Quilters workshop in Montevideo

This is a group of 4 Uruguayan quilters who came to my house last saturday for a workshop on the basics of freehand cutting and piecing, otherwise known as improvisational piecing, an amalgam of the work of Marylin Stother of Canada, Nancy Crow of USA and the tool-free methods of fabric piecing by the Afro American quilters which were studied by Nancy herself and others such as Eli Leon who wrote “Who’d A Thought It”.
As the perfect technical framework for the mass of work to be accomplished by students in her colour and design classes, the method for this quick and easy construction has been taught far and wide byNancy, and many others since, with the result that it has become a new tradition in quiltmaking having been taken up by traditional, experimental and art quilters alike. There are countless examples now appearing in catalogues of contemporary quilt shows in countries such as UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, and wherever else the teaching goes or exhibitions travel it will emerge shortly after. So, I look forward to seeing how it emerges here, since the students were very keen, and worked very hard.

In the above sample, the heap of 4 pieces of fabric, all right side up, cut through three times to produce these 4 blocks will be recongised by anyone who have ever done this kind of workshop or construction. We moved on to strips and slivers. It is always a pleasure to teach to people who are keen to learn what you have to show them.

I learned that my studio could have accomodated one more student plus machine without being a squeeze, that I like having the extra trestle table up (dangerous precedent, Wendy?) and that I can easily get used to having quilting on one, piecing out on the other table still have my cutting table free…. theoretically. Posted by Picasa

8 Responses to “Quilters workshop in Montevideo”

  1. Brenda says:

    Yay for freeform cutting and improvisational piecing! I learned from an NC student a few years ago and was fortunate enough to spend a week at Nancy’s barn in July of this year. I cover the technique in some of my classes including Making Waves and Colour Rhapsody and always receive a positive response from my students. I also use the technique in my quilts which can be viewed on my contemporary quilts website .

  2. Alison Schwabe says:

    And yet Brenda, there is a drawback to all this, too. There has been so much teaching of the value of hand dyed fabrics plus the improvisational piecing method that for many quilters, these two things put together make an art quilt, amen. Despite Nancy’s urging all her students to experiment, to really push themselves designwise to see where this can go, not many really pursue new ground. The result is that there are a lot of quilts out there now that look alike, which in iteslf is not a bad thing – traditional quiltmaking has been producing quilts that look alike for centuries…. and for those who want to experiment beyond the traditional, this is a perfect area in which to start. but lots of them in the one show can be a bit hohum … We have a number of Aussie quiltmakers who have run with the experimental ball and taken this to work in ways that do not produce NC look-alikes – Judy Hooworth for example, Margery Goodall, and I modestly dare to include myself. I have experimented a lot with irregular shapes both internal and external; and I teach and have written published work on how to finish irregular shaped works, too.

  3. Brenda says:

    I understand completely where you are coming from. As a quiltmaker, I certainly don’t aspire to be blatantly derivative of any artist which is why I will continue to put in the hours in my studio working on design exercises and mastering skills and endeavouring to express myself in my own voice not someone else’s. As a teacher, I enjoy sharing non-traditional techniques so that others can enjoy liberation from templates and precision piecing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Second time today I saw this method, as a aquilter ‘low on the totem pole’ only quilting five years but a lifetime of sewing skill; I was looking for a new way to go but not Nancy Crow though I like her work. You and brenda have sparked my interest to have a go with my own shapes and colour palette. I am isolated and unable to go to classes so hope you won’t mind if I use your approach as a starting point. Love reading your blog.

  5. Alison Schwabe says:

    Not at all – the basic instructions for this technique are briefly given, with diagrams, in a one-page pdf you can download and print off from my website. Once learned, the only limit is your imagination. I have no idea where you are so I don’s know if you have access to it, but further information is in a two page article for Quilters Newsletter Magazine nov. 2004 and there are several books out there by various authors which include these basic steps. Have fun, and I am always happy to answer any technical question via direct email.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Many thanks Alison, I live in Tasmania OZ, I will go to your website and print the file and get going.

  7. Alison Schwabe says:

    Judy or Anonymous – I’m a little confused! – if you care to, email me privately – I am Tas born and bred although haven’t lived there since marrying and moving away in 1969 – but – I do go there at least once often twice per year to visit the remaining crumblies in and around Launceston and along the NW coast – UI always hire a car and can get around – I am more than happy to meet and give you a bit of time – ‘isolated’ in Tassie seems easy enough for me!… try ‘Mount Isa’ or ‘5 hours east of Darwin…’

  8. Amazing, I found your site on Bing poking around for something completely different and I really enjoyed your site. I will stop by again to read some more posts. Thanks!

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