About me

My photo
I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Friday, May 18, 2018

Sewing, quilting and the sewing future

If you have been following me on Instagram you know that right now I am in Portland Oregon at Quiltmarket 2018. I have been posting a few pictures of things there that caught my eye  (OK so much caught my eye that my head more or less exploded after the first hour and my phone battery kept running low due to the number of pictures I took.)

I am here at the show because my book publisher, who publishes mainly quilting books but is moving into garment sewing as well, thought it would be a nice idea if I was here in person to do some signings.

Before I go into the words I am going to give you a pictorial sense of the kind of sensory overload I have placed myself under here in Portland:

Of course these are some of the quilts that appealed to me but what really blew me away were the display, after display, after display of the most amazing fabrics - quilting cottons (many of them fine and certainly garment quality) but knits too. 

Such a good thing that this is a wholesale show and as one little person I can't shop.

So many thoughts in my head right now.

First off this is the first quilting show I have ever been too. I have been to many, many sewing shows of course but these are completely different.

The sewing shows, except one, I have been to were consumer shows, which means anyone could go and buy anything for their own little selves limited to only how much they could carry and how much they could deny on the credit card bill.

Sewing shows, the consumer ones, also tend to be more about classes, hands-on in particular, and more about patterns and notions and sewing personalities.

I should admit too that I have not been to a real sewing show in a few years - social media and online purchases have sort of moved that aside in my world.

Quilting shows are a completely different type of event.

For a start, full disclosure, I am not a quilter. I have made a few wall hangings I like but bed quilts I do not.

My sister Dawn is and I still can't figure out how she makes it all so perfect. I like the press and shaping and variety of garments (plus I really, really, really like clothes) which is another way of saying I doubt if I have it in me to be that exact about many, many pieces that have to be made repeatedly and exactly the same.

The difference between myself and a real quilter was best articulated when a very nice lady I was having coffee with said "essentially quilting is about complete precision" and I realized essentially I was not.

All of this means that of course it took me a while to get into the groove at a quilting show.

But then two amazing things happened:

1. I realized that many of these gorgeous fabrics were garment worthy, many are now also knits and many are very fine, high quality cottons and rayons.

2. Quilters are ultimately, presumably when they are not being precise, all about the fabric and all about the colour.

I am myself all about the fabric and all about the colour and in getting it stitched up, in my case round as opposed to flat.

Once I realized that I sort started running looking at everything, talking to everyone and exchanging cards and contacts with some truly cool people and having a really excellent time.

Something else happened here too.

This trip has also made it clear to me that what my book is about is what my life is about is what my future is about and that is doing what I can to encourage new and returning sewers.

To that end I am intrigued by how sewing is changing before our eyes and all to the better.

I saw marvellous new sewing machines that anyone can afford.

I saw laser cut quilt kits with a million pieces that could be fused on and appliqued at modern times speed.

I saw prints and fibers made in the USA, Japan, Italy, Denmark and France that were both timeless and hip.

I saw a sewing foot Nancy Zeiman designed to protect the little figures of sewing children, like her granddaughters, from moving needles.

I came to this show to share my ideas and I am going to go away with so many new ideas instead.

I will be sharing some of these in upcoming posts but my mission really became pretty clear to me this weekend.

More to follow.

So much more.


Anonymous said...

Well, I wanted to go say hi, but the quilt market is for business people only, according to the website. I hope you’re able to check out some of our amazing fabric stores! Josephine’s and Mill Ends as well as the Pendleton outlet are not far from the convention center! Have a great time in Portland.

I’ve really enjoyed your writing and I’ll be picking up a book soon!


patsijean said...

In the 90's, I went through a quilting period lasting several years. I never abandoned garment sewing, however. Some time in the late 90's, I decided to go back to my main interest since 1958, garment sewing. I made a Stack & Whack table cloth for a friend a few years back, but garment sewing it is. The one think I did learn when piecing tops was the blending of color and pattern.

On another note, I finished your book a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. And, I am going to try the elastic waistband applications. My pajamas will be the practice garments.

Carol in Denver said...

The quilts you showed are drool-worthy; I hope you drink in the sight of every last one. Some quilts require precision; some require an adventurous spirit, even a devil-may-care attitude. Look at the Gees Bend quilts. Such spontaneity, such delight in creation, such creating beauty from often humble fabrics.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

I love your comments on quilting. I'm not a precision sewist and I really really love clothing too. However, while I don't want to quilt I do enjoy the artistic creations that quilters make. Glad you had a good time at Quilt Show and looking forward to hearing your new thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the sewing machine, a new brand to me. They don't seem to be on sale anywhere around me......further research indicated!