Yes, this man is nuts! George and Virginia Siciliano’s lecture “This Guy Must Be Nuts” is very funny. While his work is extraordinary, he presents it with a sense of humor. Many of us have seen the results of his workshops at various quilt shows, but to actually see the originals is phenomenal.
How George got into quilting is a very funny story, but I will not tell it because I would not be able to do it justice. If you missed his lecture, make sure you see him the next time he’s in the area. George’s lecture is a trunk show of his quilts starting with the first quilt he made through to his latest. He talks about his experiences both good and bad in his life of quilting. I loved his story of how he got roped into becoming a member of his local guild. We guild members can be sneaky.
When George first started quilting, Virginia would hand quilt his quilt tops, but that got old. George explains his initial attempts at machine quilting. His story of using invisible quilting thread is great. His first quilt using it ended up being unquilted after if was bound. It’s was still unquilted at the time of his lecture.
George is a very animated and entertaining lecturer. This evening was a great opportunity to be able to get a close look at his intricate work and see how tiny his pieces really are.
The workshops were held at the Nevin’s Library in Methuen, MA. If you have never been to this library you are in for a treat. The library was built in 1883 by the Nevins family. The architecture is wonderful and when the addition was constructed they took care to keep it in a cohesive style with the original building. The stained glass in the room is original to the building. Carrie Zizza was busy drawing the stained glass to create a quilt from it. I took pictures of it so she could enjoy the class instead. Carrie, I hope to see the resulting quilt soon.
Enough about the library, we had two classes. One on Friday and again on Saturday. George is very patient with his students. He has everyone gather around his machine so he can demonstrate his technique. The ruler George designed (a.k.a George’s Tool) for foundation piecing aides in trimming and lining up the next section to be sewn and is easily used by both right and left handers. He demonstrates how he cuts and stacks each round of logs as he goes along. This makes the assembly go a little quicker. Following George’s instructions we were able to create one of his ultra mini blocks with precision.
George showed us a trick when it comes to assembling the blocks. Instead of using pins, he uses double stick tape. That way he can check to make sure the blocks are lined up and adjust as necessary.
As George is demonstrating the block assembly, Virginia uses an extra-large version of the block to point to the piece George is talking about. With the block being so small it helps to see a large version so you know exactly what George is working on.
All in all this is a great class and lecture. Will I continue with foundation piecing? I’m not sure. I was never a big fan of paper/foundation piecing, but after taking the class I understand the do’s and don’ts a little better.
Thanks George and Virginia.
Click Here for the slide show of Lecture and Workshop
Leslie Muir Volpe Lecture and Workshop
Bev Valle, you were right. What a great lecture and awesome workshop. Leslie is a lively speaker and great teacher. I know I came away with an even greater appreciation for miniature quilting.
With the title of the lecture “We’re Talking Small”, Leslie spoke of the difference between little, petite, and miniature. Little quilts is a phrase used by a shop in Georgia. The Little Quilt Shop has a few books out containing patterns where the blocks are small but not miniature. Miniature quilts are quilts made with blocks measuring 1″ finished or smaller. While Leslie’s work is small, she does not consider them true “miniatures”. She refers to them as petite. I like that term. It makes them seem more do-able.
Leslie’s work in miniatures enables her to purchase many – many – many fabrics. As she explains to her painter husband, he can mix up what ever color he needs, but she must purchase her colors separately. Thus the need to purchase more fabric always exists. Sounds reasonable to me.
Leslie considers herself to be a persnickety person when it comes to her quilting. Her quilting may be persnickety but her personality is anything but. She is patient, warm and funny.
Leslie’s workshop was very informative. Whether you are a novice or an advanced quilter, you got something out of this class. The wealth of information was phenomenal, even if you just came away with how to make your own portable ironing surface.
Leslie handed out her list of 20 tips. First, she went through her tips explaining the whys behind each tip. While her tips pertain to working with petite quilts, most are useful in working with larger quilts.
We started off with a four patch block, placed in a nine patch setting. Leslie had sets of strips for everyone to choose from. I thought this was ingenious. It got us stitching right away. Through the process of making these blocks she went through her tips, from choosing fabrics, cutting, stitch length, pressing, accurate seam allowance, snipping seam allowances and so on.
Most of us finished the four-patch/nine-patch around lunch. Some chose to put borders on in class. While others took them home to find just the right fabric for their borders. Leslie demonstrated how she uses the left side of her presser foot to create an accurate 1/4″ inner border. She also discussed her reasoning behind some of her border fabric choices.
Our second project was a friendship star or churn dash block, which would be a finished size of 2 1/4″. Leslie had us choose a focus fabric from what we had brought. Then we were to choose at least 3 more coordinating fabrics. The focus would be the outer border. The others would be background, sashing and accent for the stars.
Next we moved on to half square triangle blocks. Leslie’s tip on making these was to start big and trim. Our blocks were to be 3/4″ finished. So if you do the math 3/4″ + 7/8″ = 1 5/8″ cut. Now that’s way too small to work with accurately, at least for me it is.
Leslie had us cut two 2″ blocks, mark one with a single diagonal line from one corner to another. With right sides together, stitch 1/4″ way from the drawn line on each side of the line. Then press to set the seam. Cut down the drawn line. Then press open. Now you need to cut your block down to 1 1/4″. Using a square ruler that has the 45 degree marked, place the 45 degree mark on the seam and trim your first two sides. Don’t worry about the measurement at this point just trim one corner of the block. Then turn it and trim your last two sides to 1 1/4″.
Once we had our half square triangles, we were able to choose which setting we wanted to use, friendship star or churn dash. Leslie recommended we lay out our pieces before we sew, to make sure we have the half square triangles going in correct way. I think she jinxed me. Wouldn’t you know, I did just that. But of course I noticed too late. I have one dancing friendship star.
Leslie doesn’t just work on one project at a time. She has many going at once. She will cut fabric and sort it for future projects. She will sit and sew 20 or 30 blocks at a time and put them in her possibilities basket. And when the mood strikes she will pick through her basket and make quilt tops. She piles tops up and quilts them while relaxing at night. Once she has a few done, she will bind a few of them at a time. Her reasoning is that you get in the flow of doing one thing and keep going.
I was thinking, “Yeah, I get that.” But as I was working on my friendship stars, the idea really hit home. I can see myself sitting and spitting out a bunch of stars. You do get into a groove and it’s easy to keep going. I actually made enough half square triangles in class to make 8 blocks. I couldn’t decide which color I wanted to use so I used both. Which works out for me because I goofed on that one dancing star.
I really really liked this workshop. I tried hard to keep this short, but as you can see, I did not succeed. I know Leslie teaches at the Maine quilt show, so if you missed her workshop, check next years Maine Quilt show to see if she’s teaching there.
Thanks again for a great workshop Leslie. You have another stalker. Just like Bev, I want to take more of your classes .
On Sunday, August 16th, my sister Ruth and I went up to the United Maine Craftsmen show in Cumberland, Maine. The main reason I went was to see Leslie Muir-Volpe and her work. I want to tell you I was very impressed. Her piecing is meticulous. I can see why Bev Valle wanted me to have her on the workshop schedule.
Leslie is scheduled to be at our September meeting. The topic “We’re Talking Small” will be very educational and awe inspiring. I know I am interested in perusing miniature quilts but have not as yet.
The workshop is scheduled for September 19th at the Plaistow Library. I for one am excited to take this class. Not only do I want to make miniature quilts, I believe that the techniques taught in this class will help me to become a better piercer in larger endeavors. Don’t think you are not advanced enough to take the class. Whether you are a beginner quilter or not, you can learn how to be a better quilter. I love taking classes to polish up my skills.
In the workshop, we will work on two different tops. Leslie will start us off working on a four patch in a nine patch setting. Once we have completed that we will move on to make a friendship star. Leslie feels we should be able to finish the two tops in the class with the quilting and binding to be done on our own.
You can sign up at the meeting or use the Workshop Signup Form to send it in. At the moment there is space in the workshop. But I can not promise you it will stay that way. So sign up soon if you want to take the workshop.
I hope to see you at the workshop.