I am fortunate enough to be a member of a quilt group that has a well-established system of arranging to go away together to quilt. These quilting breaks are taken by almost all the members of the group who stay for either a week-end or a whole week and they take place not once, but twice a year. This involves careful packing: all the quilting kit and caboodle has to go too (such as these safety pins, kept in an Emma Bridgewater box, which are useful for layering up quilts – more on this below).
I was always a ‘weekender’ in the past, but now I am self-employed, I was able to try out a week-long stay and I loved it! The quilters are divided into groups, so each will fit into accommodation for 5-6 people; everyone brings their own breakfast foods and the wherewithal for a light lunch and then there is a communal meal in the evening for those five or six, cooked by one person each evening. The seventh evening is ‘eating up the left-overs’. Meals cooked by someone else are always so delicious. And its nice not to have to think about what’s for supper (except for one’s own contribution of course!).
Then all the rest of the time is quilting. By that I mean: designing, cutting out, piecing, laying out quilts and layering them up, machine or hand quilting, binding and finishing. All of these tasks are much more enjoyable done in company and it’s good to discuss ideas with others, as the design process is going on.
I was initiated into the mysteries of using a grapefruit spoon in quilting!
I was rather surprised to see a pointed spoon with serrated edges to the bowl of the spoon in someone’s workbox, but said nothing about this mild eccentricity. Then a few of us worked together to lay out a large quilt (super-king size) on the floor and we used safety pins to hold the three layers together (quilt top – wadding – backing). I was given a demonstration of using a grapefruit spoon (in your left hand if you are right-handed) to hold the pin of the safety pin upright, so you can click the fastener on to it. The pin is held firmly upright in the serrated edge of the grapefruit spoon and it saves a lot of wear and tear on the fingers. Brilliant! Later in the week, I was presented with a new grapefruit spoon of my own. So you could say that I have been thoroughly initiated into the Secret Order of the Grapefruit Spoons.
I made excellent progress during the week as there was every inducement to stitch and there were very few interruptions. I had no internet signal or phone signal, which had its benefits! A brief sortie to an internet cafe enabled me to write a blog-post, polish and upload a fabric design I had ready and sort a few urgent emails. The rest of the week was available for sewing. So I cut out and began to machine applique a panel which depicts flowers in a walled garden, pieced the background of a panel which explores reflections in water and finished hand-quilting and then binding my second baby quilt (a pink one, to match with the blue one I wrote about a few weeks ago here).
I also pieced each of the twenty blocks for a quilt, which has a working title of ‘Funky Flowers’. (All the materials for this quilt top are recycled, and I got the idea when I saw this little dress hanging in a charity shop. I think I paid £2.99 for it and it’s literally the centrepiece of the quilt.)
Here’s the block (the dress provided enough fabric for the centre of twenty blocks):
This is Britain and it was the last week in March, so any weather could be expected and we woke one of the mornings to snow (always a cause of delight to me), which my friend Val captured on film. Everything looked so beautiful, and we could stitch indoors and enjoy the sight outdoors. Perfect.