27 May 2015

Pour l'Amour du Fil 2015 - Part 2: Workshops with Willyne Hammerstein & Irene Blanck

I had the pleasure of seeing some truly amazing work on exhibit at the 2015 Pour l'Amour du Fil show in Nantes. I took two workshop classes, one with Irene Blanck and the other with Willyne Hammerstein, both hugely popular and very different in styles so it was really fun to delve into their creative process with them a little more. 

My morning class was with Willyne Hammerstein to learn the art of fussy-cutting, and since Willyne is the queen of fussy-cutting I thought it would not be one to miss! She was so very nice, and managed to conduct the class in both French and English, and talk to her friend in Dutch, highly impressive I thought! 

The main revelation in the class was Willyne does not English Paper Piece, she hand pieces her quilts! I must say it was news to me, as I was under the impression from her books that she was a fellow EPP'er! Apparently it was a mistake with the editing? It seems this hasn't stopped the wave of epp'ed La Passacaglia quilts popping up all over the quilting world :-) 

During the class we were given some fabric pieces and templates to make star blocks by hand, which was completely new to me so it was really interesting to learn some new techniques. We traced the templates from the graph paper to our clear acrylic sheet, cut them out and used it to find motifs and fussy-cut the fabric. Then cut the fabric, adding a 1/4" allowance. Willyne kindly gave me a demonstration on how to join the two halves together for a super neat finish as well ;-) I sat with a really lovely lady from Luxembourg  who was clearly an expert in this area and she gave me some great tips too! 

Willyne's 'house', as they call it at the the show was an absolute feast for the eyes! It was such a pleasure seeing her work in person, the detail was just incredible. They were all quilts featured in her newest book Millefiori Quilts 2. She told me it took her about five years of continuous making to design and make all her quilts from both the Millefiori Quilts books. The La Passacaglia is her favourite of all, which sold in less than one week after first exhibiting it. Wowee! 

Her least favourite part of the process is quilting - which I can fully understand! So she breaks it up by concentrating on designing in the morning; her favourite part, and then cutting and sewing or quilting in the evening.

This quilt above is 'Be Calm and Count Up To Ten', which she named from the use of 10-point diamonds to make up the stars. I asked her what her favourite fabrics are to work with and she said Japanese silks, which you can really see being used in these quilts. 

Her favourite colour? Yellow! 

… of course, I asked her to sign my books too ;-)

This is the cover quilt 'Ballet' from the second book, it was so fantastic to see it in the real life! Unfortunately, I don't think my iPhone photo's do much justice. 

My afternoon workshop the following day was an appliqué class with Irene Blanck, who was incredibly generous sharing her skills and tips with us. We had a smaller group, so we could all sit together on one table and chat which was nice. 

We each had a kit to make a block from Irene's Miz Kelly quilt. After some practice leaf and heart shapes to warm, up we got going :-) Irene covered a variety of things, such as her time saving appliqué tips - no pins! Basting shapes down with glue, her favourite notions and how she chooses fabrics for her quilts. It was really enjoyable, and I have even more of a love for appliqué now. 

Can you believe Irene gifted me the class sample block at the end of the workshop, I'm actually still gobsmacked! It was sooo generous of her, I think perhaps she saw me ogling it for too long, haha. Thank you again Irene, you absolute gem!

Isn't it gorgeous! She signed it too, so of course it's now sitting pride of place on the wall above my sewing desk. 

Irene's house was truly beautiful too, I absolutely loved each and every one and could have quite happily whipped them all home in my suitcase!

This is the Miz Kelly quilt we worked on in the class. So pretty. 

I completely fell in love with this quilt above, the brown and pink play so well together. 

What a great couple of days, thank you again to my brilliant teachers. 

10 May 2015

Pour l'Amour du Fil 2015 - Part 1

Oh hiiiii! So I'm yet to update you on the 'Pour l'Amour du Fil', or to us English speaker's 'for the love of thread' quilting and stitching show held in Nantes, France! Today is the day. I'll run through it in a series of blog posts so I don't spam your blog readers with tons of holiday snaps ;-)

I started off the first leg of the journey with a five hour van ride with my dad (always the worst part of any holiday when you live in Cornwall at the end of the country - no offence dad ;-) Taxi to Gatwick then a short flight to Nantes! Yep it was my first experience of flying solo and my first time in France, ever! I was slightly nervous as you can imagine. 

After getting there safely, I settled in my hotel for the evening and caught up on some EPP and Modern Family - home from home really! If only I had a tea it might have been perfect… 

My hotel was just a stone's throw from the exhibition centre and the main tram line which took you into the centre of Nantes in about 15mins so it was the ideal location. 

So what is Pour l'Amour du Fil? Well, it's an annual show held by Quiltmania celebrating thread and fiber arts. In it's 7th year, and gaining more popularity with a wider audience each year - and with Quiltmania being the organisers you can expect to see a unique and diverse range of leading international quilters like no other quilt show, and this year was no exception. The headliners of the 2015 included Bill Volckening, Tomie Nagano, Fumiko Nakayama, Dijanne Cevaal, Kaye England, Kimberly Rado, Cecile Franconie, Irene Blanck and Willyne Hammerstein. Each artist exhibiting has their own specially decorated 'house' in which they have their beautiful work on display, and are on hand to talk to visitors. Many of the designer's have a new book release with Quiltmania so it's an opportunity to view the quilts from the book. 

The first day of the show was incredibly busy and it was glorious weather in Nantes. The theme for this year was 'flower power' so  we were greeted by giant crochet flowers, floral appliquéd quilts and a garden path of pinwheels and puffballs as we entered the hall. 

I had the opportunity to have a good puruse around the show in the afternoon, after my morning class with Willyne (more on that in my next post - you can also read a short piece I posted on the Love Patchwork & Quilting blog, since I know those girls are crazy for La Passacaglia!) There were lots of shops with beautiful quilt kits and fabrics on display. 

It was very much a traditional quilters paradise with the wares on offer. I didn't actually get to buy anything from the show as I miss-calculated my Euro's, oops - I didn't take into account the expensive taxi fare to and from the airport. (I thought I could use the Uber taxi app, apparently I couldn't as they don't operate in Nantes… ) The blunders of a new lone traveller I guess >.<

So I window-shopped around some fabulous stalls. This vintage display caught my eye, of course.

Stumbling on these vintage hand-pieced star blocks reminded me I must crack on with my diamond EPP quilt! 

This was the booth for the work of Cecile Franconie, she was set in amongst the shops as she was selling and exhibiting. I've not come across her work before but I understand now, she's a hugely popular french artist who creates very unique quilts embellished with intricate embroidery work. She has a new book just released by Quiltmania too; Fantaisies Faciles Florales. Lovely to see her work up close, very inspiring. 

Labors Of Love was a fabulous booth with gorgeous vintage quilts for sale. I could have quite happily have taken all of them home with me, but alas my budget didn't allow. Oh what eye candy they were piled up high though! 

All my favourite bright colours. Loved this one on the left here, it would work brilliantly with EPP, octagons and squares. Always love a basket quilt too. 

Ok this was my absolute favourite. It was draped on the side of the booth so I couldn't see it in all it's glory but what a showstopper! The colour's are phenomenal and I was immediately drawn to it. I'm so inspired to drop everything I'm doing and make a giant Lone Star type quilt with these solids. I think some 2" 8-point diamonds and bright Kona solids would be perfect, no? 

I have tons of photo's to share of the exhibitors on show and my classes with Irene and Willyne, and my sight-seeing around Nantes, so I plan to share those in a series of posts next week. Stay tuned!

28 April 2015

Patchwork Zipped Sewing Pouch - Sizzix Tutorial!

I'm back today sharing a tutorial to make this fun little patchwork zippered sewing pouch, the front is a 6" Flying Geese quilt block, which I made using my fantastic new Sizzix machine! You can find the complete tutorial to make one yourself over on the Sizzix blog today. It's ideal for corralling away some of sewing tools like scissors and mini rotary cutters. 

So I'm back from the quilt show in Nantes! I can't wait to tell all about that and the million other things I want to share with you, but let me catch my breath first, K? ;-) P.S. Yep, I made this little pouch with my new Sizzix machine I got this month, full lowdown coming up soon. Spoiler alert, I love it. This little pouch was 100% inspired by my recent trip away as everywhere I turned there were amazing handmade sewing bags, organisers and all sorts! I see more pouches and bags in my future!

28 March 2015

Millefiori Quilts 2 Book by Willyne Hammerstein

Willyne Hammerstein has been much talked about in recent years with the huge popularity of her 'La Passacaglia' quilt from her debut book Milleifiori Quilts. Her global-spanning fan-base will be delighted to hear of her brand new book for 2015, simply named; Millefiori Quilts 2. If you were in awe of her first book with the incredible array of kaleidoscope and geometric English Paper Pieced quilts you will be equally blown away - perhaps more so, by this new book. 

Willyne hails from the Netherlands, with a long-standing career in law. Like many of us can relate to, she picked up the quilt bug after visiting several quilt shows, markets and shops and found the time to sew while travelling for work; it was in the evenings when she had the time to rest and reflect that she began making quilts with men's ties. 

It was great to read about her reaction to all the La Passacaglia quilts that been inspiring quilter's worldwide, which spurred her on to design and create again. Though I was saddened to read that this might not have been the case as she suffered a cycling accident in 2013 and spent many months in rehabilitation with a shattered left hand and wrist. Very fortunately she recovered, and used her time wisely in-between her sewing hiatus to work on even more new patterns for the book. 

So, back to this new Millefiori Quilt's 2 book! It's really a delight. I have spent many hours pursuing the book and studying the blocks, while blurting out loud every so often, "Oh my gosh", "Wow!". 

The cover star winner on this book is 'Ballet' - which I'm very pleased about as I find it a lot easier to pronounce than the previous 'La Passacaglia'. Pronounced - 'pas-a-cal-ya'. It's another stunning kaleidoscope pattern that will surely win the hearts again of quilters everywhere. Dare I say, I think I even prefer Ballet to La Passacaglia?! Yes. I think I do. It has beautiful harmony between the larger rosette's and those larger stars really stand out and bring it all together beautifully. 

There are 17 quilts to feast your eyes on in total. I love the names she uses for the quilts; 'Staphoster Snotterkapjes', I'd love to know what that means? 'Be Calm And Count Up To Ten' … perhaps she named that one because she had a flustered creative moment, you know, like we all do ;-) Maybe she misplaced her stitch-ripper, oh, and every needle in the house and had to be calm and count to ten … These are all questions I will be asking her next month when I travel to see her at the Pour l'amour du fil show in France, of course! 

Ok so maybe this one is my favourite? Because I can imagine she's regular quilter like me and has these moments ;-) Ok probably not. Everything no doubt goes to plan and fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. 

With each quilt pattern, the blocks/rosettes/cogs are broken down section by section so you can digest these complicated looking designs down into manageable pieces. The tough part is not the tiny pieces I imagine, it's getting these larger pieces all joined together seamlessly. There are templates to trace the shapes at each chapter. 

Willyne also had more simple designs such as 'Old Dutch' which is simply an 8-pointed star set on point. 'Sunrise', which uses square and triangle variations - as well as others. I think the scary thing for a lot of people is scale. They are large quilts, which we all know is quite an undertaking. But don't be put off, manage what you can and scale down the quilt size to make it more realistic to finish if that's what you need. I have my own long running 8-point diamond EPP quilt that's been in the works for a number of years! now, it get's picked up and dropped down again in between life, real-work, the shop, work sewing, the blog and other personal sewing projects, but it's always there when I need it.

My head is filled with sewing dreams and motivation now so I'm off to do some! I hope this has given you a little inspiration for the weekend. 

If you wanted a copy of the latest book you can find it here at Sew and Quilt. Though, be quick as we only have a handful of copies left! We also have the first book in stock if you need to get up to speed ;-) Don't forget as well, we have Sew and Quilt La Passacaglia English Paper Pieces in stock now. 

25 March 2015

For The Love Of Thread (Fabric!)

A couple of weeks ago I booked myself a trip to Nantes for the Pour L'Amour Du Fil textile show and exhibition in France. I can't tell you how excited I am! (and nervous! I'll be travelling alone, which I've never done and I've never been to France before! - I know it's embarrassing.) It's a textile show to celebrate 'the love of thread', with a focus on patchwork and embroidery which is organised by Quiltmania annually. 

My main reason for attending this year is to see the incredible work of Willyne Hammerstein, a Dutch quilter now hugely popular worldwide from the success of her book Milleifori Quilts, and the now infamous quilt 'La Passacaglia'. She will be there promoting her new book; Millefiori Quilt's 2, which is in stock at Sew and Quilt now! I'm pretty sure I am the first shop to stock it! They are flying out at the moment so be quick if you want one. Oh and while we're on the topic, we will be stocking La Passacaglia paper pieces to match the templates from the Millefiori book, they'll be arriving with us within the next couple of weeks, so watch this space! But more on that another time! I'm also visiting, as I'm dying to see Bill Volckening's collection of New York Beauty Quilts, this will be the first time the whole collection will be shown! I'm a regular reader of Bill's blog, WonkyWorldQuilts so I've long admired his fantastic collection of vintage quilts, so it will be brilliant to see some in the flesh. You know me and vintage quilts ;-) I'm booked in for a couple of workshops too, annnnd I'll be doing a little 'roving reporter' work for Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine while I'm there, I'll keep you posted on that.

I feel like I have SO much to catch you all up on, but I can't even think where to start. There's alot of juggling at the moment! So here are some recent fabric eye candy purchases for you to enjoy while I sort myself out :-) These amazingly gorgeous bunch of fabrics above are from Fat Quarter Shop, a whole host of different one's I'll be mixing in with future quilty projects. 

Including this fun text fabric from a new Cotton and Steel collection with the U.S. states printed. I looove all things Americana, and state related things :-) so it goes great with my other American state printed fabric by Michael Miller, which I've got about 2 yards of and hoarding until I find the perfect sewing bag/organiser project AND when I find the time to make it?

I visited my sister in London a few weeks ago, and one of my first pit-stops was to Shaukat on Old Brompton Road. They have a huge selection of Liberty fabrics downstairs in their shop, so after a lot of open-mouthed gazing to the wares on offer, the staff pointed me in the direction of the off-cut piles - ideal for quilter's like us ;-) I also bought a 1/2m piece from the bolt of the top/left one above. I love the more muted colour's, so it was too good to miss.
Right, no more fabric buying for me. Hope you're all having a good week! xo