I spent last week in the greater Brisbane area attending a weaving workshop taught by Kay Faulkner, who is both an expert weaver and an expert teacher.
Over five days our group of four students learned the theory and practice of huck, spot Bronson, Bronson and Swedish lace using beautiful 18/2 Swedish linen.
Kay had warped the looms for us in advance and we rotated between them to make our class samples.
I enjoyed having the opportunity to compare an eight shaft jack loom and an eight shaft Glimåkra countermarche loom. The pressure was on though, as we had five days to make our samples and almost all of the information was new to me. Kay provided correction and guidance on technique. Apparently there is no need for a temple or stretcher when your shuttle technique is correct. All I can say is that my selvages improved over the five days.
Sadly for me every sample I completed had at least one mistake in it, the worst sample being the first I attempted and the one I named The Spot Bronson of Shame. That sample was the first on my steep learning curve and I came away from the course a more informed weaver with a thirst for more learning and more time at the loom.
I would recommend Kay’s workshops to anyone wanting to intensively focus on developing their skills, especially if you have some weaving experience and your goal is technical mastery.
I attended the Australian Quilters’ Association 2012 Symposium yesterday where I joined the Georgetown Circles class.
I’d love to show you a picture of our tutor’s demonstration quilt but when I took my camera out the tutor told me that my picture was to be for personal use only. That’s her call to make. I can only conclude she doesn’t want to sell too many of her patterns online.
This year I was better equipped for a class as my new Singer is a lot more portable than my old Husqvarna. I can carry the Singer with one arm. To make transport even easier I picked up a padded sewing machine carry bag with handles and a long zipper for only $20 plus tax at Wm. C. Jackson & Company on Victoria Parade just outside Melbourne’s central business district. They mostly cater to the rag trade but were willing to take my money anyway. While you can’t browse the stock, this place compares really well to retail sewing supply outlets for their wide selection of merchandise and for low prices. Now that I’ve found them, they would be my first stop for sewing machine supplies and parts, especially if I happened to have an industrial machine. They also stock tools like rotary cutters and scissors.
Perforating the Freezer Paper
We leaned foundation piecing using freezer paper in the Georgetown Circles class. First step was to transfer the markings by stapling the layers of freezer paper under the pattern template and sewing through the whole lot to perforate the freezer paper on the sewing and cutting lines. Great technique, though I did hear some grumbles from the ladies who had put fresh needles in their machines in preparation for the class.
We make Templastic templates as references for fabric cutting. The technique was easy to learn, though the instructor could have made her job a bit more fun by calling the group together from time to time to demonstrate the next step. Instead she worked the room, walking people through the method as each person was ready for that step. While it was nice to have the tutor’s undivided attention for that moment, I had the impression it tired her out a bit.
I chose a bold, masculine palette for my block, with the goal of gifting it as a wall hanging for a male family friend who turns 70 next year. My neighbour in the class had also had the idea to make a medallion style quilt. As neither of us had brought enough freezer paper we paired up and shared templates.
Still need to fill in the Middle and add more Circles
Here’s where I got to. I am pleased with the result. Seems the tutor didn’t particularly care for my colour choices. At the end of the class she came by, gave my finished work a long look, and walked on by. A ‘good effort’ or a ‘hope you enjoyed the class’ would have been a friendly way to end the day. Call me paranoid, but I wasn’t feeling the love in that moment.
The Australian Quilters’ Association have published the details of their annual symposium in Melbourne. I still haven’t joined the association, even though they seem like a fine group of people, because I don’t have the time to be an active member. When I stop working full time that might be an option, but for now I’m happy to squeeze my sewing in whenever I can, be it before work or at weekends.
After my experience at their symposium two years ago I jumped at the opportunity to attend again this year. The classes they’re offering are completely different from two years ago. This time I’ve enrolled in Michelle Yeo’s Georgetown Circles class. The Georgetown Circle block has some similarities to the Mariner’s Compass and I expect that we will learn some paper piecing techniques. The supplies list also called for freezer paper, which I have never used, but which I have read about in applique books.
I’m counting down until September and have selected some fabrics. My sister-in-law gave me some cuts of quilting fabric as a birthday gift a couple of years ago. They’re bold, somewhat masculine colours and I’ve been waiting for the right project to come along for them. I believe the class will be that project. Hopefully the block will be good enough to make into a wall hanging or a cushion cover, but we’ll see.
I found a wonderful Georgetown Circles quilt on Flickr which can serve as my inspiration.
Symposium – that sounds so grand. I can hardly wait.
The Council of Adult Education in Melbourne’s CBD offers an introductory course in pattern making, covering a range of professional pattern making techniques. I’ve signed up and I can’t wait to start.
I chose the CAE because they offer pattern making as a two day intensive, running on consecutive Saturdays. The CAE course guide promised that we would get to make a basic skirt, slacks and bodice blocks to our own measurements, make patterns for various skirt silhouettes, learn various style tops (they weren’t very specific on this) and how to alter a block to suit various figure types.
In order to prepare, I went to the library and borrowed Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear by Winifred Aldrich. I’m not particularly interested in sewing menswear but I figured the basic principles would be the same. Besides, it was the only related book that wasn’t out on loan at the time. Pattern making books are hard to find at the library and expensive to buy at the bookshop, it seems.
I visited RMIT University’s bookshop to check out the pattern making and tailoring books there and subsequently placed an order on Amazon for How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns by Lee Hollahan. I feel guilty whenever I preview a book at a physical bookstore and then buy it on line, but the price differential is so great that I simply couldn’t own the books I want any other way. To put that comment in context, we’re talking about as much as double the price from a bricks and mortar store. Book distribution in this county is very messed up.
I’m counting the days to my book order arriving and will post an update after the class starts. I’ve just got back from vacation so am glad to have something new to anticipate.
The AQA Convention on 18 & 19 September 2010 was a fine example of organisation. The organising committee had left nothing to chance and the event was really impressive. I attended the Saturday class lead by Margaret McDonald which was also excellent.
On arrival at the registration desk we were given gifts of a pair of snips and an AQA coffee mug. The coffee mug came in handy at morning and afternoon tea where we were able to be environmentally responsible. We had even been encouraged to write our names on our mugs with a non-permanent marker pen so they wouldn’t get mixed up. The organisers left nothing to chance! And let me tell you, those ladies can bake as well as quilt. Special mention goes to the whoever who baked the mini cheese scones, which were delicious.
At lunch and morning tea we were treated to door prizes and I was thrilled when my name was called and I unwrapped a beautifully crafted drawstring bag.
Margaret McDonald Discusses Methods for Perfecting Circles
Margaret McDonald was an excellent tutor and I would recommend taking the perfecting circles class that I attended. She gave us her Moonbeams quilt pattern to use but stressed throughout that this was a technique class and that we would not have a big output. That was quite correct, especially for someone like me for whom many of the methods were new. What I liked about Margaret was her repetition of key concepts to make sure we understood them, that she encouraged us to try different methods and tools (including borrowing hers) and her encouragement for the students.
Spiral In Construction
I managed to complete (well almost) a reverse applique circle and about 80% of a big spiral.
I was easily the least experienced quilter in the group and found myself repeatedly putting up my hand in response to questions like, “Who has never used Pellon before?” or “Who has never done foundation piecing?” I just had to remind myself that I was there to learn. One saving grace was that I do at least have a fair amount of sewing experience. That spiral was a bit tricky.
Oh, and my sewing machine was easily the oldest in the room, probably by about 20 years. And the heaviest to carry, I’m sure.