You are a quilter and a tea drinker? Well, you really should consider buying a bunch of coffee filters. Seriously. You won’t regret it.
I took both GAAQG workshop classes with Mary Hogan in March. And that was a darn decent decision. Mary Hogan is a local gem of a quilt teacher. She lives right around the corner in Ann Arbor and is frequently seen in the cozy, welcoming surrounding of „Quilting Season“ fabric shop in Saline. If you don’t know it – go and take the time to visit it, it is a wonderful place for quilters, believe me. The cheers at Mary’s lecture at the guild meeting in March showed how much she is valued by those who know her. Read here interview with the GAAQG.
Friday’s workshop was about a technique that she describes in her book ‚String Quilt Style‘ (2016, Landauer Publishing). The title might be a bit confusing, because actually, we didn’t use strings, but strips of fabric. And coffee filters. Indeed! They serve as a wonderful foundation to make neat round ‚blocks‘ out of scraps. And this is to be taken literally. This technique allows you to use up every teeny tiny little scrap you can find at the very bottom of your scrap bin.
And especially those tiny bits add a lot of action and interest in your finished blocks.
Mary teaches in a very relaxed way. It’s not easy to describe, she tells you what to do, but then she is just – there. Helpful hints now and then, but no long explanations. She seems to see everything and just shows up at your table when you start getting into trouble with something.
And she told us how to use these coffee filters and all sorts of strips to make fast, easy and absolute pretty circles. Really, they turned out to be very beautiful and were so much fun to make. Once started, you don’t want to stop. She was full of advice, had so many good tips to share. Even more advanced (than I) attendees at this workshop went home with some new knowledge about sewing, troubleshooting and special effects, like adding super-super slim or crooked (wonky) strips. So, we all learned a lot on this Friday, but more than that, we left the classroom with so much more than knowledge. I think, all of us went home deeply satisfied.
Even if we didn’t finish a project, all of us had the feeling of having accomplished a great deal of development. We learned a wonderful technique and we made beautiful pieces of art that will be easily used in a project, so we’ll have our UFOs accomplished in a short while.
I risk repeating myself, I have to write it again: The „string circling“ is so especially rewarding, because it’s easy, fun, scrap friendly, improvisational to make – but it produces circles, that don’t appear to be easy or look scrappy. The finished circles look very elegant and will make a nice, elaborate quilt. That’s the trick!
Sunday = Playtime
What could „Design Play Date“ mean? No sewing machines necessary, but lots of ready fused fabrics to create with. Ha!?
Well, again Mary was good for a surprise. She made designing easy and led us through the designing process like a mother teaches a child any complicated projects: step by step. Sounds simple? Yes, but it is so helpful to be guided.
Mary gave us some well-defined tasks. One step at a time, easy, forcing us to focus. We played with lines, curves, shapes and went on with combinations of these. A room full of busy design players, all concentrated on these simple tasks, producing so very different pictures. Looking around, comparing and evaluating what you personally like and why you do so, was a valuable experience and sharpened our understanding for design as well as our own preferences and dislikes. This hands-on-learning of fundamental rules of design was both educational and interesting.
These were such very special workshop days for me. If you know Mary, you won’t be surprised, but I was. I still can’t find the right words for the workshop’s atmosphere. There’s no right or wrong, no judging, nothing but success and feeling good. We learned so much, which I do in more or less all workshops. We all came out with very different results, nothing new, either. But still – it was so very personal and appreciative, motivating and amazingly unagitating. A feel-good-character for being as creative as possible.
OK, grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee, either is fine, but don’t forget the filter!