Lessons on quilting from the Canberra Quilters


One of the most important lessons that I’ve tried to learn with my quilting is how it interacts with people. I remember doing a class with Jenny Bowker years ago and she said a quilt should have something grab your attention from a distance, then something else that makes you want to get a closer look and then something else to draw you in even closer.

My interpretation of Jenny’s advice is that a quilt needs layers of ideas and design features. While I’m currently working through this challenge with the WILD Flowers quilt myself, there’s some examples from the Canberra Quilters exhibition this year that I’d like to share with you and talk about a bit this layering idea some more…

The quilting that stood out for me at the recent Canberra Quilters Exhibition was on a few particular quilts. I’ve put some detailed photos (extras that aren’t in the earlier post), so have a look through and then we can talk about why these ones stand out.

Firstly, Key holes (by William Bielenberg) and Rainbow connection (by Angie Wilson) have some similarity in that these use contrast of the curved quilting with the very square design to make the quilts more interesting. And Round the Garden like a Jelly Bear (by Joanne Barraclough) takes this one step further using round feathers with contrasting cross hatching and free motion quilting to add both contrast and a modern twist to a traditional and square quilt.

Conversely, Baltimore Ladies Remembered (by Stephanie Newman) uses repetition of similar designs (leaves and flowers) to unify the design. The colour and contrast in the patchwork gets your attention at first, but then the quilting gives it texture and draws you in for a closer look. Imagine it with just cross hatching (squares on point) quilted instead and it would be nowhere near as interesting as it would lose much of its texture.

Knotted Log (by Margot Kitchen) became a favourite because it lured me closer with some clever piecing and quilting. This one I really like because its effective and I would not have thought of the approach. The piecing is a traditional log cabin, broken up by simple curves, but the quilting is exquisite almost mythological style, again contrasting the curved quilting with the straight piecing. A degree of mastery here to quilt the curves and keep the piecing straight too! So there is contrast of shapes getting the attention here.

Ruled by Chocolate (by DW – apologies to the artist, my photo of the name is blurry) and More Morris Magic (by Michele Hill) – these are a different story again. The colours and designs here are more harmonious (that is repeat similar colours, shapes etc) but they grab your interest by adding texture, they make you want to walk up and touch them with the tactile-ness of them which comes through the beautiful feather quilting and the combination of stippling, trapunto and the beads etc respectively. So you don’t’ necessarily have to have contrast to get my attention.

And finally to demonstrate that this can truly work, if you have a look at The Quiltmaker by Jenny Bowker, while the colour is harmonious the red-yellow is striking, and then the detail in the piecing gets your attention and draws you closer and then the contrast between the structured blocks and the detailed ‘drawing’ in the quilting gets you closer again. Clever.

So there’s some food for thought on quilting. I always find it interesting to see how the things that get my attention make that happen. There’s usually a clever idea of harmony or contrast or something that unifies the quilt to give it plenty of things going on while joining them all into a coherent whole. So, I have plenty to learn and strive for with my quilting while also having fun mucking about with how to make it work J

Happy sewing,




About bertcollections

I began quilting, with the help of some friends, in 2005, and have been quilting ever since. In that time, I’ve completed several projects in a variety of styles and colour combinations. My approach to quilting generally doesn’t involve using a particular pattern. I tend to have a concept I want to bring to life, or find a fabric on sale somewhere that looks like it could be turned into something fun. As the photos in the 'Introductions' post show, my quilts cross a range of styles, but generally use some strong colours and shapes.
This entry was posted in Canberra Quilters Exhibition, Quilt Shows, quilting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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