Adventures from a workshop

Earlier this month I taught at Art Unraveled and had such a great time working with these creative women. Maya and I left one hour ahead of schedule and we pulled into the parking lot, jumped out of the car laughing, carefree, excited to be early…and then (play DUN. DUN. DUN! music here) I opened the trunk of the car to find I left the suitcase of supplies at HOME!

Whoo, mujeres, I cussed up a storm (yes, the chica has meltdowns now and then, doesn’t everyone?) and then hot tailed it all the way back home. At one point I had to tell myself to calm down, the world won’t come to an end if my sewing class starts late. Life is too short to sprout an anger wrinkle. I figured I’d find a way to make it up to them. We were only 15 minutes late back to class, but no one seemed to mind. I walked into a room of smiling faces. We jumped right on task.

No one brought a sewing machine, but they brought lots of imagination and enthusiasm. I had my trusty Janome, thank goodness, and we made it work. Class ended at 9:30, but we left at 11 to make sure everyone had a finished bag. They all came out so cute!
One lovely lady, Theresa (I didn’t get a picture of her, darn!) – she flew in that morning from Maryland. She went to see our exhibit at the Heard Museum, and then had dinner, and then took my class and then flew back home in the morning. I am beyond flattered that she came all the way from across the country just to see our exhibit and take my sewing class. I am not worthy!
One of my sample projects.

So, you know me. I don’t use patterns. Many times I don’t even use rulers. I eyeball everything and this is exactly how I teach my students in my class. I swear, every time I have measured twice or used directions or a pattern, I mess it all up and end up doing it my own way. Ironic for a person who built a career typing up directions! I like to share projects that you can look at it and say “I think I can figure that out!” My theory is that if you can learn to go by your gut and exercise your common sense muscle, you can make anything work. You are letting your eye for design lead you. (Sometimes after a try or two).

At my class this night, I explained this to my students. Most of them mini-clapped in delight. Two nice ladies looked a bit worried though. They exchanged glances and broke out their rulers anyway and even irons from their hotel room! They asked me a lot of technical questions and I got a bit flustered. I was worried too, was I doing the right thing? I was just about to doubt myself, when a spray of light came across the main aisle of the room…

A lady runs into the class and runs up and throws her arms around me.

“Kathy! I took your fabric collage purse class last year and your patternless instructions have set me free! I’m making purses like crazy, and I eyeball everything, it is so freeing to let my instinct guide me. I just wanted to come and tell you thank you! I feel liberated!”

I just about cried my eyes out. Not only because of her kindness, but because the two worried ladies had a new light in their eyes, like they were excited to get going on their project! They ditched the rulers! And you should see what they made! One lady was so cute, she goes, “I want to make stripes! How about – Purple. Red. Purple. Red?”

“Yes!” I encouraged. “Color contrast rocks!”

“Ohhhh! WITH GREEN THREAD!!!” she squealed…

“YES! YES! YES!” I squealed back.

She was soooo happy. And that was just one of the students!

Ahhh. Sigh. I’m excited for next year’s AU!

NOTE: By all means, I am not saying to always ditch patterns or rulers. They are essential tools in crafting! What I’m saying is that it is OK freestyle now and then too. Each project is a different story, let it speak to you so you can get through it. It’s good to embrace both the discipline style and the freeform method! I just happen to be more comfy with the latter…

Well, have a super day everyone. Hope all of you encounter nice people in your travels!

Love & light,


9 Responses

  1. Wow!! Now that’s what I’m talkin
    bout! A mention in The Crafty Chica Blog!! Thanks sweetie! And thanks for the wonderful memories. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my bag SO MUCH and can’t wait to show it off when I go back to school!

  2. Oh, Kathy! Thanks for reassuring me that throwing fabric on the table and cutting it out without measuring is OKAY! It’s only a pain when I have to measure each bag that I post on my Etsy shop… but maybe I’ll just describe them as “smallish” or “averageish” and “largish” instead of giving dimensions…

    Maybe one of these days I’ll get to a workshop. 🙂

  3. I love watching people go from must build this must make this to actually playing an creating! We are so afraid as adults to color outside the lines or have someone think or color choices are “wrong” I teach art classes for children and keep stressing how important it is to just play!! The kids and adults to are stuck in the mindset that they need the right tools and have to “learn” how to make art. Just Play!!!!

  4. I love all your “experience” articles, esp. this one! I wish I knew how to sew … love your fabric. Hmmm, maybe bright fabric beads 🙂 Thanks for sharing your passionate happenings via your writings. hugs,

  5. I just looked at your sewing book yesterday at the book store. I don’t have a sewing machine, but your book planted the seed in my head…I may have to start sewing soon! I, too, am unable to follow a pattern, so your approach (and seeing your fabulous results) makes me so happy!

  6. This is great advice Kathy and I’m gradually getting myself into that frame of mind! In my case it was always lack of confidence telling me that I’ll mess it up if I don’t follow the directions to the letter. However,I have found that on the occasions when I have ‘trashed the ruler’ my project is so much more rewarding because I can see “me” in it. And btw, I love the pics from your exhibit! It’s colorful, creative and inviting. Awesome!

  7. Hallelujah! I only measure and stuff when I’m actually using a pattern I bought for clothing or something. Mind you, I’m no expert seamstress so maybe I should be pickier haha! I so wish you were close enough for me to take a class with you. The moods and creativity you express in your blog (of which I’m a huge fan!) is just infectious, I can only imagine what it’s like to be around you in real life.

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Kathy Cano-Murillo

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Hi, I’m Kathy, The Crafty Chica! My specialty is creative motivation. I’m an artist, author, and speaker and this is where I share my craft tutorials, artwork, articles, books, product lines, and workshops!

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