The process of making our quilt, Orchard Through Time was collaborative from the start. We formed a committee that came up with the original concept and saw it all the way through to completion.
Concept and Design:
We decided from the start that we wanted our quilt to be representative of our area so we chose a traditional block called “Orchard” as the Silicon Valley was once primarily orchards, and is now a modern technology center. After deciding on the block pattern, we decided the overall design would include making the blocks start off in its traditional layout in the upper left, gradually transition to modern prints and, finally, break down into solid free-form blocks in the lower right.
Fabric and Piecing:
We had our members donate traditional and modern print fabrics from their stashes along with modern solid fabrics and some metallics. The idea was to create all the traditional blocks in traditional fabrics and then have it progressively get more modern through the use of modern prints, and ultimately end up in pools of solid fabrics that would blend together to create dynamic free form shapes near the bottom of the quilt.
For easy member involvement, all of the fabric was pre-cut and and kitted into packets of one of the three block types (traditional, modern print, and solid) for members to piece. Packets were handed out at our monthly meeting for members to work on and return, or sewed communally at our open sew days. The only rules to sewing the blocks were that traditional and modern print blocks were pieced in a set layout, while solids were pieced free-form with no layout rules.
For the quilting, we decided to machine quilt simple lines that resemble the traces on a circuit board and added some big stitch quilting with metallic thread for the ultimate “tech” sparkle.
Now that it is assembled and quilted, we love how the finished quilt transitions from traditional to modern. We have been able to see the transition in fabric, tone, and movement within the overall quilt, and we truly think it speaks to the prompt of Modern Traditionalism.
Last weekend the guild hosted “Improvising from a Score” with local quilt artist and teacher, Sherri Lynn Wood, where we learned improvisational piecing techniques within a defined framework or “score.”
We started with an extended group discussion about the different aspects of improvisation, and some of the techniques used in improvisational music and theater, and in everyday life.
After a brief meditation period, we sewed in silence, letting our creativity flow without distractions. We set specific limits and then cut and sewed patchworks… abandoning fixed patterns, templates, and even our rulers.
As a group, we reviewed our work in progress and voiced Evaluations of our experience thus far expressing a Surprise, a Discovery, a Satisfaction, or a Dissatisfaction, and discussed where we would go next. Some of the students’ evaluations included:
I am surprised by how the different sections are connecting and working together.
I discovered I can make a very straight line without a ruler!
I discovered I can NOT make a straight line without a ruler… and that’s ok.
It is satisfying to move quickly and not to worry about precision.
I am dissatisfied by the color I am working with, I will continue to use it and see where it goes.
I am surprised by how much I love it.
I discovered that I don’t have to love every piece of my patchwork in order to love the whole thing.
I am satisfied by how freeing is it to just keep moving forward, without a plan.
I discovered that the simple limits we set were just enough of a framework to focus my work.
I was surprised that the silent sewing made the decisions come quickly and easily.
Ultimately, we made a lot of progress and gained a broader understanding of the improvisational process. We learned techniques that can be used to create flexible (improv) patterns or to augment fixed patterns and that setting boundaries focuses our work and still leaves us with endless choices and flexibility.
Concepts taught in this workshop can be found in Sherri’s book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously. You can learn more about Sherri Lynn Wood’s projects and workshops on her website.
The guild kicked off 2018 with our monthly meeting last week. We welcomed many new members and said hello to the familiar faces that made 2017 such a great year.
This year, the guild will be focusing on “design” and education, working to grow our design skills through lectures, discussions, activities, and classes.
We started our discussion by watching excerpts from the MQG webinar “Modern Quilting: Know It When You See It” with Jacquie Gehring. In the webinar, Jacquie talks about the concept of modern quilting as a spectrum, including many elements of traditional and varying elements of new/modern design. She also shows and discusses this concept with regard to specific quilts.
Some of characteristics of modern quilting noted by The MQG are:
Use of bold colors and prints
High contrast and graphic areas of solid color
Expansive negative space
Alternate grid work
Updating of classic quilt designs
After the webinar, members placed themselves on this spectrum and we discussed our thoughts about the definition of modern quilting and how we saw ourselves within it. Many of us were surprised with where we placed ourselves on the spectrum.
We plan to have the spectrum at future meetings and to revisit this exercise at the end of the year to see if our self-placement has moved.
Next month, we will continue our design focus with a member-led lecture about basic design elements. We’ll be exploring these concepts further in future demos, activities, and challenges.
We wrapped up the guild’s final monthly challenge of the year when we turned in curved quilt blocks and traded back projects made out of scraps from each other’s stash.
Founding member Tricialyn led the guild this year in many other monthly challenges that kept everyone busy and having a great time. In addition to the ongoing unfinished-object (UFO) challenge, which inspired us to complete partially started projects, optional monthly challenges were:
Fabric designer, artist, and author Rashida Coleman-Hale visited the guild this month. Rashida, a founding designer with Cotton & Steel Fabrics, shared her personal story and design process with the guild. She took us from inspiration, through ideation and sketching, to fabric on the shelves! Rashida patiently answered all of our questions and brought yards and yards of her new fabric collection for us to see and touch. She even brought us goodies that a few lucky members took home!
You can find out more about Rashida Coleman-Hale here:
We had a great time at the Pacific International Quilt Festival this past weekend. The guild had a table on the show floor where we shared information about SVMQG and the Modern Quilt Guild. It was a great opportunity to highlight all of the great activities we have going on. We also showcased our members’ talents and raised money for the guild with modern mini quilts.
Many thanks to all of our wonderful member volunteers who staffed the guild table and provided white glove service for the show!
If you didn’t get a chance to stop by and check us out, you can see what we are up to here on our website, or on Instagram and Facebook.