I haven’t taken a quilting class in a long time (mostly due to lack of time!), however, when I saw that my local state guild, Colorado Quilting Council, was hosting Jean Wells for a lecture and workshop, I signed up right away. Jean is an author/educator/designer, proprietress of The Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon, and founder of the annual Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. I have long admired Jean and her daughter Valori’s work and knew that her class would be inspirational. You might recognize some of her earlier garden-inspired, New York Beauty quilts:
More recently, Jean has been exploring abstract quilt design and experimenting with new techniques, mostly working with strips of fabric and cutting free hand–no rulers– and detail piecing.
Jean graciously permitted me to take photos during our class to share with you! The class was called Quilt Design Exploration and is based on her book Intuitive Color and Design. What intrigued me was the chance to explore free-form piecing along with color and quilt design in terms of line and shape. Jean promises to get you “out of the box, beyond the block!” Sounds good to me!
The class started with some exercises using strips of solid fabric and learning to cut and piece gentle, free-form curves as well as other small, pieced, detail units. Rulers are not used to cut any of the pieces. Using solid fabrics forces you to pay attention to the color, value, shape, and line of your design and not be distracted by the pattern of the fabric. Some colors will appear differently depending on what they are next to, while others will draw attention to themselves and add that something extra to your quilt.
Next, we worked on a small project based on a nine patch. We focused on combining fabrics with light, medium and dark values and incorporating the free-form piecing techniques we had learned earlier.
Some work from fellow classmates.
Jean also talked with us about using the colors in an image to inspire your palette and the lines/structure within to create a design. Tracing an image and cropping different portions can create a variety of different design layouts for your quilt.
Here she talks about how an image of knitting needles all lined up inspired this quilt.
After spending a day playing and learning new ways to create, I went home inspired and motivated! Jean’s class was wonderfully freeing and I would highly recommend her as a teacher. A delightful artist with some beautiful work, Jean also has a new book coming out this summer, Journey to Inspired Art Quilting. I can’t wait to check it out!
So I encourage you to get “out of the box, beyond the block” and take a class that inspires you!