Fake Quilt News
December 5, 2016
The proliferation of fake news on Facebook has been in the real news lately, with highly depressing real word consequences. Since fake news is like click bait on steroids, I thought it would be appropriate to make up some fake quilt news headlines. I’m not the first – QuiltingSewingCreating was on top of this weeks ago, but I couldn’t stop thinking of fake headlines.
Mary Fons trying to take away Quilters’ Rotary Cutters
Modern Quilt Guild to no longer allow Quilts with Squares and Rectangles at QuiltCon
Aurifil Thread so Expensive because it’s Woven with the Hair of Italian Children
Shocking Result: Every Member of Ridiculously Long Quilt-a-Long finishes on Time
English Paper Piecing ruled Un-American
*These headlines are fake. Seriously. You’ve been warned. Use your critical thinking skills.*
Have you thought of any fake quilt news headlines? Let me know in the comments.
QuiltCon is Like Sex…
February 24, 2016
The first time it can be awkward and over in a flash, not quite living up to the hype. The second time you know what to expect and it’s more relaxed, letting you get into the groove.
After attending QuiltCon in Austin in 2015, I was a bit underwhelmed. I didn’t plan on attending again anytime soon. But then they announced QuiltCon West in Pasadena. This California native couldn’t resist, especially combined with cheap February airfares.
So, as follows my review of the tiring, yet extremely satisfying, second trip to QuiltCon.
The Venue and Location
I much preferred Pasadena to Austin. It was easier to get to, the convention center was nicer and there were more amenities close by, such as the world’s best placed Starbucks.
The partnership with Lyft was also handy – I used the service a lot to get around when I wanted to explore Pasadena or was just too lazy to walk to/from my hotel a kilometre away.
I will admit that I am biased – I’m a California girl and the location was both practical and convenient for me. I wouldn’t have gone to QuiltCon again if it hadn’t been for the location.
When the workshops opened online I copied/pasted in all my choices, assuming I would miss out on some. Well, they all went through. So I had a very busy QuiltCon. I did three FMQ classes, two piecing classes and one finishing class.
Things that were good:
- The instructors. Part of the reason I’m willing to pay more is getting world class teachers that we aren’t going to see in Australia anytime soon. All my instructors were excellent, open and inspiring.
- The setup. The rooms were much better set up than at Austin.
- The machines. All the machines I used (HQ, Babylock, Juki and Janome) were easy to use and the dealer assistants were friendly and helpful.
- The three hour class times. For FMQ classes this was a perfect amount of time. Enough to get the idea without being exhausted.
Things that weren’t so good:
- Sharing Sweet16s: In two of my FMQ classes, students had to share quilting time on the mid-arm machines. This cut down on our quilting/learning time. I would have preferred to have individual domestic machines.
- Three hour class times: my two evening classes, which focused on piecing and finishing, felt a bit rushed. This may have also been because my brain was on overload.
- Over prepping. This is more my foible: over-preparing and bringing more than I really needed. Particularly for my FMQ, one 1 meter square practice sandwich would have been sufficient for my three classes, rather than the two I brought. I also bought a 6″ x 24″ ruler at Joanns that was totally unnecessary.
Last year at Austin, I did the show all in one go, and it was just way too much at once. Talk about visual overload. This year I was smart and took it in chunks.
I enjoyed the show a lot more this year. While it seemed like there were less quilts overall (and this was totally fine!) the variety was greater. Last year seemed like a lot of the same thing over and over. This year, trends included less matchstick quilting (thank God!), a greater variety of background solids other than white or grey (thank God!), an increase in variety of fabrics including hand dyed and prints, and more complex designs.
A few quibbles… I still feel that technical issues were common. I know I’m being the quilt police (and according to one of the quilts on display, I can go fuck myself), but these are supposed to be the best of the best quilts to represent the work of the MQG’s 10,000 members. A quilt in the piecing category should have good points, or be so wonky it’s clearly deliberate. Starts on straight line quilting shouldn’t be visible; it’s not hard to bury threads. And don’t get me started about how much it chaps my ass that a quilt with only straight line quilting won an excellence in quilting award.
I also would have swapped the locations of the Minimalist and Modern Traditional sections. The Minimalist quilts were right behind the main winners. The Minimalist quilts are probably the highest on the “modern” spectrum, so it was a bit confronting to jump right into these. I think the Modern Traditionalist section could have eased people in a bit better, especially those visitors who are new to the style.
I always save my shopping until Sunday afternoon to get the best deals, but by then of course some vendors are a bit picked over. I felt like there was more fabric, but fewer gadget/lifestyle vendors. I did notice more batiks for sale at this show; I predict these will be trending soon in the modern quilt sphere. I ended up spending about the same amount as I did last year.
It did seem like the fabric companies upped their game as far as displays/activies in their booths. Many made creative use of technology. And the giveaways were fairly generous (yeah free fat-quarter of Kona Highlight from Kauffman!)
The vibe is really the main reason to go to QuiltCon. You’re surrounded by likeminded and excited quilters.
It was amazingly awesome to chat with my wonderful fellow attendees, workshop students, volunteers, vendors and crew. I got to meet people I’ve followed online and made some great new quilter friends.
Again, in part because of the California location, the show had a more chilled vibe. It felt more like a nice buzz instead of caffeine overload. It definitely left me with a much better afterglow.
I won’t be going to QuiltCon in Savannah (just too far away), but I would certainly go to one in Pasadena again.
Modern Machine Quilting – What does it mean to me?
January 14, 2016
Hello and Happy New Year! I’ve had quite the month healthwise (on the mend) and unfortunately my blog has been neglected.
But, I had a prompt today I couldn’t refuse. Forgive me for a slightly more freeform blog post. 😉
The lovely Christa Watson of Christa Quilts asked a question in the Facebook Group Modern Quilting…Exploring A Fresh Horizon (you should join if you aren’t a member already). She asked:
What does “modern machine quilting” mean to you?
Hoo boy, Christa you may regret asking me that question. I will preface this by saying that free motion quilting is probably my favourite part of the quilting process. And I’ve worked hard to become proficient and skilled in this area. So I am certainly biased.
I will say that “modern machine quilting” is NOT limited to straight line or matchstick quilting. I saw a lot of this style of quilting on the quilts displayed at QuiltCon. I even took a class about it with Jacquie Gering, the patron saint of matchstick quilting, at QuiltCon.
I hate to say it, but straight line quilting, to me, is basically the “all-over meander” of the modern quilting world. It’s effectively a quilt Zamboni, mowing down the texture of the quilt.
Now, that’s not to say that this type of quilting shouldn’t be used. It certainly suits many “modern” styles. But there are so many other options out there.
With all that wonderful negative space that modern quilts often provide, why not fill it with fabulous free motion quilting!?! We’ve seen some fantastic examples of skilled quilters using and enhancing negative space. Angela Walter‘s quilts immediately spring to mind.
What about using a traditional pattern in a new and modern way? How about Angela Walter’s Creepy Feathers on a Tula Pink quilt? How about the extra layer of meaning added to Thomas Knauer’s Pride quilt by quilting a double wedding ring pattern over the rainbow piecing (pretty sure Lisa Sipes did the quilting)?
I’m reminded again of the five stages of grief I went through watching Jacquie Gering’s What is a Modern Quilt webinar in 2014 – one of my major sticking points was that the quilting should be secondary to the design.
To this I say:
Quilting gives us another way to express our creativity. Take advantage of the opportunity to make your quilt truly spectacular.
As OG Quilter Harriet Hargrave says:
The quilting makes the quilt.
Yes, it should enhance the piecing/quilt top – that’s the goal for the quilting on EVERY quilt, whether traditional, contemporary, art or modern in style.
But in no way, shape or form, should quilting be considered the red headed stepchild of the modern quilt world.
¡Viva la modern machine quilting revolution!
Anyway, that’s my rant for now. I should probably go back and add in some pictures at some point, but I’ve at least gotten it off my chest.
I’ll be keen to check out Christa’s webinar for MQG members.
What do you think? What does “modern machine quilting” mean to you? Let me know in the comments, or hit up the original FB post.
IKWLTA – A Quilty Twist on IKEA
November 16, 2015
The new IKEA in Canberra opens today and it is a VERY big deal for locals. I’m not one of the 15,000 people showing up for opening day (many of whom are claiming to be “sick” to get off work), but I thought I’d rework some IKEA products to take on a quilty spin or just a more honest name.
Note: this is not an IKEA hack tutorial. There are a metric shit-ton of those already on the web and I’m not touching that!
As most quilters will know – it’s not the size of your fabric stash that’s the problem, it’s the lack of storage. The Billy bookcase takes care of that issue.
I do not have kids, but from what I hear, distractions are a necessary part of getting sewing time in.
Since approximately half the modern quilts ever made use Britten Nummer fabric on the back.
Every sewing room needs a comfy and pretty chair for relaxation and hand sewing. The Poäng is the classic.
I honestly have no idea if SY thread is any good, but at A$2.99 for a four pack, I’m pretty suspicious.
Why yes, of course I hand embroidered that cushion. 😉
I could make these all day, but we’ll leave it there for now.
Do you have any IKEA faves that you use in your sewing room? Tell me in the comments.
Can you be a Modern Quilter but not make Modern Quilts?
November 6, 2015
My quilty friend Crystal has been hosting the fantastic Modern Quilting, Modern Women series over on her blog Raspberry Spool. Today she posted an interview with the resplendent Mary Fons.
In the interview, Mary talks about whether she considers herself to be a “modern quilter”:
I’m a modern quilter only if you take “modern” to mean now. I think that word actually can’t be used in this way, however, because of the genre we have. So I consider myself a “contemporary” quilter but in every other way a quilter can be modern today, I am. I used social media and video to do a lot of work; I lecture and teach and all that business (booking, promo stuff, blog posts, ticket sales, etc.) happen well and quickly because of the Internet.
Mary nicely sums up some thoughts I’ve had for a long time:
If you don’t make “modern (style) quilts” can you consider yourself to be a “modern quilter”?
This is certainly not a new topic. Many different bloggers have covered this same ground, several coming up with different answers (embrace it, ignore it, who cares?). So I’m not exactly covering new ground.
I think this conversation was really brought to head with the acceptance (or rejection) of quilts for the QuiltCon 2015 show nearly a year ago now. The Modern Quilt Guild strictly adhered to their definition of a modern quilt and the requirements of their categories. (Full disclosure – I entered my Blue Steel mini quilt and was not accepted, although after seeing other people’s entries on Instagram I was certainly not surprised, or particularly disappointed.)
And obviously it’s the MQG’s show; they can pick who they want to be in it. My hypothesis is that they really wanted to show a strong differentiation between modern style quilts, and traditional, or merely contemporary style quilts.
Shortly before this, I watched Jacquie Gering‘s MQG webinar (only available to MQG members) about the definitions of the modern quilting style. Not gonna lie – I felt like I was going through the five stages of grief watching this webinar. I realised then that the majority of the quilts I make are definitely not modern and those that are, are barely blips on the modern spectrum.
I had the opportunity to take a straight line quilting class with Jacquie at QuiltCon in 2015 and both she and the class were lovely. Unfortunately, I had almost completely lost my voice at the time, so I couldn’t take to the opportunity to further discuss my response with her.
The Imminent Future
Now that the Modern Quilting Movement has effectively entered its adolescence, the MQG (effectively the governing body and leader of the movement) will need to decide what’s more important – a descriptive style of quilting or people.
In the end, for the movement to be successful and enduring, it will need to side with the people. Styles and trends come and go, but people will always remain.
Like Mary Fons, my quilting and participation in the craft has been shaped by the people around me, including and especially, on the internet. My quilts may not be “modern quilts”, but I am most certainly a modern quilter in attitude.
In the end, it can be summed up by a new member of the fabulous Canberra Modern Quilt Guild: “I felt like I found my people.”
I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you consider yourself a modern quilter?
This One Blog Post About Quilter Clickbait Will Make you Laugh Until You Cry
October 8, 2015
As a general whinger about awful Facebook trends, clickbait has been a bug-bear of mine for awhile. Particularly those in the vein of the pioneer of the practice Upworthy.
Finally it seems like the media is catching on, with major web publishers like Mamamia claiming to swear off the habit (despite having a spoof spoiler Twitter account that continues to flourish). Facebook itself has begun to punish clickbait headlines.
But I admit, sometimes the damn things do catch me out. I’ve just gotta know what the puppy did to make grandpa cry!!! And after being inspired by this Daily Life post making clickbait headlines out of things said to female writers, I decided to write some of my own quilty clickbait headlines.
You won’t believe what she did to make her sewing machine run perfectly!
Sewing Machine Mechanics hate this one small trick!
This one easy trick will make your half-square triangles’ points match every time!
(Seriously, if someone knows this, tell me please.)
Woman makes post asking for obscure hard-to-find fabric. You won’t believe what happens next!
You’ll be amazed what happens when you take this traditional quilt block and make it BIGGER!
This simple trick for cutting fabric will change everything!
Fabric companies hate her! One simple trick for using your scraps.
We asked 25 people what they thought about quilts. What we found was shocking!
Have you come across any quilty clickbait in the wild? Have an idea for your own headline? I’d love to know!
The Tangled Thread Awards
September 21, 2015
With the Emmy Awards currently in full swing, I thought I’d come up with some categories for my own awards: The Tangled Threads.
But these aren’t awards for things you like; it’s for things that drive you crazy! Consider these the quilting version of the Razzies.
Nominations and winners are included.
Worst Noise to Hear While Quilting
- Sound of your sewing machine grinding to a halt for no particular reason.
- Sound of your needle breaking into 1,000 pieces.
- Sound of your cat having diarrhea while laying in your fabric stash.
- Sound of your partner asking you “what’s for dinner?”
- Sound of social media notifications to distract you from what you’re doing.
And the winner is…
Sound of your partner asking you “what’s for dinner?”
Least Favourite Tool to Use While Quilting
- Seam Ripper
- Hand sewing needle
- Hair clips or whatever “hack” is popular on Pinterest this week
And the winner is…
Hand sewing needle!
Most Annoying Thing to Find in a Pattern
- Reference to another pattern that you also need to buy to complete that project.
- A layout diagram that looks like it came from blueprints for the International Space Station.
- Use of a specialised tool that you will never ever use again for any project ever.
- Pressing instructions that make joining pieces as hard as possible.
- Pressing instructions to press your seams open.
And the winner is…
Use of a specialised tool that you will never ever use again for any project ever.
Most Annoying Fellow Quilter
- That lady that finishes two quilts a week, while maintaining a perfect household and Instagram feed.
- The know-it-all in your local guild (note – this may actually be me).
- The people who ask “what’s your favourite online quilt shop?” in your Facebook group at least three times per week.
- The person who insists if it wasn’t entirely done by hand, you might as well have bought the quilt at Wal-Mart.
- The person who comments “modern quilters don’t respect history” over and over again on any blog she can find.
And the winner is…
The people who ask “what’s your favourite online quilt shop?” in your Facebook group at least three times per week.
Agree with the winners? Have any other category suggestions? Let me know below!
When Your Quilting Fave is Problematic
August 31, 2015
More and more in recent years, the bad behaviour of those we admire seems to be popping up to the surface. Particularly when it comes to celebrities and social media, an offensive comment is literally one tweet away. So how do we deal when these kinds of behaviours or comments come from a favourite quilter, shop, group, or quilt celebrity?
50 Shades of Nope
When it comes to behaving badly, we have to admit that there is a spectrum – shades of gray, and those can vary from individual to individual. It’s up to you to decide what crosses your line, and what doesn’t.
I had an instance recently where a well known local professional quilter made comments disparaging of legalising gay marriage on her Facebook page. There was also an implied invocation of “freedom of speech” and “it’s my page, I’ll say what I want.” Was this comment as bad as using a homophobic slur? Of course not. However, on my personal scale of grayness, it’s still in the territory where I am not keen on purchasing this person’s services. And that’s my freedom of choice as well.
Many people will remember the stoush last year when Abby Glassenberg of While She Naps called out Aurifil Thread’s spokesman Alex Veronelli for making repeated sexist comments and behaviors on social media. I had actually unfollowed Veronelli on Twitter earlier that year for making a bad joke about women drivers, so I was definitely in agreement with Abby, along with many other quilters. I think it was extremely brave for Abby to do this, since the quilting community generally has a no-criticism allowed policy. However, there was definitely a vocal group of women quilters who defended Veronelli unequivocally and unreservedly. Veronelli did end up “apologising”, but it was personally very disappointing to see women who I admired wallowing in internalised sexism. Unfortunately this is not uncommon in the quilting arena.
Time Heals all Wounds
Did these comments or actions occur long ago? Perhaps when the individual was less aware/open minded? Have they apologised sincerely (see below) and made effort not to re-offend? If so, and depending on the shade of gray, I think it’s worth recognising that this may be an embarrassing episode that won’t happen again. Second chances are more than fair. Third and fourth chances though… pushing it.
Was there a sincere apology?
Along with the rise of public offensive behavior, the non-apology has followed closely behind. “Sorry to those who were offended” is not a sincere apology. A sincere apology recognises the hurt, takes personal responsibility, and offers ways to make amends. If a sincere apology hasn’t been made, does that person deserve forgiveness? Let’s just say, I still don’t buy Aurifil thread.
Separate the Art from the Artist
As with broader pop culture, sometimes we must try to separate the art from the artist. There’s something amazingly human in the way people can parse appreciating someone’s talent and execution, while still condemning their actions. To a point.
Traditional Quilts, Traditional Values?
For many younger and international quilters, I think it’s hard to understand just how conservative the traditional American quilt culture is.
The Quilting in America 2014 survey (PDF) shows that quilter demographics skew female, older, richer, and traditional in style. The survey doesn’t mention race, but I have no doubt white quilters make up the majority of the overall demographic. Part of this could be as a result of the measurement techniques (demographics were listed for “Dedicated Quilters” who spent “more than $500 a year on quilting-related purchases”, obviously this will mean more well-off individuals), but I think it does reflect the general make-up of active and vocal quilt consumers in the USA, and likely other Western nations.
Something that is slightly more unique to the USA is the deeply conservative, traditional and religious demographic that comes with quilting. Unless you grew up in it it’s hard to comprehend just how pervasive, and sometimes indistinguishable, religion can be as part of the culture in the USA. And this inevitably filters down to specific groups. And quilting itself is often tied to specific religious groups, such as the Amish. When I first started quilting in my twenties in Las Vegas, I had friends ask me if I was Mormon, just because I quilted.
I was a member of a very large (20k+) USA based Facebook quilting group for several years. I eventually had to leave the group due to a constant overtone of sexism, jingoism and religious privilege.
While it’s important to realise that quilting comes from a highly traditional background, and that can reflect in the actions and comments of those who participate, it’s also essential for those members who are more progressive to speak out, even when it can be difficult and controversial.
Each quilter must decide the where on her personal spectrum a behavior or comment falls. What crosses the line for me, may not for others and vice versa. In the end, you have to put your money where you mouth is.
How have you dealt with a problematic fave? Do you think people should be more vocal in addressing what they see as issues? I’d love to know your thoughts.
Poor Dennis – The World’s Saddest Male Quilter
August 5, 2015
In the May issue of Quilters Newsletter, there was a letter to the editor from Dennis. Dennis objected to Mary Fons using “her” as the default pronoun for quilters.
Everyone shed a tear for Dennis. Hear the tune of the world’s smallest violin.
Poor Dennis has had to deal with the world not catering to “him” as a default. So so sad.
Because of course it was women who callously shut out men from quilting. Certainly not men who shame other men for not being manly enough. Or denigrate anything traditionally feminine as merely a domestic craft, unworthy of artistic merit.
Clearly a despicable case of reverse sexism.
Thank you Dennis for fighting this insidious maltreatment.
(Standard #NotAllMen caveat: the male quilters I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with have been lovely, progressive people who wouldn’t make such asinine complaints.)
Are Quilters Too Nice?
August 5, 2015
Over and over again, I’ve heard or read about the “kindness of quilters” from other quilters. While quilters are certainly kind as a group, often going out of our way to help out or support other quilters, are we too nice?
I’m talking about the sometimes saccharine sweet reaction when you show off a new quilt. “It’s lovely!” “Wonderful.” “Well done.” et al, repeat as necessary.
As great as it is to hear that about your quilt, does it really help you to improve as a quilter?
Honest and helpful constructive feedback
Many of us quilt in a vacuum. We sew alone. The quilt may be seen by a family member or the person who is receiving it, but they often don’t know enough to be able to give informed feedback.
Those of us who belong to a quilt guild may have the opportunity to show our quilts to other quilters, but I’ve found that unless you ask for specific feedback, people are reluctant to give critical feedback (and for good reason! It’s a minefield.)
Ask for feedback
I’ve found that asking for honest, helpful feedback can really boost my quiltmaking. Often it re-enforces something that I’ve noticed myself. It gives me something to stride for when making my next quilt. Never underestimate the power of lessons learned.
It can be difficult to communicate what I’m looking for; often I find asking other people how they would do something is a good method. “What kind of border would you put on this quilt?” “How would you quilt this?”
Or asking for feedback on an idea. “I’m thinking about doing orange and blue, what do you think?”
For after a quilt is completed, ask what someone might do differently, or if they think a certain component works. If there was a problem or issue with the quilt, I ask about how they would overcome it if they had the problem.
And don’t forget – there is no obligation to take or use the feedback received. Consider it and move on.
Entering and attending quilt shows
Quilt shows are an excellent opportunity to get a critical review of your quilt. Some quilt shows (not all) will give you feedback from the judges. All the feedback I’ve ever received has always been honest and helpful, and gave me places to be sure I improved in the future.
One thing I’ve found over the years is that I love going to quilt shows with a partner. They can be quilters themselves, or at least interested in quilting. I like to discuss what I see with my partner. I’ll take a look at a quilt and try to figure out what I like or dislike about it. Is it subjective or objective? If it’s not my style or preference, is there something the quilt maker has done well? Is there something that could be improved upon technically? Would I have done something different?
I try to imagine that if the quilter overheard me discussing her quilt, she would feel that I’m trying to make an honest assessment. Just talking about it helps me to remember to apply what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen to my own quilts.
Pick your moment
Now obviously, in many public places (virtual or real life) it’s best if you have nothing nice to say to not say anything at all.
I’ll never forget when my Star of India quilt was on display at the Royal Canberra Show (like a state fair, for my fellow Americans). I won first prize for contemporary quilts, which was a wonderful surprise. I put a lot of work into this quilt and was pretty darn chuffed. When I got to the show to see it, I took a picture to post on social media and was hanging around, when a woman with a pram and her friend approached. The woman pointed at my quilt and said “Oh my god, it’s awful! I can’t believe that won.” I will admit I did a bit of a double take. Now, I typically will not hesitate to jump in and stand up for myself, but homegirl looked like she would throw down, so I demurred. But I’ll never forget it. (For the record, I am aware that my quilt is incredible and I’m proud of the job I’ve done.)
A large public Facebook group is probably not the place to start making unrequested feedback either. It’s amazing how quickly that can turn into a total shitshow.
There are a multitude of articles on Google for how to give constructive feedback, and it’s worth taking a look before wading in.
You can be constructive without being a Mean Girl.
In the right place, at the right time, with the right people requesting honest constructive feedback, it’s probably more helpful to offer suggestions than just to say “Wow!”