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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

QuiltCon Recap Day Two


I woke up early on Friday morning, Day Two of QuiltCon, already a little exhausted, but I had an early workshop with Lotta. When I heard that Lotta Jansdotter was teaching a class on textile printing I knew I had to sign up. It's no secret that I'm in love with Lotta's aesthetic but there was also a desire to just share the same space with her for just a little while as well. Artistically speaking I can't draw very well so I was hoping that her class would also help me stretch myself a little. And it definitely did. 




During the first part of the class Lotta taught us how to carve our own stamps and we learned the art of fabric stamping. That little voice inside of me that always reminds me that I can't draw immediately had me a little nervous. I started getting in my head (even before the class started if I'm being totally honest) about what shapes I would design and carve and then finally I was able to let go.



I decided to take a cue from the quilt I had in the show and I made a broken triangle stamp. Once I got into the groove I quickly discovered this process was liberating for me in it's simplicity. The same imperfections I am drawn to in hand quilting inspired me here. I love the slightly flawed look of hand printed fabric. I think that's one of the (many) reasons why I'm drawn to Lotta's aesthetic. Even though she has perfected the repeat in her mass-produced fabrics, they retain a handmade quality that I find so pleasing. 



It was so much fun to carve the speedball and play with the fabric inks, seeing where slight blemishes arise and deciding to either fix them or leave them. With some of my speedball leftovers I played around with more random patterns as well. It was so inspiring to see all of the amazing designs that my fellow classmates were creating. 



The second half of the class we learned about stenciling and made our own stencils, then tried printing on some of Lotta's fabrics to see how we could enhance existing prints. I actually came out of the class invigorated and ready to try the process at home. I think I, personally, prefer the block printing because of the more organic, handmade feel but I will definitely be trying both processes at home sometime soon. 





After Lotta's class I had lunch with Liberty, one of my favorite ladies and one of my roommates here at QuiltCon. Oh, how I do adore her. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the first LAMQG retreat I attended last year and our friendship continues to grow. We tried some down-home Austin BBQ and then headed back to check out the vendor hall before she (and a few of our other friends) had to run back to class. 





My afternoon was free, so I explored the booth and the Quilt show in between lectures. I dropped into the panel discussion, moderated by my amazing friend Latifah, on getting published your work in a magazine and another lecture by Angela Walters on Free Motion Quilting, which I found very interesting and funny. Angela is a crackup! Then, lucky me, my name was picked in a drawing and I won an entire set of the Setacolor fabric paints - the same ones we used in Lotta's class. 


After the vendor floor closed for the day I met my old friend Jay for drinks and then dinner, which is always a good time. Then I quickly changed and met him and Matt back at the 80s party, along with many of my other friends. 


Then Jay, Matt and I had a hair brained idea to go out for drinks after and took a pedicab to another part of town, but we didn't like the scene so we god back in another pedicab and called it a night. Good friends, new skills and some surprises made for a great day two.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

QuiltCon Day One Recap


Oh, I don't even know where to begin with documenting the whole QuiltCon experience. I am still basking in the afterglow, and trying to catch up on some sleep. It was amazing and I am already planning for the next one in 2015. I think to do it justice I might have to break my recap up day by day to avoid sensory overload. I also have a plan to share a virtual quilt show for anyone who wasn't able to make it to QuiltCon so everyone is able to experience all the wonderful quilts featured there. 


I flew in on Wednesday night and my flight was delayed so I got in very, very late and didn't get much sleep. I had a plan to wake up early on Thursday morning to get to the show and the vendor floor early, but, instead, I took my time getting there, partially out of fatigue and partially out of a little fear. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a little intimidated walking in on my own, not knowing anyone. 

The pile 'o crap that I accumulated while at QuiltCon. It's a mixture of swag, class materials and new purchases.

First off, upon registering I was presented with an amazing swag bag. I didn't even know where to start. And it was heavy. And I had to tote it around with me, along with my personal bag with my supplies for class all over the vendor floor. I had a couple hours before my first workshop so I headed to the vendor floor to check out some of the booths and the quilt show. 

My quilt hanging in the show.
The vendor floor was small enough for one to easily navigate in a couple hours. Hopefully next time, there will be even more vendors and more interactive booths. I must admit, the first thing I did was search out my quilt in the show. It was one of those pinch me moments and then, true to my nature, I started picking it apart in my head. I need to stop doing that. But, nevertheless, it was exciting to see it hanging with so many amazing quilts. 




My first workshop was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. I started with "Every Last Stitch" with Anna Maria Horner. Since I have a passion for handwork, I thought a hand sewing class with AMH would be perfect. And I would do anything just to be in the same room with her. She is so amazing and gracious. She just exudes loveliness at all times. She started the class by showing us some of her hand work and talking a little about her hand quilting and embroidery theories. 


We were each given a stack of Field Study fat quarters, batting, some gorgeous backing fabric, a needle and a set of AMH's pearle cotton floss - enough material to make a small quilt. All of us in the class decided to make a whole cloth pillow, rather than a pieced project, to practice our hand quilting. She then split us into small groups and circulated the room teaching us her basic hand quilting technique. Initially I thought there might be more stitches practiced and demoed but I wasn't disappointed because I know that I need work to perfect my hand quilting so I get even stitches. 




Sadly, I didn't get as far as actually getting to practice the technique she taught us because I ended up spending too much time chatting. It was awesome to find myself in a class surrounded by some of my online friends that I had never met in person before. I got to sit next to my friend Elaine, who I met through a swaps and is in a couple VQBs with me. We've been chatting for a while now, and even though she lives relatively close to me, we had never met. We totally hit it off and barely stopped talking the whole class. Then, much to my surprise, Courtney, who is also in a VQB with Elaine and I, was also in our class. And even more surprising, there were three Holly(ie)s in the class including my old co-swap mama. Not only did I get to meet old friends, I got to make some new ones. 


After class I met up with some of my good friends Liberty, Liz and Melissa we went back to our hotel to drop off our loot before I went to meet up with another online friend of mine for dinner. The dear, sweet Robyn, who I have known online for a long time, invited me to a wonderful dinner with a lot of fellow bloggers and even some fabric designers. There I finally got to meet Krista, another online friend, who is so kind and talented. Plus, I made some new acquaintances like Rashida, Penny, Monica, Melody, Kristin, Lizzy... the list goes on. 


After dinner a bunch of us from the LAMQG met up in the atrium of our hotel for a good, old-fashioned stitch 'n bitch. We even gained some more friends along the way. But we ended up getting busted around 10:30 PM and were told by security we needed to shut it down. Seriously, I'm running with the bad crowd! ;) So a couple of us moved up to our room for a little more chatting before calling it a night. Jam packed, I say, but not a dull moment.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sew Sew Modern for Mary

My last swap package has been received so now I can officially show it off. In the Sew Sew Modern Swap my secret partner was Mary. I had seen Mary quite a bit in many other swaps so I was familiar with her. Right off the bat I knew from her mosaic and questionnaire that I was going to make her placemats for her table. She requested something that she could use with her mother's casual dish ware. The problem was figuring out how I could merge her modern aesthetic with the more traditional colors and style of her beloved dishes. 


Even Mary admitted in a later discussion on the swap message boards that she didn't have any of the colors featured in the plates in her stash. She actually called out to her partner (me) and said not to worry about coordinating. But who am I to run from a good challenge?

Close-up on the front of a placemat.

I started on a hunt for the perfect fabrics. I wanted a mix of modern and her favorite designers but I wanted to match the muted tones in the dishes. I started out with a little Jay McCarroll. I love his new line, City Center, and I though his Palm Springs print was the perfect base. The speckled in the fabric emulate the speckles in the dish ware. Little did I know, Mary loves this fabric but hasn't found the right project for it. 

Back of a placemat.
Then I started looking at fabrics from two of her favorite designers, AMH and Lotta Jansdotter, and found some beautiful fabrics that matched the muted tones in the FiestaWare. And I made her some simple, ye modern placemats for her table. Six in all, and finished them off with some straight-line stitching. 

Front of the coasters.
Back of the coasters.
Then for her smaller project I made her six matching coasters. I layered the fabrics on top of each other to allow it the bottom fabrics to peek though some of the lighter fabrics. And I finished her package off with some extras, as always. 


I really hope these match her precious dishes well. It was a fun challenge for me and I really wanted to make Mary happy. It's my last big swap for a while. Now, I'm going to focus on me and getting an Etsy shop up and running. I might participate in a swap or two here and there, but I think I'm going to be a little more selective. At least for now so I can focus on making something for myself for a change.