I love to teach and have 20 years of experience sharing my work through presentations, demos, and workshops. Check out workshop photos from Penland School of Craft 2001, 2006, & 2011, the Orange County Modern Quilt Guild, East Bay Modern Quilt Guild, and QuiltCon Day 1: Get Your Curve On, Day 2: Modern Block Improv, Day 3: Improv Round Robin.

References are available upon request or contact me for scheduling or more information.


 Teaching Philosophy

My teaching focus is improvisational process and technique. I use a multi-disciplinary approach for teaching the process of improvisation. I invite students to draw on methods of improvisation from music, theater, drawing, and meditation as well from their every day life –cooking, child rearing and conversation. We all improvise everyday so why not bring it into our quilt making!
Modern quilting is about expanding the boundaries of the tradition without forgetting them. Improvisational patchwork is one of the cornerstones of the modern quilt movement because it drives the evolution of innovative design. Improvisation is not design but the creative process behind design, cultivating and pushing it towards the fresh and authentic.
I offer a unique approach to patchwork that doesn’t rely on step-by-step instructions for following a pattern, instead I provide frameworks for flexible patterning that support improvisatory exploration. My students walk away with a broader understanding of improvisational process and the confidence needed for  setting their own boundaries, so that they can relinquish the need for control and instead enjoy the sweet reward of working in the flow. They leave with a comprehensive set of tools empowering them to move beyond beginner level improv to create with an authentic voice.  These tools include multi-discipline approaches to the process of improvisation, ruler free patchwork techniques, and mind tools for accessing their creativity.

2015/16 Workshops

Get Your Curve On, 2-day, 12hr

Get your curvy-quilty-modern groove on in this improvisational quilt-making workshop. Participants will explore advanced approaches to improvised quilt making and composition, develop a personal/intuitive language of color, and learn innovative wedged-curve AND bias strip curve piecing techniques. All skill levels but intermediate and advanced sewers will make more progress. Based on the Mod Mood Quilt-along.


Wedged Curves, 1-day, 6hr

Get your wedgey-curvey-modern groove on in this improvisational quilt-making workshop. Participants will explore advanced approaches to improvised quilt making and composition, develop a personal/intuitive language of color, and learn innovative wedge-curve piecing techniques. All skill levels but intermediate and advanced sewers will make more progress.


Bias Strip Curves, 1-day, 6hr (NEW!)

12761766865_224ceaea82_qIn this workshop you will learn to master the innovative improvisational technique of bias-strip piecing on the curve, with tips on how to flatten internal bubbles in the patchwork when they arise, and how to utilize the technique in both traditional and improvisational patchwork compositions. This is an advanced, original technique that takes time to master but worth the effort. Imagine the possibilities! Intermediate and advanced skill levels.


Modern Block Improv, 1-day, 6hr

Start with a favorite traditional block pattern and transform it through a series of improvised repetitions into something uniquely modern. We will brainstorm the possible range of alterations and then practice putting our blocks through a series of rhythmic iterations using basic improv piecing and compositional techniques. All skill levels.


Improv Round Robin, 1-day, 6hr

An improvisational twist on the Round Robin. Free your creative energy, use up your scraps, and learn the basic skills of improvisational quilt making. At the end of the day you and everyone else will leave with a distinctive quilt top beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. There are no mistakes in this fast-paced class, only discoveries, community, and FUN! Perfect for fist time improvisers. Sign up with friends! All skill levels.


Improvisational Patchwork Doodling,  1-day, 6hr (NEW!)

12761888323_38c3999d83_qDoodling is the model for this playful approach to improvisational patchwork. Letting go of expectations, participants will practice building patterns with simple shapes and negative space, while learning ruler-free patchwork techniques. It is a flowing YES, AND “drawing” that accepts and builds on what comes immediately before. Like a doodle it is not planned nor is it random – it’s responsive… and plenty of fun! All skill levels.


Improvising From A Score,  1-day, 6hr (NEW!)

With jazz music, a score, or lead sheet, indicates basic chord changes, and arrangements of a song without specifying how the song should be performed. Now imagine a score written to perform a quilt! Students will improvise a quilt by working from a simple score rather than a pattern, learn basic ruler-free patchwork techniques and leave with the confidence to create their own scores for future projects. All Skill Levels.


Modern Memory Lane T-shirt Quilt, 1-day, 6hr (NEW!)

Modern Memory Lane T-shirt Quilt - improvisational patchwork

Break out of the traditional t-shirt logo grid and take a stroll with me down memory lane! We will be mixing our favorite t-shirts with contrasting fabric to create a series of “memory lane” sections. This method adds visual interest by fragmenting logos that hold together in readable paths of color. Techniques covered include stabilizing and sewing knits, preserving necklines, and ruler-free patchwork techniques. All skill levels.


Passage Quilting Through Life’s Transitions, 1 or 2-day, 6-12 hr, introductory workshop; 1 or 2-week, intensive workshop

This is a workshop about relationships, past and present. Working with the architecture of clothing and with materials of meaning from everyday life, participants will improvise a quilt without a predetermined pattern. This process will be the vehicle for inner work and outward expression as it reveals and orients the patterns, by which we survive, thrive and transform. All skill levels. More info at


The Rhythm of Attention, 1 or 2-week intensive workshop

Tracking, sharing, and exploring the rhythm of attention is the goal of this workshop, ideal for anyone interested in flow and the creative process. Mornings will be devoted to exploring—through group dialogue, chanting, stitching, writing, and drawing—topics on listening and engagement. Through focused experiential exercises, a variety of approaches to pattern making will be explored. We will move from exploration into practice each afternoon by making improvised quilts without predetermined patterns. All skill levels.


Group Stitching Mantra, 90min group stitching meditation, up to 30 participants

Join me on a communal, restorative journey that merges the Eastern spiritual traditions of mudras, mandalas and mantras, with the simple act of stitching. Participants will experience together the rhythm of attention and the creative impulse through  movement, vision, and voice, and will leave with feeling refreshed and renewed. Don’t miss this fun, trippy, group stitching and chanting exploration!


Improvise! Creating, Quilting, & Living Courageously, 1hr multi-media presentation

Improvisation is at the heart of living creatively. Music, dance, theater, drawing, cooking, conversation, play, child rearing, and even science benefit from the flexibility of mind that improvisational process engenders. We all improvise every day. Attendees will leave with mind tools, tips and a fresh perspective on how to apply improv skills learned in life to their patchwork – and vice versa! Includes classic African-American quilts in the improvisational style, time-lapse process videos, and quilts featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.


Passage Quilting, 1hr multi-media presentation

Passage Quilting is an improvisational process about relationships, past and present. Working with materials that carry meaning, memory and emotions, the creative process of Passage Quilting fosters a healing heart. In this multimedia presentation, I review the traditions of memorial and scrap quilting with historical images. I also share stories from my practice which illustrate how Passage Quilting supports the bereavement and growth process we all experience during times of transition. See


It’s Daintytime!, 1hr multi-media presentation

Multimedia presentation of my journey, influences, and process as an artist, quilt maker, teacher, blogger, and craft therapist.With a year’s worth of allowance I bought my first sewing machine when I was 11 years old. I’ve been sewing with devotion and attitude ever since!



Improvise! Ruler-Free Patchwork Performance, 1hr demo –  (NEW!)

Basic 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! Attendees are invited (optional) to bring up to a 1/4 yd of fabric scraps for use in the patchwork performance. Venue provides sewing machine, ironing station, and work table.


2015/2016 Booking

I would be delighted to teach or speak in your community. Please contact me about rates and availability.


Sherri Lynn Wood is an artist working in Oakland, CA. She is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors, and a two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow. She has been making and improvising quilts as a creative life practice for twenty-five years, and blogs about it at Teaching credits include Penland School of Craft 2011, 2006, 2001; QuiltCon 2016, 2015, 2013; and numerous modern and traditional quilt guilds across the country. Her first book, The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters will be available through STC Craft in Spring 2015.

9 Responses to Workshops

  1. Dorie Javier says:

    Would love to hear from you.
    I am the program chair of Folsom quilt guild and interested to have you to do a trunk/workshop in my guild. Waiting for your reply.

  2. Angela says:

    I took your Improv Round Robin workshop on Tuesday with the SCVQA and wanted to tell you that I had a FANTASTIC time! I’m so thrilled with the outcome of all the quilts and loved your teaching style and process. I had lots of fun and really enjoyed your concept of grounding ourselves in between and focusing right upfront.

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  4. Joan Barrett says:

    Thank you Sherri, I will share this with the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild.( there are so many of your offerings I would love to participate in with you)

  5. Sandie Scarpa says:

    PLEASE! when is your book going to be out? We are fascinated and inspired.

  6. love your philosophy, Sherri! Would love to explore the kind of improvisational patchwork you talk about, especially the ‘mind tools for assessing creativity’. I think that is an area of improvisational quilting that has not been addressed much. And the group stitching mantra sounds like a blast! maybe one day i’ll get the chance to take one of your workshops. and i can’t wait until your book is done.

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