Quilting with Gwen

June 10, 2013 § 20 Comments

My mom and I had the privilege of spending four days with Gwen Marston in her Liberated Medallion workshop on Lopez Island last week.  Can I just say that it was AMAZING!  She is such a sweet, patient teacher, encourager, story teller and all around interesting person who is preserving and passing on the art of quilt making.  And the class was full of amazing & talented women.  I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet Gwen &  all the women in her workshop.

My tablemate was Sharon at Grass Roots Quilting and we had so much fun!  You have to go check out her blog.  She gave a much more complete rundown of the workshop.  The next table over was LeeAnn of  Nifty Quilts, who is also an amazing quilter.  And I got to see her green Lone Star in person! Wow! I am always inspired by what she is working on.  And I got to meet so many lovely women who live near & far. It was truly an inspirational weekend!  Now, if I could just preserve that energy in the days to come. I think my sewing mojo might be back.

This is my medallion at the end of four days.  The wedges on top are going to be baskets.  One day.  I started with that old charm pack of Flea Market Fancy that was sitting in my closet and just started building from there.

One thing that Gwen & many of the women in class talked about is slow quilting.  Taking the time to let our quilts grow and develop in their own time.  Rather than making a whole quilt in a weekend, letting the parts come together slowly and letting them speak & tell a story.   Life happens while we are quilting and many times this comes through in the quilts we make.  Antique quilts were made over months of time, often in the winter when there was less work to be done. Fabrics from old clothing were used.  The quilts told stories about the lives of their makers. And from this, their quilts became interesting.  Fabrics changed throughout the quilt. Corners may have been cut off. Things may not match just right.  All give a clue to the life being lived behind the making of a quilt. Sometimes I think we get lost in this technological, informational, need it right now, kind of world we live in.  While it’s nice to have the internet at our fingertips and be inspired by quilters around the world, it can also hinder our quiltmaking by quieting our own voices.

One thing that has been on my mind these last couple of years is to slow down, simplify, and find my own voice in the things I make. My quilts only need to make me happy.  While it’s a joy when someone else likes them, it isn’t the reason or the purpose for the journey of quiltmaking.  Gwen mentioned that in her earliest days of quiltmaking she learned many of her foundational techniques from some Mennonite women that took her under their wing stitching in the basement of their church.  I would love to stitch & learn & let life speak through the quilts I make.

We also had the opportunity to see Gwen’s medallion in person. It is even more amazing in real life!  You just don’t have any clue in the book on how to visualize the scale of these blocks.  So I had to take a photo with the iron in the foreground so you can see that some of these blocks are tiny.

One of my favorites was this fussy cut bunny in the center of a liberated star.

The class was held in the historical Port Stanley Schoolhouse.

It is located in the middle of the island surrounded by farms.  It was so peaceful. And the weather couldn’t have been better.  No rain!  Sunny.  Just gorgeous.

After class one day we took some time to drive to the Center Church. Just down the hill were a few cattle grazing.  My hubby bicycled all over the island while we were quilting and then gave us a rundown of what he had seen that day. When he gets the photos off his camera I may post a few more pics of the island.

The house we rented couldn’t have been more perfect.  It was the cutest cottage just a few yards from the beach.  We could watch the ferry come & go throughout the day.

And we loved watching the sun set each day out the living room window.   We are dying to go back to Lopez Island again!

§ 20 Responses to Quilting with Gwen

  • Diane says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these photos and links. What an amazing experience it must have been, and in such a beautiful setting. Next time you visit, will you bring me?🙂

  • tia says:

    What a thrill to sew with Gwen. She is my single favorite quilter in the world. She knows everything and is delighted to share her knowledge. What an inspiration! I can’t wait to see what you make and how your Medallion developed. I am still working on mine from several years ago (when she came to Dallas) so I guess I am slow quilting on it.

  • Tricia says:

    So glad that you got to have such an inspiring trip! It is interesting that you are thinking about slowing down and enjoying the process because I just realized last week that I need to do more “quick quilts”! I guess that I have been getting frustrated and a little discouraged (although I hadn’t actually realized what was happening until last week) because all of my quilts have been so detailed and have had so many little pieces that it is taking me FOREVER to finish something. Right now I would just like to have a quilt of my own to wash and dry and snuggle under and that is not going to happen at this pace for quite a while. So, while I watch you lovingly choose the perfect fabric and build a gorgeous medallion quilt, I will be throwing together some big ole squares of whatever I can lay my hands on and whipping something up as quick as I can!
    Thanks for all the gorgeous pics and quilty goodness!
    Tricia

  • Susannah says:

    That would be the most dreamy 4 days for me… Your medallion is fantastic!

  • Asiyah says:

    SImply beautiful. I love everything about this post!

  • Marie says:

    Anita than you so much for your beautiful insight to creating quilts with the wonderful Gwen Marston. I am attending Gwens class at Amitie in Melbourne. I am so excited about it and looking forward to it even more after reading your blog. Have a great day

  • leeAnn says:

    It was a real treat to get to sew with you, Anita! Your talent and good design sense are so apparent in all that you do. Every time someone (including me) asked for your ideas on a design decision, your response was quick, sure and spot on. I hope we can find time to sew together again. I am also touched by your thoughts on “slow quilting.” It’s something I want to cultivate also. The rush of “getting done” is a hard one to resist. This will be a growing edge for me. Thanks for your encouragement in that direction!

  • kathie says:

    wow I love that medallion of Gwens, thanks for taking the picture with perspective of the size of the blocks.
    fun to find that bunny when looking at the quilt!
    ok just love what your doing with your medallion I love that dark border and how it really works with the fabrics in the different rounds.
    oh and the center, just perfect. can’t wait to see me
    how nice that you were able to share this class with your mom.
    Kathie

  • Blue.Ridge.Girl says:

    Anita I feel more relaxed just reading your post! Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us and the beautiful pictures🙂 I would so love to attend a workshop by Gwen…she speaks to my inner quilter! I love how she is not concerned with perfection…we are not machines. I also love the process of creating and finding worth in the fabric and the thread and the time spent putting it all together.

    Funny you talk about slow quilting…that’s what I’ve been doing all day today. I think I’ve told you that I co-sponsor a Handworks Club at the middle school where I teach. The other teacher found a quilt that was made in a Home Economics class back in the 1970s and it was never quilted. So, today we had a quilting bee at school where we worked at stitching in the ditch all day long on this quilt. We almost got finished. It is truly a quilt of the times made from fabric painted squares that the students drew.

    What did Charlie do while you were gone?

  • nicolette says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love slow quilting more and more.

  • Debra says:

    I found your blog through Nifty Quilts link and just have to say you’ve made some really lovely quilts. I love your medallion’s progress it’s going to be stunning. I too am doing a one day workshop at Amitie in Melbourne with Gwen in about 3 weeks time.
    I’ve been super excited about the upcoming class and seeing the lovely work from your class makes me impatient to get started. I’m having the same deliberations at the moment about what fabric and what style I want to do. Sometimes it’s hard to be pinned down to just one!
    I look forward to seeing your progress on your medallion.
    Debra.

  • Dora Scheer says:

    Love your medallion quilt! Such a simple start for such a fun and complex quilt.
    Also love that little bit of black and white to the left of your bunny. It was the main white fabric I used in a triple Irish Chain over 20 years ago–and I cherish every piece I have left.

  • chris hudson says:

    Hello, Found your blog via Nifty (LeeAnn) – looks like you had a great experience with Gwen! You say you want to get your mojo back, but from the looks of your medallion, you are either there, or well on your way. Enjoy the journey!

  • isabel says:

    By this words, it seems that we have been there too. What a previlege…thank you for sharing it so wellhughs

  • Karen says:

    I loved reading your post. I totally agree with slowing down and letting our quilts grow. It seems we are all on a treadmill of sorts. What a thrill to study under Gwen and meet other quilters. Thanks for sharing.

  • audrey says:

    It all sounds absolutely wonderful. So fun to read through this post which is just brimming with inspiration and such good thoughts.

  • nadia says:

    Hi, Anita. Thanks for sharing your photos and experiences from the Gwen Marston retreat. What a fabulous experience. And yes, to slow quilting…I didn’t know there was any other way!
    best from Tunisia,
    nadia
    PS. Enjoyed visiting your blog!

  • Cheryl says:

    It was wonderful meeting you and your mother on lopez and seeing your great medallion quilt grow before my eyes! Thanks for bringing up the “slow down” message. I am super slow as you could see! Since the class I’ve headed in a different direction with my dog. I need 4 months or 4 years, not 4 days!

  • janita says:

    Anita, I have found you through Nifty’s quilts🙂 I have enjoyed the posts on the retreat. It sounds like a delightful time. I have heard many things, all amazing about Gwen M.
    After seeing one of her books in a quilt shop I have put it on my wish list. Sounds like I could learn a lot from her🙂

    I am wondering about the cabin that you stayed in while you were at the retreat. My husband and I are planning a trip to the San Juan Islands in September. I wish I could say that I would be attending a quilting retreat while my husband spends the day biking but we will both be biking and I will be dreaming of quilts. I’d much rather be quilting! Exercise is a ways down on my fun list. Any favorite spots that we should be sure and see while we are on the island would be wonderful if you could share. The cabin sounds wonderful and right up my alley. Could you tell me where it is located and a phone number where we could check on reservations? Also the cost per night or if you need to reserve several nights. Thank you so much. Janita

  • Hi, Anita,
    I’m very late getting to this, but thanks so much for sharing your wonderful (and serene) experience. The pictures and descriptions are lovely and make me really appreciate the beauty of it all. There is a lot to be said for slow quilting….thoughtful, easy stitching, letting your quilt evolve over time and tell a story. Makes me feel better about some of my UFOs….much nicer to view them as ‘waiting for the next chapter.’🙂

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