I love teaching improv patchwork and watching my students soar! Presenting paths for folks to access their creative power and evolve their unique patterns is at the heart of all that I do.
I have 20 years of experience sharing my work through presentations, demos, and workshops. Check out workshop photos from Penland School of Craft 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 to list a few!
Please visit my events schedule for a complete list of 2017 workshops, exhibitions, and presentations in the US and abroad. If you don’t see anything happening in your neigborhood, invite me to visit soon! I’m currently booking events through the end of 2018.
Make Do with Old Clothes and a Pair of Scissors — 6hr (1-day) WorkshopDiscover the satisfaction of transforming old clothes into striking functional quilts that carry meaning and message. Learn deconstruction strategies for preserving architectural elements like pockets, plackets, necklines, and sleeve curves, which serve as the score or set of limits for improvising the patchwork. Stabilize and combine different types and weights of materials, including silk, linen, knits, poly, wool, and denim. Build scissor muscles along with ruler-free rotary cutting confidence, incorporate stash scraps, and learn how to compose with natural fitting shapes and bleeds. Harness the emotional energy of the relationship you have with the materials to guide your process.
Ruler-Free Strip Piecing — 3hr (1/2-day)or 6hr (1-day) WorkshopParticipants 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.
Get Your Wedge Curve On — 6hr (1-day) or 12 hour (2-day) WorkshopGet your wedge-curve, mod-mood, groove on in this improvisational quilt-making workshop. Participants will commit one step at a time, as they explore advanced approaches to improvised patchwork and composition, develop a personal/intuitive language of color, and learn ruler-free, wedge-curve, piecing techniques.
Get Your Bias Strip Curve On — 6hr or 12 hour (2-day) WorkshopGet your bias-strip curve on and celebrate your mistakes! Participants will learn the innovative ruler-free technique of bias-strip piecing on the curve, how to flatten internal bubbles as they arise, with options to apply the technique in fixed block or improvisational compositions. This is an advanced technique that takes time to master but worth the effort. Imagine the possibilities!
Get Your Curve On — 12 hour or 18 hour (2 or 3-day) Workshop
Get your curve on in this improvisational quilt-making workshop. Learn innovative ruler-free techniques for building wedged curves and for bias-strip piecing on the curve. Learn how to incorporate both techniques without a plan, into a finished composition, by committing one step at a time while celebrating mistakes! You will learn advanced approaches to improvised composition, develop a personal/intuitive language of color, and learn advanced ruler-free curve piecing techniques. Based on the Mod Mood Quilt-along.
Modern Block Improv — 6hr (1-day) Workshop
The goal of improvisational patchwork is flexible patterning. Participants will start with a favorite fixed or “traditional” block pattern and gradually transform it through a series of repetitions and variations. Without the use of rulers, templates or instructions to guide them, they will gain a deeper sense of how patterns evolve, while learning ruler-free patchwork and composition techniques along the way. All skill levels.
Improv Round Robin — 6hr (1-day) Workshop
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 — 6hr (1-day) Workshop
Doodling 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 — 6hr (1-day) Workshop
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! In this ruler-free improv workshop participants will explore the key concept of how to set limits to support your creative flow. Finding your flow not only feels super good, it actually replaces the need of having to work from a plan. Participants will also learn basic ruler-free sewing techniques and leave with the confidence to create your own patchwork scores for future improvisational projects.
Passage Quilting — 6hr (1-day) or 12hr (2-day) workshopThis 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 PassageQuilts.com.
Making Do as a Creative Strategy – 1 week Master Class
Connecting to patchwork quilting’s roots in scarcity, we’ll employ the practice of “making do” to activate a level of creativity that may only be possible when we are freed from unlimited choice. We’ll use ruler-free piecing techniques and improvisational process to create patchwork from discarded clothing, scavenged materials, and/or materials charged with memory. As we recognize and collaborate with the natural shapes and limitations of our materials, surprising geometries will be revealed. Students may choose to finish their patchwork into a quilt or take it to a conceptual or three-dimensional level.
Making Do Recology — 1 hourSherri talks about her 2016 residency at Recology, where she produced a body of quilts and sculptures entirely out of materials scavenged from the San Francisco Public Disposal and Recycle Area, aka the city dump. “Making do is not only about solving a problem with what’s at hand … 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.” She also shares images of inspiring quilts by others who have taken the “Make Do Quilt” challenge to make something new out of something old.
Improvise! Creating, Quilting, & Living Courageously — 1 hour
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 and quilts featured in The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters.
Improvise! Set Your Limits to Find Your Flow — 1 hour“Happiness is the place between too little and too much.” The restorative benefits of improv come from the experience of flow. In the flow of the present moment, there is no anxiety, planning, or the need to control future outcomes. Learn how to set flexible patchwork limits tailored to your goals and comfort level. Support your creative flow, by listening for internal cues. Discover your personal sweet spot between too little and too much in order to let go of your plans and flow joyously, piecing on the edge of the unknown!
Passage Quilting — 1 hourPassage Quilting is an improvisational process about relationships, past and present. Working with materials that carry meaning, memory and emotions, the hands-on bereavement process of Passage Quilting fosters a healing heart. Sherri reviews the traditions of memorial and scrap quilting with historical images. She also shares stories and images from her fifteen plus years facilitating bereavement through patchwork quilting to illustrate how this embodied practice supports growth and transformation during times of loss and transition. See PassageQuilts.com.
Improvise! Ruler-Free Patchwork Performance — 90 minBasic 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.
Group Stitching Mantra, — 90 minCome along on a communal, restorative journey that merges the Eastern spiritual traditions of mudras, mandalas and mantras with the simple act of stitching. By partaking in this neurologically challenging coordination of mindful movement, vision, and voice, you will experience a group rhythm of attention greater than yourself that will leave you feeling refreshed, renewed and rewired!
I just wanted to share a moment. I took your class in Austin last February and I just loved it. I was at our Austin MQG meeting this past week and was showing the second quilt I made after your class, I have finally been learning FMQ. Point, I was talking to the two Amanda’s and Emily some of the leaders of the guild and one of them said “your quilting journey can now be defined before Sherri Lynn Wood and after Sherri Lynn Wood!” I had to stop and think a moment, and they are right. I want to thank for introducing me to a world of quilting freedom I sure do appreciate it!!!! Happy New Years !!!!! Looking forward to ur next book!!!!!
–Laura, Austin MQG
Sherri, last night in the middle of the night your name came to me…last May you taught an improv class to our guild here. I was not sewing in the class, I was part of the workshop team so was just helping and observing. At the time, I knew that what you were teaching was the direction in which I wanted to head, but it felt beyond me…especially the curve technique, let alone the design thought process.
Fast forward to last weekend… the door I had been standing in front of so longingly suddenly opened. In three days I have made forty squares with curves, trying out all sorts of variations. And then last night I realized, THIS way of working is what Sherri Lynn was talking about! I got out your book and have been reading it like manna :-). Now I see the territory into which I can head next…
The way of just sewing the bit of the curve that’s right in front of you is also, for me, the way to proceed…just the next half-inch, then the next, etc.
I will always remember your gentle but strong presence, beginning each day with a meditation and so encouraging. I know your own quilting will flourish while you are nourishing others’…just wanted to express my gratitude.
Fiona, Bainbridge Island MQG
Approach and Philosophy
My teaching focus is improvisational process and technique. My primary goal is to give students flexible patterns and teach them all the ways they can conceive of and implement variations of the pattern. Exploration, risk taking, and making “mistakes” are celebrated in my workshops.
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 plans and the need for control and instead enjoy the sweet reward of creating in the flow of the present moment. They leave with a comprehensive set of tools empowering them to move beyond fixed pattern patchwork and beginner level improv to create with an authentic, honest voice. These tools include multi-discipline approaches to the process of improvisation, ruler free patchwork techniques, and mind tools for accessing emotional energy, presence, flexibility, discernment, courage, spontaneity, acceptance and ones own truth.
SHERRI LYNN WOOD is an artist, maker, teacher and author based in Oakland, CA. She is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors, and two MacDowell Colony Fellowships. Other arts residencies include the Headlands Center for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA, and in 2016, Recology San Francisco. She has been making and improvising quilts as a creative life practice for over twenty-five years, and blogs about it at daintytime.net. Teaching credits include Penland School of Craft, QuiltCon, and numerous modern and traditional guilds across the country and internationally. She is the author of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters – A Guide to Creating, Quilting and Living Courageously, Abrams 2015. Collections include Recology San Francisco, Asheville Art Museum, Duke University Medical Center, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law.
Fees and Booking Information
- $1000 6hr (1-day) workshop fee
- $500 3hr (1/2-day) workshop fee
- $500 – $800 speaking fee
- $600 90 min interactive performance fee
- $1500 minimum billing for overnight travel requiring less than 4hrs of travel one way
- $2500 minimum billing for overnight travel requiring more than 4hrs of travel one way
- No minimum billing for local hosts within a 1.5 hour driving radius of Oakland, CA if an overnight stay is not required. Mileage will be reimbursed by the host according to current IRS rates.
- Workshop capacity – 20 students, possibly 25 students if you have a large enough space
- Host pays transportation costs, lodging and meals
- Acceptable lodging includes a hotel, or a private room in a smoke-free home with wifi.
- I am available to teach between Thursday to Tuesday with travel days on Wednesdays.
- I will work with hosts to arrange mini regional tours with multiple hosts for organizations outside of a 4hr flight radius from Oakland CA to meet the minimum billing requirement. All transportation costs will be split evenly between hosts.
- I am willing to negotiate my rates for regional, national, and international conferences when teaching multiple days during a single conference, however my minimum billing requirements according to distance still apply.
- International hosts will be billed in USD through Paypal.
- I can arrange for special event wholesale pricing and free shipping and return shipping of unsold books through my publisher, for hosts who want to sell copies of The Improv Handbook For Modern Quilters during my visits.
- I normally do not provide workshop samples but I can arrange to have a complimentary copy of The Improv Handbook sent in advance of my visit instead.
- I am currently booking up to 2 years in advance, through the end of 2018.
- Please contact me to check on available dates. I hope to hear from you!