Tuesday, May 15, 2012

HMQS 2012

Well, I'm back from HMQS where my favorite class was Pam Clarke's hands-on class, "Designs With Lines".  Pam Clarke spent much of her quilting career doing custom quilting and specializes in antique tops--which means her work closely mimics hand quilting.  She creates beautiful motifs that were sold as machine and hand-quilting stencils.  Many of the students in class (myself included) laughed when she showed us her stencil line--and exclaimed, "Oh yeah, I have that one at home!"  It was pretty funny.

Here are some up-close photos of her antique tops she finished that were displayed in the teacher's gallery at HMQS:

Antique Top Quilted by PAM CLARKE and displayed at HMQS

Antique top Quilted by PAM CLARKE and displayed at HMQS
Pam then shocked us by telling us that she is closing out her stencil line and no longer manufacturing stencils (so I went to her booth and stocked up--their cost was only a dollar).  Why?  This method she created "Designs With Lines" completely replaces the need for stencils.  Pam explained that the problem with stencils are that you can never have enough of them in the correct sizes that your particular quilt top needs, and they do not often fit the block(s) particularly if the block has a piecing error in it.  Her method solves this problem by returning to the basics of how stencils are created--using registration lines.  Instead of marking the stencil lines, you mark registration lines (from a stencil) and then free-motion quilt along those lines to make it appear that the quilter has followed an intricate stencil.  When she showed us the designs, I was over-whelmed thinking that there is no way I could do that.  But she walked us through simple examples and worked our way up to the difficult looking motifs..and I did it!  Quite easily as a matter of fact--she even gave me a "good job".
Stencil by Pam Clarke in two sizes--and a blue chalk pounce pad.  She recommends the blue chalk because it brushes off readily and "Sew Clean" to remove markings.

The 8-line stencil by Pam Clarke, the only one you really need for marking blocks.

The 2-inch line stencil for marking borders, and a one-inch stencil are all that are needed for intricate borders.

I also really enjoyed how Pam Clarke organized her class.  She made every effort to give us the "most bang for our buck"--her handout alone was over 40 pages of information (for a 4 hour class).  She divided us into groups of odds and even and then had her handout divided into exercises.  While she lectured to the odds on how to do the exercises, the evens were quilting those exercises on the Gammill machines.  I've taken other hands-on classes at HMQS, but have never spend so much time applying what was being taught.  I truly learned the most from this instructor.  Here is a photo of my completed practice project:
Photo of my practice sampler
The progression we went through was simple.  First, we pounced (on the frame--no pre-marking) the 8-line registration stencil and then quilted an orange-peel block shown in the bottom left hand corner of the sampler.  Next, we embellished it by quilting an orange peel around all of the 8-lines (block just vertically above the bottom left hand corner), and then with loops in the center (block above).  We then put down 8 dots and did an orange peel wrapping around the dots (next one vertically), then finally completed the row by doing the same motif, but adding curls in the corners and loops on the straight lines.  Simple progression...with amazing results.

Progression of orange-peel to fancy blocks.

The progression ended with quilted feathers around the registration lines.

When we were done with that, Pam showed us how to do fancy borders, the simplest is the bottom border in the above photo called "E's and L's".  You just do a cursive "e" in the open areas between the marked stencil lines and quilt a cursive "L" over the long line of the blue-pounced stencil line.

Just when I thought I couldn't learn any more...she had us practice continuous curve quilting, which I had done before but mostly using templates.  She told us that "finished is better than perfect" and that if we practiced often enough, a circular template would not be needed to create near-perfect continuous curve. 
The center block on the left-hand side has free-hand continuous curve which I back-filled with some squiggles.  The bottom row shows a cute heart border she taught us.

There was a reason for us to get used to continuous curve, and her idea here was sheer genius!  You can apply the thread pathways used in continuous curve to traverse a quilt top doing her stencil-looking motifs without having to tie off and start as long as the motifs align at either the corners or the horizontal lines.  Talk about simplifying the technique!  Amazing--custom quilting without any starts or stops!  I am going to use this on my next quilt top (the barn in the above photo) and I'll post pictures of how it turns out.  This is going to be exciting!  Of course, Pam had us practice a row of this...and I loved that she "checked" our work to ensure that we understood the technique.

On another note, no my quilt didn't win any awards, but at least I was gutsy enough to enter it!
"Mommy, what is your quilt doing here?"  Actually, she just wanted to get out of her stroller.
My favorite quilt from a customer this month is by H. McClosky.  I have always loved traditional 1930's prints on a yellow back-ground.  While these aren't 1930's prints, the simple gingham and pastel colors lend a cute feel of innocence to this charming quilt. 
Customer quilt by H. McClosky.

Close-up of the blocks.  She close an all over loop the loop quilting pattern.

Centered fabric on the backing.