Geraldine the giraffe

If any of you sewers, crafters or quilters have ever wondered about doing applique and free motion quilting, let me share with you an excellent experience I recently had here in Dubai.

You may have heard of Pam Holland, an artist who uses fabric and thread as her main medium. She has published many books and has a great blog to follow describing with her many worldwide adventures. As of mom of 15 (yes, 15) children, she has been able to create some magnificent pieces that are shown internationally.

I am Pam Holland

Anyhow, she was in town to teach us eager, enthusiastic and slightly terrified students how to create our own version of “Geraldine the Giraffe”. For those of you who like to follow a specific pattern with specific fabric recommendations, then this course would have pushed you to the absolute limits of your comfort zone.

Pam continually reassured us that our Geraldines would be beautiful and unique. It took us the better part of a day to create our patterns using light boxes and available window space. Once we had all the pieces cut out, then the fun started and we were able to ‘play’ with the fabrics we had brought. The suggested type of fabrics were  Kaffe Fassett, but I was sure that I could find enough bright and colourful fabrics in my stash (ahem, hoard)  to bring my Geraldine to life.

As it turned out, now that I have pieced my Geraldine together, I understand why Kaffe Fassett fabrics would have been awesome, but I am happy with how cheerful my Geraldine looks. A few people did comment that it looked like my Geraldine had gone on a tropical vacation, I am cool with that. I like the bright, happy colours.

The project was a series of iron on appliques, including the white in the column of the throat, which you will see if you look closely. Then we used some permanent markers, yet another terrifying, point of no return experience, to add details to the eyes and nostrils. Once that was done, then the fun began and 26 women began the process of free motion quilting.

From what I can gather, the general chatter is that free motion quilting terrifies most people. Most of the reading I have done suggests having a big glass of wine before starting. As you can imagine, that isn’t really an option here in Dubai! Anyhow, we all set our machines up with an embroidering foot and just went for it. Interesting fact, Pam encouraged us all to leave our feed dogs up! I know that goes against the ‘normal’ guidelines we have been given for free motion quilting, but she assured us that it would work. Her reasoning is that we actually have more control as quilt and we are able to move the fabric in any direction.

Apparently, I was a little over-enthusiastic with my free motion quilting.  I can see how I can improve, but for my first time effort, I believe it is ‘good enough’. At some point, we have to give ourselves permission to accept that we are beginners and just learning.

Pam did have her Geraldine with her, so I took a lot of photos to see how she used free motion quilting to enhance Geraldine’s features. As I work to complete my Geraldine, I will use the photos as a guide and then just decide what I like best.

If at any point in time you have a chance to meet Pam Holland and take one of her classes, it’s really quite a pleasure to sew with her and learn from such a skilled artist.

As for applique and free motion quilting, I loved doing it! I am also getting set to start thread painting, so I will let you know how that turns out!

Until next week, happy crafting!


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