The second workshop I undertook was Sue Dennis's Opal Fever workshop. Sue is an amazing Australian designer who uses a range of different techniques and tools to create her fabulous quilts.
Sue talking about how she creates her quilts
The workshop participants had the option of creating either Sue's Opal Fever quilt or her Opal Necklace quilt. I chose the Opal Fever quilt (see below). The Opal Necklace quilt can be seen to the left of the big quilt in the above photo.
Sue's Opal Fever Quilt
We started out by preparing our fabrics that would be used to create the opals. Sue showed us how to use oil sticks and homemade rubbing plates to add 'glinty bits' to our fabric. (Sue was very big on technical terms :P)
Sue demonstrating how to use oil sticks
Sue recommends using the 'Shiva' brand of oil sticks and the ones we used were iridescent. This is how my first 3 pieces of fabric looked after I added 'glinty bits' and heat set them by ironing between pieces of Glad Bake.
Tracy's fabrics with oil stick markings
We then added Vliesofix, cut out our opal shapes and laid them out on our backing fabric as per the pattern sheet. This is where I got up to at the end of the first day but there were several ladies who had actually attached their opals in preparation for day 2.
The next day Sue showed us how to use quilt basting spray to temporarily hold our quilt top, batting and backing together while stitching. Most of us wore masks during this process, due to the chemical spray, which made for a funny photo. Unfortunately I don't have a good one to show you.
I spent the first half of day 2 placing and securing my opals to my background fabric. This is what it looked like at this point (and still actually looks like now)...
Tracy with quilt top half done
I then had to make a small sample quilt swatch from left over fabric so I could have a go at the stitching technique. However, before I had a go at stitching I also had to create some 'glitzy bits' (more technical terms) with Angelina fibre. These were used to highlight portions of the opals and create some shine.
We used the 'organic shuffle' (again with the technical terms) to secure the opals and Angelina fibre (if added) to the backing fabric. We then used some meandering free motion straight stitch to create the opal 'veins'. I was extremely happy with my sample quilt swatch. This is what it looked like...
My sample quilt swatch
I then took some time to create some further Angelina fibre 'glitzy bits' to take home with me to finish my quilt top off. It was very obvious by this stage that I would not finish the quilt top before the end of the day. I did, however, have about half an hour left and I was determined to at least stitch my main opal shape to the quilt.
Unfortunately my sewing machine had other ideas. My poor old machine had been overworked (it hadn't done that much work in 4 days in the whole 17 years that I've owned it!) and it decided it had had enough. We were using rayon threads for the 'organic shuffle' and during the last 1/2 hour my thread snapped 4 times until I eventually gave up trying. (It has now had a service so I am hoping to get back to my quilt top in the next couple of weeks.)
Sue was also generous enough to show us some additional techniques during the latter part of the workshop. These included using oil sticks with store bought templates as rubbing plates and using Lumiere fabric paints with the same templates. All in all we came away with a 2/3 finished quilt top and a huge range of new knowledge, techniques and experience in our repertoire. It was a fantastic workshop!
If you would like to check out more of Sue's work and travels you can visit her blog here. She also has a picture of all the workshop participants holding up their quilt tops in her post dated 1st August.
Well, that's it for part 2 of my retreat recollections. In part 3 I will show you some of the work Mum did in her workshop with Leesa Chandler. Until then, happy stitching.