Monthly Archives: June 2015

My workshop with Denyse Schmidt!

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My quilt guild, the DC Modern Quilt Guild hosted a workshop and lecture with Denyse Schmidt a few weekends ago.  There were only something like 20 spots open for the workshop. If you live under a rock and don’t know, Denyse is the queen of all things Improv. She is also a big reason Modern Quilting came to be. I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t want to be labeled with that though, but it is arguably the truth.

I am a girl that likes to make things with symmetry and repetition. I’m not really one to dive into wonky. I’ve decided I like order because #1 it is about the only place in my life I can guarantee order…when I make something. #2 When I worked, I worked with numbers and accounting. Everything followed a rule and the rules were followed. I think the number cruncher in me likes repetition and order. #3 When I make something, I want my time spent to be time worth spending.

I wanted to take the workshop to open up. I’m always open to learning something or trying something new. Denyse would give you some instructions and then you would go back to your space and make whatever she told you to make. Then you would put your finished piece on your wall next to you. As the day progressed, you started seeing little bits of magic happening on people’s walls. ds 1

After we were done for the day, she took the time to look at each person’s design wall and we all had a chat about what they made. Each person would talk a little about what they did and why. She would give suggestions and we all got to peek into each person’s mind a little and learn about their creative process. I really liked this part. I think you can always learn something from everyone. I like that Denyse looks at each creation with an artist’s eye. I’m going to say something and then I’m going to duck. I think sometimes Improv is an excuse for people to mash things together when they don’t really know what they are doing. Whew! I’ve wanted to say that for a long time. I love that Denyse had us start with an actual block, with an actual pattern. Then we each sat down and tried to deconstruct it or change it and see what the outcome was.  Sometimes what was made worked. Sometimes it did not. But always it was about the process.ds 2

When I set to changing up my block, I decided to go all in. I started with gentle curves. It really shrunk the size of the block to the point where I need to add a strip of fabric to make it work now. Ok.

Then I had the idea to make a triangle in the triangle. Denyse said it reminded her of cat ears. After the cat ears, I did an entire triangle in the triangle. I guess it is like a log cabin in the way you start from the center and sew each piece on in a round.

The end result I really liked! I think my last blocks were the most different from everyone elses. BUT I really dig them. And that makes me happy. They are the far right rows mostly.

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Something I really enjoyed about her teaching was when she told us to really enjoy the time you spend making. Be present in the process. Sometimes I think I’m just trying to get something accomplished that I may not get as much joy out of the process as I could. I really took that in and I believe I was really present while I was making these. I really enjoyed trying new things.

She had a drawing to win a bundle of her not yet released line New Bedford tied with the most adorable vintage button from her personal collection. Guess who won? ME! I know there were other friends of mine there that were bigger fans of Denyse. But I promise you these lovely fabrics are not lost on me. I do love her fabrics. I find that I buy the same ones over and over. Then a new line comes out and I have the same handful of patterns that I buy over and over again. I have quite the collection of her fabric in my stash. Just never an entire collection of hers. I have great plans for this bundle! My expression is one of embarrassment and awkwardness for asking her to pose with me for a picture. While I do admire her and think she is awesome, I felt a bit like a crazed fangirl. A happy fangirl though.

 

 

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There was a lecture after the workshop. It was cool to learn more about where she came from and what her path has been like so far. After learning about her more, I have a different plan in store for this bundle than I had before. I can’t wait to get a few more “have to do” projects off my plate before I can dive into these fabrics. I am going to be absolutely present in the making, I can promise you that.

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All Points Patchwork Blog Hop and Fussy Cutting

My sweet friend Diane of Crafty Pod has done it again. She has written another great book All Points Patchwork. It needs to reside with all your other much loved reference books for creating. I’m serious. It is a fantastic book on Technique for EPP (English Paper Piecing).

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I jumped at the chance to be in her blog hop promoting her new book for two reasons.

#1 I adore Diane. I have followed her for years and she has been so kind and encouraging to me the entire time. I’ve also followed her mom for years. My sister and her mom used to be pen pals until my sister’s life became crazy busy. Someday I’ll get to meet Diane in real life. In the meanwhile, I’ll admire her online.

#2 I knew her book would be awesome. I hadn’t seen it but I knew that true to Diane standards, it would be awesome. She is a fantastic teacher. She writes in a way that you feel like you are great friends, and she makes whatever she is teaching seem doable.

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When I got to peek into the book I discovered that it was a bit different than many of the books out there. It is very much technique and idea driven. All these little nuggets of information I wish I learned when I started EPPing and had to figure out by trial and error. Many nuggets of information I never knew. A great resource for EPP technique!

So let’s talk about the blog hop. This week she asked us if we would use hexagons and fussy cutting. I love that she let us just go with whatever we wanted to, inside of those two words.

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Maybe we should back up a little. What is “Fussy Cutting” anyway? I did a little internet search to see if there was anything saying were the term fussy cutting came from. I’m sure there is a fantastic story, but it was something I could not find. Basically, it is choosing a motif or part of the printed fabric to be in a specific place in your creating. Fussy cutting isn’t only something quilters use, but paper crafters often fussy cut too.

I see two different kinds of fussy cutting being used. The first kind of fussy cut is to cut out  a novelty print or motif and position it in your patchwork in a specific way. If you were to make a pillow from a large print, you would carefully center the chosen design motif and cut to size. If you are using your sewing machine to piece a quilt, you may choose to fussy cut a bird from a print pattern and place it in the center of each block.

The second kind of fussy cutting I see is where a repeat in a pattern is used it to create other effects inside the patchwork, such as Willyne Hammerstein, author of Millefiori  Quilts. For this kind of fussy cutting, you would inspect the fabric and locate repeats, color gradations, interesting parts of the pattern that cut up and put back together in a kaleidoscoping way.  A great example of this is the lovely La Passacaglia Quilt you may see popping up in many photostreams particularly on Instagram. The piece on the front of Diane’s book uses fussy cut fabrics that creates the contrasting dark design in the center of the star.

I played with the latter kind of fussy cutting, but quickly decided I wanted to spend more time delving into creating more interesting repeats than I had time for.  I found the kaleidescoping fussy cutting to be extremely fun and it kind of sucked me in. I will come back to this another time. (Read: I fell in love)

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For either of these techniques, I suggest starching your fabric well before you start. I love to have a nice crisp hand to my fabric for EPP. Once my paper basted fabric is hand stitched together, I always press it again and I find that having it starched well before I started, I end up with a nicely finished piece.

I ended up using the first kind of fussy cutting for my project I’m sharing today. I was delighted for an excuse to use a new Layer Cake from Riley Blake designer Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches. She has recently released another adorable line called Saltwater. It features these adorable mermaids with flowing hair and seahorses and even Narwhals. I mean. I can’t even stand it’s adorableness.

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I knew I wanted the goddesses of the sea to be featured. I wanted to center them on my hexagons. There are several ways to go about fussy cutting. I chose this way because I wasn’t interested in matching up an exact repeat and because the fabric I had was in 10” squares. The size of the fabric made it easy for me to tape it to my sliding glass doors and choose an image to fussy cut. With the light shining through the door, I was able to see the mermaids through my punched out hexagon papers.

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I taped my fabric squares with the right side facing towards the glass and the wrong side facing me. I used my glue stick and applied some glue to the back of my paper hexagon. Looked through the paper and fabric and lined them up the way I wanted them to be and stuck the hexagon to the fabric. When I placed the next hexagon, I made sure there was enough fabric around the edges of my hexagon for a seam allowance. I like to have at least a 1/4” seam allowance for EPP. The final product isn’t going to be a quilt or something that gets washed often. Because of that, I wasn’t terribly worried about the grain of the fabric. Had this been for a quilt, I would have been more careful to use the grain to help me line the hexagons up.

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I carefully took the fabric off the glass and trimmed the seam allowances around each hexagon. I used both thread basting and glue basting to baste the papers to the fabric. I do prefer thread basting, but glue basting is just so much faster. I think with thread basting, I get the corners of my paper shapes more precisely basted which means the sewing together of the paper pieced fabrics is more precise IMO. My tip for glue basting is to make sure when you are gluing the seam allowance to the papers, leave the very edge of the paper without glue. In other words, glue about 1/8” from each edge. I find that the glue basted pieces have a little less give or play where I want them to (the length of the sides) and not enough precision at the points where I want them to be precise.

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Anyway, I put together a few rows of hexagons in a scrappy layout.

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I decided to applique this piece onto some medium weight denim for a casual zipper pouch. I have some pouches that I use all the time. This one I made using the scrappy piece as a guide for the size.

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I added a pocket and a place for needles inside the lining. I also added a little handle on the side to make it easy to carry around.

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I think this size is so useful and I can see having many of them around for different projects. I typically keep one of these pouches handy for my EPP and hand stitching.  Why yes, I am using a fussy cut hexagon pouch to home my other EPP projects in. Those mermaids and narwhals make me so happy! Is the plural of Narwhal “Narwals” or just “Narwhal”? Either way, they are stinking adorable!

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Thanks for visiting my blog for this blog hop. Check out the other great bloggers for their day on the hop. Be sure to check out Diane’s new book All Points Patchwork. You won’t be disappointed.

Diane has also put together a giveaway of Black Gold hand sewing needles and Quilt Needle Threader from Clover. You can enter by Rafflecopter below. International entries are welcome and the giveaway closes on June 7nd. clover-giveaway1 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Anjeanette