Monthly Archives: May 2011

MQS- What I Learned

Once a year, the International Machine Quilters Association (IMQA) hosts a huge quilt show. Why do I care about this so much more than other quilt shows? While other shows are great, machine quilting is usually just a small portion. Here, pretty much every vendor, class and quilt displayed was somehow related to machine quilting!

This year I decided to focus on taking classes. I took some fabulous classes by Kimmy Brunner, Pam Clarke, Linda Taylor, Mindy Wylie and Carla Barrett.

What I learned:
– From Kimmy Brunner: that I actually knew more about the long arm than I thought! There were several points she gave as tips that I actually figured out on my own!

– From Pam Clarke: Quilting designs don’t have to be difficult & complicated- nice & simple is beautiful and works well on many quilts. It’s also important to make the machine work for me. Ever since I got this machine, I’ve been frustrated by the fact that I’ve had to make things work & figure out “get-bys.” Pam’s been in this business since the beginning & pointed out to me that when she started- there were no tools, classes- anything! (Her frame wasn’t even adjustable & her husband had to make a long box for her to stand on.) They had to make things work. So I put aside my desire for a machine that had all the specific tools made correctly & went to work on figuring out what I needed to do to get my machine where I wanted it. The next few months are going to be a bit of an adventure- but hey- hopefully some of these paths I’m pursuing will be helpful to not only me!

– From Linda Taylor: I’m better at freehand than I thought & I actually like my machine (Tin Lizzie 18LS) more than the new Gammill Visions. (Which is something b/c I can tell you there were some days when I wanted to throw that machine in the snow!) It’s also good to step back & breath- it’s not the end of the world if something doesn’t turn out the way I want it to- life’s too short to get upset by those things. Also- these freehand designs are for owning! Of course my freehand isn’t going to look like someone else’s– the point is to become familiar enough with the design that I put my own twist on it & make it work for me.

– From Mindy Wylie: While I’m not the most talented quilter (my freehand is severely in need of improvement), if I focus on what I AM good at, I can make just as good designs as those that are fabulous freehanders. I also accepted the fact that I’m not a frufru quilter. While I think feathers and swags & flowers are beautiful- they don’t necessarily belong on every quilt I make :) She also stirred my creativity & I began seeing the quilt blocks in a whole new light- I stopped thinking like a piecer (the person that assembles the quilt top) & more like a quilter.

– From Carla Barrett: I took her class on doodling not to improve my drawing (although, that wouldn’t hurt) but to kick start my creativity. I can’t tell you how many times I stare at quilts & have no idea what to do. White space (on paper or a quilt) frightens me. In the class she had us make a general design to fill our white space & then fill it in. While she & many other students make these awesome “simple” designs to fill in, it came to me that I don’t “see” geometric shapes like that. I see landscapes. Bam! As soon as I did that it was like the light had been turned on in my head & my creativity was bursting! I can’t wait to put some of the small pieces I have designed in my head on fabric!

So that was my week. Yep, I’m still processing it all & probably will be for a while.

And since I don’t have any photos related to what I learned, let me show you what inspired me:
Renae Haddadin’s miniature quilt.

Yes, that’s right- it’s a miniature. See the ribbon on the side? You have to click on the picture to see the full detail- but wow! Isn’t that amazing????

A New Studio

Good morning everyone!

I’m proud to announce that I’m the new resident in a newly redesigned & decorated studio (i.e. our basement)!

We were very fortunate when we got this house to have a finished basement. I quickly took that over as my studio- but with working other jobs, trying to find my “place” with the long arm- the basement stayed the dull tan/brown color the previous people painted.

I also discovered in that year that I had the room setup “wrong.” The space didn’t work for me. The design wall was miles (ok, yards) away from my sewing machine. My thread sat jumbled in a drawer & projects in progress were mixed in with stash fabric. So about two weeks ago in the middle of a pity party, I pulled out the paint that had been sitting in the garage since last September & starting working. I’m very happy to say that my once dull brown studio is now a very cheery Robin’s egg blue! I also rearranged my workspace & here it is:

One bookcase holds my projects in process, the other my stash fabric. My spool holder is finally hanging (I think I finished it last August??). All the long arm tools are together & all the piecing tools are in one spot. The design wall is now about 2 feet from my sewing machine & the best part? The studio actually feels like me!

So I immediately sat down & pieced 3 quilts! No, not really. I actually left town to go to MQS in Kansas City. I went in 2010 but just attended the show. This year I shopped, drooled over gorgeous quilts & took classes! Since MQS deserves it’s own blog post- tomorrow I’ll tell you about all the great things I learned, teachers who inspired me and ideas I have for the future!