Monday, 20 September 2010

Learning curve

On Saturday I held a beginners' workshop for our local group, Piecemakers. Eight people signed up and I decided we would make some simple blocks from 'Nickel Quilts' by Charlene Speth and Pat Thode, and learn about cutting, seam allowance, pressing, 'nestling', making six patches, half square triangles and hourglasses. Quite a lot to cover in a day, but everyone was really up for it.

Alison and Liz are busy sewing, and Pauline is cutting more squares.

Margaret isn't really despondent here, she's just listening intently to Betty's explanation!
We took it slowly and there were tangible results by the end of the session. Everyone was confident with the techniques, had made all three different blocks and was raring to get home and make more.
The other result was the amount everyone had learned. Several people had 'jumped into' patchwork, and didn't really understand the basics about constructing blocks, and there were lovely coments about how much they had learned in the day. Thank you for being so generous! When I say that everyone had learned something, I obviously include myself in that group. The first thing I learned was how to work with stripes. Jane had used this lovely pink striped fabric for her half square triangles, but was unhappy that the stripes were going in different ways.

To be honest, it's never bothered me, but she was not happy. She put her thinking cap on and realised that if you made two sets of half square triangles at the same time, you could swap the components over and have one pair with horizontal stripes and one with vertical! How clever is that!

I also learned from Alison about how useful selvedges can be. She had take the selvedge off a piece of fabric whose colours particularly appealed and stuck it in her notebook for future reference while shopping. Great idea!

The other thing I learned (sorry I didn't know it before, Rosemary) was to check that people with new sewing machines are sewing an accurate quarter inch seam. Poor Rosemary had made a couple of blocks and they were turning out a little small. I advised her not to push her fabric right up to the foot, as sometimes it bunches up and you end up with too big a seam. She followed this advice, but her blocks were still too small. I measured the ditance between the needle and the foot, and it was more like three eighths! No wonder her blocks were too small! We discovered that the needle was in the zigzag position, so was not central, and once that was sorted, all was well.

The ladies were all keen to have another session to layer up and finish their quilts, so I'm looking into finding a venue for this. Who was it that said you're busier in retirement than when you went to work?!


Susan said...

And just think of the Joy of Quilting that you have given to others. Hope you will continue to Spread the Joy.

Sew Create It - Jane said...

Sounds like a busy day :o)

Julie in the Barn said...

I am always humbled to learn something new after quilting for 30 years. I never took a beginners class. I always recommend one to new quilters now after struggling to teach myself for so long. Good job, Lynda