Last week I had the opportunity to take four classes with Jamie Wallen. This is very unusual for me – I took two whole days away from my family and spent it doing something for myself. The Mom Guilt ended about a minute after I sat down in class.
A little backstory – I have always felt like I’m an artist in my head, but I just have never been able to get the pictures out of my head and onto paper. Quilting has definitely made a big difference for me. With piecing I can bring some of my ideas to life, but I could never draw. Usually my sketches vary quite a bit from my finished product. They are just maps for me to get where I want to go on the top.
So, back to the classroom. First, Jamie is so sincerely friendly and caring. He made sure all of his students understood everything he was saying. He was very generous with information and trouble shooting on any quilting issues we brought up. If anyone struggled with a shape, he spent the time explaining until we all got it. I had no feeling from him that he was an expert, and I was not. It was more like we were all artists he wanted to help along the path to greatness.
I was a little disappointed when I found out we wouldn’t be sewing at all. What good is a quilting class with no quilting? Jamie feels that 30 minutes of drawing is equivalent to 2 hours of practice on the machine, and I have to say, I agree now. Plus, I just had to remind myself that I have the machine at home, and can play with it all night if I want to.
Our first class on Day 1 was Mystical Feathers. I had taken a feathers class earlier this year, which I really enjoyed – it taught me how to draw nice feathers. This one changed my life – it taught me how to use the feathers, which is very different. We started with regular feathers, and by lunch time I was drawing this.
The second class was Mystical Grids. It started out slow – continuous curve, and other swirly bits. By the end of the day I had drawn this.
Day 2 began with Mystical Shapes. Oh my goodness. The way this man’s mind works is just amazing. This is one of my drawings.
Mystical Rulers was the last class of the day. My mind was pretty stuffed at this point, and my hand was cramping up, so I didn’t finish the sketch. Needless to say, I’m sold on ruler work now. I did invest in a few, but mostly I bought sketching tools.
If there are techniques you want to get better at in quilting, take a class. I’ve really never been a big proponent of classes, but I have been converted. If your first class doesn’t get you where you want to go, find another teacher. I liked my first teacher, but I felt like Jamie was really a kindred spirit.
To say I was a little excited when I got home on Saturday night would be an understatement. My family didn’t really know how to respond to my babbling and flipping through my sketch pad. They also seem to think I could draw before, so didn’t understand my hysteria. I sketched this design in my notebook Saturday night.
I put some batik on my machine, layered it with a Hobb’s 80/20 batting, then a wool batting, and a backing. Jamie is a big proponent of double batting. I am now, too. (If the man told me to wear my underpants outside of my pants, I would give it a try.) Sunday morning I stitched this design out, over the course of maybe 3 hours. It finished at 22″ square. I used a thread that blended with the top, the way a traditional wholecloth will. Also, I have only one color of purple thread for Darla. It is tough to get a good photo.
This is the back. I still need to finish the binding, but I don’t want to sit still long enough. I have quilting to do. I cannot believe how far my skills have progressed with just these 4 classes. I feel like I can do anything.
My sketches for customer quilts are no longer an embarrassment, either. Before I would say, trust me, I can do it with the machine. Not any more. I am going to have to stock up on pencils and notebooks.