Thursday, 23 January 2020

Challenge from the Chair: A Story Quilt

2019 Challenge from the Chair


Each year The Edinburgh Modern Quilt Guild set a "Challenge from the Chair".  This is a project on a theme which results in a "mini quilt". What is a mini quilt I hear you cry?  It's a small quilt!

As a guild we have been running challenges since 2017, our new chair, Mags,  continued the tradition that Cathlene had started.

The 2019 challenge was inspired by the traditions of the past and the merging of our craft with that of communication and protest across history into the modern day. Sewing for ceremony and protest has a long history whether it is the beautiful banners representing political unions or religious messages sewn to adorn churches. As a community of modern quilters we still feel connected to our past regardless of the aesthetic.

2018 saw the centenary of women's suffrage in the UK the Quilters Guild of the British Isles featured the colours and themes at their showpiece Festival of Quilts in 2018.  


In 2019, a small contingent of our guild visited Nashville for Quiltcon and one of the lectures we attended was the fantastic and inspiring Sara Trail.  Sara is a member of the Social Justice Sewing Academy who are set up to give young people a voice, a skill, a way of engaging.  Her lecture gave us a kick in the proverbial pants about how important this traditional skill is. The display of quilts and blocks made by many was a highlight of Quiltcon.



So the challenge was set....
I want to see the story of what challenges you in your daily life what's the thing that gets to you?
A tremendous amount of heart and soul were included in the mini quilts which were submitted to our September meeting.




Presented here are some of the entries and the stories that accompanied them.

CHERISH by Sheena

The countryside is being eaten away.
Replaced with tarmac, houses, industry.
Native plants are disappearing under a torrent of plastic and fly tipping.
Our summer sky is full of pollution.

Cherish what we have now.




Life Destroys Life by Cathlene

Highly commended by the judges for the use of quilting to ghost the words.


Bawbags

Joint winner from the guild and the judging panel.



Mother Nature Needs Our Help by Jo Avery 


Hiding by Audrey


I Hate Waste by Juliet


Hospital Waiting List by Katie




Spilt Milk by Lucy
"Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the earth"  - Pamela K Wiggins 
To me breastfeeding is the biggest thing I've ever done.  It's the biggest challenge with the greatest reward.  I have been supporting women for the last 20 years with their breastfeeding journeys.

Is this Fergus's Future by Mags

Mag's own quilt was voted the public choice winner from the 2019 Stitchgathering.


Breaking the Stigma by Barbara G

Barbara's quilt inspired by her son's Pure O condition.  She won the Chair's prize and jointly the guilds favourite. https://www.confessionsofabasketcase.com/


Sisterhood by Heather

Heather's quilt was the overall panel judged winner.




Time For Action by Sue

Sue's quilt is made from the rubbish she found whilst walking the lanes around her remote home.


The Benefits of Reading to Children by Fiona



Losing Earth by Barbara M


Life Sentence by Cat


Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Anne





















It's OK to not be OK



Frank by Pam


Here's to the 2020 challenge...

Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Road to Nashville: An Evolved Project


SNOW WONKY (say it with a Scottish accent)

So here it is, our charity quilt to be exhibited at The Modern Quilt Guild's showcase event Quiltcon, made in aid of Alzheimers Scotland.  

This year, Quiltcon is in The Music City, Nashville, Tennessee.  As a few of us like honky tonk bars and margaritas we are going this year, yeehaaa.  

We were keen to have an entry exhibited since we are travelling over 3500 miles plus the colour pallet was particularly appealing this year.  It evoked our very own Scottish heather clad hills, hey, maybe we should have followed that idea up!?



So how did this quilt come about? After deciding to go for it we had a call for ideas on what kind of quilt did we want to make.  After some debate and some powerpoint work by the vocal one who took the lead because there was no way she could get a quilt into Quiltcon herself (erm me!) we shortlisted these as:

  1. A simple small repeat block were the colour placement made the pattern,
  2. A sampler of small piecing blocks
  3. A bigger image constructed from small pieces
We decided to get the most people as possible involved we'd go for A) use all the colours and B) a simple repeating block.


It all started as a scrawl.  To be fair we did try to overcomplicate the scrawl adding all kinds of ideas from a vortex to who knows what... 



Some of the guild visited the Festival of Quilts and we made a (sewing)beeline for the wonderful Simply Solids (now closed) who did a great job helping us match the colourway with this gorgeous bundle.



We scheduled our first sewing day, and it is a truth not denied that some of the team were nervous not having a pattern or anything other than a sketch to aim for.  A secondary worry was small piecing.  I was keen we all stretched ourselves and got something out of the process and hope we all had fun - even if I was treated like a victorian gangmaster šŸ˜‡  I'm not the best at telling people what to do - honest!

We organised ourselves into colour squads - purples, pinks, greens, blues each borrowing strips from the previous team which would create an overlapping colourwash - kind of... maybe.  It was very much a let's see what happens.


I'd calculated the need for 660 3" blocks, if we were to piece the whole top - this was not the original idea! We were going to piece the colour then have vast swathes of neutral space.  As we built the blocks up it became obvious that 0.5m each of the colour was not going to be enough to do the colour across the top.  So we changed direction to a radiation of colour from the corner.


After sewing day number 1 it felt like we had over committed.  Great progress but so many more blocks were needed.  At this point we rationed out the Kona "Snow" and many great people wonkied that snow up a storm!  There were fabric drops around the region and wonky crosses came back, so many wonky snow on snow - hundreds. 



After the 2nd sewing day we got a lot pieced but the real challenge was bringing the last colour band in.  The recurring challenge of not having a real plan was never having enough fabric! Half a metre of the pale blue just wasn't enough to stretch along the outline of the bloom (or planetary transact, or ovary, or explosion!).  A couple of more short sessions saw these gaps disappear as if the quilt was growing unaided into the spaces.


Finally, the lovely @mybearpaw Jo Avery let us finish the top in her studio - we needed the space! People dropped in throughout the day to fill the small gaps we had left and bring it all together into one very large flimsy! It was at this point we realised, erm, it wasn't wide enough - luckily we had all those snow blocks.  So we added a couple of columns to the right landing at 720 blocks!


At this point in Snow Wonky's recorded history I am redacting how badly I put the top together (picture above)! 

Suffice to say, it turns out if you have 719 blocks at about 3.5" (unfinished) and 1 block at 4.5" unfinished pieced into the centre of the quilt it doesn't work so well.  There will be natural variation in seams, cutting, piecing when 24 people have contributed blocks.  This gives you a challenge.

But when one of your members is totally awesome and patient (if you didn't hear the swearing there wasn't any swearing right?) you do end up with an amazing finish.  Thanks to @the_orriginal Kelly she brought order to the chaos, smoothed the wavy wonky wonder and quilted it into submission!






So now Snow Wonky has landed in Austin, Texas to hang with the other wonderful Quiltcon Charity quilts.  We can't wait to be reunited on the 21st February.

Made with love..... 



Stats:

  • 720 3" blocks
  • c72"x90" in size - though I forgot to measure it!
  • 3.2kg in weight
  • 10 Kona colours (0.5m each)
    • Purple
    • Candy Green
    • Ballerina
    • Noble Purple
    • Dahlia
    • Blush Pink
    • Aqua
    • Capri
    • Chartreuse
    • Pistachio
  • A shed load of Kona "Snow"
  • c194,000 quilting stitches
  • 24 people involved