Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bordered Diamond Workshop with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably

Last week, I was very fortunate to have attended a workshop with Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably.  It was held at a resort in San Diego and it was definitely a fun-filled day.

So much to tell and lots of pictures to share.  I was so excited to take this workshop.  I have been collecting Kaffe Fassett fabrics since 2001 and I have been holding back on cutting them because they are just too beautiful to cut.  I also own a few of his books.  Was I start struck?  Absolutely.

Let me start by saying that the workshop was almost cancelled at the last minute but Kim and Jac at Starry Night Hollow worked a miracle for this class to push through.  Kaffe and Brandon were supposed to arrive the evening before the workshop and they were flying in from Arizona to San Diego.  But because of the fog, they were forced to fly back to Arizona.  Weather cleared up a bit and they flew out again to San Diego.  But, they were still unable to land so they flew back to Arizona a second time.

There were no other flights to San Diego so they were almost forced to cancel the class.  But, Kim and Jac found them a flight to Orange County at 8:30 in the morning and drove them down in time for the 10:00 am workshop.  So, here's Kaffe and Brandon with barely 5 hours of sleep but they were fully committed to getting us through the workshop and having a good time.

First, a few house rules:  flash photography, sitting down and over-thinking are definitely not allowed.  We were not allowed to use flash because it was too distracting and hard on Kaffe's eyes, so some of the pictures are not of the best quality but you get the gist.  What was encouraged was singing, dancing and trading fabrics with other classmates.   We had the Beatles playing while we worked.

We were told not to pre-cut the diamonds ahead of time so that Kaffe could review our selection prior to starting.  Then we were instructed to work quickly and cover our design boards as fast as possible so that Kaffe and Brandon could go around and provide us some suggestions on fabric placement and replacement.

Holy cow!  I felt like I was on the Amazing Race.  Everyone was cutting fabric feverishly.  No time to think and over-analyze.  I was reluctant to cut into some of my stash but I'd rather have the fabric end up on my quilt than in a box for the next 20 years!  I was cutting fabric so fast I was seriously concerned about slicing off my finger or my wrist!

Kaffe and Brandon were both very helpful and friendly and gave us very good suggestions.  Some of my fabrics were voted off the board and some unexpected ones made it on. After a nice lunch on the patio, we worked some more.  By this time, we were a lot more comfortable "borrowing" and trading fabrics with other classmates.  I wish we all cut up 10 extra diamonds just so we can trade with others like trading cards.  That would have been fun.

So, an hour before the end of the workshop, we all had to stop working and Kaffe and Brandon took us around everyone's board and provided some critique on the unique qualities of each.  Here are some photos of everyone's board.  Some were on the more softer, pastel side and some were dark and smoky.  All were gorgeous!

Here's Kaffe giving his comments on my design board.

Here's a few more.

And finally, Kaffe and Brandon signed our books.  Isn't Brandon cute?  He's wearing a shirt made out of fabric he designed (Dapple) with Guinea Flowers ribbon trim.

Come to think of it, he sort of looks like a guy I dated 10 years ago.  But he didn't have Brandon's fun personality.  And here I am (looking really rough and tired at the end of the day).  Kaffe and Brandon called me Miss Pink.

A few people brought Show and Tell.  Aren't they just gorgeous and yummy?

Here's Kaffe's quilt from the book Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts. 

I had such a great time and I can't wait to finish my quilt.  Kim and Jac did such a great job to make this workshop a success!  I would definitely take another Kaffe and Brandon workshop in a heartbeat!  But first, let's get this quilt done.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Isn't She Lovely?

At long last, my baby is now home!  Isn't she lovely?  Isn't she wonderful?  Isn't she precious?  I just love, love, love my new baby girl.

Yes, it is difficult to justify buying a new sewing machine when my finances have been tight and I am not making the money I once was.  But, I am proud to say that I did not purchase her on credit.  It took  almost a year to save the money before I was able to take her home and I am so in love with her.  And for those who need a formal introduction, this is the Janome Horizon 7700.  When I did my research on this machine, she came very highly recommended and I've wanted one for the longest time.  

Warning!  The rest of this blog post is about the negative experience I had with the sewing machine dealership I purchased her from.  It does have a lesson learned and a happy ending but if you choose not to continue reading, that's ok.  Like all moms, I want to talk about the labor and the birthing process so here goes...

When I was first shopping for the Janome Horizon, I decided that I could not afford this machine brand new.  I was not in a hurry to get one as I already have a couple of great machines.  A friend of mine (I'll call her F for Friend) also worked at a sewing machine dealership and she told me that a customer had recently traded up her Janome 7700 for another model.  The machine was only a few months old so I could probably negotiate a good price for it.

F had a sewing class at the dealership on a particular Friday night so I went with her and played around with the machine while she attended class.  I did not receive any one-on-one instruction or attention from the salesperson (Ill call her N for No Help).  I pretty much just played around with it until F was done with her class.

I decided to put the machine on lay-away and plunked down a down payment.  I was provided a receipt for the down payment.  Through the next few months, I made payments as much as I could.  Finally, the day came when I could finally pay her off.  I called N and told her I was coming on a Monday afternoon to pick her up.  N told me the machine would be ready.

I showed up on Monday afternoon and they were packing up the machine from the sales floor as I arrived.  N was not around but another sales person I'll call S ( for Snooty) was there. I was very surprised and unhappy to learn that the machine had been sitting on the sales floor for a year while I was making payments on it.  Additionally, it was dusty and had not been serviced prior to my arrival.  

I spoke to the owner and told him how unhappy I was that the machine remained a floor model.  He explained that floor models were hardly used because most shoppers would only use the machine for 15 minutes at the most and that I paid a very good price.  The sewing machine technician was not around that day but they would tune up and clean the machine for me and I could either come back and drop off my machine for service or leave it there and come pick it up in 3 days.

I reluctantly agreed and went ahead and paid for the balance of the machine.  At this time S was helping me and I asked her to show me a few basic things such as threading the machine and such and she said "I'm surprised you want instruction as N had already spent 2 hours with you on a Friday night".  First of all, that was last year and second, I explained to her that N did not show me the features of the machine.  S proceeded to argue with me about how she remembers me because I came and shopped on a Friday night after the store had closed and N worked overtime to assist me.  I explained to her (again) that N had not assisted me and the store was open because there was a class, not because of me.  S was aggravating me more and more by the minute and I was already annoyed that:

a)  the machine I was making payments on remained on the sales floor the entire time I was paying for it
b)  N knew I was coming to pick up the machine and did not bother to have it cleaned and tuned up before I came to pick it up
c)  S was insisting that I kept the store open for 2 hours after closing time last year so that I could shop
d) S was insisting N already provided me instruction on how to use the machine
e) I had to drive back in 3 days to come pick up the machine (the store is nowhere close to where I live or work)

I got in my car and was close to tears because of anger and frustration.  I couldn't believe I made such a major investment and was treated so poorly!  I also thought about how I saved for a year and all the hard work to make extra money for this machine only to have such a negative experience.  I didn't know if I could get over it.  Every time I'd look at the machine, I'm sure I'd remember this bad experience all over again.  And since they already had my money, I wan't sure what kind of recourse I had.

Then I looked at the receipt from a year ago for the down payment and looked at the receipt I was just issued for making the final payment.  The SERIAL NUMBERS on both the receipts DID NOT MATCH!  I was livid!  I marched back into the store and spoke to the owner.  I was not going to take home a machine which was not the one I originally purchased.  That would be like dropping your car off for an oil change and driving home with another car!

The owner resolved this by providing me with a brand new machine (still in the box).  Yipee!  I was very glad and off I went with S to amend the paperwork and ensure that my receipt now reflected the new serial number.  S was still as snooty and after the paperwork was done, she and said goodbye.  Umm, hold on just a second.  I need someone to carry this 40 lb machine to my car.  She informed me she couldn't possibly lift this machine because of her bad back.  Well then, find me someone who can!!!  Even the supermarket offers assistance to your car.  Why wouldn't this stupid &*%$# store?

I will not disclose the name of this store because at the end of the day, the owner did the right thing.  However, you can bet your bottom dollar, I am NEVER coming back to this store and  I am NEVER recommending this store to my friends.  So, the moral of the story is:  always check the serial number of your machine.  If putting a machine on lay-away, ask if it will remain on the sales floor.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Free Motion Quilting- My Favorite Tools

I'm in the middle (literally) of quilting my Berries and Bluebirds quilt.

I am halfway done and I thought I'd share with you my quilting set up.  I have a foldable sewing table and to support the weight of the quilt, I put another folding table behind my sewing machine so my quilt can lay out instead of drag on the floor.

I have used the Supreme Slider for a couple of years and I swear by it.  It really helps glide my quilt around the table and it is indispensable.  For those who are unfamiliar with this, the Supreme Slider is a Teflon coated sheet of material that you lay on your sewing surface.  Since it is slick but not sticky, your quilt slides on the surface easily for free motion quilting.  It is important to tape it to your table.  As you can see, I have inadvertently sewn the Supreme Slider to the back of my quilt a time or two and have had to rip it out.

I have the 8 x 11.5 size and it is getting a little ratty and torn so I thought about getting a replacement but it is not cheap.  A few other bloggers and quilters have recommended using an oven liner (a Teflon sheet used to catch drips in your oven for easy cleaning).  So, I thought I'd make a $10.00 investment and try one out.

I love it!  It is very similar at a fraction of the cost.  The one I got from Walmart is black (no other colors were available) and it is 30 inches wide so it covers my entire table.  You just need to position it on your table and cut a hole for your needle.

Since it is made from Teflon, you can also use the sheet for protecting your iron and ironing board from fusible webbing.  If you do crafting with a hot glue gun or rubber stamping, you can also use this to protect your table.  I'm not trying to take business away from the makers of the Supreme Slider.  As I said, I love their product.  However, in this economy, I can't afford to spend a lot of money and have had to find a more affordable substitute.

The next FMQ tool I highly recommend is Sharon Schamber's Quilt Halo.  I saw her demonstrating this a couple years ago at the Long Beach International Quilt show and it does help alleviate strain on your hands and shoulders when free motion quilting.  The rubber surface on the ring grips the fabric of your quilt so you don't have to work so hard to move your quilt around.  I have used quilting gloves in the past but I find it a hassle having to take off my gloves every time I want to re-thread my sewing machine.

My favorite marking tool is the Pilot Frixion.  You can get this pen at a quilt store or any office supply store, Target, Walmart, etc.  I also use this pen for tracing Redwork or embroidery patterns onto fabric.  The nice part about it is the marking disappears with the touch of a hot iron.  This pen has only been in the market for a couple of years so who knows if the ink will reappear in the future.  I've heard that it does in very cold temperature (i.e. if you put the fabric in the freezer).  But since I live in Southern California, I am not too worried about the temperature dropping below 32F.  

I have tried the water soluble pens you normally find at JoAnns- the kind you have to saturate with water to make the ink disappear.  The bad news is that the ink never really goes away. It does tend to reappear in a few years like the annoying ex-boyfriend you thought you had completely eradicated from your life.

Moving's another good tip I learned from a teacher.  Use a piece of clear plastic and lay it on top of your quilt to audition quilting patterns.  Use a dry erase marker so you can wipe it off with a tissue and  re-use.

Most important, change your needle frequently and use good quality thread to avoid skipped stitches and thread breakage.  If you have any tools or tips for successful free motion quilting, I'd love to hear from you.

Next week, I will be taking a workshop with Kaffe Fassett.  I am so excited!  I love his fabric and have a few in my collection from 10 years ago.  I don't know if I can even cut into those.  I was at Cotton and Chocolate last month and bought a few Kaffe fabric in jewel tones.  This wonderful lady helping me (I wish I could recall her name) is also taking a workshop with Kaffe Fassett- but in Carpenteria.  So, I am curious how her quilt will turn out.  I am really hoping to learn more about color from Kaffe.