I've been making quilts for over 20 years now, but have had a love hate relationship with a couple of common techniques for what feels like forever.
Late last year I grabbed the opportunity to attend a workshop with Carolyn Friedlander while she was teaching in Australia with both hands. If it meant I had to suck it up and do some foundation paper piecing, then so be it. I decided to work on her Shirts Quilt
I've always been deeply impressed by the sharp points and intricate blocks able to be achieved with foundation piecing, but have always battled with those tricky angles. Invariably I would flip that fabric only to find that I hadn't fully covered the segment, or I hadn't left enough seam allowance to be able to continue. I would get there in the end, but not without a lot of frustration and unpicking. Lets face it - ripping those tight stitches out through paper is NOT soothing.
I'm not going to sugar coat it - my quick-un-pick came out to play, but Carolyn managed to untangle a lot of unproductive habits I had gotten into. One of them was to stop skimping on fabric. I mean to say - I own a fabric store after all! With a bit of patience my first block came together OK
Another great tip I found most useful was to make sure that I started each section off with fabric that had been trimmed to have a straight edge. All of a sudden my I could begin to judge those pesky angles.. That being said - none of the above stopped me from making the same mistake over and over while I 'merrily' pieced three left hand sleeves for one block!
Happily, this project wasn't destined to languish in a neglected state for years on end and I finished it about a month after the class. With its repeated blocks, the shirts quilt pattern allowed me to cement the tips I'd learnt in class and really begin to nail the technique. It also provided lots of scope to play with a multitude of Kona cotton solids and Carkai fabric combos.
After seeing student's projects in further workshops with Carolyn in Sydney and Melbourne I was inspired to dive in and have a go at the Hesperides pattern.
I love to hand sew. My first quilt was an entirely hand pieced and hand quilted sampler. To me it is akin to meditation and each stitch carries away the busy-ness of the work day. That being said, other than a couple of abandoned baltimore blocks from the 1990s, applique has never given me the itch to stitch. I've stood at quilt shows and admired the work and technique of others, but I've always been firmly in the 'piecer' camp.
Carolyn Friedlander's applique technique involves basting the applique pieces to the background using an accurate 1/4 inch running stitch
This was revolutionary to me. One of the barriers for me with applique was having shapes move, or distort during the stitching process, as well as the thread tangling around the plethora of pins. All of a sudden it was fun and with the first shape stitched down I was hooked!
Another dis-satisfaction with previous applique attempts was what felt like a mountain of preparation in marking the design onto the background and then again onto each and every shape. With its free-form style, this is eliminated with the Hesperides pattern and Carolyns technique.
It felt like I rocketed through the two cushion covers I set out to make and I'm really chuffed with how they turned out.
I'm already thinking about my next applique project ( I can't believe I just typed that BTW).
I'm sorely tempted by the Everglade and Ebb quilt patterns that we have in stock, but I think I will try to hold out until the new Friedlander and Friedlander lawn collections arrive in store and stitch along with all of the Collection Quilt block of the month members.
The BOM will be $35 / month plus shipping and all of the other details for the program are over on our 'Coming soon' tab
Carolyn Friedlander has designed the Collection Quilt as a needle-turn applique skill builder and I'm looking forward to consolidating my new applique skills and adding in some new techniques such as concave curves and reverse applique.