Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quilter's Academy Vol. 1 Final Exam

Pondering the Final Exam:
I'm looking at a picture of a quilt which Harriet refers to as Homespun. It is a combination of 9 patch and Burgoyne blocks.

I am supposed to calculate grid size, yardage required, construction, assembly, and pressing.

I'm obviously going to do this, it is part of the course projects.
Can I do this?
I'm not doing this.
Do I want to do this?        
Why would I want to do this?

I decided to revert to my goals in order to make a decision.
I want to piece and quilt with joy and accuracy, making quilts, table runners, seasonal items and gifts and to finish my UFO's that were started but beyond my ability.  I will keep a blog to keep myself accountable to finishing the course and hopefully find others who are also on the journey to learn to quilt better.

Harriet and Carrie's Goal as stated in the Preface:
Our plan is to walk you through a series of classes, lessons and projects that will build one skill on another, so that when you have worked your way through the entire series of books you will be well on your way to being a master piecer. Each book in the series is like a year of college courses, from Freshman to PhD candidate.  After your "college education" you will never again be dependent on books and patterns, but will be able to draft or design anything you can dream up, and you will know how to piece and quilt it yourself! 

Our goals are shared with the exception of design.  I have not been convinced of the usefulness of design. However, as I say that I glance back at my post "Reminiscing while Awaiting" and see the 2nd and 3rd quilts I started my journey with (the Airplane and Patriotic quilts) and laugh. I designed them from start to finish. I suppose that maybe my goals were not exactly based on previous experiences. LOL.  Should they?  probably.  But, I really want to see myself following more patterns. :)

After examining the Exam Quilt more carefully, I see that all the units are made up of units we have been making throughout the book.  There is nothing new here. This final is really just a test of whether or not we can do what we have been doing all year, without all the instruction details.
I CAN DO THIS. Therefore, I shall do this. There is no reason why NOT to do this.

I cannot imagine approaching this without first doing the calculations on paper. It's the numbers side of me. lol.
I figured out all the units, grid size and yardage.  I'm using the smallest grid size of 1", which makes for 15" blocks!  That is huge!  Well, bigger than we have done before.  I used fabric stash that fit my required yardage, with the exception of the background fabric I needed to buy.

Admission: I did not make a mock up of a block.  I really don't like that step!

Because this is an exam and others may be doing this, I'm purposely not giving any other details of calculations, assembly, etc.

Here is my pieced top!

Things I learned from the Final:

  1. Do not take off a year between piecing projects and doing the final. LOL.   I felt like I was doing fine, until I started putting together the actual 15" block.  All my small squares were measured great. But, when I put them together, I was off.
  2. I will not be using cheap fabric any more.  I bought some cheap Joanne fabric for the background.  It took me 4 hrs. to straighten the grain.  And, I think it was still out of wack because my pieced squares are fine, and the solid background pieces throw off my measurements.
  3. It was easier to do than I thought, which means I have learned ALOT.
  4. I have not yet attached the borders, nor quilted this.  The Green is not really that bright green. lol. Since I don't like the outcome so far (it does not measure up to where I left off with the last project) I am not planning on finishing this.  I think it has already served its purpose. If I decide to learn a new quilting method, I may use this as a practice piece!

I have thoroughly enjoyed this class.  I have learned so much and have improved my accuracy. Even more, I have learned to slow down and enjoy the process.
  1. I can easily say ironing used to be the worse part. I've always hated to iron.  Now, I can see how important it is, and how I can CHANGE the way the fabric lays with ironing!  And, starch!  I've also been using Best Press.  It works well also.  I admit that I am learning to like the ironing! I listen to music, or audio books, and just take my time.  
  2. I've learned where my 1/4" seam is.  I've marked my machine. I've learned where to cut using the outside line of the ruler grid line. It all makes a difference.
  3. I think the entire Vol. 1 has been a great learning experience. With every project I have learned something, and seen improvement in my piecing skill. I will reiterate here though, the one project that did not belong in this volume was the mitered pointy ended table runner.  There just wasn't enough instruction and it was too complicated for first year. 
  • I started my Freshman year in Jan of 2013. 
  • I finished all the quilt top projects by March of 2013! (Obviously, the projects themselves do not take that long. )
  • 3/13-4/14: It took me a full year to gain the courage to learn to quilt the projects.  
  • April 2014: I started with quilt samples, and spent a couple of months playing with Harriet's Machine Quilting book. I just wasn't inspired. My Pfaff is not particularly well suited for quilting, and so I procrastinated some more.
  • Nov. 2014:  I wander into my Local Quilt Store for sewing machine inspiration and find out they have opened a quilting studio and I immediately thought, "This I Can Do".  I took a certification class the very next week. 
  • Nov 2014- May 2015: All the quilt top projects are completed.
  • May 2015 Final Exam
Now that I have finished all those projects, I am not convinced I want to forever do all my quilting at the store on a stand up long arm machine. There are benefits and drawbacks.

The Pro's:
  • It is fast.  I finished most projects in 2 hours or less. 
  • It is no doubt a lot easier than attempting to use my home machine. It got me DOING IT.
  • No basting necessary.
  • No marking necessary.
  • The machines are made to do quilting exclusively, and are easy to manipulate.
  • Stitch regulators make sure the stitches are even and beautiful.
  • Atmosphere of other quilters, support staff, and companionship.
The Con's:
  • I pay for rental time, and feel the need to start and finish in one rental session.
  • Pantographs are the only feasible method to use in order to start and finish in one session.
  • Free motion takes more time.
  • Standing at the machine for hours is not comfortable for me.
I hope to refine my method of quilting this next year.  I plan on winning a sit down long arm machine for the home this June from the APQS giveaway!

I am considering myself a Sophmore student now, and moving into the next course book!
I hope you will continue to follow my progress.  Drop me a line and let me know you are here!
And, Thank You Harriet and Carrie Hargrave for putting together a wonderful course to teach us to quilt with knowledge and accuracy.


  1. Please keep posting. I am following you and look forward to your posts. Your quilts are beautiful.

    1. Thank you Sandra! Long time no hear, I'm So glad to know you are still following my progress! Are you quilting plenty?

  2. No, not much. I am pretty much a relapsed quilter right now except for a BOM @ LQS. Lots of reasons, but I still love reading others' stories and looking at their quilts. You have done an amazing job.