Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Craftsy Freebies: Quilting

As promised, here's a review on the freebie mini classes over on Craftsy in the quilting department.

Creative Quilt Backs

Featuring Elizabeth Hartman (go Portland, Oregon!), this class teaches you how to calculate out the measurements for your quilt backing.  Yes, finally, quilt backs everywhere can go from hum-drum single fabrics to art.  Ms. Hartman is known for her fun modern style quilts--and quilt backs, and I have to add, is a super nice person in real life too!  While there is no specific pattern that comes with this class, by teaching you how to calculate everything out, Elizabeth is teaching you how to customize your backing to coordinate with whatever quilt top you've created.  She goes over several specific examples (I believe the ones shown go with her other Craftsy class, Inspired Modern Quilts), you can easily adjust and change things up to go with your pattern choice.  And, what do you know, I've got a couple several of quilt tops just waiting for a backing to be made so that they can go into the woohoo-I'm-done! pile.  The class is short enough to watch in a morning too (or during nap time), so you don't have to make a huge break in your schedule either...isn't that refreshing.  So, whether you're trying to use a few of those leftover blocks or have a pile of luscious scraps you can't bear to let go of (hey, your overflowing scrap basket will thank you), you can now put them to good use--on the back of your quilt! 

Block of the Month 2012

Here's a class that can be used as either a technique class for a particular block or a quilt along that ends with a 10 block sampler quilt.  Amy Gibson leads this one and its a fun class for getting your feet wet if you haven't tried a lot of quilt block styles.  (And yes, newbies could easily follow along with success!)  Each month covers a different type of block and gives a couple of examples for that style.  Here's the rundown in month order, beginning with January:  slashed blocks, half-square triangles, foundation piecing, English paper piecing, wonky log cabin, modern 9-patch, Dresden plates, stars, curved piecing, and paper piecing.  There are also lessons on how to put your quilt together so that you can actually finish it completely.

I admit, I'm not really a sampler quilt kind of person, especially with blocks that vary so widely in style, but I could make a few quilts out of the different blocks, or really anything, pillows, table runners, etc., and so found this to be an enjoyable class.  Some of the blocks you might already be familiar with such as the string blocks or the asterisk block (made quite a few of these in last years bees), but some of the others might just push you outside of your comfort zone or get you out of that comfortable rut into trying out something new.  Scared of curves or maybe unsure of paper piecing--give it a try through this class!  I for one am excited to try the circle of flying geese--I keep seeing all those fabulous ones on Flickr and really want to make my own.

Block of the Month 2013

Yep, that's right, round 2 for the block of the month class, this one with Laura Nownes--and its free too!  So, if you were really planning ahead, you could coordinate these blocks with the 2012 class ones and get a bigger quilt at the end.  I'm really glad they decided to go another year, I love trying out new blocks.  That's one of the things I love about quilting bees---trying something out without committing to a whole quilt of it!  So the line up for 2013 includes:  offset log cabin, partial seams, drafting, curved piecing, 45 degree triangles, y-seam construction (yikes!), 60 degree triangles, diamonds, tumbling blocks, applique basket, applique flowers & leaves, half-square triangles, flying geese, and mitered binding.  Wow!  This round will really push that comfort zone!

Not really into appliqued basket blocks---watch it anyway!  You'll learn a great technique that you can apply to other applique patterns.  That's the great thing about both the block of the month classes--you're learning techniques that can be applied to many future quilting projects.  While this one might be better suited for an intermediate quilter, I think an adventurous newbie could handle these.  Just take it slow and follow along.  See a particular block or technique you're interested in, jump right to that lesson (well, for the block of the month, you do have to wait until that month is here) and start watching!

I hope I've got you interested in checking out some of these online mini classes, and maybe even thinking about trying some of the paid classes too.  I find that Craftsy really listens to its customers and tries hard to find great solutions. 

Let me give you some examples of the great customer service you can expect.  I started signing up way back near the beginning and one of the frustrations some of us had was that you didn't know what the class would require in terms of materials prior to signing up.  I signed up for a couple of sewing classes only to discover that I'd need to order a whole mess of supplies, so I haven't gotten back to them until recently.  Craftsy now has a basic list of supplies with each class preview, so you have an idea of how you sit supply-wise!  (Detailed info, such as sewing pattern notion requirements, comes with the class.) 

Now, not everything is perfect yet on Craftsy, but they do try to have happy customers.  They offer a 30-day money back guarantee, so really you have nothing to lose.  You can contact them with questions and concerns and they get back you within 24 hours usually.

Oh, and about that class I hadn't gotten back to, it was a Gretchen Hirsch class.  By the time I got to it (just recently), I discovered that Craftsy had changed it from an instructor lead class to a group input class due to Gretchen not being as responsive as required.  (She basically went AWOL.)  Now, I don't know the entire story behind her ditching the class, and I'm not going to start a discussion on it, but I do know that as a person who shelled out $50 of hard earned money for a class with a specific instructor, I went from excited to disappointed.  I was a bit frustrated having gathered rather spendy supplies only to find no instructor.  (I'm in quite a few of Craftsy's classes, and definitely the instructors are top-notch and very responsive, so this was quite the surprise.  That's why I keep signing up for more classes---I'm getting high end teachers who answer my questions whenever I have one, so I'm learning a lot and I'm learning it from some of the best in their business and I'm learning it in my own home on my own time, no expensive travel or inconvenient schedule.)  I will say, that I'm glad they're keeping the class open for those already in the class, it isn't just canceled and there are many really knowledgeable people picking up the slack and helping others, but that's just not what I paid for. 

Upon hearing about my frustration (seriously, I had like one line in a discussion saying that I would have asked for my money back if this had been back at the beginning, but that I knew it wasn't typical of Craftsy instructors, and they read it!) they offered to switch me to a different class---and we're talking way past the 30-day mark!  That's right, they contacted me!  Who does that these days?!  I mean, when you buy a television and almost a year later say its not what I signed for, do they give you your money back or offer to change models for you just because you say you hadn't taken it out of the box yet?  No way!  Usually this much later, all you get is an "I'm so sorry" comment.  But not Craftsy.  Talk about customer service.  So like I said, you've got nothing to lose because Craftsy takes care of their customers.
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