white cloth embellished with pairs of red X's

Touch Quilt being Quilted by Debra Jalbert. Photo by Debra Jalbert

Note from Jeanne: I first met Debra Jalbert of Made of Honor Quilts in July 2017 at a meeting of the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild. I was there presenting a 70273 Project trunk show, and Debra took home two bundles and turned them into quilts. She also made a mini (postcard-sized) quilt and is currently working on one of The 70273 Project Touch Quilts, created especially for people with visual impairments, young children, and those who are more tactile learners.

In May 2019, I signed up for Debra’s  The Improv Experience  workshop offered at the C+C Sewing Co in Orlando, Florida. Recently diagnosed with wet macular degeneration, I needed to prove to myself that I can still do and learn things. Sarah Lauzon, co-owner of the C+C Sewing Co, 70273 Project Ambassador, and friend, remained close without hovering throughout the day, always available if I needed help. One of the best things Sarah did that was incredibly helpful to my low vision was put a brightly-colored child size bandage on the plate of the sewing machine to mark the 1/4″ mark. Oh, and did I mention that I got to use her sewing machine that once belonged to her grandmother and her granddaddy before that? Yes, really. Stay tuned for that story in a blog post coming soon.

woman holding a white quilt covered with pairs of red X's up in front of a neon pink flamingo

Debra holds The 70273 Project quilt as the pink flamingo looks over her shoulder

Debra used one of The 70273 Project quilts she made in the morning’s demonstration part of the day-long workshop, weaving it in seamlessly into the essential core of improv quilts. The workshop was so informative and entertaining, I asked her to write this blog post. Please help me welcome an active member of The 70273 Project, Debra Jalbert!

woman holds up a black and white quilt

Debra displays one of her improv quilts

While organizing my sample quilts for the class, I included a 70273 Project quilt to return to Jeanne since she was attending the class. That’s when I noticed that it perfectly fit into the class themes. The three major points of the class are: improvisation, collaboration, and working with a theme that includes palette limitations. The 70273 Project quilts fit this definition exactly!

The importance of collaboration was a major talking point throughout the day. What an opportunity to inspire one another through a quilting project! We created a safe environment to make mistakes – on purpose even – and then we actively shared what was learned. Freedom to work out loud was encouraged. We worked alongside one another and outside of our own head, gaining value through the opinions of others.

black and orange quilt

Another of Debra’s improv quilts. Her stories about how these quilt take shape are captivating.

What a terrific time to improve our quilting and relational skills! We certainly wanted to sew our best for our own projects and when sewing for someone else, but we don’t all have the same level of experience or the same way of doing things. Actively talking about what good communication looks like during the class helped with group cohesion and gave us moments to extend grace. We equally discovered ew sewing techniques by giving and listening to constructive advice.

Good and healthy communication is a practiced skill. Encouraging each other to give appropriate feedback with kindness and receive suggestions with grace may not always come easily or be our first reaction. Why not practice them in a safe, creative environment then take them out into our daily lives?

book with quilts on the cover and the word "Quiltcon" with each letter in a different color

Cover of the QuiltCon Catalog and Schedule, borrowed from the QuiltCon web site

Thank you, Debra, for a wonderful, confidence-building workshop. Debra will be teaching a full-day workshop at QuitlCon 2020! Here are the particulars:
~ Go to the QuiltCon web site.
~ Find the QuiltCon 2020 Catalog and Schedule
~ Select the “View PDF Schedule”
~ Read about how to register, then scroll down to find Debra’s information on page 51: PIE001 / Sewing Tiny: Piecing with Tidbits / Thursday, February 20 from 9 am to 5 pm