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.
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.
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.
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.
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.