Textile Journey, Part 2: A Trip through England

August 2, 2008 at 8:18 am | Posted in Embroidery, Lace, Museums and Exhibitions, quilt | 1 Comment
York Minster

York Minster

After leaving Edinburgh behind, I headed for York. Not much there in the textile department (at least that’s what I thought), but the Minster is just mind-blowingly beautiful, and there are lots of interesting things to see around there. I took the picture from the gallery halfway up on the way to the tower. I spent quite a while exploring the Minster, including the exhibition in the undercroft, which is really well done. Inside the church I found an unexpected piece of needlework: An embroidery project done by the York Minster Broderer’s Guild, consisting of small individual panels showing different symbols. While the panels were executed in lots of different traditional embroidery techniques, they were all the same size and used the same thread for the background, tying them nicely together as a group. The individual panels were mounted on a larger piece of fabric, making a very nice wall-decoration. I think this is a very good method to have a group project with individual contributions that still work together.

The day before I went to York I received a message from a friend that a new Quilt Museum had opened in York. I would have loved to see that, but since I was in York from Monday to Tuesday, that unfortunately didn’t work out. Fighting with opening times to fit everything I wanted to see in was one ongoing theme of my week of travelling.

The next morning I took a train to Nottingham, hoping to be able to learn about the lace making history of that town. To my disappointment I soon found out that the Lace Museum in the historic Lace Market district of Nottingham doesn’t exist anymore. There’s a small lace shop near the castle which has a wall with a few pictures and some samples, but not much else in the city anymore.

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

So I decided to have a look into the Industrial Museum situated at Wollaton Hall, and I was richly rewarded for doing so. The Museum shows quite a few lace-making machines, and I’m always amazed at the ingenuity of those machines producing lace that remarkably looks like hand-made bobbin lace. The main house has a very interesting natural history exhibition, which is also well worth a look.

Lace Machine at the Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall

Lace Machine at the Industrial Museum at Wollaton Hall

After that I still had some organizing to do to be able to see one of the things on my must-see list the following day: Hardwick Hall. I’ll give this one a post of its own, lets just say for now that I was absolutely blown away.

Koch Snowflake Quilt — Finished!

June 27, 2008 at 4:15 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment

… or almost finished. While you shouldn’t look at the back yet, it’s finished enough on the front for the official photos, and I really shouldn’t let you wait, so here goes:

And here’s a detail shot:

Now I only have to think about a good title for this, write a nice text, and send the pics off by Monday. Should be doable. 😉

More Virtual Textile Exhibits

June 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm | Posted in General, Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment
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A couple of weeks ago I posted about my explorations of textile exhibits in the UK. My planning has continued in the meantime, and I’ve added two more destinations to my definite “to see” list. Those have the advantage of both being situated in the same town, namely Bath. Apart from being a World Heritage site, Bath houses two museums of interest for textile lovers.

The Fashion Museum, which might be still known to some under its former name of “Museum of Costume”, shows a wide variety of costumes covering several centuries. The website has all the information you could want, some nice pictures of current and past exhibits, and even a couple of games that are more difficult than I thought at first look (under “Just for Fun”).

The second place I want to go to in Bath is the American Museum. While this year’s special exhibit about the Titanic isn’t my cup of tea, there are the Period Rooms showing fully furnished rooms in different American styles, and most importantly there’s the Textile Room with quilts and weavings from America. While it might feel funny to go to the UK to visit an American Museum, I guess you won’t easily find a comparable exhibit anywhere else in Europe.

On fiber news, I’m still trying to get the fractal quilt quilted, which proves not easy as the quilting thread and I can’t seem to cooperate for long stretches at a time. But I’m making progress and I still have hopes I’ll be able to finish it in time.

Koch Snowflake Quilt — Quilting

June 7, 2008 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | 1 Comment

After buying the batting and some quilting thread last Saturday, I’ve managed to assemble the quilt sandwich last week and yesterday evening finally started with the machine quilting. It took me a while to come up with a suitable pattern, though. I wanted to emphasize the star forms, and still have a pattern that somehow works with the fractal theme of this quilt. While digging around the site I linked to in my last post, I came across some coral-like structures. Those are created by having something (a point, a line, a circle etc.) that points that randomly move around the plane can attach to, and in turn other points to the evolving structure. Looked like a good pattern for quilting to me. So what I did is to imagine all the “points” of the stars as attractors and build those coral-like structures from there. Here’s the result on the first part I quilted:

Works well, I think. I chose the thread colours similar to the fabric, so the star structure doesn’t get lost. Now on to the second part, I can see the finish line in sight! 🙂

Finished Quilt Top

May 31, 2008 at 11:50 am | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment

I finally managed to get all the tiny bits and pieces assembled, so here’s the finished top in all its glory:

I really love that moment when everything comes together and actually looks like what I’ve been seeing in my mind a couple of months earlier! With this quilt, that’s definitely the case, at least on the big scale. I’m not a very accurate piecer, and it shows in places, but I think the impression this quilt makes when viewed from a distance will be just fine.

Now I only need to figure out how to quilt this, and I’m starting to have a few ideas of what could work. Quilting will definitely be done tone-in-tone on the big colour areas, since I don’t want to distract from the strong pattern that’s already there.

While looking for ideas for a quilting pattern, I found an interesting page on fractals I’d like to share. I had lots of fun exploring all the images on that site.

The Puzzle Starts to Take Shape

April 28, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment

Assembling a quilt is always like building a huge puzzle. Seeing the whole top in one place for the first time is always an exciting moment for me. My quilt went from a small start to this:

and finally to this:

That’s all the pieces in one place for the very first time. Now I only need to sew that mess together, and getting all the points to match won’t get easier the longer the seams get. But I think I have a fighting chance to finish this quilt in time, after I had to buy more of the blue fabric for the second time last week. There’s a lot of that fabric in that quilt now.

Koch Snowflake Quilt — Progress!

April 14, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | 2 Comments

I’ve been hiding behind a couple of book reviews lately because there wasn’t much to show, really. Remember this? Those tiny triangles (and all their siblings) have since been transformed and are now cluttering up my work table:

Oh wait, that’s not all of them! Some of those triangles have already been reassembled again and are now looking like there could be a finished quilt in their future:

The background is what goes for a “design wall” around here. Here’s what I do when I need a lot of vertical space to assemble my quilt, since I have too many bookcases (hmm, not really, one can’t have too many of those 🙂 ) and not enough empty wall-space:

I take a flannell sheet (the only one I own, and exclusively for that purpose) and tuck one end under the heavy boxes (the ones with the dots) on top of my bookshelf. Instant design wall, and as an added bonus you can’t see the mess behind the sheet anymore. 😉

So, back to sewing then, since there’s a deadline involved with this quilt.

Book Review — Quilts, Their Story and How to Make Them

March 2, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Book Review, Patchwork, Project Gutenberg, quilt | Leave a comment

Today I want to present the newest addition to Project Gutenberg’s Crafts Bookshelf. Quilts, by Marie D. Webster, is subtitled “Their Story and How to Make Them.” The emphasis in this book is very clearly on the story, or history, of quilt making. There’s just one chapter named “How quilts are made,” and that’s a pretty high level overview at that. So if you want to learn how to make a quilt yourself, I’d recommend to look elsewhere. But if you’re interested in the history behind patchwork and quilting, this is a great book to read.

The story starts with the wall-hangings of old Egypt, goes on through the Middle Ages and tells of the traditions in Old England before quilting was imported to America by the colonists. It’s an interesting read, supported by lots of illustrations, which are the real strength of this book. Many traditional quilts are pictured either in black-and-white illustrations or in colour plates. Here’s one of my favourites:

As Butterflies and Pansies

Although there are some very nice pieced quilts in the book, the majority of the pictured quilts are appliqué quilts. I’m not quite sure if that has any significance or just mirrors the preference of the author, since all the quilts that are marked as made by her are appliquéd.

Oh, and apart from using that book as inspiration, which I fully intend to do, there’s one thing in that chapter on “How Quilts are Made” that might be of use: A number of traditional quilt patterns are pictured here, so if you’re not sure what pattern to use for your traditional quilt, a look might be worthwile.

All in all, this is a very nice book, in the original as well as in the electronic version. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Koch Snowflake Quilt – A Beginning

February 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | Leave a comment

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything in almost 3 weeks. That doesn’t mean nothing’s going on here, on the contrary. I’ve started working on the quilt I showed the basic design of in my last post, so there’s lots of sewing going on, just not much to see. But there are a few things I can show: before I decided to go ahead with this design, I did a small sample just to figure out how feasible it would be to actually sew this:

Koch Snowflake - Sample

The small red triangles have a side length of 1 cm, so the whole thing is pretty small, but it came out good enough to start sewing the big quilt, which means sewing lots of the small triangles:

Koch Snowflake - Basic Triangles

I don’t know how many of those were in there when I took the picture, but by now I’ve finished the 192 in this colour combination and did quite a few in the other combinations as well. It’s pretty mindless work, but there are a lot of those to sew. I’ll leave you with this, need to get back to the sewing machine if I want to have any chance to finish that quilt sometime before the deadline.

Designing Geometrical Quilts

February 2, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | 2 Comments

I like to design my quilts myself. I don’t own any fancy software for this, and I actually prefer scribbling with a pencil on a piece of paper. Works well if you are drawing something that uses a square grid, as you can use normal squared paper. But my latest idea was something based on the Koch Snowflake, and it’s all equilateral triangles there. So, after unsuccessfully trying to draw my design up on normal paper and almost giving up on that idea, I decided to go look around the web if I could come up with something more suitable. I ended up at an amazing site for generating your very own graph paper. At this site there are a lot of different types of graph papers, some seemingly designed with the quilter in mind, like the tumbling block paper. You can customize the distance between lines for most papers. As another imporant feature for quilters, distances can be specified both in inches and in centimeters, depending on what you prefer.

So, I made up my equilateral triangle graph paper in a few different sizes, and started to play. Here’s the basic design:

Koch Snowflake on Equilateral Triangle Graph Paper

Drawing it suddenly got much easier. The smallest triangles (not even shown on the basic design sketch) will only have a side length of 1 cm. So paper-piecing is the only option for that, if I want any degree of accuracy. The paper-piecing template is drawn on equilateral triangle graph-paper, too, this time with a side length of 1 cm.

Paper Piecing Pattern on Triangle Graph Paper

Couldn’t be easier. So, I highly recommend playing with this site if you need any specialized graph paper to make the design in your head become reality. I’ve seriously started sewing on this quilt this weekend, and things seem to go really well, at least for now. Ask me again about 400 of those paper-pieced triangles later, but I hope the result will make up for all the drudgery.

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