Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Quilting and Patchwork... whats the difference?

Hello all!

I hope you are all refreshed and full of zip after the bank holiday? Or if like me you ate most of your childrens Easter eggs because "they dont need them" and they are "too young to notice" then I feel your guilt laden chocolate pain. Bad parent.

During my stash sorting the other week, I found this little wonder and have been meaning to show it off. This amazing quilt top, believe it or not, was considered unworthy of a place for sale in a vintage shop, so it came my way in a plastic sack. To me this is textile treasure of the highest order! A half finished quilt forgotten..all those scraps used in the best way possible, in striking dark and light sections in a traditional Log Cabin pattern. I think its a work of art. So many questions...who made it? Where did all those those scraps from? How long did it take? Oooh the stitch related history!

Way back in student land, I wrote my degree dissertation on patchwork and quilting, and even after having to type that many words night after night, I still have the love for quilts. So when presented with this lonely quilt top I swiftly took it into my stash with the sincere promise of finishing it. That was two years ago and I really ought to crack on.

The conundrum is, which of the many colours do I choose to do the backing with? And then how to quilt the hand or through a machine? You cant beat a quilt for the sheer volume of time, effort, visual effect and pure patience. I have only ever managed mini quilts before, usually then I end up flitting to something knitted I can do on my lap, so this will be the biggest quilt to date. Although I have had the hard part done for me.

Quilting and patchwork are often muddled and mixed up as they same thing. They aren't. They go hand in hand and are excellent friends, but are two separate techniques and uses of fabric.

Patchwork is the use of different pieces of fabric which are combined together by hand or machine to create a larger decorative piece of cloth that can then be quilted, or not. It usually looks a little like my vintage quilt.

Quilting is the creating of the cloth "sandwich" of three layers. A top piece (commonly patchworked) a centre layer of wadding, and then a backing. They can be combined by hand or machine too. The quilting element can be very simple or heavily decorative with swirls and whirls and all sorts. If you look up 'Whole cloth quilting' where decorative stitches are used on plain fabric, you will see what I mean. This blog has a great example of what it can look like with heavy decoration in tiny stitches. Amazing!

For our workshop timetable this year I decided to break down the elements of a quilt into 3 simple workshops. We are asked about the difference so often by customers, mainly on how to start, that here we are with a selection of three classes to help you along the road to Quilt-dom. (maybe not a real word!?)

 For those who fancy getting to grips with the hand quilting element, I will be showing you how in a  gentle introduction to adding texture and pattern to plain cloth using a good old needle and thread.

In May, Jenny (who is the patchwork master working in the shop) will teach English paper piecing. This again is hand sewing but this time its Patchwork with a capital 'P'. Lots of small pieces, joined together with a needle and thread. Be as colourful and as mismatched as you wish!

Then to finish, in June I will be showing you how to make a mini quilted sample. This time we will be doing the whole process on a machine, so much quicker and a bit of a faster pace. We will be joining the top pieces, making the quilt sandwich and then binding it. All the info you need to make a larger quilt, just on a tiny scale.

Come and have a go! A patchwork quilt is the ultimate stash buster.

Jo x

P.s If anyone recognises this vintage quilt know where I am.

Hand quilting for beginners
Saturday 16th April
2 - 5pm
Hand quilted sampler. Learn the gentle and effective way of using simple stitches to quilt your projects.

Current work in progress - hand quilting

Saturday 7th May
2 - 4.30pm
Make a hand sewn patchwork pincushion using the English paper piecing method

Introduction to machine quilting
Saturday 18th June
Start simply! Learn how to piece fabric together and create a small quilt sample.


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