Taking a workshop that’s “not my style”

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Lynne showing us her Twisted quilt.

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.

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The quilt Lynne made to celebrate ten years as Moda designer. She’s currently in her 17th year.

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.

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Lynne likes brights, too! She demoed her Wedge ruler technique with Me and My Sister fabrics, which she said her granddaughters especially love.

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.

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These seemingly intricate quilts use precuts and Lynne’s Layered Patchwork techniques.

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.

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Tucker Prairie, a gorgeous blue Grunge, and Jen Kingwell’s Behind the Scenes were my fabric choices.

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Lynne’s Wedge template made quick work of cutting my Tucker Prairie jelly roll.

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.

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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.

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I also love the camaraderie. There’s nothing like bonding over sewing machines and fabric. It’s an environment where friendships blossom.

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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!

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26 comments on “Taking a workshop that’s “not my style”

  1. eggits says:

    Love your enthusiasm for Lynn of Kansas Troubles – you presented the facts! Some do NOT like darker fabrics – BUT the new ideas far surpassed those preconceived ideas! Lynn is an innovator! Recently I too listened to the “I would not like that color…” and now for heaven sake – just change it!!!

    • eggits says:

      Just an added note – was it Lynn H. who started the “pre-cut” trend???

      • Linzee McCray says:

        No, but she told us a story in class about why she got so interested in precuts. Lynne was asked to teach on a quilting cruise, which she thought was great until the cruise operator told her to cut fabric for 75 quilts! She had some precuts and thought “There must be a way to make this easier.” Not everyone could have figured it out, certainly, but Lynne has a unique way of looking at things and she came up with her Layered Patchwork technique. She is so darned clever!

  2. Donna says:

    Like all your posts, this one resonated with me. If we just keep repeating same old things over and over, it’s being stuck in a rut. Classes get us moving, energized and inspired. That wedge riuler sure looks intriguing. Also I need to adopt your habit of finishing a project shortly after a class. Yikes! It’s so easy to forget.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      You and I are definitely on the same page, Donna! (And to be honest, my Twisted top isn’t quite finished…but it will be by the end of the weekend!)

  3. Susan says:

    It’s true that we gravitate toward things we love. Earlier this year, I took some mini quilt workshops. Now, I love small pieces but these were done with solid fabrics and were modern. I would never choose all solids or a modern pattern but it was great fun and the quilts were awesome! It made me look at my projects much differently than before.its a great learning experience!

    • Linzee McCray says:

      What a great story, Susan, and a perfect example of how expanding your horizons can affect your quiltmaking!

  4. Carolyn Sands says:

    I took a hand piecing class from Jen Kingwell several years ago. Yowzers, way different than machine piecing. My main take away was how you can prep a huge project and it can be totally portable and be worked on anywhere anytime

  5. Gene Black says:

    Ha ha…. people amaze me when they say things like that. (“I don’t like those colors”) When if you are making it, you can make it in colors you do love.
    However this is a good lesson for pattern designers – show your pattern in several types of fabric: repros, batiks, solids, and cute patterns. Some people can’t imagine it for themselves. (These are the same people who need to know where they can buy the exact same fabric -to make that quilt)

    • Linzee McCray says:

      You’re right, Gene. I love it when pattern designers and magazines show patterns made in alternate fabrics.

  6. Michelle says:

    How do I find out what workshops or classes are happening near me?

    • Linzee McCray says:

      Hi Michelle: Local quilt shops are a great place to take classes and sometimes bring in nationally known teachers. Quilt guilds offer workshops (that’s where I took mine), too. And if there’s a specific teacher you’re interested in, check her or his website…most post their teaching schedules there and you might find a class near you.

  7. Chris says:

    I took Lynne Hagmeier’s class at CraftU this winter. I actually love her fabrics and colors and was interested in the idea of layered patchwork. I got ideas, I made a project and I found out it’s more work that I expected it would be, but what fun. I loved the idea of taking the class online because it fit my schedule but someday I’d love to take a class “live” and spend a day stitching with other quilters. One for the Bucket List.

    • Linzee McCray says:

      I’ve taken online classes through Creativebug and Craftsy and sometimes they’re just perfect, especially because you can pause them and repeat the tricky parts! But there’s really nothing like hanging with other quilters. Hope you get to take one someday.

  8. Kaholly says:

    I love learning new things! Excellent post!

  9. Penny Holliday says:

    I so agree w/ your post! I love taking classes especially beyond my comfort level ~ I’ve unexpectedly & happily learned so much!

  10. That does look like fun!! And your colors are great!

  11. Great way to think about classes. Thanks for that. I usually don’t take classes, but maybe I should in the future to grow my skills.

  12. Pat says:

    I totally agree with you. I have had the privilege of taking classes from some very “famous” quilters and have learned something in every class…I deliberately try to take an occasional class that isn’t my “norm” and always learn from them, too. I love the sisterhood of quilters and it just doesn’t get better than a day spent with them! The last class I took that was not my usual choice was with Karen Stone and it was wonderful.

  13. I took a workshop yesterday that would not have been a quilt that I would have normally made. It was fun and easy and looking forward to finishing!

  14. My first class was a paper piecing workshop with Carol Doak and it was so good – to this day, I love to paper piece. I find that I always pick up at least one tip that makes the whole class worth the price. I took a class just yesterday and learned how and why you might want to use fusible batting (and not for a purse) – it was a great day!

  15. amq97 says:

    Great post! Great reminder. My favorite two-day class was with Becky Goldsmith through a local guild. Great teacher because she was able to show us what to do when things went wrong, why they went wrong and how to correct them. Her camera set up was such that it was as if we were standing behind her; even though 50 of us were seated at tables in front of her. Pretty nifty!! We learned to paper piece the first day and learned applique the second day. Allison in Plano, Texas

  16. Mama Pris Phillips says:

    A few years ago we had just moved to Northern Idaho, and I was lonely. I asked God for a friend. I was at Home Depot with hubby and a woman was buying a lovely wooden rocking chair. I asked where she planned to use it… front porch, perhaps? She sheepishly admitted it was going to be the “display rack” for her latest quilt! Well that led to a longer conversation that led to me signing up for a once a month, year long class at the local quilt shop that this gal was taking! While we did not become close friends, I thoroughly enjoyed that Beyond Basics class and I grew from a beginner to a Confident Intermediate quilter! I still use many of the techniques I learned in that class! Now to get those 12 blocks sashed and the quilt finished! Haha!

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