Class with Gwen Marston in San Luis Obispo

NOTE: If you are looking for the Uppercase Magazine and fabric giveaway, it’s *here.*

Gwen_1

Last weekend I had a chance to take a class from Gwen Marston, who is retiring this year.  I have several of her books, and have long been an admirer.  It was held in San Luis Obispo, so my husband brought his bike and came with me to help with the driving and so we could enjoy the town.  It was held at SLO Creative Studio, a place where they hold classes, teach long-arm quilting.  The place was filled with tables and long-arm machines, and touches of Gwen were everywhere, as in the quilt, above.  It was fun to see in person.

Wonky Baskets

Just to show you I’m a bonafide Gwen Fan, here’s the quilt I made, inspired by hers.Gwen_2

She started the class a bit early, telling about where she lived, giving us a couple of stories, then launched into the class, which was sewing traditional small quilts.  It was fun to hear her talk–she’s very entertaining–and of course, I loved all the small quilts.Gwen_3 Gwen_4 Gwen_5 Gwen_6

Here are some students trying to figure out the sizes of pieces.Gwen_6a Gwen_7 Gwen_8 Gwen_9 Gwen_students working

Our charge was to get cutting, get sewing.  She challenged us to use traditional methods, of cutting a bunch of squares, bunch of triangles, saying the new ways didn’t seem to cut much time from the construction.Gwen_student work Gwen_and me Gwen_stack of quilts

The quilts all stacked up.

Gwen_10label1Gwen_10label2

A couple of her labels.  She used to roll the fabric down into a typewriter, type out her label, and then sew it on.  Well, they weren’t really labels–they were typing on the sleeve.  I enjoyed working in the traditional methods, but I must admit my eye was drawn to this series of baskets (below), made by a student in the previous day’s class.
Gwen_wonky baskets Gwen_eating lunch

I took my lunch outside to get a break from the classroom.  They had us order in from a local sandwich shop, Ben Franklin’s, which was great.  Then I went back in and I sewed and sewed and pressed and sewed the old fashioned way. Gwen_my little quilt

I can’t say it was any faster, but it didn’t seem to be slower, either.  But I’d have to say it was a more inaccurate to sew together a bunch of squares, than to make strip sets, and measure out my HSTs and know where I was going.  I didn’t true up any squares, but just threw it together, so it’s a bit wonky.  But I did get something done, which is not always possible when sewing away from my usual space. I seem to have patriotic on my mind, as it was Friday, of the 4th of July weekend.

Gwen_BettysFabic

My husband, after enjoying his bike ride, picked me up and we ran an errand to Betty’s Fabrics, a nice shop in town.Gwen_SLO mission

While in SLO (as they abbreviate their town’s name), we also went to their Thursday night Street Market (the night before class) and had barbecue.  After class we visited the San Luis Obispo Mission (above), and tucked into the museum to see their exhibit.  I loved the mixed media piece below.
Gwen_SLO exhibit2 Gwen_SLO exhibit1

And there was a quilt in the exhibit, too!
Gwen_dinner

In the plaza in front of the Mission, a live band was playing (this town has all the fun!).  We were able to get a seat out on the patio at Luna Red next door, and ate our happy hour appetizers while enjoying the music. (Black Bean Hummus, above)Gwen_concert

After, we sat on the bench just outside the Mission, talked about the bikes in the “bike parking lot” out front, and enjoyed the evening.  My husband is most understanding about the quilt passion that seems to leak out of me all the time, as well as being very supportive, which I appreciate more than I can say.  Sitting there on the bench, watching the passers-by and just visiting about nothing much, was the perfect ending to a weekend away.

Sometimes it is the small things that matter most.

Christmas Treat Wallhanging

Christmas Treat front

So, out here on the old sewing ranch-a-roo, I finished up Christmas Treat (name is courtesy of my husband) and took it outside to pose for pictures.  The front.

Christmas Treat back

The back is an old Alexander Henry fabric with quirky angels flying everywhere.  I’ve hoarded this and now only have about a yard of the black colorway.

Christmas Treat label

The label.  I like to print mine out and border them before I stitch them on.  If you do a search for “labels” in the search box on the blog, you’ll find posts about how I do my labels.

Christmas Treat final

The final full shot.  It’s #111 on my 200 Quilts list.  It’s a big day because of the following four reasons:

1–this is my first Finish a Long completed.  I probably won’t finish the blue flowers at this time as the shop owner likes that it shows the back;
2–I actually did some free motion quilting on this that I’m not mostly ashamed of.  Don’t look too closely, as I don’t do enough of it to show it off, but I’m pretty happy with how it turned out;
3–I took this sample (above, of Christmas Treat and below, of Lollypop Tree block) to Bluebird Quilts & Gallery, my local quilt shop, and she booked me in to teach two classes.

Lollypop Block

4) my husband took a new picture of me that I think is a pretty good rendition of who I am at this point in my life.  As the Mid-Century Moderns know, we scrupulously monitor our images, preferring instead to be behind the lens instead of in front of it.

ESE April 2013

About photographs: we swim in a sea of digital images, and most are out of our control, as was demonstrated by the plethora of images that came forward about the Boston Marathon tragedy.  Our grandparents had a handful.  Our great-grandparents had, like, maybe three.  So does having so many pictures make it any easier to find one you like of yourself?  If you’re like me, my husband took about ten shots before I got one that I liked–one that represented on the outside how I generally felt on the inside.  So, here it is.  Banish all other images to the dustbin.  This is the me as I am this week, all sunny yellow in sunny Southern California.

Two Lollypop Blocks800

Okay, class info:
Class will be taught at Bluebird Quilts & Gallery, at 22320 Barton Road, Suite A, in  Grand Terrace, California (just north of Riverside).

I’ll teach Wednesday, May 22nd from 10 to 3:30 p.m. and July 29th, from 10 to 3:30 p.m.

I need at least four, preferably, five people to carry the class.  I’m including the pattern (my own, drawn from the original Lollypop Tree quilt from the 1880s), and freezer paper (have you priced this stuff lately?  Whew!).  Cost is $50/full day class, including pattern.  Call the shop (909) 514-0333 to sign up, if you think you’d like to take the class.  They’ll have class supply lists for you when you sign up.  Their hours are Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Closed Saturdays.

Bostonian Bag and a Wrap-up

While this post has lots of pictures of my recent class, the Bostonian Bag (which they titled Bag Bostonian), it is NOT a tutorial nor are there any patterns.

Class 6

For this you’ll need to take the excellent class from Kathy Ranabarger at Sewing Party in Orange County, California; our class was held last Friday, March 22nd.  And because it’s a wrap-up of some of the details of the class, the post itself may not make any sense to you at all.  (Hey, I have many days like that!)  In the photo above I’m on the right in the aqua sweater.

Bostonian Bag side view

First off, here it is.  It’s a good-sized bag. . .

Class 1

. . . and the ten-member class made excellent progress. But nearing the end, I was nervous about beating the traffic home, so I left a few minutes early but not before taking lots of photos of Kathy’s samples to jog my memory.  I told the class I’d post them in case they needed them too (so, this post is picture-heavy).

Bostonian Bag details ESEFirst, here’s some details, just for visual ideas: the bag bottom with decorative piece, the side trim piece wrapped to the inside and stitched down by hand, and the pockets I made in class: a double pocket (one on top of the other, and on the other side, a zipper-closed pocket.

Class 2

Class 3

So, after the fabric’s been quilted, the pockets made and the lining basted to the bag on the sides and top (wrong sides together), the decorative trim is attached to the zipper-opening edges (shown).  Kathy showed us how to install our zippers in class, and I’m pretty sure we were all successful in getting those in before we left for home.  Next was sew the side seams together, lining right sides together, so the seam allowances ended up on the outside of the bag, which is covered with a decorative trim piece.

Side Cover Strip ESE

(Click to enlarge so you can see detail.)

I did end up interfacing the side trim piece, as my 1/2″ seams were pretty bulky.  I pinned down the trim piece, then stitched it by machine as she showed us in class.  I kept going at the end: I stitched right off the edge of the bag on my trim piece, continuing along the pressed-under seam allowances, top-stitching them down.  I then folded the piece over as Kathy showed us, then trimmed and hand-sewed it down as I was using two colors of thread (one dark, one light) and it just wouldn’t have worked to machine-stitch. (See very top grouping of photos, illustration in upper right.)

Bag Corner

“Boxing” the corner, with a five-inch measurement, centering the seam at 2 1/2″ inches.  Stitch along that line.  In that same top grouping of photos, you can see my bag corners in the lower pocket photo.  In the final bag, I wasn’t really keen about how the bottom trim piece stopped an inch short of the boxed corner, so in the future versions of this bag I’ll either 1) box the corner in deeper (maybe at 6″) or 2) make the bottom decorative piece longer.

Hardware Bostonian Bag

Attach the bottom trim piece to the side, by sewing the point to the side trim piece. The ring moves freely, and is not sewn down.

Class 4

Handles are next.  Flatten out the bag, take the handles out and let them relax, then place them near the top, centered on the bag.

Handle Placement

I put a couple of pins to anchor mine, then did a backstitch all around the outside, starting about 4 holes down from the upper left holes, taking it up to the end, then backtracking all the way around the tab. I wasn’t really keen about how the inside looked and ended up cutting some more lining fabric to applique it over the stitching, so it will be unnoticeable.  I have to say that attaching the handles was one of the more frustrating parts of the bag and it took me some time.  Sit in really good light, use a heavier hand-sewing needle and thimble on your finger for pushing it through the hole (which is sometimes not easy to locate and yet other times it is), and work steadily.

Now here are a bunch of photos of the samples we saw that day in class.

Teacher Bag 1

Teacher Bag 2

When she attached this particular bag handle, she used a running stitch, which looks like this on the back.

Teacher Bag 3

Teacher Bag 4

Teacher Bag 5

Teacher Bag 6

Handle attached with a back-stitch.

Teacher Bag 7

Teacher Bag 8

Teacher Bag 9

Teacher Bag 10

And here’s a few more of mine:

Bostonian Bag unhooked

Bag unhooked.  I think I could fit a small laptop in there, or at the very least, a tablet.  It’s quite roomy inside.

Class 5

Our class.  This was a fun group of ladies to sew with.

Full Bostonian BagAnd that’s it!

Another March finish for me.  Actually I took this class the last day of Spring Break.  I started Spring Break with tune-up visits to doctors, getting the have-to’s out of the way before I quilted all week. So in the spirit of a teacher giving a grade to things. . . I’m at an interesting place in my life right now, and so content and calm about what I’m doing that I’m sure the proverbial “other shoe” will drop from the sky at any minute.  I have a job I mostly enjoy, love my church and congregation as I’ve been going there for nearly a quarter-century and know their histories, and they, mine, and we have both endured each other’s quirks and habits. My husband and I have worked out a good balance between together time and “cave-time,” and really enjoy each other’s company when we are together. I could make a list of all the good things in my life, of which family and friends would occupy the top spots, and I’m sure that your list might echo mine in magnitude and depth. I also have this blog, and love to write and quilt and have the wherewithal to do both.

As I listened to others talk while our class was in session, I caught whiffs of the same sort of feeling: one woman expressed pride over her daughter’s achievements, another woman was having her sewing room re-made which I gathered was something she’d looked forward to for many years, and several of us found we had connections (via our children) to UC-Davis, of all places.  Perhaps it was the beautiful weather, or a relaxed and informative class or the fun of getting something done in a creative environment, but I could see that many of us were living in a “parallel contentment.”  Maybe we’ve just learned not to sweat the small stuff. . . and at our age have figured out which is the small stuff and which isn’t.

While the grading will pick up to a dull roar in the next few weeks of the semester, it’s really nice to feel this way — especially tonight, when some nice tunes are on the playlist and the fragrance of the wisteria blossoms is drifting in through my open window.

Happy Quilting.