Quilt Project

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quilt It! (Introductory Quilting Series) at Stitch Lab

Anyone who has known or met me in the last year has probably heard me rave about Stitch Lab. It's more than just a locally-owned shop with incredible fabrics. They also offer a variety of craft-based classes with some of the most talented craftsters in Austin, TX. In the last 12 months I have taken Color 101, Screen Printing, Surface Design I and II, and Crochet 101. All of these classes have been incredibly fun and informative, especially since for the better part of the twenty years I have been sewing and crafting I have been self-taught. Taking a class was a new approach to learning for me, but I felt it was time I explore what other craftsters had to say about the making process.

Happily I have not been disappointed with any of my classes, with the exception of Crochet 101. However, I accept full responsibility. The disappointment was not in the class or the instructor, Becky, who is incredible. Instead the disappointment was in myself because the fine technique of crochet was not something I instinctively picked up in the course of three hours. I don't know if it was my pregnant brain, my lack of dexterity with the needles, or trying to doing something with the right hand when I am a tried and true lefty. Nevertheless, Becky still managed to send me on inspired, and I fully intend to learn crochet in my lifetime.

(Mum's quilt, which is using one of three dotted Moda fabrics we selected for the nursery.)

Continuing with the baby-consumed motif that has become my life last Sunday and today my mum and I took a class taught by Hayley called Quilt It! (Introductory Quilting Series). Mum drove up from Houston to learn how to make a baby blanket for her future grandson. Aside from baby-to-be our inspiration for taking the class started back in early November at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. We have attended this beautifully monsterous festival before, but this year the variety and talent of the quilt makers really seemed to inspire both of us. Mum was really drawn to all of the project kits sold by the vendors, and I encountered a quilter who dyes all of her fibers, and in one case even the batting, which was exposed as a part of the final design. Mum had never quilted before, and similarly to most of my stitching experience I had been very DIY and essentially winging it when it came to quilt-based projects.

The goal of Quilt It! is to to learn quilting basics, including the use of a rotary cutter and mat (aka: how to not cut off fingers). The course is divided over two days into four hour intervals. The first class you are introduced to quilting, cut out all of your fabric, and assemble the top of the quilt. Day two is spent sandwiching your quilt together, quilting it, and attaching the binding. In a period of eight hours you almost completely finish a lap quilt perfect for baby. At the end of class all that remains is finishing the binding, which you can slip stitch by hand or machine sew. (Die hard for the hand stitch finish)

This was the first class I had taken with Hayley, and I would take more classes with her if I wasn't getting ready to pop. She is a natural teacher, who explains things easily. She is obviously very knowledgeable about quilting, and over the course of the class you quickly learn she's fiendishly talented with several aspects of craft, including designing her own fabric. (I can say this is a common trend with Stitch Lab instructors. They are amazing at pretty much everything thing they do.) She makes everything seem easy, which can ease the nervous of the anxiety-ridden like my mum.

(My quilt using a Moda 1933 reproduction from the Chloe's Closet series and an assortment of reproductions from a series called Aunt Grace)

The most difficult aspect of the project is probably the binding. She was open to us using pre-package quilt binding or making our own. Having selected some unique colors for our quilts I opted to make our binding, and I am very happy I did. Hayley's demo on how to attach the binding was great. Similarly to every other step of the project she made it seem very easy and even allowed us time to practice working with a small piece of seam binding and scrap of fabric. She had the four of us mitering corners in no time. (I was happy to discover I had been making/attaching binding properly, which is something I had often wondered.)

Overall everyone seemed very happy with the final results. We all used the same pattern but each quilt looked so different because of our fabric choices. As a fabric junkie I was thoroughly impressed with the power fabric has when it comes to the depth and values quilts possess. This class has further intrigued my interest in quilting, and I look forward to learning and experimenting more with what quilting has to offer.