Warning: If you are not interested in Free Motion Quilting, skip this post!
I wanted to pass on some of what I learned in the class I took from Diane Gaudynski, “The Adventure Continues” at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky last week. The class was created as an offering to the experienced free motion quilter, so it was challenging.
Any photos I took in class were allowed for personal use only, but you can see Diane’s work here. The photos I have included here are of the work I did in class (samples).
I learned several beautiful, useful motifs, but most of what I learned was what I call “beyond the motif” and was into the artistry and almost philosophy of what and how to quilt.
There are two main approaches to quilting for domestic machine free motion quilters: thread painting and heirloom quilting. Thread painting emphasizes color and thread, the thread sits atop the quilt and speaks clearly. In heirloom quilting, the thread compresses the fibers and creates shadow-thread color is of lesser importance, shadow is the star. My style, and what I learned from Diane, is really all about the “puff” created when the batting is compressed by the line of stitching. That resulting line of shadow is what gives the quilt that dimension that I love. Given that premise, much of what we learned I call “puff management”. So what is important in creating that beautiful shadow and glorious puff?
Glad you asked:
- Tension-Often overlooked, but if the tension is off, the puff may ooze under the thread and be lost.
- Your fabric choice is key in showcasing that shadow. If your fabric is stiff, it will flatten the surface of the quilt and minimize the shadow; too wimpy and you lose the definition of the shadow.
- Also, the backing is critical, as you want the backing to push the puff to the front of the quilt where it will show. In class, I was the champion of poor fabric choices, grin!
- If you over quilt, you will flatten the piece and negate the puff-not good!
- Echo quilting creates a puddle of “flat” around the puff and makes it stand out even more-beautiful! I was surrounded by beautiful, stunning quilting for 3 days. It made the basics even more clear to me:
- Even stitches elevate a piece.
- Good instruction is priceless: Diane can take a difficult skill and make it doable by communicating so clearly how to proceed.
- “Puff management” is the key to beautiful heirloom quilting.There were two completely new things I learned at the class:
1. Diane breaks thread way more often than I do. I will travel a line to get to the next motif; Diane will break thread and start a new line. It’s those little things that make a difference.
2. Diane uses colored pencils and Tsukineko inks to emphasize the shadows and highlights of her work. I had no idea! We asked her to take a piece and show us how to do it. The difference is huge-the piece just comes alive with visual texture.
I learned a thing or two about quality teaching too, just by being the room with Diane for 3 days. I hope to bring what I learned about teaching as well as quilting with me into the classroom to share with my future students. And if you ever get a chance to take a class from Diane Gaudynski, DO IT!