Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stitching and Quilting in Marin County

I spent yesterday at the Marin Quilt, Sew, and Needle Arts Festival in Marin County. I was working in my sister's booth (Laura J. Perin Designs) selling her gorgeous needlework designs and hand-dyed threads. That's always a good time, as we get to hang out together and during quiet times sit and stitch and watch people and, of course, wander around and shop and look at quilts. I actually did a lot of stitching, which I don't often do these days except when I'm sitting in Laura's booth and demonstrating how easy it is to do her complex-looking patterns.

Here's what I've been working on...and look, I'm almost done!

Her quilt-based designs are especially fun because they look so complicated and are really so easy. They're stitched on needlepoint canvas, and you stitch with #5 perle cotton over multiple threads at a time, so the stitches are big and cover ground fast. Also, stitching with variegated thread makes for gorgeous color changes (and the look of intricate shading) when all you do is stitch along. They really do stitch up fast.

Anyway. The show was interesting this time for several reasons. For years, a local guild hosted an annual juried quilt show in the same venue over Labor Day weekend. It was always a great show, with high quality quilts from all over the place, and people came from pretty far away to attend. Two years ago, that guild decided -- from lack of members interested in doing the work to run the show, is the rumor -- to stop hosting the show. So, the event (in terms of time and location) was taken over by PCM Expo, a group which hosts quilting, craft, and sewing shows all over the country. Their shows are more vendor sales opportunities than display shows, if you know what I mean. So, last year was the first time that the Marin show was a PCM show. I guess a lot of folks hadn't heard about the change and hadn't noticed that the show advertising was significantly different (and identifying different hosts), so there was quite a bit of complaining when people showed up for the usual guild show and found a vendor show.

To their credit, PCM worked really hard to get other guilds interested in displaying quilts and needlearts, and invited all sorts of groups to participate this year. So, this year's show was sort of a cross-breed....A lot more quilts to look at than last year, and lots of vendors too.

Unfortunately, this event coincided with the temporary closing of the SF Bay Bridge for the weekend, so I think a lot of people from across the bay stayed away just to avoid the potential traffic nightmare. As a result, the show was pretty darn quiet yesterday. Hopefully, Saturday attendance will be better.

Still, I had a grand time and the quiet sales meant I had lots of time to cruise around. The Mt Tam Quilt Guild had a lovely display of quilts, which was especially fun to see as I have a lot of friends in that guild (Pat, Maureen, Ancella, Sue, Delaine, Sydne, Diane) and enjoyed seeing their gorgous work.

And yes, I did a bit of shopping. I couldn't resist these two gorgeous books.

They're both by English artist Alison Holt, and they give incredible clear instructions on how to use zig zag and other common stitches for free-motion embroidery to create create foliage effects. It's astonishing how simple clumps of zig zag can be made to look like flowers and ferns simply by how you place the clumps and vary the stitch widths and all. (If you want to go look at them, Amazon has these at great used prices, by the way.)

I also made a very exciting discovery. I've been watching friends play with needle-felting and thinking that it'd be fun, but that I certainly don't need a machine for that purpose...and lo and behold, yesterday I discovered that Bernina makes a Needle Felting attachment for certain Bernina machines -- like MINE!

The attachment is designed for machines where you can take out the bobbin case mechanism. I had a lot of fun experimenting in the Bernina booth to see what it would do. And then Margaret, my friend who works there, started machine-felting with the threads dyed by my sister...and we both were totally excited. She ended up coming to my sister's booth to buy a ton of thread, and I bought the attachment, persuaded by the special show price that really did make it a good deal. (I guess this is what happens when quilt shows are slow...the vendors buy from each other!)

Anyway, I was rather excited about this discovery and can't wait to play with it. Coincidentally, my Practical Design workshop assignment this month involves Texture, so guess what I'll play with to work on my assignment?!

The other fun discovery was a product that Cindy Walter designed for Jacquard. It's called Stabilized Fabric, and it's a good quality white PFD cotton pre-adhered to paper so you can paint or draw on it right off a roll. It's sort of like fabric that's afixed to freezer paper, but the paper is thinner and it's all set to go in a roll. That was so popular that they sold out. Having just bought a lot of PFD fabric myself, I passed on the opportunity--but thought it looked very handy.

So many things to play with, so much inspiration.


  1. I went to the Marin show today and it was quiet today also. I love your sister's booth and the work she does. I walked through her booth with one eye shut today because I bought so much last year. But after seeing what you are working on I may have to buy a quilt pattern to work on.
    I do miss the Marin show, but this was enough to entertain me for an afternoon. There were some pretty quilts.

  2. Wow....what a beautiful design you're working on! I love your sisters design...and you do such beautiful needlework!