Kicking off the workshop circuit of 2022, we had Jenny Haynes of Papper Sax Sten come teach her Cogs, Thistles and Caterpillar Wheels workshop. This workshop focused on the freezer paper method for foundation paper piecing and piecing curves without pins as techniques but also touched on the design methodologies that Jenny uses for her quilts. Jenny taught us virtually from her home studio with a great multi-camera set up that allowed us to see everything she did while also viewing her animated presentation style. As a bonus, Jenny provided us with the recording of the workshop. Since this workshop was full of info, this was great for reviewing afterwards and getting a chance to reinforce some of our new skills.
For the paper piecing, Jenny sent over templates ahead of time that we printed and had ready for the workshop. She walked us through each step of using them for the paper piecing, peppering her instruction with lots of tips and tricks. I’ve personally used both the traditional sew-through-the paper method and the freezer paper method, but only had instruction in the former. After Jenny’s class, the freezer paper method felt so much more comfortable and I love that you can reuse the templates a few times! By my second cog quadrant, it felt natural. Jenny thoughtfully gave us time as part of the workshop to work through our individual issues while being on hand to answer questions as they came up during actual implementation of the techniques.
Once we had the chance to make some cog curves with our paper piecing, we moved on to the curve piecing which we’d use to form them into a complete block. Jenny demonstrated her method for piecing curves without pins which is a big win in my book since it allows you to move so much faster. Although Jenny’s instruction was straightforward, this is definitely a technique that will take practice. However, I like that Jenny’s templates build in allowance for doing it without pins which gives students much more confidence to try out the technique while having the assurance their sample will still turn out successful.
Finally, Jenny covered some of the principles she uses when designing her cogs and thistles quilts. She explained how she decides when to stop and start, how many teeth to put on her cogs and ways to accent the cogs using fussy cutting techniques. These were all great for those of us looking to use the techniques from this workshop to put together our own quilt!
Overall this was a really fun way to spend the morning that stretched some creative muscles I hadn’t used much. Jenny’s teaching style is easy going, but informative. She focuses on her topics, but you also pick up so many general quilting tips that she tosses in along the way. Jenny shared some of her other workshops coming up that make creative use of curves and I have to say I was intrigued!
Anna Maria Horner first led a Workshop on “Color Fluency” where we discussed the color wheel and then curated a random set of fabrics into a coherent color palette. Anna Maria discussed how to use prints and, while some combinations may seem random, the different colors are bound together by color and value. It was a very small peek into how she achieves her beautiful quilt palettes and print combinations.
At our monthly guild meeting, Anna Maria shared a staggering collection of gorgeous quilts, walking us through her creative journey. Her fascinating lecture included how her creative career has evolved from design school through to today, and how she learned to quilt on the way! Each quilt came with a story and many “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience.
Perfectly pairing with the workshop and lecture, Wooden Gate Quilts set up a pop-up shop so that members could get their hands on the fabulous fabrics and patterns used in Anna Maria’s quilts. This was a treat that we very much appreciated and will definitely repeat again!
At our recent workshop, Improv Abstraction, Karen Foster showed us how gentle curves can be combined in infinite ways to create one-of-a-kind quilt designs.
Karen teaches a relaxed approach to layout and design, starting with a gentle curve shape to provide a base structure for the quilt. From there we played with the curve blocks and improvised complimentary shapes. We also learned techniques for machine piecing “severe” curves, and even circles.
The class wrapped up with a review of all the unique shape and color combinations we made in creating our overall quilt designs.
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.
This month we welcomed Latifah Saafir to our guild to teach us a thing or two about curves. On June 11th we got together and learned how to make Latifah’s Molehills quilt. She taught us all we needed to know about how to cut, iron and piece curves to make molehills of our own. Many of us worked cutting and sewing single arches into lovely molehill fans and a few of us even dared to paper piece our arches. Every molehill made in class was one of a kind and so much fun to explore with each other throughout the day. Here’s a round up of our adventures that day.
Eileen showing off cutting arches using templates.
Kristine pressing her purple and pink arches.
Michelle-Nicholle stitching some curves on the machine.
Michelle-Nicholle’s arches laid out on the design wall with some full fans thrown in as well. (We love!)
Liz built a plethora of lovely yellow arches during class.
Tricialyn played around with layout of her colorful arches on the design wall.
Sarah pieced the day away using the paper piecing templates.
Rochelle finished a full fun pieced pink fan in class. (We love the fussy cut mermaids!)
Sarah shows off one whole pieced fan at the end of class.
Our design wall with a least one completed fan from every member in class. What a lovely bunch of molehills. We wanted to sew them up into a colorful quilt right then and there!
We had so much fun sewing the day away with Latifah Saafir! She had so much knowledge to offer on how to make this beautiful quilt. Lots of tips and tricks on how to be comfortable sewing curves on a machine and creating these awesome blocks. This technique might look a little daunting but we all agreed this was a great quilt to ease into learning curves. We highly recommend Latifah to other guilds and groups alike! She’s a great teacher and an all-around awesome person. We can’t thank her enough for spending a day with us at the Silicon Valley MQG.