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"Pour L'Amour du Fil" (For the Love of Thread)

The language of thread and fibre is clearly an international language. Recently I had the pleasure of attending "Pour L'Amour du Fil" (For the Love of Thread), an international exhibition of quilts and needlework, held in Nantes, on the westwern coast of France, from April 27-30. Having only 2 days at the exposition, it was very difficult for me to choose which events and courses to partcipate in. There were so many excellent opportunities, but only limited time. After some deliberation, I chose to spend one day in a course learning about the traditional technique of "boutis" with Hubert Valeri, and the other day I chose to spend enjoying the gallery of quilts on display by some very talented quilters and needleworkers.

Among the quilters who had their work on display were the "Piece O' Cake" gals, Linda Jenkins and Becky Goldsmith. The room showcasing their work was energized with a brilliant vitality. Jan Patek was also there with her warm and cozy "Little House on the Prairie" exhibit, as were many other talented quilters from all parts of the world.

The show is sponsored by "Quiltmania", a vibrant French quilting magazine, that is now also being printed in English, and available in North America. (It's well worth looking for.) And the vendors came from all parts of the world as well, selling products for every possible quilting need. What Fun!


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Blocking and Squaring Boutis

The door of her cage has been opened. She is free to fly off and find her destiny.

After many months of hand stitching and then many more months of cording, my little "calibri" is ready to set off on her own. As this was my first attempt at designing so large a boutis piece, it has been a bit of a learning curve. All of the tight swirls, curls and circles are a great deal more difficult and time consuming to cord then are the longer more gentle channels. Maintaining an even tension is absolutely necessary throughout the process, so patience comes in very handy when doing the cording.

Once all of the stitching and cording is complete, the boutis must be washed and squared up. After it is soaked overnight in a basin of water with a mild detergent, it gets rinsed gently in several clear washes, then rolled in a towel to remove the excess water. 

The final step is the blocking process. There are a number of ways to block a boutis piece, but I have found that the easiest metho…

Amish Hand Quilting in France with Esther Miller

Esther Miller, was born into an Amish family in the U.S., and now lives in Germany where she has for many years taught the techniques and methods of Amish hand quilting to anyone interested in learning these skills. As a child, she would closely watch as the women of her community worked together on a quilt, and eventually she was rewarded with a needle of her own and encouraged to join the group. Through the years, she has mastered these skills and techniques and now generously shares them with anyone who has a genuine desire to learn.

Last week, at the "European Meeting of Patchwork" in Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, in Alsace France,, I had the privilege of taking a 2 day workshop with Esther. The Amish quilting method requires a free-standing simple wooden frame upon which the 3 layers of the quilt have been stretched. To accomodate the 18 women in the class, Esther set up 3 quilt frames, with 6 students at each frame. Because the quilt is on a large, unm…

Amazing Applique by Yoko Saito

The quilt exposition in Nantes "Pour L'amour du Fil" was filled with a number of highlights. Certainly one of the more memorable experiences was seeing the works of Yoko Saito in person.
"Elegant" is the word that best describes Yoko Saito's quilts. Although her palette is neutral, the lights and darks play very well together to create a perfect balance to the quilt. To say that the applique is amazing is an understatement. The perfectly formed 1/4" circles and the tiny leaves and stems are inspirational. And of course, the hand quilting is perfect. For the final touch, she uses embroidery as adornment in much the same way that the perfect pair of earrings complete the look of the little black dress. The opportunity to see her quilts in person has been truly inspirational.

The photos in order:
- Yoko Saito in her booth on the floor of the show
- "Pointsettia" - by Yoko Saito
- "Spring of Sweden" close -up - by Yoko Saito