I have had the opportunity to attend two workshops the last two weekends. Considering that I have only attended four workshops in my quilting career up until now, it felt like a very busy week! Last weekend's workshop was with Chris Jurd, which I will blog about next. This weekend's workshop was with none other than the wonderful Kaffe Fassett! Nearly as long as I have been quilting, I have wanted to attend a Kaffe Fassett workshop. I have spent many many hours over the years pouring over his books and dreaming of quilts to make inspired by him.
When I heard that Addicted to Fabric in Canberra was going to host Kaffe Fassett and run a workshop for the Bordered Diamonds quilt from his book, "Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts", I jumped at the chance. And I have no regrets!
If anyone is unfamiliar with how Kaffe runs his workshops with his partner Brandon Mably, they are all about the design process and colour placement. There is no sewing involved, but rather a lot of cutting and placing of fabrics on a design board and then moving and arranging the fabrics around. For me, this is the most exciting part of quilting, so a workshop dedicated to this process was extremely interesting to me.
The morning started out with a brief introduction and discussion on how it is important that we work quickly and not hesitate or over think what we put up on the design wall. Their mantra is the same as the Nike commercial, "Just Do It". Most important was that we get something up on the design board and then stand back from quite a distance to look at our work. They suggested using a reduction glass to look through so that we could see what was working and what wasn't working easily.
For the Bordered Diamonds quilt they suggested that large prints would be most effective and that smaller scale fabrics would be effective to use as the frames for each diamond. We were to cut the large diamonds out first and get them on the board first and then go back and work on filling in the frames for each large diamond later.
Neither Kaffe or Brandon teach the workshop in a manner that they spend time babysitting what you are doing, but rather there is the feeling (particularly of Kaffe) of someone standing in the background parenting with a bit of gentle guidance here and there. This method I feel allowed me to be able to work and gain confidence as the day progressed. After I had placed about 15 diamonds up on my board, Kaffe did wander over and was quickly able to see what the color palette was that I was mainly using. He picked out about three or four of the darkest diamonds and said that they created too much contrast--too dark against the lightest of the fabrics that I had already had on the board. It surprised me how simply taking out those diamonds, suddenly made the start of my quilt seem clear and gave me direction as to where I wanted to go with it.
I had brought with me a range of blue/purple, red and yellow/gold fabrics with a desire to try to use yellow in my version of his quilt. I told Kaffe that I find it tricky to use yellow in general and wanted to concentrate on this as an exploration on how to use it! Brandon mentioned that next to black and white, yellow is the most difficult color to work with. Kaffe's suggestion was to add in green, which I didn't bring with me, so I did get the opportunity of having him go "shopping" with me to pick out possible fabrics. That too, was an educational experience to see how his mind works. I suggest that if anyone ever gets an opportunity to do a workshop with them to take them up on their suggestions! It's the easiest way to begin to see what they already know.
Close to lunch time I had already starting working on my borders for each of the diamonds. The suggestion was not to try and match the border fabric to the large diamond, but rather use instinct and choose the fabric based on what we feel works. Using a single or two color fabric seemed to work better than using detailed fabrics with many colours. Here is where I was up to when we broke for lunch:
After lunch we kept working and trying to fill in as much as we could. Kaffe would walk around the room, sit down on a chair looking very relaxed and just look. Then he would walk up and point to an area and say, try this here, or this here. What I got from it was that where there is high contrast next to each other creates a starkness and doesn't let the colours dance together. Neither should the fabrics blend into each other. It was effective to choose a different colour for the border than the centre diamond. There is a subtle play and harmony when it works which allows the integrity of the shape of the diamond to remain clear. Below is a photo of where I was at at the end of the day.
He then goes around the room and talks about the process each student went through to create their own palettes. This was an extremely interesting part of the workshop and fun to see how each person came up with really beautiful palettes of colour. This is a quilt I would like to try again to see how I could make it work in a different palette. Maybe next time I will try a darker palette.
Here are some photos of what some other ladies in my workshop made during their day at the workshop:
If you ever get an opportunity to attend a workshop with Kaffe and Brandon, don't hesitate, just do it!