I'm going to tell you the little story about how and why I entered my mini quilt into a local art gallery competition. If you are like me and have never entered a competition or shown a quilt before, I hope that after reading this you will feel inspired to give it a go too!
There is no doubt in my mind that patchwork is art. You only have to see the incredible quilts on display at the Festival of Quilts to appreciate just how talented quilters are. From choosing colour palettes to complex patterns, accurate cutting, matching seams and points, intricate piecing, quilting designs, the list goes on and on! Despite this I've had a hard time seeing my work as artistic, which is a reflection of my own lack of self-confidence. When my Dad saw my half inch hexie mini quilt, he said it was artistic, and that is a big compliment coming from him! I was eventually talked into entering it into the Lancashire Open Art Exhibition at Chapel Gallery and I was completely surprised when it was accepted!
When it comes to art and art competitions, textiles is underrated and under represented. It is seen by some as less skilled than drawing or using paint and often viewed as more of a homemade crafts/hobby type thing. So I was really pleased that my piece was chosen and I was also glad to see a few other textile pieces in the exhibition. I find it difficult to promote myself and put myself out there in terms of my work, but thinking of it as a way of promoting textiles really helped me push past this. The more of us who show our work in these sorts of events, the better it is for the quilting industry and the more likely it is that quilting, embroidery and textiles in general, will be seen as artistic forms by more people. Maybe some people don't think of quilting as art because they haven't seen the amazing quilts that are out there? I know when I mentioned I was going to the Festival of Quilts to my brother he said, is that about duvets?!
Now I've never entered a quilt into a quilt show, so I can't speak about what that is like, but I can tell you a bit about my experience of entering it into an art gallery and give you some tips for if you are going to do this one day.
Tip 1 - Frame your work. Mine is a mini quilt so this was easy to do. I turned up to submit my piece with it unmounted and was told that it couldn't be accepted like this because it could be taken easily off the wall. (I had put two felt loops on the back with a dowel running through so it could hang off a nail!) It needs to be in a frame or mounted on a board which can be fixed to the wall with mirror plate fixings.
Tip 2 - Don't frame it yourself unless you know what you are doing - unlike me! I bought an inexpensive frame from a shop, put my piece inside and then proceeded to struggle for half an hour to attach the mirror plate fixings to the back of the frame, resulting in splitting the wood. Keep in mind that I was rushing to do this as I knew there was a deadline to submit it. In the end I went to a local framers and explained my frame emergency and they sorted it out for me, and even gave me an 'artist's discount'! I am so glad I got it framed in the end because next to the other pieces of work it looked right. Unmounted would have looked wrong, so this was a good decision.
Tip 3 - When you submit your piece to the gallery and they ask 'What's the title?" they mean what is the piece called, not what is your title (i.e. Mrs or Mr), yes, I made this rookie artist mistake!!
Tip 4 - If you want to sell your piece, you will have to put a price on it. I had no idea what to sell it for so I put it not for sale. I've had some interest in it and somebody I know asked to buy it! But this is a sentimental piece so I'm leaving it not for sale. It's really hard to put a price on your work, especially if you are like me and are just starting out, but whatever you do, be sure not to undervalue your skills.
Tip 5 - Enjoy the process! I felt nervous about the whole thing and now I look back, there was really no need. It's really fun that my piece is hanging in the gallery for the entire summer.
I named my piece Mabel's Garden. Mabel was my Gran who I sadly lost this year. She was a massive inspiration to me as she took a keen interest in my sewing and was a fantastic embroiderer, knitter and crocheter herself. She regularly used to visit Chapel Gallery to view the art and have a latte in the cafe. I think she would have been so happy to see my work in there. When we were little her garden was lots of different flowerbeds with paths in between so this mini quilt reflects that (the blue hexagons are the paths). My quilt is based on a traditional quilting pattern called Grandmother's Flower Garden so I thought this would be a fitting tribute to my Gran.
Have you ever shown your work in a show, gallery or competition? I'd love to hear your experience in the comments below.
It's no secret that I love Liberty fabrics, as many of you do too. I use them in many of my projects and I love everything about them, from the colours to the prints to the way they feel. Liberty tana lawn is my favourite. It has such a high thread count that you can hardly see the weave and the detail in the prints is excellent quality, so much so that it doesn't really compare with other fabrics. (Although I do absolutely love other fabrics too!)
We all know that Liberty fabrics are not cheap. In fact, the ones I own are by far the most expensive fabrics I've ever bought and ever will buy. But today I am going to share with you some ways to make sewing with Liberty fabric more affordable. These are the things I do, to make using Liberty fabric possible for me. I am on a budget so I cannot afford to buy lots and lots of fabric.
1. Use Liberty quilting cotton. Liberty released a range of quilting cottons a year or so ago and they are beautiful. The prints are as gorgeous as the tana lawn and they feel soft, smooth and drapey to work with. At around £15 per metre, the price is comparable to some quilting cottons, depending on what you buy and where, but it is cheaper than the tana lawn. So if you want to make something from Liberty but you are on a budget, this is an excellent choice. I'm currently making my hexagon quilt from Liberty quilting cottons.
2. Mixing in other fabrics. Making a whole quilt from Liberty would look spectacular, there's no doubt! But I couldn't afford to do this. So mixing Liberty with cheaper fabrics is a great alternative and also gives the Liberty chance to shine! For my hexagon quilt I'm using Makower linen texture fabric and this is one of my favourite solid fabric ranges. You can, however, mix Liberty with any fabric you wish and Moda basics are a really affordable range that I like to use and it comes in a vast amount of colours.
3. Use small pieces in small projects. Just a small piece of Liberty mixed with some linen or other fabrics is sometimes just enough to make a project shine. I've used tiny amounts in my two butterfly pouches and I lined them with cheaper, but still pretty, quilting cottons.
4. Buy small amounts. Whenever I've bought Liberty fabric, I've bought either a jelly roll (2.5 inch wide strips), fat quarters, pre-cut squares or scraps. Once I bought a couple of metres of Liberty cotton, many years ago, with the aim of lining a jacket I was making. Other than that, I only buy really small amounts. You can buy a fat quarter of tana lawn for around £5.50 to £6 and as the fabric is wider than most standard quilting cottons, you get a little more for your money. Jelly rolls are quite expensive at around £38. However the one I bought has lasted me over 3 years and I still have lots of it left (even though I have used it in many projects), because of the way I use it and mix it with other fabrics.
My top, top tip for buying small amounts is the Liberty tana lawn scrap bags from Alice Caroline. I recently bought a scrap ribbon pack (pictured above) for the first time for £4 in their sale and I was over the moon with what I received. I got a huge amount of really long strips, in all kinds of different prints. All of the strips are really long and wide enough for half inch and quarter inch hexies. Some of the strips are even wider and could be used for one inch hexies or possibly bigger. It's a really affordable way to be able to play with many different Liberty prints. Each scrap pack is different so I can't say what you would get if you bought one but I was really pleased with my selection.
5. Shop the sales! Yes, Liberty fabric does go into the sales every now and then. Alice Caroline have great sales where they sell scraps, bolt ends, remnants and just simply discount some prints. You can definitely get a bargain there. Also, I once bought some Liberty quilting cotton for half price in Guthrie and Ghani which was an amazing bargain! So it's worth keeping your eye on your favourite fabric shops because you never know when some beautiful prints might sneak into the sale.
I really hope these little tips will give you some ideas and inspiration for how to affordably use Liberty fabrics in your projects. As with everything on my website, I am not paid or sponsored to say any of this, there aren't any affiliate links, I just provide links for your convenience. Let me know your thoughts on this in the comments and if you have any tips please share them too.
Well what a month June has been! Pretty rubbish in terms of the weather here in the UK but plenty of sewing has happened. First up, I worked on two tiny epp pieces and managed to finish them both. They were my quarter inch pincushion from my last post and my half inch hexagon mini quilt. This will be a wall hanging and I've named it Mabel's Garden as it reminds me of my Gran's garden. The hexagon flowers are like her flowerbeds and the blue hexagons are like the paths she had between them. I love this size of hexagon and I also love embellishing it with embroidery, so I'm sure I will be starting another mini quilt project soon.
I learnt a new sewing technique in June, Foundation paper piecing! It's such a fun technique I think I will definitely be doing more going forward. I have started a large cushion for my little boy made from Tall Tales book blocks as part of a quilt along challenge on Instagram, run by Kate Basti. I'm really enjoying seeing everyone else's book blocks, it's so much fun. I'm hoping to have my cushion finished in July if possible.
June was a super special month because I was featured on the Feeling Stitchy blog. I was absolutely blown away when I was asked to be featured. I've been a reader of that blog since well before the days of Instagram, so it was super exciting to be featured. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be mentioned there. If you'd like to read the article you can find it here.
I also came up with a little epp butterfly motif in June which was a lot of fun. I haven't blogged about this properly yet because I'm still working on some variations of this design but you can find the template here.
I started another Block of the Month in June, the Summer Sampler by Pretty Fabrics and Trims. This is such a pretty project, it incorporates embroidery and quilting and I am loving it so far. I will share more progress soon.
I think July is going to be an equally busy month. My priority is to try to finish my Tall Tales cushion, make the T-shirts I haven't yet made for my little boy, and continue to work on my Sew and Quilt BOM. I have so many ideas going around my head at the moment that I'm finding it difficult to focus on the things I'm in the middle of. So I'm going to try to slow down a bit in July, finish things off and then I will have time to develop new ideas. What are your plans for July? I'd love to know.
P.S. I've had a Bloglovin account for many years but stopped using it a long time ago. I read blogs by clicking links in people's Instagram profiles or by just putting them into Google. But I decided to try using Bloglovin again and it is much improved from the last time I used it and I'm finding it a great place to keep track of blogs. So I've linked this blog up and you can now find me over there if you use it too.
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to. Thanks for stopping by. All opinions are my own and there is no sponsored content or affiliate links on my site.