Quiltfest 2013

Yesterday was Saturday!  That meant I got to spend the day at Handmade Adventures.  While there’s always a lot to do in the shop it doesn’t seem as much like work there as it does at home or other places.  Quiltfest was like that, too.  Taking five days of classes was really hard work but a pleasure all the way through.  I tend to theme things, so this year at A Mountain Quiltfest my theme was all about technique.  I decided to learn some new ones and refine some that I thought I knew.  I didn’t come out of any classes with a finished product but I did learn how to learn the technique.  That sentence seems a bit convoluted but these weren’t skills that could be perfected in a 6 hour class, they will all take practice and refinement over time.  What I gained from the classes was a step by step guide of what skills to work on and the confidence that, with practice, I can do it well.


My first class was invisible machine applique.  The concept is to do detailed applique work (such as Baltimore style applique, another intricate technique) on the machine that looks like it was done by hand.  Very fine nylon thread is used with a teeny tiny little blind hem stitch.  The sewing machine really has to be tweaked as far as tensions and stitch sizing to make this work but once you find the sweet spot it really is invisible!  

This was the class I was most nervous about because of my older machine. I have a 1974 Viking Husqvarna 6440.  It is strictly mechanical and I wasn’t sure it had all the stitch capabilities that I would need for five days with Harriet Hargrave.  I shouldn’t have worried.  Ms. Hargrave informed that she developed most of her methods on the exact same machine before she became a Bernina dealer.  I felt very validated in my choice to stick by my sturdy little sewing machine for all these years.

The next class was An Introduction to Quilters Academy.  Ms. Hargrave’s passion lies with machine quilting but over the years she’s realized that poor piecing contributes to poor quilting.  She and her daughter (who is just learning to quilt) are writing a book series called Quilters Academy.  It’s set up like a college course with Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years and now they are working on post graduate level books as well.  Our class got a review of the very basics of piecing the quilt.  The importance of grain line, how to properly press seams, how to get an even seam allowance, these were a few of the skills we relearned as we strived for precision and accuracy in our piecing.  This class was a real eye opener!


Satin Stitch and Buttonhole Applique was Thursday’s class.  I had tried satin stitch before and it was hideously ugly.  I learned that thread choice was key and that I hadn’t been making my stitch length small enough.  I also learned that if I set my machines stitch length to 0 it still moves forward!  I never would have thought to try that outside of Ms. Hargrave’s classroom.  Buttonhole stitch was a little more problematic as my machine doesn’t have a true blanket or buttonhole stitch but I went through the techniques with the most similar stitch I had available and I was pleased with the result.  I’m sure if I ever upgrade my machine I’ll like it even better.

The last class, Heirloom Machine Quilting, was a two day class. It was intense.  We learned about tools, techniques, practice skills, even meditating over the quilt.  At the end of the class Ms. Hargrave asked us to not start any new projects for 6 months.  She wants us to practice machine quilting and refine our skills so that our next new project we’ll feel comfortable quilting ourselves.  She wants us to be “quilters”  not just “toppers”.

Every day I came home from class physically drained from the fast pace.  We had so much to learn in so little time.  But I was exhilarated to have all this knowledge and have a plan for improving these skills with practice.  A tiny part of me is glad Quiltfest is over, I can’t keep up that kind of intensity for too long without crashing.  But most of me is looking forward to next year.  I wonder what A Mountain Quiltfest 2014’s theme will be? If you want to know more or have any questions, please send me a message :misty@handmadeadventures.net.

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