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The Magic of New Tricks

One of the many things that I love about quilting is that there is always something new to learn. In the last few years alone I have learned new piecing techniques, new patterns, and new free-motion quilting designs, as well learning the best ways to grow a small business. One of the challenges in learning all of these new ideas is deciding where it is best to get that information. I have used Google, Pinterest, and YouTube. My favorite setting, though, is classes that I can attend in person. I generally learn as much from the instructor as from those also attending the class.

The Midwest Machine Quilters (MMQ) group hosts workshops for its members twice a year given by nationally known quilting instructors. According to the MMQ website, the group is "dedicated to the promotion and advancement of machine quilting techniques on both domestic and long arm machines." The spring workshop is held in Grand Island and the fall workshop is held in the Lincoln area, most recently at the Community Center in Waverly.

I attended my first workshop in the fall of 2014 and the instructor was my quilting idol -- did you know there was such a thing? -- Angela Walters . She is an author, professional long arm quilter, an entertaining instructor, and owner of a brick-and-mortar store in Liberty, Missouri. And, yes, I have been there! She showed us how to machine quilt modern quilts with her fabulous designs that are so doable and look awesome on a quilt. She also gave us ideas on quilting the negative space on a quilt. Her designs are my go-to when I'm deciding how to finish a quilt.

In the spring of 2015, I traveled to GI to attend a workshop given by Sue Heinz of Kismet Quilting in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Sue helped us master some basic fillers with a twist, such as pebbles, continuous curves, and clamshells. She also demonstrated her new ruler called the Circle-Liner and the accompanying book, "Fill Harmonics". I, of course, came home with both the ruler and the book and have had a lot of fun adding these designs to my quilts. I have used the Tsunami design on a Triple Irish Chain quilt and the Mimsy design on a cute baby quilt.

Jodi Robinson was the speaker for the Fall 2015 workshop. She is the author of four books and lives in Western Pennsylvania. Her session was entitled Panto-less Allover Quilting, a technique which creates an all over flowing design that moves across the quilt with interlocking patterns. She had a novel idea to use a staff writer with chalk -- remember the tool that your music teacher used to make a staff on the chalk board when you were in elementary school -- to mark wavy lines on the quilt to use as guides for your quilting pattern.

The Fall workshop in 2016 featured a dynamic quilter from Carmel, Indiana -- Cathy Franks. She covered a lot of basic quilting ideas from supplies, sandwiching the quilt, how to wash a quilt, and binding. She also taught us about thread painting and a fun technique that she calls Flash and Trash. The results when using these techniques are truly amazing and add another dimension to the quilt top.

Cindy Roth of Longarm University in Seattle, Washington was MMQ's most recent speaker. In the morning session she taught the group how to easily do continuous curves -- a design that I love to use but now have some other ideas to add to it. In the afternoon she talked about things to consider when you are deciding what to quilt on a particular top, such as who is the quilt for, how will it be used, and what type of batting, backing, and thread to use. Throughout the day she also gave us lots of useful information on quilting for customers.

I always enjoy spending a day with people who share my passion for quilting. If you would be interested in joining us for the spring meeting, just let me know and I'll point you in the right direction to get signed up. The next meeting will be April 7, 2018 in Waverly.

The moral of this blog is that you can teach an old dog -- ME!! -- new tricks. Just find a topic of interest and a venue in which you can learn and then soak it all in. It sure makes getting up in the morning an exciting adventure every day!

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