently I didn’t realise/understand that you can custom quilt using a computer.  In my mind that was semi custom or something similar.  Don’t worry, a bunch of longarmers let me know exactly how wrong I was!  ;)

I’m not in anyway undervaluing the creativity that goes into designing a custom design ahead of time, feeding that into a computer and having the computer stitch that out.  It takes incredible talent to be able to do that, a talent that I most definitely do not have!  I guess I just see my computer as a trained monkey to do the edge to edge work (note: my computer does not have the ability to do custom work, I bought the basic package).  My custom work is never going to have the perfection of a computer guided custom quilt.  And yes, I have been told there are quilters out there that are good enough to be mistaken for computers.  Um, that ain’t my goal!

Any longarmer will tell you that they need edge to edge (all over) work to keep their business going, I will tell you every time that I LOVE custom work.  I will even tell you that a large part of me regrets buying a computer system (it ain’t cheap!!).  I’m just not a natural business person, I’m an artist, conversely, I want to turn my art into a business.  I’m constantly trying to work out how to turn this passion of mine into a successful business.  How do I best divide my time between making quilts to sell, quilting for others and making quilts for me/friends/family/charity.  Let’s not even mention that this is “business time” which is what’s left after my day job, looking after my family and giving quality time to my husband and kids.  Don’t even ask my friends or extended family, I am a BAD friend, no one hears from me anymore, I have no time.

So what it comes down to is valuing my time and skills. And you valuing your time and skills too!

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO


And that’s where I come back to Molli’s post and concept of the design fee.

When you contact me to quilt a quilt for you we will arrange a time for you to visit the studio or start an online discussion.  Before you are sure that you want to leave your quilt with me I will give you at least half an hour of my time.  I have had clients in my studio for 2.5 hours discussing their quilting.  I LOVE to talk quilting and I’m happy to give you that time (edited to add: noting that I anticipate a half hour consultation).

Once we’ve come up with a design I’ll fill out a worksheet that breaks down the cost of quilting.  Longarming in Australia is pretty standard and my rates are in line with those of everyone else.  Which sounds fine until people who’ve been in the business for a couple of decades tell you that their prices have DROPPED.  That’s right.  Over the last 15 years the cost of longarm quilting to the client has decreased.

I would say 50% of the time I have to trim quilt back before I can load them, often I trim wadding.  I won’t make a fuss, but I will bury threads or try and invisibly fix really bad sections that are coming unstitched.  Often I’ll leave it for the client, but if it’s going to cause a problem quilting then I have to fix it.  Guess what I charge for that?  Nothing.

Loading a quilt onto the frame takes me anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour (probably more, actually, I’m new and I’m fussy).  Winding bobbins and basting takes time too.  Did I mention that I will check the wadding and pick out any seeds, dirt or fluff that will cause a problem later?  That all takes time and there is no line item attached to it.

Then I’ll quilt.  I’ll take as much time as it takes and I’ll unpick and fix any problems without mentioning that extra time.  It’s just part of my job and any longarmer will tell you that we spend a lot of time unpicking.  If I’ve grossly underestimated the cost of quilting in the quote I’ll just live with that.  We agreed on a quote and that’s what I’ll be paid.

I usually take a few progress pics and email them to my clients and/or share them on social media.  Quilting is exciting and I want my clients to enjoy the process.

Once I’m done I’ll write up an invoice and send an email.  We’ll arrange a time for to collect the quilt or I’ll travel to the post office and select the best and safest shipping method.  Don’t worry, I’ll call and double check whether about paying for extras like express postage.  All I charge is the shipping costs, no extras for my time or petrol.

If clients are local and pop over to the studio to collect their quilts I’ll lay it out on my display bed and talk through the details.  Seriously, this bit is fun.  I love seeing people excited about their beautiful quilts!

What I don’t charge, but should is:

$250 quilting design concept fee

$30 postage and handling (minimum)

$30 loading and preparation fee (based on $30 hour which is what I think that I’m worth with my experience and skills and is inline with Australian payscale – less than I earn in my day job which also includes superannuation, sick leave, parental leave, annual leave etc)

$30 per hour consultation fee for extra time

So that is going to be a minimum of $280 (if a client is local) before I even start to work out how much a quilt is going to cost to quilt.  And I’m not even going to tell you how awful I feel charging clients more than my base rates for quilting.

Ain’t no one gonna pay me that!

So what is the moral of the story?  I quilt because I love it.  I need to value my time and skills.  I hope that you value the time and skills of your longarmer (and yourself!!) a little more.  And PLEASE, please, please, don’t ask me to quilt for free, for “mates rates” or to tell you how you should quilt your quilt.  And if you don’t agree with the fees above, consider this:

I am an artist, a business woman, a part time worker, a mother of three (young children!), a wife.  I have an autoimmune disease that impacts on my life.  I have good days and days where I need to lay down a lot.  I have made a significant financial commitment in buying my longarm quilting machine and computer system.  I have made significant investment of time gaining my technical skills and knowledge and experience.  My quilting designs are original, beautiful and deserving of a fee.  I have to work a day job so that I can afford to quilt.  Time spent quilting is not spent with my children or earning a fraction of what I can in my day job.

Quilting has a tiny profit and a surplus of unpaid opportunities. As much as I love quilting I have to make tough decisions about what my time is worth.  If I’m going to give up family time then I need to be paid.  If you want to talk quilts with me, then please come to one of my classes, a guild meeting or come say hi if I’m volunteering at a quilting event.  Otherwise it’s just not fair to my family that I’m spending business time giving away my time for free. I feel guilty every time I say no to a request for quilting advice, blogging, discount quilting or even free quilting for exposure. But I am running a business and I’m good at what I do and SURELY I deserve to be paid. I’m telling you this because I want you to understand that I’m not trying to be rude or offend you, but I have to be able to say no to people. And more than that, I have to be able to tell people that I am SEW WORTH it.  And sew are you!!

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO

Have you notice that button?  Go check out Hunter’s Design Studio and specifically the page on We Are Sew Worth It.  Because we are, all of us who quilt and make art and gift quilts and love what we do.  We really are.  And we really need to start telling people that we’re worth it.

And please link up your quilty process below because it’s Thursday and process rocks!!  Don’t forget to visit three other linkers <3

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Let me tell you about the quilt show….

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

I spent today at the local quilt show.  I wasn’t planning on going on the first day (I volunteered for set up and white gloves on day 2) until WON THREE RIBBONS!!!!!  And then I was all like, “wild horses couldn’t keep me away”.  I really had to see those ribbons first hand on the first day, I even took a leave day from work.  Crazy, right?!

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If you’d like a sneak peak at the quilts, pop over to instagram.  I’ll share better quality photos here on the weekend :)  I’ll take my DSLR next time :)

instagram snap

I belong to three local guilds and regularly attend two.  The third one is super friendly and I love it, but they meet on Friday nights and it’s almost impossible for me to get there at that time of week.  Small kids, exhausted parents… You know the drill!

canberra quilters

The Canberra Quilters are Australia’s oldest quilt guild and currently have over 300 members (I think).  There are lots of subgroups and we have permanent rooms in a community hub.  Everyone knows everyone and it can feel VERY intimidating when you don’t know anyone and no one knows you.  I kinda solved that issue by getting on stage in front of 150 quilters and telling them about my potty mouth quilt.  They all remember me now!!! ;)

Single Aunt mini

Single Aunt mini

Seriously though, they are a great group, a long established guild and very professional.  The annual exhibition is a big event with around 17 categories and a number of awards.  I entered hoping that I would do well but happy to just see my quilts hanging (it’s my third time in an exhibition -all this year- and first time in a judged show).

I was lucky enough to help out on judging day (moving quilts around for the judge to see, etc) and really appreciate the experience.  I learnt so much!!!  It’s all conducted in silence (relative – there’s a bunch of quilters trying their best not to talk!!) with very strict “nothing said in this room may leave this room” rules. I spent the day on the verge of vomiting and trying not to squeal in delight!

We don’t have a modern category, we have a modern award.  Essentially that means that any/all quilts can be put forward for the modern award.  There were a LOT of quilts put forward.  And my quilt won.  Writing that makes me cry.  Seriously.  It means so much to me to have my work recognised.  The same quilt also placed third in the professional bed quilt category!!

plus quilt ribbons

I put two quilts in the show and whilst the one that won the modern award was not the most modern of my quilts, I thought that it’s simplicity yet skillful (if I do say so myself! ;) ) colourplay was a good reason to enter it.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it!  But I had a feeling that it had a broad appeal and I should put it forward (only two quilts per person can be judged).  I’m so pleased that I did.  I know that the work in it is excellent and now I have a ribbon to pet and look at ;)  I think it’s going to take a little while for the excitement to wear off ;)  I also feel a little like that mocumentary “best in show” ;)  Although it’s many years since I’ve seen that, so don’t hold me to it ;)  I never thought I’d be collecting ribbons for anything in my mid thirties!!!

My bee quilt, known for this show as “Dance the Night Away” (I’ve since renamed it “50 Shades”) placed third in the Group Category.  YIPPEE!!  I LOVE this quilt, I love the ladies who sent me blocks and strips, I love how heavy and densely quilted it is.  And I LOVED seeing it hanging on a frame!  It gives you such a different perspective and is quite overwhelming.

So there you go.  All that angst about entering them.  About whether they would be accepted.  About how it felt to have my quilt babies judged and on display.  I’m SOOOO glad I did it!  Sure, it’s easy to be happy when you have won something, but putting aside the ribbons, it is an absolute thrill to have my work hanging among the other brilliant quilts!  We certainly do have a breadth and depth of quilting happening here locally!

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The other big thrill of today was spending it with some lovely and talented local quilters who I feel lucky enough to call my friends!  There’s nothing like a day spent with good company and lovely quilts!  Thanks for keeping me company Michelle, Angie, Caroline, Danielle, Georgie and Janette!

It’s Thursday and it’s time to get quilty!  Don’t forget to visit three other linkers  Sorry for the Oscar-esque blog post but I’m rather excited ;)  And it’s quilty so it qualifies, right? ;)



Entering Quilt Shows

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday!!  Put your foot on the pedal, choose your favourite thread and quilt your worries away!  I will certainly be spending Friday quilting my heart out :)  It’s a much calmer week now that my quilt babies have been handed over for the local quilt show!!

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Last weekend I dropped two of my favourite quilts off ready for the Canberra Quilter’s Exhibition.  I honestly had no idea how emotional that would be!  I have had quilts shown twice publicly (both this year) but for some reason this time feels most important.  I’m only showing quilts that I’ve quilted on the longarm, I am considered a “professional” for judging purposes, my (local) peers will all see my work AND a gaggle of non-quilters who love me will head to the exhibition to see my work on display in a context vastly different to my home.  It’s the truth when I say I’m not in it to win it, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about whether my quilts might place.

I know that we quilt because we love it.  it makes us happy, it’s an escape, a refuge, an emotional release at times.  Gifting a quilt can show love, friendship, concern.  A quilt can speak for you.  I have certainly found my voice through quilting.

table runner

As a professional quilter, I have to face up to the fact that my work will be judged whether I enter it into a show or not.  As an artist I don’t make quilts for the purpose of winning prizes or pleasing other people.  But holy heck, handing over my two quilts last week left me raw.  I like my quilts at home where I can pet them, where they’re loved!  I am also super excited to see all of the quilts on display, including my own.  There’s nothing quite like seeing your quilt hanging in a public space!

Improv placemats quilted with a computer guided edge to edge pattern

Improv placemats quilted with a computer guided edge to edge pattern

Have you entered your quilts into shows?  How do you cope handing over your quilt babies?  Am I the only one who thinks about them sitting in the cold and dark all alone? ;)

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Link up your quilty process and remember to visit three other linkers <3  Thanks for stopping by xxx


I Quilt: what is this modern quilting thing?

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Happy Thursday!  Thursdays are always happy for me as it is the last day of the week in my day job and the beginning of three days of quilting!  This evening was double-bonus Thursday as not only did I go along to the Canberra Quilters Guild meeting, but I presented with the lovely Michelle of Button Tree Lane.  We talked about Modern Quilting and in particular our modern group and showed some of our work.

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Canberra Quilters are the oldest quilting guild in Australia, they’re a big group with many smaller “interest groups” that meet throughout the month.  Tonight was the big meeting, it is held in a former school hall and we were up front with a microphone and about 70 people in the audience.

Single Aunt mini

Single Aunt mini

I hotfooted it out of there as soon as it was over.  I often feel so far on the edge of modern quilting that maybe my quilts aren’t appealing to the broader audience.  I mean, I love them and I think I’m awesome, but my potty mouthed mini (above) raised a few eyebrows as did the reference to scrap vomit…  I was just so scared of someone telling me that I don’t know what I think about that I just had to run and hide (I’ll go into that in more detail soon, but last week I was reminded of how mean people can be online).

Fifty Shades - my most recent and most modern quilt (bee blocks provided by Janice, Elisabeth, Alyce, Adrienne, Jess, Midge, Marieka, Jane, Lara, Gina and Fiona)

Fifty Shades – my most recent and most modern quilt (bee blocks provided by Janice, Elisabeth, Alyce, Adrienne, Jess, Midge, Marieka, Jane, Lara, Gina and Fiona)

I love all quilts.  I genuinely do.  Every quilt I see I fall in love with, even the ones that don’t appeal to my aesthetic or that the makers claim are badly made.  I just LOVE QUILTS.  I make modern quilts but I LOVE ALL QUILTS.

modern bee quilt

modern bee quilt

One thing that comes up again and again with regards to modern quilting is how to define the term itself.  Many people don’t care, just as many have very strong opinions.  But I wonder how many people feel like me, feel nervous to say what they think, feel anxious to raise the question, “how are modern quilts judged if seemingly no one can define what is or isn’t a modern quilt.”  I hope that going to QuiltCon will provide a forum to discuss this further.  It’s so tricky to discuss online where feelings are easily hurt and statements read out of context and without tone or facial expression to convey opinion.

Me in front of one of my modern quilts and Molli in front of his modern quilt (featuring batiks) that one best in show at Australia's first modern quilt show.

Me in front of one of my modern quilts and Molli in front of his modern quilt (featuring batiks) that won best in show at Australia’s first modern quilt show.

What I will say is this:  I am a modern quilter who loves all quilts.  I value originality, perfection and colour play.  These are some of the factors that shape my modern quilts.  I want to see more discussion and education on modern quilting.  I want to confidently enter my quilts into shows that I know will appreciate the modern aesthetic and have judges who understand modern quilting.  I want to discuss all of this with other quilters and I don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt.  Modern quilting can be described as a spectrum, there is room for all, but I also feel that there is nothing wrong with (and in fact a great deal of value in) defining and clarifying that spectrum.  We might go through the whole process and decide that by defining modern quilting (and the multitude of subcategories) limits it.  Or we may just find that the modern quilting movement matures by looking at itself in the mirror.

Now let’s get linky!!  Big love to all you quilters and please remember to share the love by visiting three other linkers <3




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