Saturday, November 14, 2009

Classes at Phat Quarters

Main Street in Galena, IL this week was beautiful, a step back in time but had shops and restaurants that were cutting edge, a nice contrast in old and new. I stayed at the beautiful DeSoto House Hotel, built in 1855, and that too was a step back in time. The rooms had very high ceilings and period decor, but yet were simple and comfy. I slept well, and left my cares at the door.

Classes at Phat Quarters Quilt Shop, just around the corner from the huge hotel, and across from the post office, the oldest functioning one in the country, went very well. It was a full house, students squeezed themselves in, but stayed cheerful and eager to learn some free motion skills. Beginners went from nervous to confident and at least to me seemed to have a good time and relax and enjoy machine quilting. I think everyone improved, and the results were very gratifying.

So much was covered in 2 1/2 days of class, and I think it's a great start to getting some of those stacks of quilt tops finished, by yourself, not by another quilter. With a few basic designs, knowledge to adjust the machine stitch so it looks perfect, having even, consistent stitches, and the right thread color and weight, success is right around the corner.

Jane, the owner, treated me one night to fabulous thin crust pizza at a little Italian restaurant down a few blocks from the hotel. It was heaven. I think I ummmmmed out loud there for a moment at my first bite!

There were quilters from out of the area who flew in for the classes and met some midwesterners on their turf. The weather was lovely, warm for November and no rain or snow. This little town is one of the prettiest historic locations, so if you plan on coming, take some time for the shops, historic tours, and restaurants, plus of course the great quilt shop.

I learned some new things from my students and demos that I did on the amazing Bernina 730, and hope to get some new samples made for future classes.

Below, the post office and behind it is where the quilt shop is, the back of my hotel to the right. The town is built on river bluffs, and you can see the very very steep steps carved into the rock hill that go straight up to High St. behind Main. No, I did not climb them! Below that, more photos of the DeSoto House Hotel. Many Civil War figures played their role in Galena's history and stayed at the hotel, including Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, and you can tour Ulysses S. Grant's home.

More tips on my website as soon as my old laptop can crank itself up, and more info on this blog soon. I have many new tips after working with students in class, fielding questions, and explaining things that I do in my quilting.
My best advice is to work on a real top. Try something not too huge for starters, perhaps a small lap quilt, baby quilt, large wall quilt so you don't feel overwhelmed. Then stabilize it with ditch quilting first, break it down into areas to be quilted, work from the outside in when possible, and do the smallest scale quilting last.
Don't jump around between techniques, but try and do the same styles of quilting and then switch to a different one. For example, quilt all the feathers, then add the pearls in the spines. Then do the backgrounds. This really helps build skill.
Take breaks. Re-boot that mental computer you are using, and don't think you are chained to that sewing machine. Machine quilting takes intense focus and concentration even if it looks very easy when you watch it being done.
Strive for quality, not just speed in machine quilting. Be careful with stops and starts and loose threads. Do your best. You will be happier and your quilt will show your effort.
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day.


YankeeQuilter said...

This week I am determined to sit down and make another try at machine quilting. I have small project picked out, a machine just back from its annual check-up, and a lot of coffee and cookies.

Diane Gaudynski said...

YankeeQuilter - go for it! Try to stay relaxed, try something small, warm up first and check your thread color, tension, everything, and then get going on a quilt.

Start with a technique or design where you are fairly adept, you don't have to be expert, but at least feel comfortable with it. Take breaks, go slowly, treat this as your final artistic touch on your own quilt. Good luck!

Elsie Campbell said...

I loved my time in Galena, too. Love, love, love the historical and restored homes and Main Street. Jane treated me like a queen, and I included some of my stay in Galena in my blog, too. I can't wait to go back and explore the town some more!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Hi Elsie! Yes, it is a wonderful town, great shop and Jane was the best. I saw some old class drawings I had done from two years ago on the pad of paper in the back room, and we leafed through it until we came to some that I knew were not mine - they were sketches from your class!

I would love to go back and explore the town some more too. I think decorated for Christmas the town and shops would be fantastic.