I wrote in general about my QuiltCon experience on my blog, and this post is going to be all about my experience in the full-day workshop Get Your Curve On taught by Sherri Lynn Wood (who recapped the workshop nicely right here).
The workshop was based on her Mod Mood quilt that I had seen and favourited/bookmarked for a “one day” project. When I saw that the QuiltCon lineup included this workshop I was on it like a duck on a june bug (as my [not-at-all-country] Mama used to say).
I knew this workshop was going to be fabulous when Sherri led us in a meditation before we began. She instructed us to spread our fabrics out in front of us so we could see them all easily. Then we closed our eyes or unfocused them and listened to Sherri’s voice. I have mediated before, and I have always been challenged to quiet my mind. I persevered and it was so worth it: I felt very relaxed, grounded and present to the day that lay ahead.
At the end of the meditation, Sherri invited us to open our eyes and let them rest on the fabrics that called out to us and to quickly – without judgment or evaluation – pick them up and work with them.
The morning was easy – improv piecing curved segments using wedges cut from fabric without using rulers. We just rotary cut a set of 3 or 4 rectangles of fabric into wedges, then pieced them together on the Janome machines supplied in the classrooms (sweet!):
Me piecing my wedges, photo by Sherri Lynn Wood from her Flickr stream
They ended up looking like this:
Some wedges were pieced, some were patterned fabric, most were solids.
Fun, right? It was. And easy! “I can do this!!” I thought to myself. At the end of the morning, we went around and looked at each other’s work. Here we are gathered around some gorgeous green and purple wedges (fun fact: the woman on the far left was named Felicitas – what are the odds?! Also, she came from Germany to attend QuiltCon!!):
This photo also courtesy of Sherri from her Flickr stream
After that we gathered together in a circle at the front of the classroom and shared some of our surprises, disappointments and discoveries. My surprise was that my first fabric choices – the ones I made right after the meditation – ended up creating my least favourite (you can see it in the bottom photo of my quilt in progress – chartreuse, purple and a purple/brown shot cotton). But I strongly suspect it’s going to add a lot of sparkle to my final product.
After lunch, stuff got real (as they say). It was hard. Really, really, hard. I wasn’t feeling smug and competent anymore. But Sherri was there to guide us – she knew this was coming and she asked for a show of hands from people who felt anxious. Sherri went on to put really interesting words around the idea of anxiety – that it comes from a prediction of a negative outcome, or a negative future state. But can we predict the future? No, we can’t. So why worry now, or be pre-emptively disappointed when whatever it is hasn’t even happened yet?
So what was so hard? Composing the quilt. What wedges to put where, where to add negative space, how long should the wedge be? Is it too curvy? Does it need some bias strips around it to give it space? And so on. This was true improv, in my opinion – creating on the fly, cutting, piecing, adding, cutting some more – letting the quilt speak to you. Here, Sherri is demonstrating how adding some negative space can work with the composition:
“You have to commit. Just commit.” Sherri kept saying this, almost like a mantra. And the anxiety was there: what if I wreck it? What if I don’t like it? What if it’s ugly? I really felt pushed as a creator – and I think I even got a glimpse of my artistic side. My quilt is totally a work in progress but I am really excited to get back to it, let it speak to me, and see where it goes.
I got my curve on, all right – thank you Sherri!