Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Improvisational Patchwork with Denyse Schmidt

Over the summer, I learned that the FRMQG and Fancy Tiger were joining together to host Denyse Schmidt for a quick visit to Colorado.  Being a little spoiled, I have had a few opportunities to interact with and learn from Denyse during my days in the BMQG.  But I never made it to Connecticut to take her infamous improvisational patchwork class.  

I am kind of a frugal/cheap person when it comes to taking sewing classes.  A lot of times, visiting instructors present on the exact material that is easily available in their recently published book; and I figure if I own the book, I have the information and don't need to pay more to take the class on the exact same material.  I also like spending my money on fabric instead of classes.  But I really am trying to place more value on experiences rather than "stuff," and I decided attending the class would be worthwhile if only being able to have fun with my friends from the guild.


Well, I am happy to report that the class was excellent and I really enjoyed the time with my friends and I even made some new friends as well.  It's so refreshing to sew together with like-minded people, as sewing can be such a solitary activity.

(photo by Kari Vojtechovsky)  

Bags of cut-up, non-designer, vintage, upcycled, and thrifted fabrics were placed in paper bags and we sewed up blocks throughout the day with minimal prompts and instructions.  The whole exercise was centered around being able to sew freely without thinking too hard.  Choosing fabrics was a component of the process that was essentially eliminated.



I'll admit that I struggled with my perception of some of the fabrics, I found a lot of them to be quite ugly.  It's also quite a departure for me to use fabrics that I don't absolutely love and even to use solids is unusual for me.  So much of my sewing is connected to my love for fabric and the fabric designers.... it was good for me to look more at the composition of a patchwork design rather than just trying to allow the fabric to do all of the work.


The last exercise of the day was dedicated to continuing the process of sewing from the paper bags of pre-cut fabric while also adding pieces of one fabric we had brought from our stash.  After almost two hours of sewing, we were able to go around the room and share what we made.


This is what I made.  The green geometric fabric was my stash contribution.  I am actually pretty happy with what I created and hope to finish it into something like a big patchwork pillow.


Somehow I got to "present" first; it was very interesting to see what my other classmates made and what one stash fabric they chose to bring and how they incorporated it.  

 (photo by Kari Vojtechovsky) 
The whole day was a bit tiring, I came home pretty exhausted.  But it was also very renewing and these are my takeaways from the class:

  • Use my yard sale/thrifted fabrics more and don't be so afraid to mix them into all sorts of projects.
  • Don't be afraid of solids.
  • Improvisational piecing provides a lovely freedom I look forward to exploring more.  It gave me a different kind of energy and excitement than simply making the same block over and over does.
  • Try to use more unexpected and less "safe" fabrics in my projects, it adds more interest.
  • Make a quilt because I like the design, start there rather than trying to decide how I can showcase some of my favorite fabrics.
  • Strive for more unexpected and unconventional color combinations
I really enjoyed my day with Denyse and the guild.  I hope to take more classes in the future.  I need to be patient though.  I do think that in my current season of life, going to classes can be difficult, as my young family needs me and family budget concerns.  In the meantime, I am going to do the best I can and take advantage of more opportunities like this.

1 comment:

Kelly @ Blue Bird Sews said...

What an amazing experience and zi really like your takeaways. She's my favorite designer and I hope to take her class one day too.