Saturday, July 11, 2015

15 minutes of play, DWR and more

VThe workshop with Victoria Findlay Wolf was excellent.  We spent some time "making fabrics" in our 15 minutes of play.  Then we spent some time better understanding her "process."  She showed us how she uses the templates and why.  She showed us how looking at a traditional block in a new way gives you even more ideas.  She showed us how you could add a little here and there and come up with something totally new. It was inspiring. 
The lesson was to really look at what was right in front of you.  It's amazing what you'll see that you never saw before.  She was right, I never really looked at the fabrics I was using or the block designs I was using.  I'm a pattern follower so I was always looking towards the end product.  VFW looks at what she has and let's it determine the end product.  Instead of forcing the fabric to go where she wants how she wants, she lets it tell her where it wants to go.  It's a unique perspective.  We got to try out some of her templates and for someone like me who has a hard time cutting straight, they really help. I also realized how valuable my design wall was and realized I really need MORE design wall. (Won't my hubby be happy.)  But to let the fabrics tell you where to go, you need to look at them often. 
We also got to learn some unexpected things, but they were necessary if you plan to use some of the templates.  In addition to giving us different ideas using the templates and different combinations to use them, we also got to learn about the "dreaded" y-seams.  And you know what, they're not so bad. It's all about the process, and for a pattern follower like me, process is everything.  I love step by step instructions, and now I have them (for hexagons, stretched hexies, and Lemoyne stars). I personally have always loved Lemoyne stars, but have always paper pieced them, which really limits the size.  But using Victoria's templates and process, the sky is the limit.  I can't wait.  I already have some cut out just waiting for me.  We also learned about curves and how to put them together.  I've done it many times, as I love NY beauties, but it's always been a challenge.  Now I know the process. And I'm going to go through all those 12" square orphan blocks I have and see which one of them might look better as a hexagon.  If you go to the next retreat, you'll see me cutting them up. And trying to figure out what they're telling me they want to be. Because I'm pretty sure they're tired of spending years in a pizza box.
Leslie Jennison also brought in her Sizzix so if you had never tried any of Victoria's dies, you could.  She had the templates there but you can buy the dies on line if you prefer cutting that way. I already have some myself and I have to say I love them.  Again, I'm someone who doesn't cut straight no matter how hard I try so the Sizzix is definitely great for me.  I can even screw up a template (because I'm not always careful) but I haven't yet screwed up anything I've tried on the Sizzis and how cool to make fabric and then cut it up not knowing exactly how it'll come out. Once that would give me hives, but now I'm feeling better about it.  And I surprised myself when I said I needed smaller pieces in my made fabric.  I have never kept scraps, but now I will.
I always thought of Victoria Findlay Wolfe as just another improv quilter.  I loved her work, but since I tend to get the hives whenever I attempt improv piecing, I wasn't sure this workshop was for me.  But my resolution this year was to cultivate an adventurous spirit, so I gave it a shot.  I really think VFW is for everyone.  For those who like scrappy and those who like planned quilts.  For those who love vintage and those who like modern.  For those who want to freely flow and those who need a step-by-step process.  For anyone who has 15 minutes at any one time.  Victoria Findlay Wolfe has exactly what you need.
In the pictures below you'll get to see our guild members "making" fabric and then using it in a number of ways.  Some using templates, some using paper piecing, and some just flowing freely.  No one finished their projects but I think everyone left there ready to get things done, and no one seemed upset they didn't finish, just upset the time was over so quickly.  The day flew by. Many got half finished and I can't wait to see their finished projects.  Hopefully, at a future sew-n-tell, we'll get to view the eye candy created under Victoria Findlay Wolfe's tutelage.

Friday, July 10, 2015

VFW rules

We spent more than an hour enjoying 15 minutes of play at the SAMQG July meeting. In addition to seeing some beautiful, award winning quilts, and hearing a presentation about the stories behind those quilts, we got to hear the story behind Victoria Findlay Wolfe, and also got a new perspective on quilting in general. Her father was/is a farmer who also did upholstery and her mother was/is a garment sewer. But her real inspiration was her grandmother, who was a quiltmaker as long as her body would allow and often had Victoria participate from the time she was young. her grandmother made quilts that were useful in a traditional crazy quilt style and loved polyester inside and outside of the quilts she constructed. Victoria told us that farm life wasn't for her and she left Minnesota to move to the big city of NY and has been there ever since.  She was always creative and knew art was for her, but she didn't imagine while she was pursuing her degree that quilts would be her main art form. Actually she told a story of how her professor discouraged her using fabric in her art.  But she is certainly now a sought-after artist and well known for her ability to put a new twist on traditional quilt block and quilt shapes.  For me, Victoria's presentation was eye opening and will make me (forever more) look at my quilt blocks and projects differently. I have always tried to listen to what colors, arrangement and quilting designs the quilts were telling me they needed, but I never focused on the story in the making of my quilts. That's a different concept for me. Some of us got a new appreciation for polyester and thrift store fabrics, some others were reminded of farm life in cold climates and the importance of quilts, and it was refreshing to see someone who was willing to use any fabric, regardless of where it could be found, who designed it, or whether it was modern, traditional, reproduction, 30s, plaids, ginghams, polka dots or whatever. Victoria Findlay Wolfe is no fabric snob and seems to find just the right place for every fabric she touches (she's a real fan of dots -- check out her quilts). Her presentation really encouraged us to continue to look at our quilt blocks and our fabrics and not stop rearranging and reframing them. until we're sure the quilt and fabrics are done telling the story.  I personally will be going through my orphan blocks and seeing how they might look in new configurations, and looking for opportunities to make my own fabric instead of always settling for fabric off the bolt.