Last weekend I checked an item off my quilting to-do list and attended a Denyse Schmidt Improvisational Patchwork workshop at her studio. Attending one of her workshops is something that I’ve wanted to do for years and I was so excited about going. So last Saturday I jumped on a train out of Grand Central and headed to Bridgeport, CT for the day.
Denyse’s studio is in an historic factory building (you can read more about it on her website) and is beautiful. I was having major quilting studio envy.
After everyone arrived, we made some quick introductions and got started. As the name suggests, this is an improv class. So no patterns, planning, measuring, etc. It’s actually a pretty easy and fun way to approach quilting. It certainly takes the pressure off making the perfect quilt block and instead just lets the process happen naturally.
Denyse does have a process for her improv approach. You use small, medium and large scraps and piece them together as you blindly pull them out of a bag. That means no digging for the perfect scrap color, size or pattern. You get what you pull, people, and in the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work.”
Throughout the day we spent time pulling fabrics and piecing them together into blocks. As we finished each block, we would put the blocks up on the design wall to talk about what we liked, what we thought worked really well, and what surprised us.
At one point during the day, we incorporated fabric we brought with us into our blocks. Some of us used a lot of our own fabric and some of us didn’t. I wasn’t consciously choosing one way or the other, but once I had my blocks done, I could see that I used mine sparingly.
When you look at all of my finished blocks, it’s hard to tell which fabric is mine that I brought. (It’s the mustard yellow polka dot fabric.) I kind of like how it turned out, though, and I do plan on finishing the process and making a quilt out of my blocks. I’ll be digging through my own scraps at some point to make more blocks so I have enough for a quilt.
The best part of the experience was spending time with Denyse and the other quilters. I loved hearing about their design process, inspiration, experience, etc. It was also an opportunity to get me thinking about my own quilt designs differently. After going through this experience, I’m inspired to use some bigger fabric cuts and make bigger pieces. I love the intricacies and look of small pieces sewn together, but bigger blocks have their own charm and beauty.
And finally, before I left to go back to New York, I couldn’t help but pick up some new fabric. I really didn’t plan on doing this (do I ever really plan on it???) but I couldn’t help myself.
My DS fabric collection is always growing and it was the perfect opportunity to make it a little bit bigger. This new fabric is already being put to use as I’m currently working on an all DS fabric quilt that I’m super excited about.
Now that I’ve completed one Denyse Schmidt workshop, I’m thinking about taking another. It was so much fun and so great to spend time with other quilty people. She offers an Advanced Improv workshop and a Pure Improv Weekend workshop that I’ve got my eye on. Maybe in 2016?!?!
I say this is years in the making because this is my collection of Denyse Schmidt fabrics coming together into one glorious quilt. I’ve made plenty of quilts with DS fabric before, even whole quilts with all fabric from one collection, but this one is going to combine old and new fabrics, scraps, and anything else I can find in my fabric stash.
My inspiration for this quilt hit me last Sunday. I had just returned from a day of quilting with Denyse (more details on that in a blog post coming this weekend) and I was in major DS inspiration mode. While I was in her studio, I picked up a bunch of fat quarters of her fabric. The new fat quarters, along with my already large collection of DS fabric was ready to go.
I sat down last Sunday with my graph paper to come up with something that would work well to combine all of the different prints. But what I was sketching came out to look pretty close to an already-made quilt pattern. Now as I’ve said before, I’m not big on following quilt patterns, but in this case it just made sense.
It’s pretty much a Basket pattern minus the basket part. I’m not really into baskets.
Does anyone know the technical name of this block? It’s a pretty traditional pattern for me, but I really think it works well for combining all of my different DS fabrics. So far I’m loving my blocks.
Normally my quilts are lap quilt sized or a little larger, and I rarely make standard bed sized quilts, but I’m thinking I might make this big enough to put on my bed. I’ve been a fan of Denyse’s fabrics for so long and have been collecting the fabrics for so long, that I think it will end up holding a special place in my heart. I know a lot of you can understand.
So these blocks are my current obsession, in addition to my English Paper Piecing that I recently picked up. More on that later!
It’s March, and what better way to begin March than with a new quilt? Today I’m sharing a baby quilt that is a version of my Signature Series baby quilts I introduced last year. I designed this pattern with the intent of making many versions of it because it is so versatile. I love this one!
This baby quit is extra special because it wasn’t made for a client but for a friend of mine in Atlanta. Before I moved to New York, I spent almost six years living in Atlanta. I moved there for my job – not straight out of college but pretty close – and I did not know one single person. As many of us do, I became great friends with one of my co-workers. We were both just beginning our careers and ended up spending many hours, at work and outside of work, together. Now, so many years later, we are still friends today.
My Atlanta friend Allison and her husband are expecting their second child and it’s a girl! A few weeks ago she sent me her nursery colors with the direction of a peachy pink color, light aqua, super light gray, with accents of black and white. I can work with that, so I used the Signature Series to incorporate all of those colors.
I think my favorite part of this quilt is the black and white polka dot binding. It is the perfect finishing touch, and since I love polka dots, there’s that.
This baby quilt is now in its new home in Atlanta and we are all awaiting the arrival of its owner.