Thursday, August 20, 2009

Helen Squire at LSQG

Helen Squire was the guest speaker for my local quilt guild last night. Ms. Squire is known for her whole-cloth quilting (less for piecing)--and she tells jokes! She's got a million of 'em! I purchased the 2 books above, along with a CD-rom of printable patterns. I like her swirls ...

She brought a number of quilts to show and discuss--some of them antique beauties!

She said she got to go to South Africa not long ago, and worked with some people in Zululand, helping them quilt their works with appropriate patterns (not putting flowers over the elephant's face). I thought that was so neat. After the lecture, I told her that I had studied Zulu for a year, but it was too soon after Apartheid, and students couldn't travel there in the early 1990s. She had a wonderful opportunity to do what she did!

She also told a story about someone bringing in a quilt for an appraisal. The back was full of knots (We're trained to pull the knots in to the batting layer.) It was kind of a mess, and she was wondering what to tell this lady about her quilt. When she spoke with her a little later, the lady said, "I just wanted to show you this quilt. I made it for my daughter who's blind. The knots are in braille. It says, "I love you." What a nice story!

Here are some gems from her lecture :
* Rule of Thumb : If a pattern is geometric, the quilting should flow.
Ex : Monkey wrench block could be quilted with baptist fans.

* Quilting should enhance the patterns.
Looking at the back, the quilting should give you an idea of the pattern on the front.

* Quilting is easier if the front fabric is on the straight of grain ||||
and the backing fabric is opposite ----

* Quilting was made to be seen from all sides.
Mix up your motifs, so they might be sideways, or upside-down from some angles.

* In her Quilting UFOs book, she asks 4 questions :
1) What's the method : Hand or machine-quilted
2) What kind of batting? High loft, low-loft, medium loft.
3) What is the purpose? wall-hanging, baby-quilt, heirloom ...
4) Theme / Occasion? Log cabin getaway may beg for nature motifs in quilting

* Helen Squire makes a "muslin master" where she maps out her quilting patterns.
1/4 of the quilt pattern is traced onto the muslin. Use tracing paper to work out the quilting designs--make changes, audition designs, decide on grids, etc. BEFORE you actually do any stitching. Then use the muslin as a reference. When she has a design she likes, she traces that onto her top with a matching chalk pencil.

* Borders -- Leave more seam allowance on your last border to account for the squaring up process. You could loose more than you think.

* Leave room for Quilting
Don't make your quilts so busy on the color/pattern side.
Quilting is secondary when the color takes over.

* For Marking - Use a chalk pencil that matches the fabric.

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