Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Because If I Refuse to Quit, I Just Might Learn Something

Some years ago I took a machine quilting class with a wonderful local teacher (Hi Libby!) who taught the basics, but also gave an overview of drafting feathers. Well, I had been machine quilting for years, but I was self taught and doubtful about being able to do feathers so I never even tried it beyond the few exercises I did in class.

Last year I travelled to take a class with Harriet Hargrave. Her two day workshop on machine quilting was very good and I'm glad I took the class, but the most important thing I learned had nothing to do with quilting. I'm not sure I remember the statistic exactly and I'm too lazy to look it up in a notebook from a year ago, but it's approximately close enough:

It takes the average adults more than 70 tries to learn a new skill.
Most American adults quit after 12 tries.

I'm not sure why that lesson stuck, but it sure did. I decided I wasn't ever going to let myself quit until I tried something a WHOLE bunch of times. At least 70. In 2007 I wanted to quilt free form feathers into a piece I was going to submit to the ECQG show. After taking a mini-lesson with my resident expert Pam, I went home and grabbed a huge stack of scrap paper. At least 50 pages and using a pencil I filled every inch of every page with free form feathers. I spent the next few days on this "homework" alone.

My first few feathers were ugly. They looked like toes. I couldn't get a continuous line design going. I had trouble remembering which way to turn. But it was only scrap paper and pencil. It was okay. By page 50 I had an idea of how I really wanted my feathers in this quilt to look, but the space I needed to quilt was hardly a blank piece of paper. It was a border with applique motifs I would have to work around.

I took my quilt top to the local copy shop and photocopied a corner of it. I decided 25 copies might be enough. Then I sat and put paper to pencil, again. After about the 10th sheet I began to have a real sense of how I could approach the quilting. I also tried different motifs for the centers of the stars in the corners. Did I want a wreath? A heart? Finally I decided a single diagonally oriented feather was best.

Finally, after almost a week of paper practice it was time to take it to the machine. I had done these designs so often I felt confident I knew what I wanted. I used chalk to barely mark where the spines would go, but I didn't worry about staying on the line exactly. I worked with mono-fil which is my favorite machine quilting thread for this kind of work.

Ultimately I was really pleased with the outcome.

I've taken this same approach to Kay's Glorified 9-Patch quilt:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Piecemakers at Bulloch Hall

When the Piecemakers went to Bulloch hall recently we had our picture made in the middle of our House quilts display. Thanks to Mark H. for sharing the .jpeg with me!

From L to R:
Gail, Barbara, Danielle, Pam, Melinda, Michelle, and Nancy
Wendy, Sharon, Linda

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Set Your Mind On Things Above

We live very close to a private airstrip. We are often treated to views of bi-planes, ultra-lights and other small craft. Never before now have I seen so many hot air balloons over my home at once. There was a fourth balloon, but in the time it took to get my camera and hustle outside it had disappeared below the tree line.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Confession Time Again

So, way back when I started this blog I told you about the quilt I'm making for my daughter, and have been making for 14 months now It's blush and bashful (pink and pink for the non-Steel Magnolia fans among my readers) but there isn't a shy thing about this quit.

Since I last confessed, I sandwiched the quilt and put it aside with all my usual fears and insecurities about my ability to do a good job quilting it. Then I decided I wanted to work on my house quilt, but looked guiltily at Kay's quilt sitting in the rocking chair waiting for quilting. I had hoped it would be a Christmas present, but didn't finish it. Guilt. Shame. Fear and trepidation.

Enough already, I have more UFOs than I can count and I've decided that I'd rather have completions than perfection. A friend told me recently I just don't have enough practice to do what I can see in my head. She's more right than she knows. My dreams far outreach my skills. (I have a niggling feeling I'd be a good designer, if I could find someone else to make the quilts!) So I decided it was okay to finish the quilt, which she will probably only love for another couple of years, given it's little girl appeal. If I don't do as good a job as I'd like, well maybe I'll learn a few lessons and do better on the next one (which, God willing, will be my house quilt!)

Today I finished doing the stitch (near) the ditch quilting and started doing detail work (feathers) in the melon shaped pieces. At this rate, which is surely not likely to continue due to my schedule over the next few days, I could be finished quilting it next week.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Our Neighborhood

The Piecemakers went together to the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show. This annual event held in a historic mansion in Roswell, GA is a great excuse to take our crowd on the road. One bit of excitement for us is that several of the Piecemakers submitted their house quilts to the show and they were displayed as a collection. Here you can see what some of my friends did with their house blocks. (Most impressive to me is that they FINISHED theirs in time for this show!)

Nancy H. made the quilt above. The Atlanta papers came out to Bulloch Hall to take pictures of the show and chose to put Nancy's quilt on the front page of one of it's sections. This quilt also won a ribbon at the ECQG show.

Gail made her blocks into a collection of placemats.

This Thing of Ours

Melinda and I are wonderful friends.

We knew each other for quite a while, even shared a table at a class a few years ago, and we both served on the board of the ECQG without ever realizing how great the other one was.

She's a prolific quilter, I'm eeking out my few quilts a year. I talk a lot, she's a great listener. She's from the west coast, I'm from the east coast. We're not close in age or experience or life, and yet when a crisis hit a mutual friend of ours a few years ago, we pulled together and became, as she says it, bestest friends.

Melinda has filled a big place in my life, one that I didn't know was empty. We are both living in the Atlanta suburbs with no family to speak of nearby. We each have other friends, and yet I have no one like her. She has been a friend, a sister, a guide, a teacher, a mom, a grandmother to my girl, an inspiration, and a hoot.

Sometimes we have to search for hidden treasures. I found mine was sitting right in front of me all along.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Right to Choose

As I wrote a while ago, the Piecemakers are working on the 2008 exchange, which is called "Your Choice".

I've already cut several of the fabrics, so they were not available for this picture, however I can give you an idea about the range of different fabrics we are working with.

Michelle's fabric (the yellow novelty print on the bottom right) has proved the most challenging to work with:

I think I'm going to have to modify my pattern to do something with this fabric!

I've got six blocks (out of 17) cut, pieces prepared and basted down. All I have to do is find a good movie and sit and stitch, that won't take long at all. My favorite of the blocks so far is one I did for Pam, who submitted a rich navy batik.

I can't wait until June when I'm free to reveal pictures of my blocks, and I'll get to see the blocks others have made for me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Quiet Confession

Shhh! Don't tell Melinda, but I'm finalizing design plans for her president's quilt this month.

(As if I didn't know she reads my blog. Tee hee.)