So everyone and their BFF has already written a post about QuiltCon. It was amazing, we learned a lot, met people in person and wondered internally how we could imagine their voice so differently from the real thing (yep, me too Sarah.) So this isn't that post, but it's related, like a second cousin once removed.
I took a lot of classes (three full-day classes!) and I loved them all, but I think I got the most bang for my buck out of my longarm quilting class with Krista Withers. Not only was she a great teacher, and super inspiring, but the class reminded me how quilting on a long arm is supposed to feel.
My machine is ten years old, has been moved twice (at least) and was set up by me, my husband, and two friends. I assumed that the difficulty I was having getting good tension and smooth lines was all just irreversible wear and newbie error. But using the brand new, never-been-touched Handiquilters at Con made me realize that my machine could be better.
So first thing I did when I got home was order new short runners. The reason I couldn't get smooth lines was that my machine was hopping over some serious dents. (Why is it so obvious now?) And once I fixed that problem, I decided to bring my bobbin case into a dealer, to let them either teach me to get good tension or to show me where it was broken and sell me a new one. The woman took one look, said it was SUPER busted and sold me a new one with a "Wow, I can't believe how busted that was" discount. Win!
After that, less than $100 in parts and shipping, the machine purrs. It's not quite what the brand new longarms at QuiltCon felt like, but it's as close as I think I'll ever get. So I loaded up a quilt and gave it the Krista Withers treatment.
It's hard to see on this quilt, but the quilting is rows of paisleys, with pebbles thrown in to fill the gaps, and straight lines in between and on the edges. All that quilting is kind of lost on all this pattern, but that made it a really easy piece to practice on, and the texture is amazing.
Now, about the quilt! This is the first of two quilts that I made with the cast off edges from my old job at a fabric shop. (I wrote a little about it and my other quilt here.)
For this one, I pulled out all my sales flyers from the newspaper recycling bin and cut them into 11" squares. Then I glued a whitish strip diagonally down the center and built out from that.
I didn't trim any of the strips to make them straight, and I hardly pressed them before sewing unless it was really necessary. I just trusted in my eye to keep things straight when I sewed and trimmed the blocks really carefully at the end.
After a lot of paper ripping, and one crazy pieced back (thanks Jess!) I quilted this with such ease. I'm really glad that QuiltCon happened when it did because I was starting to lose hope, but this quilt really brought back my love of longarming.
Lessons learned: sometimes the errors ARE the machine and not you! It's not (always) your fault.