The Tentmakers of Cairo

Today I have a really interesting topic for you: the Tentmakers of Cairo.

They do wonderful appliqué work on sturdy canvas which was originally used to decorate the interior of tents in the Middle East. This work is called Khayamiya. It is an original craft and since many generations the skills are passed along from father to son.You can read more about the history of Khayamiya here.

As with quilts this art form was not recognized by collectors and/or museums. The art and the artists were “discovered” by visitors to Egypt. The Australian quilt artist Jenny Bowker brought them into the quilting world where they can be found at major quilt shows for some years now. Jenny Bowker tries to promote their work, not only to show the world what a stunning craft this is but also to support the stitchers as their art is a dieing one in their home country. You can find more about the tentmakers at Jenny’s website.

So if you are lucky you can find the tentmakers’ booth at one of the major quilt shows. If you walk into it there is a firework of colors,

there are some signs that someone is working here (like snippets of fabric on the ground),

and sometimes you even can watch one of the tentmakers working.

The beautiful appliqué pieces are only made by men with fathers teaching their sons. A skilled stitcher works really fast and often without marking the appliqué pieces. And still it takes him one to six months (depending on the size) to finish one of these beautiful pieces.

If you want to know more about this craft and their makers I have some videos for you:

In this video by Bonnie McCaffery the tentmakers not only show their stunning pieces but also describe how they design and how they work.

And in this video Jenny Bowker introduces two tentmakers and their colorful pieces. But the really interesting part is what Jenny has to say about their way of life and work.

Here a tentmaker shows the whole process of making a pattern, transferring it to the canvas and stitching the appliqué. Every traditional quilter (in a certain age I should add) recognizes the whole process. It’s the same way we learned to make patterns and transfer them to the fabric. (This was the time before water soluble pens were on the market.)

And last but not least there is a whole documentary on this ancient craft.

If you get a chance to see one of the tentmakers’ exhibitions don’t miss it. You will see a lot of colors, patterns and beautiful work and you will meet really friendly people.

I’m linking this to Off the Wall Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop and to Brag about your Beauties.

 

I am missing the Quiltshows

I am really missing the quiltshows! Although I like the online events and really loved some of them (thank you Modern Quilt Guild!), I miss the camaraderie, the exitement, the laughter, the friendship, the harmony, the emotions, the joy, the feeling of belonging together, ……… I could go on and on.

While browsing YouTube I found this great film made for the PBS Short Film Festival in 2020 about Quilt Week in Paducah and it brought all these feelings back to me. So much so that I was close to tears sometimes. It really shows very well what quilting is all about.

If you are missing all the great shows as well – here’s the video. Enjoy!

BOM 2021: Star #5

The last two stars of the BOM 2021 were fast and easy to sew. This one not so. This is partly due to its 57 pieces in a 10 x 10 inches (26 x 26 cm) block. Because of this many pieces you have to cut and sew really precisely to get a good result. But the resulting star is worth all the efforts.

Cutting
All the measurements include a ¼ inch (7,5 mm) seam allowance.

From the yellow fabric cut
3 squares 2½ x 2½ inches (7 x 7 cm)
2 squares 2 x 2 inches (5,5 x 5,5 cm)
Cut all 5 squares diagonally.

From the blue fabric cut
3 squares 3⅛ x 3⅛ inches (8,5 x 8,5 cm)
2 squares 2 x 2 inches (5,5 x 5,5 cm)
Cut these 5 squares diagonally.
Furthermore cut
2 squares 1⅝ x 1⅝ inches (4,5 x 4,5 cm)

From the orange fabric cut
4 squares 2 x 2 inches (5,5 x 5,5 cm), cut diagonally
In addition cut
4 squares 1⅝ x 1⅝ inches (4,5 x 4,5 cm)

From the darkblue background fabric cut
2 squares 2½ x 2½ inches (7 x 7 cm)
4 squares 2 x 2 inches (5,5 x 5,5 cm)
Cut these 6 squares diagonally.
And cut
4 squares 2¾ x 2¾ inches (7,5 x 7,5 cm)
8 squares 1⅝ x 1⅝ inches (4,5 x 4,5 cm)

Sewing
With all the triangles you have a lot of sewing on the bias. Be careful not to stretch the fabric. Press the units but be careful not to distort the fabric.

Join a small yellow and a small darkblue triangle along the long side. Make 4 units. Press. I personally cut off the dog ears.

Sew a small darkblue square to each unit. Refer to the picture for the right orientation. Press.

Join a small orange and a small darkblue triangle along the long side. Make 4 units. Press.

Sew a small darkblue square to each unit. Refer to the picture for the right orientation. Press.

Join a small orange and a small blue triangle along the long side. Make 2 units. Press.

Sew a blue square to each unit. Refer to the picture below for the right orientation.

Join a large yellow and a large darkblue triangle, exactely as shown in the picture below. Make 4 units. Press.

Join the yellow-darkblue triangle and a large blue triangle along the long side. Make 4 units. Press.

Join a small orange and a small blue triangle, exactely as shown in the picture below. Make 2 units. Press.

Join a large yellow triangle to the orange-blue triangle, exactely as shown in the picture below. Make 2 units. Press.

Sew together one of these triangles (orange-blue-yellow) with a large blue triangle, along the long side. Make 2 units. Press.

Now you have sewn all the necessay parts. Let’s put the block together. Lay out all the pieces as shown in the picture below. Lay them right beside your sewing machine so you can put them back when sewn as not to mix up the parts.

Sew together the 5 vertical rows. Be careful not to mix up the pieces and check with the picture above for the orientation of the pieces. It’s easy to make a mistake here (ask why I know).

I pressed the seam allowances between the different parts in one direction so that they will „nest“ together with the next row. As a reference for me the pin in each row indicates in which direction the seam allowances should be pressed.

This is your finished block.

Take 4 of the strips 11 x 1 inches (28 x 2,5 cm) that you cut from the background fabric previously (see introduction to the BOM here) and sew 2 of them to opposite sides of your block. They are a little bit too long – shorten them to the block size. Sew the 2 remaining strips to the other sides of the block and shorten if necessary. Finished!

I would love to see your finished star-blocks. Please post them in the comments at TheQuiltingSpace’s Facebook page, tag me on Instagram @thequiltingspace and/or use the hashtag #thequiltingspace.

See you in June for star #6.

I’m linking this to Off the Wall Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop and to Brag about your Beauties.

 

Tutorial: Trimming half-square-triangle squares

After telling you to trim squares made out of half square triangles when publishing star #4 of the Block of the Month I got some enquiries how to do this the best/easiest way.

In a perfect world you would sew the two triangles together along their long sides, press them and voilà – you would have a perfect square in the perfect size. In real life you are sewing together two bias sides which will make for some stretching and/or shifting even if your cutting is absolutely precise. So especially when you have a lot of these pieces in your block it’s always a good idea to trim them all to the correct and same size.

Here is how I do it:

Sew your triangles along the long side to get a square. Press, pressing the seam allowance open or to one side as you prefer.

Put your ruler on the square.
The 45° line of your ruler should line up with your seam line.
Make sure that your square fits nicely or exceeds the final measurements of your square (don’t forget the seam allowance!). I stitched this square for this demonstration so I made it a bit larger to show the extra fabric beyond the ruler. My final square should be 5 x 5.
Remember: My square is stitched a little larger. Your square might fit exactely or you might have just a few threads exceeding your ruler.

Cut away the exceeding fabric on two sides.

Turn your square, align the ruler

and cut away the fabric on the other two sides.

And here is the perfect square.

I hope this will help you to always get perfect half-square-triangle squares. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

 

100 Days – Week 4

My leaves for the 100-days-project for this week:

What I learned so far:
I like freehand cutting the leaves.
Sewing a leaf per day seems like a small thing to do but it isn’t. I’m thinking about leaves, looking at them and collecting them on my walk with the dog. So the leaves are always on my mind.

If you are wondering what’s that all about – read my post here.

 

Patchwork Pillow for Mother’s Day

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day. I hope you already have your present and the card for your  mother’s special day ready. But if not – don’t despair. Here’s a lovely throw pillow that can easily be done over the weekend. Get out your rotary cutter and raid your stash and soon you will have a pretty and self-made gift for your mom.

The finished pillow will measure 22 x 22 inches (50 x 50 cm).

All the measurements include a seam allowance of ¼ inch (0,75 cm).

If you are working in centimeters don’t compare to the measurements in inches (and vice versa). They are not the same because of the different pillow sizes available in the US and in Europe.

For the ninepatches you need
25 squares 2½ x 2½ inches (6 x 6 cm) in red and
20 squares 2½ x 2½ inches (6 x 6 cm) in green (or in whatever colors you choose).

For the flower patches you need
4 squares 6½ x 6½ inches (15 x 15 cm),
scraps in red, yellow and green for the flowers and
some fusible web if fusing is your preferred way of appliqué.

4 border strips (green for my pillow) 2½ x 23 inches (6 x 53 cm).

1 square 23 x 23 inches (55 x 55 cm) of thin batting
1 square 23 x 23 inches (55 x 55 cm) of thin cotton fabric

For the backside of the pillow 2 pieces 23 x 17 inches (55 x 42 cm).

And of course you need a pillow insert 22 x 22 inches (50 x 50 cm).

Make 5 ninepatches.

Download the pattern for the flower by clicking on the picture of the flower (left) and print it out. Check that your printer prints at ‘actual size’. Check that you like the size of the flower on your 6 ½ inch (15 cm) square but don’t forget that there’s a seam allowance all around the fabric. If you don’t like the size draw the flower a little bit smaller or larger (you might even add a leaf). Appliqué the flower in your favorite method.

Join the ninepatches and the flower blocks as seen in the picture above.

Sew two border strips on opposite sides of the pillow and shorten them to the right length. Join the other two border strips and shorten them as well.

Make a quilt sandwich out of the top, the thin batting and the thin cotton fabric. Quilt by hand or by machine (depending on your favorite method and even more so on the time available). I suggest to quilt at least in the ditch around the ninepatches and at the inside of the border strips. Cut the batting and the thin cotton fabric to the size of the top.

For the backside of the pillow measure your top and cut the 2 pieces 23 x 17 inches (55 x 42 cm) to the width of the top (that should be 22½ inches or 51 cm – a little bit smaller or bigger is ok as well).

On one 22½ inches (51 cm) side turn the edge ½ inch (1,5 cm) to the left side of the fabric, iron, turn another ½ inch (1,5 cm) and iron again. Machinstitch this seam. Do this on both backside pieces.

Layer top with right side up and the 2 pieces of the the backside left side up on top of it. Align the edges of the top and the backside pieces. The backside pieces will overlap in the middle – that’s where the seams are. Sew all around the outside of the pillow, backstitching at the beginning and the end. Turn the cushion right side out und put your pillow into your beautiful cover. Done!

I hope you like this idea for a perfect Mother’s Day gift.

I would love to see your finished pillow. Please post them in the comments at TheQuiltingSpace’s Facebook page, tag me on Instagram @thequiltingspace and/or use the hashtag #thequiltingspace.

I’m linking this to Off the Wall Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop and to Brag about your Beauties.