Ruler Free Strip Piecing

I’m debuting new workshops and presentations this fall and in 2017. One of them is Ruler Free Strip Piecing. Check out this video to see how much fun it is to cut ruler free!


Ruler-Free Strip Piecing, 1-day, 6hr

Participants will explore intuitive color and experiment with three methods of choosing -random, spontaneous and planned- as they create expressive and dynamic strip pieced foundation fabrics without using a ruler. The results can be utilized with stunning effect in either fixed or flexible pattern compositions. Participants will leave with multiple string sheets created in the half-day workshop. Composition options will be fully explored during the second half of the full day workshop.

I will be teaching half-day versions of this workshop, which will focus on different ways of choosing and the technique of making the string sheets, at Glamp Stitchalot, November 10-13, 2016 (there is still time to register for this all improv Glamp), at QuiltCon East February 2017, and at the Broward County Quilt Expo in Florida March 2017 (registration is also still open). In the full day workshop the second half is focused on improvising a composition with the string sheets.

I’m now accepting teaching inquiries for 2018. Contact me!

Pre-Prep for Glamp Stitchalot Attendees

Watch the video above. Although it shows me cutting 44″  strips from folded selvage to selvage yardage, due to time limitations, I’m going to recommend that you pre-cut your strips at 22″ long for our Glamp Stitchalot class.


Go ahead and cut  1 to 1.5 yards worth of 22″ long strips from fat quarters or pieced scraps. You can piece some of your yardage from scraps, as seen in the first part of the video to make the 22″ length of your strips. Piecing your length from two or more fabrics will allow you to introduce additional colors and fabrics into your string sheets.

Cut your 22″ long strips without using a ruler. Be sure that your rotary cutter is sharp, get centered, and with a firm but flowing and swift hand make your cuts, which can vary in width from 3/4″ to 3+”


Your strips do not have to be cut perfectly straight and can even be slightly wavy (but not too curvy). We will have more time to cut in class but I wanted you to bring some precut strips to start with and to share. We will be sewing the strips into string sheets in class.

Curate your fabric selection for your strips with an emphasize on unusual, unexpected combinations and contrasts of all sorts in value, color, scale and of print, neutrals and vivid hues, solids and types of prints, etc. Fabric selections should not be matchy-matchy. Please don’t over coordinate around a central fabric or color scheme. Throw in a few zingers!

See you in class!

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Make Do Quilt – Curating Materials

I’ve curated four different bundles from the Public Recycle and Disposal Area at Recology San Francisco during my residency for the #MakeDoQuilt the giveaway. Each bundle has it’s own particular features and challenges, and this is part of the creative fun of making quilts with scavenged materials.

When I curate scavenged fabrics I consider the basic things that I do with quilts made from off the bolt fabrics – like color, pattern, and value. When using repurposed fabrics there are other aspects to consider such as texture, or types of materials — corduroy, acrylic, satin, velvet, linen, cottons, denim… all of these materials can be used in a single quilt and be quite striking.


It can be skill challenging to manage sewing and combining different kinds of materials. I love those skill challenges and if I find it’s just too difficult to master then “WHOOPEE” time to throw that fabric out and substitute another. But you never know what you can make work until you try.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-2-56-27-pmAnother consideration are the architectural features of the clothing before they are deconstructed. I love working with the natural shapes of remnants as well as deconstructed clothing. I usually just take clothes apart at the seams. So if you wanted to make something curvy the curves of sleeves or the bottom curve of a dress shirt, or the crotch of a pair of pants will give you interesting and graceful curves to begin with. Or you might want to highlight pockets or plackets or some other interesting feature of the clothing in your quilt.

There are so many things to consider when scavenging and curating a group of fabrics/clothing for a make do quilt. As some of you have pointed out, it’s an exciting design challenge to make a quilt out of what happens to show up and sometimes it’s a surprise and it pushes us out of our comfort zones. Some of you have gathered together meaningful clothing worn by family members or other household materials like sheets and family linens, which in a way are already pre-curated according to that person’s sense of style.


Lots of you are already figuring this out and I can’t wait to see more of your Make Do Quilts in the coming months. If you’ve done a blog post about your make do quilt please share a link in the comments!


Thanks to EVERYONE for your enthusiastic response to the year long #MakeDoQuilt challenge. And thanks for spreading the word. I’m so impressed by the abundant posts on the IG feed already. It’s as if people were literally coming out of the closet with the items of clothing and repurposed materials they’ve been saving to make a quilt with someday.

To pick winners I blindly spun the IG feed and let my finger land. I’ve picked 6 winners in the order below. The make do bundles will be sent to the first four folks who live in the US. Due to shipping costs, winners residing in other countries will receive a vintage apron or vintage linens scavenged in the dump, that will fit in an envelope.  If you are a winner listed below please contact me or PM @sherrilynnwood on IG with your mailing address and congratulations! Those of you who do recieve bundles I will be looking to see what you make with them!

  1. @thatwendyward
  2. @katiegolnikholt
  3. @katie_joyquilts
  4. @blue_dragonfly5
  5. @littlebeetroot
  6. @cyclingjanes 
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a f t e r l i f e / it’s show time!


It’s show time! My exhibition opens tonight!

Art Studio at 503 Tunnel Ave. San Francisco

Reception-Friday, September 23, 2016, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, September 24, 2016, Noon-3pm with Make Do Pocket Quilt drop in clinic in the gallery. All materials and score provided.

Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 5-7pm with gallery walk-through with artists at 6:00pm at 401 Tunnel Avenue

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Miguel Arzabe, Sherri Lynn Wood, and student artists Paula Morales and Kathy Sirico on Friday, September 23, from 5-9pm and Saturday, September 24, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, September 27, from 5-7pm, with a gallery walk-through with the artists at 6:00pm.

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome,
wheelchair accessible.

It’s been an incredible journey and I will write about the residency experience, about making do, and post images this fall after I recuperate from the intensity of the last four months.  But here is a start. My artist statement:

I am curious about the way patterns inhabit systems of all kinds –relationships, communities, institutions, environments, and territory within myself. I see patchwork as a historically rich medium for modeling the dynamics of pattern formation, and the limits that manifest systems.

This body of work also stems from a commitment to make-do as a way to free myself from the spell of limitless choice. By choosing to work within recognized limits, the act of creating became more fluid, surprisingly synchronistic, and restorative. Making do is not only about solving a problem with what’s at hand, which I find extremely satisfying, it also fostered within me a collaborative, receptive, and improvisational rhythm of attention marked by acceptance, and respect for how things are, with room for what showed up, including mistakes, and deviations from any or all previous plans. It grew my capacity for seeing the materials and responding affirmatively to the work as it emerged.

My goal was not to speak through, of, or for the materials but to speak in conversation with them. In the works presented, I accepted the limits of their salvaged parts, natural shapes and intrinsic lines. I tried to be present and bare witness to the unique and broken characteristics of the discarded objects, which became the portal to their transfigured geometries.

And that’s how I understand resurrection, or life after system collapse. Our transfigured patterns and relationships will unfold through the portal of our shared brokenness. And these new bodies will be strangely familiar and intimately foreign, as we wake together in the afterlife.

Sherri Lynn Wood

Hope to see you there!

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make do quilt challenge & giveaway

make-do quilt challengeMy goal during my residency at Recology is to make eight bold quilts from materials found in the San Francisco dump in four months. I’m at the half-way mark and I have five quilts made. All the work has to be made with 99% of materials found in the PDRA (Public Disposal and Recycle Area), including the top, back, batting, and thread!

The first quilt of the residency was made from a stack of jeans, a purple chef’s shirt, and some red plaid wool all found in the dump on my first day. The next visit to the PDRA (public disposal and recycle area) turned up a quilted coverlet which will serve as backing and batting, dark blue embroidery floss, and the men’s shirt I will use as the binding (see above).

Did you know that a significant percentage of the stuff that goes into landfills is discarded clothing and textiles? Textile waste is a huge problem which will require changes from how the industry runs business to how we run our homes. If every one of the 16 million occasional quilt makers or 1 million active quilt makers in the US made one quilt a year from discarded clothing and linens, imagine how many pounds of material waste would be spared from the landfill.

pileofclothes-makingdo-wIkea’s head of sustainability proclaimed that consumers in the developed world had reached “peak stuff.”

But this isn’t just about the environment. Making do is also a creative challenge. It’s about intentionally setting limits that push you towards imaginative solutions.

Whether you like to follow fixed patterns, or prefer to improvise with your patchwork, I challenge you to make one quilt top and back from salvaged clothing, linens, curtains or other household materials within the next 365 days. Scavenging your batting and thread is optional – but extra points if you do!

You may not have access to the local dump, but it’s easy to save these materials before they hit the dump. Or you may choose to use personal clothing of your own or of family members that carry memories and stories. Host a swap meet and glean from the extra clothing no one wants. Check the dollar rack at the thrift store. Make late in the day rounds of the neighborhood yard sales and pick up clothing and textiles for a dime.

If you take on the Make Do Quilt challenge I definitely want to hear about it. Many of you are already making do with exciting results! Please post a link to any make do blog posts or quilts in a comment on my FB page or my blog, tag me in IG feeds and use the #makedoquilt hashtag on any images you post. I want to spread the word and I want to highlight your efforts at making do!

Make Do Quilt Challenge IG Giveaway

If you are up for the challenge then help spread the word on Instagram to enter the giveaway. To enter… first like my Make Do Quilt image and follow me on IG,  tag three friends in the comments and then repost the image (at the top of this blog post) with #makedoquilt @sherrilynnwood on your IG feed.

After my residency on October 15, I will choose one winner plus an additional winner for every 300 new IG followers (currently at 3700) gained by the close of the contest, from the reposts at #makedoquilt. The prizes will be curated make do quilt bundles of salvaged (laundered) materials with an original make do score with design guidelines/prompts, plus a vintage apron. Winners outside the US will receive a vintage apron plus some other little surprise that will fit in an envelope, along with the make do score and design guidelines.

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making do / unexpected juxtopositions

sheers-wThe second week of my residency at Recology  , I found a load of vintage sheers in the PDRA (public disposal and recycle area) aka – the dump. Beautiful! I washed them and set them aside where they laid dormant in my imagination.

redbeads-wIn the sixth week of my residency I came across six panels of red plastic beaded curtains in the dump. Gorgeous! While I was sleeping an unexpected juxtaposition woke me up.

Both finds were curtains of sorts but with different narratives… the sheers spoke of the domesticated home space, the red beaded curtains of a massage parlor or a dance club perhaps? Then I thought of the tradition of redwork and red and white quilts… purity and passion… milk and blood… virgin/mother and whore… Such a classic pairing! I new they were meant to be together. I felt a tingle and flush from head to toe, as I do when seemingly unrelated items form a relationship in my imagination and inspire me to action.


Part of my challenge at Recology is that 99% of all the materials I make with have to be from the PDRA. That includes the batting. So these demure white sheers will be quilted with the beaded blood of red running through their veins!

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area my exhibition will be on September 23, 5-9PM, September 24, 1-3 PM, and September 27, 5-7 PM.

Follow the project on Instagram or Facebook.

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ruler-free patchwork at the alameda free library

Teens and adults ~ Join me on July 16, 2:00-3:30 at the Alameda Free Library for Improvise! A Ruler-Free Patchwork Performance/Demo.

sherri-sewing-1500wBasic strip, bias strip, wedge, curve, stack, float, repetition, flow, bleeding, darting, natural fit, approximate measuring, trouble shooting, and composition tips, tricks and techniques for ruler-free patchwork will be demonstrated and performed on the spot according to suggestions received from the audience. It’s an Improv Patchwork Theater Mashup with techniques, design tips, and mind tools featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters. Attendees are invited (optional) to bring up to a 1/4 yd of fabric scraps for use in the patchwork performance. There will be a book signing following the performance.

RSVP by July 10 to Jill Russell, or call 510-747-7713

Contact the Alameda Free Library for details.

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quiltcon 2017 workshops


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make do with me

feedsack quilts found in the dump

As I mentioned in my last post, one of my goals during my four month residency at Recology San Francisco, is to pay careful attention to the experience, process, practice, and mindset of making do, so that I can write, blog, post, start a conversation, and get the word out about it.

Why? Because it is an important legacy that we as makers, especially quilt makers, know something about through the work of our great grandmothers, mothers, and aunts mostly and in realms outside of home craft from our grandfathers and fathers too. The earliest roots of patchwork in this country comes from making do with what’s been left over, with the less worn patches from old clothing, feed sacks, mill remnants and tailors’ scraps.

I see quilt making as a model for understanding and reclaiming this legacy of making do with what’s at hand and left behind –as opposed to constantly consuming and buying more– at a critical time of cultural, economic, and environmental transition. And most importantly, it’s not a burden to make do, but the opposite, its a liberating choice to live simply and make new in more meaningful, imaginative and intimate ways with less.

Explore with me, through your own creative endeavors, whether it be patchwork quilting, home keeping, cooking, building, fixing, problem solving, painting, drawing, gardening, music making, parenting, relationships and more.

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “making do?” What does it mean to make do in life and in your craft? In what ways do you make do on a regular basis? How do you understand making do as an aspect of improvising? How does it support your creative flow? … or not? Making do means different things to different people. How does your economic heritage effect your perspective?

Some of you have already been sharing making do stories of grandmothers using pantyhose for batting, questions about the trash stream, tips on making design walls with old felt lined tablecloths, thoughts of awe and dismay by what’s being thrown away. Keep it coming! Let’s have a conversation!

Make Do with Sherri Lynn Wood

Subscribe to my blog (top right sidebar), follow me on Instagram, or like my artist page on Facebook to join the conversation and share your experiences, memories, stories, thoughts, tips and question in the comments. AND please tag your friends to help me get the word out!

I believe quilting with meaningful materials that carry narratives from our daily lives, quilting with more attention to social issues, and an interest in flexible patterns are some of the new frontiers for modern quilters. What do you think?

More on that and my take on modern quilting trends in future posts!


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june mandala / making do begins

clock in break room at RecologyI snapped my June Mandala last November while waiting for a final interview for one of the six artist-in-residence openings at Recology San Francisco in the coming year. My heart was beating a mile a minute. I had 15 minutes to pitch my project to a room full of arts professionals…

I want to explore the experience of “making do” through the model of improvisational patchwork. My premise is that in a culture where we have an abundance of choice, we are actually deprived of the simplicity of choice.

Making do with what we have at hand ignites the imagination. When we have less to choose from, when we intentionally limit our choices, we are freed from being overwhelmed, and are able to find flow. Which is rejuvenating! Making do with what comes our way, requires that we excercise our ingenuity in order to satisfy ourselves. This accomplishment is a state of gratitude, a rhythm of attention, that feeds the spirit and restores the soul.

The Recology AIR Program in San Francisco, has been around for 25+ years, and it is a crucible for making do. Two artists at a time are each given a studio for four months and full access to the PDRA (public disposal and recycle area) to scavenge materials for making their art.

Recology PDRA in San Francisco

At the end of the four months there is a public exhibition of finished work, made with 99% with materials from the dump.  So if you are a painter, you have to scavenge surfaces, and canvas, and paints and even basic tools like brushes and painting utensils, to make your paintings.  Wouldn’t this make a great reality tv show!


I will be improvising a series of quilts and sculptures from clothing and other materials during my Recology residency, but that’s not all. Equally important I will be on a four month quest to explore the nature of making do, by writing/blogging in depth about my surprises and discoveries both internal and external.  I will be posting on IG about my finds, how they inspire me, and what I make out of them.

I started the residency on June 1. My final exhibition will be September 23-24 & 27. My time of Making Do  at the dump begins!


Follow the story on, Facebook and/or Instagram.

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diy beauty / rose water

DIY- distilled rosewater

Rose water is a simple luxury, a button jar blessing, that’s easy to make. While visiting my friend Lisa, last month, we scavenged wild rose petals on a beach at the southern tip Whidbey Island. Although I’m not in this habit, she turned me onto to her passion for scavenging and collecting, and making luxury out of what’s readily available in our environment.

Wild rose petals barely bloom for more than a day or two before they drop to the ground, but while they are in season, they bloom new and abunantly every day. No one would miss the two bags of petals we freely gathered on the beach.

DIY- distilled rosewater

Rose water can be made out of any kind of rose petals, wild or cultivated. Simply gather a bag full and place them in a large pot with a metal handled lid. You can use a steamer or not. In the center of the pot elevate a jar until it rises above the petals and is a few inches below the rim.  Fill the bottom of the pot with water till the rose petal are partially covered.

DIY- distilling rosewater

Place the lid upside down so the metal handle is facing inwards and centered an inch or so above the stacked jar or glass. Bring the water to a gentle boil or simmer. Place ice in on top of the inverted rim. This will cause the steam rising from the roses to condense on the lid and drip into the jar.

It doesn’t take long, perhaps 15 minutes of boiling before the jar fills. Turn the heat off, leave the pot in place and allow the whole contraption to cool another 15 minutes before lifting the lid.

DIY- distilled rosewater

You will find your your glass running over with the distilled rosewater. It will be clear and very fragrant. Jar it up and use it as a skin toner in the morning and night after washing your face and before applying lotion. You will be amazed by it’s gentle glowing effect!

There will also be fragrant rose colored water in the bottom of the pot that can be saved and used in the bath.

DIY- wildrose facial mask

While the rose petals are still warm, lay down and cover your face, or the face of your friend with them and allow to dry for another 15 before removing, for a wild rose face mask treatment to rival anything you might experience at a luxury day spa.

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buttons / freddy freckles

freddyfreckles-drawingFreddy Freckles is so funny after taking a bath. He doesn’t like it but is resigned. Afterwards he shakes and squirms, nips and twitches, and eventually snuggles in, warm, damp and sweet. And then he sighs like an old man.

Freddy is #1 A++ in my button jar of blessing!

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may mandala / gathering resources

a gathering of buttons


May 24

I barely have buttons to gather! Gathering resources symbolized by the thrift of buttons? What was I thinking when I created my May mandala. Like Bernie Sanders fans, I’m feeling the “burn” of an out of whack economy. I’m also feeling the thrift! “Burnthrift” could be the name of a down & out yet resourceful character roaming the west for work during the depression era, or the saga of the last rent-controlled city apartment buildings staving off eviction and gentrification, or a declining 19th Century country estate in a gothic novel. Making Do that’s what it’s all about…. do the hokey pokey and you turn your self around!

Screenshot 2016-05-28 22.17.21

When did housewives begin saving buttons? One of my few early memories of my great grandmother’s home was napping in her sewing room, when I was still young enough to be required to take naps. Her sewing room may have been a converted porch. It was in the back of the house near the rail road tracks, in Crown Point, Indiana. There was a twin bed and a sewing machine in the narrow room, with a door out to the yard, and windows all around. I remember hearing the train pass, and sorting through her large jar of colorful buttons on the chenille covered bed –each one seemingly unique yet all the same in their function.

drawing of a button

Buttons are like blessings. Each bright button a joy savored for it’s orphaned beauty and potential usefulness, even though it’s no longer a part of a team. Sometimes there are whole families of 3 or 4, 8 or more, and even pairs of two in the button jar,  separated by a universe of strangers, odd balls, solos, and almost matches.


My residency at Recology, the San Francisco dump, starts next week on June 1, and I’m gathering my spiritual resources – my buttons – my blessings. Although blessings are all around me, they seem thin when I’m in a state of mind that can’t receive them due to transition, worries of success, and the business of keeping the toilet paper dry.  Yet it’s this very thinness, when resources seem sparse, that the value of each singular button and simple blessing becomes clear.

I hope to write about these buttons –brief snapshots of the sparkling and unexpected resources that bring joy, curiosity, awe and rest into my life –that appear during my residency of making do at the dump. You’re invited to blog along with me and share links in the comments to the blessings in your button jar, or on Instagram – #ButtonJarBlessings

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see you at quiltcon east

teaching_at_quiltcon_2017_v2I’m thrilled and honored to be teaching and speaking at Quiltcon East, in beautifully gothic Savannah Georgia in 2017.

This is the fourth Quiltcon I’ve had the pleasure to participate as an instructor. It delights me to look over this year’s list of speakers and teachers and see so many new faces I’m curious about like Season Evans and Heidi Parks; and familiar return “stars” who’s work I’ve loved for years from afar like Maura Ambrose, Denyse Schmidt, Carolyn Friedlander, Heather Jones, and Angela Walters;  familiar faces who I also admire, and who are on the teaching team for the first time —Anna Boenish, Chawne Kimber, Tara Faughnan;  faces who I’ve worked with on other projects, like Amy Friend, Latifah Saafir, and Rossie Hutchinson, who all have quilts featured in the Improv Handbook, and Shruti Dandecar and Nancy Purvis who I’ve met in past Quiltcon workshops; and even Quiltcon organizer extraordinaire, Heather Grant! Plus so many more talented makers and designers.

This is a great line up! And Savannah is an amazing southern city. AND I will be debuting three new, never before taught improv workshops, as well as a new lecture — to be revealed when the schedule is announced on June 1. I hope to see you there!


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april mandala / harmony

Harmony ready to be made - yarn

April 21….

I was riding into SF today on the BART and there was one seat open next to a pretty rough homeless man who was sleeping. He seemed like he was sick, more than passed out. Apparently no one else wanted to sit next to him, because this was towards the end of the morning rush and there were people standing in the car when I boarded. Anyway I sat down next to him and a few minutes into the ride he re-positioned in his sleep and leaned into me, resting his head against my shoulder and his arm into my side. People on the train were staring (at least those not completely absorbed by their phones) and perhaps wondering how I would react – what would happen. I just sat there like he was an intimate friend or child and let him be. Some people smiled at me awkwardly in sympathy or empathy. The incredibly emotional thing was that it felt good, the human touch and warmth, and of being of comfort. I thought it must have been a comfort to him, but I definitely felt comfort, and intense need. I’m still shaken by it. I don’t know what to make of it. I’ve been tearing up all day.

Being in harmony with others is about finding common ground with those who are different, or have different goals and needs than our own. The harmony of different voices and notes blending can be sublime. At first glance it all seems quite “nice.” On a deeper level living in harmony with others, especially in a diverse, high density city with huge disparities in wealth, like the San Francisco Bay area, can be disturbing, shocking, unexpected, and even more cathartic than I ever imagined.

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Get Your Curve On 2-day workshop, May 21-22 Seattle Area

Calling all quilters and improvisers looking for an intense immersion in ruler-free curve composition and technique. Your opportunity is here! If you are near the Seattle area don’t miss this 2-day improv quilting workshop with curves, Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22, hosted by the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild (register here). We will be covering it all –layered curves, wedge curves and bias strip piecing on the curve. Enjoy the luxury of two full days to put it all together in one magnificent composition!

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March 2016 Mandala: Percolating

coffee pot mandala

Be careful what you intend! When I shot the image for this mandala on January 3, 2016 to represent my creative intention for the month of March, I wasn’t thinking too deeply about what it means to percolate.

Let’s talk about SIMULTANEOUS transformation by fire, water and air! Think of what those poor humble and raw coffee grounds have to go through before becoming a delicious cup of well brewed coffee. There is intense heat penetrating to their core to melt away rigidity and unlock hidden flavor, there is air literally blasting away to create space for the grounds to expand and release, and water rushing through to purify and rinse the flavor home.

Well that’s been my month so far! March is turning out to be a month of percolating solitude and clearing of stuck subtle energies, mental and emotional habits. Percolation hasn’t been a picnic, it’s still going on, and yet I have hope that this trifecta of purification will add up to a delicious, fresh brew when it’s over.

What’s percolating in your creative life this month?

Posted in Craft Therapy, Mantras for Creativity, My Creative Process | Tagged | 1 Comment

February 2016 Mandala ~ Branching Fragrantly from my Center

February 2016 Mandala - branching fragrantly from my center

When setting visual intentions for my monthly 2016 Mandalas I knew February would be a month of reaching out and engaging with not just a few close friends but with hundreds of people – including students, blog friends, readers, fans, strangers, and industry movers and shakers! I knew I would be teaching quite a bit, including at Quiltcon which begins in five days.

I’m pretty good at public speaking, because it’s easy for me to talk about what I know and love. However, interacting with lots of people, reaching out while keeping my sense of integrity  —branching fragrantly from my center and sharing my essence authentically is more of a challenge. When I ask myself why this is, I pin it on my highly developed critical mind gone haywire. My judgmental mind, the one that compares my self to others and to unrealistic expectations of myself, keeps me separated, leaves me insecure, and stops my creative flow… It’s my YES BUT mind.

In my work, I easily get stuck in this perpetually dissatisfied judgmental mind because it keeps me safe. In fact my YES BUT’s often arise because I’m on the edge of exploring new territory. Either I chicken out and I’m dissatisfied, or I do something so new and uncomfortable I can’t tell if it’s “right” or “good” so I feel dissatisfied. When stuck in the YES BUTS the only way I’ve found to step outside my judgmental mind is to invoke my sense of curiosity and begin saying YES AND… Affirm and build.

So now when I’m meeting people, and I notice my mind making comparative judgements… I’m thinner than they are… I’m heavier than they are… I wish I had their sense of style… my quilts aren’t as good OR my quilts are better than theirs… and I become stuck in the judgmental spiral,  judging myself for being judgmental, guess my key to escape?

That’s right… CURIOSITY!

When my YES BUT judgmental mind starts to kick in, I immediately switch on my curious mind… I wonder about the hardships of living on the street? I wonder what it would be like to start over in a new country… I wonder why someone is shy? or outgoing?  I wonder about a quilter’s unique memories of color that make her quilt shine? The focus is not about me, I can relax, and all of a sudden I’m in the midst of an interesting world of possibility, opportunity, and new relationships.

When I get nervous meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends, I quiet my judgmental mind, find my curiosity, listen to what they are saying, and do my best to respond with a YES AND….

Let’s get curious together!

I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at Quiltcon next week. I am teaching Thursday, Friday, and Sunday but I will be on the floor all day Saturday, enjoying the quilts, vendors, and the community. Please introduce yourselves and say hi if you see me. I will also be signing copies of The Improv Handbook at the Sew Modern Booth (#215 ) on Saturday from 3-5 pm.

Improv Handbook at Quiltcon

Save travels!

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DIY ~ Inset Sewing Machine Table

inset sewing machine table

As an improvisor I really enjoy rigging up my sewing space and equipment to suit my particular needs.

Here is how I inset my Juki TL-98E home sewing machine into a table and lined it with old rotary cutting mats. Be sure to pay attention to the features of your machine and adapt these general guidelines accordingly.

Materials and Tools:

  • 6′ pressboard table
  • Drill
  • Handsaw or jigsaw
  • A scrap piece of sturdy board for the dropped bottom that your machine will rest on.
  • 4 large, strong screws and bolts long enough to drop through the table, the board and the length of the machine resting below the table surface.
  • Gorilla Glue or similar adhesive
  • Old cutting mats
  • Sharp utility scissors

underside-view-of-my-diy-sewing-machine-table-as-requested-makingdo-sewingtools-figuringitout_24364710919_oHow to:

  • Position your machine on top of a 6’foot pressboard folding table at a distance that is comfortable for you to work at but also allows room for the knee lift to clear the metal edge of the table underneath (if you have a Juki or a machine with a knee lift), and then use a sharpie to mark around the footprint of the machine. I placed my machine approximately 6″ from the edge.
  • Drill a hole inside the footprint large enough to slip in the tip of a handsaw or jigsaw, and then saw around the marked footprint.
  • Saw out a small curve on the back end of the sewing machine placement, to allow the cords to rise up through the table and plug into the machine. Since I could access the bobbin case without difficulty on my Juki, it wasn’t necessary to saw out any other locations around the footprint except for the cords.
  • Cut a board a few inches larger than the footprint of your machine and placed it over the hole you just cut. Drill four holes large enough for through the board and the table at each corner. large enough to fit the large bolts I bought to create a drop floor for the machine to rest on.
  • Dig around the drilled holes to drop the bolts flush on the table.
  • Cut up old self-healing cutting mats to fit around the machine, using sharp utility scissors or some other instrument to cut through the mats.
  • Carefully glue in place using Gorilla Glue (or similar) to bond the mats to the tabletop surface. Place books or other heavy objects on the surface for 24 hours until the glue sets.


I love having the cutting mat surrounding my machine, since I’m often cutting my patchwork as I sew. Having the glued down cutting mats removes the hassle of the mat sliding around as I go back and forth from cutting to patching.

However I do not use my Juki for machine quilting so I can not attest to the smoothness of the surface for machine quilting. You may prefer to have the inset machine table without the cutting mat lining.

Remember these are general DO-IT-YOURSELF guidelines, that could and should be adapted to fit your particular machine and needs!

Posted in Tools, Tips, Tutorials | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

January 2016 Mandala ~ Simplicity Tools Basics

2016 Mandalas - Sherri Lynn WoodAt the beginning of the new year, I was invited to participate in a Facebook Group, 2016 New Year Mandalas, with the goal of creating 12 mandalas in 12 days, one for each of the upcoming months of 2016. I decided to take the challenge of setting a visual intention for the months of of the year ahead. I also hope to blog each month about my intentions, as a way of tracking the year ahead.

January Mandala - Simplicity Basics Tools

It’s actually February 1, and I am post-dating this blog entry for January 31! This meshes with my January intention of Simplicity Tools Basics – in that I’m in desperate need of a simpler less technology ridden life. Usually January is my quietest month but not this year. The month is already over and it was a blur of activity. Much of my time and efforts being c0nsumed by social media and promotional activities. Actually I yearn for the good old days of 2010 when the humble blog post was all that was required to share my thoughts with a broader community.

I haven’t figured out how to balance my email and social media responsibilities with my creative life, but limits have to be set. I’m struggling to keep up with it all. Although I enjoy being a part of the communities on Facebook and Instagram, I miss the format of writing more extensively about my life and creative process on my blog. So with January already gone is it ludicrous to proclaim that I want to get back to blogging?

To do more blogging I have to cut back on other social media activities. I removed the Facebook App from my phone. I’m also inviting members of the vibrant Improv Handbook Facebook Group to step into leadership rolls. I have to cut down my direct presence there but will be stopping in occasionally to read and comment.

BTW – the FB group is currently working through each of the scores in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters in 2016. If you are interested in getting supportive feedback with your improv projects – be they scores from the book or your own explorations please jump in and join the very active conversation!

Along with these changes in my Facebook interactions, I’m only responding to email inquiries on Thursdays. I hope this structure will help but I’m not sure. Right now I’m terribly behind on my email correspondence.

I’m deeply dissatisfied about how technology eats into my real, present, and embodied life. Life is too short to be on the computer all the time. For this reason I sigh when I see these old fashioned hand stitching tools – a quilting and an embroidery hoop. Although I’ve taken some steps in January to allow more space for life off screen, I’m not sure if it’s enough.

But I will do my best! My January 2016 mandala reminds me to keep working for more simplicity, and basics in my life, relationships, living spaces, and in my creative work as well.

Posted in Blogging, Community, Mantras for Creativity, My Creative Process, Personal Heritage | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Remembering 2015

Screenshot 2015-10-18 22.07.08It was a big year…

Maybe my biggest ever regarding my professional life. The release of my first book, The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters, in April, and the subsequent embrace of it’s message in the community of quilt makers, surpassed my hopes for it’s success. Almost everyday I receive an email or a shout out on Instagram or Facebook from a reader about how much the book has resonated and inspired them.

It may seem like fan stuff from an outsider, but to me each note of appreciation from someone touches me deeply and gives me a sense of meaning and belonging. I feel like a geek admitting this, but sometimes when I’m feeling deeply alone these little messages from strangers light up the darkness and show me a way out of any pitiful false stories I may be dwelling in.

Many thanks to all who have embraced The Improv Handbook and it’s message. If you feel so inclined I encourage you to review The Improv Handbook on Amazon and/or on Goodreads. I hope the book will continue to go out into the world as more and more people are curious to explore improvisation and flexible pattern patchwork.

Meeting quilt makers on the road…

A big part of the book release was touring across the country, and meeting quilt makers everywhere! Thanks to all of the people who helped me organize the tour including Modern Quilt Guild leaders in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland/Berkeley, Asheville, Denver, Lincoln/Omaha, Raleigh/Durham, Winston-Salem, Cincinnati, and St. George. Thanks to all of the organization and venues who hosted me – Stitch ModernSew ModernRosie’s Calico CupboardUnited Church of Chapel HillThimble PleasuresSewingly YoursMalaprops BookstoreSewn StudiosInternational Quilt Study Center and MuseumFancy Tiger, and Scrap Apple Quilts.

Teaching at Quiltcon…

Even though I’d been quilting for over 20 years when I started this blog in 2010, I was an outsider to the online Modern Quilt movement. I have to thank the national Modern Quilt Guild for continuing to invite me to be on their roster of teachers at QuiltCon. Being invited to teach as a virtual unknown in 2013, was a huge opportunity for me, to be invited back in 2015, 2016, and 2017 is an honor. It has allowed me to meet quilt makers from all over the country and abroad. This in turn has led to opportunities to teach at individual guilds and special conferences.

And guilds across the country…

I am so thankful to all the guilds and guild leaders who have believed in me and have hosted me so graciously in 2015. It is one of the most satisfying parts of my life, being the teacher! Being trusted by each student to lead and guide the creative unfolding of their workshop experience, and watching people grow and embrace their authentic expression feeds me on a deep level. I always feel so connected to my wonderful students and the progress they make in their work. Thank you to all the organizer and students at Chicago MQG, Camp Stitch-a-lot, Aunt Mary’s Quilt Shop, the Seattle MQG, the Fidalgo Island Quilters, Kansas City MQG, A Gathering of Stitches, New Hampshire MQG, SeaCoast MQG, LAMQG, San Diego MQG, Triangle MQG, FrontRange MQG, Quilting By The Lake, Bay Area MQG, Pittsburgh MQG, Quilt Guild of the Villages, Mt. Tam Quilt Guild, and the Quilt Guild of Contra Costra County!

Find out where I’m teaching and speaking in 2016! I still have openings in the fall of 2016, and 2017 – if your guild or organization is interested check out my workshop offerings!

Interviews, magazines, blogs and podcasts…

improv handbook in SF ChronicleAnother favorite part of the book release was being interviewed for so many amazing podcasts, blogs, and magazines. Each interviewer had a unique approach to asking questions, and I so enjoyed getting to know each of the interviewers, and the opportunity to share my perspective.

Sew LeWitt…

Sherri Lynn Wood - Sew LeWitt - Adobe Books San Francisco

Just check it out!

Watching you all grow, and doing it YOUR way!

Finally a shout out to all of the amazing improvisors out there -the first timers and the more experienced. I’ve been so impressed watching so many quilt makers jump in and doing their own thing. Beginning with The Improv Handbook Test Quilters – I’m reading reviews of my book saying that many folks like the test quilts in the book better than mine! I think that’s awesome. I was blown away that their were 18 Improv Handbook test quilts represented at QuiltCon 2015!

And I’ve been blown away by the level of discussion and participation, and of course the amazing quilts being posted daily in The Improv Handbook Facebook Group by the 1400+ members. You’ve got to check this out! If you are up for some improv in 2016 members of the FB Group will be working through the book’s scores one month at a time beginning in January.

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 3.14.50 PM

Also sew along with Rachel Hauser at Stitched in Color as she continues to work through the scores in The Improv Handbook. Her insights on the process and her outcomes are surprising and inspiring.


What an amazing year of meeting quilt makers where they live. My friendships and colleagues have multiplied! I’ve been blessed beyond belief and I’m looking forward to exploring 2016 with you! THANK YOU!

Sherri Lynn Wood

Posted in Community, The Modern Quilt | Tagged | 1 Comment