I attended a workshop with Jean Wells at Empty Spools Seminar back in February. This workshop took place at Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California. It was a great class in a beautiful location, although I missed one full day of class because I came down with the worst stomach virus I’ve ever had. I worked on two quilts at the workshop and have now finished both of them.
The first quilt was started as exercises given to us by Jean Wells. She brought solid color fabrics of many different colors, and on the first day we were to choose 6 of her fabrics. We didn't know what we were going to be doing with them when we selected them. She demonstrated cutting and sewing gentle curves, and we were to use our fabrics to practice doing the same. She continued demonstrating a variety of things that we were supposed to do, always without patterns; we were choosing from among our 6 fabrics and sewing them together in various ways. This is called improvisational piecing.
The next day we were to make blocks from our 6 fabrics. We could use the pieces we had done in the earlier exercises, or not; I used mine in the centers of my blocks. After we sewed our blocks, we were to put them together into a composition; I used some of the leftover pieces from the day before in this composition as well. The only fabric I added to mine was the background; all the other fabrics in the quilt are the 6 that I chose from Jean Wells' fabrics. I call this quilt, "An Exercise In Letting Go." It measures 22" X 46 1/2".
We were also supposed to bring photographs with us to use for inspiration. Although I brought quite a few photos, it turned out that I didn't bring very many that were usable for the way Jean Wells wanted us to use them. But I did find one that I could use.
I traced the major shapes onto tracing paper, then decided to crop it to use just the center section. I used the color scheme and the general shapes from the photo to create this quilt, which I call "A Paris Window." It measures 17 1/4" X 28 1/2".
I highly recommend Jean Wells as a teacher; I only wish I had been able to attend the whole class from start to finish. Not only did I miss one day of class due to illness, I also arrived late due to a last minute schedule change. This meant that I missed the introductions before class and the actual instructions regarding choosing our 6 fabrics. I was told by another student when I arrived to choose 6 fabrics, but I learned later that students actually chose 5 fabrics, then Jean Wells talked to them individually about their choices. After discussing their 5 choices, they chose a 6th fabric (they didn't know in advance that they would be choosing a 6th fabric).
Even though I didn't have the full class experience, I am very happy with how my quilts turned out, and I really enjoy working in this new way.