Trends from Quiltcon 2017

Trends From Quiltcon 2017

The Sulky Booth at Quiltcon 2017, which took place in Savannah, GA

Quiltcon is a quilt show like no other as it focuses specifically on the world of Modern Quilting!

Best in Show for Quiltcon 2017

The quilt above won Best In Show. It is titled bling by Katherine Jones from Tasmania, Australia. The quilt was paper pieced from solid fabrics; the inspiration for this quilt was a princess cut diamond.

Kelly Nagel and Katherine Jones

I got a chance to chat with Katherine at the show. She is a lovely woman with a passion for all things quilty.

Details of Madonna by Brittany Bowen Burton

Modern quilters use quite a lot of thread! Look at the beautiful machine and hand stitching in the quilt, Madonna by Brittany Bowen Burton, that won for Best Machine Quilting.

This was also the very first show to see our new Cotton + Steel Thread by Sulky. Attendees had a wonderful time trying the thread out in the Cotton + Steel Booth.


Cotton + Steel also had a little area for Quiltcon attendees to take a break from the show and do a little hand stitching with Sulky 12 Wt. Cotton Petites. We heard only great things about both the new 50 Wt. cotton thread, Cotton + Steel Thread by Sulky, and Sulky Cotton Petites at this show.

We noticed some interesting trends in the world of modern quilting which we thought we would share with you:

  1. Facings vs. Bindings –

    This quilt has a facing instead of a binding.

    Lots of quilters in this genre choose to do facings to finish their quilts off as opposed to binding the quilt in the traditional manner. It has an interesting effect on the quilt as this allows the quilt itself to go to the very edge without anything to visually stop it. This might not work on all quilts, but it sure did for many of the Quiltcon quilts.

  2. Combining hand and machine quilting –

    Exchange Student #2 by Jo Glover

    You know we love thread here at Sulky so seeing all the different types of thread and thread techniques in one quilt was just wonderful. Thread adds such great texture and interest to a quilt.

  3. Use of negative space –

    Murmuration Minuend by Janice Marquardt

    The Modern Quilting movement has always been known for heavy use of negative space, but this year at Quiltcon, we think they knocked it out of the park. There were just some amazing quilts that made great use of all that space.

  4. Dare to be different – The wide range of looks, colors, interpretations and techniques has to be our favorite part of Quiltcon.

    Baubaus Birds in the Air by Frances Dowell

    The quilters who enter this show are not afraid to try something new, color outside the lines or show their passion in the form of thread and fabric.

    wafting diamonds by Lisa Hofmann-Maurer

    The passion and energy is palatable at this show. If you have never been to a Quiltcon, we highly recommend you join us for Quiltcon 2018 in Pasadena, CA!

Liquid Solvy Starch Recipe and Uses

Liquid Solvy StarchAs I said in my last post, I prefer to make my own starch and my favorite recipe the is one from the last post because it takes the wrinkles out of the fabric without leaving anything but a nice smell behind, but sometimes, I need a little more stability. When I am piecing anything on the bias or sewing with more delicate fabrics, I really want the fabric to act more like cardboard than fabric during the actual sewing process. The best way to achieve that is to make Liquid Solvy!

An added bonus is I can make this with the left over Solvy bits that I pull off of a machine embroidery project or if I have a little piece too small to use on the end of a roll. Here is the recipe:

Liquid Solvy Recipe

liquid solvy 8

3/4 – 1 cup of Solvy ‘bits’
4 cups of distilled water
1/4 cup Rubbing Alcohol (optional)
Quart mason jar
Spray bottle

Either put your scrap Solvy Bits in the mason jar or cut up pieces of Solvy off the roll to add to the jar. Heat up 4 cups of distilled water. You want the bits to be small, so you can “chop” them up with a rotary cutter. As I mentioned in the last starch post, distilled water deosn’t have any minerals in it so it won’t leave any extra deposits on your fabric.

liquid solvy 7I heated mine up on the stove but not to the boiling point.

liquid solvy 6Pour the water into the jar with the Solvy bits.

liquid solvy 5Use a chopstick to very gently stir the mixture until all the bits are dissolved. DON’T SHAKE IT! If you do, the mixture will foam up and the foam doesn’t go away (ask me how I know 🙂 )

liquid solvy 4Let the mixture cool down if you need to, and then pour it into your spray bottle. If you decide to add the rubbing alcohol, your Liquid Solvy will last longer and you won’t need to refrigerate it to preserve it.

liquid solvy 3I tested the Liquid Solvy next to my other homemade starch side-by-side on a very wrinkled piece of fabric.

liquid solvy 2Both starches did a great job and getting out wrinkles.

liquid solvy 1

Ignore my very dirty ironing board cover! I need to make a new one.

The vodka based starch did not change the feel of the fabric at all. It just took out the wrinkles. The Liquid Solvy left the fabric very stiff, which can be an advantage when piecing, especially when sewing on the bias.

In a thicker mixture, liquid Solvy can be painted on, and is a wonderful stiffener for thread bowls and thread art, too.

So now you have two recipes for starch. Which one do you think you will try? What kind of starch do you like? Let’s chat about it in the comments! I would love you hear what you think and what you use.

Happy Sewing!

My Favorite Homemade Starch Recipe

Homemade Starch

Several years ago I started making my own starch from scratch. I took a class with Edyta Sitar, and she made her own and gave me her recipe. I changed it slightly to fit my uses, but this is basically the same recipe.

Homemade Starch Recipe

1 cup of Potato Vodka
4 cups of distilled water
15 drops of organic lavender oil

Why make your own starch, you ask? I have several reasons. First, it’s the absolute best at getting out wrinkles and not leaving any residue. Second, I have friends with allergies and this starch doesn’t have any harsh chemicals. And lastly, but arguably the most important reason, if I get stressed out over a project, I can always take a swig! 😉

So let’s go over why these specific ingredients.

luksusowa-potato-vodka-poland-10518784The vodka must be potato based because potatoes are a starch (I know, they always told us they were a vegetable but they lied to us, it’s a starch).

distilled waterDistilled water is water that all of the extra things, like mineral deposits, have been removed. That means distilled water won’t have anything in it that might cause staining or discoloration on your cloth. It also doesn’t have anything in it that could clog up your spray bottle so it will always spray out nice and evenly.

LavenderessentialoilOrganic lavender essential oil is a natural preservative, and it smells really good. I like to get the organic, even though it’s a little pricier, because I want to be sure there aren’t any weird chemicals or pesticides that could possibly bother my allergy ridden friends for my fabric.

spray bottlePut the homemade starch in a spray bottle and you are ready to starch your fabrics.

Now go make some starch!

Special Note: You can also make starch with your leftover Sulky Solvy® pieces! I will give you that recipe and the uses for this kind of starch in my next post.

How to Take Back Your Love for Quilting

How To Take Back YourHave you ever had something happen that just stole your love for quilting?  Maybe you overheard someone say something really harsh about a quilt that you worked really hard to make. Maybe it was an overly critical comment on a quilt you put into a juried show. Maybe it wasn’t one thing; maybe it was just the continual lack of time to actually do it, and slowly but surely, you just stopped making them. You didn’t stop wanting to make them, you just were afraid to make them; too worried it wouldn’t be good enough, or the stress of trying to carve out the time to quilt became too much.

I have been at this place. To be honest, a part of me still is at this place. I hadn’t lost the desire to create; I hadn’t run out of ideas. I still bought patterns and fabric; I still sketched ideas and I still sat down at my machine sometimes, but the love, the joy, had been replaced by fear and self-consciousness of what others will think of my work.

And then one day, I decided I wanted the joy back. I wish I could sit here and tell you that like an Olympic athlete, I turned those negative thoughts and comments that people had made about my work into positive fuel to get me back on my feet, but I didn’t. No, those thoughts and comments still haunt me sometimes. What I don’t let them do anymore is stop me.

These are some steps that I took to get my love for quilting back and some advice on how to not take someone’s love for quilting away from them. I am telling you this because I have a feeling I am not the only one who has been here. I am probably not the only person who has felt sadness because they just want to make something, but feel paralyzed to do so. I am pretty sure I am not the only one that has said to themselves, “I just want to sew and have it be fun. Even if it’s not perfect.”

So here are my steps and I hope it helps someone who has been in this place too:

  1. Make something small that is just for you. When you have gone many months without making anything, the best way to get back started is to make something small and simple that is just for you. Something that you don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to. My something small was a self-lining bag, similar to this one here. The one I made was smaller to hold shoes when traveling and I didn’t do any embroidery on it. I just made the bag. It got me behind my machine and in the end, I came out with a completed project. I didn’t show anyone, I just took it to my closet and used it the next time traveled. It was a great first step. I made something and it was useful! I felt good about it. A little love came back into my heart.
  2. Go through your UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) and find one that is almost done and finish it. I had a landscape quilt that I had started when I was learning how to do landscape quilts. It wasn’t very good at all which is why it wasn’t finished. It only needed to be trimmed up, one border added and the binding. So I finished that little landscape. Yay! Finished! I got to sit in my sewing studio and enjoy the victory of a completed project. I hung it on my sewing studio wall and admired it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was finished and that made me love it.
  3. Do all the utility sewing that you have been putting off. I know this sounds strange, but when I decided to tackle that pile of pants that needed hemming, skirts that needed to be taken in and pillows with holes that needed mending, I started to say to myself, “Oh yeah, this is why I quilt! This kind of sewing isn’t fun!” But I also got that satisfaction of getting something done and I was beginning to lose the anxiety that I had previously felt every time I sat behind my sewing machine. That negative voice that had been in my head telling me that my work wasn’t good enough was starting to fade. My hemming of those pants was good enough! I patched the holes in those pillows like a boss! I started to believe in myself again…just a little bit.
  4. Make a quilt that needs to be made. You know the saying, “The Lord works in mysterious ways?” That is certainly true for what really gave me my love for quilting back. I have friend who was very, very sick and I needed to make her a quilt. She was going to be in the hospital for another surgery and I just knew that a quilt full of blocks that had been signed by her friends would give her strength. I didn’t have a choice. This quilt had to be made no matter how I felt. So I picked a very simple pattern (rail fence) and I put together the top. I took the extra steps, like squaring up the blocks, and quilted it. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t fit for a juried show or even a blog post, but it was perfect for my friend. She loved it and I loved making it. I truly loved every stitch, even the not-so-perfect ones. That is when I came to my final step:
  5. Fire the Quilt Police that are hanging out in your head. I decided that I know longer cared what people thought of my work, and more importantly, I decided to stop being so hyper-critical of it myself. All too often, the negative voice is my very own. I was not going to let the comments of others, or my own negative comments about my work, steal the love I have for quilting. I made a conscious decision to start making things that I like to make, to the best of my ability and continue to get better at my own pace. The beautiful thing is:  I now LOVE quilting again! I have started working on new quilts and thinking up new projects to make. I am back behind my sewing machine with joy instead of anxiety. I am currently working on 2 new quilts and one past-project that I had been avoiding. Quilting is once again my stress relief, instead of something that was causing me stress, and I am so happy about that!

This wouldn’t be a complete post if I didn’t offer one piece of advice on how to not cause someone quilting anxiety. For most of us, sewing and quilting is more than just a hobby; it is an extension of who we are as people. It is our artistic expression and in some ways, a revealing of our soul. Be kind to your fellow quilter. When you see her (or his) work, find something nice to say about it, and only offer a critique if it is appropriate and you know them well enough to know how to tell them something that will help them be a better quilter. Telling them you just don’t like it, or that those colors are awful, isn’t helpful.

Let’s not steal each other’s joy for this amazing art. Let’s build each other up.

Be Kind To Your Fellow QuilterHappy Sewing!