No Pattern

The second class with Rayna Gillman was also a lot of fun.  It was described in this way:

Hate paper piecing?  This modern way to use a paper foundation has no lines to follow, no precision required, and barely any paper to rip off.  Improvise a modern crazy quilt or free-form square-in-square with this method and don’t worry about perfection.

I love that last phrase; I certainly don’t sew with perfection, but I do love paper piecing.  Still, what I wanted to learn was how to improvise when sewing blocks.  This was the perfect class not only to learn about it, but to take the plunge, so to speak.  In my case, I had purchased the books long before, but had never gotten started.  I needed the right setting and support to get started, and this was it.

Rayna started by showing us many of her experimental blocks.  She’s always asking herself, “What if…” and the result is literally chopping blocks in half, adding strips, turning fabrics different directions, adding a piece of a previous block, literally anything your mind can conceive.

You can begin with a teeny, tiny rectangle of fabrics, sewn together in an interesting way.  I was amazed to see all the tiny bits of fabrics Rayna had used in this tiny example.

Here is a pretty example from another student.

I made these blocks, but something didn’t seem right yet.

Rayna had taught us to look at the blocks in monotones, in order to see if there’s enough value differentiation.  As you can see below, I did not have enough contrast.

I kept trying, though, seeking help from the teacher, and adding more black and white fabrics for contrast.  I ended up with the block you see below (upper left corner).  I was ecstatic!  Finally a block I loved!

When seen in monotone, you can see that the upper left block does show more contrast; that’s why it “pops” more than the others, and is more appealing to the eye.

I have much more to show you about this project in future posts, because I came home and made several more blocks that I love.  I made them out of the previous, rejected blocks — by chopping them up into tiny pieces and sewing them together with contrasting fabrics.  I’m very pleased with the results, but it isn’t quilted yet, so you’ll have to wait a little.

While in the class, I progressed with each block (from top to bottom); I was learning and improving along the way.  You can clearly see this below.  Each one gets a little better, as I learn to experiment and keep values in mind.  Thank you Rayna!

 

 

 

 

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Strings

The first class with Rayna Gillman at Quilt Wyoming was called “No Strings Attached.”  String quilts are quite popular and I had always wanted to make one.  I just needed this class to get started.  It was a lot of fun.  The description of the class read like this:

Discover a totally new way to combine strips with negative space by working the angle!  Slice without a ruler and be ready for a surprise or two.  This is an improv, no rules/no rulers way to work.  Modern and contemporary or wild and funky — you’ll fall in love with these modern versions of the string quilt!  You choose the size and the color of the background.  Add strings in all solids, all prints, or a combination.  Use a limited palette or go wild with scraps!  Put your own personality into these modern string quilts; no two blocks or quilts alike.

Rayna is a great teacher!  I loved sitting under her very capable instruction.

She had plenty of examples for us in her own quilt, and in other samples she had experimented with.

Here are some of the other students’ blocks; I love these colors.

I worked with a huge pile of scraps beside my sewing machine.  It’s the only way to do it.

This is what I ended up with, in the early stages.  I love the movement that the background fabric brought to the blocks.  This was fun!  I’ll show you the completed project later; it’s not finished yet.

Rayna

Ranya Gillman was a wonderful teacher to work with at Quilt Wyoming.  I was already an admirer or her quilts and books, but hadn’t yet really explored the idea of sewing in an improvisational method.  It makes sense though; I play jazz improvisation; why not try that in my quilting?  Rayna set us completely at ease from the very start.  Well, I guess I should say, “She tried to set everyone at ease,” because some of the ladies were freaking out about having to sew without a pattern!  But they soon fell in step and made some beautiful creations.

The best way she inspired us was by sharing some of her own quilts with us, up close and personal.  They are absolutely beautiful!  They resulted from Rayna experimenting with the blocks and asking herself, “What if…I did this or that?”  She let the fabric and the blocks, as viewed on a design wall, determine the next direction to go.  Aren’t they beautiful?

Here is Rayna with the quilt that is on the cover of her book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts.  I absolutely love it!  Next week I’ll explain more about the improv method she taught us, and show what I came up with.

Exquisite Quilts

At Quilt Wyoming, earlier this summer, we had some outstanding national speakers and teachers.

Grace Errea was back by popular demand.  She turns inspirational photos into amazing quilts.  I was able to get a close-up of some of her works.  Aren’t they amazing?  I don’t think I’m gifted for this type of sewing, but many of you are.  For more of her designs, as well as patterns, click here.

I was fascinated to see up-close how she sews fabric together for unique backgrounds to her floral designs.  Grace taught two classes–one on reverse appliqué and another regarding these photo inspired quilts.

Another gifted quilter and speaker was Catherine Redford, a hilarious speaker, born and raised in Northwest England.  Her classes were called “Folk Art Stitching” and “Wrapped in Scraps.”  Here are some examples of her work, which are amazing embroidery and fun fabric bowls.

Her students were having a good time when I stopped by.

She spoke about an “around the globe” tour of quilts that she has made, representing various cultures and types of stitches and her speech had us, literally “in stitches” of laughter.  Check out more of her works here.  

The third national guest speaker and teacher is the reason I was drawn to Quilt Wyoming this year — Rayna Gillman taught classes called “No Strings Attached,” and “No Pattern Paper Piecing.”  I already had her books and was thrilled to see she was coming to Wyoming.  She is also a witty and fun person to sew with; I learned so much from her about improvisational quilting.  I stepped beyond my fears and actually started making unique blocks without a pattern.  I’ll share more about her classes in future posts.  Aren’t her creations beautiful?  To see more of her work, purchase books, or view her teaching schedule, click here (I love following her blog).  I will have much more to share about Rayna in my next post.

Quilt Wyoming

I was privileged this summer, along with several friends, to be able to attend my first “Quilt Wyoming.”  This is an all-state quilt retreat, complete with classes, speakers, a quilt show, and plenty of gifts.  This year it was held on the campus of Central Wyoming College in Riverton.  I took only one photo of the campus, unfortunately, but found this tree artwork to be very interesting and pretty.

Here are some of the quilts that were displayed to indicate what some of the classes were.  There were 28 classes to choose from, which is generally done a few months before, during pre-registration.

This year also featured the first “Quilt Camp,” for people new to quilt making.  It was an excellent opportunity for people who wanted to get started but didn’t know how.  For experienced quilters, it was also an opportunity to invite a friend to the retreat that has never sewn a quilt before.  It was very successful!

There were also several venders from various fabric shops across Wyoming and the region; many beautiful fabrics, kits and supplies to view!

There were gifts given out every day, such as these pictured here.

Yes, this is a sewing machine that has been covered with a Wyoming map!  Crazy!

Belgian Food

In Belgium we were looking for a good restaurant with our friend, Hugues, and we came across this one.  We didn’t choose to eat here, because we wanted tradition Belgian food, but we thought it was pretty funny.

Instead we chose one that served us outside.  It was delicious!

We also found the best Belgian waffles with lots of toppings to choose from!

All too soon is was time to say farewell to Hugues, and to be on our way.

 

 

 

Belgium Up Close

When reviewing my photos of Belgium I noticed several showing some of the details of the city, so here they are.  I love this exquisite detail on old buildings and cathedrals.

It was great hearing this small group perform.