A Stitch In Time With Nine Friends

By danielle

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Last week, a few lucky editors and I hopped on a 10:07am train and headed north for what would prove to be a very productive and peaceful day. Our destination? The Denyse Schmidt Studio in Bridgeport, CT.

I’ve always been a big fan of Denyse’s work so when the opportunity to attend one of her new Improvisational Quilting classes to learn her unique techniques was presented to us, I jumped at the chance.

My group ranged from the experienced (one editor was an avid quilter) to the novice. I fell somewhere in the middle (although my mother was a home economics teacher, my sewing skills are not as good as they should be). But despite the range in abilities, we all caught on pretty quickly and were off to create our masterpieces.

Before we arrived Denyse and her fellow instructor Richard Killeaney set up our stations and three brown paper bags – labeled small, medium and large, respectively. Denyse explained that the concept was to draw fabrics randomly from the bag – beginning with small. She chose two from the small, pieced them together (cutting off as little as possible to form a square or rectangle. She told us to stay away from an L-shape as they tended to cause more waste in the long-run) and then went to the sewing machine to stitch them together. Then it was back to the bag, drawing another swatch at random. Once our patches were big enough, we could graduate to the medium bag and finally to large.

For those that love perfection, this technique might take some getting used to. But the truth is, the beauty lies in the imperfection. Some pieces are big, some small, some solids, some wildly patterned and the finished product, with all its little nuances, is completely one-of-a-kind. Sometimes in the process, you might draw a fabric that is not your favorite.  But that’s the luck of the draw and, who knows, it might just turn out to be a little gem – the piece that ties the whole thing together.

At 4:13pm, we got back on the train for NYC with our two special blocks in hand.  Some chose to donate them (Denyse uses them to create quilts for charity) while others took them home as a memory (or perhaps to use them in a project).   The experience certainly had our creative spirits flying high and I would recommend it to groups of all ages and for any occasion – birthday party, bridal shower, etc.  The class is $350 per person (which includes lunch and materials) and it is worth every penny.

Step 1 - Draw fabric (at random!)

Step 1 - Draw fabric (at random!)

denyse-sewing1

Step 2 - Sew the pieces together

Stephanie selects her first piece

Stephanie selects her first piece

Richard, our instructor, and my fellow classmate Mary Stipe
Richard, our instructor, and my fellow classmate Mary Stipe
Denyse carefully arranged our blocks to show us what our quilt could look like. It's amazing how it all comes together so well.
Denyse carefully arranged our blocks to show us what our quilt could look like. It’s amazing how it all comes together so well.

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