A la Mary Improv and More!

The Sew Crazy Quilters of Leesville, La, hired me to teach improv quilting early last month. You cannot imagine how much fun it is to teach traditional quilters how to let go of everything they’ve known for 20 years.

They are a happy group of ladies. Full of smiles and laughter and good vibes. Oh, and the food! They promised lunch (that’s part of the deal) but I could not have expected such a spread. Really, a sandwich is all I hoped for. Besides, Richard was my chauffeur and would have gladly picked something up for me–an unnessary second option.

So, improv. We started the morning with my A la Mary lecture because a few ladies didn’t really have a sense of what, exactly, that word means. I brought lots of my more recent improv quilts and showed them examples of what I do. A little show and tell from yours truly to entice and encourage. (Here’s one example)

We quickly moved on to Wild Improv so they could get the sense and feel of how to let go of tradition and embrace just stitching. I gave out scraps from my stash and we got into the nitty gritty of cutting and sewing and making the messes that improv yields.

It was hard for some people. They struggled with letting go of the idea of having a pattern or at least an end-goal. But lots of reminders that we were “just having fun” and “feeling our way through” and “letting go of the rules.” That last one, “let go of rules,” was especially difficult.

Improv everywhere!

By noon everyone had stitched some sort of fabric chunk and we were ready to tackle curves. Curves were really scary! But we took our time with shallow, barely-there curves then moved on to more and more difficult ones. By the time we were ready to head home, every quilter had curved her way through a previous seam and created an S-shaped curve.

At the end of the day, everyone laid her curve blocks down so we could take pictures. As you can see, some of these are pretty dificult curves. Slicing through seams is a bit nerve-wracking, at best.

Oh, I see a quilt here. Can I have all your pieces?

It’s interesting that the beginning, simple improv blocks aren’t here–except the ones we reused–but that’s because they were so enamored with the ability to sew improve curves, that the morning blocks were just forgotten. Now, that’s progress!

Another angle…purple must have been the color of the day.

All in all, it was a great day. I hope to get hired for more of these small group teaching gigs. It’s a great deal of fun, and I believe that the Sew Crazy Quilters truly enjoyed the day!

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