For Book Review Day I've just been reviewing my order history at Amazon.ca to remind myself what books I've bought recently. Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts, by Rayna Gillman (C&T Publishing, 2011), has been on the shelf, not because I don't like it, but because I don't have time for it now. But that doesn't mean it isn't a fun book!
I am feeling these days like I still have a lot to explore with traditional quilting. However, when I am ready to branch out, this is one technique that I will definitely try. Gillman's technique basically involves sewing together lots of strips into blocks, cross cutting the blocks and inserting more strips, and arranging the lot on your design wall until it looks good. I think it would be tons of fun! It actually reminds me of string quilts.
To me, the best thing about Gillman's presentation is that she is very encouraging, and breaks the process down into easy steps. I think this would be a great book for people who want to do art quilts but who don't think they are artistic. It is hard to go wrong with this technique.
A large part of the book is about exploration, and trying different things to see what you like. There are no patterns, and the goal is not to duplicate Gillman's quilts. Gillman gives you so many variations on the basic approach that even just looking at the pictures gives you a chance to consider what you like, and the colour combinations that look good to you. My belief is that once you start talking about art instead of strictly design, our own personal reactions become the most important thing, rather than any "rules" about colour or design.
Of course, it is also more likely that not everyone will agree with your preferences! ;)
Gillman started her quilting life as a traditional quilter, and the book has an idea-filled chapter about what to do with your old UFOs:
You can probably already see where she is going with that. One good idea is to just cut out the seams of your UFOs, and reclaim the smaller bits of fabric, without having to unpick anything.
So, while for me this book is on the shelf for now, if you are feeling stale or artistically blocked at all, this is a great book to break you out of it. Or, if you tend to be results-oriented, this book will definitely put more fun into your process. For me, having fun is the most important part!