Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wool appliqué

Last fall I took a class on wool appliqué with Kathy Kansier, a national teacher, judge, and AQS quilt appraiser. After some preliminary discussion on types of wool, techniques, and equipment, we were given a kit to make this "Fruitopia" wallhanging. If you haven't ever tried wool appliqué, I highly recommend it as a nice change-of-pace project. Kathy recommends fusing the wool motifs onto the background for two reasons: ease of embroidery, and to stabilize the wool fibers to prevent raveling, though this is a not a significant problem with washed wool.

Fusing wool is not as simple as fusing cotton. It takes longer for the heat to pass through the thick fabric, and not all fusibles stick to all wool fabrics. Some teachers recommend only a dry iron, but Kathy suggests using steam from the back of the piece to reinforce the adhesion. I tried a variety of products and didn't find one that worked successfully on every type and weight of wool fabric. It's a trial and error process, and I quickly learned to fuse a small sample before applying the fusible product to each different piece of wool for the actual project. HeatnBond® Lite and Wonder-Under® were the two fusibles I used, though next time I'll try others.
Surprisingly, the embroidery turned out to be the most enjoyable part of this project for me, though I dreaded it at the outstart. Maybe because I started out as a hand quilter, I found the hand stitching relaxing and creative, deciding which color perle cotton would enhance each of the motifs. Instead of the two different stitches I used on this piece, I'll try lots of different embroidery stitches on my next wool project.
Kathy is a lovely person and delightful teacher. You can see more of her work at

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Quilt

Hannah Teter, U.S. snowboarder and 2006 gold medalist, is sleeping every night at the Olympic Village under a quilt created by Amp Energy Juice (part of PepsiCo) that features Teter and images from the village of Kirindon, Kenya. Teter, who helped design the quilt, started a charity dedicated to the village, and raises money through a maple syrup business (Hannah's Gold Vermont maple syrup) to help the village with water filtration, a sanitation system, and housing.

Hannah plans to auction the quilt after the Winter Games to raise more money for the village. Read the story at USA Today,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A new quilting superstition?

(Submitted by American Quilter magazine contributing editor, Barbara Polston, from Phoenix, Arizona)
When I turned my master bedroom into a quilt studio, my quilting friends were all anxious to see the new workspace. My friend, Anita, gifted me with this small cut glass jar, decorated with tiny flowers and ribbons.

Inside the jar are sealed nine pins, nine needles, and nine nails. It’s a legend in Great Britain that sealing such a jar into new construction keeps evil fairies at bay. Anita suggested that keeping this jar in my studio would keep evil quilt fairies away. I’m pleased to report that it’s working! I don’t know if this is because evil quilt fairies, who surely cause major mistakes and problems, truly exist, or because I believe they must. I’ve started recommending this to friends who report the same result. Has a new quilter’s superstition been born? Perhaps!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The DNA Quilt

Perhaps you’ve noticed, as I have, how many doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical and scientific professionals gravitate to the art of quilting for creative expression. When I first asked American Quilter contributing editor Iris Frank to write about the connection between quilting and medical professionals, I had no idea how intertwined these two disciplines are and how many fascinating scenarios we would discover. Here’s another captivating medical-related quilt story, submitted by Sandra Black of Tellico Plains, Tennessee:
“In 1953, James Watson and Sir Francis Crick published their famous paper detailing the structure of the DNA molecule. Recognized as the single most important development in biology of the twentieth century, their discovery transformed the study of genetics and paved the way for huge advances in medical sciences as well as the fascinating science of DNA fingerprinting. They received the Nobel Prize for this discovery.
I made this DNA quilt for my longtime boss of 40 years, Dr. Whelan. Since he is a prominent scientist, I knew he would like this as a gift: he was a good friend of Sir Francis Crick and James D. Watson, and 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of the double helix. The label on the back of the quilt was kindly autographed by Sir Francis Crick (who passed away in 2004) and James Watson as an extra personalized treat. I presented the quilt to Dr. Whelan at a scientific conference in Miami in 2003, where Dr. Watson was an invited speaker (seen in the photo with Dr. Whelan and me presenting the quilt). Sir Francis Crick was supposed to be there but was very ill and could not travel. Dr. Whelan was thrilled with his quilt’s historical and sentimental significance.
The quilt is machine appliquéd, machine quilted, and machine embroidered with the names of some of the scientific organizations my boss initiated and founded throughout his career. I used color-graded fabrics for the molecule. The background is stippled behind the DNA molecule and the DNA design is quilted on the outer borders.”
You can read Iris’s complete article in the March 2010 issue of American Quilter, on newsstand next week or by subscription at