Wednesday, April 15, 2015

HQ Blessington Academy


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It was the Blessington HandiQuilter Academy up in the Blue Mountains, I found out about it two weeks ago (pretty much the day Angela instagrammed a pic of Sydney and said she was here for two weeks), booked in almost immediately, and it was awesome.


I did three workshops and two lectures with Angela - I think the only lecture/class of hers I didn't attend was the one about running your own FMQ business. Instead, for that one, I attended a class on 'blocks, borders, and corners'. But more about that later.

The workshops were: Fun, Fab, Free-motion Fills
Quilting Negative Space
Little Changes, Big Variety

People who've read her books will recognise most of the patterns she took us through, but I found it so helpful to actually have her there doing the demonstration, commenting, and answering questions. And she FMQs so beautifully and so effortlessly, it's amazing!

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Plus, the whole thing about putting it all together? That was important for me: because I can do spirals, and I can do pebbles, but I hadn't really managed spirals-and-pebbles together before. Toss in some leaves, and some paisley feathering...

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Let's just say that the quilting on my #igminioz looks very different from the quilting on my #rainbowminiswap!

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The lectures were:
Quilting Efficiently
Quilting Modern Quilts

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The Quilting Efficently one was an excellent one for me - I tend to quilt myself into corners and then get stuck for how to get out. Her thinking condensed a lot of things for me, including the concept that when I'm quilting, I should be looking ahead, thinking about where I want to end up so I can quilt the next section without having the backtrack.

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Quilting Modern Quilts, on the other hand, was interesting from the design perspective: thinking about what the quilt should highlight and what the quilting means. I haven't really been focused on the quilting in my quilt work - I'm more about the colour, design, and piecing. Which, for some quilts, is fine. However, as I make and quilt more quilts with negative space, I need to work on my FMQ and how I see the actual process of quilting.

So this was very helpful, mentally.

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The single non-Angela workshop I took was Block, Corners, and Borders which turned out to be quite hilarious in a very specific way.

The attendees at the Blessington Academy were largely mature-age women. Many of them owned the machines we were working on. And the single workshop I randomly picked out to fill in a space I didn't have a class or lecture in turned out to be on a very specific, very elaborate machine: the Infinity 240 (or something like that). I imagine you can FMQ on it, but it's really more for pantograph/pattern sewing via a computer.


So, we're in this class and the woman leading it (Mary-Beth...someone?) asks everyone what they're here for. And all the other women own this machine or are planning to own it, and there in the middle of the class I confess that "I picked this class out of a list, I've never seen this machine before, but don't worry, just go on with the class and I'll go with the flow."

As it turned out, the key issue was that it was software. Lots of buttons, menus, and a general procedure that you have to follow to get your sewing pattern to fit in the space you want it to sew. And I didn't know this machine, but I know software. I know that the specifics of the procedure will change - "Pattern A, Area A, Direction A" for this block "Pattern A, Area A, Direction B" for that - but the process will remain the same (pick the pattern, set the area/skew the pattern, define the direction).

I know that when I get an exception error 0000000X1572012361001, that I need to close down the program and start it up again. And, admittedly, I got the error by pressing buttons that I probably shouldn't have been pressing just to see what it would do. But the software rebooted fine!

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And I know that when you experiment and have fun, you're more likely to remember the process you need to follow to do it in future. Give me another Infinity whatever and I could probably work out how to be doing blocks within the hour.

So I nearly got a whole block done in the time that we had allotted for the class. And I think the instructor was impressed: "You're sure you've never used one of these before?" So I learned something new! (Although possibly presently useless.) However, at ~$40K for frame and machine, it's a wee smidge out of my budget. I could afford an Avanti, but I don't have the space for it.

I may be time to talk to the sister about building a garage... :D

But...I got to meet Angela Walters!


*does fangirly little dance of glee*


  1. Wow! That is one big quilty adventure! And a very worthwhile one at that. Love the quilting you have done in the photos above - I bet your mind was racing with possibilities at the end of each class!

  2. Lovely photo of you and Angela, I have several of her books and they have been very helpful with my quilting but there is nothing like actually being there while it is being explained and demonstrated.


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