Coat of Many Colours Embroidery Patch

How to make a ‘Coat of Many Colours’ inspired embroidery patch, HQAL update

There are two stories connected to the coat of many colours, one from the bible and one from Dolly Parton. Their meaning is similar in a way, but also different.

In the bible, the coat of many colours is of Joseph. Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob because he reminds him of his beloved wife. Because of that, Jacob gave him a splendid coat of many colours. This made Joseph his brothers so jealous that they threw him in a well and sold him off as a slave, telling his father he died. In this story, the Coat is a splendid garment, also called the technicolour Dreamcoat in the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and a reason for jealousy.

In Dolly Parton her case, the coat is given to her by her mother. The coat was lovingly made by her mom from rags because her family was very poor. Dolly is proud of the Coat her mother made for her. She feels the love of her mother in every stitch it took to sew the coat. However, her classmates make fun of her because the coat shows that she is poor.

The stories are different because one is about material riches, and the other one is about immaterial riches. Each story has what the other lacks.

However, the stories can be combined as well. The coat of many colours acts as a double-edged sword for the recipient. On the one hand, it is a show of love from the giver. On the other hand, it also causes judgement from other people. To both Joseph and Dolly Parton the judgement is worth the value of the gift of love.

The embroidery patch below is my interpretation of the Coat of Many Colours. Also, given and made with love.

Embroidery patch coat of many colours

How the embroidery patch came to be

First, I wanted to make an actual coat of many colours, however, my tailoring skills are limited. I decided to make an embroidery patch first and see if I will make the coat later. The design started with a coat and grew from there.

Drawing design coat of many colours

Materials and techniques used

  • Fabric scraps
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Neglected floss, also called leftover floss from other projects
  • Needles, small and big crewel embroidery needles
  • A plan

I like to use scraps in all my projects. It is a more sustainable way of working and also holds extra meaning. Instead of using fabric scraps to sew a coat this embroidery patch is made from both embroidery floss scraps and fabric scraps. The red fabric is a piece of old pants of mine which suited me very well. The patch is for my boyfriend and now he will always carry a piece of me with him.

The embroidery stitches I used are: chain stitch, satin stitch, backstitch and split stitch. I used a different amount of strands of floss for different elements of the patch to create a 3d effect. Also, I used shiny embroidery floss and regular floss.

Start embroidery Coat of Many Colours

Detail pictures of the embroidery patch

The coat 

This is the part I finished first. It reminds me of a dalmatian dog. The coat is made with satin stitches. The outline is done with chain stitches. I blended purple and dark blue floss for the outline for an interesting effect.

Coat finished Coat of Many Colours Embroidery

The shining star in a star

I love the stars. They symbolise hope and a light in dark times to me. The silver star is a shining star foresaying a bright future.

Star detail Coat of Many Colours Embroidery

The embroidered name banner

A patch must be named. Now everyone knows who it belongs to.

Banner detail Coat of Many Colours Embroidery

And of course the back of the embroidery patch

Some people are ashamed to show the back of their embroidery, also called the embroidery butt.  They fear a messy back must mean the front is messy as well. I don’t believe in that. Therefore, I make it a point to show my butt whenever I can. This is the last time you will ever see the back of this piece though because now I’m showing you how I covered up my butt.

Back embroidery Coat of Many Colours Patch

How to turn the embroidery into a patch

  1. First I added the attachment system. If anyone knows how to call those specific pins for badges I would love to be told. I haven’t got a clue.

Attachement system embroidery patch

2. I am a quilter, and that shows even in embroidery pieces. I covered up the back of the embroidery piece with a piece of fabric. To attach the two layers I quilted through the two layers with thread matching the embroidery. I see many people glue fabric to the back to finish a patch, but I don’t own that kind of glue and I like to avoid buying materials whenever I can.

In the picture, you see how I ‘basted‘ the layers together with some pins.

Basting Coat of Many Colours Embroidery Patch

3. To secure the edges I folded the red fabric to the back.

Finishing edges Coat of Many Colours Embroidery Patch

4. And here is another picture of another back.  I was fighting with the red checkered fabric a bit so it doesn’t look as neat as I hoped. In the picture, you can also see where I quilted through the embroidery patch.

Back Coat of Many Colours Embroidery Patch

Conclusion: The finished embroidery patch

And that’s it! My Coat of Many Colours embroidery patch is finished. I am super pleased with the outcome. Stitching this patch was a lot of fun. Also, I loved the process of designing while I was stitching. My hope is that there will be many more projects like this in the future. This kind of pieces really suitable for commissions. If you are interested drop me a message (BellaGBearArt@gmail.com).

Coat of Many Colours Embroidery Patch

Some questions for you:

  1. Have you ever made an embroidery patch? If yes, do you have any tips?
  2. Which story do you think of when you hear ‘Coat of Many Colours’?
  3. What do you do with leftover embroidery floss?

Do you want to know more?

The hand-quilt-along, HQAL

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyMargaretEmmaTracyDebSusan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchenKathi,  BellaDaisy and Connie

Coat of Many Colours Embroidery Patch
The man and his embroidery patch

See my DeviantArtFacebook page or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

Quilt tutorial 2: How to make your own patchwork star potholder

A few weeks ago I published part 1 of a tutorial on how to make your own awesome patchwork star. Well, here is part 2! This tutorial will teach you how to turn the patchwork quilt block into a potholder. Potholders are ideal as a present: Everyone uses them and they are small so don’t take too much time and materials to make.

This article is published before during the artisan craft week at projecteducate. I promise you a never-ending sense of pride and accomplishment when you’re holding your first finished quilt.

In this article, I will discuss the following techniques:

  • Basting of a quilt
  • Quilting a quilt
  • How to sew a border around your quilt
  • Binding a quilt

If you want to know a bit more about the separate part of a quilt or how to make a quilt, see the following articles:

Which materials do you need?

  • 18 x 19.5 cm of fabric for the border.
  • 18 x 18 cm fabric for the back
  • 18 x 18 cm fabric batting; either a piece of a fleece blanket or you can buy it in a quilt or craft shop
  • Quilting thread (quilting thread is best, but embroidery thread or any other thread you have is also fine)
  • Standard sewing notions (scissors, pins, needle etc…)

Fabric choices: I used the fabrics I also used for the star. You can choose any you want though! A contrasting border fabric will look very good as well.

Step 1: Basting your quilt

What is it?

A quilt consists of three layers: the top, a back and batting. When you bast a quilt you temporarily sew the pieces together with big stitches so the layers won’t move when you start to quilt.

How do you do it?

1. Put the three layers together. The batting goes in the middle. The ‘right’ side of the backing and quilt block face the batting.  The right side is the front of your fabric which will be visible when the quilt is finished.

Quilt basting tutorial 1

 

2. Cut off the excess batting and background fabric. Leave a border of around 2 centimetres.

3. There are two ways to bast a quilt: with pins and with thread. Normally I would not bother with thread for a piece this small, but I will show you both techniques.

Basting with thread: For this, you can use any leftover thread you have because you will remove it from the piece when it’s finished.

Untitled by BellaGBear

Basting with pins: This follows the same principle as basting with thread and is quicker. This technique is not suitable if the quilting will take a long time or when you’re quilting a big quilt. The needles will either fall out or prick you when you’re handling a lot of fabric.

Untitled by BellaGBear

Step 2: The quilting

What is it?

The term ‘quilting’ or ‘quilt’ is confusing because they are both used for the finished object, a verb and for the process we’re going to do now. Quilting means sewing through the three layers of a quilt. This is both to keep the layers in place, but also has ornamental value. Small stitches used to be the norm, but it is more important to create stitches of a consistent length. Quilting can be done to exaggerate the original pattern or to create a new kind of pattern. You see an example of both below.

How do you do it?

1. Thread a needle. Tie a knot at the end. Start with the first stitch where you gently pull the knot through one layer of fabric. This will secure the thread into the fabric.

2. Quilt in any pattern you want. I decided to quilt around the star shape, but you can also draw X-es in boxes, stripes, circles, whatever strikes your fancy!  The middle block is ideal for some initials as you see in my finished piece.
3. If your thread is almost gone, tie a knot near the fabric and finish in the same way you started by pulling the knot through one layer of fabric.
4. Keep repeating this process until you’re satisfied with the quilting.
Quilting a patchwork star

Step 3: Putting a border on your quilt

What is it?

To speak in the words of the brilliant Beyonce: ‘if you like it, then you should put a ring on it’. And that is what we are going to do with this quilt! A border is like a ring around a quilt which finishes the raw edges.

How do you do it?

1. Cut your block to the right size. About half a centimetre from the points of the star.

2. Cut four border strips of 19.5 by 4.5 cm

3. Pin the border strips with the pretty side to the block and sew as you see in the picture. Use pins on the star points inserting them at 90 degrees from the line you’ll sew. This will make the quilt look neater. Also, make sure an equal piece of the border fabric sticks out at either side of the block. That’s why the border strips are longer than the block. You’ll need that length later. When sewing the second set of borders don’t sew over the borders already attached (as shown in the picture).

Putting the border on a quilt

3. Now fold over the border fabric at the back and pin it down. You have to fold twice so the edge of the fabric is secured inside the border. The corner is always fiddly, the pictures show how I usually do it but stick to any way that works for you.

4. Sew the border to the back as shown in the picture, With this stitch, the stitches are nearly invisible.

Sewing the border of a quilt down

Step 4: Finishing your quilt

1. This part is always a lot of fun: removing the basting thread.

2. If you haven’t done that already, you can sew your initials in the middle block to make this quilt your own.

3. If you make many of these blocks and sew them together you get a big quilt!

I added two pictures of the finished result so you can see the initials I embroidered onto the quilt.

2 FINISH COMPILED

And now your first quilt is finished. Congratulations!

If you have any questions about this tutorial or suggestions leave a comment or sent me an email at bellagbearart@gmail.com! I am always open to help people to get into this quilting obsession.

I would love to see what you make with this tutorial, so please leave a link in the comments section once you do!

May this first quilt be the first of many more to come!


See my DeviantArt, Facebook page or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

A lesson in the basic elements of a quilt

The word quilt or quilting is confusing because of all the different meanings the word has.  To explain to you how tricky quilting terminology is I present to you this perfectly accurate description of a quilter:

Quilter: One who quilts and spend many hours quilting. Some people only make quilt tops and engage a quilter to do the quilting. Other quilters do their own quilting. 

 Yes, understandable right!? Let me explain some words in this sentence:

  • Quilt: the finished project. It is a blanket consisting of three layers which are sewn together through quilting
  • Quilting: Technically speaking, the verb quilting means sewing through the three layers of a quilt. Piecing is the term used for sewing fabric pieces together into a quilt block and quilt top. However, quilting is also used as a general term to describe every part of the quilting process. This includes all the steps from picking out fabric to putting on the final border of the quilt.
  • Quilter: Someone engaged in making quilts, be it as a hobbyist or a professional. Some quilters only make quilt tops, others finish the quilt tops for other people professionally.

Many of the readers of my blog already know about quilting because they are quilters themselves. However, for the people who don’t, I’ll delve into the different elements of a quilt in this post. I aim to inspire people to start making quilts. Basic knowledge is required for that. See these tutorials if you want to give quilting a go:

However, you don’t have to be disappointed in this post when you are an experienced quilter, I’ll use many fabulous quilts as an example. This will give you plenty of visual pleasure to enjoy this post.

What are the parts of a quilt?

There are four major components of a quilt:

  1. A quilt top > the front of the quilt
  2. The batting and backing > the padding and back.
  3. The quilting > Which keeps the three layers together
  4. The border > The sides which ties the quilt together

I’ve already talked about some of those parts before in this post where I talk about how to make a scrap quilt:

There is also a glossary with explanations of quilt and embroidery terminology:

1. The quilt top

A quilt top is the complete front piece of your quilt. A quilt top consists of several components, namely the quilt blocks and sashings. A quilt top either consists of one big quilt block or multiple quilt blocks combined and put together. The picture below shows a quilt top of a small bookcase quilt. Each book is a different block and you could call the brown shelving a sashing.

1.1 A quilt block

A quilt starts with a quilt block. To make a quilt block a pattern is used. A pattern can be improvised or tailor-made. Also, the pattern can be big or small, abstract or life-like and everything in between. The choice of the pattern depends on the style of the quilter or the recipient.

A quilt block is pieced together with various techniques depending on the pattern. Techniques such as patchwork, foundation piecing, applique and English Paper Piecing are most commonly used.

The look of a quilt is greatly determined by the pattern choice together with the fabrics used to make the pattern. Below are three examples of a pattern. A pattern can be made with all the available quilting techniques.

1.2: The sashing

A quilt consists of either one big block, multiple quilt blocks placed directly next to each other or multiple blocks divided by a strip of fabric called the sashing. Sashing is used to help the quilt blocks stand out. Also, it gives the quilt a calm look.

1.3 The finished quilt top

Once all the quilt blocks are put together you have the completed quilt top. A quilt top is made from one big block or many different quilt blocks put together.

All those quilt blocks can be made from the same pattern or different ones depending on the design and preference of the quilter. For example, a sampler quilt consist of a lot of different blocks each made with a different pattern. This is to show your skills as a quilter or to teach the quilter many different techniques in one quilt. The Dear Jane Sampler quilt is a good example of that. The Splendid Sampler quilt by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson is another good example of a quilt consisting of different blocks to teach the quilter new techniques.

Top five rows Dear Jane quilt sampler

However, a quilt can also consist of the same pattern repeated many times over. This is usually done for utility quilts because it gives a calming look and increases the speed of piecing. Those patterns can be made with the same colours or with different colour and fabric combinations. This depends on the choice of the quilter. The quilt below is Delilah designed by Jen Kingwell. Members of a quilt group each made this quilt. You can see how different each of them looks. 

Thes quilts below show the difference in using sashing or not:

And the quilt below shows the different look of using different size of sashing in one design. The design is inspired by the Gypsy Quilt by Jen Kingwell

Kenyan quilt block finished
Kenyan quilt block finished

Lastly, these quilts by Klazien Hoomans show the effect of using the same blocks over and over again in one quilt.

20190412_114149

2. The batting and backing of a quilt

2.1: The batting

Batting is a filling usually made from wool, polyester or a blend which gives thickness and warmth to the quilt. However, some people also use bamboo or any other materials they can find. Cheaper options are to use old blankets or fleece blankets. Although, not every batting is easy to sew through. The best choice for batting depends on the purpose of the quilt and the technique used to make it. The batting comes in between the front (quilt top) and back (backing) of a quilt. Batting is sold in big roles.

quilt batting

2.2 The backing

The backing is the backside of the quilt. This part can be pieced as well, but usually consist of a big piece of fabric. Big pieces of fabric are used because it’s quicker and easier. The back is usually not on display so it doesn’t have to be intricate or super pretty. A lot of people buy big pieces of fabric they like as backing or they use old bedsheets.

For my Kenyan quilt, I am using the fabric below. The piece was almost big enough for the complete back so it saved me a lot of time piecing. I thank my mom for her good insight to advise me to do so.

cropped-fabric-spread-30.jpg

3. The quilting of the quilt

Quilting is the verb for sewing through the three layers of the quilt. This keeps the layers from shifting and also makes the quilt stronger. This can be done in 3 ways: 1. by hand 2. by a domestic sewing machine 3. by a long-arm quilting machine.

The quilting design people use varies from quilt to quilt and from maker to maker. Sometimes the quilting becomes the focus of the finished project and sometimes the quilting is used to emphasise the pattern used instead.  Quilting in this style is not visible upon first glance. The pictures below show the different quilting styles.

In this project, quilting is an integral part of the design of the quilt.

Look behind the lines mini quilt
Look behind the lines mini quilt

In these quilt blocks, the quilting is hidden and used to enhance the quilt pattern.

P1140404

2. The border or binding of a quilt

Adding the border, also called binding, is the last part in making a quilt. The border closes up the raw edges and gives the quilt a neat finished look. There are different styles to do so. The style in the photo is called ‘mitred corners’. This style is my personal favourite.

20191031_225657

Conclusion: Now you know more about quilts!

This article holds all the basic knowledge you need to start to talk about quilting and to start your own quilt! Quilting is not hard, it only looks hard because it is clever. Quilting makes use of a handful of basic tools and techniques and by ingeniously combining them almost any kind of design is possible.

Some quilts don’t follow the ‘rules’ for a quilt set down in this post though, because, exceptions confirm the rule. I’ll end this post with some of those ‘rule breakers’. Can you see where they break the rules? The person who comments with the right answers quickest gets a pat on the back and a boatload of praise from me.

20190412_154138

Chilling rag quilt turtle
Chilling rag quilt turtle

Some questions for you:

  1. Would you call yourself a beginning quilter or an experienced quilter?
  2. What is your favourite part of quilting?
  3. How would you describe your quilting style?

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

Other places you can find me is email (Bellagbearart@gmail.com), Facebook (@BellaGBearArt Page).

If you want to support my work use the Kofi or PayPal button on the side.

How to combine various quilting techniques in one block

Top five rows Dear Jane quilt sampler

If your elders are like mine you have heard many times that mixing alcoholic drinks is a bad idea. I don’t agree with that, a cocktail can be a beautiful thing. The same way that a mix of various quilting techniques is a beautiful thing. I will tell you why in this article.

There are many different quilting techniques. I have already discussed several of them. And those articles don’t even touch on half of the techniques available. Sometimes it seems a new technique is invented every week. Therefore, it can be difficult to choose the right technique for the right pattern, especially because you also have to take into account the kind of fabric you are using!

However, I don’t want to discourage you from quilting with endless lists of techniques you can use. In this article, I will show you quilt blocks made from some classic techniques that have been around for a long long time. These techniques will help you on your way to become a master quilter yourself. These techniques I’ll show you with the help of some blocks of the Dear Jane sampler quilt.  I will end the article with 4 tips to keep in mind when combining techniques.

If you know very little about quilting or just like to read my articles, check the ones below to learn more about the individual techniques:

  1. Quilting techniques with Dear Jane 101: Foundation piecing
  2. Quilting techniques 101 with the Dear Jane quilt: Y-seams
  3. The Dear Jane quilt techniques: the magic reverse applique quilting trick
  4. Dear Jane quilt: the quilting techniques you hate, or why practice is paramount: Applique.

See the article below to find out more about the Dear Jane sampler quilt. A sampler quilt is a brilliant way to teach yourself new techniques. Each block is made of a different pattern. Therefore, every block you make requires a different way of thinking to figure out how to sew the particular quilt block.

Dear Jane Quilt H-2: Jacob Anthony

In block H-2 below I used a combination of patchwork, Y-seams and needle turn applique. The needle turn applique is used in the two red triangles positioned at an angle from the triangles in the middle.  In a previous similar-looking block, C-2 Streak of lightning, I used the Y-seam technique to make this block. However, this pattern has sharp corners and the blue fabric is too thick to use that technique. Both needle turn and the Y-seam technique can be used for a block like this. When you use Y-seam I advise you to first sew the corners of the blue block together where the two pieces meet. When you use the Y-seam technique it is best to sew those corners last. This block shows that different techniques lead to similar results. However, not every kind of fabric is suitable for every technique, so choose accordingly. Adjusting a technique allows you to create a pattern with any fabric you want.

The colour combination of dark blue and red works really well for this block. It gives the block a lot of bad-ass attitude. Also, it reminds me of sailboats lolling in a lake. I realise this is a strange combination of associations.

Dear Jane Quilt H-2: Jacob Anthony

Dear Jane Quilt Block G-12: Gloriae

This block was complicated.  I pieced it with a combination of needle turn applique and reverse applique.  Reverse applique places the fabric to be sown behind the background fabric instead of on top. In the pictures below you can see the steps used to construct this block.

First, I reverse appliqued the pink star on the green fabric. After that, I added the pink border with needle turn applique. I did it this way because I wanted to create a 3d effect. Now it looks as if the pink star is furthest away from the pink border. The pink border looks like a window sill. When you are combining techniques there are more possibilities of creating interesting 3d effects like this in your quilt blocks.

I love the combination of green and pink. I probably love it because it is not a frequently used combination. Combining unconventional colour combinations with more normalized ones is a great way to make your quilt pop and look interesting and still maintain the homely feel of quilts we all love.

Dear Jane Quilt Block G-12: Gloriae

Dear Jane Quilt Block J-10: Chieko’s Calla Lilly

The next block I’ll show you is an unsuccessful combination of techniques. I am showing you this block to show you we all live and learn.  Also, maybe this helps you to prevent making the same mistake. This block combined the foundation piecing technique with needle turn applique and reverse applique. Both the applique techniques were used to create a similar 3d effect as in block G-12 Gloriae.

However, it turns out if your layers of fabric become too thick reverse applique doesn’t work anymore. In reverse applique, you cut the background fabric and fold it to the back. The hole you creates the shape of the pattern. However, the foundation piecing adds an extra layer which makes the block bulky. Also, it was difficult to fold the red fabric under because there was not enough space. Needleturn applique only folds one layer of fabric underneath the piece you’re sewing which prevents bulkiness. You can see the difference in neatness between the yellow petals (reverse applique) and the red ones (needle turn applique).

This is the first Dear Jane block I actually want to re-do. I am not sure if I will in the end though because I promised myself at the start to keep all the blocks. In that way, the different skill level of all the blocks will reflect my journey as a quilter. I even wrote about my less skilled blocks in a post to make that point. I am still disappointed with how this block turned out. I really love the colour combination and the reverse applique technique, but couldn’t make it work this time. I learned that it doesn’t work to combine a technique that creates extra layers of fabric with a technique that requires as little fabric as possible.

Dear Jane Quilt Block J-10: Chieko's Calla Lilly

Dear Jane Quilt Block H-9: Snowflake Melt

I want to end this post with another nice block, number H-9 Snowflake Melt. The colour combination of dark green and blue is so nice and calming. Also, this block reminds me of a windmill and a windmill in a landscape is a beautiful thing.

This block combined the foundation piecing technique with reverse applique. I know I said with the previous block to not combine those techniques. However, this block shows us that there are rules, and there are times to break those rules. The previous block was very crowded at the places where the points of the petals meet. This increased the amount of fabric to be folded away under the same space even more than the layer foundation piecing adds. The block below has only four reverse applique pieces which are far enough apart to work out. So, the lesson with this last block is to always consider for each quilt pattern individually which techniques are best to use.

Dear Jane Quilt Block H-9: Snowflake Melt

Conclusion: What have we learned about mixing quilt techniques?

  1. Adjusting a technique allows you to make a pattern with any fabric you want
  2. When you are combining techniques there are more possibilities of creating interesting 3d effects in your quilt blocks.
  3. It doesn’t work to combine a technique that creates extra layers of fabric with a technique that requires as little fabric as possible.
  4. Always consider for each quilt pattern individually which techniques are best to use

Even though the last lesson tells us that there are no rules, I still hope this article taught you wonderful things. And remember: the know-how to match a pattern with the best technique is something that comes with experience. Don’t be afraid to make some mistakes along the way. As you saw in my block J-10 a block will always come together no matter what. Don’t be too hard on yourself, keep practising and celebrate every block you finish with a kiss and soon you’ll notice yourself getting better and better.

If you need any help to decide which technique to use for a particular pattern feel free to send me a message. You can use the commentary section, email or find me on one of my social media accounts details of which are on the bottom of this article.

Some questions for you:

  1. Which combination of techniques do you use most?
  2. What is your favourite ‘conventional’ colour combination?
  3. What is your favourite ‘unconventional’ colour combination?
  4. Did you like this article and would you like more of this kind of articles in the future?

Would you like to know more?

A sneak peek of a future project and article

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HQAL

This post is part of the hand quilting along organized by Kathy. We are a group of quilters who want to support each other in our quest for hand quilting. Since my Dear Jane is completely made by hand this project qualifies. If you are interested in joining us send Kathy a message. Also, check out the work of the other wonderful quilters in the links below.

KathyMargaretEmmaTracyDebSusan,  Nanette,  EdithSharon,
KarrinGretchenKathi,  BellaDaisy and Connie


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

Other places you can find me is email (Bellagbearart@gmail.com), Facebook (@BellaGBearArt Page).

If you want to support my work use the Kofi or PayPal button on the side

How to find the courage to exhibit your art

I am a quilter. In this article, I will share my story of how I exhibited my first quilt in a national exhibition. The focus will be on how, step by small step, I found the courage to do so. This article is not only for quilters though. My hope is that this article will inspire everyone to find the guts to share their art, with friends, strangers and peers alike. A previous rendition of this article is published on DeviantArt for a group project.

Moq Lines by BellaGBear

In the photo on top, you can see me and my quilting friends at the exhibition. I am the one in the orange pants. The quilt with the triangles and the yellow border is mine. This was in April 2019. By that time I had been quilting for about five years, of which the last two or three years intensely. However, for a long time, I was quilting in secret. Sure, my closest friends knew about it. Also, my mother knew because she is the one who taught me. But beyond those people, I was very much in the quilting closet. I was embarrassed and afraid people would laugh at me for my old-fashioned art.

Am I not too young to quilt?

How do you explain you are a student in the prime of your youth who spends her free time drinking wine and cutting up fabric alone in her room? Besides, my style is also unconventional and I like to use techniques and fabrics that other quilters might call wrong, at least that is what I assumed. Lastly, I feared I was not good enough to be accepted by serious quilting people. All turned out to be my negative assumptions, and exhibiting my art and participating in the quilting world helped me see that.

Once I dared to take steps to get out of the quilting closet I discovered people don’t think me or my art silly. Most of my friends were impressed I had the patience and skills to make my own bags or blankets. Also, familiarizing myself in the quilting world, I discovered that there are many quilters like me who love to break the rules. I was welcomed with open arms together with my enthusiasm, youth and love for the art. I also noticed that I learned much faster once I started to share my work and talk to people about it instead of working on my own in secret. The praise and encouragement I got from people motivated me, and the advice from experienced quilters helped to develop my technique. Through those quilting friends, I also got the opportunity to join my first exhibition.

Here is a sample of some of my earliest pieces:

 

How I started sharing my quilts

It is key to find a small group of peers who support each other and push you to test the limits of your skill, creativity and courage. In the quilting world, we call those groups quilting bees. A quilting bee is a group of quilters who gather to quilt together, socialize and to inspire each other.

I took a long time before I dared to join my first quilting bee, though, because I used to fear to put my art out in the world. I started on DA because sharing art with strangers was easier. It felt safer. Of course, I told none of my real-life friends I had an account. However, soon I discovered a passion to share my art and to inspire other people with it. For that, I needed to extend my reach and this website was born, Bella G. Bear Art. The same as with DA, for the first few months, I didn’t tell anyone except strangers about the website for fear of judgement. However, when I eventually told some friends and family members they were encouraging. I started to share links to articles I wrote on my personal Facebook account.

Looking at the work of one of my quilting friends

Has my fear disappeared now?

It is my dream is to encourage people with my work to either take up quilting themselves or to be more conscious about the items they buy and discard easily. Because my quilted items are made with attention, skill and time, they are more valuable and counter the fast fashion industry. My aim is to encourage people to think about their consumption habits. One way to fight climate change is to buy fewer items which last us a long time. In the future, I’ll also be selling that kind of items myself. For that, check this website or my facebook page. I discovered that telling many people what you want to achieve is one way to build contacts, get support and ultimately to your opportunity for success.

Although I still fear judgement from time to time,  I keep pushing myself to share my art. However, I also know that it is an insecurity I can overcome. It is not a reflection of my personality or my skills in quilting. Every person has their insecurities and fears and we cannot let those stop us from achieving our dreams or to do some good in the world. We all have the power to contribute to a better world if we dare.  Currently, I am setting up a Facebook page, called Bella G. Bear Art. Please check it out and give the page a like!

The comfort of a quilt
The proud quilter

Sharing creates a sense of belonging

Besides, even if my quilts were bad I would still share them to show the world that anything made with love and attention is worth sharing. Exhibiting my art showed me my art is worthwhile and also taught me a lot on how to improve it. Exhibiting my quilt in the national exhibition was a key moment for me because I realized my quilt belonged there with all the other quilts. This made me realize that I belong with the other quilters. My quilt was not better or worse than the pieces of my peers, but of equal value. It made me believe that if I keep working and exploring my creativity I have it in me to succeed as an artist. This is the piece I sent in:

Look behind the lines mini quilt
Look behind the lines mini quilt

And some pieces from other quilters:

20190412 155819 by BellaGBear20190412 141814 by BellaGBear20190412 104728 by BellaGBear20190412 142537 by BellaGBear20190412 154310 by BellaGBear

Four tips to kick-start sharing your art

My wish is that the tips below will encourage you to start you on the journey to share your art:

  1. Find local groups to join to make friends and learn from each other.
  2. Find local exhibitions for beginners without any major entry requirements.
  3. Plan to go to the exhibit with friends or plan to meet them there. You can discuss all the quilts you see and you can be sure that there are at least some people who love your quilt!
  4. Start small if you are nervous. You don’t have to tell everyone and you don’t have to start with a competition-based exhibition. You can start online on Deviantart or any other social media platforms and slowly work towards bigger, scarier places to share. Any step you can take towards a bigger goal is brilliant. A mountain is climbed by taking the first few steps downhill after all.

Conclusion: Now find bravado yourself!

At my quilt groups, I see a lot of people who fear to showcase their work. They fear their quilts are not interesting or good enough. However, the moment they dare to share their work they only get praise! Most people who love their own artform wouldn’t dream about criticizing people who love the same thing. There are exceptions of course, but they are overshadowed by the positive majority. I know for myself that the moment I started to participate and show my work to other people I started to enjoy my art a thousand times more.

I am a member of the quilting bee you see us in the picture below. We are basting a part of my Kenyan quilt together. We meet every month to talk about our work and to encourage each other to try new things. I feel blessed because my friends are way more experienced than I am, so I can enjoy their absolute wealth of experience. They like my youth and enthusiasm, so everyone wins! Through my quilt group, I participated in the exhibition. I thank them for accepting me in the group and to encourage me. I thank myself to take the step to find a group to join. First, I thought any true artist does everything on their own. Now, I realize that learning from the great and experienced is the smartest and best way to learn.

My quilting circle at work by BellaGBear

Some questions for you:

I’d like to hear about your experience with sharing your art. By sharing experiences we can get inspired by each other and make this blog a small virtual quilting bee.

  1. Do you put your art in exhibitions? If yes, how did you manage that and what do you like about exhibiting your art?
  2. What are other ways or platforms you use to share your art?
  3. Do you have tips for people searching for the courage to exhibit?
  4. Did you, or do you fear to share your art? Would you mind sharing some of your story in the comments?

Would you like to know more?


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

Monthly Sewing Update December 2019

The last month of the year is often associated with finishing and endings. However, this month we had a broody chicken and she hatched ten chicks. This is the first clutch of chicks for our chickens, so for me, December 2019 will always be associated with a new start.

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In this post, I’ll update you what about all the creative projects I’ve worked on in November and December. I won’t reflect on the new year because I do that on my birthday in November.

I will mention one goal in the conclusion though because sometimes it is good to make a headstart with good intentions to avoid the rush in January.

New quilt or embroidery projects

Quilted kitenge fabric pillows

This month I worked on quilted pillows made with a combination of Kitenge fabric and solids. Kitenge is a fabric popular among places in East-Africa and thus also Kenya where I live now. In the picture, you see three of them. More information about how to make them and the patterns I used will follow in a post later this month.

All the fabrics used are sourced from tailors. Tailors are a great place to get cheap materials and also to turn waste into something valuable. I’ve talked before about more environmentally friendly ways to find materials in the post below:

Quilted Kitenge fabric pillows
Quilted Kitenge fabric pillows

Kitenge quilted baby blanket

The wife of one of my friends is pregnant. My mother has as traditional to quilt a baby blanket for people and I want to honour that tradition. My blanket is going to be bigger than hers because it is more practical to give people something to carry their baby around in.

Quilted Kitenge baby blanket
Quilted Kitenge baby blanket

Progress ongoing quilt and embroidery projects

Dear Jane Sampler quilt

Behold … ,

Top five rows Dear Jane quilt sampler

… this month I finished the top five rows of my Dear Jane Quilt! It is amazing to see all the quilt blocks come together like this. And this is not everything: this month I’ve also finished 129 of the 169 square middle blocks of this quilt. This means the middle blocks are more than three quarters done. A post will follow to celebrate that occasion. For now, I’ll present the post where I detail about the five rows milestone.

Quilting of the Kenyan quilt

The Kentan quilt is another one of my long-term projects. The quilt top is done and now I am hand quilting it. If you do a little bit every month it’ll be done before you know it.

Foundation piecing Kenyan inspired quilt

Yes, I am making another Kenyan quilt. This is going to be made with foundation paper piecing (FPP). Also, I will design most of the patterns myself inspired by elements that fit with my Kenya experience. The block below is made with a pattern by Amarar Creacions. She has a lot of interesting FFP patterns with animals.

Foundation piecing origami bird quilt block

Stained glass cross stitch dragon

Before I started this cross stitch project I had been eyeing it for months. Therefore, you can imagine my excitement when I finish the dragon’s head this month! The pattern is made by the always lovely and amazing Pinkythepink.

Hot air balloons cross stitch

There was some progress on this piece as well this month. Not a lot of progress though, so we can play a game: do you spot the difference between the two pictures below?

The pursuit to finish very old projects

The project on the picture below I started a long time ago. The plan was to create a night scenery with a figure who is stargazing.  That plan is still alive, however, I stumbled on execution. Most of my quilt designs are abstract. This means that more realistic scenery is a challenge. I am sure I will think of a way to finish this one eventually though. Sometimes it simply takes longer for a quilt to be born.  This quilt hangs on my wall for me to find inspiration to finish it in the next year.

  • What do you do when you are stuck on a project?

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Conclusion: beginning early to fulfil the scariest goals

Although I said I would not reflect on the next year, I am going to do it anyway. Often when I have an idea or plan to further my goals and dreams I struggle to execute it because of fear. It is some kind of self-sabotage that freezes my body and mind and makes me unable to do anything. However, I’ve also noticed that fear gets less when I talk about my plans and find a way to execute them step by step.

My big dream is to become a fabric artist and to inspire people to pick up embroidery or quilting through my work. One day I would like to pursue teaching as well and selling some of my work. For that, I need to be more active in social media. If nobody sees your work it is impossible to inspire people. Also, I think it is good to add my positive voice of making beautiful items out of discarded materials to all the voices telling us to consume more and more. Therefore a facebook page where I share my art is a good next move.

I haven’t started one yet though because of the fear I mentioned. It is partly a fear of failure and partly a fear of ridicule. Both are unlikely to be true because I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback so far. Also, failure is unlikely when you set achievable goals and work towards them diligently. Fear of showing myself to the world has always been a part of me though. It took me more than a year to be comfortable sharing my blog with people and to be open about my passion for quilting and embroidery. Something I already talked about in this article:

So, to avoid spending even more time talking about it instead of doing it, here is the link to my facebook page:

I’d love it if you’d check it out and follow me. Also, any tips or feedback on how to run a facebook page is so much appreciated.

Some questions for you:

  1. Do you have a creative facebook page for me to follow?
  2. Which was your bravest creative achievement? How did you find the courage to go for your plans?
  3. What is something you want to do creative wise, but you haven’t found the courage for yet?
  4. Which social networks for creative people do you prefer? I have a website, Facebook, Instagram and DeviantArt and it would be good to know where people go so I know where to put my focus.

What have you missed?

Next week’s post:

  • Five lively Kitenge pillows to perk up your home

See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

A happy milestone: Five rows of the Dear Jane Quilt completed!

It’s been a while since I last gave you an update about my Dear Jane Quilt. However, that does not mean I’ve been sitting still! As you can see in the picture above, the top five rows are finished and are now beautifying my living room.

I’ve finished the top five rows of my Dear Jane Quilt in November, which is incredible because that month my parents also came to visit me and my boyfriend in Kenya. We travelled around and thus I wasn’t home a lot. My parents’ visit was vital to finish this part of my Dear Jane though because they came bearing gifts. Part of those gifts where my quilting and embroidery materials.

The Dear Jane Quilt is a famous sampler quilt first made by Jane Stickle. I am re-creating my own version to teach myself to quilt by hand. Therefore every stitch of this quilt is made by my own two hands. Read more about my Dear Jane quilting adventure in this introductory blog post:

When you visit a quilter you bring her materials

As I said, when my parents came to visit me in Kenya they came bearing gifts. The gifts came in the beautiful box you see below which incidentally is also a gift from my mother.  It is that my parents are only two, or I would have thought they were the three wise men considering the time of the year.

However, there is no gold, frankincense and myrrh in the box. This doesn’t mean the contents of the box are less precious though. The box holds the sashings, borders, of my Dear Jane and my finished blocks.

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When I moved to Kenya this year at the end of July I could only bring three suitcases. Even though I managed to pack a lot of quilting and embroidery materials, I also had to leave some room for books and clothes. I brought materials to work on the centre blocks of the Dear Jane quilt, but nothing more. To save room I wanted to focus in Kenya on working with African Kitenge fabrics which I could source locally (which I am doing as well: Kitenge Pillow). However, when my parents decided to come I made use of the occasion and told them to bring everything I need to finish my Dear Jane quilt! I wrote about the colours I use for this quilt and the border strips in the post below:

The last three Dear Jane blocks

These are the last three blocks I also sewed in November to complete the five rows. Can you spot those blocks in the big photo on top?

Dear Jane Quilt Block E-11: Wagon Wheel

This block was tricky! I am not a fan of applique quilting at all as is abundantly clear when you see the kind of posts I write about applique below. However, there is a lot of applique in the Dear Jane which is forcing me to practise the technique. And I have to say that the better I get at applique the more I start to enjoy it. Block E-11 is made with reverse applique. Because reverse applique uses bigger pieces I find it easier to sew a neat block.

Dear Jane Quilt Block E-11: Wagon WHeel
Dear Jane Quilt Block E-11: Wagon WHeel

Dear Jane Quilt Block D-5: Cathedral Window

The colour and fabric combination works so well for this block! The calm green works well with the bold purple balancing each other nicely.

This block was straightforward to piece using the foundation piecing technique. This technique was especially useful to sew the small diamond pieces because foundation piecing makes tiny pieces easier to sew. Read more about the foundation piecing technique here:

Dear Jane Quilt Block D-5: Cathedral Window
Dear Jane Quilt Block D-5: Cathedral Window

Dear Jane Quilt Block C-10: Patriot’s Lantern

This design of this block reminds me of the light on top of a lighthouse. Maybe that is linked with the name of this block because a lighthouse guides friendly ships safely to the shore. Or maybe this block is named to honour the American Civil War background of Jane Stickle’s own quilt. What do you think?

This block is made with foundation piecing technique as well because some of the pieces were tiny.

Dear Jane Quilt Block C-10: Patriot's Lantern
Dear Jane Quilt Block C-10: Patriot’s Lantern

How to join the Dear Jane Blocks

According to the book, the square Dear Jane blocks in the middle are joined with a sashing and a tiny square.  However, a lot of people ignore the small square because it means a lot of fiddly work and is not that noticeable. You can see what I mean with ‘tiny square’ in the picture below. They are a bit more than one centimetre by one centimetre.

My Dear Jane quilt does have the tiny squares for two reasons:

  1. I was really into making the quilt as accurately as possible pattern-wise when I started this quilt.
  2. The squares are a nice way to use the background colours again and thus create cohesion in the overall colour scheme of the quilt.

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Attaching the sashing and small squares is not difficult. It is a lot of work though, especially because I sew the entire quilt by hand. One thing I discovered while sewing the blocks together is the importance of pinning. Using pins at every point were corners meet is crucial to give the quilt a sleek finished look.

done

Conclusion: A long way is done and a long way ahead.

That’s it for now! Let me end this post quickly so I can spend the rest of my day staring at my Dear Jane in awe and admiration. Let me finish with some questions for you:

    1. Do you like Sampler quilts?
    2. How did you learn to quilt or how would you go about it if you want to learn?
    3. Is there anything you would like to know about the Dear Jane Sampler Quilt or quilting in general?

A Hand Quilting Along (HQAL) update

This post is also my update for the HQAL I participate in. We are a group of women who motivate each other to work by hand. You can read about it more in the post below. Also, find the updates of the other women in the links below.

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyMargaretEmmaTracyDebSusan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchen,
Kathi,  BellaDaisy and Connie

Would you like to know more?

Status of the Dear Jane Quilt:

  • 124/ 169 squares finished
  • 0 / 52 border triangles finished
  • 4 of the 4 corner kites in progress

 


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

Storytime with a smart cross-stitch dragon, a clever upcycle and a theft

Like all good stories, this story has three elements. A book-loving dragon, a bookmark made with creativity and theft of something valuable, by the author even! And as all good fairytales, there might be redemption at the end when the bad person shows remorse. If she doesn’t there will be a bloody ending.  Come, open this book with me, and listen to my story.

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Materials used for the cross stitch bookmark

This bookmark is made from two rose cross stitch kits I got at the second-hand store. They are the packages on the left in the picture below. The pattern was confusing to me and somehow the kits included a whole variety of colours which were not in the pattern, so I decided to do my own thing. I buy a lot of cross stitch kits at second-hand stores because even if you don’t like the pattern, they are a great cheap way to get materials for. I wrote a whole post with tips on how to find cheap materials for quilting and embroidery:

 

The cross stitch pattern and a confession

It is time for my confession of the theft.

I found the pattern of the reading dragon on Pinterest for free. And when I say free, I mean that somebody put it there who had no rights over the pattern. At that time I was young and inexperienced and I saw it as a great opportunity to have a free dragon pattern. I should have known better of course. There are after all sites such as Tineye and Google Reverse Image Search which allow you to search for the source of images,  but I did not. When I started with my fabric art I wasn’t conscious yet about the importance of supporting artists and designers. Only when I started to pursue a creative career myself I realized how vital it is to pay for patterns with either money, recognition or both.

The designer of the pattern spends hours on it and a big chunk of her or his creativity. Not even all artists ask for money for their patterns, but it is still important to name them and link back to their respective pages when you use a pattern. It is incredibly discouraging when your work is stolen by someone else to flaunt. Pinterest is a good place to find inspiration for your artwork. Especially their function to search for particular words or key phrases has helped me out many times. However, Pinterest is a particularly bad place to find patterns, because often the images don’t link back to the source.  Instead, the images come from websites displaying large quantities of stolen patterns and artwork. Each time it turned out I had used a stolen pattern I got them from Pinterest. To not discourage you completely I’ll share some great places to find patterns at the bottom of this post.

I hope by sharing my story,  and how I prevented further mistakes, I’ll encourage you to be more conscious about the patterns you use and where you get them. It does not take a lot of time to find the original artist and compensate them for the work they’ve done. Especially if you compare it to the time spent in making the item. At any rate, most patterns these days are not expensive at all anyhow. Also, buying and sewing a pattern from a small designer often means you made a new friend because they will follow your updates with much enthusiasm and encouragement. And who doesn’t want a new friend?!

Sadly, in the case of the pattern of the reading dragon, I haven’t found the original yet. Therefore, I also can’t share the pattern. Once I do I will pay for it retroactively (please tell me if you know where it is!). However, I have found the artist and I encourage you all to go to her website and facebook and admire her talent in designing cute dragons:

To end this unhappy tale I will share my interpretation of the reading dragon called Alfonse. I hope Alfonso brings you some cheer with his aura of highbrow intellectualism.

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From cross-stitch to bookmark

In this section, I’ll tell you how to turn the cross-stitch into a bookmark.

In the pictures above you can see, I added colourfull lines on both sides of Alfonse. Those side-pieces form the back by stitching them together. To do that you fold the piece in half with the right sides inside as seen on the picture.  After that, you stitch the outer edge marked with the pins.

small part pinning.jpg

Next, you turn the cross stitch inside out, and voilá, it is almost done. Press the piece to give it a nice, flat look. This can either be done by an iron or a stack of heavy books, whatever is available. But since you are reading a post about a bookmark, the stack of books is most likely.

To finish the bookmark you have to fold the seams of the top and bottom inside. After that, close the top and bottom with a tiny whip-stitch or blanket stitch. Press again to make the bookmark look neat by pushing the fabric in the right shape, and done!

This technique is only one way to make a cross-stitch bookmark. Other options are using specific pre-finished bookmark fabric, sewing the stitch of fabric or glueing it on cardboard. The technique used depends on the look you want and the kind of cross stitch fabric you used. The technique in this article works best with stiff cross stitch fabric.

The end of the story

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The confession of my theft and how I mended my ways are too important to clutter the conclusion of this post with other things. Don’t make the beginner mistakes I made now you know better. This post was my redemption, more posts about this topic will follow later. Some questions for you to end this post:

  • How do you make sure you get your patterns legally?
  • Where do you get an awesome cross-stitch, embroidery or quilting patterns?
  • Have you ever used a stolen pattern by accident? If so, what did you do once you found out?

Where can you go for patterns?

The most obvious and well-known place is Etsy. Etsy has a HUGE collection of artists from all over the world selling their particular creativity. However, Etsy is overwhelming when you don’t know where to look. You can join facebook groups with your particular craft or creative groups on other social media such as DeviantArt. You can join general groups or more specific ones with for example only snarky cross-stitch or only patterns by a specific designer. By seeing the work of other people you can find patterns you want to make for yourself or get to know new pattern designers to be a fan of. Most of the pattern designers have an Etsy shop or a personal website which you can look up once you are ready to buy a pattern.

If you already know which kind of pattern you are looking for Instagram is the place to go. With Instagram, you can search using specific keywords. Those keywords can be as broad as #crossstitch and as specific as #rainbowcrossstitch. Also in themes, styles and disposition, there is something for everyone.  It ranges from #kinkycrossstitch to #religiouscrossstitch. From angry stabby embroidery to heal a broken heart to the soppiest eternal love cross stitch full of flowers and baskets with kittens and rainbows. I am sure that once you start looking you will have an evening of entertainment and tons of new ideas for patterns to make!

Would you like to know more?

 


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

My birthday or wow what a year was 2019

It was my birthday on the 10th of November! – Happy birthday to me – Last year I wrote a post reflecting on the year that had gone by creative wise. I thought that’s a good habit to keep so here is my post for this year. The post is a bit delayed because I was on a holiday with my family and too busy laying in the ocean and too occupied relaxing to write. I’m sure you’ll all understand.

What kind of year did I have?

This year I spend most of my time in Kenya. First to finish my master studies and later because of love and to settle down in Kenya. I came back to Kenya for love, research and adventure. Read more about why I decided to come back here:

The settling down has gone very fast because I’ve been in Kenya for three months, and we already have nine chickens and I’m working on a baby quilt for a friend.

Chickens

My quilts of 2019

The first exhibition: Look Behind the Lines mini quilt

This year one of my quilts participated in a Dutch quilting exhibition. I’m very proud of the quilt I send in because it is one of my first pieces with a meaning behind it. Also, the process of exhibiting the quilt and visiting to see my quilt and those of my quilting friends made me reflect about sharing your own work. I wrote a blog post to honour the occasion:

Look behind the lines mini quilt
Look behind the lines mini quilt

Picknick blanket scrap quilt

One of the quilts I finished this year. I have some people in mind who should get this quilt, but it will be a while before I can get it to then. Until then, it will adorn my parents’ living room. So many scraps were used in this quilt, as I explain in the post below. The quilting is done by hand with glow-in-the-dark thread. However, it is unfortunately not visible in the dark. Does anyone have experience using glow-in-the-dark thread successfully?

scrap quilt af 40% cut

The Kenyan Quilt

This is the quilt I started the first time I moved to Kenya. It is made completely out of fabrics I got there. Now I am back I am in the process of hand quilting this piece to finish it. It is a nice way to tie both my Kenya journeys together.

Kenyan quilt block finished
Kenyan quilt block finished

The piece below shows what you can do with leftover blocks from your quilt! This is going to be a small blanket or scarf once it’s quilted.

Crazy quilt blanket
Crazy quilt blanket

Nearly Insane Machine Sampler Quilt

This quilt is designed by Liz Lois based on Salinda Rupp’s original quilt. In between my two stays in Kenya, I worked a lot on this quilt. And although I didn’t finish this quilt I did make a lot of progress! The motivation to finish this quilt grew especially when I started putting the blocks together using the Quilt-as-You-Go method. This quilting technique allows you to put blocks together as soon as you finish a block instead of having to wait until all the blocks are done. I hope to finish this quilt when I visit the Netherlands sometime.

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The Dear Jane Hand Quilting Sampler Quilt

This is by far the biggest quilting project in my life so far. Dear Jane is a sampler quilt based on an original quilt made by Jane Stickle during the Civil War. Brenda Papadakis made patterns out of the more than 200 blocks of the quilt. Now, Dear Jane is seen as the ultimate proof of skill upon completion by quilters. Therefore, I started this quilt to teach myself to quilt by hand. My reasoning is that once I have completed this Dear Jane quilt I can call myself a skilled hand quilter. By now, I have finished almost half of the blocks and assembled a part of them. You can follow my progress by reading one of the many blog posts I have written about this quilt so far.

Click this link to see all the Dear Jane related posts:

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Tutorial: How to make your own awesome star quilt

One of my goals is to one day become a quilting teacher. To get there, I am writing this blog and I also enjoy writing tutorials. This year I finished a tutorial to make your own star quilt.

Part 1: Quilt tutorial: How to make a patchwork star

Part 2: Quilt tutorial: How to finish your star quilt

Star patchwork quilt block tutorial

Lastly: new beginnings with Kitenge and Kenyan fabric quilts

Here are some examples of other quilting projects I am working on made with Kenyan fabrics.

Embroidery and Cross Stitch of 2019

Death of Discworld cross stitch

This cross stitch is for an art trade. I made this cross stitch and get awesome crochet dragon gloves in return.

complete bewerkt

Bukowski Biscornu Cross Stitch

This was made for a competition where the prompt was to make something embodying positivity to you. I didn’t win, unfortunately, but I am very proud of the result nonetheless.

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The cross stitch design is based on and inspired by this poem:

Crewel embroidery landscape

One of my goals this year was to learn how to make crewel embroidery. I bought a pattern by Sol Y Mano study to practice and the result is below. It turns out that crewel embroidery is tricky, especially to remember all the different stitches. However, I really love complicated embroidery pieces so I will keep on practising and developing this skill. Embroidery is like painting with thread and I love that idea.

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Coat of Many Colours embroidery patch

The piece below is one of those places I’m developing my embroidery skills. This is going to be a patch for my man who is an MC and artist. He has a special connection with the Dolly Parton song ‘Coat of Many Colours’ on which this design is based. To keep true to the idea of a patchwork coat I am using leftover floss from previous embroidery projects.

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Any one colour running cross stitch design

This piece was finished more than a year ago for another competition. However, I wrote a post about it this year so it fits in this post. In the post, I talk about my design process from idea to drawing to the finished piece.

Other projects of mine 

Other topics I wrote about

These stories fall under the category Artisan Life on my website.

Other websites of mine

I started a writing website to share my experiences of living abroad and to show-case my short stories.

Another website I am working on is focused on music, especially sharing music from all over the world. More about that project later.

Conclusion: plans for the new year

How am I doing?

Better and better! The past year I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and looking at how my life has been functioning so far. I realized that I spend a lot of my time feeling stressed and anxious. Not for any particular reason, but more because of insecurity and worrying about other people’s opinion. This stress has stopped me from doing a lot of things I wanted to or should have done. Projects I didn’t dare to execute, people I didn’t have the confidence to befriend or people I didn’t help because I thought I was somehow wrong about what to do. The past year I’ve started the process of calming down and focusing more on my own life and goals, and I’ve noticed the more I focus on my own goals and values the calmer and more confident I feel! I wrote a bit more about this process in one of my Monthly Updates:

Goals for this new year:

  1. Worry less and grow confidence.
  2. Focus on my own projects and building a life that suits me.
  3. Continue to learn embroidery and crewelwork.
  4. Make and sell bags with Kenyan fabric.

Now to end this post with some questions for you:

  1. Do you set periodical goals for yourself? If you, would you like to share some of them?
  2. What is your proudest achievement this year?
  3. What are the methods you use to feel calm and secure in life?
  4. What kind of posts of mine do you like most and would you like to see more of?

Next week’s post: HQAL update with the Dear Jane Quilt! (big finishes)


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.

Why would you hand quilt: The HQAL and my Kenyan quilt

Hand quilting is amazing. Actually, I’m a fan of any kind of hand sewing. It is soothing, great for learning and works meditatively.  That’s why I decided to join a nice group of ladies who organize a Hand Quilting Sew Along (HQAL). You can find their blogs at the bottom of this post and if you want to join contact Kathy. The idea of the HQAL is to post every month about our progress in hand quilting. For my first month, I will do it a little bit differently. First, I’ll argue why hand quilting is advisable to do for every quilter. After that, I’ll give an update of progress on the Kenyan quilt.

For this post and the HQAL, the definition of hand-quilting is stretched. Technically speaking hand quilting is only the process of sewing through all the layers of a quilt. However, to me, hand piecing is also part of this HQAL, which is sewing pieces of fabric together to create the quilt blocks. There are two reasons why hand quilting is important for every quilter:

  1. When learning a new technique
  2. Precision

There are other benefits of course, such as meditation. But not the point of this article. To find out more about that watch this TED video by Mister X-stitch. I will compare hand quilting a lot to working by machine. One is not better than the other, rather each has its own benefits and disbenefits.

Why would you hand quilt?

Educational benefits of hand quilting

If you sew by hand you take much more time to familiarize yourself with a technique. You take time with every step because the quilting process is much slower than by machine. This gives your brain time to comprehend the technique in your brain and to remember it the next time. remember identify parts of it you don’t fully get. Also, your hands get used to the sowing movement and they will learn to do it automatically.  Besides, because the sowing goes slow,  it is easy to identify when you go wrong. This saves mistakes later on which will would have been a lot of work to fix.

In the picture below you see block H-12 of the Dear Jane Quilt made with the reverse applique technique.  I’ve made about ten blocks with reverse applique and I would feel confident using that technique on a sewing machine now. I definitely did not feel confident enough about the technique to do that the first time.

Dear Jane Quilt block H-12: Hannah Lou's hearts
Dear Jane Quilt block H-12: Hannah Lou’s hearts

The precision of the pieces and quilting

When you are quilting by hand you can direct every stitch you make contrary to machine sewing where the machine tends to take over. You can also check the neatness of your work every few stitches to see if the fabrics are lining up correctly. Lastly, complicated techniques such as curved piecing and the various applique techniques are easier to do neatly by hand (LINK). It is possible to do these things with a sewing machine, but it takes more practice and skill to do it well. So, if you are uncertain about a technique quilting by hand is a good solution

In the example below I pieced by hand to make sure that the church bells and music notes where all upright. Find more about this piece here:

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Hand quilting progress on the Kenyan quilt

 The Kenyan quilt top is finished. Now I am sewing through all the different layers (quilting). Quilting can be done in various ways, either with a machine or by hand. The Kenyan quilt is completely quilted by this quilter’s hand (can anybody put more Q’s in that sentence!?). The quilter choices a quilt design which is different for every individual block or is repeated throughout the quilt. The first version is what I’m doing with the quilt below. I chose that method because it makes the quilting process more playful. To refresh your memory here is a picture of my Kenyan quilt top:

Kenyan quilt block finished
Kenyan quilt block finished

Hand quilting examples in the Kenyan Quilt

The quilting process of this quilt is organic. With that, I mean that I look at a piece of the quilt until I have a vision of how it should be quilted. I started quilting somewhere in the middle.

Kenyan quilt top hand quilting detail 1

However, after finishing about five blocks I decided it is better to start at the top and work my way down. The stars are done and now I’m meditating on how to finish the blocks below the stars.

Kenyan quilt top hand quilting detail 2

In the meantime, I’m working on the left side border of the quilt. I’m following the lines of the pattern. The outcome reminds me a lot of a moon landscape with small pillows. I’m about 1/7 done with the side border. The quilt is more than two meters long so there is a lot of side border to quilt.

Kenyan quilt top hand quilting detail 3

Conclusion: What to quilt next

I’m about 1/10th finished quilting the Kenyan quilt. I have ideas for about 3/10 more. Beyond that, the outcome is going to be a delightful surprise for everyone. This is going to be such a beloved quilt when it’s done. It is already beloved, and every stitch I make in it is increasing that love. I’d really encourage you to try hand quilting for yourself.  If you’ve never quilted before check out some tutorials linked below. I promise you, once you know some clever tricks everyone can make a lovely quilt!  And now some questions for you to end the post:

  1. Do you like hand quilting? What are your favourite things to sew by hand?
  2. Do you have any tips concerning hand quilting (or piecing)?
  3. What do you think is the value of hand quilting?
  4. What is your proudest most beloved piece with hand quilting in it? Place a link in the comments, I want to see it!

Find the other lovely HQAL participants here:

KathyMargaretEmmaTracyDebSusan,  Nanette,  EdithSharonKarrinGretchenKathi,  BellaDaisy and Connie

Would you like to know more?

Next week’s post: A post celebrating my birthday and reflecting on the year to come


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: bella.g.bear.art) for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blog post every Sunday or Monday.