Gathering my supplies for the Denyse Schmidt quilting workshop was kind-of reminiscent of the first day of school way back in the day. I spoiled myself (thanks to a whole bunch of 40% off coupons) and got almost all new stuff:
- An 18" x 24" self-healing cutting mat with an 18" ruler
- Little snips for cutting stray threads
- An artist's canvas bag big enough to fit my new mat
- Moda's American Jane Wee Play Blue Ovals fabric
- All-purpose thread for the sewing machine
- I didn't get a new rotary cutter, but I did put on a new blade. What a difference!
I found everything except for the fabric at JoAnn. I visited all three of our local fabric shops and found about five cute fabrics tucked into the corner of the last one. I do love this Moda print. Oddly enough, it doesn't appear to be available on the Moda website, but this random quilting shop in Montana carries it if you want to order some. It also comes in red or green.
Anyway, with all of my new goodies in tow, I took the Metro-North train from Grand Central Station in New York City last Saturday morning and got off at the Bridgeport, CT stop about an hour and a half later. I snagged a taxi there that delivered me to Denyse's studio in the old American Fabrics Company warehouse building. I met Denyse and the other seven workshop attendees, and Michelle from Make Workshop had a spot set up for me and my rented sewing machine up-and-running in no time.
Denyse started us out by explaining that the point of the workshop was to help us learn to think differently about colors, fabrics and quilt designs. The first thing she had us do right away was create blocks using random scraps of fabric pulled out of paper bags. The rules were that we couldn't peek when we drew a piece of fabric and we had to use whatever we drew as it was with minimal trimming, even if we didn't feel like it "went" with the rest of the block. Here were my two blocks using this method:
This was a scary exercise for me at first because I would never, ever pick any of those fabrics to use in any of my quilts, much less pick them all together and arrange them in a block together on purpose. But I really love the final outcome! It was an immediate break-through for me and my fear of color and accidentally putting fabrics together than don't "match." Sometimes the nuances of the fabrics that we wouldn't normally put together turn out to be surprisingly beautiful and interesting.
Here is the amazing collage created by all of the group's quilt blocks together:
In the afternoon, Denyse had us do the same thing except that we were supposed to now use our own fabric that we brought with us. We cut our fabric into small, medium and large strips and tried to experiment with using a little of our fabric in some blocks and a lot of our own fabric in other blocks. The goal was to create at least four blocks, but most of us ended up with six. Here's the wall of all of our creations at the end of the day - mine are in the upper right-hand corner (that's Denyse snapping pictures):
This was another eye-opening exercise to me. I thought since I liked my fabric so much, I'd like my finished blocks better if I used more of my own fabric. But, when I used less of my own fabric, I actually noticed it more. With all of my blocks together, my fabric turned almost into a background fabric, even though it was busy and bright. Who knew?
All in all, this workshop was 100% worthwhile. I met some really nice ladies and really appreciated Denyse's challenge to think outside the box. I hope this helps me particularly by giving me boldness to try new things and be daring in fabrics and colors. Everything is neutral in my world (and that's how I thought I liked it). But I think a little whimsy and color would go a long way towards more long-term creativity and inspiration! Neutral is safe; bold is freedom!
Stay tuned for how this actually plays out in my crafting world!