I know it's been awhile since we've posted, but I hope you'll agree that it was worth the wait when you hear what we've been up to. Last weekend, the Quilt Sandwich gang (including our sister Cathy) trekked to the wonderful city of Portland (about 3 hours south of our hometown of the Seattle area). We don't mind going there anyway because of the great tax-free shopping, but this time we had a loftier goal in mind: quilting the Denyse Schmidt way!
If you don't know of Denyse, do yourself a favor and check out her site. Denyse is a former graphic designer who channeled her creativity into beautiful free-form quilts. She combines traditional patchwork with a modern sensibility and her quilts are truly artistic visions! Denyse was in Portland for a 2-day improvisational patchwork class put on by the Pacific Northwest College of Art as part of their "Summer of Making". She also gave a short lecture on Friday evening and showed slides of her quilts, sketches, inspiration, and even a preview of her new line of fabric! (Newsflash: it will be awesome.)
For the class, Denyse wanted to help us "think outside the box", if you will (luckily, she is too cool to use that phrase) and get us to stop worrying and start creating! I don't want to give away all of her secrets, but the focus was not so much on matching your fabrics perfectly and making sure all of your seams match up but more on letting go and trying something new. We had to bring some of our own fabrics, but Denyse provided tons of her own fabrics and some of them were pretty crazy. These scraps were in paper bags and we had to pull out a scrap (NO PEEKING!) and use whatever we got, even if we hated it. We quickly learned that the bag gives you what you need, even if that happens to be a huge chunk of solid flesh-color, a bizarre plaid, or yet another piece of white. But when we put our finished blocks up on the design wall and viewed them as one quilt, we realized those wacky colors and patterns worked together to make something unique, colorful and definitely groovy. The neutrals provided a nice area for the eye to rest, the weird patterns seemed to connect somehow and some of the odd bright colors really popped.
We also learned to incorporate our own fabric with Denyse's scraps and to think about composition and planning. This was tricky for me since I loved the freedom of using the bag scraps. I think everyone in the class had a great time, and everyone seemed pretty happy with the direction their own blocks were taking. It was fun to see what other people did and how they used their own fabrics. We had plenty of critique time which was helpful - Denyse gave very thoughtful comments and good insight into what worked and what didn't work as well. It was also great to be with a like-minded group of people - everyone was encouraging and really wanted to learn. All in all, a wonderful weekend of sewing madness. Denyse offers this class at her studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and I HIGHLY recommend that you do everything in your power to take this class. Or maybe she'll make her way back to the west coast again soon!
Here's Denyse in her groovy yellow sweater, arranging our first round of blocks.
Here are our "class quilts" - the one on the left is our first blocks, and the one on the right is our second set of blocks.
Here are some folks from the class arranging on the design wall.
Quilt Sandwich represent! From left to right: Kris' blocks, Cathy's blocks (top middle), and my blocks. The blocks on the far right are from Nancy (who works at PNCA) and a very nice lady whose name escapes me right now.
Don't they look cool? And I'm not just saying that because I made some of them. Everyone's turned out pretty interesting. Kris, Cathy and I have some good plans for our finished blocks, and we'll post pictures when we get some final projects. In the meantime, check out Denyse's work because she is rad!
Also, Quilt Sandwich is selling Denyse's County Fair cheater cloth, which gives you this cool free-form patchwork look with NO piecing work! Genius! Check it out.
Becca, QS Fabrics