Circle of friends: sewing and sharing

I think I have mentioned this before: Ecuador is a country rich in so many different handicrafts. However, there is no quilting tradition (beautiful woven textiles and beautiful embroidery work!). So my kids often tell me laughinly that the reason why I decided to start teaching was so I could have friends to sew with. Guess that wasn’t too hard to figure out!

My classes are small – five or six students at the most. And short. Three to four weeks, with one session a week and a fair amount of “homework” in between. Most of them are for beginners. I teach them basics, and try to do it thoroughly so that by the end of a course they can pretty much continue on their own. Most groups take my beginner hand piecing, appliqué and quilting courses (most do not own sewing machines). When they find they enjoy it, after a while they will come back, after purchasing a sewing machine. Altogether their time spent learning with me can fluctuate from three months to a year. I keep in touch with many of them, so know they continue to sew and learn on their own.

And then their is this one particular group. They took all the basic courses. And wanted more. We did paper-piecing. Then Cathedral Window. Some more advanced appliqué. Rag quilts… and on and on. More than once I tried to lay down the law: “You don’t need me any more!” But they kept coming. Last year we reached a happy agreement: “Just come and we’ll sew together.”

No longer students, they became my sewing circle… and my circle of girlfriends. Three years now. Thursdays is our morning together. Sometimes other things get in the way and we have to cancel, but we keep coming back. Today, one was travelling and another one wasn’t able to make it. So it was four of us. So sorry about the first photo – as I was taking it I realized it wouldn’t be good because of the bright sunlight coming in through that window. But you’ll be hearing more about this group, and more pictures coming!

You can hardly make out my friend Elena sitting at the end of the table. She’s the youngest in the group and the one who brought us all together. We have agreed this year to use this time together for handwork and she has been working on some pieced blocks. She also makes great coffee and is in charge of pouring for everybody!

Here’s a better shot of the other two women. Lucha, the dark-haired woman on the right is “the” appliqué addict of the group. She makes me proud, as there doesn’t seem to be a piece too small for her to handle. On top of it, she is great with embelishments.

Susi, on the left, was the one with the most sewing experience. She is fast and good at anything she chooses to do. In early January I showed them the little English-pieced hexagon flowers I was working on (there they are in that little pile at the end of the table!) – apparently that was one technique I had neglected to teach them. Not a difficult concept, really. In any case, last week Susi showed up with half a Grandmother’s flower garden pieced. Amazingly quick! You can see part of it there in her lap.

In comparison, I am so slow! And grateful for our time together, since this is the one day in the week where I can set three hours aside to get off the computer and sew! Next time I’ll try to take some more photos of their projects…

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