APWQ: Sunday, Thread Makes the Design

It's Monday and I'm back at home. I filled my gas tank on my way out of town because I knew I was going to have to pump my own gasoline in Washington. I carefully calculated the mileage going to and from Tacoma and figured out that I could make it there and back without having to face the dreaded gas pump. As I was approaching the Columbia River crossing on the way home (the Oregon-Washington border), my dashboard was flashing "Lo Fuel" at me. The freeway exit numbers were in the "1" range, and so I knew I was within a mile of the border. The parking lot on the interstate had me a little worried, but I made it across the bridge and pulled into the first gas station I saw. Oregon, sweet Oregon. Where self-serve gasoline literally is against the law. (If you have trouble reading the image below, you can see it better right here.)

Before I go on, I should say that in my youth (during the 14th Century), I pumped my own gas all the time. Both California and Arizona have self serve (the two states where I lived between the time I obtained my first driver's license and the time I moved to no-self-serve Oregon). So, it's not a matter of being too wimpy...it's a matter of being too lazy.

When Mike and I first moved to Oregon in 1978, self-service initiatives occasionally showed up on our ballot. Like the state sales tax, they always go down in defeat. At first, Mike and I were incensed about not being able to pump our own gas. But we've grown to like it, and now we're always glad to be back in service-with-a-smile land, not to mention no-sales-tax land. Now about those property taxes....that's another matter entirely. But we'll save that discussion for another day. (Yep, the old death and taxes ploy.)

Today I'm here to tell you about the my last class at the 2014 Association of Pacific West Quilters Symposium. I should also say that I'm very glad I went to the event. 2014 has been the year I decided I would force myself out of the comfort of the little rut of my home and attend some classes, guild meetings, etc. I'm pretty proud of the progress I've made. That's not to say that I've metamorphosed into a social butterfly, but I'm moving a little further away from the reclusive end of the social spectrum.

Anyway, the last class was entitled, "Tread Makes the Design", and it was (mercifully) a half day. It was also the most fun for me. I absolutely loved the instructor, Barbara Olson.

I know...it's a really terrible picture. The lighting was bad, and I was shooting with my iPhone. Here are a couple of her masterpieces that were on display in the classroom.

I fell in love with this piece. It's essentially a large appliqued flower with thread painting that extends to the edges of the large background. (I'm estimating the size of this quilt at about 50 x 50 inches). Some of her details were done in heat-set ribbon, a product I'm unfamiliar with. I want to learn more about it because it was very effective in her quilts. Just now I did a search to find the product. Without spending a lot of time on it, I'm not clear on whether this is a product or a technique...maybe one of you knows. If so, please chime in.

Anyway, to get back to her creations, here are some details of the one above, known as "Wild Child". I really liked this piece, and I bought the pattern and instructions for it. (Maybe the instructions will tell me about heat set ribbon, but I haven't looked at them yet.)

I especially like this motif below. I'd really like to try to recreate this one in my own work, since pointed wavy lines seem to be the thing I do best.

Here's another smaller design (about 24 x 24 inches). I love the colors in this one.

The thing I loved most about Barbara Olson was her devil-may-care, perfectionism-is-highly-overrated attitude. I feel the same way about many things, particularly free motion quilting. It's so very forgiving, and she admitted to doing the very thing I do, which is to cover any bobbles with more thread or changing the design into something else. It was so completely freeing, and I found myself just having fun playing when we finally turned on our sewing machines and got to work.

There was very little teaching in this class beyond talking about batting, thread, needles, and sewing machine feet. She extolled the virtues of the Superior Threads website for its products, but mainly for the wealth of information and reference materials available for free right on the site. Several of my classmates also said that the free newsletter was worth signing up for, and so I did that too.

I'll admit to being a little panicked when I was setting up my machine (Pfelicity), and realized that I hadn't brought the diagram that showed me how to attach the open-toed free motion foot. I had quite a bit of trouble getting it set up the first time even WITH the diagram. In a panic, I tried searching my blog to see if I could find a picture of the whole set-up. No dice. I had to wing it, but eventually, I got 'er done.

Barbara suggested we divide our quilt into sections, and then, basically, go to town sewing. And that was exactly what I did. It was such a relief to be sewing after spending two days on elements of art and abstraction. I have done almost no free motion quilting on Pfelicity beyond testing out the foot when I first got it. Any free motion quilting I've done on Big Bertha is always done with a stitch regulator, and so this was a lesson in working without it. I discovered right away that FAST is best, although accuracy certainly suffered. No matter because I felt completely free to re-think the design and cover up anything I didn't like. Nevertheless, don't look too close at my little start here:

When I ran out of bobbin thread, I'd stitched this much, and it was time for the class to end. Good timing. I didn't have anything in mind...I was just stitching...FAST, and I was having a ball doing it.

Here's how it looked from the back. I was just using gray thread in the bobbin.

I enjoyed the class and the instructor so much that I decided to buy her book...because what I really need are more books.... It got good reviews on Amazon, and so what the heck? Apparently it has good examples of her motifs, and choosing a motif is always the hardest part for me.

And that was my weekend. 

And now I'm home and getting back to reality. I have a couple of little housekeeping chores on my list of things to do today...not to mention unpacking. I only took a few clothing and personal car items in my suitcase, but the amount of $h*t, er, good stuff I took along for my classes is really quite astonishing. And then there was the trip to the quilt shop. And the goodie bag they gave me. And there's just a lot of stuff to put away.

Today I'm determined to get the Happy Campers quilt sandwiched and get going on the quilting. It's a small quilt, and so if I work at it, I might even get it finished today or tomorrow. I'm having a welcome day at home and I have an easy week ahead that I plan to enjoy. Thanks to all of you who left such kind and encouraging comments on my posts while I was away. It's always good to know one has friends when one is traveling to exotic places like dorm rooms in Tacoma. Next up: Bora Bora. (Oh, how I wish that were true.) It was quite warm in Tacoma, and it has been warm here at home too. My feet feel as if I'm walking around on little water balloons. Oy.

How are you doing on this Monday?

16 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Now this is something more my kind of play. Enjoy your day unwinding. And tweek those whiskers a few extra times - sure they missed you.

Jeanie said...

I had no idea about the self serve law. Just assumed everyone, everywhere had to pump their own gas..... or pay extra to have an attendant do it. Glad you are home safe and sound with lots of ideas running around in your head.. I'll bet we see them in fabric soon. Enjoy the kitties.. I'm sure they missed you!

quiltedfabricart said...

What a fun class! I love this technique of flowing out from the flower with the FMQ and all the detail is great. Thank you sharing this. It reminds me alittle of zentangles. I am inspired, now I just need to find about 3 more hours in every day to get some of this done.

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Wow.....what a fun class!

Christine M said...

You did a fantastic job, Barbara. I love that varigated thread.

Judy H. said...

I think your quilting looks wonderful! I'm sure there are flaws if I looked close enough, but I sure don't see any!

I grew up in Oregon, and my parents still live in the Portland area, so we visit frequently. One trip recently, I had to get gas before heading home, so I pulled in, handed the attendant my credit card, and said, "Fill it up with unleaded!" Woah! Total childhood flashback, from when "regular" wasn't unleaded! The attendant looked confused, I laughed, and explained this was what I always heard my parents say, so it somehow just came out!

Dana Gaffney said...

I thought NJ was the only state that did that, how nice for you, do they clean your windshield too?
That FMQ is beautiful, you did good!

WoolenSails said...

That sounds like a fun class and a great way to learn to relax and have fun with free motion. I am thinking of trying some small pieces for fun and if they are horrid, I can chuck them and keep playing;)


sophie said...

I also assumed that new drivers everywhere only experienced self-service gas pumps. It must be a shock for first time visitors driving around Oregon.

I took a class from Barbara Olsen, long ago and far away and remember her as a generous teacher who made it fun. Everyone accomplished a fair amount during the class, too. It sounds like that's still true in her workshops. You definitely deserved some fun after spending two days out of your comfort zone with Lyric K.

quiltzyx said...

That class does look like it would be a blast! I really like your play sample...it makes me think of a jellyfish. And the variegated thread is wonderful, gotta love the bright colors.

My Monday? Well, I'm being tortured by an audio transcription job - lots of LOOOOOONG medical words and a respondent who not only talks too fast, but has a cell with lousy sound. Ugh. I think I spent and hour & only got 1.5 minutes done. In fact, I'd better get back to it now. Wish me luck!

Diane Wild said...

No self service? Really? We have a station in town that will pump for you if you can't pump your own. He does it for the little old ladies. I'm not quite there...little but not old. Love the thread work. I could get into that big time.

Junebug613 said...

Neat stuff! I'm totally flabbergasted that there is no self service there! I don't think I've ever seen a service attendant pump someone's gas in my life. I would like to experience that once. It would be neat. It's the simple stuff that bring me joy. Lol

Betty said...

You did a very nice job with your thread painting. I think it looks like a lady with a beret and a flowing shawl. I am going to a free motion quilting class tomorrow. I've taken classes before but I just haven't been able to get it. I'm hoping this instructor can get through my thick skull and get me going. Maybe 3rd time will be charm!

Teresa in Music City said...

I haven't had time to comment, but I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts on your classes! It is always interesting to get the negative as well as the positive experiences. I think you are doing a great job of growing your quilting talent and stretching your boundaries!

Kate said...

Wow, love your thread painting! If you were just playing, it will be fun to see how it turns out when you get serious.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I haven't seen a full service gas station in about 20 years. I didn't even know that any were left. Must be really expensive.