Quilters Hangup – a review

Today I put the finishing touches to the quilt I’ll be exhibiting at this year’s Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.   Anyone who has exhibited a quilt before will know that these preparations include the addition of a hanging sleeve.

Attaching pre-prepared quilt hanging sleeve

Attaching Quilters Hangup

In the past, I have made my own hanging sleeve (essentially a tube of fabric attached to the quilt back that allows a hanging rod to be inserted).  Nowadays I don’t bother making my own.  Instead I use a ready-made quilt hanging sleeve called Quilters Hangup.

I first came across Quilters Hangup last year and I love them.  They are made from a sturdy cotton fabric and come in a natural unbleached muslin (this in the one I use) and black.   Pre-made to the regulation 4 inches tall, the Quilters Hangup also includes a pleat at the top edge that allows quilts to hang flat!    And the rainbow thread on the back  is a pretty touch.

Pre-prepared quilt hanging sleeve

Quilters Hangup

Quilters Hangup may not be the cheapest option however they do save a lot of time.  Simply cut to length and hem the ends.  There is enough in each pack to make a hanging sleeve for even the largest Super King size quilt.  Quilters Hangups can be sewn into a quilt before or after sewing on the binding.   I prefer to hand sew my Quilters Hangup to the quilt after binding.  My quilts are made to be used rather than hung on a wall, so it is essential that I can easily remove the sleeve.  Plus making the sleeve removable means that I can re-use the hanging sleeve when exhibiting other quilts the same size.

I’m sure Quilters Hangups are readily available in America as they are a USA product.  For those in the UK, I purchased mine from Sew Hot.

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New Quilting exhibition, Rheged Gallery – a picture post

Last week I made a flying visit to Cumbria to see the New Quilting exhibition at the Rheged Gallery.

New Quilting exhibition - Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

New Quilting exhibition – Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

Over 70 quilts are on display and 30 quilters have contributed quilts for the exhibition.   There is so much to see – traditional designs, modern quilts, detailed hand quilting, elaborate machine quilting, 3D works, quilts that look like maps, ones that look like travel posters, free cut quilts, improvised piecing and appliqué.  There are even some quilts from the early 1900s on display.

New Quilting exhibition - Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

New Quilting exhibition – Rheged Gallery, Penrith, Cumbria

One of my quilts features in the exhibition and here it is on display, yay!

A Life in Film quilt - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

A Life in Film quilt – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

And here is a closer look at the quilt, titled “A Life in Film”,  that I made for my nephew.  It features Polaroid blocks that highlight aspects of his life – growing up on a farm, his love of basketball, a special trip to the zoo, his love of chocolate cake, to name but a few.  I know he’ll love snuggling under it when reading or watching TV.

A Life in Film quilt - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

A Life in Film quilt – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

But enough about my quilt.  Here are some of my highlights and favourite quilts from the exhibition.

Cologne Cathedral quilt by Greta Fitchett - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Cologne Cathedral quilt by Greta Fitchett – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

I loved this quilt of Cologne Cathedral by Greta Fitchett which represents a scene reflected in other buildings.  Those lines between the blocks are really skinny and must have been so difficult to get straight.  It reminds me of photographs made from contact sheets.

Coming into Land quilt by Alicia Merrett - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Coming into Land quilt by Alicia Merrett – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This was another of my favourites, by Alicia Merrett, showing a pilot’s view of a country landscape at night, with an air strip on the right hand side.  The quilting really helps to accentuate the contours of the landscape and I love the bright colours of the houses shining in the dark.

Sweet City quilt by Marita Lappalainen - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Sweet City quilt by Marita Lappalainen – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This quilt by Marita Lappalainen made me smile.  Recycled fabrics and crochet pot holders feature in this work of an imagined city.  She said that she wanted to make something “fairy tale like, childish and fanciful”.  I’d say she has nailed it.

Detail of Bitter Pills quilt by Sara Impey - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of Bitter Pills quilt by Sara Impey – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This quilt, Bitter Pills,  by Sara Impey was especially thought-provoking.  It is a whole cloth quilt featuring free-motion embroidery.  The juxtaposition of the bright colours of the capsules against the “bitter pills facing society” serves to heighten the power of this work.

Detail of Log Cabin quilt made in 1900 - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of Log Cabin quilt made in 1900 – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

This shows the detail from one of the quilts, made in 1900, that is on display.  The quilt is quite large – certainly large enough for a double bed – and must have taken hours to hand sew all those tiny seams.

Detail of Blue Cabin quilt by Joy Salvage - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of Blue Cabin quilt by Joy Salvage – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

A modern day version of a log cabin quilt was also on display.  This one is by Joy Salvage, a young quilter in her mid 20s, and features log cabin blocks where each of the logs are only 1/4 inch wide!

Detail of After Boro quilt by Janice Gunner - Rheged Gallery - New Quilting exhibition

Detail of After Boro quilt by Janice Gunner – Rheged Gallery – New Quilting exhibition

I’m a great fan of scrappy quilts and I loved this one by Janice Gunner.  The colours she has chosen and the lovely hand quilting have transformed old fabrics (often rags) into something beautiful.

I could go on and on about the quilts but really, the best thing is for you to see them for yourself.  The exhibition runs until 23 April and is well worth a visit.

Like what you see?  Remember you can follow me on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest to see more of my lovely makes.

Polaroid blocks

Polaroid blocks are my latest obsession.  I love how you can use them to highlight the tiny details that might otherwise be overlooked in a busy print.  Take this pirate fabric as a case in point.  Did you notice the pirate shark, complete with eye patch and wicked teeth, in the main fabric?

Pirate shark patchwork block

Pirate shark Polaroid block

Polaroid blocks were all the rage a few years back and I think it is time they made a comeback.  I know that all the fussy cutting makes them greedy of fabric but I don’t care.  There are just so many adorable fabric designs that are crying out to be made as Polaroids.  Who could resist the cute little images from these Dashwood Studio prints?  (Oops!  Error alert – the pigeon fabric is part of the VeloCity collection from P&B Textiles.  This is what happens when you chop off selvages).

Polaroid quilt blocks in fabrics by Dashwood Studio and P&B Textiles designs

Polaroid blocks in fabrics by Dashwood Studio and P&B Textiles

And I adore these quirky illustrations from favourites by Heather Ross.

Polaroid blocks in Far Far Away and Tiger Lily fabrics

Polaroid blocks in Heather Ross fabrics

Aneela Hoey is another great designer whose images are perfect for Polaroid blocks.

Polaroid blocks in Little Apples fabric

Polaroid blocks in Aneela Hoey fabrics

Then there are these fab ones by new(er) kids on the block, Cotton and Steel.

Polaroid quilt blocks in Cotton and Steel designs

Polaroid blocks in Cotton and Steel fabrics

And if you really want to overdose on cuteness, you”ll love these sweet little images by Australian designer Natalie Lymer.

Polaroid blocks in fabric by Natalie Lymer

Polaroid blocks in Cinderberry Stitches

I love all these blocks however my absolute favourite from my latest batch of Polaroids is this little one.  A crow peeking in the branches from the Yoyogi Park collection by Heather Moore.

Yoyogi peeking Polaroid block

Yoyogi Park Polaroid block

Ok, I think that’s enough cuteness for one day.  I’m back to the cutting board as I have another 80 blocks to trim up.

If you’re inspired to make your own Polaroid blocks, then this tutorial by Capitola Quilter is a great one to use to get you started.

Improv patchwork

Funny how things don’t turn out how you planned.  One of my New Year resolutions was to write a weekly blog post.  And we can all see how well that turned out!   Well, I am not giving up on my resolution just yet.  So on to my first post for the year.  Better late than never.

Two weeks ago I spent a fabulous day with amazing quilter Charlotte Newland at The Village Haberdashery learning the techniques of improvisational patchwork.

First up was making blocks from scraps chosen at random from plastic bags – with NO peeking!  Given that I have a thing about colours going together, I found the no peeking aspect particularly challenging.   And I was pleasantly surprised at how well my scrappy block turned out (ooh, the Liberty print!).  Doing this with your own scraps must bring back many happy memories of items you’d made earlier.

Improv patchwork block

Improvisational patchwork block

For our next block we were allowed to add in pieces of our chosen fabric (the orange butterflies) along with randomly chosen scraps.  I love the tiny pieces of text fabric in this block.

Improv patchwork block

Improvisational patchwork block

The main part of the day was spent making a piece of improvisational fabric from three fat quarters.   Below you can see what I made after a lot of cutting and sewing.  This was a lot of fun and very liberating.   Need to cut with a ruler?  Nah.  Your seams aren’t a perfect 1/4 inch?  Doesn’t matter.  Want to leave in the selvages?  Go ahead.  What bliss!

I’m not sure I like my final result but this isn’t a surprise as I did deliberately choose fabrics that weren’t my favourites.  I haven’t decided what to make with it yet.  A wall quilt, perhaps a mat for the cat…

Improv patchwork sample

Improvisational patchwork sample

 

Charlotte also showed us how to sew improvisational curves, snowball blocks and sticks.  Sorry, I don’t have photos of these as I was far to busy sewing.

Thanks, Charlotte for a great class and an opportunity to work outside my comfort zone.  I know that I’ll use what I have learnt in future quilts, particularly the improv log cabins and curves.

Foundation piecing

Triangles and me; we don’t get on.  I have tried but found them just so tricky.  My triangle blocks did not come out square and as for matching points – what a nightmare!  There had to be a better way.
 
Thankfully the fabulous Karen Chapman came to my rescue.  She has years of quilting experience and claimed that sewing triangles and matching points was as simple as sewing on a line.  She promised to reveal all at an introductory workshop on foundation piecing held recently at Fabric HQ.  I did not have to think twice before booking a place.
 
So what is foundation piecing?  It is a traditional technique where fabrics are sewn together through a foundation material (could be paper or fabric) that has the block pattern printed on it.  The fabrics are placed right sides together, pinned to the back of the paper and then you sew along the stitching line with the paper uppermost.  Easy peasy!  
 
Foundation piecing - materials

Foundation piecing – materials

Above are the materials that I used for the class, (plus an Add a Quarter ruler and an old postcard – not shown).  Notice how tiny those inner triangles are?  Thank goodness this class was a triangle-cutting-free-zone.  Instead we got to work with nice, well-behaved squares and rectangles.   Just in case you were wondering, the numbers on the foundation paper indicates the order in which the pieces are sewn together.   I neglected to take any photos as I was piecing the block however there are loads of tutorials on the internet if you want to find out more about the process of foundation piecing.
 
So is foundation piecing all that it claims?  Absolutely!  Check out the triangles on my finished pincushion and judge for yourself.  
Pincushion - foundation piecing
Pincushion – foundation piecing
 
Thanks to Karen I have now overcome my fear of triangles.  I can’t wait to use this technique to make stars and other more elaborate quilting blocks over the coming months.  Watch this space!