In years gone by, quilt makers would leave their mark on a quilt with a signature block. Community quilts were often made by groups of women who each would pay to sign a block, thus raising much needed dollars for a specific cause, a fundraising event where the quilt was raffled off, or a wedding party. These quilts are easy to trace – the signature blocks often display the name of the quilter, the reason why the quilt was made, the location, and the date.
But many more quilts that have survived over the years remain mystery quilts. The quilt maker deemed it unnecessary to provide any information on the history of a quilt. Why bother? Many quilts from days gone by were meant as utility quilts, and the makers did not feel that documenting her name and the date was required. But some of these quilts have lasted, and remain a mystery to today’s keepers.
Quilts today are much different. Our generation doesn’t consider a quilt as a necessity – rather, they are a beautiful form of art, and the quilt maker takes pride in her work and workmanship. Quilts today are meant to last.
And that is why every quilter should label every quilt. Quilts made today will be cherished, treasured, and studied – by family, quilters, and historians of the future. Quilt labels help to relay techniques used, popular fabric and patterns of the day, and give purpose and meaning to a quilt. Quilt labels can also help to recover a lost or stolen quilt. Please, put on a label!
What information should we include on a quilt label? Think of the person you are creating the quilt for. What will they want to know about it and the maker? What will their children want to know about the quilt? What will their grandchildren want to know?
At the very least, you should document the name of the quilt maker, the name of the recipient, and the date the quilt was completed. What you include on the label is only restricted by the size of the label itself. Some other information that you might wish to add:
- name of the quilt
- pattern name (if different than the quilt name)
- occasion for which the quilt was made (wedding, birthday,
birth of baby)
- name of the quilter, if you did not quilt it yourself
- special messages, poems, sayings that you might want to
But how do you create a label? Well, that is an easy, and complicated, question to answer. Quilt labels can be as simple as a permanent pen signature and date on white cotton fabric, hand-stitched onto the back of your quilt. Or, a label can be as elaborate as you wish – a beautiful machine embroidered block matching the front, which is pieced directly into the backing of your quilt. Your imagination is your only limit!
There are many ways you can create a label – hand lettering with permanent ink on fabric, wax crayons on cotton, hand or machine embroidery, printable fabric and an ink-jet printer, even iron-on transfers are all great techniques. Visit your local quilt shop or library for books on labeling techniques, or use Google for ideas and instructions.
(Quilt labels in this article are examples of labels created for quilts destined for the victims of the Slave Lake fires. With thanks to Linda’s Quilt Shoppe)
Our Spring 2013 Issue features a lovely St. Patrick’s Day Table Set, including a Table Runner, Placemats and matching napkins by Karen Bialik of The Fabric Addict in Lethbridge, AB.
Karen also included photographic instructions on how to fold the napkins to make your table on St. Patrick’s Day extra special!
STEP 1: Fold Napkin in half diagonally, with the points facing you.
STEP 2: Fold the napkin points up, and slightly over the folded edge of the napkin.
STEP 3: Turn the napkin so the points are on your right. Fold the napkin, accordion style, from top to bottom with 1″ folds.
STEP 4: Place napkin in glass, points facing up. Pull the two ‘wings’ on the left and right out and over the rim of the glass.
There you have it! A beautifully decorated table.
Are you a seasoned quilter, looking for a new machine? Read this before you go shopping!
A friend of mine has recently begun quilting. She has sewn for years, and has an old sewing machine that has been perfect to learn to quilt on. But she is ready to move on, and asked me for some tips on purchasing a new sewing machine. There are so many options available in all price ranges, and it can be so difficult to choose! Especially for a new quilter. But what about those of us who have been quilting for years, and are ready to upgrade to something fancy? We already know what to look for in a new machine… or do we?? I spoke with my good friend (and great designer) Susan Jensen of Quilted Escapes, who just so happens to sell sewing machines at A Great Notion in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Susan and I came up with the following questions to ask yourself before maxing out your credit card on a sewing machine you end up not being happy with.
What features do you REALLY need vs. what features WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE?
Make a list of everything you want in a machine, and any extra features you would like to have but are not absolutely necessary. You will have a budget set, and any extra features that are included and still allow you to stay within your budget are an added bonus!
Are ALL those extra features really all that great?
When I purchased my latest sewing machine, I was so impressed by the demonstration of all the stitches – I think there are close to 300 – that I became so awestruck and totally missed that the presser feet are a real pain to change. I’ve come to hate changing the presser feet on my machine because it’s such an awkward job. So make sure you play with all the attachments in the store to understand not just how they work, whether they ‘work for you’.
Have you TESTED, TESTED, and TESTED some more?
Of course you’re going to test out the machine before you take it home. But are you testing it on your fabric, and with your batting? Bring scraps of batting and fabric from home – don’t rely on what the shop is providing. You may be using different fabrics – like velvet and silk for your crazy quilts and t-shirt fabric for your son’s sport t-shirt quilt – and you won’t know how the machine likes that unless you try.
Is STITCH QUALITY important to you?
Believe it or not not all machines, and not all straight stitches, are created equal. If your straight stitch is is very important to you, make sure to check out the quality of the stitch on the machine. Some really are better than others…
Do you need a PHD to use this thing? (and no, that does not mean Project Half Done)
Is the sewing machine easy to use? Can you sit down at it and sew right away, or is there going to be a steep learning curve? There may be lots of buttons and widgets that make it look pretty, but do you know what do they do without looking at the manual? It really is important that you are able to sew with ease, and not have to have your instructional DVD playing while you quilt.
Is it really a QUILTING MACHINE, or are they just trying to upsell you?
Sometimes they call it a quilting machine, but really it’s just a sewing machine with a pretty name and you have to buy extra attachments just to get what you want – the 1/4″ foot, the extension table, a walking foot… Make sure the machine comes with everything you need.
Do you want Mr. RIGHT, or Mr. RIGHT NOW?
Don’t buy a machine that’s right for ‘right now’, buy a machine that you can grow into. It may come with features you think you may never use, but if you buy a sewing machine that is perfect for your ‘right now’ needs, you’ll quickly get bored with it, and then you’ll be at the store in a year buying the machine you really should have purchased in the first place.
Ready to go back to SCHOOL?
Today’s sewing machines are really sewing computers. And stores are catering to the need to learn these fancy new computers, so make sure to take the offered training sessions, and take as many as possible. Do they bring someone in to teach the classes, or does someone from the store itself teach? Can you go back any time and get more instruction? It’s always nice to know you can pop into the store and get them to help you with one of the features you want to learn to use, because they know the machine too.
There you have it, some advice beyond asking for the length of warranty and, “Does it come with an automatic thread cutter?” Now you’re armed and ready to buy the best machine for you!
The Winter issue of Quilter’s Connection Magazine has arrived from the printer and will be on it’s way to subscribers, booksellers and your local quilt shop very soon.
We’re so excited to share this issue with you – it’s packed full of great projects and articles by Canadian quilters. Visit our website for a sneak peak inside!
It bugs me when another blogger provides a multitude of excuses for not writing regularly on their blog, so I’m not going to do that. I do have numerous excuses (laziness being one of them), but I won’t go into the details. I’m just going to pick up where I left off and pretend like I haven’t been absent.
Here is a shout out to a Canadian Quilter who’s made it to an International level – congratulations Iris!
An interesting article recently in Craft Industry Today - the Craft & Hobby Association’s trade magazine. Designer Trend Report states that “classes on sewing and quilting techniques are on the upswing… Quilting is crossing over into mixed media – creating your own fabric with dye, crayons, paint and stencilling is popular, along with embellishing surfaces with beads, wired threads and doilies.”
Are you a Trendy Quilter? Do you incorporate mixed media in your quilting?
It was a last minute decision. Tricia Sherman, our Editorial Advisory Committee member and writer of the column A Shop Near You, called me. “Do you want to go to Sisters next week?” she asked. “Of course!” I replied without hesitation. I cancelled all the appointments in my calendar, and packed my bag. This would be my first time to the famous Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, Oregon, and I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity for anything!
It was a 10½-hour trip to Bend, Oregon, where we spent the night before crawling the last 20 miles into Sisters. A beautiful drive from Vancouver, BC it was, through parts of the USA I’d never seen before. It was the drive from Bend to Sisters that was the most interesting though. It took us two hours to drive those 20 miles. The traffic into Sisters was bumper to bumper! I knew the quilt show was a big deal, but I didn’t realize just how many people attended. Each year, for just one day, over 10,000 visitors descend upon this little town to view the over 1,300 quilts on display. Quite an experience, to say the least.
But this year, something unique happened. For the first time in the history of the show, there was rain. And thunder. And lightning. There was so much rain that the quilts had to be ‘rescued’, and the entire show was pulled down. Over. Finished. Tricia and I had arrived in Sisters in the early afternoon, and had spent just a couple of hours viewing the quilts on display before the skies opened up and down came the rain. The outdoor quilt show was over for us before it had barely begun.
We were sitting in a restaurant having a lovely lunch when the rain started. By the time my brain took it all in, the Quilt Rescue Team was on the job, removing all the quilts from the buildings. As fast as I could, I ran to the other end of town to see what was happening at The Stitchin’ Post Quilt Shop. Earlier that day, as we walked by, I had marveled at the display of quilts, three rows high, on the side of the shop. Splashing through the river of rain in the street, I arrived just in time to take a photo of the fire department using the truck and ladder, a fireman removing the final two quilts from the large outdoor display wall.
Despite the outcome, the show was still a big hit in my mind. And the rain has only made me determined to visit again another year. Hopefully I’m not the Sisters curse, and next time I attend the show, the sun gods will smile down upon all of us!
It’s cherry blossom time in Vancouver, and the city celebrates each year with a festival. Every year the Japanese Cherry trees bloom, lining our streets with beautifully delicate pink clouds that turn into a delightful blanket of snow as the blossoms fall to the ground. This year the Silk Purse Gallery in West Vancouver is hosting a textiles art collective featuring works by numerous local artists to celebrate the festival. The show is on until Sunday, April 29th so if you happen to be in Vancouver I recommend you check it out!
In the early 1930′s Japan presented Vancouver with 500 Japanese cherry trees to honour the Japanese Canadians who served in World War I. The people of Vancouver were taken by their beauty, and our love affair with the cherry blossom began. Today, over 130,000 cherry trees show their splendor each spring, as they delight Vancouverites and visitors alike with their magnificent and breathtaking display of colour.
I joined my good friend Tricia Sherman, of Great Canadian Shop Hop, for a delightful afternoon exploring the gallery and the art, and afterwards a lovely walk along the cherry tree lined streets. The art, created by members of the Vancouver Guild of Fibre Arts, is as varied and individual as each petal of a cherry blossom. Created using a variety of media including quilting, beading and weaving, the artists have marked the coming of spring on the West Coast, each in their own unique way. Well worth the visit!
Silk Purse Gallery – www.silkpurse.ca
Vancouver Guild of Fibre Arts – www.vgfa.org
Ahh, Spring. Time to refresh, to air out, to… Spring clean your quilt room! Here are some ideas for making your quilting space fresh and new and inspiring again.
anything old that you don’t think you’ll use or finish or like:
- Pass on old fabric to friends or donate to a guild that makes quilts for charities
- Same goes for any UFO’s that you know you won’t ever finish
- Go through your threads and discard anything that is too old to use for sewing (test thread by holding a long piece in your hands, pull taught – if it snaps, toss it
- dust shelves and wipe your sewing table
- vacuum or sweep the floor
- wash your cutting mat with soap and water
- clean your iron and ironing board cover
The Two R’s (Repair and Replace)…
- have a professional do the annual maintenance on your sewing machine
- put a new blade in your rotary cutter
- put a new needle in your sewing machine
- get your scissors sharpened
Get It Organized…
- purchase baskets, pretty boxes or a drawer unit to store all your supplies and works in progress
- arrange fabrics and threads by colour
- file patterns and ideas in a three-ring binder
- display your quilting books on a shelf in a specific order – by category, author, subject
You’ve done such a great job at Spring cleaning, it’s time to go out and buy some new fabric or book. Go ahead, you deserve it!