Cuttin’ It Up – Quilt Shows

Yep, we quilt, we gather with friends to quilt, embroidery, and work on fiber projects. But why do we go to Quilt Shows?  To get inspired, learn new techniques, meet old friends and make new friends, maybe win prizes and purchase cool new things at show sale prices, a great one stop shopping opportunity.  Quilt Shows bring together communities, especially smaller communities like we have here in Grant County Oregon.  There is such an amazing talent in rural areas that most people just don’t get a chance to see and at a local quilt show we get to see these beautiful works of art and most of the time meet the person who created it.

When I see quilts at shows I get inspired especially by quilts that I connect with. You see quilts and designs move me, they speak to me in ways that is hard to express.  They make me want to run home and start a new project…never mind I have three projects in the works and another one on the longarm getting finished but I just don’t want to lose the inspiration, the creativity rambling in my head. Trust me – you don’t want to be inside my heard, I drive my husband crazy.

At Quilt shows there are classes, workshops and/or demonstrations that will give you plenty of possibilities to learn, you can take the time to learn a new technique, a new skill or try new products that you can only see online. You are in the company of some accomplished quilters that share many of their experiences and trials. Teaching is a passion and I truly believe this should be passed down to our next generations; just another reason to take your family.

I put a lot time in my quilts, well most of them, some are a snap to do and I just want to get through them so I can start another more interesting one.

This year Harney County is featuring not only their quilts but booths so you can purchases beautiful fabrics and products at amazing prices from Burns, Mount Vernon, Prairie City and more!

But above all this I truly enjoy talking with other likeminded quilters – artists – to see folks I haven’t seen in a while catch up on them and their families. I love my community!  October 15th-16th is the annual ‘Best of the Old West’ Harvest Festival & Quilt Show at the Fairgrounds, an event for the whole family.

Cuttin’ It Up – Paper Piecing

Foundation Paper Piecing, (FPP) commonly called paper piecing, is a method of piecing quilt blocks using a printed paper for stitch lines. Foundation piecing is the technique of sewing fabric to a foundation in order to achieve very precise results. The foundation can be fabric and left in place or paper to be removed later. It allows a quilter to make blocks with small sized pieces or complex angles that would be difficult to cut and piece otherwise and make your process a breeze!

English Paper Piecing is a historical quilting technique that traces back to the 1770s. The earliest hexagon template that quilt researchers have found was made in England in 1770. Hexagons and English Paper Piecing became one of the most popular patterns and styles in England by the early 1800’s. Foundation piecing is very old indeed.  At the Virginia Quilt Museum there is a quilt top on exhibit that was dated January 1889 and the papers had been left on.

Fast forward:

FPP’s new popularity is due in large part to Lesly-Claire Greenberg. “Guilty as charged,” was her answer when asked to confirm a persistent rumor that she is the “mother of modern day foundation piecing.” Her development of the foundation/paper piecing technique began as early as 1976 because she couldn’t sew log cabin blocks straight. She tried everything possible but she still couldn’t do it! So she traced the sewing lines onto a piece of muslin and sewed on the lines. At the same time she was producing a line of patterns and to help her students’ complete the designs as close to the original design as possible, she had them trace the patterns onto a muslin foundation and then lay out the fabric patches on top of the patterns. It was just a matter of time before they were turning the paper over and sewing right on the line!

Many people who quilt but are intimidated by the labor-intensive cutting and fitting process that makes a quilt or quilt block.  Paper Piecing takes all the hassle out of cutting and sewing your quilt block.  You can use pre-cut shapes or…use up you’re oddly shaped scrap pieces of fabric without extra cutting.

Learning to paper piece is like learning ballroom dancing. You have to perform all your steps in a certain order while dancing backward in high heels and checking your progress in a mirror! 

It sounds harder than it is.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll breeze through it without giving it a second thought – it is a wonderful new technique if you have never tried it. There are superb tutorials on line that demonstrate this technique, you can take a class or learn on your own. I would recommend a class for a beginner, this will save time, money and frustration…mostly frustration… down the road and you will glean great tips.  Every spring here at BellyAcres Twisted Stitchery we have a paper piecing course that takes all the uncertainty and confusion out of this process and you have a great time learning as well we carry all the things you need to complete your first paper piecing project.

The paper you choose will make a difference on whether you enjoy this technique or not. And there are significant price differences on the various options. You can use copy machine paper, vellum, newspaper print, tracing paper, wash away paper, or freezer paper. Pretty much any paper can work, however, those that can be run through a copy machine are best. Some perform better than others. Two of my favorites are ‘Papers For Foundation Piecing’ by That Patchwork Place’ and ‘Foundation Paper, and Simple Foundations Translucent Vellum’ by Carol Doak. 


Happy Piecing!

Cuttin’ It Up – Local Services

Local Quilt Stores and Longarm Arm Services add great value to a small community.  A few years ago our quilting community experienced a loss, to some a great loss.  Quilts and Beyond in Prairie City closed their doors in December 2018 as the owners chose to retire, this not only left this community with one less business but the wisdom and helpful experience these talented ladies provided to us. A lot of quilters go to Bend, Pendleton, Baker City and Portland to shop or they shop on line. But these locations add to the cost because of travel and the on line shopping leaves little to actual color choices that you can see, touch and compare to your pattern and/or other pieces of cloth you already have due to the colors not being completely true in pictures. So where does that leave us – the quilters in Eastern Oregon’s Grant County?

Experience shows us that whenever there is a void something will fill it. There are several established and a couple new places for quilters and sewers, that as a community I urge you to support and help grow these local business. We have The Shiny Thimble in Mount Vernon and now Chester’s is carrying fabrics and starting to focus a little more on supplying quilters, both have some knowledgeable staff. BellyAcres Twisted Stitchery in Mount Vernon, Oregon opened our doors in 2018 with years of knowledge and experience with a wide variety of fabrics, tools and accessories.  The longarm service in the John Day Valley is also growing to support the need for quality longarm service, each longarm business can provide you with their own unique talent to turn something you created into something stunning. Here at the Twisted Stitchery we offer show quality Longarming along with our friendly knowledgeable staff to help you turn your beautiful quilt into a stunning quilt. Those of us who provide quilters with classes and longarm service want to see the quilters in the John Day Valley grow and flourish, to bring the recognition long overdue to the talented folks who are quilters and artists – and to create a warm and experienced environment for new quilters.

At the Twisted Stitchery we also added a Homeschool program in 2020 that teaches sewing, quilting and life skills.  Math and Geometry is taught since it is an integral part of sewing and quilting.  Our youngest student (7 YOA) just took grand campion, youth division, in the local county fair for her applique pillow and we are so proud of her!


Cuttin’ It Up – Ironboards

Ironing boards, we all have them, we all use them but what are they other than something that takes up space and most of the time are unattractive – no – just plain ugly. Some people get creative and use Ironing boards for decoration to hang other items to keep your space neat, but it usually gets stuffed in a corner or closet – mine was not exception, it was just used and ugly with scorching, wear and tear from students, myself and time.

One morning I found myself unable to sleep – so at 4am I got up, built a fire in my studio, turned on my music.  I sat there trying to focus with a cup of coffee and figure out what I should start working on. Then my eyes focused on my very ugly but necessary ironing board.  It had belonged to my mother that I inherited many years ago and didn’t want to get rid of it…so I thought to myself…self – what should I do with it?  Spying some left over camo canvas I used to make a jacket with and wondered if there was enough there to make a new cover and YES! There was not only enough to make a new cover but to cover my smaller board to! So I got busy and made both covers, backed them with left over heavy batting and they both turned out even nicer than what I hoped, I love them and discovered this heavy canvas makes a wonderful cover. I was so pleased that I woke my sleepy man up to show him this wonderful thing I created. When he finely got into my studio to see this creation – my ironing board was nowhere to be found…next time I’m going to rethink my use of camo fabric….

Cuttin’ It Up – Why I quilt

Fall is a time for reflection, preserving and preparing for the long winter months indoors. Making sure all your beef is sold before butchering. canning is done and the turkeys are almost ready for their final feed, so much to do but the feelings the changing seasons bring slowly embraces me.  I love each new seasons but fall in, particular, allows me to reflect upon my life, my accomplishments, my shortfalls and preparing to create all the things I have been waiting all summer to do.  You see I am a farmer, a rancher, an artist, a quilter, a wife, a mother and grandmother but of all these things I love and cherish I am an artist, a creator and a quilter. All the designs, patterns and plans rattling around in my head all summer are screaming to get out!  What goes on in my head is rather scary (ask my husband) just trying to control them – it is now a battle of will to finish what I must so I can do what I love; create with cloth – I use it as a medium to reach others through teaching and sharing, out local guild and quilt shows.

When we quilt we share love, warmth, beauty and joy – have you ever snuggled under a quilt and NOT felt comfort? While I’m not sure why I am driven like this to quilt I do understand the journey – it’s just who I am so I embrace it.