Pure Improv with Denyse Schmidt

I had the supreme privilege of attending Denyse Schmidt’s workshop at PNCA this past weekend. After she graciously stopped by MD for the book signing and trunk show Friday night, she was prepared bright and early Saturday to lead us breaking down and reimagining a traditional quilt block.

We started with Shoeman’s Puzzle, her beautiful version can be found in her new book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration. Leading a class of 15, she had us create templates and stitch 4 perfect blocks, alternating two similar colors. You can see mine here–it’s the pink one.

Then we began the process of breaking down the form and free-cutting. Ever free-cut a quilt block? It’s totally liberating.

This leads to natural variations, even within the same style block, and a personality emerges. This can be good AND bad. I just kept experimenting and free-cutting until I had created such a range, some success and some not, to choose from and serve as my reinterpretation to build a quilt from.

The three I considered are here–

Denyse encouraged us to sketch out the general block seams and see the repeats and how they might work together over multiple blocks. This also gives you a chance to try out options without committing to cutting and stitching.

All this in the first day! I decided to sleep on it, let what I had done stew a little in the brain, and see what I wanted to pursue. I wanted it to be 1) successful and 2) unique. By the next morning, I was working with this–

No templates, still free-cutting but creating the same 2 color reverse block over and over. Onto the design wall it went.

I liked it but it seemed flat to me. I tried mixing in some different tones and even a light based print to break it up and create interest.

Again, I liked it but something wasn’t right but I couldn’t put my finger on it. After a full class critique, I packed up my mess and headed home, vowing to continue to work on it.

I wanted to show my mom what I had been doing. I laid the pieces out as I had on the design wall for her to see. But because I was in a house, I put them on the floor, giving me the advantage of looking at the blocks from a different vantage point. As I was walking back downstairs, I realized I liked the lay out a lot more if I shifted the side to the top. The quilt had been on its side all along!

I’m so excited to work on more blocks, incorporate the patterned fabric in a few more deliberate places, and finish, quilt on the frame, & bind my one of a kind Denyse-inspired quilt!

5 Responses to “Pure Improv with Denyse Schmidt”

  1. autumn

    this is neat, lady! and you are awesome for being so patient and waiting for the vision to realize itself!

  2. jaime

    love….LOVE it!

  3. susan b.

    extremely awesome! class was so much fun!!

  4. April

    Wow! Cool pink combo. Thanks for sharing.

  5. beckyjopdx

    oh! so jealous in the best way! this is so fun looking. I don’t regret being at your shop for class instead 😉 but this does look like it was a blast. Good for you. that ‘oh goodness’ feeling of getting outside one’s comfort zone with sewing is so fun/nerveracking! This turned out so lovely!!

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