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Rocky Mountain Blue Columbine parts and pieces by Dana Jones ©2021

I'm slow in quilt classes. That was the case last week when I took Jane Sassman's "Abstracting from Nature" workshop through the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS). Check out Jane's work. I was one of several "tortoises" in the class. There was some comfort in knowing others were feeling a bit of the stress I do when I see others sprinting ahead. Most in the class finished their compositions and began stitching them to their backgrounds. Not me. Even after working into the early morning hours several days, I'm still creating the parts of my quilt and will be for awhile.

Handling the stress of being a slow maker is a challenge. I find I do lots of self-talk. I'm really competitive so I have to constantly remind myself — sometimes outloud — that a quilt class is not a competition. I constantly remind myself it is the journey I love. Just sitting at the sewing machine calms me to a point I forget how far behind I am.

I will finish this quilt. It will take time. Next steps include satin stitching, something I haven't attempted for almost 40 years. (That's a story for another blog post.) Next steps include quilting, which I want to do myself but first must learn to do on my brand new sit-down long-arm machine (also another blog post).

There are more parts and pieces to this quilt that I must finish. Some will make the final composition, some will not. One of the things I love about Jane's technique is that you make the parts and pieces never worrying about what will or will not make the final quilt. The orphans will find a home in another piece. Her style is mix of precision and letting the piece go where it will. This so works for me. It's a style of making art that resonants with us Type A folks yet it's tinged with improv. What could be better?

My thanks to my Facebook friends who said go for the columbine. It was a bit more complex a flower than many used by others in the class but it provided so many variations, so many shapes from petals to leaves, from top down views to side views, and more.

The lush color is because I worked entirely from scraps of hand-dyed Cherrywood fabrics. If you haven't used these wonderful fabrics, check them out. They're a bit pricey but worth every penny.

I'm here to affirm it's okay to plod your way through a class. A quilt class is never a competition; it is never a race. At their best, quilt classes, like this one, are pure joy.

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Growing up, I dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. While I was an okay softball right fielder, being female was not the only reason I was never drafted by my St. Louis Cardinals or any of their competitors. Despite that, turns out I'm on a wonderful All-Star team — a team of 18 top-notch quilt teachers.

Saturday, May 22, I'll be among teachers who will be part of the Global Quilt Connection's two-day All-Star Sampler live Zoom webinar. Each of us will have 15 minutes to share how we teach, especially how we teach via Zoom.

I'll demo a portion of one of my favorite courses to teach: "Demystifying Design for Foundation Piecing." We'll begin with photos of single images, like mine of our state flower, the Rocky Mountain blue columbine.

After studying the image, we'll create straight-line drawings that an be turned into foundations toward creating blocks — or mini quilts. Mine is 8" x 8".

I'm so honored to be part of this exciting and creative event. I'd love to have you tune in not just to see my presentation but to also be introduced to the full team of all stars. You can sign up to attend through the Global Quilt Connection as an individual or guild — The event is from 3-6 p.m. EST, 2-5 p.m. CDT, 1-4 p.m. MDT and noon-3 p.m. PDT. You won't be disappointed as every teacher will present a different technique.

As of today, May 4, there are an estimated 8,000 quilters who plan to sign in. I hope you will be one of them.

Images above — Columbine block, columbine photo and columbine drawing all © by Dana Jones, 5.4.2021. All rights reserved.

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Work in progress by Dana Jones

After dropping off four quilts to long-arm quilter Rita Meyerhoff (see glimpses of her work on my version of Elizabeth Hartman's "Patchwork City" below), I wanted to relax by doing some quick and easy piecing. I'm part of a quilt group that is focused on log cabin quilts this year — Log Cabin Fever to be specific. I began thinking about a great workshop I did with Sarah Nishiura — — last year in which she had us work with half square triangles warping them to create an illusion of circles. My brain has been thinking about warping grids ever since.

As a career photojournalist who has spent significant time laying out magazine and newspaper pages, my life has long been focused on grids. When I began quilting, I saw the surface of quilts as grids but then began to wander from that idea only to realize I'd left behind something I love. That realization came during a 2014 class at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago when our instructor, Liz Ensz — — had us read Chapter 1, "Brick," from Hannah B. Higgins' The Grid Book (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009).

I was drawn to Elizabeth Hartman's Patchwork City (C&T Publishing, 2014) because her use of an interlocking grid for up to 75 blocks made in three sizes is genius. This isn't a quilt you make overnight. Every block is unique. Every block offers possibilities for fussy cutting. Every block provides a piecing challenge and joy.

I will teach this quilt for Holly's Quilt Cabin in a series of Zoom sessions in June. More on that soon. In the meantime, enjoy a few photos of Rita's quilting. She finished it yesterday, and I will pick it up tomorrow.

Patchwork City, design by Elizabeth Hartman, made by Dana Jones, quilting by Rita Meyerhoff

Patchwork City, design by Elizabeth Hartman, made by Dana Jones, quilting by Rita Meyerhoff

I'd love to hear how you are quilting on or off the grid.

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