I’m going to start this blog post in something of a strange place. Ready?
I’ve been thinking a lot about learning style. At some point down the road that thinking will end up as an article for Generation Q Magazine. Intrigued? Stay tuned, I’ll let you know when that happens.
I doodle a lot. So much so that ever since the beginning of teaching free motion machine quilting I’ve had a doodling class. Doodling complements the work of quilting like butter complements toasted bread. Add cinnamon and sugar, or a favorite jam, or oh! lemon curd and the toast goes from okay, to sublime.
When I teach And now what?! or Doodling Your Way to Better Quilting we start with what looks like a quilt block on paper, chat about what might look good and what you, as the quilter, might want to stitch out. We talk about this as a group as there is something really cool that happens – Jane might stitch out stippling on a 9-patch, while Melissa might want to do Baptist Fans, and Debby might play with some Ribbon Candy, well that gives Amy the thought that she might like to stitch clamshells, while Adam might starts thinking about nautilus shells, and Teri, well she thinks about champagne bubbles because, tiny bubbles.
We then spend about 4 – 6 minutes drawing those ideas out on the quilt block. The doodling needs to just be there. Four to six minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time right now, however, it can seem like a lot when you’re plotting the perfect quilting for the quilt you have in mind. Because we all have that one show quilt in mind.
If the quilters are comfortable we share what they doodled. Every quilter does something a bit different. Every quilter chooses different colors – to represent a color of thread they might use for stitching. As we share faces over the room start showing that “oh, that looks cool I’m going to have to remember that!”
There are a couple of blocks that I ask the quilters what they see, what is their first impression. One that I do this with is based on a fabric that I practiced quilting on a long time ago – it’s a long rectangle with offset one inch dots. I used that fabric to learn how to make swirls in a defined space. What’s fascinating is how the students see the possibilities, and then what is doodled might be completely different from the chat, because by the time we get to this block the creative energy is starting to flow. Quilters are using multiple colors to fill in the space, and the room gets really quiet. I think this is one of my favorite blocks to watch happen.
One of the things that I found important as a I practice machine quilting on paper is to use my non-dominant hand. It’s a hot mess! But doodling with my left hand helps develop the eye/hand coordination needed for machine quilting. I have to Think through the design, give thought to how I will move my hands, and at what speed.
I’ll show you how I will stitch out any motif and in some cases I’ll show you both right and left handed.
Join me on Friday November 11th at Pinwheels and Friends in Sturbridge, MA at the Sturbridge Host hotel for Doodle Your Way to Better Quilting. I’m bringing all the supplies for class, you just get to show up and doodle with me. There are going to be some amazing teachers at this event run by Maria Tamaoka of Pinwheels – think Daiwabo Taupes and Oakshott Cottons, and teachers: Debby Brown, Sue Pelland, Karen Altabef (tatting! – her designs will lead to some great quilting motifs!), click here for a complete list and here for the vendors.