Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Formal Feathers

The first class I took at Maine Quilts last week was Formal Feathers by Irena Blume. Because Maine Quilts is a comparatively small venue, Irena was the only longarm teacher available to us this year. I hadn't heard of her before, but I enjoyed her class tremendously and learned a great deal. 

Irena is from Poland and now lives in California. After seeing her work, it's hard to believe that she's only been quilting since 2004 and teaching since 2006. 

The Formal Feathers class was supposed to be for all levels, and I thought I was going to learn how to make those beautiful flowing feathers that look like some of the pantographs I have. It turns out that not only are formal feathers constructed differently from a regular feather (or what Irena termed an amish feather), but they were also easier for me to make since I have great difficulty making the amish ones. The entire class was devoted to learning how to draw formal feathers and how to use them to fill a space. 

Longarm machines were available to us to practice on, but we didn't get much time on the machines. That actually turned out to be a good thing, because the machines were way too low for my height, and I had to bend over to see what I was doing, which killed my back. Anyway,  I thought I did a reasonably good job drawing my feathers, but, big surprise, it was another thing altogether to draw them with a longarm. Like everything else in machine quilting, it requires practice. 

Because we only had time to stitch out a couple of designs, it didn't seem worth it to take my sample piece with me. I don't think anyone else took their samples either.  

This is one of Irena's quilts that was hanging in the classroom. Not only is it quilted within an inch of its life, but the quilting is so tiny. There's a detail photo below. 

There is no piecing in this quilt that I could see. Irena has some kind of technique that she uses to color her quilts. She offered coloring as another class at Maine Quilts, but it isn't something I'd be interested in, so I didn't pay much attention to what technique was used to color the quilts.

Irena also had some small samples of some of her filler designs,and there are a couple of drawings at the end of the post showing her drawing of this technique, which she called blooming feathers, and mine. I really liked this one, and it wasn't as difficult to do as I'd imagined.


These are the drawings I did in class, in the order that Irena taught them to us. We started with a simple spine and progressed to some practice filling in specific shapes--a square, rectangle, trapezoid, hexagon, circle, and a heart. 

Then she taught us how to fill in a larger area, and finally, how to meander all over the quilt with the formal feather. 


Elisabeth said...

Sue, What a great class you took. Your drawings are so nice, wish I was there too lol


Purple Pam said...

Thank you for sharing all your drawings. I find it fascinating to see how this is accomplished. I have done a little long arm quilting and found it fun, but challenging. These feathers would scare the toot out of me! Yours look great.