Sunday, July 12, 2009


She is lovely... inside and out!

We had such a good time in the Denyse Schmidt workshop yesterday.

I didn't really know what to expect.

I mean, I had my pre-conceived notions about what an "improvisational patchwork" workshop might entail, but when Denyse arrived and we actually started going at it, I found myself in a state of sewing induced bliss.

My one disappointment with the day was that it all went by so quickly.

Denyse's technique hit such a chord with me.

I think the problem a lot of quilters have these days it that we are all so strapped for time.

Denyse's improv patchwork solves this problem: in a few minutes, you can create a block and in a day (or over the course of a few spare moments each day for a week or so), you could easily create an entire quilt top.

A lot of quilters also "feel the pinch" these days.

In Denyse's workshop, we learned the value that even the smallest little smidgeon of fabric can add to a quilt.

Often times, these small slivers were the BEST parts of the block.

I will never, ever, ever look at my scraps the same way again.

Now I know why I should save them, how I should save them, and what I can do with them afterwards.

And the most important thing I am taking away with me is the "permission" Denyse gave all of us to break the rules.

This was a biggie for me because I have had such a traditional quilting background (for which I am super-grateful), but many of the people in my little area are "purists."

You wouldn't think that there would be a lot of prejudism in the quilting community but there can be.

I've had a lady tell me before that my quilt wasn't "real" because it wasn't done completely by hand.

I've had someone make me cut the selvadge edge off of my fabric because she said it wouldn't "perform" the same way the other fabrics would.

Lots of people have it etched in their brains that you cannot use a large scale print in small pieces or that you have to have a "light, medium and dark" in every composition or that every color has to "match."

I am waaay too busy/sensitive for these shenanigans.

As long as my quilt stays together and I like the way it looks that is all that matters.

Denyse's improv class gave every one permission to walk away from those pre-conceived notions.

All we had to do was just reach our hands into a paper bag (no peeking, mind you) and grab a couple of scraps and sew them together.

No looking, no planning... no pinning!

(And we got to pull from Denyse's stash, too!)

We were working with a time limit, too, so that took away the urge to over-think the composition of our blocks.

If two pieces fit together, they got sewed together.

Did you use the wrong side of the fabric by accident?

Go with the flow, baby!

Did you just pull out two pieces of the same fabric?

Sew them together, why not?

Crazy, I know... but so liberating.

Some people found it easier than others to "let go."

Personally, I loved it.

And I loved the finished results.

These blocks may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are my cup of tea with milk...

... AND sugar.

At the end of the workshop we got to see one of Denyse's finished quilts.

This particular quilt was made using some of the leftover blocks from the workshops she holds at her studio.

Students are given the option to donate their blocks to be made into a quilt and that quilt is then auctioned off to benefit local charities.

We were all given the option of donating our blocks and I am sorry to admit that I TOTALLY kept my blocks, which are well on their way to becoming a big ol' quilt top and I will be happily squirreled away in my sewing room whenever I get the chance.

Of course, I will keep you all updated.

Thanks again, Denyse for coming up here to spread the word and thanks also to everyone who took the workshop.

You came from far and wide and I think a big part of what made the class so fun was our great group of ladies.

Hopefully we can do this again someday and in the meantime I am scheming and dreaming about going down to Denyse's studio in Bridgeport for the Advanced Improv class.

So I will leave you now... a happy quilter who met one of her design idols and was so pleased to find her everything I had hoped she would be and more.

See you again soon,




Denyse was kind enough to sign four copies of her book for us... they are on the website here or for all of you local gals come on in and snag one for yourself while they are still here!


Kristine said...

great pics Rhea..they really capture the day perfectly! I had so much fun..i'm still blissed out by it really.

Liz said...

I am so jealous! Rhea, I can't wait to see your blocks. I hope you'll do this again some time when I'm around.