The gals at Quilter's Haven in Rosemount

The gals at Quilter’s Haven in Rosemount

Yesterday, I was back at Quilter’s Haven in Rosemount for the second, finishing and ‘show and tell’ topper class. We were a small group, but enjoyed seeing what each had done as well as discussing problems or choices. It is a hard choice to offer a class with two separate class sections – a few weeks apart – as many people struggle with schedules and can’t manage to make it back for the second class. Yet the toppers simply can not be finished in a one day class, and while many would find it easy to finished the project successfully at home, many others – especially those new to wool – need the second class session to resolve questions and issues. Of course, missing the second class also means missing ‘show and tell.’ Selfishly, I love seeing what everyone does, not only do I get feedback (the good and the bad!) but I also am inspired by the range of creativity.

A smiling Linda with her  Leaf Snowflake #3 topper

A smiling Linda with her Leaf Snowflake #3 topper

Visiting from New Hampshire, we were treated to Indian influence!

Visiting from New Hampshire, we were treated to Indian influence!

A totally different take  - wonderful Indian embroidery influence

A totally different take – wonderful Indian embroidery influence

So it is fun to bring you a few pictures. Linda (left photo above) did a great job, although she had had some problems with the backing fabric for the topper running a bit small for the top background and this resulted in an uneven margin. The rest of us really didn’t see it as a problem, but of course, we always see our own ‘problems’- more than others notice them! With some diligent steam pressing, Linda got the backing to fuse more completely to the top, which resulted in a more firmer topper to work with while she chose to work with the issue of her uneven margins on the outer edge. She decided that it was to her personal satisfaction, to undo the edge stitching, measure and trim, and then stitch: this time doubling her size 16 Presencia perle cotton thread. Again, despite the fact that we all enjoyed her topper as she brought it to the class, what really counts is that she will enjoy the changes she intend to make. She already has plans to try the snowman topper!

In the next two photos (above right), it was wonderful to see the influence of Indian embroidery. Please, please, please forgive me for not writing down her name(what made me think I could remember an Indian name?!?!?! I do know it was very pretty sounding!) I DO remember her creativity and you can see her ‘take’ on the topper pattern!! She was visiting here from New Hampshire, and enjoys tackling new creative projects. India has a rich history of wonderful stitching and you can see this in her piece. I loved the bright color she added as well as the appliqued cotton centerpiece. Her blanket stitch was much more of a buttonhole stitch – most of us would wilt at ‘that many stitches’ – resulting in a very different look. I don’t know about you, but I love cross cultural exchanges of art, craft and design…so much to learn!

Mary with her Snowflake #1 topper

Mary with her Snowflake #1 topper

Close up of Mary's Snowflake #1 - all ready for final edge stitching.

Close up of Mary’s Snowflake #1 – all ready for final edge stitching.

Mary came and had her snowflake #1 all set for the final edge stitching. It’s hard to see, but she used a mixed assortment of beads for her background beading and the effect was wonderful. She also had used a great Valdani variegated perle cotton for her stitching, but said she had problems and was frustrated with the thread getting somewhat ‘thinned and weakened’ as she worked. We discussed the possibility of using a large eye needle to help prevent that – of course then you have to balance that with how small you would like your stitches to be (larger needles do not equal smaller stitches!) I should also probably say that I am somewhat responsible for this occurring since I tend to set a bad example working with ‘ahem’ looonnnggg thread lengths(did you hear me say “I hate knots!”) and I should really warn my students of the hazards! A couple of things I find helpful – 1) move the thread – where it folds over the needle eye – frequently, so it doesn’t wear at any one point  2) accept that I might lose – say 6-8″ of thread(instead of being able to use it all the way to the last 2-3 inches) if the thread wears and breaks  3) use thread heaven to condition the thread for easier gliding through the wool.( This seems a bit strange for a heavier thread, but I find it works.) You will have to clean an accumulation of tiny fibers off the top of your thread heaven periodically though!  4)  give in!…use shorter lengths of thread…join and tie off more often!

Mary also showed us some finished wool applique on cotton blocks from a block of the month she is doing. They were beautiful. (I’m beginning to think I need to try this, as there is something very appealing about the combination of the two types of fabric!)  It was gratifying to hear that things she had learned in the topper class, helped her feel more competent and satisfied with completing them.  All agreed that much of the time and work of these toppers was in the preparation; tracing and cutting the snowflakes, techniques for achieving accuracy, etc. They also agreed that they liked the ‘finished’ nature of the toppers, looking completely finished with no exposed knots, etc. as well as the nice ‘hand’ of the topper. I always hope that at the end of any class I teach, I leave my students with new knowledge, confidence to try new things and to find/use their creativity, and satisfaction that their time and money was well worth it. I also hope that I leave a better teacher from having met, worked, and shared with those who come to learn!  Many thanks to them for allowing me to use these photos for ‘show and tell.’

One last thing…Interest is high in learning to make my pins. After seeking out the class opinions about which pin(s) they would be most interested in learning to make, a decision was made and a tentative date is set for end of April. Stay tuned.

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