I first came across Denyse Schmidt's quilts about 10 years ago. I was fairly new to quilting and still learning what it was all about. In a random search for quilts online I found Denyse's website and saw some of her minimal quilts that looked like modern art. There was no one else making quilts like that at the time. It was one of those landmark moments where I realised there was a crossover of quilts and art. In addition to admiring her quilts I've always loved her fabrics for their vintage inspired patterns and palettes. 

So as soon as I heard Denyse was coming to Sydney I so knew I was going! Even Mr Daisy didn't hesitate when I asked if he wanted to come to the lecture. 

The big day arrived and we travelled into Sydney for the lecture.

While Denyse's visit to Sydney was hosted by Material Obsession, the lecture and workshops were held at The Happenstore, a fabulous new store that opened last year. I'd been hearing lots of great things about the venue and all the things that happen there so it was great to actually visit. 

Before we even entered I had to take a photo of the door...

and we stepped inside...

As a former florist I always like a space that has flowers. 

Colourful shelves of stuff to make things with.

and fabulous stacks...

and cute little things, too irresistible to resist photographing. 

In fact every wall was like an art installation.

Catering was by Rukus Cafe. They'd created a delicious spread reminiscent of old still life paintings. 

John did a great job of keeping the champagne flowing.

Once we'd all settled in Kathy Doughty introduced Denyse.

I'm sure there's a good pun in this photo.. What Kathy was about to say was written all over her face...   It's as though Kathy has Denyse on her mind...

Then Denyse led us into the most wonderful story of her life, using a slide show to illustrate her creative journey, design processes, influences and much more. Such an interesting story, I loved every minute of it.

It was wonderful to see so many of Denyse's quilts on display around the room. Knowing a quilters history and their ways of approaching design really changes the way you see their quilts.

These seemingly simple quilts would have had hours of thoughts, doodles, sketches, planning, even mini mock ups on mini beds.

There's a saying that comes to mind when I look at Denyse's quilts.

"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."
Charles Mingus

I also love her interpretations of traditional quilts like her lime/green Hawaiian Quilt

This photo is for the wonderful walls of the Happen Store, such a perfect backdrop for quilts, plus a beautiful detail Denyse's signature loopy quilting.

Of course I had to get a fan girl photo.

On Sunday I was back for the workshop.

Kathy did her introductions. She is such a wonder to watch. So animated and fun. I couldn't pick one photo...

Our "Pure Improv" workshop began using templates and accurate cutting...

But then it became a little wilder...

I was in a fun corner...

With Penny Coombes ( pictured) and Chantel was making the one in butterscotch colours. 

Sharing my table was Stacey who had flown all the way from Darwin for the class. We also had people from WA and also from New Zealand.  

We all sewed up a storm and everyone's work was outstanding. Denyse's technique was a foolproof way to get great results. Denyse talked to us about scale, design layouts, trying different things, returning to the design source and was there to point out different ways of placing blocks things to try.  

The last part of the class was spent talking about everyones work. It was great to verbalise how you felt about the process and to get feedback.

Denyse was so lovely, down to earth and so genuine. The whole day had a wonderful, relaxed and inspiring feel to it.  From what I'm hearing and seeing on instagram I believe everyone who attended the lecture and workshops felt lucky to have spent time with her.

I also had a wonderful day with the wonderful people who attended. I've borrowed this photo from Chantel - it shows there were big happy smiles!!

My favourite photo of the day has to be this one...  actually it might just be my favourite photo of the year.. This is the most wonderful Penny Coombes is all her colourful glory spreading love and smiles where ever she goes,