Declare Victory for yourself!
I was inspired to write today because of a note I received from a student that will be taking one of my machine quilting classes at AQS Quilt Week in Paducah in April. She wrote to mention that her friend is on the waiting list and hopeful to get in. They both have a stack of quilt tops that they really want to learn to machine quilt.
I teach all 3 hour classes at these shows, just enough time for me to give a thorough introduction to machine quilting and for students to stitch what I feel are the most important basics needed to quilt the assigned technique. I pack as much information as I possibly can and the classes are very helpful but they are just a tiny tasty morsel of the big banquet of machine quilting in real life!
When I teach in a 3 hour format, the manufacturer of the machines (that are supplied for the classroom) and I have been working together to make the experience as positive as possible for everyone involved. We work to eliminate any kinks that students could encounter when working on machines other than their own. In order for students of varying skill levels to be successful in such a short time, we focus only on stitching a project that I designed specifically to teach one segment of the machine quilting process. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of these beneficial classes and reach a lot of happy students. But my point is that they haven’t been taught how set up the machines, chose the supplies, and adjust the settings of the machine to work with the thread in order to be successful in 3 hours. I am just concerned that there is so much more that she needs to know to turn that stack of tops into quilts than how to stitch the cute little spirals or grids.
She really needs to learn the thought process that can be applied to any tops, specific to a domestic machine, which differ from preparing to quilt a top by hand or longarm. She needs to start with the purpose of each project and apply that objective when making the supply choices, prepping the fabric, constructing the top and planning the quilting designs. After she meticulously bastes the layers, she needs to know how to handle the big bundle, what to stitch first, last and why and effective finishing techniques. Real life will be so satisfying when she understands all the steps she needs to attain her goal of machine quilting.
I’ve been quilting for 40 years, have been keenly interested in machine quilting for 25 years and have been a successful machine quilter for 15 years. During the 25 to 15 year period, I took the several 3 and 6 hour machine quilting classes but then went home to make dinner and do the laundry, life got in the way and I didn’t make real progress. In Feb of 2000, my life changed when I signed up for three days of machine quilting classes with Diane Gaudynski. The classes were all 3 hours, each teaching a feather or a wreath, each one isolated focus. What was helpful was to repeat the basics over and over, but we never got to applying what we learned to the whole picture. During those three days magic happened for me, I gained the confidence to stitch, but the process of creating the quilts of my dreams evolved over the years.
Because I have been intently thinking about machine quilting for so long, (writing 4 books, designing patterns for classes and distributing my quilting design collections) I now know that my mistakes as a beginner were a result of making assumptions about the machine quilting process based only on my knowledge of using a machine for garments and patchwork. Over the years I encountered many problems until I learned that my old thinking needed to change and I opened my mind to finding the solutions.
The Good News!
The first hurdle for many admirers of machine quilting is that they think they are not ready for this, that it is an advanced skill. But if you consider the point of this blog post, the knowledge you need for machine quilting is unique, it is not dependent on being skilled at patchwork or years of experience in appliqué. This is a stand-alone skill. The GOOD NEWS is, if you want to machine quilt and that is the area of quilting that really intrigues you, the only thing holding you from success might be that you are telling yourself you can’t do it. I believe that the strongest factor in learning something new is DESIRE and I have witnessed that success in so many grateful students.
It has been my wish for several years to bring the 3-day experience to my students and after careful planning, in the Fall of 2015 I offered three sessions of my 3-Day Machine Quilting Skill Building seminar.
In three days I have time to work with each student at whatever skill level they are at, and focus on learning the adjustments needed for the machine they will quilt on at home. With my plan we start at the beginning and build continually for 3 days always going back to how to apply the concept to all of the future quilts you will make. One great benefit is that you bring your own machine, the one you will use at home to complete this task. Learn machine set-up when thinking that you are performing a different task, let your mind be open to using the equipment in different ways. Learn how to adjust the tension of your machine for differing weight threads, the advantages of using different feet for different tasks and many tips and details to make the job manageable. Read the entire synopsis for all three days here.
Why am I so committed to the 3 day experience? Machine Quilting is not any more difficult than learning any other quilting task, you just need the right information, and there is so much more than I can teach you in 3 hours. I have planned our time well, to start at the very beginning and build each step on that foundation. I am offering the seminar in Madison, WI. where I can control costs, so I hope more people can come. (Better still, bring a carload of friends and share a hotel room, prices here are reasonable. Or, if you know a group of dedicated students, I may consider traveling to your area to teach a seminar).
And as the first sessions went out the door they were asking for more. After the learned the training wheel s that they will use every day, they will come back for a reunion to learn at a deeper level to answer their new questions of How do I plan quilting designs to fill the quilts spaces, express my personal style and How to stitch continuously?
So if this resonates with you and you want to take control of your machine quilting life in 2016, I hope I have encouraged you to find the information you need. Sign up for my class if it is possible (or order how-to book or DVD) or find the right opportunity in your area. Attain the satisfaction of achieving this goal by committing yourself to VICTORY!