Not faffing – I promise! This is for a talk to my local quilt group – not a lecture, a peer to peer sharing of information! It all started with Dorian Walton exhibiting her tiny, perfect works of art at The Minerva exhibition in 2011. Here is a pic of Dorian’s work, but it is difficult to do justice to miniatures.
I was utterly enchanted and also intrigued – I have two hands, each with four fingers and an opposing thumb, but I don’t think I could ever manipulate such diminutive scraps of fabric in that way! But I wanted to try.
I came across Thangles, basically pre-marked foundation paper for half-square triangles, which range in size from 3.5″ finished squares, down to – and here is what got me going – 1/2″ finished squares.
Just to satisfy myself that it is difficult, I tried the speed piecing method and it is not impossible, but it is hard. I tried making bigger and cutting back – again possible, difficult and, in addition, very wasteful. I tried the Thangles – what a joy! I do like to do things the hard way, and I am not averse to getting out my Stitch’n Tear, ruler, and propelling pencil (don’t you just love a propelling pencil! One of those things I would be proud to have invented!), but going so small, Thangles made it easy and accurate, plus they gave me the confidence, and trial running, to keep going and I eventually made a few Flying Geese by speed piecing with more success than the first try. The end product is wibbly, and wobbly and whilst I remain intrigued and enchanted, I am not ‘hooked’.
What deterred me most was quilting the thing….. hand-quilting seemed nicest, but was very difficult, because the thicknesses change so often, the seams so close together. I used my Black Gold needles which are super strong, lean and mean and have an easy to see tip, but are a trial to thread, but when one broke I tried going back to a big eye needle. It felt like going back to using a fish bone! I think that lots of miniature quilters have programmable embroidery machines so they can place motifs accurately. I could have had a go at FMQ, or just straight stitching and that might have given a better finish as this is so uneven because of the different methods I tried: in the frame, and out of the frame, traditional rocking method and stab stitching. I did get a little hooked on the French Knots which seemed a tiny and delightful accompaniment. I should have blocked before I bound, but I have a Wednesday deadline and lots of other things to do, (Ahem yes, previous post not dismissed).
What struck me most about the whole process is how little there is in the EtherInterWeb World about miniature quilting. Google almost anything and there will be a tutorial on it, if not several, but that is not the case for the Gnostic practice of making a miniature. It is NOT the same as making a mini quilt. The basic skills are the same of course, but some tips on how to hand quilt would have been most welcome, and the Thangles definitely help to get your eye, and hand in!