Tuesday, November 25, 2008

another quilt workshop

On Saturday, I attended a workshop with Joyce Becker. She is an internationally known quilter and author of quite a few quilt books. You can check out her gallery of quilts here. She does fantastic landscape quilts and her stitching on top of the quilts is not something to be missed. She really brings her pieces to life with all the embroidery she does on them. She writes in one of her books about using dryer lint (yes, that is what I said) for mountains and highlights. She couches it down and she makes it work. She collects it from her friends when they have lint in interesting colors. She brought a piece on Saturday that she had even sewn sand down on. She said she broke a lot of needles doing that. There are few things that make me angrier than breaking a needle when sewing, so I doubt that is something I'll use, but now that I know it can be done... the possibilities are endless. It was a great workshop. I had to think beyond how I normally piece my work. I usually have a pretty good idea of what something is going to look like before I ever start, but she brought 2 pieces of landscape fabric and it was our job to combine them. We had to fussy cut (for those of you who are non quilters that means cutting specific parts out) which is something I almost NEVER do in order to bring the pieces together. I'm happy with what I came out with, though I still don't really see myself doing landscapes. I now know how to think about them and what to look for in fabrics if I decide I need to do one in a quilt. I also learned how to use tulle and organza for shading. If you look at the picture above, the trees in the distance came from the same fabric as the fabric in the foreground, but by attaching tulle over them it makes them look less crisp and further away. I've tried to use it before, but I've not had much luck and I still haven't sewn it all together but I feel a little more confident about it now that I have had someone explain to me HOW to do it. I was going about it all wrong. The best part of the workshop - well there were a few best parts for me, but I love that we all started out with the same two landscape fabrics, yet most of them look very different and how each person decided to cut them up and use them. I love that about quilting. You can all use the same fabric and you can try to cut it up the same, but they still never look exactly the same. Every quilt is unique. The other best part for me, is being fired up about sewing more so than usual. I'm determined to carve out more time to quilt in my hectic schedule. I've always focused on having large bits of time to quilt (like 3 or 4 hours), I'm going to work on being satisfied with 30 - 40 minutes at a time and squeeze it in more often. I need to learn to let that keep my thirst quenched so I don't get bitter about not having the large blocks of time I want since those are few and far between these days. Those 30-40 minutes add up into 3 and 4 hours and it is amazing when I know I've got to squeeze it in what I can accomplish. Quilting is my meditation, my nerve tonic, the thing in my life that brings me the most peace. I have really realized after the workshop how easily I let it slip into the background when we are busy, but I'm re-energized and for now my focus is clear again!

Lastly, Joyce talked about our failures and how much we can learn from them. We really learn more through failing at something than we learn by succeeding. I really like this because learning something new can be daunting and each new piece can be a challenge. When she talked about failing on Saturday, I was reminded that 2 of the quilts I have made that I most love I failed at the first time I made them, but when I got over the being disappointed in how they looked and remade them the outcome was stupendous and I learned what not to do and how to do it better the second time around. Each quilt for me is a journey into another quilt. With every quilt I make I learn something new to me that I can carry into the next one and make the next one better than the previous. I love the journey of learning and I love the idea of giving myself permission to fail at something knowing that good will come out of it.

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