“LiBellchen are my conception of sewn, embroidered and beaded poetry.”

Liesel Niesner

Germany
Well-Rounded

Can you “liesel”? It is a hand sewn quilting technique developed by and named after Liesel Niesner. For several years she has been sewing “LiBellchen” — enchanting room decorations, worry stones and balls — using this technique. They are embroidered with decorations using colored thread and beads. She uses mainly size 15 seed beads — up to 3,400 for just one LiBellchen! Reason enough to introduce this artist to you, the readers of Perlen Poesie.

How she began: “My father was a master mason and I found brick patterns or the ornamentation of old brick walls, with their quiet regularity, beautiful. In school I had a soft spot for geometry,” she says, adding: “At home there were three of us girls — two would go for walks with their dolls while I would stay home and sew doll clothes. I later sewed clothes for my four children.” Macramé and porcelain painting were added, but when her daughter brought a book about quilting back from England in 1978, it met her esthetic sense of order. She began teaching herself — and developed into a well-known quilting artist. In those years, the quilting scene (called “Patchwork”) was very small in Germany. Those returning from the USA brought know-how and inspiration with them. In 1985, the Patchwork Gilde Germany e. V. (The Quilting Guild of Germany) was founded and a magazine published under the same name. In over 30 years Liesel has sewn approximately 150 large-format quilts to date, has exhibited both at home and abroad and has received a number of international awards.

“Lieseling” is a modification and improvement on the English quilting method — where pieces of fabric, such as hexagons, are drawn on paper and then tacked or basted to the fabric. There, you sew through both the fabric and the paper pattern. This method was very useful for straight edges and reinforced seams, but it had the disadvantage that in the end, all the basting threads had to be removed and the many paper patterns had to somehow be taken out, whereby the inward-folded seam allowances became wrinkled — and it was an almost hopeless task to get them smooth again. Liesel’s method simplified the workload while at the same time giving better results. The paper stencils are no longer sewn with the fabric and may, after the folded seam allowances are basted with a few stiches, be removed and reused. The fabric remains smooth and soft at the same time.

The innovative quilter also became known for sewing pentagons together to form flat surfaces. Normally you sew balls from them, however by shortening one of the sides by a ratio of 4:3, you have a flat surface. They fit together seamlessly and can be supplemented by diamonds and hexagons, resulting in an endless wealth of patterns.

Over the years, sewing large wall hangings had become tedious and Liesel began looking for alternatives. Through experimentation, she devised three-dimensional decorative objects, which finally became her spherical “LiBellchen”. To do this, she sewed together triangles or diamonds. The subsequent ornamentation can be based on fabric patterns — they can be lush, delicate, graphical, have soft colors or strong contrasts. They are both precise and playful. Whether in front of the window, on a furniture knob, lying in a bowl or wherever, they look good!

Andrea Ott