When I left for QuiltCon on Wednesday, I had worked very hard to keep my expectations to a respectable level, more to keep myself from vibrating apart from excitement than to keep myself from being disappointed! I knew it was going to be a great experience, and I think that all the hard work of the organizers at MQG really paid off for a strong first show. For myself, I had my class supplies all set up, and lectures picked out, and my demo all prepared. Professionally, I had a few of my patterns to hand out (more on that later), and business cards to hand.
My first class was “Machine Quilting the Modern Quilt” with Angela Walters. I’ll get this out of the way so you know where I stand: I’m a fan of her work, her books, and her Craftsy classes, and was looking forward to seeing how she drew out some of her designs in person. Practicing longarming on your own is great (draw draw draw! practice practice practice!), but sometimes it is beneficial to get word straight from the horse’s mouth, you know? Not that Angela’s a horse. Here’s a sample of what I worked on: feathery fill, a feathery fine motif I saw on a longarm forum, and some geometric block fill.
The next day, I took a circles class with Cheryl Arkison who cowrote Sunday Morning Quilts. I have done several different styles of circles before, and was looking to expand my repertoire and see if there were any new tricks to add to the arsenal. I came away with a few that I will be using for a new quilt based on ancient architecture, so that turned out to be a very helpful class! No pictures, though, since all my circles ended up looking like… circles. Which I guess means it was a success!
The third day, I took hand applique with Debbie Grifka of Esch House Quilts. Me made an owl from a super cute pattern of hers, and it was great to be able to try out some new materials and see how to use different techniques for different shapes. I’ve been wanting to learn some handwork so I can do stuff while I watch TV at night (after having kids, I find it hard to sit and veg without doing *something* otherwise I feel guilty), and I am now thinking of maybe designing a small applique project myself to share. I need to think of something cool, but have a few projects in mind that might work. Anyway, I think my owl is super cute:
And the last day, I was able to go to Jacquie Gering’s hexies class the last day, and it was really great to meet her and see her techniques for sewing and ordering hexie quilts. I hope to keep working on mine and have it up to show, soon!
As for me, professionally, I finally got up the nerve to hand out two of my patterns to shop owners on the very last day of QuiltCon (cue sweating palms, racing heart, and lapse in ability to speak), and had a few sales to some very friendly and supportive quilters in my classes (hi ladies!). Overall, though, I felt the experience was a satisfactory one for figuring out the direction I want to go in, and maybe, perhaps, that I’m not so crazy as I thought to do this professionally as a longarmer and quilter as I thought. I received a great deal of encouragement from many sources, both professionals and fellow students, and came away with some goals in mind and some planning to do. Oh, and here’s my name, in print!
I have some challenges ahead: while quilting is my love and passion and business, I am also a full-time stay at home mom to a 2 and 5 year old, and part of the trick will be to figure out how to balance those things. It’s not impossible, but I will need to do some thinking about how to get everything fit in. I know I’m not alone in this push and pull between work and home life! I’m hoping that as my readership grows, we’ll be able to share ideas and support on how to keep on keepin’ on. I think it’s a brave new world out there for people to do just this: be makers at home, both for personal and professional purposes.
Thanks to Carol Cho at Kollabora, too, for pointing me towards a very interesting book, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson, that talks about just this idea albeit in terms of more industrial types of fabrication. I’m only a few chapters in, but hope to be able to write a more comprehensive review once I’ve finished. Kollabora, by the way, is a DIY community that offers all sorts of interesting help to makers of things. I really kind of like that one of their beliefs is that “learning is the new shopping”.
Hope everyone made it back home safely and easily!