Lauren Tolhurst: A trunk show to inspire

I imagine most of us rushed home from the February meeting to sew, inspired by the multitude of quilts, large and small, that Lauren Tolhurst of Busy Bobbin Longarm Quilting brought to show us!

She likes to inspire people, and encourages working without a pattern. “If you work with a pattern, you’re not solving problems, and so you’re not tapping into your creativity. Solving problems makes for a greater feeling of accomplishment.”  Log cabins feature prominently in her quilts, and she is probably best known for her wonky houses, wonky stars and wonky girls. Her wonky house quilt is 25 years old! She has a particular penchant for “old, raggedy looking, worn quilts” and uses quilting and the dryer to achieve this look in new quilts.

She touched upon different tastes in quilting – some prefer it tighter, some prefer it more open, and many modern quilters like simple, straight lines (matchstick quilting).

Thanks to her many years as a longarm quilter  Lauren could share many tips with us, including:

  • Always wash your fabric before you use it to get rid of harmful chemicals. Tumble dry, but remove when still slightly damp and iron. If you prefer, use spray starch to stiffen the fabric slightly.
  • Don’t cut on a table, cut on a counter, which is higher than a table and easier on your body.
  • Prop the back of your machine up slightly, which makes it easier to see what you’re sewing.
  • Always free motion quilt from above, that is, with your elbows above the table – it’s also easier on your body.
  • To remedy slippage, use spit on your fingers and ease the fabrics back together!
  • When you fussy-cut, cut so that the image is not centred… being slightly off-centre adds interest and movement in the quilt design.
  • Long seams can curve at the end of a strip. This seems to be a problem on older machines. Be careful as you near the end of your fabric.
  • For hand sewing, use embroidery needles, because they’re easier to thread. Lauren’s favourite is Size 7’s.
  • A design wall is a must have. If your space is limited, do as a friend of hers has done, and mount a curtain rod above a doorway so that you can roll up the design wall when not in use.
  • When people look at quilts, they notice the design first, value second and colour third. So pay attention to colour values when selecting your fabrics.

Bonus! Lauren provided several patterns for some of the blocks she spoke about, and they can be found in the Members Only area of the site.