Thursday, February 28, 2013

QuiltCon Day Three Recap

The third day of QuiltCon was just as great as the first two. It was the morning after the 80s Dance Party and there was still residual Eighties paraphernalia lingering about. But today, I had a full-day workshop on Free Motion Quilting on you Home Machine with Elizabeth Hartman. If you know me at all, you probably know that I am a total chicken when it comes to free motion. Yes, I really love the aesthetic that straight-line stitching lends to quilts, but it's not always right for every project. And I am not ashamed to admit that it scares the living daylights out of me. As I mentioned before, I am not confident in my drawing skills and what is free motion if not drawing on quilts with thread. 
Goofing around on the walk to the Convention Center.

I had debated between taking Elizabeth's class and Angela Walters long arm class and at one point considered taking both. But ultimately I decided to try to crawl before I could walk. Plus, I am far more likely to use these skills on my machine at home than rent a long arm right now. I was excited and nervous walking into class. but I loved Elizabeth's teaching style and before long we were working on our own practice quilt sandwiches learning a variety of stitches, starting with stippling. Wanna know the best part? We all got to practice our sewing on brand new Janome Horizon machines!


My friend Jamie happens to be the fastest stippler in the west and I have always admired her skill but I have struggled with the curves. Well, okay, I've only tried free-motion twice before and probably only for two minutes each time before ducking right back into my comfort zone. I realize I can't hone my skills if I don't practice them so this class was the perfect way to force me to do so.


I had two big struggles. First, drawing myself into a corner that I couldn't get out without crossing. And secondly, the occasional sharp point would rear its ugly head. But after a bit I started to ease into it and feel a *little* more comfortable. Elizabeth would circulate the room giving each of us individual attention, support and guidance. It was great having her look over my shoulder and give me pointers along the way.


Occasionally Elizabeth would return to the front of the room and teach us a new design. First we started with the more curvy designs that were natural progressions off of basic stippling. While I was still getting backed into corners and would get a little scared I slowly started to feel more comfortable with some design and more frustrated with others. But then we started the more angular design. 


I'm a straight-line quilter so I thought that the more angular designs would be right up my alley. Boy, was I wrong. I struggled even more with the angular designs and my frustration built. Elizabeth actually come over and told me (and I know I wasn't the only one in class) to go and have a glass of wine at lunch. And she was dead serious. So I met Liberty and Nicole for lunch and had a beer-rita. 

The gorgeous Liberty and our beer-ritas.
Over lunch Liberty gave me a little pep talk to help ease my anxiety. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and tend to be my own worst enemy and during class I was the only one getting into my own way. One of the lessons I learn and re-learn constantly in quilting is to find beauty in the imperfections but I was struggling today. I am so thankful to have such amazing, supportive friends to help give me the kick in the pants I need to try and leave the perfectionist behind and let go. 


After lunch we practiced a little more before Elizabeth handed out fabrics for us to make design sample books. But as soon as I started on my first one I got frustrated again. She suggested that  move back to working on a larger quilt sandwich and practice more because it was easier to work on a larger project than a smaller one. So I made a new large quilt sandwich and continued to practice.


Ultimately I learned a lot from the class. And I am more confident that I was about my free motion skills. It just all comes down to practice, practice, practice. And then more practice. But at least now I am at least confident enough to start attempting free motion quilting on some of my charity quilts to try and master my skills. I'm going to start with stippling and work my way up.


After class, Liberty and I skipped Denyse Schmidt's key note lecture, and took advantage of the nearly empty vendor floor. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get a picture in front of my quilt. I felt weird doing it with people around. In fact, whenever I would walk through the quilt show I would hide my name tag so people couldn't identify me. 

My beautiful friend Jamie in front of the famous Austin "I Love You" graffiti.
A couple of us LAMQG ladies decided to explore South Congress for dinner so Liberty, Liz, Jenny, Jamie and I headed out there and started with drinks at Jenny's hotel where we met up with some of the hardworking QuiltCon organizers. Then we went out for pizza and it was so worth the wait. I have to say, one of the greatest things that happened at QuiltCon was just getting to know some of my guild friends even better. I felt like I really got to know my girlfriends on a deeper level and it was wonderful. Just little things like that made the whole weekend worth it.


  1. I like seeing your QuiltCon recaps Hollie. I admire your courage in trying free-motion quilting. I find your second, third, and fourth designs (elongated waves, circle/spirals, and flowers) appealing and artistic. Not that practice isn't good but perfection has its limitations too....I find quilting that is too precise loses much of its charm because it doesn't look handmade. Addie

  2. You brave, brave girl. The fright of not perfection resonates with me... a lot. Sounds like you were out of your comfort zone and broke a barrier. How good :-)

    1. It actually felt really good to step out of my comfort zone, even though it was also frustrating. Slowly, I'm getting past my need for "perfection".

  3. I'm sorry we didn't get to meet at QuiltCon! I was in class so much of the time, I missed quite a few people :(

    I admire your bravery with the FMQ! Tomorrow is March 1 and I am determined to start learning to do it - no more excuses! As you say, I think practice is the key.

  4. You go!! FMQ was *scary* business for me to venture into, and it took me a while to leave the anxiety behind. It's really cool, though. Because if you don't give up and keep practicing, one day your body just *gets* it and relaxes into it. I still have trouble with some designs. Feathers, in particular refuse to come out of my hands yet. But what I can fmq nicely is growing over time. So don't give up! Just remember to breathe and make your shoulders relax. Having your seat at the right height helps, too, so try messing with that. :D