Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Joy of Sets

I said The Joy of SETS.

As in Sharyn Craig's books Setting Solutions and Great Sets.

Sharyn came to the Santa Rosa Quilt Guild last week as our speaker on Thursday and then to offer a workshop on Friday and I was lucky enough to get in.

Her talk on Thursday, entitled "Sets Education" was witty and informative and I especially appreciated that she presented a trunk show as opposed to a slide show. The slides just don't do justice to the quilts--and even the pictures in the book don't show up as well as the quilts do in person. Sharyn's specialty is taking those Swap Blocks we all have lurking in the back of the closet and finding ways to set them together that maximize their beauty (or hide their ickyness). She has a million tricks up her sleeve to make the blocks all the same size for easier setting and ways to correct for color. Heck, she can even put a quilt together with colors that don't even appear in the original blocks and knock your socks off! She's truly a magician with these blocks. I was fortunate to get to her Sharyn speak at Road to California a couple of years ago, so I knew I had to be in the workshop.

Each participant in the workshop was able to bring some blocks and as part of the group activity, and Sharyn would help us brainstorm a way to set the blocks to their best advantage. The blocks I chose to bring were some I won in a monthly block Lotto conducted by the Fat Quarters, a Yahoo group of gals I've been involved with for about 10 years. Two years ago, I won blocks made with fabric my former next door neighbor Sandy Brown selected, Seaside Rose by Moda. I won the blocks for July and Sandy passed away on Labor Day Weekend (First Monday in September for those not in the US). She was only 62. She is pictured at left (on the left) with our mutual pal Kathy B. on a visit to my house for a couple of days' sewing. LOLOL


I'd been hoarding the blocks and leftover fabric Sandy sent me, not wanting to get into it, but I decided to use those blocks for the class because I wanted the quilt to be just right. When I put the blocks up, Sharyn pointed out (and everyone agreed) that they were "mushy" in that the colors were pretty much the same value and there were not enough highlights.

Then inspiration struck and she pulled out one of the flimsies she brought to demonstrate with and placed my blocks on top of the blocks in the quilt top and voila!! Perfection! Even the colors were just about right, though I'll use a lighter burgundy (perhaps like the one in the first block at right, since I have something very similar).

The beauty of Sharyn's system of assembling swap blocks is that she uses many, many fabrics and therefore doesn't need tons of any one fabric. Since I have acquired much of my fabric in smaller quantities, this method suits me perfectly.

Now to find more SWAPS!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great way to set those blocks! I love the secondary pattern, too.
I still miss Sandy... a lot.
Kathy B

Nancy said...

Those are gorgeous blocks. I was looking closely at them to see if I could identify having made one, but I think that is the year I got in a snit and didn't participate!

Speaking of swaps, I'm thinking it might be time to do some more Baby Cakes . . . .

Barbara C said...

You beautiful blocks really pop in that setting. How cool to get such a dynamic setting that really makes them work.

Great blog! Thanks for visiting mine.

Sue said...

It's hard to believe that they're the same blocks, they have a real 'WOW' factor now.

Verry Sherry said...

Hi definitely great to see the before and after--already thinking how can I spice up my blocks with settings? keep us tuned on the swaps, I'm always interested!
thanks!

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

That's a very interesting post Jan. I think your blocks will really stand out if you use that design. Lovely way to use the blocks given by your friend.

Sharon said...

Love the way that Sharyn's settings work - I haven't tried this one yet, but it's next on the drawing board. I love the windblown setting too. But THIS? This one makes those mushy blocks sing. And thanks for sharing the picture of Sandy and Kathy B. It's so nice to see pix of our FQ sisters! Jealous that you got to spend time with Sharyn!

Susan said...

The blocks will be beautiful in that setting, or one similar that provides that stronger color to pull your eyes around the blocks. I hadn't seen Sharyn since I last took a class with her at Road, and that's been quite a few years, now. The picture shocked me with how much she's changed. You never think others are changing with you. =)

Verry Sherry said...

hi ms. jan--thanks for visiting my blog--found yours on crafty trail--it holds special place in my heart as I'm from San Francisco (I grew up in Eureka) and my husband and I are wine lovers (and fans of NPR!) now transplanted in Ireland, I gravitate to your blog for sentimental reasons--never disappointed. Thanks!

Kim said...

Oh, lucky you! I would love to see Sharyn Craig! I've recently--within the past six months or so--picked up a couple of her books and used one of her methods to set some blocks recently. Her solutions for swap blocks are wonderful, particularly appreciated since I, too, am a member of an online group and participate in swaps. Love that setting for your block! I think it's the contrast that really makes it special--yet another lesson I will have to remember!

mereth said...

Wow, Sharyn and Alan, how lucky are you? The transformation in those blocks is amazing, and what a great idea to just lay them on top of one of her quilts. Let's you see instantly what the possibilites are. I've always admired her 'eye' for this sort of thing, she really is wonderful.