My Week at the Folkschool – How to Make a Modern Quilt

Last week I embarked on an exciting adventure that I want to share with you. I spent 5 full days teaching a full group of students How to Make a Modern Quilt at the John C. Campbell Folkschool. Although it’s hard to capture such a full week in one blog post, here’s a little recap:

fiber_studioThe fiber arts building housed both the weaving studio and the quilting studio in separate halves of this beautiful structure, complete with a barn block!

Day 0 – Arrival and check in. This wasn’t a full day of teaching, but as soon as I got off the airplane (in Atlanta) I took a beautiful scenic drive through the woods of Georgia to the mountains of North Carolina. The Folkschool is located in a quaint little town called Brasstown and it was a beautiful place where time literally seemed to stand still. As soon as I was out of the car, it was time to check-in for teacher orientation, enjoy a wonderful southern dinner (the first of many delicious meals), and then meet the students.

Fortunately many of my students had been there before, and knew their way around, so they were able to lead me to the quilting studio, a huge space that was fully equipped for some serious sewing (though most of my students brought their own machines).

openstudioThere was enough space for all 12 students to each have their own table, design wall and cutting area, plus plenty of ironing boards. We even had room for full-size basting tables!

Day 1-2 Cutting and sewing. Once the students had settled in and organized their supplies, it was time to cut fabrics and learn some modern quilting basics (letting go of perfection, embracing asymmetry, discovering improvisational piecing.) Throughout the week it was fun getting to know the quilters and their various styles. As a teacher, I love to share my methods but I am so happy for each student to settle into her own process and find a comfortable work-flow.

modernblocksSome of the Modern Logs blocks starting to emerge. I love all the fabric choices!

Day 3 – More block sewing and piecing the backs. Throughout the class I encouraged the students to work at their own pace. Some decided to make bigger quilts, others took their time with the process, and they all seemed to embrace the design possibilities in their backing.

pieced_backingIsn’t this a great pieced backing?

A few of the students even made me smile by throwing in a few random pops of color to their wonky blocks. They agreed that they were channeling their inner Jacquie Gering. 🙂

colorpopDay 4 – Basting and machine quilting. This was the day that many had been waiting for, a chance to learn how to quilt their own quilts! They all agreed that they preferred spray basting hands-down to pin-basting and were pleased to learn some of my tips and tricks: such as smoothing each layer with a long ruler, applying spray to the top and backing (not the batting) and ironing the whole thing to set the glue. Each time a quilter finished her backing, several others came together to get it basted in mere minutes. It was quite the efficient process!

machinequilting2This combination of modern fabrics and nearly solids makes my heart sing!

Our week just happened to coincide with Southern Appalachian Modern Quilt Guild meeting, so several of the students and I were able to attend. We got to see inspiring show ‘n tell, eat yummy treats and watch a wonderful slideshow recap of QuiltCon highlights. I even picked up a couple of great ideas to share with my local modern quilt guild (LVMQG).

wovenrunnerPam’s SAMQG show ‘n tell – her original woven fabrics pieced into a table runner.

Pam Howard is the Resident Weaver at the Folkschool and a member of the SAMQG. She was in my class and we became fast friends. She’s experimenting with incorporating her hand-loomed fabrics into her quilts. Isn’t that a cool idea?

modernlogs

Day 5 – The finish and closing ceremony. I am so proud of my students! After a full week of nearly-non stop quilting, smiles were aplenty as everyone got to display their work for the entire school to see. From basketry to woodworking, to tin-smithing, photography, soapmaking, beadwork and more, just about every craft you could think of was well-represented.

folkschoolcraftsSeveral of the arts and crafts on display at the Folkschool Closing ceremony.

If you’ve never been to the Folkschool, I highly encourage you to visit. They run week-long classes year ’round and I can’t wait to return!

For those of you near the Little Rock, Arkansas area, I will be teaching a shorter version of Modern Logs at the NQA 46th annual quilt show June 18-20, 2015 along with a few other classes. Click here for details.

I just made some new BQF’s (best quilting friends) and I’d love to meet some more!

8 thoughts on “My Week at the Folkschool – How to Make a Modern Quilt

  1. Nancy Dolch says:

    Christa, thanks so much for an amazing week! It was a great class. I loved every minute. Feels a little strange this morning, getting back to our regular routines, after we’ve been to the mountain. Look forward to next time.

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