What I learnt at Quiltcon

I attended three workshops and a number of lectures at Quilton. I found some of the lectures to be disappointing, and in my view pitched at too low a level of knowledge and skill.  However, the last lecture I attended on Sunday, Alternate Gridwork presented by Heather Grant was the highlight of my “learning” at Quiltcon.

Heather explored how using different grids drawn from graphic, web and print design, can help the design process.  The slides which accompanied the lecture clearly illustrated how varying grid patters could dramatically change the impact of the design. This might not be a revelation to many of you, but to me a large light bulb went off in my head.  It was exactly what I needed to know and is certainly something I will be using in future as I play with design ideas.  I’m even considering buying EQ7 so that I can easily do this on a computer. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on whether you think computer design tools are useful.

I enjoyed all my workshops and each gave me a “nugget” of info or skill to take home. I was lucky enough to attend:

  1. Basic Improv Quiltmaking with Quilters of Gee’s Bend
  2. Improvisational Doodling with Sherri Lynn Wood
  3. Color Inspiration with Bill Kerr

Gee's Bend

The Gee’s Bend quilters were Mary Ann Pettway, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins and Lucy Witherspoon. They sang a spiritual for us and blessed us with a prayer before we started stitching. Whilst the workshop was light on specific instruction the ladies gave us colour suggestions,  construction ideas and support.  It was a delight to meet them in person.


Gees Bend blockThey also showed us some works in progress.  Their sense of colour and scale is inspiring.  It just feels “right” to me.  I have a beautiful book about them and their quilts and I was sorry I couldn’t take it to Austin for them to autograph.

2015-02-20 08.52.0Gee's Bend block 2




China  (2nd from left in the above photo) worked with me on a piece in which I used home decorating fabrics and Japanese kimono fabrics in greys and blacks with a shot of bright cherry pinkish red.  It’s about 12 x 12 now and I think I will continue with it to make it into something (not sure what) larger.


Sherri Lynn Wood, inspired by the ladies from Gee’s Bend, also opened our workshop with a song.  We started by exploring the different shapes that might be drawn in a doodle or pieced in a quilt and discussed some construction techniques. Sherri Lynn asked us go freehand and not to use rulers or to take measurements, but to begin and then let the piece speak to us, or to find natural fits for the next piece of the doodle so that patterns emerged from the use of simple shapes.


We had all bought along a bag of  mixed fabric and soon were slicing, dicing and  stitching.  I wanted to explore cutting  and stitching curves, so spent most of my time trying to get a handle on that.

The room was bustling with creative energy as you can see from the pieces below.  I’m always fascinated by what people can come up with in such a short space of time.

Doodling 2We did a reflective evaluation of our work during the day and also at the end of the workshop.

Sherri LynnSherri Lynn seemed pleased with our efforts.  I purchased her new book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously and naturally asked her to sign it for me.  I look forward to having some time to try out her concept of working from a score.

Last, but not least, was a 3 hour workshop with Bill Kerr which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Bill was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructor who was clearly passionate about the topic and about quilting.  He bought along bags of his quilts to illustrate principles of colour theory and a huge scrapbag of fabric for us to use.

Bill 1We had been asked to bring along a photo or an object with a colour palette that inspired us which we presented to the group. Bill analysed the colour interplay in each and we discussed the colour combinations.  He then did a “show and tell” of some quilts to illustrate colour interplay. Later in the workshop we used his scraps to improvise a fabric representation of our photo or object.  We then presented our pieces to the group and Bill commented and critiqued our colour choices and combinations. I learnt a lot from this, such as the effect of shadow and the interplay of light, and to notice very small differences in colour.

As you know from my previous posts using yellow has been a learning curve for me.  We discussed the placement of the yellow circle in the quilt above – we all agreed that it could not have been placed anywhere else in this quilt – it had to be placed in the centre or it would have made the rest of the quilt out of balance.

Some of Bill’s colour choices were more muted than I would normally use, some of his favourite fabrics are mud brown and kaki because of their ability to highlight other colours, but the principles behind those choices were insightful. All in all the workshop was a thoroughly enjoyable three hours.

Bill 2I’ve been giving some thought to what I have learnt, or not, from the various workshops I have attended since I started quilting in the past three years – but that will be the topic for another post.

Hope you have a colourful day!


2 thoughts on “What I learnt at Quiltcon

  1. I took a color workshop with Bill once and found it incredibly useful. I think my understanding of color combinations improved. For me, it was one nugget of discussion that turned the light bulb on.

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