Monday, July 30, 2012

Deliberate Practice

The advice often offered to quilters regarding free motion work is : Practice, practice, practice. Although good advise it will not necessarily help to improve your skills. What is essential is deliberate practise. It is necessary to evaluate your results and constantly and deliberately try to improve it. To learn more about the difference deliberate practice can make, read this guest blog post at Expert Enough by Lukas Kyska of The Aspiring Guitarist.

When I wanted to become a great canoeist 35 years ago I did not realize that it was not good enough to paddle up and down the lake for an hour every day. The day of the great event I was still last. I have never pushed myself to exhaustion. I was tired every night but all that practice did not give me an competitive edge.

The snowflakes were enhanced with a bit of sparkling paint. Still in complete.
At the International Quilt Convention this week end in Johannesburg (South Africa) I took a class with Susan Brubaker Knapp. We rarely have the opportunity to take classes from International teachers so I made use of this chance to learn from a master. The snowflake design we made in the class force one to carry out intricate small movements. It provided good practice in micro-stippling.

 I decided to use a small zig-zag stitch working this on the diagonal. It was quite tricky to find the right diagonal line but I was very happy with the way it contribute to the lacy effect we wanted to achieve.
Deliberate practice make the difference
To improve results one need to evaluate the results you achieve. Then you need to make a decision on the changes that is necessary to improve the results. In your practice session your aim must be to achieve those improved results. Constant re evaluation and adjustments is necessary to make your practice session worth while in improving your skills.

Susan is an excellent teacher and as always in any class I learned quite a few skills and got some really worth while tips. We had a marvelous and inspiring time at the quilt convention.

Please share your tips on deliberate practice.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Civil War block

When I work on a piecing project I like to start it and complete the top before moving on to a next project. A Block of the Month or Week project do not work so well for me except if I do it by hand. When I tackled the Civil war project of Barbara Brackman last year, I made the 28 blocks in two sessions.
Auditioning the blocks and sashing
I was looking for fabric for a new project and needed some that was used in this blocks. When I opened the box I realized I was not going to make the other 24 blocks. I had an interesting border print that I thought would unify these blocks. I combined 4 miniature blocks I made from these patterns to make another block and use another miniature block on point in a Square in a square setting.

The top is nearly completed. The border fabric was just not enough for the top row of sashing. I got hold of more fabric and will complete the top now.
Completed Bottom half

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It is to big!

I completed my handbag. I want to take it with me to the International Quilt Conference in Johannesburg. I am also taking my sewing machine and the Airline only allowed two pieces of hand luggage. This bag is just to big. If I put it in my suitcase it will just take up to much space.

Oh well it can hold about 3 quilts- so it is a nice bag to carry my Show and Tell quilts to meetings. I do not know what I was thinking- or perhaps I did not think? The pattern's name is The 6 Fat Quarter bag. It is a free pattern and available from Martingale. I use the two pieces of "Stupendous Stitching" to bring two of the fat quarters to the correct size.
I have added some charms on this piece.

I think I did not carry out the instructions for the handles correctly- but a big bag like this need wider handles. It is just not long enough- but I will remove the knot and just sew it together and decorate it with a button. The pattern can be found on Martingale's website- here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making Plans or not?

I am most productive if I plan my days. I have read on some blogs that goal setting and detailed planning contribute to stress. So in the beginning of the year I thought I will just "go with the flow" and do what my hand find to do.

This might work for some people but it definitely did not work for me. I need to know what I want to achieve and do some planning around it on a daily basis. I decided to make myself a back pack long ago- last year some time. I have sewn some lovely Jacobean embroidery designs to use as pockets on the back pack and that was as far as it went.

We have an International Quilting Conference at the end of July. This was a good motivation for me to have the bag ready to take with me when I attend this Quilting Event. I used an old back pack that I find ideally as a template/pattern to make mine. I added a lining with a inner zip pocket and added a third outside pocket. The Back pack turned out very well and I am super happy with it. I am also very glad that I have another project finished.

I also want to make a handbag using an interesting pattern that I got from Interweave.
I have changed some of the panels to include some panels with stitching on. This I have learned from taking a class with Carol Ann Waugh at Craftsy

I have made this wall hanging after taken her class and is constantly looking for ways to apply this in my other work.

This bag will be a good opportunity to apply this knowledge and personalize my bag. What I like about this is that I can play with my embroidery floss, trying out the stitches I learned from Sharon Boggon in her Take a Stitch Tuesday series. I also use the knowledge obtained from my class with Margaret le Roux (last year) to incorporate the beads and charms I have added to my collection.

I do like to work in my studio concentrating on my projects. My embroidery machine is operating under my supervision working on another new project, while I completed the back pack and then start with the panels for the handbag. This sometimes create a conflict when the embroidery project needs decision making and cause a brake in concentration on the bag project. Then I just switch the embroidery machine off so as not to loose the Zen quality of my time in my studio.

Do you plan your days- or just go with the flow? What works for you?

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