It’s been crazy around here! We are considering a move instead of a remodel and that makes for a chaotic week of looking at houses, endless spreadsheets comparing options, getting bids on needed work on a house we might buy, etc. But my artistic and teaching life must go on-Houston is only 67 days away plus there are looming deadlines in the meantime.
You may be surprised to know how much prep work any teacher goes through in order to be prepared to teach a great class. If you teach at a big venue like Houston, Paducah, etc. there is even more prep and planning involved. For me, my first order of business to prepare for Houston was to begin making the kits for my students. I proposed to teach or present at seven different events for the Houston festival this year and they accepted all of them! Gulp.
I do love working with the Houston education people. They want to do everything they can to help you be successful. So when I asked, how do I fill my classes, I got an answer: offer half-day classes and make kits for them.
This is a two-edged sword. The Houston student wants to do everything while she/he is there-shop, take classes, see the show, hang with friends. A full-day class, even one with a coveted teacher, makes a big dent in the schedule. Half-day classes are preferred by many. And almost everyone prefers a kit-hassle for the teacher, lovely for the student.
From a teaching perspective, it’s a lot more work. But in return I get to meet even more students! And that is fine with me. Last year I had students from Australia, New Zealand, England, Dubai, Japan, Canada and Dubuque, Iowa! It’s just such a kick meeting like-minded quilters from all over the world.
Sooooo, that means if all my classes fill (and they did last year), I will need to make 400 quilt sandwiches. It sounds daunting and last year it was. But this year I am doing it all early. I anticipated having a kitting party but I realized that it will probably work out better for me to fill my down moments with kit making here and there.
The first task was to cut Kona cotton into 14″ widths and then make 2 more cuts to make my sandwich layer. I didn’t want just any old color, nor did I want to choose colors that some students would detest. So my theme this year is “beach” using Kona colors “Parchment” and “Bahama Blue”. I actually festered over my color choices for some time.
I wanted to accomplish two things. From a practical viewpoint, the stitches of the neutral-ish thread used in the machines need to show well. If the color was too dark, the less-than-perfect stitching of the student might not look so hot. And secondly, I wanted it to be calming and happy. Students can get all stressed out and intimidated and I just want them to have fun, relax and enjoy the zen of free motion quilting.
And I also wanted my students to have a fun color to stitch on. If they like neutrals, they can sew “Parchment” side up. If they like beachy, they can sew “Bahama Blue” up. How fun!
Making kits was done simultaneously with the completion and submittal of a cutwork piece I had been working on. I had a deadline to work with and I was working until the last minute. I won’t reveal the whole piece until it is accepted or rejected.
I began my design by drafting out a full sized pattern to work from. I drew free-hand, without any idea of the finished piece. And I erased…a lot. Once I was satisfied, I transferred the pattern onto my organza with a blue wash out marker.
I prepared the organza by Misty Fusing two pieces of flaming pink organza together. I have learned that strong, vibrant colors work best behind cutwork. I love cutwork-it combines holes with transparency, one of my favorite looks!
I then layered the wool atop the organza. This is luscious hand dyed wool from Linda Waddle-it is divine! I then free motion quilted from the back (organza) where my markings were visible. Once I finished my fmq, I began the cutwork. I very carefully cut just the wool from the piece, revealing the organza. And boy did I need to be careful and mindful in this step! The photo shows a piece partially completed, with some cut work completed, some in process.
I love the debris that comes from the cutwork! I just have to figure out what to do with these-I have saved them.
I like to have a very high contrast thread to show up on the vibrant backing.
I had not decided what I wanted to do on the borders, so I completed the entire interior of the piece before starting on the border. Because all the work was done in the middle and the border had not been touched, I got this predictable waviness. It’s scary to see it so misshapen. Once I got my borders on, the piece laid flat-whew! And I submitted literally seconds before the close.
Of course, it was not a direct path from beginning of this piece to the end. I actually almost completed another piece which I did not submit, as I did not like the outcome.
This piece was just not making the cut for several reasons. I didn’t have the right background organza so I painted my own. The color is unsuccessful-not strong or vibrant enough. And also, I overworked the interior of the piece. The design gets lost. Yes, it’s pretty, but the eye just sees a jumble of pretty filligree and that is not what I wanted.
I will probably finish it at some point. If you follow my blog, you know what I do with unsuccessful pieces-they take on new lives as class samples of what not to do!