Day one of the Gaudynski workshop started out quietly, since we mostly just talked our way through to lunch. Diane has so much quilting knowledge in her head, and she started the workshop with a bit of lecture, and introductions. Every time a student would introduce herself, Diane would talk about something the student said and more quilting knowledge gems would just spill out of her. By lunchtime, my notepad was filled and my own head was stuffed full of new tips to make machine quilting easier and better.
I don’t know what it was that Diane said or did exactly, but it all finally clicked into place.
After lunch, the serious quilting started. Now, I’ve bought and read and re-read her books, and I’ve had success with some of her techniques, but I’ve never been happy with echo quilting. Actually, to be honest, I’ve hated it the few times I’ve tried it, partly because I just couldn’t get it to look right. Wouldn’t you know that was the first thing she wanted us to do. But after the way she explained it and demonstrated echo quilting, and had the students practice it, I was able to finally get it right! I was so thrilled! She used it as a warm up to all the rest of her techniques, and it really did help to get that one basic thing right.
You know, I’ve always kind of wondered why quilters need classes so much. Really, I have, and I’ve sometimes felt somewhat superfluous in workshops as an instructor, when I’ve mostly learned from books and I felt like everybody else could do the same if they only tried. So now I finally get it. I’ve never taken a workshop like this after trying the same techniques in a book and not being as successful as I would have liked. I don’t know what it was that Diane said or did exactly, but it all finally clicked into place. In the past, the other classes and workshops that I’ve taken were all techniques that I was unfamiliar with, and just wanted to try out, so I didn’t get this same feeling that being with the instructor in person made all the difference in the level of success. Something to remember, obviously.
Another thing that I finally got right: using the #100 silk thread, and liking it! I bought the Diane Gaudynski assortments of the #100 silk thread on the cones from YLI a couple of years ago, and every time I tried to use them, I didn’t like them, which was really painful since they were soooo expensive! I realize now that part of the problem was that I was using thread that was too dark on fabric that was too light. I had transferred what I knew about cotton threads directly over to the usage of the silk, and it didn’t work right. Silk thread is so thin and fine, that a too dark thread on a too light fabric will look horrible. I knew that in theory, but I didn’t realize how much closer the values of the thread and the fabric needed to be to look good. The colors that I was instinctively putting together based on my experiences with cotton threads were all wrong. Diane set me straight on that one too.
Toward the end of the first day, Diane showed us how to do freehand, unmarked feather designs. Here’s another thing from her books that I’ve tried, and not been happy with the results. Again, after her explanations and demonstrations, I tried it and was completely thrilled with the results! Maybe it was the echo quilting warm up, or the right color thread on the fabric, and maybe it was just hearing it from her own lips, but my feathers looked great, and they never had before. I left the workshop at the end of the first day tired (but mostly from jet lag really, not from quilting) and very definitely happy!