Saturday, 27 March 2010

Classic 1956 Singer Sewing Machine TV Ad

Boy ..... 

they don't make sewing machine adverts like this anymore!
Does anyone have one of those automatic zigzaggers, 
they look really snazzy!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Quilts 1700-2010 at the V&A

Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to visit a preview of the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition opening on March 20 at the V&A in London. The exhibition runs until 4 July 2010 and I would highly recommend you make time to visit it.

Quilts 1700-2010 is the V&A's first major exhibition devoted to quilts and patchwork and explores over 300 years of British quilt making. It shows around 70 quilts from a cot quilt made in the 1690's to recent example from contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin.
"To Meet my Past" by Tracey Emin 2002

Mixed media installation comprised of a four poster bed,

mattress and appliqu├ęd linens and curtains

As far as quilt exhibitions go this one is very different. Curated by Sue Pritchard, the exhibition is presented chronologically and thematically with contemporary works woven throughout the themes : The Domestic Landscape;Private Thoughts;Political Debates;Virtue and Virtuosity;Making a Living and Meeting the Past.

As you walk through the 2 main exhibition halls the quilts tell a story of life and love, birth and death as well as political debate and national identity. Historic events and personal narratives are woven together and the inclusion of related materials like a makers diary and an embroidered box bring life to the quilts and their quilt makers.

I was particularly intrigued by the inclusion of sound and video clips into the exhibition. This added another dimension to the show and proved an excellent way to showcase less conventional quilt related art works. It was also a welcome counter to the low light levels which was necessary to protect the old textiles but was not conducive to best quilt viewing.

Great effort has been made to display the quilts and many have been placed on bed mounts to showcase them as they were originally intended. Unfortunately for me I felt the mounts were too harsh and the softness and drape of the quilts was lost as they lay slab-like on a box ... instead of a bed. The addition of a head pillow or an eiderdown underneath the quilts would have added height and structure to the quilts and increased appeal, but then maybe textile preservation prevented this.

HMS Wandsworth Prison Inmates talk about Fine Cell Work

The works of several contemporary British quilt artists are included in the show: Sara Impey, Dinah Prentice, Michele Walker, Pauline Burbridge and Jane Forgan, as well newly commissioned work by Jo Budd and one by the prisoners of HMS Wandsworth. Founded by Lady Anne Tree Fine Cell Work is a charitable organisation that teaches needlework to the inmates of some 26 prisons around the UK and watching to the video footage accompanying the quilt you immediately get the sense that this needlework means a lot to them. I was particularly captivated by the Wandsworth quilt. ..look closely at the detail and you get a snapshot of an inmates day in a simple hexagon block.

Allow yourself a couple of hours to go through the show. There is a lot to see and hear and to top it off when you get outside you will be directed through a shop (of course) with a fantastic line of 18 fabrics that have been designed with Liberty's of London to commemorate the exhibition. 

Did I buy any? Yes of course!
Check it out in the museum shop here!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

frills, parachutes and split personalities!

New house cushion by me!

What on earth am I talking about today?  Any guesses?  Oh go on .... have at least one guess.  I'll wait ......

Nope your wrong ... they are all types of quilt border!

I was cleaning up my computer yesterday and I came across a tutorial I wrote way back in 2001 (and updated in 2007) on how to apply quilt borders and these are some of the names I gave to the borders on quilts. 

The Frill is a border that has more fabric in it than the middle of the quilt and it makes a pretty frill.

The Parachute is a border that has less fabric than the middle and makes the quilt centre balloon up like a parachute.

The Spilt Personality is a quilt in 2 minds and has a combination of frills and parachutes.

and the 

Trapazoid is a quilt where no 2 sides are parallel.

Just my nicknames but all of them are so blinkin annoying when you are a longarm quilter (or indeed any quilter that uses a frame system).

Poorly applied borders can really give us stand-up quilters the hibby-jibbies for a very good reason ... they make it more difficult for us to quilt and if we don't recognise the issue before we start quilting we can easily get caught in a less than pleasant position!

I once had a quilt that had a 7" difference in the width of the top and bottom borders. I was a novice quilter at the time and had failed to measure ALL four borders. As a result I loaded it onto the frame and started quilting merrilly away with a heavy duty complex pattern. Before long I realised the quilt was not lying on the frame well anymore and a huge pleat was going to happen if I carried on ... I think I said "crap" or something like that when I realised the only solution to put this right was to take the quilt off the frame, unpick all the work I'd done , reapply the borders correctly and requilt. I reckoned it was 3 days work!  Never again have I done this!  Lesson well and truly learnt. 

So big TIP :  Measure ALL four borders and make sure the opposite borders are the same length before you start.

Anyway, having received many beautiful quilts with poorly applied borders I decided to write this step by step guide to help the borderly challenged.  Now its available to all of you too!

Its here in full or you can link at the top of my blog or through my sidebar links.  Please feel free to download or pass the link on if you think it would help anyone you know!

Quilt Borders

Quilt Borders for Square Quilts by Tracey Pereira