One of the many things that I love about quilting is that there is always something new to learn. When I began my teaching career many, many years ago I remember thinking that I just couldn’t wait until I knew it all. I thought it would make my school days so much easier. It wasn’t too long before I realized that learning something new actually made my work more exciting. So in my second “career” I am constantly looking for ways to learn new techniques and improve my skills.
Last fall I took advantage of two opportunities from which to learn some new machine quilting techniques. The first was the Midwest Machine Quilter’s fall meeting in September that featured Dorie Hruska as the guest speaker. The second was a two-day event in October at Country Traditions in Fremont. They hosted a Long Arm Quilting Retreat with Handi-Quilter educator Debby Brown.
I have enjoyed several MMQ meetings since I began my adventure with long arm quilting. The nationally known speakers are always top notch and I leave with tons of ideas for new designs and tips on how to stitch them. Last fall we learned from Dorie Hruska, a quilter, author and educator from Highlandville, Missouri. You can find her on social media sites under Forever Quilting. She did two sessions entitled Finding Your Path and Crosshatching Extravaganza.
The Find Your Path class focused on stitching continuous curves - a technique that I often use in my quilts because it is primarily accomplished with just one start and one stop. In addition it is fun to do and is a simple design that has a big impact on a quilt. The Crosshatching Extravaganza class also featured a technique with which I was familiar. In both of these classes she offered several variations that would add even more interest to the blocks.
Country Traditions has hosted a Long Arm Retreat every October since well before I owned my long arm but I had always been too busy to attend. I’m not sure why I thought I had time this fall with a trip to Minnesota, an honor band in Dubuque, and two family weddings, but I signed up anyway! I was hoping to learn some new skills, make some new quilting friends, as well as reaffirm some of the things that I already do. I was not disappointed!
Debby Brown, the educator from Handi-Quilter, is from upstate New York and was quite entertaining. She kept us in “stitches” in more ways than one! Her sessions on Friday were entitled Quilting Borders, Blocks, and Backgrounds and Micro-Quilting. The designs that she showed us again gave me some variations on ideas that I have used before. The best part of this retreat was that we were able to try out these designs on a Handi-Quilter long arm and not wait until we got home.
Debby’s sessions on Saturday included Feathers, Feathers, Feathers and Curvy Rulers Ahead. I missed a portion of the morning session as Melissa had the final dress fitting for her wedding but my new quilting friends, as well as the instructor, were helpful in getting me caught up during the breaks. I was excited to learn how to measure borders to fit a feather design evenly and how to make them work around corners (usually a fairly tricky design that can look like a mess if not done correctly)! I also learned a new way of stitching feathers that I was able to do on a customer quilt this fall. I loved the way this border turned out!!
In the class on rulers Debby showed us several new Handi-Quilter products to make our designs even more fun. I was particularly excited to see how she used arc rulers as I have a set of those that I have only used occasionally. She also showed us a couple of circle rulers - one of which I was lucky enough to win in a drawing and another that I purchased that day at Country Traditions. Now I just need some time to experiment (aka play!!) with these new toys!
While these three days filled my head with new designs to try I was also thrilled to make new quilting friends as well as learn about new products to make my quilting more efficient and fun to do. Now I am looking forward to more educational opportunities in 2020! After all - what could be better than spending a whole day thinking about quilting!