29 January, 2010

Class re-cap: Quilting with Mary Lou Weidman

The final week of our three Advanced Weeks culminated with a dilemma: my first two choices were full, and since my life's skill set has been cultivated to be spread as widely and diversely as possible, I really was not advanced enough to be in anything. I reckoned that Quilting was a safe bet, as I've had one weekend quilting class, and have been working on that hand-sewn English Paper Piecing project, and oh yes, I spent about 5 years of my life sewing garments in high school and university theatre costume departments.

What I didn't know about the quilting class was that it was being taught by a very famous quilter (Mary Lou Weidman) who has a very distinct style, and most of the other students in her class had been in other classes of hers and knew exactly what to expect. I was the complete opposite! I showed up thinking I was going to make a functional, washable quilt, and Mary Lou had planned the week to be sort of an art-quilt/ story-quilt wall hanging type of class. Oops. Luckily for me, Mary Lou and her assistant Kathy came prepared to help all of the students achieve their own goals, and when I said I'd rather make a useable quilt, they were totally fine with it. So the rest of the class was doing really intense applique stuff, and I was piecing an invention of Mary Lou's, called... wait for it... "Hoochy Mama" quilting. I have to admit, through the fault of my being in my late 20's, that this name is hideously embarrassing for me to be batting about in conversation, say, in the dining hall ("what'd you do today?" "Uh, I made some Hoochy Mama squares..."), but the name apparently came from a sweet old lady who would yell "HOOCHY MAMA!" everytime she finished something, rather than the "you ain't nothing but a hoochie mama/ hoodrat hoodrat hoochie mama" that we all had to hear over and over in the 90's (thanks, 2 Live Crew!). Although I have to admit it was pretty funny to me that every time Mary Lou said the word "hoochy mama" in class, my internal juke box bellowed "BIG BOOTY HOES! Up wid it!" It was all I could do to not yell it out loud. I mean, I didn't even know I remembered that song.

Anyway, in the quilting world, thanks to Mary Lou's book and workshops, to hoochy a block is to deliberately misalign the corners of the fabrics you're piecing, which renders measuring pretty much unnecessary and careful sewing a thing of the past. WHICH IS AWESOME. All those semesters in high school when I wanted to make up my own pattern and the teacher told me it just was not possible, that such a thing would be a veritable sewing sin? Totally vindicated now.

Enough words, let's take a look at what I made. Here's the front, which is a pattern called (I think) hoochy stars, using fabric I bought on Saturday in Asheville with Sarah. Here's the first step:
quilt step 2: lay it all out
(What I did was cut all the purple 4" squares and put them up on a design board, then I'd take down four from each nine-block group and hoochy some green points onto them.)

Then I took the middle four out and added orange diamonds, hoochied of course.
quilt step 3: add some centers
(See how the corners are all catty-wampus? That's on purpose.)

Then I finally got to sew all those seams together! Now it starts to look like a real quilt top:
quilt step 4: sew the seams up!

Here's the top without its border. Note how the orange really pops out at you, because it's the only bright color:
the front, without the border

Now check it with the border:
the front of my quilt: done!
Now that's a quilt! I love it. I also quilted the back, just because the top was done halfway through the week and I didn't know what else to do with my time.
the back of my quilt: done!
(You guessed it: those are hoochy hearts.)

Mary Lou actually blogged about our class here, complete with pictures of everyone in our class and their projects. She even wrote a little paragraph about me!


mosprott said...

GORGEOUS quilt - just beautiful!

Anonymous said...

ROFL! I think I just had a flashback of my high school days and watching the movie Friday wayyy to many times. I'm just going to admit that I just burst into my own rendition of 2LiveCrew's well-known mantra :)

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr