Last Monday I attended a workshop and it was a great reminder of how much we quilters love to learn new ways to do things. My guild sponsored a daylong class with Moda designer Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles, where she taught us the techniques behind her new Twisted quilt.
Lynne’s reputation as a great teacher preceded her and I was eager to hear about her inventive methods. That’s why I was buffaloed when, in the weeks leading up to the workshop, I heard people say that they decided to pass on the class because they didn’t like the pattern or the fabrics in the sample.
To me, that’s the equivalent of hearing people on TV real estate shows walk into a home and say “I hate the color of the living room.” For Pete’s sakes folks, that’s why paint exists!
And in the case of quilting, that’s why fabric exists, too.
I may never make a quilt with Kansas Troubles fabric, but that doesn’t mean learning Lynne’s layered patchwork techniques isn’t for me. As a matter of fact, the class gave me all sorts of new ideas for ways to use those precuts I just couldn’t resist, but are still sitting on my shelf.
In Twisted, we used Lynne’s Wedge Template to create undulating rows of color from jelly rolls. While several members of the class used Kansas Trouble kits, others chose fabrics with a brighter palette.
One class member used Vanessa Christensen’s Color Theory ombre fabrics, I cut wedges from a OneCanoeTwo Tucker Prairie jelly roll and used a Jen Kingwell Behind the Scenes background, and a third stitched a bright and beautiful top with Jen’s Gardenvale.
Why do I like taking classes? First there’s the sheer luxury of sewing all day—it’s so rare to devote seven or eight hours to my favorite activity. Then there’s the commitment I’ve made of time and money—somehow that usually pushes me to finish what I start. If it doesn’t get done in class, I typically finish it soon thereafter, so I don’t forget what I’ve learned. I’ve never taken a class where I didn’t learn at least one new tip—from teachers and fellow class members alike—that can be applied to multiple projects: this time I learned just how much better and easier to use Sewline’s glue pens are than school glue sticks.
I also love the camaraderie. There’s nothing like bonding over sewing machines and fabric. It’s an environment where friendships blossom.
And finally, I take classes because the more I learn, the more I’ve got in my sewing “tool kit.” I never know when I might pull it out and use it again, to create something that’s uniquely mine, using tricks and tips and techniques I’ve gleaned from others. (One of my favorite examples: as a challenge to herself, a friend of mine stitched a quilt that included a technique from each of the four workshops she’d taken that year.)
So if you think a class isn’t for you, consider stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to possibility. You never know: the techniques you learn may enhance the quilts you love to make, or set you off in a whole new direction.
What class or workshop have you taken that’s made a difference in your quilting life? Tell us about it!