Saturday, November 19, 2016

Foothills guild and Mountain Creek Quilt Shop
partner for Free-motion Quilting workshop

Foothills Quilters having fun in my Intro to Free-motion Quilting class.
What better way to spend a beautiful November day than with a room full of lively, inquisitive quilters... teaching them the how, whats and whys of dropping the feed dogs for free-motion quilting? I had the pleasure this week to do just that—teaching my Introduction to Free-motion Quilting on a domestic sewing machine—with 21 members of the Blount County Foothills Quilters Guild in Maryville, Tennessee.

The quiltmaking experience for the quilters in my class ranged from beginner quiltmakers (with only about a year or two doing patchwork) to more experienced quiltmakers. The motivation for signing up for my full-day workshop varied among the members. Here is a collection of the reasons they shared:

  • Many wanted to learn how to use their domestic sewing machines to both piece and free-motion quilt their projects themselves. 
  • Several indicated they were hand quilters and were beginning to experience arthritis in their hands/fingers. They were searching for other methods to get their quilts finished. 
  • Several were looking for a way to incorporate new, more curvy, and alternate quilting designs into their quilts that the walking foot did not easily accommodate. 
  • Some wanted guidance or ideas on how to choose a quilting design for their quilt tops.
After hearing these quilters tell their varied reasons and motivation for signing up for my Intro to Free-motion Quilting class, I understood why the class filled so quickly—within a couple weeks after the announcement about my class was made at a guild meeting.

In class, everyone pushed themselves out of their comfort zones during the drawing/warm-up step of the FMQ [free-motion quilting] process. We worked with continuous line doodles from right to left rather than the familiar left to right direction.
Warm-ups for free-motion designs with paper and pencil.
Be sure to run out to pick up a new sketchbook! Get the 14" x 17" size or larger. Remember quilters, it's all about the "muscle memory"!
Drawing exercises involved stretching our doodling skills. 
The drawing exercises were then transferred to hands-on free-motion quilting exercises.
Practicing free-motion quilting designs.
In preparing for this workshop, there was a wonderful partnership between the Foothills Guild and a local quilt shop, Mountain Creek Quilt Shop, Greenback, TN. Gwen, the workshop coordinator for the guild and I worked with Terri and Sam at Mountain Creek Quilt Shop to prepare the class kits. This is an ideal collaboration and illustration of mutual support between all the members of our quilting community—quilters, shops and class instructors! Here are the benefits for doing this:

  • Class participants did not have to research and search for the specific materials I (the instructor) request for class. Everything was cut to size, packaged and ready for my students to hit the ground running in class. 
  • For the instructor, I was assured my beginning students would be using quality materials and therefore be more successful, and the learning process be more enjoyable.
  • An introduction to the local quilt shop and its products is made to any new quilters.
  • The quilt shop becomes aware of the products to stock for the new free-motion quilters.
  • The relationship between a local quilt shop, its customers and quilting instructors is strengthened. 

Terri Ayers, shop owner of Mountain Creek Quilt Shop.
As a bonus, each workshop attendee received a sampling of three different battings in her kit—to try and experiment with. Mountain Creek Quilt Shop also treated attendees to a complementary batting swatch book (samples of different lofts and fiber contents) for reference. Thank you again, Terri and Sam at Mountain Creek Quilt Shop, for recommending me and my Intro to FMQ class to the Foothills Guild and for preparing the kits for the workshop.

Workshop Take-aways
In addition to gaining confidence to try free-motion quilting, one of the take-aways that several students underscored was our discussion on needles, threads, thread weights and fiber content. This discussion proved to be very enlightening and informative for the students and I received lots of great questions while covering these topics.
Practice your new free-motion quilting skills on kitty or doggie quilts.
A tip for practicing free-motion quilting we talked about in class is making kitty (or doggie) cuddle quilts. For the students in my class, here are links to information about these quilts. Click here, here and here.
Thank you to the Foothills Quilters for inviting me to teach
Intro to Free-motion Quilting on a domestic machine.
(Shown above are those that stayed to the very end to help me pack up.)
Thanks again to the Foothills Quilters for hosting me and allowing me to share my passion for quilting with you! A special Thank You goes out to Gwen Lloyd, who was my point person for coordinating all the behind-the-scenes prep and planning for my workshop and visit. I hope everyone gained confidence to give FMQ a try and I'll look forward to seeing your FMQ skills take flight!

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