I have been doing a practice piece of hand applique for the last two weeks. Our guild held an all day class with Betty Ekern Suiter that was a half day of hand quilting and a half day hand appliqué. I really did not know much about the class or who the teacher was until the night before. Betty was the guest speaker of the guild meeting on a Tuesday night and I was blown away.
She hand dyes, hand appliques and hand quilts all of her work. She owns a machine for bindings and very occasionally will piece a quilt. She has won the Best of Show at Paducah twice and has received International awards and honors in Japan. She is really an amazing person. Since I love hand applique, I signed up immediately for the class which was the following day.
Unfortunately because I signed up at the last minute, I was not totally prepared with the items on the materials list. However, my fellow guild members bailed me out by providing extra hoops, a needle threader, etc. I have never been able to hand quilt very well, so that part of the class was pretty tedious for me. Betty was like a drill sergeant moving around the room barking out orders like "Bend that finger" "Rotate that finger" "Push down with your thumb". I say all this with humor because she was truly gracious, but insistent that we try to learn her method. We started by taping up two fingers to help with the process of pushing the needle without getting pricked. She thought this worked much better than trying to use a thimble or one of those little stick on pads. I mostly found it difficult because I couldn't get used to having the tape stuck on and it kept sticking to the fabric or the needle. I think I was a lost cause.
The second half of the day was hand applique where I learned some new techniques. She uses no glue or freezer paper or other little tricks. Only pins, a white marker, a mechanical pencil, and a Hera marker. She caused me to think the appliqué process through in a new way and hopefully I have learned some things that will help me to be more proficient. Her standard is 20 stitches to the inch. Wow! That is a lot of little stitches. She is an award winner, so I have to really consider her method and not just toss it aside because it's too much work or too time consuming. Here is the practice piece that we started in the class.
Her quilts take 3-4 years to complete because of all the handwork. They are truly amazing.
Thank you, Betty for taking the time to show us your work and to give us the benefit of your knowledge.
Stop by Judy's blog to see more beautiful designs.