Part II - Quilting Class

After some 6-7 years of quilting, I finally took a quilting class.  I'm so proud of myself.    My sister and I enrolled in a class on free-motion quilting techniques.  Our teacher was Lori Smith, who is a well-known quilting teacher.
Instruction sheet and practice doodles
Some things I learned, not directly related to quilting:

#1  Come prepared.   There was quite a bit of fabric and supplies prep for this class.  I was in my typical rush-rush mode, and had to throw everything together early on the morning of the class.

#2  Come really prepared.  At the last minute, I threw in some of my extra quilting feet and boy, oh boy, am I glad I did (will explain this later!).

#3  Never go anywhere your machine without a 2 wheeler cart.  Oy.  My machine weighs a TON and the class was located in the hotel next to the convention center parking.  It was a schlep and I ended up busting off the pin that holds a secondary spool of thread on the top of my machine.

Amazingly, I arrived at class with everything I needed.  However, my trusty old free-motion foot would not work!  No matter what I did .... I changed my needle, re-threaded my machine, turned the power on and off, etc.  I actually began to lose my cool as I envisioned having to leave the class before making a single stitch because I was dead in the water.  Then, I had a stroke of genius.  Why not try the extra foot I had thrown in my bag as an afterthought?.  I was pretty sure it was an open-toe free-motion foot .  It was much "clunkier" looking than the other foot, and I had never tried it, but at that point, I didn't have anything to lose.  And it worked.  And worked like a charm.  Phew!!

Here's my first piece.  We were instructed to stitch the straight lines first, then fill in the pattern with a meander.  This was very straightforward for me, but a good warm up.  I learned a couple of useful things. 

First, if you tend to get puckers when you straight line quilt, it may be that the top, batting and back fabric grain lines aren't oriented in all the same direction.  We were directed to stitch with the crosswise grain first (which has more stretch), before the lengthwise grain.  Little did I know, even the batting has more stretch in a given orientation (just give it a little tug to determine this before creating your quilt sandwich).

Secondly, I very lazily have never brought up the bottom thread to the top of my piece at the beginning of free motion stitching.  New to this technique, it went agonizingly slow, and as I was already behind with my work due to the snafu with my darning foot, so I ...ahem...cheated a bit, and left some of my threads on the back.  However, this is something I will be working on at home, from now on.

Photographed from back-side. 
Next, we free-motion quilted a feathered wreath from a template and our last block was more improvisational.  We were supposed to practice stitching with a double-needle, but true to form, my machine wouldn't cooperate, so I experimented with one of my decorative stitches instead.

Unfinished block
I didn't have time to finish my piece - we were to sew the three blocks together to create a panel.  Our teacher taught us a fun "quilt as you go" technique which I'll demonstrate at a later time.

All in all, the class was both a great learning experience and an opportunity to spend time with my sister.  I left the class reenergized and can't wait to tackle some of my WIP tops!


Dee said...

I'm so glad you had this time with your sister and with someone who would motivate you and inspire you!

I know you have encouraged me and helped me figure out how to quilt the Aloha quil!


Rebekah said...

Wow! It looks like this class was a great experience for you. Thanks for sharing the tip about eliminating puckering on straight lines. That always happens to me.

ParisMaddy said...

It's great to have someone to buddy up with. Your class sounds like it real inspired you and your work looks wonderful.