Thursday, September 20, 2012

A New Experience

Linking up to Melissa's TNT Thursday over at Happy Quilting!

So, last week I took my very first EVER quilting class. I spent the day Thursday at the PNQE (Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza) in Pepper Cory's Swartz Creek Scrap Quilt class. I found it a completely different (and difficult) thing to work in that environment! About 30 students were in the class, all working with their scrap piles (Challenge number 1 - I really don't have nearly enough scraps yet).  Why I signed up for the scrap quilt class... duh. I don't know. Because I liked the idea of finding something to do with scraps, and because I have never made a scrap quilt? Oh, yes, that would basically be because I don't have enough scraps... back to Challenge #1.  This was the stack of fabrics I took to class:

And here is the Swartz Creek Scrap Quilt that we were going to work from:

The idea was to use the pattern/system of this quilt. It's made from 3 types of 4 inch blocks - pinwheel, 4-patch and plain squares.

I found it interesting to see what others had in their scrap pile, as well as all of the variety in colors, prints and styles among the group. I didn't get nearly as much done as I thought I would, but I had not planned well and had taken a very tiny cutting mat that hampered my progress early on - Challenge #2. I was able to borrow one and things went faster! Note to self - get a better sized cutting mat for travel.

I am used to having a design wall (or at least a design floor) and there was neither option. I usually work in such a way as I can easily see what I've got and then move in another direction if I'm not happy with it. Nope - Just plow into cutting and sewing and hope it looks OK? Not my normal way of doing things. So that was Challenge #3 - new way of working for me.

Here are some things I learned that I will definitely take with me and think about as I work on other projects. More than color, CONTRAST matters. Contrast of all kinds is what makes a quilt visually interesting. I know this from my graphic design training, but it is a good thing to remember when choosing fabrics. Think about the scale (size) of the various prints and use contrast there. Think about the variety of shapes in the prints - round (like florals) vs line (stripe) and use contrast there. Value - (purely light vs dark regardless of the color) and use contrast there. Dull vs bright. Cool vs. Warm, etc.

I also learned some hints for working with scraps - have a plan. Sort your fabrics and figure out what your system will be. Then if you follow the system, your scrap quilt will make sense.

Here is what I created so far...

Even that's a bit fudged because the navy blue pinwheels aren't sewn together! I've got a long way to go if I'm going to finish this. Many many more 4" pinwheel blocks! And more fabrics to get this looking scrappier.

Taking a class was NEW and I am glad for the experience!


  1. Taking a class was very brave of you. I once booked a class but everyone seemed to know each other and exactly what they were doing so I went home. I love your pinwheel blocks.

    1. I didn't think I was being brave when I signed up! I had no idea how difficult it would be to work in a room with so much going on... but I will do it again! It was a good mental stretch!

  2. Sounds like a super fun class. Your little quilt is coming along great!!