So much happened at Quilt Market 2017 in St. Louis during Day 1 that it took two Fultons to cover it all. The first Schoolhouse session I saw on Friday was hosted by Martingale, featuring Carol Hopkins. Along with Linda Koenig, Carol co-authored 4” x 5” Quilt Book Anthology, published just last March.
This book’s history starts with a group of friends challenging each other to design and sew unique 4" x 5" blocks. Most are pieced blocks, some are paper-pieced and some are appliqué. While working on the book, Carol realized that it would be difficult to recreate the group's blocks since they had been made using several different reproduction fabric collections. So Carol worked with Judie Rothermel and Marcus Fabrics to create a unique fabric line filled with red, pink, blue, black and cream reproductions.
With 182 block patterns in the book, the possibilities are endless. Martingale offers an online gallery of the quilts each group member created, so you'll have plenty of inspiration for creating your own unique 4" x 5" block quilt. This book is really exciting and reminds me of the Dear Jane quilt phenomenon.
Sadly, Linda Koenig passed away last October, although a collection of her quilts is currently on display until July 22 at the Quilters’ Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana.
In my second Schoolhouse session, Helen Stubbings [above] from Tasmania-based Hugs ‘n’ Kisses came all the way to St. Louis to show everyone an easier way to English paper-piece using her unique line of applique paper. Simply iron it on, glue back the edges and stitch your EPP pieces together. After washing, the paper softens into natural fibers and you can't tell that you've left it in.
Her product can be used with applique as well--iron the templates onto the back of your fabric, glue under the edges, and machine applique them to the background.
Helen's product is also great for foundation paper piecing, needle-turn applique, and as a stabilizer for machine embroidery. You can load it into your printer and print your templates, or trace your templates manually (since the paper is semi-transparent).
Next, I attended the Cotton + Steel Fabrics session where I was treated to a video of their newest fabrics.
Perhaps even more exciting, C&S is partnering with Sulky Thread to produce a unique line of 50-weight cotton thread that’s 55% rayon, 45% cotton. In a video, Sulky representatives explained how their Egyptian cotton thread is spun, dyed, then checked for quality.
This new thread is two-ply, long staple, Egyptian cotton, dyed in Italy.
What’s cool and fun about Sulky’s thread collection – besides its quality, of course – is that its spools not only come in a unique variety of colors that compliment Cotton & Steel fabrics, but each spool has its own designer look, with labels on the top and bottom that make for a fun display in your sewing room.
Cotton + Steel also showed off its Scout machine embroidery collection. With this embroidery packet, you can design your own original patches that remind me of Girl Scout patches. You can use them to adorn things like purses, totes, and garments, as well as quilts. By combining designs, Scout patches give you an opportunity to create your own personalized patch look.
There was more thread news going on across the aisle, as my husband, Scott, reports:
Calgary, Alberta-based WonderFil Specialty Threads unveiled its new, general-purpose thread line. Called Ultima, it promises to be a durable, “bread-and-butter” thread, especially for long-armers and machine quilters who need a less linty thread that doesn’t weave holes in their pocketbooks.
“When you have a finer thread in your bobbin, your tug-of-war is a lot easier,” explained WonderFil’s Joanne Flamond. “You want that bobbin thread to come up with the stitch; you want it to come up in the middle layer of your batting; and when you’re looking down on your quilt sandwich, I like to see that little nub of bobbin thread peeking through.”
Time was, Flamond continued, if you could see your bobbin thread, your tension must be off, especially when you’re using a domestic machine. On a long-arm frame, however, when you can see that nub of thread and you take it off your frame, the quilt relaxes, and the stitch pulls into the middle layer as it should. Ultima is designed, she said, to behave more like this.
Now, I’m not a quilter by trade, but I’m fairly experienced with advertising, and I remember the era of Chrysler’s “fine Corinthian leather.” So I wanted to know whether there was any real value behind WonderFil’s claim of “Egyptian cotton.”
“Egyptian cotton is really good in terms of its color absorption,” WonderFil engineer Andrew Ngai explained to me. “In the textile industry, we always care about how saturated, how nice the color really is. . . It carries slightly more sheen, and it absorbs color more evenly.”
Joanne added that, with the longer staple, you typically get less lint. But Andrew actually pointed out, each fiber is actually not that long – just over an inch. Spun Egyptian cotton, he said, is actually very linty. So it has to be treated in one of two ways. One involves gassing, which burns off the surface lint.
The other involves a chemical bath that acts as a glue. That glue certainly makes the thread less linty, but as Andrew told me, it makes the thread less soft, the same way a hair gel makes your hair feel stiffer. “That’s why we tend not to use that method,” he said. WonderFil prefers a two-stage gassing method, even though it’s costlier than the chemical bath.
That’s what’s happening in threads, gasses, and glues this week. Now back to Jennifer.
My next session was with Tula Pink, which introduced her latest fabric line, “Spirit Animal” for Free Spirit. Tula did address a recent controversy involving her native American motifs, saying she’s pulling ideas from her own history, and exploring who she is as an artist. Her father is native American.
Rather than become embroiled in this controversy over her right to include native America images, Tula said she decided to drop one of the motifs from her line. She didn’t want quilters using her fabrics to have to fight her battles for her.
The Spirit Animal line comes in three colorways, all of which are designed to be complementary with each other.
Her Wayfinder pattern [above], which invokes both flying geese and arrows, will be sold in shops as a kit that includes both the fabrics and the pattern – and this will be the only way to get the pattern (as is usually the case with Tula Pink kits).
Tula also showed off some other designers’ products who have incorporated her fabrics into totes, bags, trinket boxes, appliquéd jackets, purses, and embroidered ribbons, along with several more quilts that use her Spirit Animal and Holiday Homies fabric lines.
Would you believe there’s a lot more from Quilt Market in St. Louis still ahead? Stay tuned!