Friday, 18 October 2019

Symposium survey results (and the Peacock Party)

Thank you to everyone who filled in my survey.  I received 111 responses which certainly exceeded my expectations.

The best news is that everyone was very pleased with their tutors.  The Symposium committee did a great job of selecting skilled tutors who taught inspiring classes.

Our excellent tutor, Margaret Sampson George third from left

The New Zealand Quilt Symposium model is a unique model in quilting these days.  A group of volunteers offer to run:
- five days of classes with national and international tutors
- an exhibition showcasing the best of New Zealand quilting
- a Merchants Mall with at least 20 different retailers present for all six days
- lunch time lectures and trunk shows from the international tutors
- an opening ceremony and prize giving
- a gala dinner (with entertainment) for at least 300 people
- a closing ceremony
- happy hours after classes (drinks)
- accommodation services for tutors and some participants
and the list goes on...........

It's a huge undertaking, and I'm very grateful to the Auckland symposium committee for organising this event.

Personally, I think it's time to revisit this model and engage professional event managers to run our national quilting event, but I seem to be in the minority.  Maybe I'm ahead of the times, but as long as people keep volunteering, it will keep being run by volunteers.

Anyway, time for the survey results.  Remember, these graphs don't cover everyone who attended, just those who answered the survey, but with 111 responses, I think this data is fairly representative.

I received quite a few comments about the hostel accommodation.  Although it must have been handy to stay on site, there were multiple access issues with people being locked out of their rooms, and locked out of the school grounds.  Is it essential for symposium to provide hostel accommodation? I don't see it as a core part of symposium. 

With 70% of respondents attending with a friend, maybe people could share motels in future rather than staying in a hostel on site.

Wow! 88% of attendees are aged 50 or more.  57% of attendees are aged 60 or more.
I'm still pondering on this information, and what it might mean for the future of quilting in NZ.  Does it just mean that we wait until our kids are a bit older and we have more spare time and money before we get into quilting?

I find this result a bit disappointing! I thought that a lot more people would have had quilts hanging in the exhibition.  I know symposium conditions can seem limiting, but I do hope you all enter local shows.  80% of respondents said they belong to a guild, and 46% said they belong to Aotearoa Quilters.  So please do enter your local shows and let others see your quilts.

As for what we did at Symposium? The Merchants' Mall was the clear winner.  Everyone likes to shop when they go to a quilting event. Some people live in quite remote parts of NZ and don't have a local quilt shop, so they had a good excuse to shop.  Many tutors recommended their favourite tools, so lots of us bought new scissors, needles, threads etc.  Thank you to all the vendors who had stalls at symposium.

Most of us spent less than $500, but some people either bought a whole lot of little things, or they ordered a new sewing machine while they were at symposium.  Congratulations!!

some of my shopping

So, that's a high level summary of the survey results.  I gave people the option of leaving a comment at the end of the survey, and I have read them all, but I'll just summarise some recurrent themes here:

- don't mess with our morning tea!!!!
I know it's a particularly NZ thing, but we like a break for morning and afternoon tea.  Productivity rises after we've had a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit.
If you say "morning tea" that means a snack is included.  If you just say "tea and coffee is provided", we know to bring our own snacks.
I understand a late decision was made to cancel the snacks and save on costs, but if the committee had just sent out an email, we would have known to bring our own snacks, or biscuits to share.

- gala dinner
The gala dinner was a great evening with good food and wonderful entertainment.  It was a lovely surprise to have the Topp Twins entertain us. 

- venue
There were quite a few issues raised about the venue.
The area for happy hour was way too cramped and meant that the purpose of happy hour (sharing what you'd learnt or worked on that day), was lost.
The area for the exhibitions was also cramped.  I know the committee did their very best, but unfortunately it was difficult to appreciate the beauty of many of the quilts in a classroom situation.
There was no large area to sit and eat lunch and meet new people.

There were other points raised too, but I don't want to turn this into a list of everything that could have been done differently.  The event was run by volunteers, and they gave up a huge amount of their time to make it the very best that they could. We all appreciate that.

As for the next symposium, Rose City Quilters in Palmerston North are running a mini symposium from 1-4 October 2020 in Palmerston North.  You can register now and secure a registration number which determines the order in which class placements are allocated.  Click here for their website.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  What have you been up to while I've been busy analysing survey results?  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, 11 October 2019

Symposium wrap, a survey, and the Peacock Party

What a week that was!

Some blocks I started at Symposium

Yes, I'm back from Symposium and filled with inspiration.  I met so many lovely people and I want to thank all of those people who came up and introduced themselves to me.

There must have been at least 3 people every day who came up to me and quietly said, "You won't know me, but I read your blog / follow you on Instagram".  It's wonderful to know that so many Kiwis read my blog.  I really thought most of my blog readers were American, but it's great to know that there's plenty of Kiwis too. I try to keep things pretty real, and I guess that appeals to Kiwi quilters.

I had a great time at Symposium, and I'm very grateful to all of the organisers.  I run conferences and events for my job, so I know how stressful it can be.

After big events I like to run a survey to check how it went, and what we could do differently next time. I don't think that the symposium people will be running a survey, so I've put together an unofficial survey and invite you to take part if you attended symposium.  All responses are totally anonymous - there's no way for me to find out who said what.  I won't share any direct quotes, only aggregated data such as "60% of people who responded to my survey attended the gala dinner and at least 3 days of classes". I think it's important to capture this information before it's all a distant memory.

Here is a link to the survey.  It will take about 3 minutes to answer the questions, and it will be open for one week, until 18 October NZ time.  Feel free to invite your friends to respond too.  Thank you.

Click here for The Unofficial Quilt Symposium Survey 
by Wendy's Quilts and More.

So, what did I do at symposium?

On Days 1 and 2 I took a Dodecagon class with Margaret Sampson George from Australia.

Mum's on the left, mine on the right.

I convinced my mum to join me in the class, and she loved it too.  Although we can both English Paper Piece, we learnt valuable lessons about colour and pattern from Margaret.  We also made lots of new friends because there's plenty of time to chat to other people in hand sewing classes.  

My mum, Joy Hill, standing on the left, and Irene Anderton seating on the right

trying out hexagon surrounds

Exploring different layouts using everyone's rosettes

a closeup of  Margaret's quilt, showing how she anchors the border by using the animal print sparingly

a wider view

If you're keen to start a Dodecagon quilt you can get templates and paper pieces from or the Ribbon Rose in Auckland had some when I was there on Monday, and they can always order in more. I'll warn you though, getting the points from 12 pieces to meet nicely in the centre is quite tricky.  But practice makes perfect. 

On Days 3 and 4 I took a hand piecing class with Wendy Whellum from Adelaide, Australia.

We started 4 blocks from Wendy's Pieces of the Past quilt.

Wendy Whellum's Pieces of the Past  quilt

I chose to use my Neptune and the Mermaid fabrics by Tokyo Milk.  I actually bought these for something at the previous symposium in 2017, but I was never happy with the one block I made, so I abandoned that idea.  I'm much happier with this idea, and am excited about making these blocks.

I could already hand piece, and have made two entirely hand pieced quilts, but I wanted to refine my skills and learn more.  I was very keen to perfect hand sewing curves, and I do believe I have improved.

There are two main tips I can share for hand sewing curves:
- "always sew with a smile, not a frown" - have the piece shaped like a "U" facing you.  That's the smile side of the curve.
- mark your intervals and pin at those intervals before you start sewing. Fold your pieces to find half way, quarter way etc.

We had a lovely small class so we got lots of hand sewing done.

There's still a lot more to say about Symposium, but I'll cover other things in future blog posts.  Don't forget about the survey please.  I'd love to hear your feedback.

So now it's time for the Peacock Party. What have the rest of you been up to while us Kiwis have been at Symposium?  Feel free to share a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, 4 October 2019

Shuttles quilt (and the Peacock Party)

Another finish!!! They're coming thick and fast at the moment.  

Yes, I've finished my Shuttles quilt from Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Morocco book. 

It is square - it was just a bit breezy when I took the photo

I love all the crazy colour in this quilt.

I really went to town when I decided to use Brandon Mably's Jumble in yellow for the borders:

And Philip Jacobs' Feathers in gold on the back:

Never mind the decision to hand quilt it with bright yellow Aurifil thread!

 And the final touch was using Jupiter in red for the binding.  I cut it length-ways so the binding would appear striped.

This quilt has wool batting so it's nice and light.  I could use it as a lap quilt in the evenings, or put it on a single bed.

Here's the Shuttles quilt on the cover of Quilts in Morocco.  I chose this pattern because it has large blocks that would show off some of my many Kaffe Fassett fat quarters.  I could easily make another quilt from this pattern tomorrow in an entirely different Kaffe colourway.

My finished quilt is:
61" x 68.5"
155cm x 174cm

I cut my blocks at 7.5" x 4".

So now it's your time to share what you've been working on.  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
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Friday, 27 September 2019

Portraits Quilts (and the Peacock Party)

Here it is, in all its beauty - the Portraits quilt that I made for Anna Maria Horner. 

Donna Ward from Hamilton did the amazing quilting. Thank you Donna! 

In case you've forgotten, back in April Anna Maria Horner asked if I would like to make this quilt to help promote her upcoming tour of New Zealand. 

I jumped at the chance, and I've really enjoyed working with the gorgeous fabrics that make up the Conservatory Chapter 2 range. 

You can read my earlier posts about making this quilt here:
unwrapping the fabrics
fussy cutting the fabrics
piecing the blocks

I used another Anna Maria Horner print on the back

When it was finished I decided that I really did need to block it to ensure it was square.  I washed it in cold water, and then pinned it out on these play mats that I keep especially for this purpose. 

When it dried it was perfectly square. 

I love the finished quilt, and I am so thrilled that Anna Maria Horner invited me to make it and share my experiences on my blog.

If you haven't got a ticket for Anna Maria's lecture or classes yet, you better move quickly.   I really encourage you to attend a class or lecture if at all possible.  It's sure to be inspirational.  Here are the dates and venues:

Hosted by Fabco, Anna Maria will be teaching and lecturing around New Zealand for the first time. Contact the following shops to book your time with her! The shops have all released details of the lectures and classes now.

November 19-20 - All Things Patchwork, Auckland
November 21- Cottage Flair, Rotorua
November 22-23- Donna’s Quilt Studio, Hamilton 
November 25-26- Busy Bee, Wellington
November 27-28- Quilter’s Lane, Masterton 
November 29-30- Quilting Shed, Oamaru

Now it's time for you to share what you've been working on this week.  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Monday, 23 September 2019

My Glitter quilt top is finished - plus my Symposium plans.

Quilters all around New Zealand are getting excited about our national Quilt Symposium.  It starts next Tuesday, 1 October, in Auckland. There will be classes, exhibitions, shopping, and socialising. 

I am going to Symposium, but before I get too excited about it, I just had to finish my Glitter top that I started at the last Symposium in Christchurch in 2017.  This afternoon I sewed the final stitches in the quilt top, and tomorrow I will get it basted.  I chose to hand piece my blocks, and hand piece them together too - so this top is entirely hand pieced. 

I really enjoyed the Glitter class that I took with Jen Kingwell.  It was so relaxing to sit and hand sew with a group of ladies.  You can read more about it here.  I made two Glitter blocks during the class, but I promised Jen that I would finish my quilt before the next Symposium in two years time.  Well, I haven't finished the whole quilt, but I have finished the top and I'm really pleased with it. 

I used my favourite Aurifil 2605 in 50wt to hand piece the whole top.  Don't worry, this spool wasn't full when I started.  After Symposium I'm going to hand quilt it in simple lines with Aurifil 12wt number 2615.

It feels so good to have this top finished.  I really do work best when I have a deadline to meet. 

Auckland Quilt Symposium

This year I'm taking a two day Dodecagon class with Margaret Sampson George on 2-3 October.  I already know how to English Paper Piece, but I'm taking this class for entertainment value. 

Then on 4-5 October I'm taking a hand piecing class with Wendy Whellum.  I know how to hand piece too, but I want to improve my techniques.  I still consider myself a beginner, despite having made two hand pieced quilts now. 

I've booked for lunchtime lectures with Angela Walters and Kathy Doughty. 

I'll also be at the opening night awards ceremony, the gala dinner, and the Aotearoa Quilters' breakfast. 

Are you tired yet?

I've got two quilts in the exhibition - one in the open category, and one in the Aotearoa Quilters' Silver hexagon challenge.  I'm not going to say what they are yet, but I'll blog about them after Symposium. 

So, that's my five days at Symposium.  What a whirlwind.  My mum will be with me on Tuesday - Thursday.  I've convinced her to take the Dodecagon class with me.  Her name is Joy, so say "Hi" if you see her. 

I'm looking forward to meeting lots of NZ and Australian quilters there. 

Friday, 20 September 2019

Free Motion Quilting (and the Peacock Party)

Thank you for all your feed back on my last post about how long it takes to hand quilt a quilt.  It's always interesting to hear other people's thoughts. I have replied to everyone that I could.  If you didn't get an email from me, it's because you're a no reply blogger.  Here's a link to Bonnie Hunter's guide to fixing this issue.  I highly recommend reading it and changing your settings, because then we can communicate!

Anyway, I did promise to show you the two quilts I'd had free motion quilted (FMQ) by a long armer.

First up is my Home and Away quilt.

This quilt was designed by Wendy Williams from Material Obsession in Sydney.  I made it in a block of the month program back in 2014.

I loved stitching all the wool felt applique by hand, but once it was finished I just couldn't figure out how I would hand quilt it myself.  So I asked Sue Burnett from Busy Bee in Wellington to do stippling around all the felt applique, and do some basic designs in the pieced blocks. I didn't want the quilting going over the wool felt.

I love how it looks, and was very pleased that I chose to get it quilted by a professional.

The second quilt that I had free motion quilted by a long armer was my recently finished Portraits quilt.  I was under a bit of time pressure with this one. Anna Maria Horner had asked me to make it to promote her tour to New Zealand, and I knew it would take me months to hand quilt it.

Sorry that I haven't got a better photo yet.  I'm working on it.

So, I asked Donna Ward from Hamilton if she would machine quilt it for me.   Donna did a fantastic job on it and I'm really pleased with the finished quilt. She quilted different designs to suit different blocks in the quilt.

I love all the swirls that Donna quilted.  The finished quilt is beautiful and I really am going to take some better photos as soon as possible. 

So, there is a place for machine quilting, but my primary quilting method is hand quilting, and that's what I enjoy doing the most.

How it's time for the Peacock Party.  What have you been working on this week?  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter