I know most of you are just here for the garment sewing tips, but I really think my knitting and quilting combine with garment sewing to make me better at all three. I also think that learning something new, even if it’s not directly related to garment sewing, is a great way to keep your mind fresh and ready to adapt for new challenges, whatever they may be. I’m also a huge fan of Carolyn Friedlander – both her fabric line, patterns, and all the garments she makes – and always love an excuse to see Jaime and Amber (though Amber was out of town this time) so when Jaime told me last year that Fancy Tiger was going to be having a Carolyn Friedlander retreat I told her to save two spots!
My mom and I flew into Denver on Thursday afternoon with about 80 Carolyn Friedlander fat quarters in tow and checked into our Air B&B to figure out what to do with our free day on Friday before the meet & greet and go through the fabrics we brought. By coincidence my mom and I each had 2 collections of fat quarters and no repeats so we decided to pool the fabrics together for our quilts – it ended up being both overwhelming and amazing.
On Friday we decided to check out some mountains and headed out on a route Amber recommended. We headed to a town called Evergreen for brunch at the Wildflower Cafe, then continued up to Mt. Evans. We got out at the Mount Goliath Natural Area to walk around and check out the grove of Rocky Mountain bristlecone pines. Apparently it’s the northernmost grove of bristlecone pines in the US and they were definitely cool. After that we headed up to Summit Lake Park to walk around after a stop to see a few mountain goats. It was pretty cold at Summit Lake Park and at 12,836 feet above sea level, a bit low on oxygen for two Chicagoans. The road to the actual summit was closed which was fine since it was getting late anyway and we had to be back at FT for the first weekend event.
On Saturday we had a class in paper piecing – something that my mom has done before but I never had so a totally new experience for me. It’s always weird being a beginner in something related to fabric but it took over half the day for me to place the first strip of fabric down face up. Every fiber of my being says that placing a piece of fabric face up to sew is wrong so it was pretty hard to fight that.
Carolyn was an awesome teacher who was super chilled out and didn’t mind reminding me over and over, face up! It felt a lot like this scene from The Royal Tenenbaums honestly which cracked me up internally.
Eventually by the end of the day my brain was fried but I’d made 6 blocks which I think is a pretty good start! My blocks are on the left above and my mom’s are on the right. I think the thing that took the longest was choosing color combinations honestly. We were working off Carolyn’s Eads pattern which is awesomely geometric. I love a good triangle quilt and this is a really cool alternative to regular triangles.
I really enjoyed the class and learning something new, and fighting my natural fabric placement instincts was good for me I think. I guess I have another quilt started now – 6 blocks down, 42 to go!
That night we went out for dinner with Carolyn & Jaime and then headed back to where we were staying, got ready for day two, and crashed hard!
Day two we were back at Fancy Tiger to learn hand appliqué! My mom and I took a class maybe 15 years ago on needle turned appliqué so we had a bit of an intro prior to this which was nice for me. I’d also started Carolyn’s Collection Quilt and had read her book Savor Each Stitch which were both helpful in knowing a tiny bit about her appliqué style. That said nothing compares to seeing her appliqué in real life. It was so nice to see how she stitches, where she clips, how she holds the fabric, etc. Especially coming from garment sewing where everything is much larger scale!
We worked on her Wainwright pattern in this class and she came with a bunch of squares pre-cut so I used those for my two blocks. I figured that way I could focus on my technique rather than spending time trying to come up with a color scheme for a quilt I’m not quite ready to buy fabric for. I do still have that Collection Quilt going on…probably should finish that first.
I picked up SOOOOO many amazing tips and tricks and techniques from which supplies to use, length of thread to use, basting tips, and especially how to do different types of curves, corners and other tricky shapes. I’m super happy with how my two appliqué blocks turned out and since getting back on Monday I’ve almost finished the 3rd block on my collection quilt! It’s amazing the difference that learning from someone makes. I think that was a real revelation for me since I’m usually the one teaching and not taking a class. But now I get it!
Traveling to a class was also awesome because you have nothing else going on, you don’t have to go home and make dinner or walk the dog or clean the house, you can just relax after class and get ready for the next day. 100% would do again!
So if you’ve gotten to the end of this post, I’m assuming you’re either a quilter or are interested in quilting at some point. If so, have you tried paper piecing or hand appliqué before? Who are my other quilt lovers out there?!