Reviews of Classes Taken

One of the best ways to expand your quilting horizons is by taking classes.  Many teachers travel all over the world to teach their techniques, so I've compiled the following list of some of the classes I've taken in the past with a little critique.  I hope you find it helpful if you are considering taking a class from these instructors, because let's face it, some teachers are better than others!

January 2013 at the Road to California Quilt Show in Ontario, CA

Quilt, Textile & Fiber Art Photography by Gregory Case - I went into this class knowing pretty much nothing about photography.  You are asked to bring your point and shoot camera (like I have) or your SLR camera (too fancy for me).  You learn how to read your camera's manual and adjust the settings in order to capture "Truer" colors of your quilts - evidently that is the hardest part of photographing quilts.  The one drawback of this class is that we spent a lot of time discussing the perfect place to set up your quilt and the settings needed to get a great picture - in other words, a home studio with special lighting.

If you are at all serious about quilt photography and want to take better pictures of your quilts for either publication or entrance into judged shows, this is a fabulous class.  For me, I was hoping to learn more about taking pictures for this blog, taking pictures outside, adjusting for poor lighting, things like that.  I did learn quilt a bit about these subjects, but unfortunately to really improve, I have to go out and experiment with my specific camera settings.  So I have some homework, I guess.

Discontinuity 1

Discontinuity by Emily Cier - I really love the look of Emily's patterns so I was excited to take her class.  I signed up for this class before I attempted her Groove pattern for the Totally Groovy QAL.  During the QAL, it was suggested that instead of piecing the pattern together using the strip method outlined in the pattern, that we try a log cabin piecing strategy to make it go faster/easier.  When time came closer for this class, I started to waiver in my excitement level a bit.  It seemed like the class was just putting the pattern together as it is written.  I HOPED that there would be lots of tips on cutting those strips, or piecing techniques, or even fabulous quilting suggestions -- something extra to be worth the $75+ to take the class.  I ended up a little disappointed.  Emily is a total sweetheart, and I had a lot of fun chatting during the class, but I'm not sure I got that "extra" out of it.  And, as you might have read in my posts, when I got home, and was out of the class environment, all that strip piecing was exhausting.

Ready, Set, Go Quilt with Cindy Needham - When I was a little down about how Emily's class went, THIS class turned the whole week around for me!  Cindy packs so much information into her classes.  You learn her basting method (some people claimed that tip alone made the class worth the money).  You learn about different kinds of thread (and get to try some out!).  And most importantly, you learn how to find the best speed for you to do your FMQ (everyone is a little different, after all).  She shows you how to "scribble" and do free hand feathers.  AND, there are bonus lessons - how to use stencils in your quilting and how to get border designs to fit your quilt.  She also provides you with loads of handouts, and a CD with even more handouts going through every aspect of the class in more detail.

I haven't even mentioned the fabulous samples she brings to class!   They fall into two categories - absolutely stunning work, and extremely helpful to prove a point.  Many of the class sample quilts were just beautiful to look at, showing off her FMQ using stencils and free hand designs.  Other highlighted the differences in thread weight so you could see why some threads were better for some jobs than others.  Some samples showed you why you should be stitching every seam in the ditch regardless of what design you wanted to have on the quilt.

This class was worth double the money (I think I paid $75).  But wait!  You can get this class and more by signing up for her Craftsy class, called Design it, Quilt it: Free Form Techniques.  Seriously, if you aren't the kind of person that needs an instructor standing over your shoulder saying "that's it, keep trying", then take the Craftsy class!  It is $40 full price, often on sale, and has double the information in it.  You get the basting technique, the thread talk, the speed talk, how to mark stencils and fit them to your borders.  She even shows you how to choose stencils to get more for your money by breaking down the designs!  OH, and did I mention she teaches you how to choose designs for your quilts?  She also shows you how to quilt "scribbles", do the feathers and more helpful designs.  Plus, with Craftsy you can ask her any questions you like on the platform and she will get back to you.  And, the class is yours for life.  WELL WORTH THE $$$.  Hands down, it is the best Craftsy class I've taken so far - but I've signed up for a few more, so I will keep you updated on those.

June 2012 - August 2012 - Handstitched Online Class at Stitched in Color

IT IS AWESOME!  Not only is Rachel an excellent teacher, but you really get your money's worth in projects.  I will post more of the projects as I finish them up.

January 2012 - at the Road to California Quilt Show in Ontario, CA

"50 Fabulous Paper Pieced Stars" by Carol Doak - I was very excited about this class, and it exceeded my expectations.  Carol Doak was a wonderful teacher.  She was funny and easy to follow.  I made a wonderful, complicated - looking star.  I am so glad I learned how to paper piece using Carol's easy method.  I can really foresee the technique coming in handy.

"Beginning Long Arm" by Dawn Cavanaugh - No, I don't have a long arm machine.  BUT, I did hear that one of the best ways to figure out if you really want/need one is to take a beginner class (using someone else's machines) and see how it goes. So that's what I did.  I learned loads of stuff about tension, choosing the right threads, battings, how machines work in general, etc.  We actually spent so much time talking about all those things, that we ended up with only 20 minutes or so to play on the machines!  Most importantly, I learned that I really don't want a long arm at the moment.

I thought a long arm would solve all my problems, but I realized it wouldn't.  I really want to make bigger quilts sometimes, but I have trouble maneuvering quilts in my little domestic sewing machine.  Sometimes I struggle with the fabric so much that my stitches are crazy or the quality is compromised.  Well, I'm not sure a long arm would necessarily fix that.  True, that the bigger quilts would fit more nicely on a big frame, but..... On my DSM, the machine stays put, and I move the fabric.  When there is a lot of fabric, I struggle with it.  On a long arm, the fabric would stay put, but I would move the machine.  And let me tell you, it didn't glide along as easily as it looks.  This became more evident when I was following a pantograph instead of just fooling around with my own free motion design.  It all boils down to a learning curve on either machine.  Since I have already started the learning curve on my (paid-for) DSM, I think it wise to continue and see what happens.  Plus, walking around the show I was struck by amazing quilts of all sizes that were quilted on DSM's.

"Thread Painting - It's as easy as 1, 2, 3!" by Nancy Prince - This class was as easy as 1, 2, 3!  Nancy was a great teacher, and the techniques she showed us were easy!  Of course, making it look really good will take some practice, but the basics are there now. This is what I made during the class:

Sometime in 2011 or 2010??

Hawaiian Applique by Keri Duke  - a fun teacher!  She was lively, and her patterns are lovely.  I especially like her "Water-Lilies for Jany" pattern.  Have yet to try it's bigger than just a pillow.  If you are considering learning how to applique, why not learn it while doing a Hawaiian design?
January 2010 (Wow that seems a long time ago!)

"Quilt with Great Edges" by Kathy Kansier - this class was fantastic!  Kathy Kansier is a teacher, judge and appraiser and she made learning fun with stories of her adventures.  Some of the topics included in this class were various bindings (single vs. double fold, etc.), piping (for which I got a great tool on sale in her class), prairie points, scallops and curves, plus more.  You actually work on several examples in class, because doing is learning.  I would definitely recommend the class if you ever wanted to learn how to do something besides just plain binding. You leave with your own reference book, in case like me, you take a year off after taking the class and can't quite remember everything.

"Fusible Rose" by Melinda Bula from her Cutting Garden Quilts book.  This teacher rocks!  She had me laughing most of the time; very dynamic.  Her class (and the book) covers everything from choosing a photo, figuring out how to separate the colors of your subject into layers, cutting out said layers of color, fusing them to a background using double-sided fusible web, all the way to getting started thread painting your finished project.  I found the technique of using the fusible web very helpful.  I didn't have time in the class to start playing with the thread painting.  It has been a while, so I decided to enroll in a thread painting class in January 2012 to properly explore it.  Here is a picture of recently finished, rose...
Say it With Flowers

Machine Applique by  by Debora Konchinsky - She was very nice, but I found her teaching a little dry.  I think her patterns are lovely. I remember her saying that the trick to machine applique was practice. I have since had the time to do so, and she was right.

 The Basics of Hand Quilting also by Kathy Kansier - She is a great teacher.  Her class was filled with stories of the Amish community that she lives near and their techniques for quilting.  So cool.  Strangely, I found I really enjoyed the handwork.  And I didn't do to badly at it!  I'll have to post a picture of my finished piece.  Where did I put it????

Classes are a great way to learn a new technique.  If you take an exceptional class, I hope you will share it with me!