Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Rockford/Hinsdale '09 Tour is over!! . . . (was it all a dream??)

My feelings of euphoria faded fast when I woke up this morning in front of the computer terminal in the office--a pile of files beside me, and a line of people with requests in front of me (ok, maybe that's an exaggeration . . . the people in front of me at least asked, "how was the vacation??" before they asked, "could you do this for me??" and handed me another file).

Did I dream it all??

Last Thursday, I repacked my rental and drove north to Willowbrook, IL, a southwestern suburb of Chicago. I had time to check into my hotel, shower and change before leaving for the Hinsdale Community House for my lecture. I got a little turned around, but managed to arrive five minutes before the guild meeting started. A woman pointed me toward the stage at the front of the crowded room (there were about 200 women there), and pointed to the digital projector. "You can just plug your laptop into here," she said.

Um, er, I don't own a laptop, and I have a carousel of slides. "Don't you have a slide projector??" I asked. "I'll go ask," she said and bustled off.

I set up my display stand with my "Mardi Gras Men" quilt on it . . . I set up my framed magazine articles . . . I laid out my business cards . . . I unpacked my "trunk show" quilts . . . all in plain view of my expectant audience.

My contact, Terri, came up to me and said, "they don't have a slide projector . . . can you punt??" I said, "I guess I'll have to, won't I??" I sat at the foot of the stage while the guild conducted their business meeting . . . my mind was working a mile a minute. When Terri introduced me, she said that through no fault of my own I'd be unable to show my slides (there were audible moans).

I took the stage, opened my slide carousel, and held up the first slide. "This is my first quilt," I said, "and here is my third," holding up another slide. There were chuckles in the audience. I replace the slides in my carousel. Slides?? Slides?? We don't need no stinkin' slides!! I talked off-the-cuff and off-the-top-of-my-head for 45 minutes about how I started sewing; how I taught my father to sew; how I started quilting; and, I told stories about some of the quilts I've made (punctuated with, "I wish you could've seen THIS quilt!!"). I answered questions as I went along (instead of saving 'em for the end). I had volunteers hold up and parade the quilts I'd brought with me. Then, I dropped the bombshell--all the quilts had been made from the same set of templates, which segued into a talk about my design system and construction techniques. Several volunteers passed out my free design tiles, but ran out (I'm gonna have to send 'em some more before their next meeting). At some point, I asked if they'd heard enough of me, and the audience burst into an emphatic NO!! LOL!!

After my talk, I sold plenty of books, templates, and muslin foundations; many also took my business card, eager to get online and see what all the fuss was about!! Many agreed it was the best slide show they'd never seen!! I was in my element!! It was a great night!!

I had a small class on Friday morning for the design workshop. We had a fun day of coming up with new patterns. I had my copier with me, so the students could make copies and color 'em in. They were eager for Saturday's construction workshop. I asked Terri if she knew how many had signed up for Saturday and she told me 14. FOURTEEN?? I didn't have near enough muslin foundations for 'em all. Friday night found me in my hotel room, stamping muslin foundations to beat the band!!

I had a pattern in mind for the students who hadn't taken the design workshop. Students bought templates and muslin foundations and cleaned out my inventory. I walked 'em through my sandpaper-back templates: how to cut 'em apart and how to use 'em to cut their fabric. Everyone fell to cutting out fabric, some quicker than others. I walked 'em through the muslin foundations: where to start and how to sew 'em. Several students who hadn't taken the design class HAD taken the free design tiles at the lecture and came prepared with their own designs. For the rest of the students, I had to bite my tongue--once they sewed enough of the squares, they started designing patterns that were not the pattern I had in mind. I gave them free reign.

I couldn't have been happier as I drove back to St. Louis . . . not because I was leaving Hinsdale behind, but because of the great people I had the pleasure to work with, and the great input, feedback, suggestions, and ideas we all shared. My only regret was not having another guild lined up for NEXT weekend, LOL!! As usual, my partner, Ed, was glad to have me back home (Rambo and Sambo could have cared less) . . .

Thank you for reading . . . please leave a comment and follow this blog (there's more to come) . . .


  1. It sounds like you had a wonderful time, I think you need to come to Utah so I can come LOL!!! It sounds like a great time was had by all.
    HUGS! Carin

  2. Utah, eh?? (can't say that I've ever been there) . . .

    I've been thinking of Googling quilt guilds on a state-by-state basis (starting with Missouri and moving outwards) . . . it might take me a while. Do you know of any guilds you can put a bug in somebody's ear (or, a boot in their butt)??

    My bad . . . LOL!!

  3. We need to get you hooked up with a notebook computer, 4000 watt sound system, laser lights and a fog machine. If you don't blow them away with your presentation the fog, burned corneas and ruptured eardrums will surly leave an impression. But then again thats a lot of $$$ outlay for equipment and then you'd need a guy to run it all (pick me!, pick me!), Maybe a notebook and a powerpoint presentation would be a better course to take. I'm glad to hear the presentation went well.

  4. Greg, rest assured you'd be my first choice as "equipment" guy . . . from what I hear, they don't even MAKE slide projectors any more, LOL!!

    I'm putting a notebook computer on my Christmas list, followed by the laser lights ("ooh, lookit the colors, man!!") . . .

    I have five months before my next gig (Santa Rosa, CA in March) . . . let's see what we can come up with by then.

  5. when can we see you in amsterdam, the netherlands......????

  6. Sounds like Thursday night was a design-as-you-go lecture! And you pulled it off with aplomb - well done! I don't suppose you're planning workshops in Tasmania any time in the next umpteen years? No? (asked with tongue firmly in cheek.) Quilt university, here I come.

    cat stone

  7. Amsterdam?? . . . the Netherlands?? . . . Tasmania??

    I have my passport in hand . . . now, all I need is an invitation to a destination!!