At the first Canberra Quilters meeting of each year, the teachers and shops show and tell the quilts and classes they will be teaching that year. This year, Jenny Bowker stood up and showed off her Shimmering Triangles quilt and said she would be teaching the class in May at Addicted to Fabric. My friend Angie was sitting next to me that night - we looked at each other as Jenny said this. Sold!
This weekend finally rolled around, and as usual I was highly unprepared. I didn't know what fabric I would use, didn't know which version of the quilt I would make. I didn't want to use a whole line of fabric, but I did want to use up some of my stash. But nothing seemed to go and I was really stuck. By 10.30 on Friday night I grabbed the first bundle of fabric on my shelf, and popped it into my bag. It was a fat quarter bundle of Field Study by Anna Maria Horner. I really love this range, but I had never intended to use it all at the same time. Talk about lazy.
Jenny is not only a great quilter, but she's a great teacher and a wonderful enabler. It was she who had the idea to start a modern quilting group under the banner of Canberra Quilters. Twelve months on, that group regularly has 25-30 quilters who come along once a month to share, sew and be inspired. And as a teacher, Jenny allows you to work out for yourself what may or may not work, and then gently guides you to see how it can work better. And then while you're sewing she tells great stories of Egypt, and her time in Ramallah, and what happened when she was in Paducah last week. It's hard work being so constantly inspired in a Jenny Bowker class!
I'll admit - I was bamboozled by my fabrics. Normally I find it easy to put fabrics together, but this time I was in deep water and didn't know how to get out of the pool. I tried to find some solids to put against it, but nothing sang. So I thought "Dammit! Just use what you have and strive for a non-shimmering sparkly effect!".
This is where I stalled after lunch. I'd made a heap of half square triangle units, but I had no vertical design wall space, not much sewing space (entirely my own fault), my ruler was being used by someone else and I desperately needed a strong coffee. So I did what I should have done an hour earlier - I packed up and went home, and worked on my quilt from there. Massive design wall, comfortable chair to sit in, coffee. Check, check, and check. I laid the pieces I had already cut and sewn on my design wall.
Uh oh. All I could see was a big mess. The blocks I thought were lower value (bottom right and top right) were actually very busy and ruined the shimmering effect. But I figured if I could get more contrast in the other blocks, I might be OK so I lurched forward. That night I sewed some more HSTs, cut out all my squares and packed and sorted everything into ziploc bags. The next morning on the second day of quilt class I was much happier. I had this.
And this - a design wall I set up by pinning some cotton batting onto the solids at the shop. MUCH BETTER!
I spent the day sewing my HSTs together into units, and then sewing some blocks together. I was really happy now with how the quilt was going now. Sure it wasn't all sparkling and shimmering like Jenny's quilts and the other quilts that were being made in the class, but I had something a little bit different - a very busy and very bold quilt which made you really look at what the fabric was actually doing. I like to think I set a challenge for myself out of my own laziness.
I still have a lot more HSTs to make (all those white spaces need to be filled, but I'm enjoying seeing where it is going. I especially love the shattered fabric effect from the HSTs.
This set might be my favourite.
And I love the little star blocks that appear all random-like in throughout the quilt.
I'll enjoy this quilt being on my wall for the next few days, but I won't be sewing anymore on it until my exhibition quilts are made. I'm looking forward to the day I get a chance to sew some more on it!
So thanks Jenny, and thanks Angie for encouraging me to do this class with you. I really did have a lot of fun, and sewing with others is somehow so much more satisfying than sewing by myself at home.