I wish I could ….

How often do you catch yourself saying this?  I confess that I do it all the time, particularly when it comes to quilting and design.  We are so lucky to have so many opportunities to see the work of other quilters and designers – shows, magazines, books, internet, YouTube etc – but sometimes the viewing and admiring can make you envious (or even despondent!).  Instead of getting envious (or despondent) on my own I thought I might, from time to time,  post a few pictures and links to quilters whose work I admire so we could perhaps share the envy and wishing we could!

Why not start at the point where I had the idea? –  in front of Borderline Quilter’s  (aka Kay Bell) quilts at this year’s Festival of Quilts   (Click through to Kay’s blog here to see lots more of her lovely work – and maybe leave her a comment too.)  Late update:  Kay has won Best in Show, Judges Choice and a whole fistful of ribbons at the Scottish Quilt Championships this week – very well-deserved!

I’ve wished I could quilt and design like Kay for a couple of years now – she has a particular gift for space and proportion in her custom designs which have a satisfyingly classic appeal.  Her feathers are graceful and really “flow” well.   And her machine quilting is pretty good too!

Also hanging at the NEC show this year was one of Andrea Stracke’s beautiful handquilted wholecloths – Andrea’s work is awesome in the true sense of the word.  Like Kay she quilts her own designs and the excellence of all aspects of her stitching is completely inspiring.  I had seen one of Andrea’s quilts at the Open European Quilt Championships earlier in the year.  On that occasion her quilt was hanging in one of the darker areas of the large hall so it was difficult to get a picture that did it justice.  Here’s a detail  –

And I know I wasn’t the only one battling to get a good picture of Andrea’s quilt at the NEC – the overhead sodium lighting turned the colour of the quilt from a soft lime green to a moderate yellow.  This was the best I could do –

Andrea’s work is packed with interesting design detail – she has certainly made her mark with her traditional style quilts.  Lots more on her website too ….

My major “I wish I could” for this week is to find some more time for stitching – there has to be a secret to this that I don’t know about.  Perhaps it’s too much blog reading or just the start of autumn, but I’m certainly not managing to connect needle to fabric in a meaningful way.   Not helped by a slight sidetrack into the murky world of quilting ufo’s (WIPs, PhDs and other stuff you never finished first time around).  Buried about halfway down my ufo stack is a set of about 40 handpieced Sawtooth Star blocks.  These were begun about five years ago as an aimless project, no deadline, just make cut up fabric and make blocks.  And so I did, and it was great – begun with fat quarters from “The Carriage House Collection” by WindhamFabrics, and others added to when they ran out.

An excellent carry-along project and much-used as demo pieces for various classes.  Then the day dawned when I’d had enough, knew that a reasonable size quilt could be made with them, and promptly put them away for when I had the time.  Does any of this sound familiar to you?  Two days ago I was enthusing about the Antique Rose project I’ve just started –

and we got onto the topic of handpiecing, how it’s become SO popular again, how easy and portable it is etc etc.  So I fetched out my various hand piecing projects that are waiting for the next stage, including the Sawtooth Stars, some Dresden Fans, the Whigs Defeat blocks … and then everything suddenly became clear.  Put the Sawtooth Stars together with the first Whigs Defeat block, use plain muslin for spacers and narrow borders and it will be much better than working with them separately.  Here’s the rough floor layout – what do you think?

We thought it looked quite good at the start when we were shuffling blocks around on the table, so this might be a possibility –

At the weekend I’m teaching a Tentmaker applique class, so not much time to pursue this right now.  Maybe next week ….

11 thoughts on “I wish I could ….”

  1. Envy of the quilts and quilting and despondent because I can’t visit the websites – broadband speed is non existent. Will bookmark this and come back to it when BT have removed their finger.

  2. I know the feeling only too well. Have spent a long time this evening looking and wishing and doing a spot of buying but time now to go and do a bit of cutting out and some sewing. Seeing your Rose Star block made me get mine out and actually finish it. I have decided to do only one block and make it up into a bag for my quilting hoop. At least that is the plan at the moment. Fabulous stitching.

  3. Thank you for posting these pictures, I’m a hand quilter but new to wholecloth quilting although I am on the brink of beginning, so I know a few more expert hand quilters to follow now – what beautiful work. It is hard not to feel crushed when you’re just at the beginning, so thanks again as your post echoes my own thoughts lately, but I enjoy quilting more and more so I know it’s just a matter of time and practise and I’ll get…somewhere!
    I love your sawtooth blocks, I think the layout is lovely – did you hand piece all those? And the antique rose is very pretty.

  4. I have to say it Barbara, I think youare pretty good yourself, you drew a beautiful feather many years ago at Malvern for me cos I said that self same thing, I wish I could…….and now you have come up trumps again and drawn a design for my daughter which Maggi brought to you, I can;t wait to see it, Annette likes hand quilting, I now machine quilt, and yes, you were right, I can draw feathers…….on the machine, not on paper!!!!!

  5. I wish had more time too! If you find the solution let me know…
    I love the layout of your blocks. It would be well worth moving it from the unfinished to finished pile… When you have the time! I was feeling envy just looking at these blocks and their sunny colours.

  6. Beautiful quilting! I would love some ideas on how to gain more time in the day! I love the combination of blocks and the way you have set them with spaces in between. A little tip for photographing quilts in low/odd light – I have a small digital camera with various ‘scenes’ and if the indoor scene does not produce good colours or detail, I try one of the others. The aquarium sometimes works and also the black and white may produce better detail

  7. Barbara,
    Sorry, I’m a little late in commenting as I’ve been a little distracted by the Scottish Quilt Championships, it’s been some day!
    Thank you so much for the recognition, I am honoured that you appreciated my quilting especially as I come from ‘the dark side of the longarmers!’
    Thanks again
    Kay in Scotland

  8. Thank you for this wonderful blog post, Barbara! I feel very honoured that you’ve mentioned my work and it really encourages me to go on with traditional quilting. It’s worth to keep it alive and it’s so much fun to show it! Happy Quilting! Andrea

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