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Last week I had the inspirational experience of doing the Patchwork Workshop with the delightfully affable Brandon Mably and the deeply insightful Kaffe Fassett.  The workshop is based around the ZigZag Quilt design from Kaffe Fassett’s book, “Quilts in Italy”.

I had been moping around as I thought I would not be able to go, where serendipity intervened in the form of a lovely friend who suggested I leave the kids with grandparents (I was on holiday!) and drive 5 hours return to do the course with her.  Naturally I agreed and figured that I would sort the fine print later on.

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The day started with an introduction by Brandon and Kaffe, which had the strong message of cut it out and put it straight up – the idea being that the best way to evolve your colours was to get it up on the wall and to look at it.  So simple, yet so true.

When frantically cutting and putting fabric on the wall, you would become aware of someone else, looking, just looking at your partially finished quilt.  Sharpening your focus, you would then be aware of either Kaffe or Brandon looking at YOUR quilt.  Sometimes they would then comment to you, other times they would chat between themselves, other times they would keep looking and then just move on to the next quilt.  I was quite impressed by the time and consideration both Brandon and Kaffe took with each course attendee, nudging and encouraging them towards the development of their individual ideas.

Trying to clarify my understanding of light and dark colours, I was initially further confused when Kaffe explained to me that whether fabric was considered light or dark depended on which piece it was placed against in the quilt pattern.  Mulling it over in my head, (plus some further explanations!), I realised that although I naturally look for a set of rules to explain something, with this light and dark concept, it really was a subjective matter of perspective, influenced by factors such as what other fabric was placed next to the piece you are looking at.  I really quite enjoyed the letting go of my natural tendancies towards set rules, and going more for instinct and what ‘felt right’.

We had an enforced lunch hour out of the room, which really did enable me to have a fresh perspective when we re-entered the classroom.

My favourite part of the day (apart from the one-on-one interaction with Brandon and Kaffe), was the end, where Kaffe went around each quilt and talked us through the colours, patterns and intent of the quilt. There were some very insightful observations made by Kaffe that still resonate with me.

Well, it turned out to be day of dabbling and diving headlong into colours and combinations, pushing my own boundaries and messing around with Brandon, Kaffe and the other workshop participants.  The dulcet tones of Brandon singing out “Kaffe!  Shopping advice over here!” still brings a smile to my face when I think of it.

What did I learn?  The most significant ‘take home’ message was to have confidence in my opinions and be open to new colour combinations. I never appreciated how much you could divine by just standing there and looking at your fabrics on the wall – whether it be from a distance, close up or through Brandon’s reducing glass.  I am working out where I can have a hanging wall to pin up fabrics just so I can look, appreciate and change it around to suit my mood.

And here we have the finished layout!  Now I need to just go and sew it all together…

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