Over the weekend, I had the incredible pleasure of attending Quilt Con 2016 in Pasadena, CA. I haven’t traveled alone since before my little guys came along … but knowing that they were safe and thrilled to be having a manly weekend with dad, I was determined to completely immerse myself in nothing but quilts for 3 days straight!
I attended some fantastic lectures by the likes of Libs Elliott, Mary Fons, and Victoria Findlay Wolf, crammed in five different classes, and saw some seriously stunning quilts! My brain is so full of new inspiration right now, but I wanted to make sure that I took some time to reflect on my new skills before I start to forget!
I’ve always love the possibilities and precision that comes with English Paper Piecing, but I didn’t try it until after Aiden was born … and let’s be honest: sleep deprivation and constantly having to keep one eye on a mischievous little climber do not make good bedfellows with precise handwork.
This class with Johanna Masko reminded me how much I actually enjoy the process! Now that the weather is warming up and I’m ready to take a break from knitting, I can see EPP becoming my new favorite evening handwork. Some lessons learned:
- Freezer paper hexies beat the pants off of carstock templates … two layers of freezer paper is even better … getting home and cutting freezer paper with my Hexie Punch rather than having to hand cut templates is sublime.
- Loose stitches are our friends … resist that urge to yank the thread between stitches!
- Being so close to your work, it’s easy to find errors and be frustrated with the “visibility” of your stitches. Hold it at arms length, or even a few feet away, and those problems just disappear.
One sewing technique I’ve never been crazy about has been paper piecing. Don’t get me wrong: I love the precision, but all the flipping, turning, tearing, and fabric waste is just irritating.
Obviously I was intrigued by Cristy’s class, and it lived up to its promise! Using a combination of freezer paper (seriously, this stuff is so great!), heavy starch, and glue basting, it is ridiculously easy to achieve the same precision as traditional paper piecing, without all the irritation!
I am so excited to keep practicing at home, especially since I have a few new designs that NEED this technique!
I have to be honest here. My 8 hour Castle Treasury quilt class with Lizzy House fell a bit flat. The main reason I chose an 8 hour class was to treat myself to some uninterrupted sewing and creating time – something I can’t seem to find at home. Unfortunately, only less than an hour or so was spent at the machine!
Sure, it was fun to chat about color and print values, but a lot of time was wasted on “prepping” – information that could have been covered in a much clearer, concise way, and in a fraction of the time with a handout that had been prepared ahead of time. The majority of the class was spent hunched over folding tables, jockeying for space and irons … cutting fabric. It just would have been so much nicer to have received the pattern and information on fabric choice ahead of time, so those (like me) that would have wanted to prep at home could jump right into sewing, while those that needed the extra help and information about fabric choice could choose to wait.
I think the worst part is that I went into the class so in love with my prints from the Tucker Prairie and Canyon collections … I came out of class with an Easter Egg. Not sure I’m going to devote any more time to cutting (yes, there’s still more …) and piecing the rest of the quilt. Sigh.
One class that exceeded expectations was Y Seams with Libs Elliott. This lady is seriously cool! She uses a computer code called Processing to help generate random quilt blocks. Once she’s edited them to her satisfaction, she recreates them with fabric.
Happily, Libs sent us our cutting instructions in advance, so we could show right up to class and start sewing our Weight of Love quilts. Aiden is so into geometric shapes right now, that I promised that this quilt would be his. He wanted it in yellow … of course … but since yellow and I aren’t really friends, we compromised with a yellow-green, set against mint, aqua, and navy prints, all from Cotton + Steel collections.
I’m seriously crushing on this quilt and am dying to get past a few deadlines this week so that I can get back to work. As an added bonus … those pesky y-seams that I avoided like the plague are really not that big of a deal … really. Some lessons learned:
- Press seams within the hexie blocks open, but allow the fabric to dictate which way the seems should be pressed when attaching rows.
- Get really good at starting and ending your stitches ¼” away from the edge.
- When connecting two blocks with a Y seam, start with the unattached edges first, and sew towards the Y seam.
As if the previous four courses weren’t enough, I had the last minute chance to add a Curves class with Janice Ryan, and I wasn’t disappointed! She put together this fantastic little sampler that had us practicing all manner of curves, and most importantly … it got us sewing almost immediately!
As with the y-seams, I typically stayed away from blocks with curves because, in my mind, they were icky. Guess what! They’re really not. They do take some careful cutting, lots of pins, and a tiny bit of fussy alignment … but the resulting blocks are totally worth it! Totally!!!
The one thing I need to remember about these babies is that, “slow and steady wins the race.” These are not speed projects … but the results are totally worth the time and effort. You can be sure that these might be sneaking into future designs too!
Last, but not least, in this mile-long post, a few notes from a first-timer … mostly to keep these thoughts fresh in my head when I register for next year …
5 classes? Too many.
First off, carrying all the different tools and fabric was exhausting and heavy. Next time, unless there is a speaker that I’m dying to hear or a technique I won’t be able to get somewhere else, maybe only one or two … maybe.
I only made it to three lectures, but they were great. I missed a ton thanks to all my classes. Next year, I think I’m just going to stick with lectures only. They’re long enough to present valuable information, but short enough that you won’t feel like you’re wasting time if the topic isn’t for you. Plus, there’s a nice little cushion in between talks, so you can check out vendors and the show in smaller doses.
Quilt Show? Inspiring.
Instead of just wandering through the quilt show once, I tried to make a point to visit at least once a day. It was great discovering gems that I missed the first and even second trips through, and getting to meet some of the artists was fantastic.
Cute Shoes? Forget it!
It was only a few blocks from my hotel to the convention center, but after my first round trip, I quickly threw over my flats for my wool socks and running shoes. In 2018, I’m booking at the Sheraton for sure! It’s right next door …
Thanks so much for stopping by so I could share my Quilt Con adventures. I’ll be back later this week to share shots of some of my favorite quilts from the show. Oh, and don’t forget! The first post in our Beguiling Mystery Quilt is coming on Friday – yay!! More information here …